New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


August 22, 2001 Volume 01 : Number 057

 

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: church and culture

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: The Organic Church

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Response

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: The Organic Church

 

Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 06:38:55 EDT From: Steffasong

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

In a message dated 08/22/2001 2:39:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time, deborah.millie writes:

3) Does _everybody_ out there agree with the above list of practices which Sam claims disqualifies a HC? Explain.

I do not agree with Sam's list.

Stephanie Bennett

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Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 06:47:36 EDT From: Steffasong@aol.com Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: church and culture

In a message dated 08/22/2001 2:41:28 AM Eastern Daylight Time, deborah.millier@juccampus.org writes:

. I would not trust my perceptions as to what form things should take, but rather trust to the working of God's Holy Spirit to begin the transformation of their thinking. However, I have been around long enough to know that we Christians do not always recognize when we are shielding our own eyes against the light of God's word, particularly when it calls for something so radical as the restructuring of one's whole society.

Not sure to whom I am responding, Micahael or Deborah, but I want to say that this is an excellent answer.

In fact, it could double as my answer to your other thread on 'what is a HC'?

It is not easy to be led of the Holy Spirit IN ALL THINGS. It is not easier to be led by the HEADSHIP of JESUS CHRIST. 'Tis all the more easy to function in and through what we have learned, what we know by our mind, than by truly walking in the Spirit.

The Lord has ALWAYS called His people to trust Him. He will lead. We mustn't let fear lead us, rationale lead us, or our own perceptions about culture. It's much better to simply be on our face, crying out to God for wisdom and direction.

know that doing so often gets a little messy, and it doesn't do anything for our own egos or sense of ability, but.... imho, ... that's what God wants. -- Hearts that are abandoned and fully dependant on His ability, power, direction, wisdom, mercy and provision.

That's how marriage works, that's how the church life works, and that's how we grow in grace in our relationship with our Lord.

In the Lamb, Stephanie Bennett

 

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Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 08:22:55 EDT From: ShaharArt

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

In a message dated 8/22/01 1:39:01 AM Central Daylight Time, deborah.millier@juccampus.org writes:

P.S. What really bothered me about the email that Sam received was that there was a _woman_ pastor for that fellowship in the first place in light

And, I assume that you do not draw any attention to yourself by wearing any fancy clothes....and most certainly, I'm sure you never wear gold or pearls....' 1 Timothy 2:9

 

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Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 08:47:10 EDT From: DenverWH

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: The Organic Church

An interesting voice in the cell church vs house church conversation is Larry? Kreider of Dove Christian Fellowship. The following is an article that I? sent out to my HC Email list. - John White

Subj: House churches and mega churches

Dear Church,

One of the very encouraging developments in the house church movement is that? it is spreading beyond house churches. What I mean by this is that? traditional, denominational churches are beginning to consider the house? church format as a viable means for church planting. In recent weeks,?I've? talked to a Lutheran pastor, a Christian Reformed pastor, and a Southern? Baptist church planter who are all moving in this direction.

What may be even more astounding is that some mega church leaders are also? beginning to consider the value of the church in the home. In June, I?had? the opportunity to meet Larry Kreider who is the Director of DOVE Christian? Fellowship (see website at http://www.dcfi.org/index.htm). Larry's cell? based church in Pennsylvania grew to over 2000 and has been responsible for planting 80 churches around the world. In the last couple of years, Larry has become convinced that God is doing a major new work in the US through? house churches.

Consider these quotes from Larry's new book, "Emerging House Church Networks"? (due out this fall):

"Many of today's Generation X look at the existing choices of churches and? have no enthusiasm for them because like the generations before them, they? are looking for something new. It is happening. Both in major cities and in? rural areas, a new kind of church life is peeking forth like the fresh growth? of new crops pressing through the surface of the soil each spring'house? church networks.'

Within the next ten to fifteen years, house church networks will dot the? landscape of North America. They are house churches because each one functions as its own little church. They are networks because they work together to? foster accountability and encouragement. Although the terminology house? church networks may sound like a contemporary concept, they are not really? new'house churches are as old as the book of Acts.'

These are real churches, not just Bible studies or cell groups. They have? elders, they collect tithes and offerings, and the leadership is responsible? before the Lord for the souls of the people in the house church (Hebrews? 13:17). Each "house church" is committed to network with other house? churches in their city or region. This keeps them from pride, exclusiveness, and heresy.?

Additionally, these young leaders are intent on the rapid reproduction of? these house churches. When the house or place where they are meeting is? outgrown, instead of constructing a church building, a new house churches? planted. Sounds a bit like the book of Acts, doesn't it.

