New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Monday, March 11 2002 Vol 02 : 053
[NTCP] George N. Patterson?
[NTCP] Native American House Church Planting
[NTCP] People of God
[NTCP] Re: ethnically diverse house churches

Date: Sat, 9 Mar 2002 03:53:17 -0500
From: David Anderson
Subject: [NTCP]
George N. Patterson?

Boo,

Christianity in Communist China, published by Word, appeared in 1969. This is a
hardback book. A photo of the author adorns the book jacket.

George, is that you?

Btw, I used to mow the lawn for a Dr. Norman Patterson, who served as a
missionary in China. Also know an Edwin Burke, whose grand-father founded the
first modern university in China. It's still going.

I received a new MentorNet newsletter, which I am enjoying much.

I like Patterson - it sounds like Anderson.

David Anderson
Bristol, TN


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Date: Sat, 9 Mar 2002 04:15:27 -0500
From: forwarded
Subject: [NTCP] Native
American House Church Planting


From: "David Cummings" (Received from an unrecognized address, thus delayed.)

Native American House Church Planting

David Cummings

Mar 7, 2002

Why House Churches will work with the Native American Tribes

One of the unique giftings that Indigenous people bring to the Church is the
ability to "think outside the box." In our spontaneity we have been used by God
on numerous occasions to challenge the traditional mindset of the wider Church
and it has resulted in spiritual growth for everyone.

House Church gatherings my friends started would not be considered typical
churches. They are contextual in their approach (utilizing people's culture to
share Christ) and they are doing what most traditional churches never do
namely, reaching the traditional community for Christ.

Let&Mac185;s face the factsäamong other things most Native American churches are
unfruitful in ministry, have an unhealthy dependence upon a pastor, missionary
or denomination, have strained relationships and even division among themselves
and have no real vision to see the lost in their own community or others to
come to Jesus. In other words, they are just like their non-native american
counterparts. Let's not offend God with the same hypocrisy He gets from the
dominant culture.

As the Body of Christ, we have adopted a model of ministry and church planting
that creates and maintains division and we believe this is normal. We have
bought into a non-relational style of meeting even though it goes against our
cultural values. We have ostracized the traditional native american community
by rejecting Christ in our own cultures. We are still following the same
patterns that have not worked for over 300 years and we believe this is normal
church planting. &Mac179;Normal&Mac178; church planting today has come to mean nothing more
than what it means for McDonald&Mac185;s to start a restaurant. The difference is that
the McDonalds system is successful but our Native churches are not. As our
normal Church plants aren't succesful either.

How then should we, start churches if we don&Mac185;t want to follow the &Mac179;worldly&Mac178;
model in today&Mac185;s church? It was the Apostle Paul who said, &Mac179;It has always been
my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would
not be building on someone else&Mac185;s foundation.&Mac178; (Romans 15:20). If there is
already an effective Native church in that city we should at least consider a
few of the following criteria based on Scripture and our own cultures:

Ä Someone should have received a vision for it Ä It should be relational Ä It
should begin without financial dependency Ä We should consider if we could
first come along side the existing work Ä We should follow protocol-asking for
the blessing of the host people of the region Ä And ask for the blessing of
that existing fellowship-maintaining unity

Why do our traditional Indian people reject Christ? Could it be that they see
him divided among us and they seek peace? Could it be that they see us
following the programmed approach of the dominant culture and they want
intimacy? Could it be that they see the norm in the church as self-serving and
they want to re-kindle the warrior vision to help the people? And could it be
that they have in the past caught glimpses of the true God in their own
cultural forms of worship and they want to know how to maintain a relationship
with the God that loves Indians &Mac179;just as we are&Mac178; and they reject a God that
would &Mac179;dump&Mac178; them as a people?


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Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 01:14:35 +0100 (MET)
From: david.cummings@gmx.net

Subject: [NTCP] People of God

Please pass this on...

