New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Sunday, February 10 2002 Vol 02 : 036
[NTCP] Simple Bible Study Methods
Re: [NTCP] The end of the thread?
[NTCP] That Nicolaitan doctrine
Re: [NTCP] The end of the thread?
Re: [NTCP] The end of the thread?
Re: [NTCP] The end of the thread?

Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 20:36:28 +0700
From: Link
Subject: [NTCP] Simple Bible Study Methods

I teach a high school Sunday school class in a church that meets in a rented
facility. (**Ducks stones***)

One thing that has served as an 'inspiration' for the method of teaching I've
been using is a description of Bob Fitt Sr.'s simple Bible college study
methods. It involves getting together with maybe 10 people and taking turns
reading through a passage of scripture, verse by verse, switching readers every
couple of verses and allowing anyone to ask a question or comment between
readers. Bob Fitts suggests that there be a leader for the Bible study to keep
it on track.

What we have been doing recently in Sunday school is we go through passages
related to a topic, or else one long passage, and use basically a 'simple Bible
college' study method. A lot of people come and go from our international
church, and especially with holidays, we get a large fluctuation in attendance.
If we have 5 or 6 young people, this simple Bible study method can generate
some conversation. Some of the teens can have a lot of good things to say on
certain passages. I really have to ask questions to get them to talk
sometimes.

On days when we have a lot of students, 10 or 12, the teens are more reluctant
to talk. Sometimes we do group work. Today, I had them go over some of the
beatitudes verse by verse in a group. They were to figure out what the verses
were saying, and how they could apply it to their lives.

Unfortunately, a lot of the kids don't bring Bibles. Because most Sunday
school kids are young, I suppose, the church bought the New Living Translation-
a very loose translation in some places. So today, some of the kids were
reading "God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice' instead of
'Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." 'Thirst for
Justice' sounds like a title for a Steven Segal film. So I asked them to let
the person with something besides the NLT read the verses they discussed.

After group work, some of the kids were able to share a little more with the
larger group. But still, with a straight Bible study like this, I do most of
the talking and teaching.

When fewer people come, especially if I throw in a lot of thought-provoking
questions, sometimes the teens will do maybe 30% of the talking in the big
group. With a larger group, maybe they may talk 10 or 15%. I think part of
the reason they contribute little is because they are young and, depending on
the topic, may have little to share. They have also been raised in a
'pulpit-pew' church format, so listening to a teacher is probably what they
consider to be the norm.

I work in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Language teaching is a bit different from other fields. Teachers are,
theoretically, supposed to let their students talk a lot in the class to get
them to practice using the language. Some experts in the field want teachers
to do less than 50% of the talking in class, and let the students do the rest
of the talking.

I'd like to see my students share more good insights into the word of God
during these classes. But, as much as I believe in mutual ministry, I don't
think that 'getting everyone talking' is the guiding principle of a meeting.
Edification is. As these young people grow in their Christian walk, study the
word of God more and learn about him, I believe they will have more to share as
they get older. Teenagers seem a little more shy about sharing with a big
group, too. So much of teaching in churches and Sunday school classes doesn't
really involve in-depth study of the scriptures. It seems like a lot of
preachers get two or three verses to expound on, and spend 40 minutes with
illustrations to make their point. And since a lot of preachers just hop from
passage to passage from one Sunday to the next, it is unlikely that someone who
spends decades in a church that practices this would actually study much
scripture in the actual church meetings. (I grew up in the Bible belt, and
spent a lot of time in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.)

There are exceptions. Some preachers teach through a book of the Bible, verse
by verse. As far as sermons go, I've come to appreciate verse by verse
exposition.

In Sunday schools, it seems like a lot of churches have little books with
lessons that focus on a few verses or a few short passages. The rest of the
book seemed to be filled with stories to illustrate their points. Most of my
experience with Sunday school books was in the younger classes when I was a
child. I know some churches teach through books of the Bible or have thematic
Bible study in adult Sunday school classes.

Just thinking back about the Sunday school books I read in church, especially
by the time I got into middle school, I think I would have been better off just
studying through passages of the Bible. Sunday school books typically have
little stories in them trying to relate some principle of scripture to
real-life, but the actual amount of scripture one studies when going through
these books can be rather small. The Bible is a great book for a Bible study.