Examples of house church networks. During the past few years, thousands of? new small ' house churches' have sprung up throughout the world. I was in? China a few months ago where over 80 million believers are part of house church networks. More than 2,000 house churches led by Generation X have? sprung up throughout Western Europe. Southern Baptist missionaries have? started thousands of these new house churches in Latin America, India, and? Southeast Asia. House church networks have already emerged in the United? States in Denver, Dallas, Austin, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Portland.? And this is just the tip of the iceberg.?

These house church networks remind me of a shopping mall. Many of the small,? specialized stores in a shopping mall would go out of business within a year? if they were left on their own. But together, they prosper. House churches? that network together in their city will experience great blessing from the? Lord.

A wave of the future.?? If you recall, thirty years ago, home schooling?was? almost unheard of in America. Today, it is commonplace. Parents today have? the choice of home-schooling their children, along with the traditional? choices of public or private schooling. All three types of educational? training coexist in nearly every community in America with no competition.?

I believe several years from now, house churches will mushroom all across? America. Like our educational choices, they will coexist and network with? other traditional community churches (approximately 50-1,000 people) and? mega-churches (more than 1,000 people) meeting in church buildings every? Sunday in our communities. Our God will bless all three'the house church, the? community church, and the mega-church!"

Almost sounds like Wolfgang Simson could have written those paragraphs! ??(By? the way, did you know that his book "Houses that Change the World" is now? available through Amazon.com?)

John White

House Church Coach Denver, CO.

-= - info page: http://homechurch.org/world-missions/planting -= -

 

Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 10:11:23 -0400 From: "Samuel Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Here we go: Michael said:

So let's glean from Sam's position some things which he thinks _disqualifies_ a Christian fellowship which meets in a home from being a bonified HC:

Don't know exactly what you mean by bonafied, but that is OK. I will assume here you mean "legitimate".

1) Those which are "pastor driven" (please define-- MICHAEL). I have not disqualified pastors or any of the five fold ministry gifts. What I am concerned about in the article in question is a pastor that operates like a CEO of a corporation and reinforces the distinctions that have plagued the church for 2 millenia, the separation of "clergy" and "laity". This is what I call pastor driven and I see no place for it in Scripture. The appointment of elders is from my reading and understanding the placing of shepherds in the flock to solve problems and issues. Even Paul in the letters to Timothy (I believe it is 1 Tim. 5) said to not be hasty in choosing elders. Pastors/elders above all things should not lord themselves over the sheep but serve them as would Jesus. Servant leadership is sorely lacking in the body of Christ and far too many sheep have been and continue to be hurt by the abuse of leaders. I see the fruit of human leadership in the hurt people is see on a constant basis.

2) Those which are a "traditional church" (please define-- MICHAEL).

Traditional churches - I include the whole idea behind the "buildings" we have substituted and enshrined as "the church", which societies have recognized as the church. The article in question revealed at least in Tampa Florida, the authorities in question only recognizes churches that are religious buildings with all the right papers and zoning laws, etc. This is not the church. Never has been, and never will be. All it is a meeting place, but try and tell that to the authorities.

Traditional church also includes with my understanding: - -professional clergy - -over-dependence on programs - -church life based on being in "the building" - everything is focussed on the physical building - -rigid denominationalism - -these are but a few of the list

3) Those "with signage," ie., which "post a sign".

You want to advertise. You ahead. Just remember that there is a price to pay in doing so, and not just in dollars and cents. Again this reinforces the physical building and local. No need to display where a church body meets, unless your goal is to herd in as many people as possible with your programs to pay for your building ;-)

4) Those which "advertise," or which "circulate anything," ie., those which "[market] the church with man's wisdom" (please define-- MICHAEL).

I have worked in Christian ministries that are very slick in their marketing and many churches excel at it. Is there any real need for it? When we have to, we use email to give directions to events and gatherings, and we use the phone, and only twice have we used a leaflet, and that was (a)name and location of conference with map and (2) map and location of BBQ. I don't think we need to advertise.

I also remember that in France, when my parents were on the mission field, people prayed and showed up at a particular place for a worship time. They were given the location through the Holy Spirit. I have heard of this as well from people in the former Soviet Union, and people from Africa and Asia.

The question is not whether the Bible allows or doesn't allow. The question is do we really need it at all.

