New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Friday, February 15 2002 Vol 02 : 040
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people
Re: [NTCP] RE: What constitutes a church...response to TC
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
[NTCP] To TC: confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: What constitutes a church...response to Sam

Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 15:21:03 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Jim Rutz wrote:

>4. MONOEPISCOPACY. The last thing I asked the Greek teacher about was your
>question, "Why did no one call them (Ignatius and Justin Martyr) down if they
>were doing something against the biblical revelation?" Darned good question,
>and I've thought about it a LOT.
>
>In response, he reminded me of three things:

Yesterday I covered the first of those "three things" Jim's Greek teacher
friend "reminded" him of, in response to my question. I provided firm
historical counter-evidence that the leading churches throughout the Roman
empire, from the Apostolic period until the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) all had
MONOEPISCOPACIES. And that none of the ANTE-NICENE (before the Nicene Council)
writers-- nine volumes worth of debates and treatises-- seemed to have a
problem with it. Not one. That does not prove that MONOEPISCOPACY should be
normative for us today. I don't believe it should. But it does point to the
interesting conclusion that the earliest historical churches had no beef with
such a mono-bishop set-up. One has to wonder why?

Not forbidden in Scripture; practiced by many in the early church. Hmmmm ... I
wonder if some of us might have the same *freedom* too.

Today I will try to tackle the second and third things Jim's Greek teacher
friend reminded him about:

>Second, that early Christianity was fighting for its life against Rome, and
>Christians felt like they had to do SOMETHING.

But Jim, does this theory that the desperate Church "regrouped" under the
banner of the mono-bishop-- expediently ditching the more cumbersome, but
"scriptural" plurality model-- as a matter of survival, adequately account for
the recorded existance of a MONOEPISCOPACY under James in Jerusalem (c. 49
A.D.) before the much later Domitian persecution (ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.
Eusebius, book II, i-- emphasis mine)? Or for Linus' (mentioned in 2 Tim.
4:21) and Anacletus' successive MONOEPISCOPACIES in Rome (ECCLESIASTICAL
HISTORY. Eusebius, book I, xxii; book II, vi; book III, xiii, xiv)? These two
cared for the Roman Christian commuity before Clement (c. 90 A.D.) ... who
himself hints that he too was a mono-bishop (as was the Christian leader of
this time in Corinth-- 1ST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS, xl, xliv), with explicit
corroborative testimony about Clement from Eusebius (see above from EH).
Hence, James' Linus', Anacletus', and Clement's MONOEPISCOPACIES were before
any extensive Roman persecution of the Church.

Furthermore, Henry Bettenson, translator and editor of THE EARLY CHRISTIAN
FATHERS (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956, p. 5), suggests the following
about the emphasis on MONOEPISCOPACY in the letters of Ignatius (died c. 115
A.D.):

"... a time of persecution is not the suitable occasion for introducing
experiments, but rather for rallying around the old loyalties".

>Third, that in epic conflicts, there is a great tendency to adopt the patterns
>of your enemy. (E.g. here, resorting to a centralized command-and-control
>structure.)

Since this is really a sub-point of your (Jim's) Greek teacher friend's second
"reminder", I think it was adequately answered above.

So Jim, we have different interpretations for why segments of the early Church
were MONOEPISCOPAL: (1) as an ultimately misguided defense against Roman
persecution, or (2) as a sanctioned reading of the Apostles' teaching,
practiced early on in the Church in Jerusalem and Rome, as well as by leading
congregations in several sectors of the empire. Before extensive persecution.

I think it is easier now for those on this list to intelligently decide which
position better fits the historical evidence. Plurality models are certainly
the norm in Scripture ... and the Bible is our final authority on matters of
doctrine, but since no specific doctrine exists for the plurality of
overseers-- or against MONOEPISCOPACY-- and since we see a widespread practice
of MONOEPISCOPACY from the earliest times, it is simple enough to infer that it
was acceptable to the early believing community. And therefore may be employed
by us. Monday (God willing), we'll examine some evidence together against Jim's
objections (3. LEITOURGEO) to liturgy ...

- -MICHAEL
Jerusalem


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Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 08:58:46 -0500
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people

Hi David and Keith:

I think one of the problems with contemporary society is the constand drift
away from what is intended in the very texts of Scripture we use to define what
is needed or lacking in the Body of Christ.

There is no question that apostles are needed and their function have never
ceased, but rather men have controlled that 'office' ( I really do not like
this term 'office' for it contributes to the institutionalizing of all the good
things that the Spirit is doing in the Body!).

