New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

Oct 1, 2001 Vol 01 : 070

NT Church Proliferation Digest Monday, October 1 2001 Vol 01 : 070

Re: [ntcp] Intro
Re: [ntcp] Intro
Re: [ntcp] quakers
Re: [ntcp] Intro

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 11:07:42 +1000
From: "Paul McIlwain"
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Intro

Hello again,

Thankyou to those who took the time to reply to my note.
First of all to Samuel; I appreciate your resolve to continue exposing
others to your standpoint, which, on the whole I think you'd have to
agree, is somewhat controversial. (Although I understand, of course,
that you are by no means alone in those views.) I guess we'll have to
resign ourselves to not being in agreement on that one until we're
safely in eternity.

To Dan:
The people among whom we lived, who became our brothers and sisters in
Christ and eventually our co-workers, were originally animistic, as far
as their worldview. It was an animism which had been syncretised with
other elements; a form of cargo-cult and some elements of christianity.
One of the key issues we focussed on as part of our pre-evangelism was
that once we had gained sufficient understanding of their culture and
fluency in their language, we would begin to teach them the Creator's
story from the beginning. We would not, as others had done, create
confusion by telling them fragments but, in effect, allow the Creator to
become the narrator of his own story. Of course, showing them a Bible,
we explained that at this stage it would not be possible to do so
exhaustively, but that we would follow the main story line until they
understood the most important issues of life - the origins of things,
people, spirits, evil, pain and death and also about the nature &
expectations of the Creator.

It was a revelation to see how God's Word, taught in this way, shook the
very foundations of their worldview. We did not need to make theoretical
statements about God's power, they saw it in action as he created. His
love was demonstrated by the care with which he prepared an environment
in which to place the humans he would create. The purpose for their
existence was suddenly clear, but having revelled in what it meant for
man to live in harmony with the Creator Father they were crushed as they
understood the enormity of the fall. God's holiness and inability to
turn a blind eye to sin or to be manipulated (as they had always done
with the spirits) was lived out as they saw communion shattered -
between the Father and his children who he loved so dearly.

Day after day they came to hear God demonstrating in numerous ways how
the efforts of man are only doomed to fail; how he can never be
satisfied with anything which falls short of his absolute righteousness,
but how in his love and grace he himself provided a way for
communication to continue and held out hope of the coming Redeemer. And
when they were introduced to the Promised One he became their hero -
finally here was one with total power over wind and rain, over sickness
and death, and over the spirits. Here was one who with a few sentences
could expose self-righteousness and deceit. There was shock and then
mourning when they heard how he allowed himself to be taken, sentenced
and crucified. As they heard though the cry "It is finished" and how the
veil was torn, top to bottom, many began to smile through their tears.
And then when they realised that God raised him from the dead, never to
die again, there was great rejoicing as they realised that this was how
their sin debt had been taken care of and communion restored with the

I guess it comes as no surprise that in the following years, as many
hundreds of others have been taught, it has been in the same way we
initially modelled. Using the written curriculum which was prepared
during that initial teaching, they have sent church planting teams out
(the first of which included our family) who have taught by laying the
same careful foundations from the Old Testament, until people see their
need and are ready for the provision made through the Messiah.
(Obviously there is a lot more to the story, but I have gone on far too
long already.)

To Michael:
Thankyou for introducing yourself - it sounds like a fascinating and
challenging context in which to be sharing the Message.

Here are a few of the issues we have been discussing over the last few
months in the other small Church Planting egroup I moderate.

* There has been much discussion (which has followed a number of
different issues) regarding the possibilities of expat church planters
partnering with tribal believers to go cross-culturally. How do we deal
with the obvious disparity in living standards? Should the expats change
their lifestyles to eliminate any potential problems? How can the unique
advantages each brings to the situation be maximised in church planting?

* Similarly, we have explored just a few solutions to the problems
encountered when the efforts of tribal/national church planters are
hampered by them not having the resources and skills to do Scripture

* There has been some discussion about the unique challenges faced by
those doing church planting in cultures which are predominantly M.
(Personally I have had some limited exposure to one continent where this
is the case, but many of my SE Asian colleagues have benefited by
considering what is entailed for church planters there.)

