New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


Aug 30, 2001 Vol 01 : 060

 

NT Church Proliferation Digest Friday, August 31 2001 Vol 01 : 060


Re: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders
[ntcp] City level or meeting level elders?
Re: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders
Re: [ntcp] City level or meeting level elders?
[ntcp] Re: Planting Churches
[ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders


Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001 21:46:58 -0400
From: "Samuel M. Buick"
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders

I would like to make an observation.

When I think of elders, I think of them as being relational care givers of
wisdom and discernment. Usually the most wise are those who have lived life
and experienced life and have an understanding of what life is about. It is
difficult to bring correction or discipline if you have not know of that
which you speak. This is why a parent's relationship with his children is
significant in developing character not only in the children but in the
parent as well. Wisdom is learned through the difficult times and life is
experienced in the good and the bad. This is why I would hesitate to
appoint elders who are not mature not only in the faith but also in life.

The Christian life is exactly that, life. It is Jesus Christ living His
live in and through us. It is about relating with one another.

When community develops between and amongst people, there will be times of
trial, adversity and conflict. Paul warned the Ephesian elders of such
things in Acts 20, and that some of them would even try to take advantage of
the flock. In Timothy he admonishes to not be hasty to appoint elders.

Can a church be planted without elders? Absolutely. Should elders be
appointed in a reasonable time? Probably, but I venture to say that one
need be careful how and who is appointed as an elder.

I will seek people of maturity as I mentioned above.

One idea that crossed my mind as I read Link's comments was that Jethro
really was not a person of the same faith as Moses. He is described as a
priest of Midian, whatever we are to make of that is up to debate. The
point I am making is that even though the senior elder in the Hebrew camp,
Moses, was addicted to self destructive patterns of leadership, it was
Jethro who exhibited wisdom, I would assume from personal life experience
and assessing the situation first hand (he was going to have a dead son in
law!), that he made the suggestion on how to reorganize the Hebrew people
and assign leaders to the various groupings.

So, here we have the wisdom of a life lived and experienced giving counsel
that is really not a person of the "faith", but whose wisdom saves and gives
organizational guidance to the Hebrew people. I think that this is quite
significant. Moses knew Jethro and trusted his wisdom. I wonder how we
would respond to the wisdom of someone mature through life experiences who
would give us wisdom in leadership issues, even though they were not part of
the elect?

By the way, we still have not appointed elders in our house church. It is
two years old and we are doing marvelously well without them, and we are in
no hurry to do so.

Just my thoughts.

Sam


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Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001 20:44:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: Link H
Subject: [ntcp] City level or meeting level elders?

I have a question: should a house church always have elders?

Here is what I see in the Bible- there was one city presbytry for Jerusalem.
Paul and Barnabas went around establishing churches, and the scripture often
refers to the saints in one city as a 'church' (singular) in that city. Paul
and Barnabas appointed elders in every church.

We also see that Paul wrote to Titus to appoint elders in every _city._

How was the Jerusalem church presbytry set up? I don't think we really know.
Some insist on plural elders in every house church. But would this havebeen
the case in Jerusalem? The saints were meeting 'from house to house.'

Maybe the Jeruslaem church eventually had one elder per house meeting. Maybe
they had two elders over three house meetings. Maybe some house meetings had
an elder who attended regularly. Maybe some had two or three that attended
every week. maybe one elder would attend four or five house meetings over the
course of a week. We don't really know exactly how this worked. Some house
meetings may not have had an 'older man' who was suitable elder material.

Also, we don't know that one saint only went to one 'house church' in
Jerusalem. Maybe the saints were free to meet where they chose, and met
somewhere that just happened to be close to where they were at the time of the
meeting.

Anyway, if the Bible shows a plurality of elders on a city level, does that
mean there has to be a plurality of elders on a house church level?

Considering the city-level of church in scripture, what should a church
planters relationship be with the elders already in a city he is ministering
in? Should he just network his own housechurch with other elders in the city,
rather than appointing new ones?