It is important to not that the five fold ministries listed in the text in Eph.
4, are NOT offices but PEOPLE who happen to apostolize, prophesy, evangelize,
teach, and pastor. The GIFTS ARE THE PEOPLE, and NOT the actual activities of
apostolizing, etc. that they do. We need to be very careful to understand that
within our own context.

If we grasp that PEOPLE are gifts of God to the church for the building up and
equipping of the saint, then we will realize that RELATIONSHIP/INTIMACY cannot
be divorced from the function or activities that these PEOPLE are involved
with. Relational activity and body ministry are the centre peice of body life
in the New Testament church.

People are accepted because they are God's gift to the body, and as a body, we
realize that we need one another to be the body of Christ (see Eph., Rom. 12, 1
Cor. 12-14). We cannot truly function as the body, apart from relational
aspect that was instituted by Christ Himself in choosing the 12 to be His
disciples. Jesus chose PEOPLE, not offices!

Office corrupt people and they end up controlling other people. Even some of
the disciples missed it, and did not comprehend that Jesus intended servant
leadership as PEOPLE, not offices. The two Zealots even got their mother in
the act of trying to get hiarchal positions for her sons in His Kingdom! So
close to the truth and so far from it!

Yes, we need servant leaders, who are PEOPLE of faith, who will build
relationships with house church planters.

If we really want to follow the NT pattern, the apostles are the ones who plant
house church's and move on! We need to really evaluate what we are doing!

Blessings,

Sam


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Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 10:09:55 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people

Samuel Buick wrote:

>Hi David and Keith:
>
>I think one of the problems with contemporary society is the constand drift
>away from what is intended in the very texts of Scripture we use to define
>what is needed or lacking in the Body of Christ.
>
>There is no question that apostles are needed and their function have never
>ceased, but rather men have controlled that 'office' ( I really do not like
>this term 'office' for it contributes to the institutionalizing of all the
>good things that the Spirit is doing in the Body!).

One way to see it is: 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..."

Jay


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


Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 15:49:37
From: "David Jaggernauth"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people

>Samuel Buick wrote:
>
>>Hi David and Keith:
>>
>>I think one of the problems with contemporary society is the constand drift
>>away from what is intended in the very texts of Scripture we use to define
>>what is needed or lacking in the Body of Christ.
>>
>>There is no question that apostles are needed and their function have never
>>ceased, but rather men have controlled that 'office' ( I really do not like
>>this term 'office' for it contributes to the institutionalizing of all the
>>good things that the Spirit is doing in the Body!).
>
Jay wrote:

>One way to see it is: 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..."
>
>Jay

These are two very well taken points. One thing I have noticed in scriptures
was that whenever Paul referred to his companions who were with him they were
always referred to as , co-labourer, beloved brother, fellow servant etc. He
never distinguished himself in any way from those who were with him. they were
always reffered to as being on an equal level.

It is apparent to me that he was close to those who were with him and as such
knew who he could trust. He even supported them financially when necessary, he
didnt expect them to serve him, although I am sure they did as well, being
fellow servants.

I guess we will feel safest submitting under Godly authority when it is
expressed the biblical way. but many of us may be fearful because of past
experiences in situations that werent exactly biblical. Some of us may have to
be delivered from fear of authority ( I am serious about this because it is a
very real issue). Fear of authority can even be traced back to bad father-son
relationships that have never been fully dealth with. This would be a big
hindrance to a person's spiritual growth.

When you work closely with a group of people on a regular basis you begin to
see their gifting and it will come forward if each person in the group has
committed themselves to helping each other come forth. Not trying to seek our
places at the expense of each other, or imposing our gifting upon others. If
youre more mature or more spiritually gifted, i dont think its necessarily
because you have to lead, it may be because you have to develop the gift in
someone else.

I wonder, initially when Paul and Barnabas were together, who was the more
spiritually mature one. When the two are mentioned initially in Acts 11:30 and
12:25, it is always Barnabas and Saul, later down in Acts 15:2, we see roles
switched and it now becomes Paul and Barnabas. From then on, Paul's name is
always mentioned first.

What if Barnabas was like a modern day "Apostle", poor Paul, he would still be
carrying Barnabas's books.

David Jaggernauth
Trinidad


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


Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 11:07:07 -0500
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Hi Stephanie and Dan:

I was reminded from Stephanie's post, one of my favourite definitive names for
Christ Jesus, "The Bishop of our souls". He is indeed the 'bishop' or better
understood 'caretaker' of our souls.

