New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Monday, May 20 2002 Vol 02 : 087[NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures
Re: [NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures
[NTCP] What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?
[NTCP] Weekly Prayer Needs
Date: Sat, 18 May 2002 19:15:40 -0400
Subject: [NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures
(The original piece from George Patterson contained a duplicate copy in html or
web code, thus making it too large. - ntcp mail forwarder David Anderson.)
Several pastors recently asked how they and their people could start new
churches when their denomination's policies cause snags. Two of them faced
meetings with administrators who have belittled their vision for reproducing
churches. We hear such complaints often in workshops for church planting. One
rogue griped, "The last great bulwark against the spread of Christianity is the
Today's churches display evidence of both normal spiritual health and abnormal
rust. One indicator of normal health is that churches or cells multiply.
Wherever the apostles made disciples the way Jesus said to, for example,
churches multiplied. Today we also see them multiply where the same kind of
discipling takes place. But to our knowledge no historical denomination in the
USA is currently growing rapidly. Many are declining. Some show growth only
because of new ethnic churches. Rusty traditions keep churches from multiplying
in the normal way. Healthy churches multiply in fields where such restrictions
are not yet in place, the bureaucracy is too weak to enforce them or the oil of
the Holy Spirit has not been diluted with legalism, rationalism or
You may want to try the following Rust Removers.
1. Examine your most cherished traditions in the light of the apostles'
guidelines for the Lord's work. We sometimes need to challenge denominational
or inter-church leaders in love to compare their policies with those of
Scripture as they relate to evangelism, church planting, and providing for
leadership. Let this comparison be the subject of prayer and an open forum.
This works where the core is sound, where the leaders embraced encumbering
traditions only because that was all they knew, not because they were
power-hungry and needed such policies to keep them in control.
2. Help missionaries to follow all aspects of Jesus' Great Commission. In
Matthew 28:18-20 our Lord tells us to make disciples of all nations by teaching
them to obey all of His commands. But few missionaries, including those with
extensive Bible knowledge, actually know what Jesus' commands are. They ask new
believers to do all kinds of things that may have some spiritual value but are
not the foundational activities that our Lord requires. He commanded many
things but we can summarize them in the seven basic commands that the first New
Testament church obeyed in their most basic form from the beginning. Following
Pentecost in Acts 2:37-47 we find the 3,000 new believers doing the following
in obedience to Christ's commands.
- - They repented in faith and were born of the Holy Spirit. - They confirmed
this conversion at once with baptism. - They broke bread in the homes. - Their
love was evident in their fellowship. - They embraced the apostles' teaching
(discipling in its beginning form). - They prayed. - They gave. If we ignore
these foundational commands of Christ we leave a power vacuum in a new church.
New believers become confused as to who has the final word. Big egos seek
control and rush in, usurping Jesus' place as King in His kingdom.
3. Challenge Christian educators to restore biblical discipleship. We must
include New Testament discipling principles in leadership training curricula,
including Jesus' basic commands (above). Few recent seminary or Bible College
graduates know how to make disciples the way Jesus said. They approach it
rather as an intellectual exercise, then pass the rusty procedure on to Sunday
school teachers and the new pastors that they train on the mission field.
Biblical discipleship builds upon Jesus the Rock, upon a relational foundation
for all ministries, which requires before all else loving obedience to Christ's
specific commands. He said, "If you love me, obey my commands" (John 14:15;
compare John 15:14; Matthew 7:24-29 and 28:18-20).
4. Train national workers in pioneer mission fields to disciple new believers
in the way Jesus said. We must show new shepherds how to build on the Rock. The
first few weeks of a newly born church's life in a pioneer field are crucial.
It needs a sound foundation, built on loving obedience to our Lord Jesus
Christ's commands. Denominational policies, however, often keep new churches in
pioneer fields from baptizing new believers and celebrating the Lord's Supper.