5) Those which "regularly collect offerings". Traditional churches need to collect their "tithes" to support the maintenance of: - - buildings - - programs - - professional clergy salaries - - support staff salaries - secretaries, janitor, etc. And I don't see that in Scripture. If we really wanted to "tithe" then we should be giving our "produce" or food stuffs and not finances! The temple doesn't exist any more and neither does the Levitical priesthood, and that means no need for tithing. Offerings are a separate issue. St. Paul encouraged the Gentile church to help the Jerusalem church in time of famine. As a house church we take offerings for several mission projects and agencies, and for local ministries to the poor as well as collections for the poor among our own people. We do not advocate or promote offerings for clergy, other than those in "apostolic" ministry when they come and minister among us. We use the model we see with the Apostle Paul, and raise funds to help with travel and journey expenses for those who come and minister in our midst. House churches can support many things through offerings, but that does not mean a physical building, and all the trappings of traditional ministry.

6) Those which "issue receipts ". Issuing receipts allows the government to literally to audit the church and all those who give financially. The early church never issued receipts and neither should we. The receipts for income taxes was instituted by the Roman church, and they can keep it. I want as little as possible to do with the government and I want them to know even less about the people who gather with us. Not thanks. Don't trust the government. They know too much already. We have had cases where people were audited because of their financial giving in our country. They found out through the church and its audit and doing one of the person in question. It all had to do with a person giving in excess of 10% and the government wondering if they were hiding their true earnings. No, the government knows too much. No receipts. Thank you very much.

7) Those which "register with the government".

The only thing registered with the government is myself as an ordained clergyman so that I may solemnize weddings, etc. I could technically surrender my credentials as in Canada, in Ontario, anyone now can solemnize weddings, provided they get a temporary license. The other reason I have retained my ordination papers is that my denomination is very supportive of the direction of ministry I have pursued in the house church movement. I desire to keep in fellowship with them. The ordination papers also help me in the ministerial in town. Somehow they do not view me as too weird or odd. I want to embrace the whole body in the city and if it helps me to do so with the leadership in the city, then so be it.

I am against registering with the government for the very same reasons I mentioned concerning receipts. The less the government knows the better. I know that in some European countries, they have civil ceremonies which are the legalized forms which people enter into marriages, etc., and then they have a Christian celebration if they so desire.

The problem I have with the situation here in Canada, is that when I solemnize a marriage, I represent the State as well as the local church/denomination I am ordained with. To me there is a clash here that is not healthy. I would gladly embrace the European model like they have in the Netherlands, a civil ceremony with a Christian celebration after.

Some questions to consider:

1) Which of the above "disqualifiers" is supported by an explicit commandment in Scripture? In other words, where in the Bible are any of the above expressly forbidden?

I don't think your question is valid. What I was addressing is simply this. Just because a group of people meet in house and hold meetings, it does not make it a house church as far as the definition of house church has come to be understood in contrast to the traditional church.

My planted traditional churches and they all started in homes, and eventually outgrew them and then became IC with all the trappings. I am no going in that direction...I am staying in the house and multiplying from house to house.

2) Which, if any, of the above "disqualifiers" in fact contradicts an explicit commandment in Scripture? What I mean is, are any of Sam's ideas about what should _not_ be done in a HC unscriptural? I think I see at least one.

None, but that doesn't mean we should do them either. Pragmaticism gone wild is no different than any other excess. My views are simply my views based on my understanding of NT ecclessiology and the break from the temple and professional priesthood.

3) Does _everybody_ out there agree with the above list of practices which Sam claims disqualifies a HC? Explain.

Whether people agree or not with me, it was an observation from an article, that's all. Whether people agree with my views does mean much to me either. I will relate with those who want to, but I will only pursue after what I believe God is calling me into. I don't have to have the approval of man or need to justify myself to men.

4) Does anybody out there have another list of qualifiers/disqualifiers, or whatever, they would like to offer to help us define what truly is a modern HC.

I am open to what others say or add to the discussion

--MICHAEL

Jerusalem

P.S. What really bothered me about the email that Sam received was that there was a _woman_ pastor for that fellowship in the first place in light of especially 1 Tim. 2:12-14.

I have no such problem with women in ministry. That was the least of my concerns with the story in the paper.

Regards,

Sam

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Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 09:36:15 -0500 From: "Dan Hubbell"

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Response

Dear Keith,

Thank you for sharing what the Lord has done through you in reaching out to the whole Body of Christ, my brother!

God is doing similar things here in our town of Winnsboro, Texas. I am the incoming president of our local minister's alliance organization and have served in that capacity several times over the past 32 years I have been living here. When I am giving leadership in this organization, I always include all races and expressions of the Body of Christ in our town and area.

Just a quick testimony and summary of what our Lord is doing here: For about a year now, the city elders(ministers)of our town have been coming together weekly for a prayer breakfast. Then about six months the same group included our wives in a monthly retreat with covered dish for pray and fellowship. Three months ago we agreed that the Church of Winnsboro, that includes all the Body of Christ, should meet monthly for prayer which we do on the third Tuesday night. We also began to meet on the 5th Sunday night for joint city-wide worship. Both the prayer gathering and worship time are held in our city auditorium. Several of our city elders (ministers)are exchanging pulpits and some are even beginning to minister in plurality in the same congregation. Only God could orchestrate things like this and we give Him all the glory.