The People of God Newsletter is a "help" for people who are unsatisfied with
church,thinking about leaving, or just want to talk about other options.

Maybe you have even left the institutional church either way give us a look.
Please feel free to visit us @ http://www.peopleofgod.uni.cc


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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 09:10:40 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] Re: ethnically diverse house churches

Sam B. asked:

>How do we interact with these people, and how should the expression and taste
>and feel of body life and ministry look like in such a culturally diverse body?

Before my family and I moved to Israel, we lived in a southern U.S. "university
town" with a rich diversity of cultures. A group of us founded an ESL (English
as a Second Language) school which met in some mobile homes outside our
church's building, where we taught folks from almost every imaginable locale on
the earth. Many got saved along the way and we attempted discipleship. Trial
and error. Nothing worked better than just "adopting" a person/family and
being with them *often*, where they were within their cultural framework. The
more we honored the diversity, the more we saw fruit.

People came to the corporate Sunday celebration meetings, but it was in our
homes that we best got to experience with our new brothers and sisters (or
those on their way to becoming such) their rich ways of life, foods, customs,
and to some extent, languages. Body life was often governed by their own
presupposed concepts of intimacy (how close may a woman and man get without it
seeming immoral to an Iranian?), expressions of worship (our Dutch friend never
warmed up to the idea of raising his hands), and senses of male/female work
roles (try to get a Venezuelan man to wash the dishes after a group meal when
there are women around). Sure, a lot of these people were trying to learn
something of their host (Southern U.S.A.) culture and were therefore willing to
try new things (though "grits" never were a big splash. Go figure), but
by-in-large, spiritual growth was achieved when we met them where they each
were ... as best we could. And loved them there.

After saying all that, it is still true that the Holy Spirit is transcultural.
Actually supra-cultural. Consequently He met us and manifested His gifts "just
as he determine[d]" (1 Cor. 12:11). But inevitably these manifestations were
still funneled through *somebody's* earthly culture. Prophecy was most often
done in English, following the standard pattern learned in
Charismatic/Pentecostal churches of North America ("Thus saith the LORD, ..."
or "My children, ..."). Exhortation, the interpretation of tongues, helps,
etc. all followed cultural norms-- either ours or theirs. My experience, and
the conclusion I reached through studying the Scriptures on the topic, is that
the "one new man" is not the creation of a new "international Christian
culture," but a welcoming by Christ (and *us*!!!) of all that is good from
every presently existing culture, whenever and wherever the Church finds
herself. That's how I see it. Which leads me to my next point ...

Dan S. wrote to Sam B.:

>You reminded me of the "one new man" in Eph. 2:16.... In the world the
>cultures and ethnic groups merely co-exist. In our old man we all treasure our
>culture. But the Lord brings us out of our culture. (I'm not saying we've all
>arrived... but I believe He's working on us).
>
>Seems like the Lord took care of all the differences of the old man on the
>cross. You could say He crossed out all the cultural things that divide the
>old man.

I'd like to try and offer a slightly different perspective on the idea of the
"one new man" than brother Dan has given us-- if I might:

"For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the
middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity of the law
of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man
from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God
in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came
and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For
through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father" (Eph. 2:14-18).

Let's notice a few things from the passage: (1) the "one new man" is
independent of either class (Jew or gentile) of humanity. So one doesn't
become the other. In Christ I remain a gentile, the same as I remain a human
being. I don't become a Jew ... although I *am* of "the seed of Abraham" and
part of a "new creation". A believing Jew remains Jewish, he doesn't become a
gentile. Remember Paul's instruction to Christian Jews and gentiles in 1 Cor.
7:17-20:

"... each one should RETAIN the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and
to which God has called him. This is THE RULE I lay down in ALL THE CHURCHES.
Was a man already CIRCUMCISED when he was called? He should NOT become
uncircumcised [there was a surgical procedure for this, employed by those who
wanted to assimilate into gentile culture-- Josephus, ANT. 12:5:1; 1 MACC.
1:11-15; ASSUM. OF MOSES 8:3; MISHNA, Avot 3:11]. Was a man UNCIRCUMCISED when
he was called? He should NOT be circumcised [i.e., convert to Judaism, which
would then obligated him to keep the Law-- Gal. 5:3]. Circumcision is nothing
and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. Each one
should REMAIN in the situation which he WAS IN WHEN GOD CALLED HIM" (emphasis
and bracketed comments mine).