I think the whole 'broo ha ha' (forgive my Irish expressions!) over the whole
bishop thing, is that post modern man is just as screwed up as modern man, and
seeks to have others to lean on to and others to tell him what to believe and
what to do. There will never be a shortage of these hiarchal leaders who gain
a ready gathering of followers, simply because we have been indoctrinated
within the culture to be followers and a very few to be the 'leaders'. If we
really discected the kind of leadership that Jesus and the apostles
demonstrated, we would have very few leaders indeed. I dare say that most
people today in leadership, if they understood the style of Jesus' leadership,
they would be quick to resign, simply because we are not willing to 'pick up
our crosses and follow Him!'

Sam

From: Steffasong
>
>In a message dated 02/14/2002 3:38:57 PM Eastern Standard Time,
>Dan(--AT--)lsm.org writes:
>
>
>>A fundamental principle in the New Testament is that all of God's
>children
>>are the priests to serve God. That's why there's no separate "clergy" class.
>>Because the Body is living, the whole Body needs to function.
>>
>
>Yes, this is surely a fundamental Biblical principle, Dan. I'm glad you
>mentioned it.
>
>Because the tide has risen so consistently against the priesthood of each
>believer, it is important to reiterate the truth. One of the best things a
>church planter'er can do is make room for the body to function. This, of
>course, means laying the foundation in such a way that new believers are
>taught to depend on Christ instead of a bishop or 'bishop type' person.
>
>May we consciously teach younger ones to seek the Lord and rely on Him instead
>of to rely on our own second-hand wisdom and grace.
>
>Thank you!
>
>Stephanie Bennett Creative Services & Consulting Marketing Solutions for the
>21st Century steffasong


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


Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 11:08:31 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE:
Confronting the evidence - distinguishing office from people

David Jaggernauth wrote:

>What if Barnabas was like a modern day "Apostle", poor Paul, he would still be
>carrying Barnabas's books.

Dear David,

You've got that right!

The up side is that it might have saved him from a lot of beatings at the hands
of the religious.

Jay ~ ~ ~ ntcp info page: http://world-missions.org/planting ~ ~ ~

Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 12:15:53 -0500
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: What constitutes a church...response to TC

Hi TC:

From: TheologusCrucis
>
>Why are you scared of the word "bishop?" I'd like to thank you in advance for
>your reply -

I too am 'scared' or better put 'put off and irritated' by the term 'bishop',
'pastor', 'Rev.', etc., which only reinforce existing forms of controlling body
life and the life streams within the expression of the Body. Although I myself
am an 'ordained clergyman', I have done all and continue to do all to promote
the view and understanding that 'all believers are clergymen!' which rattle
some of the pastors within the local ministerial. I have retained my
credentials simply to use as a means of promoting house church networks and
eliminate mistrust from other church leaders and churches.

>- I've been invited to speak regularly at a house church as I've been doing
>for about 6 months now, and as far as I can tell from Ephesians,
>>they
>don't constitute a church but instead a support group of shared experiences
>and emotions.

What do you mean they don't constitute a church? How can you say that? The
question is 'what constitutes an assembly?' Simple. PEOPLE constitute an
assembly when they gather as the Body. Where two or three gather in His Name,
Jesus is in the midst! Sharing experiences and emotions is part of body life
expression. These types of caring and sharing and being built up in the faith
ARE what constitutes the church, for these things are expressed with Jesus as
the head of the gathering!

Actually if we really get down to it, what you may consider 'church' actually
are apotolic meetings where the city church comes together for teaching and
exhortation and apostolic ministry. Those meetings aren't 'church' either,
which may go a long way to explain why people in the institutional church seem
to always enjoy the small group / cell type gatherings and often like them
better than the 'regular Sunday meetings'! The institutional church has
confused the issue of what actually constitutes 'church' and the house church
has confused the issue of what are actually 'apostolic gatherings'!

>The guy that is qualified to be the Elder

What do you mean by "qualified to be the elder"? How do you come to understand
the whole realm of 'qualification' and what that means? If we go by Paul, he
was reluctant to appoint elders, and even suggested that to not hurry in
appointing them to the body. Also, if we look at the activities where elders
are referred to in Acts and the epistles, they really are 'creative problem
solvers and trouble shooters' who only are activated to function in 'eldering'
when they are need to do so. Other than that they are the same as any believer
that gathers with the body in a house. They join in and interact and do not
dominate, but when there is a crisis, they are called upon to provide
'eldering' of the particular situation.