I used to teach 5th graders in Sunday school. They had Sunday school handouts
that had Bible stories on them. The text for the stories came right out of the
Bible, and were in yellow. That was good. There were also activities and
colorful pictures on their handouts. I realize that handouts are less
intimidating than asking students to open up the Bible- that thick book with no
pictures, but I did have the students read the same verses right out of the
Bible sometimes. I wanted them to get used to reading the Bible itself. Some
of the teachers saw these kids talking about the Bible after class, opening it
up, reading it, and talking about it.

Maybe if some of these young people actually read the Bible in church, they
might get interested in reading it outside of church. I got an email from one
of the students from the high school class after we studied the first three
chapters of Revelation together. He had gotten interested in what 'I will give
him the morning star' meant, and looked up some things in the Bible about 'the
morning star.' I think a lot of people might get a taste for the word of God,
and want to study at home, if they just really spent some time digging into the
scriptures in their gatherings with other believers. Link Hudson


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Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 09:15:15 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] The end of the thread?

JAMESRUTZ wrote:

>NICOLAITANISM WAS AND IS THE BIGGEST DISASTER IN HISTORY SINCE THE FALL.
>Nothing else comes even close. We MUST find ways to replace it with something
>better and more attractive. We MUST nurture a Christian culture that is free
>of its deadly grasp.

Dear Jim,

Down stream of my 2/9 post on Allegory is a conclusion that speaks to this
concluding paragraph of yours. God's kind of love does not walk away, taking
others with it. God's kind of love sees Jesus in others, and responds
accordingly. When God's kind of love sees Jesus in others, it realizes that
Jesus is bigger than any one of us, so that in our own understanding Jesus
inceases, and we decrease. In the process we are built up into the full measure
of the stature of what Jesus prayed, and died to give us. We really do need to
repent of calling things church that clearly God has never, and never will call
a church. One place one church. Anything else is highly suspect, and so is
anyone who presides over such an arrangement, no matter what kind of building
its in. As I recall it, the Elijah ministry is one of repentence, and
preparation.

Thanks for your input.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 22:25:37 +0700
From: Link
Subject: [NTCP] That Nicolaitan doctrine

I hope you guys don't mind if I get on my soap box (as if I've ever gotten off
of it.)

Two of my many 'pet peeve doctrines' and practices are the frequent use of
'spirit of (insert problem name) and the current house church doctrine of what
Nicolaitanism means (which was a doctrine in the 'Little Flock' movement in
China, and perhaps came from the Exclusive Brethren.'

James Rutz wrote,

>>just a symptom of a far larger problem, Nicolaitanism. Restricting the
oversight of a congregation to one guy merely makes it simpler for a
power-lover to control (nicao) the people (laos) of
God.>>http://www.whitedoveministries.org/Articles/spirit_of_the_nicolaitans.htm
The spirit of the Nicolaitans deteriorates the structure of the church body by
attempting to create subordinates rather than brothers and sisters. A slave
brought under this kind of authority is always distraught and nervous because
of the great responsibility and expectations to please his master.î This
creates an irrational spirit or a neurotic mind-set rather than a spirit of
peace. It promotes insecurity rather than abiding strength. Many Christians
leave the church because of the wounds this creates and their feelings of
insufficiency. >This creates an irrational spirit or a neurotic mind-set Jim
and Jay,

Have you ever read a book by Nathan O. Hatch called "The Democratization of
Christianity?" It is about the Second Great Awakening (or what I like to call
the Great American Counter-Reformation) and how Jacksonian Democracy changed
Christianity into a new Christianity based on radical individualism and the
idea of social contract that the US based her constitution on from early
Enlightenment thinkers Locke and Hobbs. Not that Hatch seemed to think this was
a bad thing, he seems very sympathetic to his subject matter.

Dowie, Finney, and the rest basically treated the Bible as if it had come down
from heaven unread except for them for the last 2000 years. That their
interpretations turned out to reflect the egalitarian, anti-intellectual,
democratic ethos of the day is hardly suprising because they did not take into
consideration who wrote the biblical text or why they were written.