I have found that trying to divorce a person from his/her culture in the name
of the "one new man" backfires in practice because ultimately somebody's
culture then gets substituted for somebody elses-- but in truth it is just a
trade-off of one earthly culture for another. Humanity cannot exist-- was not
made to exist-- in a cultural vacuum. And there is no distinctly Christian
culture. So I think Paul is saying that we should retain our own cultural
identities. Certainly it is not counter-Christ or "old man" to do so. An
example from my side of the tracks: today when Jews who follow Jesus are told
that they should *not* obey the Torah (Law), what that means in practice is
that someone is telling them to adopt gentile culture, since Jewish culture
though richly diverse is still at its core founded on commandments from the
Torah. They ultimately cannot adopt another culture and remain distinct as
Jews (see above, 1 Cor. 7). However, a non-Jew *can* adopt another culture and
still remain a gentile. Even as a follower of Christ. The issue for a Jew
unfortunately is black or white: act like a Jew or, by adhering to *any* other
cultural norms, act like a gentile. No other choices. But is that what Paul
(and through him the Holy Spirit) means by the "one new man"? Is that what we
see modeled in the book of Acts and elsewhere?

I understand the NT to be teaching that both groups, Jew and gentile
*together*, comprise a different race of people altogether. Call it Christian,
Messianic, born again, redeemed, ... whatever tag you put on it, it is not
modeled after the Adamic race but finds its origin in the new Adam, the Messiah
who died on both our behalfs. Jew and gentile together. He thereby provided
the cohesive that would bond these two groups which, under natural
circumstances, would be diametrically opposed. Consequently, the focus of Eph.
2:16 seems to be on the creation of "one new man from the two," ... but without
the practical obliteration of all distinctions I have seen some people read
into this passage. I understand it differently. Both parties find peace with
each other, and both have access to the one true God through the death of
Messiah and his subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit while, as Paul wrote in 1
Cor. 7 above, "REMAIN[ING] in the situation which he WAS IN WHEN GOD CALLED
HIM". That means that Jews remain Jews, and gentiles remain gentiles, while
both partake of Christ in unity. Without having to become culturally uniform.

>I like Col. 3:10-11. We need to put on the new man... where there *cannot be*
>Jew or Greek... all the things of the old man that divide people.

I like that passage too Dan, because it's book context helps me illustrate my
point. Col. 3:11 reads:

"Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian,
Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all."

Then Paul goes on in the *very next chapter of the same epistle* to list out
...

"Aristarchus," "Mark," and "Jesus who is called Justus" as "... the only *Jews*
[more literally, "those of the circumcision"] among [his] fellow workers for
the kingdom of God ..." (Col. 4:10, 11, emphasis mine).

Do you see a problem? He said in 3:11 that "there is no ... Jew," or
"circumcised" in Christ's body. Now in 4:11 of the same book he is saying that
there is! Is Bible writer Paul contradicting himself, ... or is there a
simpler solution to our dilemma which maintains the integrity of the inspired
word? In Gal. 3:28 Paul similarly writes that there "... is neither Jew nor
Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
On the other hand, everyone knows that throughout his letters he gives
exclusive instructions for each of those groups in the Church:

1) Christian Jews (Rom. 2:17ff), ... 2) Christian gentiles (Rom. 11:13ff), ...
3) Christian slaves (Eph. 6:5ff; Col. 3:22ff, Tit. 2:9, 10; see also 1 Pet.
2:18ff), ... 4) Christian free (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1), ... 5) Christian males
(husbands-- Eph. 5:25Col. 3:19ff; elders-- 1 Tim. 3:1ff; Tit. 1:6ff), ... 6)
Christian females (wives-- 1 Cor. 14:34, 35; Eph. 5:22ff; Tit. 2:4; see also 1
Pet. 3:1ff) ...