>absolutely refuses to find out who is their evangelist and teacher,

Why do you presume that it is 'his' responsibility to do this? It is not his,
but 'theirs' as a gathering to press into the Lord, seek His face, be
transformed from the inside out, and to seek the Spirit as to what their gifts
and callings are. It is NOT the elder's responsibility! All this does is
reinforce a spirit of control in the hands of a man, which is contrary to body
life and expression.

>and all they seem to do is meet to pray and hope that events happen
>serendipitously, mystically >ordered by God's Spirit. I need some insight!

TC, this is some of the most critical body life expressions of ministry that
anyone can be involved with. It is not 'all they seem to do', a trite thing to
be about! I wish that more believers would gather in the Name of Jesus and
seek His face and pray and cry out for the Holy Spirit to lead them in what
they become and do as they gather! This is precisely what it means to have
Jesus as head of the gathering.

I really appreciate men and women, who will not take over a gathering and go by
what he senses and feels or worse, by his own agenda! To learn to sit in
quietness and to wait upon the Lord in an attitude of worship and prayer is the
very best thing we can do when we gather.

And BTW, all that you have described about this group that gathers is very much
what constitutes a church. Sounds to me like they are simply taking time to
grow together and get a feel of what the Spirit is doing in their midst. They
don't want to hurry it along and they don't want to interfere with what the
Spirit is doing. Sound really exciting to me!

Blessings, Sam
>
>TC


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


Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 10:07:49 -0800
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [NTCP] RE:
Confronting the evidence

Dear TC,

Thanks brother for probing into this with me.

I guess we need to see the Body. If we do, then that vision governs everything
we do in our serving the Lord. The Body is a corporate matter. The thought of
authority resting with an individual is simply versus the most fundamental
principle of the Body.

There is clearly authority in the Body - and as the type of Aaron's budding rod
shows, authority is evidenced by the bringing forth of life. Authority is for
feeding - it's a life matter. And even there in Num. you have both Moses and
Aaron. There is some balance and coordination.
>
We have to be careful not to think that all the gifted members in Eph. 4 are to
be found in every local church. They may not be. The Head has given these
gifted one to the Body - not to a local church. That's why there needs to be
much blending in the Body, even among churches. That way the supply in the Body
can reach all the Body.

It's good you are going to visit that group of saints. Whether they are a
"church" or not - let's leave that to the Lord to decide. Anyway, they are
God's children.

I hope you are going simply as a brother. Not just to give, but also to
receive. Another basic principle of the Body is mutuality.

If you go as "the pastor" you may be tempted to do all the speaking. But if you
go as one of the gifted ones (who's job according to Eph. 4 is to perfect the
saints to do the building work) then you will also listen to see where the
saints are at. You may be there for 4 hours, but only speak for 15 min.

But in those 15 min. the rod will bud... you will even bring forth some almonds
to feed them. You'll minister life.

That way you become a pattern for them - not of "the bishop", but simply of a
brother who functions in the Body and for the Body. You'll lead them into a
church life of mutual shepherding... vs. "let the pastor do it".

May the Lord supply you richly... for them!

Dan

Ps. I hope when you go you take another brother with you - that will help the
saints see something of the Body too... and it will protect you.


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


Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 14:13:48 -0400
From: "Willard Smith"
Subject: [NTCP] To TC: confronting the evidence

TC.

I would like to make a couple comments on what you wrote Dan. The passage in
Eph., I believe was written to all the saints in the church. Just maybe, all
the gifts mentioned here were for all the people as the Spirit chose. Each
person responding to the prompting of the Spirit. I think your "frustration
with house church"s" could be better placed at the feet of the organization
that produced saints that are constantly looking for LEADERS, bishops,
apostles, etc.,etc. that will speak a word from God into their life when It
should be THE Holy Spirit they should be waiting upon.

The gifts are for ALLL the believers as God chooses, not just for the "mature,
or the ones who think they posses a certain gift". Follow me as I follow Christ
is not a call to follow Paul, but a call to follow Christ. Desire earnestly the
best gift is not a call to climb further up a ladder to spiritual greatness by
obtaining better gifts, but a call to access greater gifts for the service to
our brothers and sisters in Christ as we follow HIM. I don't think leadership
can produce good house church's. It is hunger for God to move and openness to
move in God that will make a good house church. Paul birthed a part of God's
church (in a locality) sometimes in just a short time and had to move on. It
was not Elders that brought those young groups through. It was the Head of the
church that nurtured the early groups.

house church's are springing up rapidly. Some will fall pray to those who want
to organize, some to lack of hunger to follow Christ's spirit, but some will
find true koinonia ! That organic relationship with God and the brethren. WS
they have resembled more of a commune/encounter group rather than a church, and
for the life of me I haven't been able to find any of the four gifts/people
that are supposed to be the center of a church according to Paul in Ephesians.

