New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


August 29, 2001 Vol 01 : 059
 

NT Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, August 29 2001 Vol 01 : 059


[ntcp] Re: Planting Churches...
[ntcp] New Testament Church Proliferation list stats
Re: [ntcp] Planting Churches Without EldersThere are some stories in scripture where there is debate over whether or nt the characters were doing the right thing. David went to work for a Philistine king and raided various people groups, pretending to be raiding Israelites. I once heard a preacher say that David was not doing the right thing. We could debate one side or another of this issue.
[ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders
Re: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders


Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 13:16:37 -0700
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches...

Dear Link,

I believe this is right.

You can tell from His writings that Paul experienced and enjoyed the Lord
Jesus in a very real way... and he knew how to minister this rich,
life-giving Christ to others... He also knew how to help others mutually
minister Christ to one another.

I like where he said "I planted..." to Paul the church is a matter of life.

So his first concern is for LIFE.

The outward things like where to meet, the arrangement of elders... those
could wait.

But Paul lost no time in making sure the saints learned how to experience
and enjoy the Lord. Those are the "basics" of the Christian life. Learning
to eat Christ, drink Christ, breath Christ... all the ways to receive Him as
our life supply.

Unless we have the experience and enjoyment of Christ whatever we "plant" is
just a shell, an outward form... with no reality.

So I too like Paul's way. If we take care of LIFE the outward things will
follow.

You fellow learner... and enjoyer of Christ,

Dan



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Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 16:45:37 -0400
From: David Anderson
Subject: [ntcp] New Testament Church Proliferation list stats

In case you have ever wondered...

63 regular subscribers
20 digest subscribers

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Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 05:43:05 -0700
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Planting Churches Without EldersThere are some stories in scripture where there is debate over whether or nt the characters were ding the right thing. David went to work for a Philistine king and raided various people groups, pretending to be raiding Israelites. I once heard a preacher say that David was not doing the right thing. We could debate one side or another of this issue.

Link H wrote

>Eventually, Paul and Barnabas did return and appoint
>elders in the churches. The word for "elders" can be
>translated as 'older men.' Paul and Barnabas may have
>appointed older men in the congregations.

Dear Link

I appreciated your observations concerning what might be called organic elders.
Perhaps I could share a concern, shared with a leader shortly after my first
opportunity to meet with a group of leaders he had called together. They were
from my locality in the U.S., and had begun to meet while I was in Europe for a
year. I was concerned that the meeting was perhaps too inclusive. I mentioned
at that time that one of the distinguishing characteristics of an elder, was
that elders are men who have learned to be "slow to speak and quick to hear."
"Youngers", tend to be quick to speak and slow to hear. When both are present
in the same meeting, particularly a leadership meeting, the youngers tend to
monopolize the time, so that those who are truly elders are not able to address
the subjects which are so vital in their time together. I believe that this has
been, and continues to be the case. Inclusiveness, an otherwise hospitable
gesture, is like the laying on of hands, in its authoritative application.
Paul councils Timothy in his apostolic authority, not to be hasty in the laying
on of hands. In this case, the application would be, "do not be too quickly
inclusive, where eldership is concerned".

The real need is that those who are elders, be recognized for what they are,
begin to function as such, and honored, in their need for time together
unencumbered by the presence of youngers. According to Scripture it should not
be necessary to be an elder in order to "recognize them that are over you, (us)
in the faith".

This having been said, I would like to sharpen the perception concerning what
makes an elder.

1CO 16:15,16,18,19 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first
converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the
saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who
joins in the work, and labors at it... Such men deserve recognition.

For the sake of clarifying the point, lets go beyond what is written and assume
that in urging them "... to submit to such as these..." Paul is saying that
"these" are the elders (I don't think that this is necessarily the case, but,
for the moment, please allow me to continue.) In the passage, the objects of
submission have a number of attributes:

1. They have been "converted", ("converts"). It is clear from the Scripture
that "conversion" is not simply intellectual assent, but a fundamental change
of heart.

2. They are senior in time, ("first") to others in the area, ("Achaia").

3. They have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.

4. Without being senior, they have joined in the work and labor at it.

It must be clear that seniority, in and of itself, does not make a person a
proper object of submission. They must also have devoted themselves to the
service of the saints, "the work". Certainly, a person with less seniority, who
has devoted themselves to "the work", is more qualified by virtue of heart,
than their senior who has not. And finally, everything else being equal, where
devotion to "the work" is concerned, it is clear that those who are senior are
the elders.