Don't all these questions make missions work on an unreached frontier sound a
whole lot less complicated?
:)


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Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 04:48:09 -0700
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders

Samuel M. Buick wrote:

>One idea that crossed my mind as I read Link's comments was that Jethro
>really was not a person of the same faith as Moses. He is described as a
>priest of Midian, whatever we are to make of that is up to debate. The
>point I am making is that even though the senior elder in the Hebrew camp,
>Moses, was addicted to self destructive patterns of leadership, it was
>Jethro who exhibited wisdom, I would assume from personal life experience
>and assessing the situation first hand (he was going to have a dead son in
>law!), that he made the suggestion on how to reorganize the Hebrew people
>and assign leaders to the various groupings.
>
Dear Sam,

I think in light of Isaiah 9, we need to take another look at Jethor's
advice:

GOOD-BY JETHRO

ISA 9:2-7 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on
those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You
have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before
you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the
plunder.

MIDIAN'S GOVERNMENT

For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that
burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their
oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled
in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

GOD'S GOVERNMENT

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will
be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty
God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his
government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's
throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice
and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord
Almighty will accomplish this. It is not too far from the mark to read
the word "darkness" in the above passage, as meaning "the oppressiveness
of gentile rule", for the rejoicing is related to the lifting of such
rule, including armed aggression.

JETHRO'S ADVICE TO MOSES

A popular approach to the government of small groups has been to follow
"Jethro's advice to Moses:

JETHRO'S ADVICE

EXO 18:1,17,19,21-26 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law
of Moses,... replied... "Listen now to me and I will give you some
advice... select capable men from all the people - men who fear God,
trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain - and appoint them as officials
over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Have them serve as judges
for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to
you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your
load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and
God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these
people will go home satisfied. Moses listened to his father-in-law and
did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made
them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties
and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The
difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided
themselves.

From several verses, Exodus 16:1, 19:1, it is appears, that Jethro gave
this advice sometime during the last half of the second month after the
children of Israel left Egypt. In the Isaiah 9 passage above, we get
some insight into Midianite style. "For...in... Midians defeat", God
"shattered: the yoke that burdens, the bar across the shoulders, the rod
of the oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment
rolled in blood" became " fuel for the fire." The oppression of the
Midianites is contrasted with the government of God which comes to us as
the birth of a child. Looking back Jethro's advice through Isaiah 9,
one wonders what might be the result of following a Midianite's advice
about government. Perhaps we can gain some insight from the following
passage:

EXAMINING THE FRUIT

Approximately one year after taking Jethro's advice, Numbers 10:11,
Moses had the following conversation with the Lord:

THE GETHSEMANE OF MOSES*

NUM 11:1,10-15 Now the people complained about their hardships in the
hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused...
Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to
his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He
asked the Lord, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What
have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people
on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth. Why do
you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to
the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat
for all these people? They keep wailing to me, `Give us meat to eat!' I
cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.
If this is how you are going to treat me, putme to death right now - if
I have found favor in your eyes - and do not let me face my own ruin."
Jethro had said: "That will make your load lighter, because they will
share it with you... you will be able to stand the strain".

But Moses said: "What have I done to displease you that you put the
burden of all these people on me? I cannot carry all these people by
myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to
treat me, put me to death right now - if I have found favor in your eyes
- -and do not let me face my own ruin."

Jethro had said: "all these people will go home satisfied."

The fact was: a year later "...the people complained about their
hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger
was aroused... Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at
the entrance to his tent.

If we can judge the wisdom of advice from its fruit, it must be clear
that following Jethro's advice made things worse rather than better. On
the face of it, it appears to be sound advice, coming from a godly man,
and designed to meet a real need. Having tested the fruit, and found it
to be bitter, we need to take a closer look at the Jethro, the man, the
content of his advice, Moses approach to carrying it out, and God's
confirmation.