* Man likes to build organizations (structures), God is wanting to build His
church (a living organism). Relationship must come before a house church can be
healthy. I am NOT saying keep licking our wounds from the past though. WS

You wrote:

A fundamental principle in the New Testament is that all of God's children are
the priests to serve God. That's why there's no separate "clergy" class.
Because the Body is living, the whole Body needs to function.

There may not have been a "clergy class" but there were still four people --
five if you include the Elder/bishop -- that specifically had authority
according to Paul in Ephesians. Everyone was definitely not their own
shepherd/teacher, apostle, prophet, and evangelist. You have to live in modern
America to hit this idea.

These gifts, these people, were to serve the Body thru leading the body. There
is a mutual submission here, the people of the body not gifted in these areas
(yet having a gift of the Spirit nevertheless) and those who are. The writer of
Hebrews definitely told someone to obey someone in the church.

* Maybe these passages in Heb. are not just speaking to Christians, that
would change things some wouldn't it? WS

My question is -- if these people are not submitted to, can they equip the
others to be mature and to reflect the full stature of Jesus? Isn't the concept
of the priesthood of believers derived from the Jewish priesthood, in that each
person can approach God with confidence individually thru what Jesus
accomplished rather than be represented by a priest in a temple? Does this mean
we are all our own leaders? * NO, servants!! Jesus lead through service. His
words were backed by action because He spoke what He heard from heaven.

* Again, service is what will lead. Not requesting submission. WS Why are you
scared of the word "bishop?" I'd like to thank you in advance for your reply --
I've been invited to speak regularly at a house church as I've been doing for
about 6 months now, and as far as I can tell from Ephesians, they don't
constitute a church but instead a support group of shared experiences and
emotions. The guy that is qualified to be the Elder absolutely refuses to find
out who is their evangelist and teacher, and all they seem to do is meet to
pray and hope that events happen serendipitously, mystically ordered by God's
Spirit. I need some insight!

* I'd like to meet this "elder" and shake his hand to encourage him to hold
on. WS

* Are you suggesting that the "Bishop" would be the answer to this "problem"
as you see it? Would he order them to do what?

* If all we are doing is meeting in an isolated group we will die. We need to
seek to touch, or serve, those outside our group as well. This, I think, is a
trap the house church's easily fall into.

Thanks, I am enjoying your posts even though I disagree with your concept of
true leadership.

WS

To TC: confronting the evidence

TC.

I would like to make a couple comments on what you wrote Dan. The passage i n
Eph., I believe was written to all the saints in the church. Just maybe, a ll
the gifts mentioned here were for all the people as the Spirit chose. Eac h
person responding to the prompting of the Spirit. I think your frust
ration with house churchs could be better placed at the feet of the
organi zation that produced saints that are constantly looking for LEADERS,
bishops , apostles, etc.,etc. that will speak a word from God into their life
when I t should be THE Holy Spirit they should be waiting upon.

The gifts are for ALLL the believers as God chooses, not just for the &quot
;mature, or the ones who think they posses a certain gift. Follow me a s
I follow Christ is not a call to follow Paul, but a call to follow Christ.
Desire earnestly the best gift is not a call to climb further up a ladder t o
spiritual greatness by obtaining better gifts, but a call to access greate r
gifts for the service to our brothers and sisters in Christ as we follow H IM.
I don't think leadership can produce good house church's. It is hunger for God
to move and openness to move in God that will make a good house church. Paul
birthed a pa rt of God's church (in a locality) sometimes in just a short time
and had to move on. It was not Elders that brought those young groups through.
It was the Head of the church that nurtured the early groups.

House church's are springing up rapidly. Some will fall pray to those who want
to org anize, some to lack of hunger to follow Christ's spirit, but some will
find true koinonia ! That organic relationship with God and the brethren.

WS

they have resembled more of a commune/encounter group rather than a c hurch,
and for the life of me I haven't been able to find any of the four gifts/people that are supposed to be the center of a church according to Paul in
Ephesians.

* Man likes to build organizations (structures), God is wanting to bu ild His
church (a living organism). Relationship must come before a house church can be healthy. I am NOT saying keep licking our wounds from the past though.

WS

You wrote:

A fundamental principle in the New Testam ent is that all of God's children are
the priests to serve God. That's why there's no separate clergy
class. Because the Body is living, the whole Body needs to function .