* Recently there was a thread regarding syncretism and prayer.

Perhaps those examples will suffice.

I appreciate your challenge, brother Michael, to consider whether I am
guilty of holding a view which relegates Scripture to mere theory. I do
not believe this to be the case, but I can understand why you would ask.
As I have attempted to be part of a move towards better equipping and
advising the church planters with whom we work, I have struggled to
define principles which can be passed on to help others be more
effective in their ministries. I have done so by looking at Church Planting
situations which have been "successful" (I use the word with great
caution) and trying to discover key elements that can be applied in any
context. While I believe there are some very specific and unique facets
to the tribal church planting in which we are involved, I also believe
there are universals which apply anywhere. I am increasingly challenged
to realise that the foundations for all the "universals" are, in fact,
to be found in the New Testament - it should be both our text book and
our curriculum.

When I speak about practicality, I guess what I am saying is that I feel
we need a touch more, what shall I say...desperation? about us. I
understand the two are inextricably linked, but I wonder, in these days
in which we live, if there should be less of the asking and answering of
"why" and more about the "how". I truly hope I do not say any of this
from a position of having arrived anywhere, but as a fellow sojourner on
the Way.

With apologies for my long-windedness,
Paul Mc

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Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 19:48:01 +0700
From: "Link"
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Intro

Hi Paul,

Good to hear from you. I'm sorry you haven't been too satisfied with the
content of the group. Actually, based on the people I know who signed up,
assuming many of them are still on, there are people on here who could offer
some good insights into the issues you face. Maybe they don't for 2 reasons.

1. They are really busy, and this newsgroup is not a top priority in their
2. These topics never come up so they don't respond.

When I started advertizing to get this newgroup going, I was hoping there would
be a fair amount of miss'ns and practical missiology discussion. I think there
is still someone from every continent except Antartica online, but not everyone
in a miss'ns role contributes a lot.

There are some miss'naries and miss'nary trainers on this list that just sort of
lurk. If you post some miss'ns messages, others might respond on these lines.
Some of the posters who aren't lurkers have a lot to share along these lines.
Or you might just encourage others. You can also forward some interesting

I for one would welcome this group being 'invaded' by a few dozen miss'naries
out on the field asking practical questions about communicting the Gospel in
their own cultures. You could suggest to some active members of your smaller
list to come join us. It might stir up some conversation.

Btw, could you pass on some good emails from your other list?

Your work sounds a lot like like New Tribes work. If you'd like to tell me, I'd
like to know which SE Country you were in. You can email me.
is a little more secure for me. I'm in Indonesia, btw.

I would also be interested in finding out about yoru Bible study curriculum.
I've got a sort of vision (metaphorically speaking) that's been developing for
the past year or two, of a Bible study program to really educate people in the

What I am thinking of is children studying for several hours a week, learning
the Bible, commentaries, basic theology, hermenutic methods, different
approaches to eschatology, maps of Israel and the Roman world, intertestamental
history, Church history, Jewish history, the history of theology, the stories of
Christian martyrs, a little archeology, and contextual evangelism so that by the
time they reach adulthood, they really know the scriptures. The program would
be designed using lecture, discussion, projects, etc. to teach children to
reason scripturally and to think through issues. Someone who completes this
after-hours school would hopefully know more than someone with a Bible college
or seminary degree by the time he reached adulthood.

The program could be taught by parents, teachers, or both, and could be
integrated with a regular scripture reading schedule followed by the church. A
similar program for adults could be developed. The program could be
supplemented with Greek, Hebrew, and memorizing entire books of scripture. The
idea would be for any child who grows up in a Christian home to really know the

I also believe in elders being raised up through the church. A program like
this could do away with the need for Bible colleges. Anyone who went throught
he program would hopefully be qualified to be an elder in terms of
head-knowledge. The church could focus on having elders that truly have elder
character, rather than men who are merely academically qualified.

The program could be adapted and translated into different languages, made
available as public domain to be cheaply photocopiedin poor countries. The
basic skeleton of the program would be a scripture reading schedule. The
program would be designed to give Christians a Christian, Biblical world view
from the time of childhood.