GOD'S ANSWER

After Moses most recent conversation with God, quoted above, God gave
some governmental advice of His own: NUM 11:16,17

The Lord said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are
known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come
to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come
down and speak with you there, and I will take the Spirit that is on you
and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the Burden of the
people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

- -4-

Jethro said: "Listen now to me and I will give you some advice." Moses
should have listened to God. Jethro advised: "select capable men from
all the people - men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest
gain"

God said: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as
leaders and officials among the people.

Jethro told Moses to select from among all of the people, men who were
capable.

God told Moses to bring to Him elders, who were already known to be
elders and officials. Elders are clearly recognizable among the people
The Word of God is not careless in its use of words. Elders are people
who are old relative to others. They are mature, relative to others. God
told Moses to select mature men that Moses knew were already serving as
leaders.

Jethro advised Moses to select capable men. Capable men may or may not
be mature. They may or may not have good character. While Jethro
included certain aspects of good character in his advice, good character
can be currupted. In fact, "the snare of the Devil" could almost be
defined as the corruption of good character.

Giftedness and character are not sufficient qualification for
leadership. There must be maturity as well. Maturity has a time
dimension during which both capability and character are proven. The
energizing mechanism behind the making of elders is life. God's kind of
elders are life made, not hand made or man made. Elders who are elders
indeed, are the provision of God for the government of life, not the
"work of man's hands" for the government of people.

Before Moses even went back to Egypt, there were already elders. God had
made eldership an integral part of life: EXO 3:16 "Go, assemble the
elders of Israel..."

Contrasting Jethro's advice, to the consolation of God, it should also
be noted, that God completely ignored the power structure which had been
set up in response to Jethro's advice. Given the population if Israel as
it came out of Egypt, there had to be thousands who had been placed in
authority as a result of Jethro's advice. Approximately 600,000 men,
there would have been 600 captains over thousands, 6,000 captains over
hundreds, 12,000 captains over fifties, and 60,000 captains over tens.
God, on the other hand said "Bring me seventy..." Moses brought them,
but God annointed them.

JETHRO'S ESCAPE CLAUSE

In fairness to Jethro, it should be noted that He said that,"If you do
this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all
these people will go home satisfied." There was no indication that
Moses ever stopped to see if God commanded him to follow Jethro's
advice. Certainly, nothing is said about the spirit of Moses being given
to those so appointed. God's instruction, on the other hand, was
confirmed by the annointing of the same Spirit that was upon Moses.

THE MEEKNESS OF MOSES

In fairness to Moses, it should be noted that: NUM 12:3 ...Moses was a
very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

The Hebrew word, here translated "humble", has the meaning, "depressed
in mind or circumstances... afflicted" "Looked down" on or "browbeaten"
are two other words which are suggested in Strong's. In the King James
version, the word is translated "meek".

In the New Testament, the word which is translated meek has a completely
different sense. According to Vine's, the original word used in the New
Testament, has the sense of an attitude of heart toward God. It is an
impartation of inner strength which is born out of a sense of being in
right relationship with God. It is an other consciousness.

Moses variety of meekness on the other hand was a self consciousness
more of failure or weakness, than of inner strength. There was no
identity crises in the meekness of Jesus. There was in Moses: EXO 3:11
"Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of
Egypt?" Moses had left Egypt forty years earlier a broken and confused
man. As was typical of the kind of men God chooses, Moses had no
ambition for the task to which the Lord had called him. Even after he
had been persuaded by God to go back and deliver the children of Israel,
God came looking to kill him, apparently for his failure to circumcise
his own son. It was only by the
sensitivity and obedience of Zipporah, his wife, that Moses was spared
by God.Exo 4:24-26 We mention this attribute of Moses, because it is
not unusual for a person in this condition to be lacking in confidence,
confidence in God or his ability to hear or to follow God. He was a man
who was not only vulnerable to the advice of others, but inclined to
actively seek it: NUM 10:29,31

Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses
father-in-law,...`Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp
in the desert, and you can be our eyes. If you come with us, we will
share with you whatever good things the Lord gives us.'

