New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Friday, February 1 2002 Vol 02 : 029
[NTCP] Re: My Error
Re: [NTCP] Re: 1 million house churches in the US
[NTCP] Prayers essential to planting "Jesus"
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
[NTCP] Re: Ministry in my neck of the woods
[NTCP] 1 million new "simple churches" in the US

Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 09:54:22 -0800
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [NTCP] Re: My Error

Dear Mike,

I appreciated and got very refreshed by your post this morning, brother.

I believe this situation is a real example of "let the peace of Christ
arbitrate in your hearts". Thanks for opening up your heart in fellowship with
us all.

Sometimes in the church life we get offended by one another... but Hallelujah!
There's an "umpire" in our spirit. Generally He says "you're wrong".

"But Lord, he's more wrong than me!"

"That's okay... you're still wrong."

Sometimes the discussion goes on for a while... but eventually... "Amen."

When we can finally say amen to the "umpire" within us.. the peace also flows
within us again... and even out to the Body.

Brother Mike, thanks for flowing out the peace of Christ to us all this
morning. This is a big lesson for all of us in the church life. I believe your
experience of Christ today is a gain for us all.

Dan


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Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 18:16:20
From: "David Jaggernauth"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: 1 million house churches in the US

Dan said:

>I also have to amen what Stephanie shared about rapid expansion - if it's just
>a mushroom, that won't meet God's goal. It'll flash and then fade. A lot of
>activity but not much life. I believe that's the difference between
>"movements" and God's move on the earth.
>
>When the Lord moves through His Body - then whatever He does (whether fast or
>slow) will have the life supply to sustain it all the way unto His coming...
>and beyond! Hallelujah!!!

I have to make the following comment, when Jesus preached, he preached to
thousands. On the day of Pentecost only just over one hundred turned up. was
this small group those that actually got saved??

After pentecost, on the first day Peter preached 3000 got saved.

It seems to me God works with both the few and the many. I think there are
seasons in God. There are seasons when a few will respond to the call, and then
there are seasons when God will expand and add many. The important thing is
that we who labour must be sensitive to discern when the season changes because
i dont think god will hide it from us. I believe that the last church i was in
missed it's season of growth and expansion many years ago because the
leadership werent sensitive to what God was saying at the time, they insisted
on doing things the way they did for years before.

One thing to note, I dont think any of the apostles went around trying to
convince those who turned up on pentecost to come. They must have sent around
word, but those who came were drawn by the Lord.

David Jagg.


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Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 19:33:47 -0500
From: forwarded
Subject: [NTCP] Prayers essential to planting "Jesus"

[forwarded from "David Cummings"]

1. Pray for open doors "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and
thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message..."
Colossians 4:2,3 NIV

2. Pray for boldness in witnessing "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my
mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery
of the gospel" Ephesians 6:19 NIV

3. Pray that the Word of God will spread without hindrance "Finally, dear
brothers and sisters, I ask you to pray for us. Pray first that the Lord's
message will spread rapidly and be honoured wherever it goes..." 2
Thessalonians 3:1 NLT

4. Pray for protection "Pray, too, that we will be saved from wicked and evil
people, for not everyone believes in the Lord" 2 Thessalonians 3:2 NLT

5. Pray that our ministry will be accepted by believers "Pray...that my service
in Jerusalem will be acceptable to the saints there" Romans 15:31 NIV

6. Pray for God's guidance and assistance in travel "Pray...so that by God's
will I may come to you with joy" Romans 15:32 NIV

7. Pray for refreshment "Pray that...I together with you may be refreshed"
Romans 15:32 NIV


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Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 15:08:42 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Jay Ferris wrote:

>Dear Michael.
>
>If this is where you would like to draw the line in the sand, than I guess
>I'll have to respond, but I'm still not hopeful and so, without some sign from
>heaven, I am not inclined to prolong the discussion beyond this response. If
>others want to wade in, well and good, but I don't see it doing anything but
>spoiling those who listen.

That's fine, Jay. If you really feel like it would "spoil[] those who listen"
there isn't any point to continue. Besides, we really have nothing to debate
on the issue of MONOEPISCOPACY since my stand all along has been that Scripture
allows (not dictates) churches with only one overseer. You yourself wrote ...