While it can never be forgotten that elder is a relative term, it still means
elder, and as such identifies degree of maturity relative to others, and
specifically others in a place, a geographical area, in this case "Achaia".
Where "the work" is new, the elders are bound to be young in the faith.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 13:08:05 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders

One thing to consider in using Paul and Barnabas' first missionary
journey as an example of a biblical figure(s) not immediately ordaining
elders is that they were not going into pure pagan environments. In
other words, they were mostly drawing converts from among the Jews and
God-fearers presumably already familiar with synagogue operations and
polity. They were not, for instance, going into a tribal environment in
Irian Jira where people might have no Messiah concept. And no
familiarity with the Bible whatsoever. In those kinds of contexts it
might prove wiser to quickly appoint elders from those believers who
already have some pull within the community. Or from those who show
some promise in servant leadership, but who would be recognized as
leaders by the Christian community. Then again, it might just work the
same to allow things to progress more organically, as Link has
indicated. One paradigm does not always fit in every circumstance.

Though I agree it is important to seek our models for church
planting from the Scriptures, we should also be careful not to force a
one-to-one correspondence upon situations where none exists. It is, I
think, for these new kinds of situations that God has provided His Holy
Spirit and godly wisdom coupled with some freedom to innovate when
necessary.

Michael

Jerusalem


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Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 20:10:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: Link H
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders

>They were not, for instance, going into a tribal environment in Irian Jira
>where people might have no Messiah concept. And no familiarity with the Bible
>whatsoever. In those kinds of contexts it might prove wiser to quickly
>appoint elders from those believers who already have some pull within the
>community. Or from those who show some promise in servant leadership, but who
>would be recognized as leaders by the Christian community.

I thought about including a paragraph on the Jewish background of the new
converts.

I read parts of 'Bridges of God' by Don (?) McGravin, published in the 50's.
He noticed that the scriptures mention prostelytes in Antioch. He hypothesized
that in Antioch, the Gospel went from Jews to Antiochan prostelytes, and from
there was shared by prostelytes with their Gentiles relations. He considered
these relationships to be 'bridges of God' and theorized that the model of
Antioch was the model that Paul and Barnabas followed in other cities, starting
with the Jews in the synagogue, and from there reaching out to Gentiles as
well. Interesting reading.

In Antioch, a large number of Gentiles came to the faith, and the Jerusalem
church sent up Barnabas, who found Saul to help him, and they taught in Antioch
for a year.

Many of the new believers we read about in the New Testament may have been from
the synagogue- either as Jews or prostelytes, or as God-fearers standing in the
outer area. But as time went on, more pagan Gentiles may have been converted.

In an area with a lot of Gentiles converts- Antioch- there was a great need for
teaching. Paul and Barnabas served there as teachers for about one year.

Among pagans in Irian Jaya, I don't think an apostle could preach for a few
months and elave as easily as Paul could when ministering to Torah educated,
God-conscious Jews and Gentiles in the first century. An apostle might call for
another church to send some temporary teachers to come in and help out until
local eldership sprouts up, or stick around longer to help do discipleship
work. Btw, nowadays, in Irian Jaya (Indonesian Papua), there are lots of
Christians. The problem is transportation. It's hard to move around.)

In Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, there are some churches where the clergyman
practices black magic and joins in pagan Hindu Kaharingan rituals. I don't
know how this came about, but I suspect that if someone quickly plants churches
in a completely pagan atmosphere, leaves quickly, and doesn't keep tabs onthe
church or call for someone to help out, there would be a greater danger of a
church falling back into paganism.

If the apostle appoints novices fresh from a pagan background, from within the
community, to be elders, then if the elders erred, the damage might be greater
than not appointing elders at all.

The traditional alternative would be to call in a pastor from an outside
community. Many miss'naries recognize the need for a people-group to have
church leaders from that people-group, rather than to just hire foreignors to
be their leaders. The apostolic pattern allowed for leaders to grow up from
within a local fellowship. If the 'pastor' from the outside is a temporary
teacher and helper, helping the church to grow and produce leaders, following
the example of Paul and Barnabas in Antioch, this could be a very good thing.
But if churches in the Bible could eventually produce elders, shouldn't we be
expecting the same from our churches today?

Especially in modern, mobile societies like in the US, I don't see a problem
with someone coming into a church as a new member, becoming a part of the
community, and eventually becoming an elder. But it does make sense for him to
start to function as a 'part of the family' rather than as a hired minister who
comes in not knowing everyone, and who continues to keep his 'professional
distance' throughout his ministry.

Btw, I talked with some people who have ministered to the Mentewai people- an
island people in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sumatra. Traditional
Mentewai file their teeth and cover their bodies with tatoos. One brother who
ministered there told me that, in some of the churches there, the witchdoctor
would perform baptisms and other ceremonies in the church. Later I read that
many people from the same clan would live ina big house, and a house would have
this witchdoctor figure who was a sort of spiritual leader in their tradition.

One missions strategy might be to try to get the witchdoctor saved and then let
him lead the church. That makes sense in a way. Someone who is already in
leadership becomes an elder. On occasion, that might work if the man repented,
grew, and become 'elder material.' But it could also lead to a type of
synchretized religion.

Another approach would be to convince the new believers to repudiate the old
shaman office and completely forget about it, let elders immerge who meet the
qualifications, and then the peopole can look to them for leadership.


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #59

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