There may not have been a clergy class but there were still four
people -- five if you include the Elder/bishop -- that specifically had authority according to Paul in Ephesians. Everyone was definitely not their ow n
shepherd/teacher, apostle, prophet, and evangelist. You have to live in mo dern
America to hit this idea.

These gifts, these people, were to serve the Body thru leading the body. Th ere
is a mutual submission here, the people of the body not gifted in these areas
(yet having a gift of the Spirit nevertheless) and those who are. The writer of
Hebrews definitely told someone to obey someone in the church.

* Maybe these passages in Heb. are not just speaking to Christi ans, that
would change things some wouldn't it?

WS

My question is -- if these people are not submitted to, can they equip the
others to be mature and to reflect the full stature of Jesus? Isn't the conc
ept of the priesthood of believers derived from the Jewish priesthood, in th at
each person can approach God with confidence individually thru what Jesus
accomplished rather than be represented by a priest in a temple? Does this mean
we are all our own leaders?


* NO, servants!! Jesus lead through service. His words were backed by action
because He spoke what He heard from heaven.

* Again, service is what will lead. Not requesting submission.

WS

Why are you scared of the word bishop? I'd like to thank you in
advance for your reply -- I've been invited to speak regularly at a house
church as I've been doing for about 6 months now, and as far as I can tell from
Ephesi ans, they don't constitute a church but instead a support group of
shared ex periences and emotions. The guy that is qualified to be the Elder
absolutely refuses to find out who is their evangelist and teacher, and all
they seem to do is meet to pray and hope that events happen serendipitously,
mysticall y ordered by God's Spirit. I need some insight!

* I'd like to meet this elder and shake his hand to encou rage him
to hold on.

WS

* Are you suggesting that the Bishop would be the a nswer to this
problem as you see it? Would he order them to do w hat?

* If all we are doing is meeting in an isolated group we will die. We need to
seek to touch, or serve, those outside our group as well. This, I t hink, is a
trap the house church's easily fall into.

Thanks, I am enjoying your posts even though I disagree with your concept o f
true leadership.

WS


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


Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2002 00:12:39 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: What constitutes a church...response to Sam

Sam!

Good to "see" ya!

You responded to my question to Dan about his fear of the word 'bishop:"

>>I too am 'scared' or better put 'put off and irritated' by the term
'bishop', 'pastor', 'Rev.', etc., which only reinforce existing forms of
controlling body life and the life streams within the expression of the Body.
Although I myself am an 'ordained clergyman', I have done all and continue to
do all to promote the view and understanding that 'all believers are
clergymen!' which rattle some of the pastors within the local ministerial. I
have retained my credentials simply to use as a means of promoting house church
networks and eliminate mistrust from other church leaders and churches.>>- I've
been invited to speak regularly at a house church as I've been doing for about
6 months now, and as far as I can tell from Ephesians, they don't constitute a
church but instead a support group of shared experiences and emotions.>What do
you mean they don't constitute a church? How can you say that?

The question is 'what constitutes an assembly?' Simple. PEOPLE constitute an
assembly when they gather as the Body. Where two or three gather in His Name,
Jesus is in the midst! Sharing experiences and emotions is part of body life
expression. These types of caring and sharing and being built up in the faith
ARE what constitutes the church, for these things are expressed with Jesus as
the head of the gathering!>Actually if we really get down to it, what you may
consider 'church' actually are apostolic meetings where the city church comes
together for teaching and exhortation and apostolic ministry. Those meetings
aren't 'church' either, which may go a long way to explain why people in the
institutional church seem to always enjoy the small group / cell type
gatherings and often like them better than the 'regular Sunday meetings'! The
institutional church has confused the issue of what actually constitutes
'church' and the house church has confused the issue of what are actually
'apostolic gatherings'!

>>The guy that is qualified to be the Elder>

What do you mean by "qualified to be the elder"? How do you come to understand
the whole realm of 'qualification' and what that means? If we go by Paul, he
was reluctant to appoint elders, and even suggested that to not hurry in
appointing them to the body. Also, if we look at the activities where elders
are referred to in Acts and the epistles, they really are 'creative problem
solvers and trouble shooters' who only are activated to function in 'eldering'
when they are need to do so. Other than that they are the same as any believer
that gathers with the body in a house. They join in and interact and do not
dominate, but when there is a crisis, they are called upon to provide
'eldering' of the particular situation.