>Frankly Michael, I'm not so hung up on plurality of eldership as I am on its
>authenticity. I would rather have one authentic elder, than a whole rabbit
>hutch full of bogus ones. But Two or more does help in confirming the
>authenticity of their authoritative witness, if only they were the real thing.

... and I agree with your bottom line: two or more are better. Authenticity is
more important than the numbers. No numbers are dictated in the NT, but all
the examples (save possibly what I have noted in Tim. and Tit.) are plural. So
this seems to have been standard. And it was standard in the synagogues as
well. A quick note on the use of the so-called "church fathers" and I'll quit:
when someone pulls out a Strong's concordance he is not affording a tool the
status of Scripture. I'm with you and Stephanie-- SOLA SCRIPTURA. But there
are times when we need Strong's help to figure out a word or two, and there are
times when it is handy to know a Jewish custom, idiom, mindset to illuminate
certain passages of the Bible. Likewise (imo), there are times when it is
handy to look up what the infant church was doing to see how they interpreted
what the Apostles (often firsthand) had taught them. Just another tool for
Bible study, but not the writings with authority themselves.

Michael
Jerusalem


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Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 15:10:46 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] Re: Ministry in my neck of the woods

Mike Gastin had written that he was interested in hearing what was happening in
our individual ministries. Others have expressed like interest. The following
is a news/prayer/support letter I send out monthly which will help you see for
yourself. This is the January edition. The best part, of course, is ... you
get to hear from my wife, Deborah. At the end. Enjoy!

**************** Dear Lovers of God and Followers of Yeshua,

Our Saturday night home meeting is, as usual, more miss than it is hit. We
periodically get a person or two to come over for supper, prayer, and some time
in Bible study. But some "home group" nights we get the house all cleaned, a
special dinner cooked, the table set, ... and have a nice time together, just
the Millier family. This last Saturday night was different though. We already
had Dawn's little Russian Jewish friend from school over. Lota. She was
spending the night. And we were expecting a newcomer to Israel over for
supper/study. However, a couple of hours before supper Deborah received a
phone call from Serena. She had just moved into a new flat several blocks away
and, since it was cold and rainy and she didn't have a car or a winter coat,
she gave us a "rain check". It was okay. At least she called. We're used to
spending our "home group" nights together-- just our family-- enjoying God's
goodness to us. Nevertheless, it was nice to have Lota over. But as we sat
down to eat, our door buzzer buzzed. Serena had made it! Her boyfriend gave
her a ride. We welcomed Serena into our home thinking she was already a
follower of Yeshua the Messiah. After all, she had sought us out. And she had
attended last week's Shabbat (Sabbath) services at NETIVYAH, our congregation.
As we chatted together we learned that Serena was most recently from Virginia,
though she had roots in New York. We could tell from her accent. Serena is a
Jewish psychologist in her fifties who has come to Israel to write a book. She
is looking for a group which is spiritual, intimate, open, and will hold
individual members accountable for their behavior-- my dream for our home
group. As she shared about herself a bit more it became clear though that
Serena is a member of a cult called Unity International. You might have heard
of them. She raved about their teachings, that all problems exist in the mind,
and that we have to look for the "Christ" in each of us. She had first become
aware of the idea of a personal relationship with God through their group. Now,
I don't want to poo-poo her spiritual journey; she is a seeker, and that hunger
comes from the one true God (Joh. 6:44). Also, Serena has begun in these last
few months to read the Bible-- Old and New Testament. An encouraging sign. As
it dawned on me that Serena is not actually a born again follower of Jesus, I
was faced with a decision: address the issue of faith in Yeshua alone for
salvation, or allow the differences in our beliefs to manifest naturally,
without confrontation, through the simple study of the Scriptures. I followed
the gentle prompting of God's Spirit and we waded into the text of Paul's
letter to the Galatians. Through a question/answer format we discovered
together who Paul was. About his past as a zealous orthodox disciple of Rabban
Gamaliel, the celebrated Hillel's (famous in Jewish circles) learned grandson.
About what the word "apostle" means. About what the gospel Paul sought to
defend meant; what exactly is the "gospel of Jesus Christ". Grace. Faith. We
read, discussed, and prayed together. Then I walked Serena down to where she
could catch a cab back home. Before Serena left she said, "Hmmm, I'm going to
have to read the book of Galatians this week". It was ALL new to her. One
complaint she had about the "Unity people" was that they "never read the
Bible". As she reads the Scriptures for herself, Serena will encounter God's
perspective on what it means to be spiritual. What is true intimacy, openness,
accountability. And more importantly, she will discover that salvation is not
solely dependent on "what is in your mind"-- important as it is to "think on
[good] things" (Phil. 4:8)-- but rather dependent on WHO died for her sins in
objective reality. Along with her necessary faith-response. Our desire is for
our home to be used of God to provide an informal context for such discussions.
That we would welcome all in the name of Yeshua the Messiah and teach them
what God's word says about how to live life-- beginning with the good news of
eternal life. God sent us a ray of hope in Serena. Pray that what she learns
from the Bible, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, will take hold of her heart and
provide her with all the hope she needs in this life. And the next.