WHAT'S IN A NAME

This passage is careful to remind us that Hobab is a Midianite. In
Hebrew, names had great meaning, and we need to turn now to the
significance of some of these Midianite names. Midian was a son of
Abraham, so on his father's side we would expect him to be a man of God,
There are two problems, however, first, Abraham only had one child of
promise, Isaac, whose mother was Sarah. The Mother of Midian was
Keturah. Along with Midian, the decendants of Keturah were
sons grandsons Meaning
Midian brawling,
contentious, strife, rule, judge
Ephah obscure
Epher dusty
Hanoch to narrow,
throttle, choke, strangle,
initiate,
discipline
Abida father of
knowledge, knowing
Eldaah god of knowledge
Zimran musical
Jokshan ensnare,
fowler, insidious
Sheba lead away into
captivity
Dedan ?
Asshurites successful
Letushites hammered, oppressed
Leummites gather
Medan discord, strife
Ishbak forsaker
Shuah sink, bow
down, humble
Keturah, their mother perfumed, smoked,
incense inclose
Jethro excess
Reuel friend of god
Hobab, Moses brother-in-law cherished, hidden in the heart
Keturah's name seems to be rooted in smoke having its source in some
kind of confined space associated with worship.


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Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 05:05:30 -0700
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [ntcp] City level or meeting level elders?

Link H wrote:

>I have a question: should a house church always have
>elders?
>
>Maybe the Jeruslaem church eventually had one elder
>per house meeting.

Dear Link,

"Seems like that is a long way from the pattern. The pattern for
structure and authority in the Kingdom of god is not Greek, but Hebrew.
God does not put the solitary in greek city states, He does not put the
solitary in General Motors, He does not put the solitary in
ecclesiological McDonalds, He puts the solitary in Families" Bob Mumford
1979 - Dallas Texas - JOHN 17:21 Conference.

For me, that was a life changing observation. When God reckoned the
number of the children of Israel, "they came up according to their
divisions, according to their tribes, clans, families, and the men of
the households. This is to say that the only recognized divisions in the
body, even then were division according to life. Clearly the elders were
not numbered at the family level, (for present purposes, house church
level), but more likely the clan level.

Our problem has been that we have been depending on the futility of
Gentile thinking. We have been thinking systematically rather than
thinking according to live. When ever we make or try to make the
transition from one way of thinking to the other among the religious,
all hell breaks loose.

ELDERS IN THE GATES

In perhaps its most clearly revealed Biblical representation, God's goal
is a "... city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

Qualitatively, there is a tremendous difference between The City of God,
and the cities built by human hands. We need to understand that there
is, not only a big difference between the work of God, and the work of
man's hands, but that there is a basic conflict between the two. this
conflict runs from one end of Scripture to the other. We are, none the
less, invited to understand God's purpose by the truth that he has
revealed in the cities of man, and particularly in the the pattern
cities of Israel, and in geographical Jerusalem in particular. Here we
see God's plan for the proper exercise of His government. In this
connection, the following Scriptures are instructive:

DEU 21:19 ... bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.

DEU 25:7 ... go to the elders at the town gate and say, ...

JOS 20:4 ... he is to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state
his case before the elders of that city. Then they are to admit him into
their city ...

PSA 69:12,21 Those who sit at the gate mock me,.. They... gave me
vinegar for my thirst.

PRO 31:23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his
seat among the elders of the land.

PRO 31:31 ... let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

LAM 5:14 The elders are gone from the city gate;..

REV 4:10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the
throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their
crowns before the throne...

A city is a governmental unit in the purpose and nature of God. It is
true in His eternal purpose, and it is true by example in this present age.

It is not surprising then, that:

ACT 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each
church...or that the limits of the church were defined by the limits of
the city, (town): TIT 1:5 ... straighten out what was left unfinished
and appoint elders in every town,..

1TI 4:14 ... when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

1TI 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy
of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

So when Paul came into a city, like Ephesus, he sent for the elders of
that city, (church):ACT 20:17 ... Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.

Jesus prayed: JOH 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you
are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may
believe that you have sent me. In this, the elders need to be "...
examples to the flock..."

In relating to the elders, it was a matter of fervent concern that there
be no division among them or in that city:

ACT 20:29-31 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among
you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will
arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped
warning each of you night and day with tears.