In practice this denies Jesus' deity; it ascribes more authority to man-made
rules than to His commands. It blurs Jesus' authority for a church's
activities, opening the door for abusive control by whoever assumes they have
5. Train pastoral students to apply the Word to all ministries. Graduates from
our Evangelical seminaries and colleges often use the Bible almost exclusively
as content for their teaching and preaching. They neglect it as the norm for
church practices. They overlook the guidelines of God's Word as they plan how
to evangelize, confirm repentance, organize a church, deploy missionaries and
worship. A workshop on biblical guidelines for these activities helps them
become better doers of the Word.
6. Clarify biblical authority for church leaders. Who has the highest
authority? Those who have been in the church the longest? Have the most Bible
knowledge? Can preach the most eloquently? Have the highest academic degrees?
Give the most money? Hold the highest offices? Use the church's bylaws most
adeptly to manipulate others? Scripture recognizes none of these as a
qualification for leading God's flock. A true leader in God's kingdom brings
his people into obedience to the King. We do not lead if we simply teach. We
lead only when we enable our people to do the things that Jesus and His
apostles require. If congregations leave most ministries up to their pastors,
leadership is obviously lacking. We lead when we establish Jesus as the Head
and highest authority in the church, so that our people do what He and His
apostles say in childlike, loving obedience.
7. Caution ordination councils and ordination policy makers to respect the
biblical requirements for becoming a shepherd. Paralyzing rust often
accumulates on ordination requirements, especially if exported from the West.
Shepherds who have God's pastoral gift and who fulfill all biblical
requirements are commonly prohibited to lead their people in obedience to
Christ in baptism, Communion and other vital activities. They fail to meet
human requirements that have no significant bearing on their competency as
shepherds. Such man-made rules keep an elite clergy in power. They have
paralyzed church planting throughout history. Some evangelicals today are as
guilty as any earlier generation. Missionaries must adapt requirements for new
pastors to both the culture and Scripture, and provide realistic tools to
8. Encourage modern prophets to remove rust using Scripture in the power of the
Holy Spirit. We should teach examples from Scripture and history of reformers
that God used to bring His people back to the moorings of His Word. Let us
welcome these prophets as God's gift to the church. He promises such spiritual
chiropractors in Ephesians 4:11-12 to every church or cluster of cells that
interact as a body.
Reformers also occasionally need Pain Relievers such as the following.
Be forewarned that seriously following Jesus entails suffering. No missionary
that we know of has participated in a church planting movement without painful
conflict with colleagues or superiors. Simply do what Jesus says and you will
step on some Christians' toes. Receiving painful blows unawares from our
Christian brothers is devastating. So plan on it!
Use gentle, positive diplomacy while slaying cherished sacred cows. Avoid
inflammatory rhetoric or any appearance of attacking with a critical spirit.
That solves nothing. If possible, instead of demanding change-the word
threatens traditionalists and persons in power-speak about adding something
new, an experiment. Sometimes reformers avoid rust by quietly disregarding
abusive rules. Accept the rebuke graciously when word gets around later that
you failed to conform. Consider the truism 'It's easier to ask pardon than
permission.' Once you ask for their consent to obey Christ and they say no,
you're in hot water. You have acknowledged their right to veto obedience to
Jesus! George recalls, "We simply did what Jesus said and let critics toss
their darts. We became adept at ducking."
Stand firm in your position on your church's biblical heritage. Most
denominations have a great history. They started out following sound, biblical
guidelines. Remind traditionalists of this. Help them to see that if they let
pastors build on these roots there will be less pain for all concerned.
To our knees! Let us honestly confess to God that many of the charges Jesus
made against religious hypocrites apply to us today. Experienced and respected
leaders often bring down top-heavy bureaucratic Goliaths if intercessors back
them. Sometimes God softens the most adamant traditionalists and they confess
to him and publicly that they have exalted traditions that have eclipsed
biblical discipleship. We admit that the kind of discipling that Jesus modeled
and commanded is hardly recognizable in many churches; it has been crowded out
by clerical privileges, clergy-centered events, doctrinal biases, systematic
theologies and cultural practices.