PLEASE PRAY FOR:

1) Lasting peace in this land. Not a day goes by when someone isn't shot or
blown up. Also pray for peace in America. In Afghanistan. Throughout the
world. Even so, come Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20)!

2) The future of Jerusalem University College and our related plans for
ministry here in Israel. The Philippines. Or elsewhere.

3) Serena to come to faith in her Messiah. Pray that God's word would convict
her and ultimately drive her to Yeshua. Pray that we can stay in contact with
her and that we can continue to share with her through the written word about
the Word made flesh.

4) Moni (orthodox Jewish man who lives with us) to come to faith in Yeshua. He
got kicked out of his yeshiva (Jewish seminary) because of his pro-peace
(interpreted by many as pro-Palestinian) activities. He is slowly moving out
of our home and has imminent plans to take off for Italy or Greece for an
extended period of time. To find a wife. He has not been terribly open to
discuss much about Jesus with me recently, though he still has many Messianic
Jewish and gentile Christian friends who continue to share with him. He
brought home some "yeshiva mates" a couple of weeks ago and we had an
interesting, though brief, discussion on Bible prophecy and the Messiah. It was
good fun!

5) Miriam (orthodox Jewish lady I periodically write about) to come to faith in
Yeshua. I have "bumped into" her a number of times this past month-- more than
in the last three months combined. She is still open to talk about Jesus, and
likes speaking with Deborah and I because we don't tell her she has to stop
keeping the Law in order to be saved. Pray for her to find a suitable place to
live as her own apartment was flooded and her landlord won't do anything to
help this single mother of two.

6) God's anointing on various teaching opportunies including my Shabbat School
class at NETIVYAH in which I instruct children on the Sermon on the Mount (Mat.
chps 5-7). Also, I received an invitation to teach periodically, on a
semi-scholarly level, at the Narkis St. Congregation's "Jerusalem School of
Synoptic Research" Bible study. Likewise I am exploring the possibility of
teaching at a local Bible Institute (affiliated with a house church) which
trains struggling Jewish, Arab, and foreign (African, Filipino) pastors in
biblical/theological topics. For free or next to nothing. Shalom and Salaam
(... may it come soon!) from Jerusalem,

Michael

P.S. A note from Deborah :-) :

Going back a little further in time: Christmas Eve, Michael, Dawn, Matthew and
friends of ours from the States journeyed to Bethlehem. Getting through the
check point, though a little more involved, was still easy for these western
"tourists". But this year Bethlehem was very quiet, Dawn says. There were no
decorations except what few things were in the shop windows. With Arafat
threatening to come to Bethlehem despite Israel forbidding him, Michael's
little group decided to head back shortly after lunch in case there was any
"action". I stayed here in Jerusalem, purchasing last minute gifts and waiting
for Ian to arrive home from school.

Christmas was a quiet affair, even in the Millier house. Unlike other
Christmases when students stayed behind between semesters to keep the expenses
down and so joined us for dinner, this semester there were no students and
everyone else seemed to have other plans. We did enjoy our Christmas, however,
and the children kept up enough antics and play that the "quiet" part was only
due to lack of numbers, not enthusiasm.