ACT 21:18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and
all the elders were present.

EZE 8:12 ... "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of
Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol?..

EZE 11:12 "... you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have
conformed to the standards of the nations around you."

PSA 135:15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the
hands of men.

EZE 20:32 "You say, `We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of
the world, who serve wood and stone'..."

EZE 5:7 "...`You have been more unruly than the nations around you and
have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even*
conformed to the standards of the nations ..."

ISA 1:5,5 ... Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted.
From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no
soundness- only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or
bandaged or soothed with oil.

EZE 23:30 "... because you lusted after the nations and defiled yourself
with their idols."

JAM 5:14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church
to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

1CO 12:25 So that there should be no division in the body, but that its
parts should have equal concern for each other.

PSA 133:1,3 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in
unity! Is is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For
there the Lord bestows the blessing, even life forevermore.

In the Name of The Lord, and in the grace of God, the leading of his
Spirit, what is there that is more basic, more important or of higher
time priority, than that the elders should sit together in the Gate, to
the end that the Body of Christ should be healed, and the saints built
up together in love?

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 09:28:47 -0700
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches

>
Amen Link,

I'm glad you're continuing this thread... I think it's a helpful topic.

Once the Lord Jesus enters into a man and begins to live and "make home in
our heart"... there should be some growth. And practically speaking, there
are some things that help life to grow... and conversely some things that
hinder it from growing. Just like the parable of the sower in Matt. 13.

So who should be a leader?

I would say that mainly a leader is one who takes the lead to experience and
enjoy Christ. One who seeks the Lord's face. One who wants to let the Lord
grow in him, and is willing to let the Lord deal with the hindrances. And
ultimately, one who is burdened by the indwelling Christ to care for His
Body.

Such a seeker of Christ will surely become a pattern and a leader... leading
others to experience Christ in a very real way.... and leading others to
care for one another according to the Christ who lives in them.

May the Lord raise up such leaders in all the churches!

Dan

Ps. Whether we see the churches as "house churches" or "local churches" the
principle should still apply... the intrinsic reality of the church life is
a group of people who experience and enjoy Christ.

Praise Him!!!!!


------- <><><> -------


Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 19:42:49 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [ntcp] Re: Planting Churches Without Elders

Link wrote:

> 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.


Of course we know from historical records as well as the Bible
that there were both Jews and gentiles in the church of Antioch.
Proselytes (called GEREY T'SHUV-- returning pilgrims) were brought into
the community of Israel as full-fledged Jews. Certainly there would
have been those who would have caste them as second-class citizens, but
ideally converts were up there with the rest of the sons of Israel.
They were even assigned tribes.

Then there were the god-fearers who were in a quasi-apprenticeship
toward conversion to Judaism. There was a concept among some of the 1st
century Jews of the "righteous from the nations;" those gentiles who by
obeying the portions of the Torah specified for non-Jews (whether by
instinct or instruction-- Rom. 2) were apportioned by God a share in the
"world to come".

I read McGavrin's book too, ... well at least parts of it. He
argued that Paul's primary intention for evangelizing in the synagogue
was to establish these "bridges" to reach the gentiles; that Paul the
Jew of course had natural affection and affinity with Diaspora Jews and
so went to their places of worship and spoke with them. But that he was
really mainly strategizing for the non-Jew. And I think McGavrin's
premise misses the basic point of Paul's outreach methods altogether.
You (Link) know where I stand there so I won't lay out my whole theology
of mission on this post. Suffice it to say, I agree with the bridges
concept but that in Paul's mission strategy it was a by-product. Not
the focus.

> 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.

This is an astute point! The leaders' bad influence could
possibly pose some irreparable damage to the fledgling congregation. I
had something like it floating around my sub-conscious when I was
responding to your initial post on this thread but I couldn't pull it
out. I think you hit the nail on the head. And this supports the
thesis of your last post. In such cases your model for not immediately
appointing elders would be the best one. You're right.

Michael

Jerusalem

End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #60

 

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