The OT (and NT texts, for that matter) depict God as Monarch, a sovereign king
who ruled the universe as He saw fit. He is loving and just as He judges the
nations, but He nevertheless rules the nations whether they serve Him or not.
In one of the hundreds of passages in the OT, Isaiah spoke for God to the
disobedient, idol worshipping nation of Judah:

"Do not forget this, you guilty ones. And do not forget these things I have
done throughout history. For I am God -- I alone! I am God, and there is no one
else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it
happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish..." Is.
46:8-10 NLT

God wasn't thought of as a Father in the OT -- that wasn't how the Israelis
thought of Him, anyway. He was the Lawmaker, the One who was faithful in His
blessings and His cursings. He was to be feared and honored. It was the
Incarnation that introduced the concept of God as Father -- but always within
the context of God as King!

Paul wrote this: "How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we
believe in Christ. Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and
chose us to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has
always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through
Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the
wonderful kindness he has poured out on us because we belong to his dearly
loved Son.... God's secret plan has now been revealed to us; it is a plan
centered on Christ, designed long ago according to his good pleasure. And this
is the plan: at the right time he will bring everything together under the
authority of Christ -- everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because
of Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, fro he chose us from the
beginning, and all things happen just as he decided long ago." Ep! hesians
1:3-11 NLT

I don't want to argue predestination -- what I want to do is point out the
difference between their culture and ours in understanding Paul. The ancients,
the Romans as well as the Hebrews, thought very differently than we moderns do.
They had no problem blending the concept of Kingship and fatherhood. They would
have just looked at you funny if you suggested that those who ruled could only
rule at the consent of the governed, the people. God was the Sovereign King,
and as such Jesus was ruler and Sovereign as well. Is He not the "Head" of His
body, the King of the Kingdom of Heaven? And although we are adopted as His
brothers and sisters, we are also citizens of that Kingdom. Not citizens as
would be with Rome of Athens, but subjects of the Divine King.

The Kingdom of God is a hierarchy with God as Father and Son at the top. Christ
rules that Kingdom in each one of us thru the Spirit that established it there.
The Church is both Gentiles and Jews together, remade into a new body: "For
Christ himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all
one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us.
By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the
Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between between Jews and Gentiles by
creating in himself one new person from the two groups... So now you Gentiles
are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of
God's holy people...." Ephesians 2:14-18 NLT

One God, one King, one Kingdom -- just what mankind had been trying to do with
absolute monarchism: "There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there
is only one God the Father, who is over us and in us all and living through
us." Ephesians 4:5 NLT

Yet although Jesus is the King, when He ascended He left gifts that would equip
God's people do His work and build up His "Body" until they came to such unity
and knowledge of God's Son that they would be mature and full grown in the
Lord. To these particular people He gave as gifts to the church: apostles,
prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers. They are gifts because they are the
ones who will lead the Body into the unity and knowledge that will produce
maturity in the subjects of God's Kingdom. They have authority to lead by God
who gave the gift, but they are responsible to use their gifts as servants
instead of being mini-kings. And when I read Titus, I read a certain amount of
authority given to the Elder or Elders.

The results of these gifts to the church should be that through mutual
submission, (The people are to submit to these gifts, and the gifts are to
serve them and equip them.) all will no longer be like children, forever
changing their minds about what they believe because some smooth operator has
very cleverly lied to them and made that lie sound like the truth. They will
instead hold to the truth in love becoming more and more like Christ -- loving,
joyful, peaceful, good, kind, gentle, faithful, patient, and self-controlled --
who is the head of the body, the church.

The one church is based not on a shared experience, emotion, or a shared
concept -- it is to be based on just one message -- the Good News of Jesus
Christ, the unchanging truth given by God once for all time to his holy people.
And ritual and liturgy was a part of life -- ancient cultures were warrior
cultures where everyone was armed. All life was one huge dance of elaborate
etiquette! Do you guys really think the 1st Century Church just met, shared,
were vulnerable with each other, and finished it off with a meal?

I took a class at UMASS, and the teacher on one of the first class times said
something that made me think: Why is Christianity, based on the concept of
Christ as King and thus Monarchy, so identified with a culture and society
based on Democracy, the social contract? I could only have given her one
answer: it couldn't be, not unless the people of that society had basically
changed the message of Christianity to conform to their own cultural bias.

I had always wondered at the phrase "Make Christ your Lord and Savior." Now I
don't -- we really think we can. It is beginning not to surprise me that of all
the house church meetings I've been in since I got here reflect radical
individualism, egalitarianism, and anti-intellectualism of the people of the
Good Ole' US of A.