The first of the year came (Michael's and my 16th anniversary!), and, because
there are no students for Spring semester, I began working at JUC only on a
part-time basis, during the hours that Dawn is in school. Not only that, but
instead of working mainly in the library, I am now working in the former
registrar's office next to the main reception area. My new job description
involves primarily grant research/writing and some secretarial work for the
president of the college. Despite the changes, I still feel that God would
have me continue working here during this time, and beyond. It is difficult,
sometimes even depressing, seeing what has happened to this school in the last
year and a half. But I rejoice in this, that God is still faithful. I have
also had opportunities to encourage both Esther, our Korean volunteer
receptionist, and Paul, our registrar and short-term director, during these
past few weeks as they struggle with events going on here at the school and in
the country. I want to thank all who have been praying for me and the
situation here at Jerusalem University College.

Grace and peace to you,
Deborah


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Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 17:42:56 EST
From: DenverWH
Subject: [NTCP] 1 million new "simple churches" in the US

As some of you know, I've been sending out short articles on house church
ministry every couple of weeks for the last two years to an elist of interested
people. (Glad to add any of you to the list if you are interested.)

The most recent article is found below and, in my mind, is another important

aspect of the discussion about planting one million churches in the US in this
decade. So, this is the second point that I want to make.

First point: Our passion ("divine obsession" - Sam) must be God's passion.

His passion is to bless all the families in the U.S. (and the rest of the
earth).

Second point: The spontaneous multiplication of organic NT churches would be

one channel that God could use to bless all the families in the U.S. Only that
which is simple, multiplies spontaneously and quickly.

See what you think.

Subj: Eight New Churches Planted in One Day! Date: 01/30/2002 5:30:41 PM
Mountain Standard Time
From: DenverWH Dear Church,

"EIGHT NEW CHURCHES PLANTED IN ONE DAY!"

Headlines from the National Inquirer? Another report from some wild church
planter in China or India?

No.

It's what we did last Sunday in our house church. I'm not sharing this to be
spectacular. Rather, I want to point up a foundational shift in how we thin
about church. This shift can be summed up in the term "simple church".
Consider these quotes:

Neil Cole: "Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission
in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the
transference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the
process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the
process, the more available it is to the broader Christian population."
Cultivating a Life for God, p. 35

Roland Allen: "Thus, St. Paul seems to have left his newly-founded churches

with a simple system of Gospel teaching, two sacraments, a tradition of the
main facts of the death and resurrection, and the Old Testament. There was
apparently no form of service, except of course the form of the sacraments, nor
any form of prayer, unless indeed he taught the Lord's Prayer to us remarkably
little. We can hardly believe that a church could be founded on so slight a
basis. And yet it is possible that it was precisely the simplicity and brevity
of the teaching which constituted its strength teaching the simplest elements
in the simplest form to the many, and by giving them the means by which they
could for themselves gain further knowledge, by leaving them to meditate upon
these few fundamental truths, and to teach one another what they could
discover, St. Paul ensured that his converts should really master the most
important things. Missionary Methods Paul's Or Ours?, p. 90

This all came together for me a couple of months ago when I heard Steve Steele,
President of DAWN Ministries, make these statements: "The continuedgrowth of
Christian churches in China - mostly underground house churches - has something
to do with three convictions widespread among Chinese Christians. The Chinese
love the progression "good, better, best" so the three mottoes are "It is good
for a Christian to lead someone to Christ. It is better to plant a church. It
is best to plant a church-planting movement."

Indian Christians have three similar convictions. "Every Christian can plant a
church; every house can become a church; every church can become a Bible
school." "

Every Christian - a church planter. Every house or family - a church. Wow!
What a concept!

As I thought about it, it made sense. It's consistent with the most basic
definition of church. "For where two or three come together in My name, there
am I with them." Mt. 18:20

I (a simple church planter) began to share this simple principle about simple
church with my house church. I taught them three simple things that a church
does. Last Sunday, eight families said, "We can do that. We see that we are,
in fact, already a church and we are ready to begin functioning like a church
this week." We planted eight new churches last Sunday!

We agreed that our existing Sunday morning meeting would change. It now become
a training time. "What did Jesus do in your church last week? What were you
encouraged with? What problems did you have? How can we help each other?"

K.I.S.S.

For me, the goal of one million house churches in the U.S in this decade just
became a little more realistic. More on simple church in my next email.

John White
House Church Coach
Denver, CO.

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #29

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