>>absolutely refuses to find out who is
their evangelist and teacher,>

Why do you presume that it is 'his' responsibility to do this? It is not his,
but 'theirs' as a gathering to press into the Lord, seek His face, be
transformed from the inside out, and to seek the Spirit as to what their gifts
and callings are. It is NOT the elder's responsibility! All this does is
reinforce a spirit of control in the hands of a man, which is contrary to body
life and expression.>>and all they seem to do is meet to pray and hope that
events happen serendipitously, mystically ordered by God's Spirit. I need some
insight!>TC, this is some of the most critical body life expressions of
ministry that anyone can be involved with. It is not 'all they seem to do', a
trite thing to be about! I wish that more believers would gather in the Name
of Jesus and seek His face and pray and cry out for the Holy Spirit to lead
them in what they become and do as they gather! This is precisely what it
means to have Jesus as head of the gathering.

I wish they would too! And when they figured it out, to actually act on it!

>>I really appreciate men and women, who will not take over a gathering and
go by what he senses and feels or worse, by his own agenda! To learn to sit in
quietness and to wait upon the Lord in an attitude of worship and prayer is the
very best thing we can do when we gather.>

And BTW, all that you have described about this group that gathers is very much
what constitutes a church. Sounds to me like they are simply taking time to
grow together and get a feel of what the Spirit is doing in their midst. They
don't want to hurry it along and they don't want to interfere with what the
Spirit is doing. Sound really exciting to me!Sam!

Good to "see" ya!

You responded to my question to Dan about his fear of the word 'bishop:"

>>I too am 'scared' or better put 'put off and irritated' by the term
'bishop', 'pastor', 'Rev.', etc., which only reinforce existing forms of
controlling body life and the life streams within the expression of the Body.
Although I myself am an 'ordained clergyman', I have done all and continue to
do all to promote the view and understanding that 'all believers are
clergymen!' which rattle some of the pastors within the local ministerial. I
have retained my credentials simply to use as a means of promoting house church
networks and eliminate mistrust from other church leaders and churches.

Two observations here. One: just because historically the word "bishop" has
been connoted by those who have either said they had that gift but didn't or
had the gift but misused it, doesn't mean that we just throw it out. Sounds an
awful lot like guilt by association.

Two: not being accusatory, because I find myself in the same boat, is what you
are doing entirely honest by retaining your "clergy" status? I have been
involved in what my wife and I have called "guerilla" youth ministers in the
past, disguised as staff when in reality we came to disciple. I have to admit I
was the tiniest bit uneasy in the very, very :) back of my mind about how much
I didn't believe in what I presented myself as being. Of course, our situations
are far different.

I had written about a house church I've been speaking at thus:

>>- I've been invited to speak regularly at a house church as I've been
doing for about 6 months now, and as far as I can tell from Ephesians, they
don't constitute a church but instead a support group of shared experiences and
emotions.

You responded:

>>What do you mean they don't constitute a church? How can you say that? The
question is 'what constitutes an assembly?'

Simple. PEOPLE constitute an assembly when they gather as the Body. Where two
or three gather in His Name, Jesus is in the midst! Sharing experiences and
emotions is part of body life expression. These types of caring and sharing
and being built up in the faith ARE what constitutes the church, for these
things are expressed with Jesus as the head of the gathering!

I'd have to disagree with you here, Sam. Perhaps it is the Reformation showing
in my thinking, but the reason people meet together as a church is not for the
people attending. In other words, we are not why we come together, we come to
focus on God, to give Him worth and weight. Jesus is in the midst of those
three because He doesn't want us to forget why we gather: to worship Him and to
enjoy Him.

True, shared emotion, caring, and sharing are indeed expressions of body life:
after the Communion, after the retelling of that Gospel narrative, after having
put Christ where He should be in any gathering of saints: right smack dab in
the middle!

It has been my contention that we put ourselves at the center of our gatherings
because our culture interprets our Christianity to a large extent, and
individualism rules.

You continued:

>>Actually if we really get down to it, what you may consider 'church'
actually are apostolic meetings where the city church comes together for
teaching and exhortation and apostolic ministry. Those meetings aren't
'church' either, which may go a long way to explain why people in the
institutional church seem to always enjoy the small group / cell type
gatherings and often like them better than the 'regular Sunday meetings'! The
institutional church has confused the issue of what actually constitutes
'church' and the house church has confused the issue of what are actually
'apostolic gatherings'!

I'm pretty sure those times of "apostolic meetings" where the church came
together to hear Paul teach and exhort were church meetings, because I'm
willing to bet that baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Resurrection were right
there at the center of it all, and they didn't come together as a group of
individuals all happening to be doing the same thing. I'm betting those Paul
appointed as elders were there, those who Paul was going to send out
(apostles), those who would go into the marketplace of their local towns
(evangelists), those who exhorted the brethren and sisteren (prophets) were all
there to, seeing how it was done and how to continue in the same way after the
apostle Paul left.