I am enjoying your articles and am being blessed by the spirit in which they are written.

Love in Christ,

Dan Hubbell His servant From "a hired house" in Winnsboro, Texas USA http://www.churchrestoration.org

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Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 11:05:50 -0700 From: jferris

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: The Organic Church

SHAMELESS DIVISIONS

I have a continuing problem with our failure to obey the cardinal truth of the Scripture, "Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one God." With all of the certainty of my salvation, I believe that Ephesians 4:4-6 is an elaboration of this truth, and that God has provided the Church with leadership, "... apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers..." to work it out in this present age.

If the present organization, or lack thereof, even division of the Body of Christ is acceptable to God and man, then there is really no compelling reason for the leadership of the various divisions to come together. Certainly, the present priorities of leadership make it very difficult for them to do so.

If, on the other hand, the present division of the church is unacceptable to God and man, and especially God, and unity among the leaders is foundational to the healing of the broken Body of Christ, then unity among the leaders must be their highest priority.

A broken and divided Body does not witness the truth about God. And it is past time that we repent of our attempts to present the world with a lie, in the Name of the Lord.

It is apparent that there is real concern among leaders, about the further division of the Body of Christ, and especially as their own congregations are effected.

At the very least, we would like to see an end to the fractious practice of coming into an area and setting up a new "church", "work", call it what you will, and doing so without contacting existing leadership in the area. As for me, I am convinced that anyone who thinks that his translocal associations and credentials are license to establish a new division in a local body, "thinks more highly of himself than he ought."

For too long the approach to ministry has been to seek a position out of which to serve. At some point or other, institutional training has supplied the mark of authenticity where the attainment of position is concerned. Not only is this not Bible, it is contrary to the Bible, and Gentile in attitude, approach and style,*. New Testament ministry is service out of which comes position, not position, out of which comes service.

The irreducible mark of authenticity, therefore, is not institutional credentials, it is maturity and service. While institutional credentials do not disqualify, neither do they establish. In too many instances they have no bearing on spiritual life or death. This must be understood if meetings of Christian leaders are to be properly inclusive and exclusive.

I would like to take this concern a few steps further, both in its logic and its implication. There is a real need for corporate cover for pastoral ministry at the household level. There also needs to be unity among the leaders as foundational if this cover is going to be provided with out the further and terminal division of the Body of Christ.

Once this takes place, It should be no problem to make perfectly clear the basis on which Godly eldership affirms ministry at the household level. Not to see this, is to be a party to the division of the Body of Christ from street to street as house groups which are extensions of the present, and even further divisions, are unable to get along at the neighborhood level. "Love The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'; and `Love your neighbor as yourself."

Leaders are concerned that those with ulterior motives will use this household dimension as an opportunity to start new "churches". They are also concened about the appearance of new, and independent ministries in their area, but not enough to repent of walking independently themselves. In any given place, otherwise godly men preside over the broken Body of Christ, calling the parts the whole, and failing to preach the whole council of God. They are upset by new division, but indifferent to the old.

All of this is to say, that unless leaders see the problem and repent of perpetuating it, get the beam out of our own eye, so to speak, we will continue to be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, and will certainly be in no position to deal with those who would further divide the Body of Christ.

For lack of vision, the major concerns seem to be earthly, employment, position, income and reputation. Presupposing professional clergy, they themselves get paid to meet together, may or may not show up at such meetings of local leaders as presently exist, and ignore the financial and time constraints of others who must work for the support of their families and to have to share with those in need. The net result is that professionalism is self-perpetuating, and otherwise mature and gifted ministries are precluded from meaningful participation in the leadership of the Church. In many cases, very junior ministry, carrying little if any real weight, is supported at the expense of the Church, while very senior ministry, carrying great weight, fails to be given even single honor, where the Church is concerned.

From top to bottom, the Church appears to be blind sided where Biblically appropriate objects of submission and giving are concerned. The leadership, as it is presently constituted, has little if any inclination to address these issues, among themselves, let alone from the pulpits which they so jealously guard. Like sheep without shepherds, the people are left in relational and structural darkness and the leadership appears to love it this way.

If the leaders do not know the truth or teach the truth, or care or worse, knowing the truth, do everything possible to keep the people from discovering it, then the Church is in a very bad state. Some years ago now, a brother from Kenya went so far as to say that "The Word of God is so clear, you have to have help to misunderstand it."

Yours in Christ,

Jay


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #57

 




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