Could anything you've written be used in such a program?

Reply to your second message,

About expat miss'naries with money teaming up with poorer locals- I can see how
that would be a problem. Here, just being white is enough to prove to everyone
that you are rich. People see me and think I'm rich. It's actually annoying.
I don't like being thought of as rich. By their standards, I am. Even when I
was making what would be below the poverty level in the US a few years back here
teaching, I was rich by some local standards.

Here, I don't see a lot of expats living poor. White means rich here, so it
doesn't matter. You still don't blend in if your white. This is an M context,
so the whites usually just work behind the scenes if they do real contextual
work aimed at M's, helping with training schools or businesses to fund works.
Among the Chinese, they can be more out in the forefront.

Those who really try to win M's here usually use a house ch model. Another
alternative is a kind of synchretized model, which I don't agree with, but some
are trying 'Chrislam' (or 'Chrisis' i.e. crisis.) Chrislam converts keep
reading their old scriptures in addition to the Bible, and don't get baptized.
maybe the idea is to gradually wean them off the old scritpures they used, in
some cases. I think some just want to Christianize the former religion.
Playing with fire.

HC seems to be having some success among M's here. Not a people movement, but
several dozen HC's made up of one or two households, the last I heard. It's a
rough environment. HC is the only realistic alternative, besides the
Jesus-m'sque idea. Traditional buildings get burnt down. Besides, if a
ministry model allows for regular believers to minister, it works a lot better
for these tiny HC's than a one-man Bible college graduate, salaried pastor

One person who has worked with a M. peple group says that if the leaders of
these tiny groups get sent away to Bible college, it is damaging to the group.
They loose their leaders. Training needs to be done in-house. I could also see
how hiring Bible college pastors could lead to the problem of leaders being of a
different race.

Ironically, though, the HC planters being trained are usually Bible colelge
graduates, often fresh Bible college graduates. The ironic thing is that the HC
models so many hold tend to factor no clergy-laity distinction. Yet young Bible
college grads are flexible enough to go with the 'new idea' of primitive church.
A couple of people who run Church Planting schools have told me that, since Bible college
students get up to pray at 4 am in the dorm and live a disciplined life in
college, they tend to be the ones with the discipline to do this type of work.
They tried 'lay people' and it doesn't seem to work.

>From what I understand, the church planters want to raise up local leadership
though, in some of these situations. Hopefully, a generation of local people
within these people groups will rise up who go out and do ev. work. That is
what some of the m'naries running the schools would like to see.

Link Hudson

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

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 20:51:27 +0700
From: "Link"
Subject: Re: [ntcp] quakers

The Quaker movement started in the 1600's in England. George Fox went around
preaching to get away from the false shepherds and to turn to Christ your
teacher, and to repent. Fox considered the Independents, the Baptists, the
Ranters, etc. etc. to be false sects, and considered the 'Friends' to be true
Christians. The Friends were derisively called Quakers.

Fox went around prophesying, and so did a lot of other Quakers. They had open
meetings with mutual participation. The earliest Quakers met in homes and other
places. Later, Quakers built simple meeting houses, but one of their doctrines
from early on is that the places to meet were not 'churches,' but that the
church was the body of Christ.

Quakers didn't practice water baptism. Fox strangely interpreted Acts to call
water baptism John's baptism. While the earliest Quakers believed in the
inspiration of scripture, their lack of emphasis on it made for an environment
where some liberal modern Quakers have a very low view of scripture. There were
positive and negative aspects to the movement. And the Quakers displayed some
of the positive and negative aspects of the modern HC movement as well. They
were a lot more exclusive. There was even the 'Babylon' warcry about other
churches as well.

Quaker ecclesiology is similar in some ways to some HC views of ecclesiology.
They didn't have clergymen, but just recognized that certain people had
different gifts and roles. It was interesting to read William Penn's, I think,
or was it Barclay's description of what is now termed '5-fold ministries.' They
were 'ahead of their time' in some ways theologically (or more primitive.)

Fox would go into churches and debate with priests. I think there might have
been a forum for discussion and debate in church after the sermon in that time,
though. He was very much opposed to clergy receiving tithes or salary, and fond
of quoting a passage from Jeremiah about false shepherds.