It is clear, therefore, that Paul cannot mean that all cultural, social, or
gender differences that currently exist are "crossed out" by Calvary, since he
still makes such distinctions himself while giving Christian instruction.

The "one new man" created in Christ does not erase *all* boundaries within the
body since men still may not give birth to or breast feed their babies, and
women still may not teach or have authority over a man in the Body (1 Tim.
2:9ff). I still hold my Bible in my right hand when I'm with Arab Christians;
the other hand being associated in their culture with the less noble duties
carried out behind the closed door of a bathroom. And Jews throughout the
world who follow Jesus still circumcise their babies on the eighth day after
birth and have a particular mission as the chosen people of God which differs
slightly from those of us non-Jews (chosen also) within the same "one new man".

Obviously we are all unified in some sense through the cross-- that is what is
written in the word. And I believe it! But how? To the obliteration of our
unique cultural differences? I don't think so. We can't simply ignore the
varying privileges and responsibilities which continue to somehow govern
aspects of our lives according to the categories we just saw above outlined in
the same Bible.

Bro Dan, I still look for the "MEN'S room" sign when I am out-and-about, ...
and nature calls-- even if I am only with my believing friends. I feel certain
you do too. So you and I are still males, right?

And though aware of my indentured status to the GOEL (kinsman-redeemer) who
purchased my pardon, I can move freely within the world of humanity. I am not
like those (most often) Russian girls-- some of them true followers of Jesus--
lured to Israel by a home newspaper advertisement promising better pay as a
secretary ... or something, who then find out when they get here that they have
been victims of a white slave racket. But too late. Some (most often) Russian
men lock them up for months, repeatedly rape them, forcably addict them to
drugs or threaten their families back in Russia, then turn the women into
prostitutes in the many dark brothels of Tel Aviv. There are currently no laws
against prostitution on the books here to protect these poor women. And the
local police are often among their most faithful "customers". Thus they are
forced into slavery. I'm not in any situation similar to theirs, so I am in
some sense free, right?

Likewise, I am warned as a gentile believer in the Jewish Messiah, that if I
become circumcised (i.e., convert to Judaism), then Christ will "be of no value
to [me]" (Gal. 5:2). Yet the author of that very warning (Paul) circumcised
Timothy himself (Act. 16:1-3) because his "mother was a Jewess"-- thus making
Timothy a Jew according to the prevailing HALAKHA (applications of the Law to
various circumstances) in the synagogues of Galatia. That means that ritual
circumcision was okay for Timothy but is not okay for me *because* he was a Jew
and I am a gentile, right?

Therefore when we read that a person should "REMAIN in the situation which he
WAS IN WHEN GOD CALLED HIM (1 Cor. 7)," we can surmise that according to what
Paul wrote there and elsewhere, discernable distinctions still exist for each
of the above listed groups. And that the same applies for those mentioned in
Col. 3:11. Jews still remain Jews. Gentiles still remain gentiles. Roman
citizens still remain Roman citizens (Act. 22;27), Native Americans still
remain Native Americans. Californians who say "ya'll" still remain
Californians who say "ya'll". ;-) Etc. But-- and please here me on this--
the noted differences have no bearing on our one-on-one relationships to God
through Jesus Christ. That is where *all* of us, regardless of our ethnic
affinities, social statuses, or genders, meet on a level playing field. Even
if you are from Katmandu and I am from Figi. We can each celebrate our
differences and more importantly celebrate together that our names are written
in heaven. As one new man-- unity in diversity!

Michael
Jerusalem


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