Continuing to describe the house church, I wrote:

>>The guy that is qualified to be the Elder

You responded:

>>What do you mean by "qualified to be the elder"?

How do you come to understand the whole realm of 'qualification' and what that
means? If we go by Paul, he was reluctant to appoint elders, and even
suggested that to not hurry in appointing them to the body. Also, if we look
at the activities where elders are referred to in Acts and the epistles, they
really are 'creative problem solvers and trouble shooters' who only are
activated to function in 'eldering' when they are need to do so. Other than
that they are the same as any believer that gathers with the body in a house.
They join in and interact and do not dominate, but when there is a crisis, they
are called upon to provide 'eldering' of the particular situation.

Hmmm... I don't read Titus in the same light you do, it seems. These guys, and
yes they were guys, had to have a firm grasp of the Gospel and have seen the
effects of that grace in his family, be able to teach as an encouragement and
stand up to false teachers, being able to refute them were they were in error.
In fact, they were to silence those who were Judaizers, period, because it was
doing great harm. They were not only to serve, but they were to instruct by
force of example and with the authority given as part of this gift to the
elderly, women, young men, and widows.

"You must teach these things and encourage your people to do them, correcting
them when necessary. You have the authority to do this, so don't let anyone
ignore you or disregard what you say." Titus 2:15

I had written about the guy that I considered qualified via Titus, that he...

>>absolutely refuses to find out who is their evangelist and teacher,

You brought up a good point:

>>Why do you presume that it is 'his' responsibility to do this? It is not
his, but 'theirs' as a gathering to press into the Lord, seek His face, be
transformed from the inside out, and to seek the Spirit as to what their gifts
and callings are. It is NOT the elder's responsibility! All this does is
reinforce a spirit of control in the hands of a man, which is contrary to body
life and expression.

You are right -- Scripture doesn't ever name this as a responsibility of the
Elder. Yet, the church was given gifts, gifts that were to equip and shape body
life into the image and maturity of Christ, coworkers and laborers. Why not
keep an eye open for one in the group that displays this gifting? This is what
gives solace and comfort -- the Elder isn't a one man show! There's the
shepherd who can give direction, the evangelist that persuades people to
believe and become new converts, there is the prophet who encourages the body
by insights given them by the Spirit, and ones to send out of the group to
begin another, to give the fellowship a sister. And they do it together, not
for control or personal glory, but to serve the body.

I had written of the frustration I felt, and what I believed to be the source
of my frustration:

>>and all they seem to do is meet to pray and hope that events happen
>>serendipitously, mystically ordered by
God's Spirit. I need some insight!

God promised these gifts, these people, and instead of them taking up their
giftings, all this groups seems to be is a drifting ship.

You, Sam, thought differently:

>>TC, this is some of the most critical body life expressions of ministry that
anyone can be involved with. It is not 'all they seem to do', a trite thing to
be about! I wish that more believers would gather in the Name of Jesus and
seek His face and pray and cry out for the Holy Spirit to lead them in what
they become and do as they gather! This is precisely what it means to have
Jesus as head of the gathering.

I wish they would too! And when they figured it out, to actually act on it!

>>I really appreciate men and women, who will not take over a gathering and go
by what he senses and feels or worse, by his own agenda! To learn to sit in
quietness and to wait upon the Lord in an attitude of worship and prayer is the
very best thing we can do when we gather.

I doubt that a good elder would "take over" a meeting, or come with any other
agenda than Ephesians 4:1-16. If someone does otherwise, it proves either that
he doesn't understand the Scriptures or that he is someone with a manipulation
issue and isn't even gifted in this area.

>>And BTW, all that you have described about this group that gathers is very
much what constitutes a church. Sounds to me like they are simply taking time
to grow together and get a feel of what the Spirit is doing in their midst.
They don't want to hurry it along and they don't want to interfere with what
the Spirit is doing. Sound really exciting to me!

I respectfully disagree, Sam. I am encouraged by the fact that they don't
consider themselves a church, as I think if they did there could be some real
damage done to those in attendance. Without these gifts functioning as they
should, how will they be equipped, how will they reach the full measure of the
stature of Jesus, and know the Gospel? I don't think they could. All they'd get
is a group of individuals trying all in their own way to be the best Christians
they could -- and what a lonely reality that is for 90% of Christians I know.

Blessings to you, Sam, and I hope all is well with you and yours! I hope that
we can agree to disagree -- please know that I respect what you are saying, and
respect you as a brother in Christ!

TC


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