One of the things I don't like about the Quaker movement was Fox's implication
that certain of his teachings, even clearly unbiblical ones, were from the
Spirit, and the fact that so many other Quakers parroted the same teaching
saying it was the witness of the Spirit. it reminded me how much doctrine these
days just comes from parroting some preacher's teachings, rather than returning
to the scriptures.

Some think of Fox as an evangelical with odd terminology (adapted from John's
writings) who paved the way for Wesley and the great evangelical revival of the
next century. The idea of personal salvation can be found in Fox's sermons
recorded in his journal. But he uses unusual terminology about turning to
Christ your teacher, and turning to the Light. Quakers believed in 'The Inner
Light' of Christ or the Holy Spirit.

There are different branches of Quakerism now. Some Quakers now don't even
consider themselves to be Christians. Some are humanists. Other Quakers are
more similar to old-fashioned Quakers minus the harsh negative attitude toward
other Christians and exclusivism, and some are evangelicals who under-emphasize
baptism. Some strains of the more old-fashioned type Quakers might also be
influenced by evangelicalism. I don't know about England, but I know there are
some conservative Quakers left in the US.

Not all Quakers are liberal atheistic humanists. There are 'Christ-centered'

Link Hudson

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

Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 13:53:38 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Intro

Paul McIlwain wrote:

> There has been much discussion (which has followed

> a number of different issues) regarding the possibilities

> of expat church planters partnering with tribal believers

> to go cross-culturally.

These would be Church Planting teams of ... how many people? Or does it work
out different ways in different contexts? Is this like, for example,
one (or more) ex-pat and one (or more) believing member of a local tribe
going further into a neighboring tribal area, getting permission to hang
around, then beginning lessons from the Bible? And if this or something
similar is the case, how would the ex-pat(s) be living which would be
substantially different than his/her tribal brother/sister in Christ?
Or are you talking about some sort of sending agency, where a local
believer(s) joins the ranks of an established mission but at 1/20th the
cost? Please forgive my ignorance. Could you please elaborate?

> Similarly, we have explored just a few solutions to the

> problems encountered when the efforts of tribal/national

> church planters are hampered by them not having the resources

> and skills to do Scripture translation.

So, ... don't leave us hanging; tell us what you have learned! I
am presently finishing up an M.A. in Hebrew Bible translation and so am
particularly interested to hear your response.

> Recently there was a thread regarding syncretism and prayer.

Did anyone discuss the very real possibility that they too (the
ex-pat missionaries) might be practicing a syncretisitic form of prayer
themselves? Or was the problem always with the locals' practices?

> I appreciate your challenge, brother Michael, to consider

> whether I am guilty of holding a view which relegates Scripture

> to mere theory.

I appreciate your willingness to look within, brother Paul. From
your "full gospel" approach to evangelism and Church Planting-- walking interested
groups through the Creator's _whole_ story-- I never thought that you
were "relegate[ing] Scripture to mere theory". The question I was
trying to communicate in my last post-- in light of your stated
inability to find one practical thing in any of our New Testament Church Proliferation discussions--
was actually related to the "set of lenses" you (and each of us) might
unconsciously wear when reading the Scriptures with Church Planting in mind. Are
such "lenses" more "missiological/anthropological/sociological" than--
for want of a better term at present-- "theological" ... or maybe
"biblical"? In other words, do you, for instance, ever question whether
there should even _be_ parachurch sending agencies? Do you think (...
and why/why not?) about how many people should be on Church Planting teams? Based on
scriptural paradigms. Do you contemplate what effect the Apostle Paul's
mandate/pattern of prioritizing Jewish people with the gospel should
have on your own outreach/Church Planting efforts? And/or teaching? Are these sorts
of issues I'm describing engraved in stone? Or negotiable? Why or why
not? And how can you (or any of us) defend your (our) current practice
in light of biblical paradigms engaged with sound hermeneutics? Or,
brother Paul, with the urgency which I agree we all should feel, might
such "why-ing" "instead of "how-ing" be seen by you as a waste of time--
as much, say, as trying to determine how many angels can dance on the
head of a pin? Why or why not. ;-)



End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #70

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