On house church thought the book of Romans addressed primarily to unbelieving
Jews, and when I very politely questioned this teaching of the guy who was the
teacher for the night (after all I was the visitor there for the first time)
they basically asked me not to come back.

Well, I'm rambling now, so I'll close this out. What do you guys think about
this? Am I on the right track? Can we claim the modern house church movement to
actually be the "1st century church" when we have no clue as to what that was
all about? I'm not trying to provoke you all, but all this has left me
wondering...

TC


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Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 17:00:12 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] The end of the thread?

TheologusCrucis wrote:

>Jim and Jay,
Dear TC,

You addressed this one to Jim and me, and, having read it, I'm not sure what
your point is in connection with anything we have said. Are you suggesting that
we submit ourselves to a division of the Body of Christ, when it is clear,
yesterday, today, and forever, that Christ is not divided?

If so, which of the divisions to you deem valid?

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 18:17:28 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] The end of the thread?

Jay,

Howdy! First off, I guess I should have addressed my post more to Jim. I
addressed you both because what you have both been saying about the single
bishop thread seems to complement each other.

Jim had written:

>>My own arrogant opinion: If we are ever to escape the spiritual clutches
of the institutional church , we must not provide fertile ground for
monarchical Christianity. Plural leadership / servantship should be the norm.
But on the other hand, we must be reasonable about this. There are beaucoup of
situations where a lone church planter is surrounded by new converts or
spiritual BABIES (my acronym for Born Again But Is Enjoying Siesta). He would
dearly love to share his responsibilities with other genuine elders or
overseers, but they just aren't on the horizon. In such situations, we ought
to give the guy (gal) a pat on the back and some assurance that he's on the
right trackJay,

Howdy! First off, I guess I should have addressed my post more to Jim. I
addressed you both because what you have both been saying about the single
bishop thread seems to complement each other.

Jim had written:

>>My own arrogant opinion: If we are ever to escape the spiritual clutches
of the institutional church , we must not provide fertile ground for
monarchical Christianity. Plural leadership / servantship should be the norm.
But on the other hand, we must be reasonable about this. There are beaucoup of
situations where a lone church planter is surrounded by new converts or
spiritual BABIES (my acronym for Born Again But Is Enjoying Siesta). He would
dearly love to share his responsibilities with other genuine elders or
overseers, but they just aren't on the horizon. In such situations, we ought
to give the guy (gal) a pat on the back and some assurance that he's on the
right track

I think that Paul was thinking that Christianity was Monarchial -- as was the
rest of the church, Jews and Gentiles alike. Of course I am probably wrong, but
what I read here in the words "plurality of elders" is egalitarian democracy --
that an Elder only serves by the consent of the rest of the congregation. Yes,
they are to be servants and examples of servanthood. But by what Paul wrote in
Ephesians 4, they are also to lead by being what they are gifted by God to be.

A shepherd leads, directs, a flock. Or a group of shepherds. Whichever. They
say that way, and the sheep go there. Pastor/teachers are not THE Shepherd, but
they are given a gift and authority to lead and direct. And this is a hierarchy
-- Paul says that the body is to "obey your spiritual leaders and do what they
say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable
to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow..." Hebrews
1317 NLT

In writing Titus, Pau says an Elder "must have a strong and steadfast belief in
the trust worthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage
others with right teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.
For there are many who rebel against right teaching; they engage in useless
talk to deceive people. This is especially true of those who insist on
circumcision for salvation. They must be silenced..." Titus 1:9, 10 NLT

Whoever that person is would have to be able to wield authority to silence this
teaching -- and to back it up to be able to toss those who would be
unrepentant. It wouldn't have been a group decision! As Mr. Anderson asked, do
we really need a guy like that? I'd say yes.

But even beyond this: most house church people, like yourself and Jim, are
pretty convinced that you have the blueprint for what the 1st Century church
looked like and did. From a lot of the posts on this list, one would think that
a first century believer would be able to attend and fit right in. My
contention is the opposite, that we have interpreted the house church thru
Modern eyes and have ended up far, far away from what the 1st century church
looked like.

But we have no idea what the first Century Hebrew concept of Theocracy, or the
warrior code of the Romans, interacted with early Christianity. I guess what
I'm trying to get at is this: should all of us, including myself, be way more
wary of saying of what we have in comparison to the 1st Century that this is
that?

Blessings, Jay, with hopefully a little more clarity on my part :)

TC
 

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #36

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