Lord, give us convictions of steel to obey our Savior in love, above and before
all human rules! If 1000 reformations are needed to lead our people in obeying
Him, let it be!
For more information on Train & Multiply (pastoral training by mentoring
combined with church planting): www.TrainAndMultiply.com. We invite those who
use Train & Multiply to send strategy questions to Galen Currah
Galen(--AT--)AcquireWisdom.com or George Patterson
For information on the electronic textbook Disciple the Nations:
For information on the revised Church Multiplication Guide by Patterson and
Scoggins, email George(--AT--)AcquireWisdom.com.
For information on Western Seminary's Division of Intercultural Studies and
other programs including the course Mentoring for Ministry:
www.westernseminary.edu/mrg/multiply/ (include the final /).
For information on receiving mentoring for seminary credit:
George Patterson and Galen Currah
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Date: Sat, 18 May 2002 22:17:27 -0500
From: "J. Guy Muse"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures
I found the article article quite interesting and helpful and took the liberty
of forwarding it to several other CPs that we work with. A couple of
questions/clarifications for George or anybody else who might like to offer
input... On 18 May 2002 at 13:47, George Patterson wrote:
>2. Help missionaries to follow all aspects of Jesus' Great Commission.
>- They repented in faith and were born of the Holy Spirit. - They confirmed
>this conversion at once with baptism. - They broke bread in the homes. - Their
>love was evident in their fellowship. - They embraced the apostles' teaching
>(discipling in its beginning form). - They prayed. - They gave.
In new church plants, how does one literally obey in a practical way the
command "they broke bread in the homes?" Does this mean they ate together
daily?, weekly?, or often? Also, is breaking bread in the homes a COMMAND of
Christ, or simply a 1st Century practice of the house churches? I realize, of
course, that Christ did command to "take, eat...do this in remembrance of
me..." But is this the same thing as going from house to house eating
together? Regardless of whether this is what Jesus intended (a command) or
simply a practice of the early church, I am interested in how to carry this out
in a practical and meaningful way in the house churches we relate to on the
field here in Ecuador.
>4. ...Denominational policies, however, often keep new churches in pioneer
>fields from baptizing new believers and celebrating the Lords Supper...
Pastors from our traditional churches have really come down hard on us here in
Guayaquil for saying these very things. One argument they use is, do you want
just any "Juan Perez" leading a new church plant to marry your daughter, or do
you want a recognized, proven man of God to officiate the ceremony?
The same argument goes with baptism and Lord's Supper. In "holy matters" such
as baptism and Lord's Supper, believers prefer someone to officiate who is
ordained, recognized, and proven themselves "worthy" to officiate. Even with
new believers coming out of Catholic culture they feel it "belittles" the
ordinances by allowing just any "Joe Blow" to officiate. Please help us in
giving a loving and Biblical answer to our fellow brethren on this matter. We
deal with this all the time.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * J. Guy & Linda Muse
IMB-SBC Missionaries Casilla 09-01-3236 Guayaquil, ECUADOR
tlf: (direct dial from USA) 011-593-4-238-2386 fax: (efax number in USA)
1-509-275-0721 email: jmuse(--AT--)gu.pro.ec
"Things happen when we pray, that don't happen when we don't pray."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 16:14:28 -0700
From: "George Patterson"
What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?
This is in reply to Guy Muse. Hi Guy, The apostle Paul made it clear in 1 Cor.
11 that Jesus commanded His people to celebrate the Lord's Supper. Breaking
bread "in remembrance of me" at first seems to have been done as part of a
regular meal, but they let the meal itself become more important so Paul
separated it in 1 Cor. 11 from that which is a participation (Koinonia) in the
body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-17). George Patterson
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Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 04:35:58 -0400
From: Richard Wright
Weekly Prayer Needs
Please keep these needs before the Lord on a daily basis. As someone once
observed, "Things happen when we pray, that don't happen when we don't pray".
When the Lord answers your need, please be sure to let us know so that we can
all rejoice together!
04/21/02: Please pray that I can stay off medication. I only need Jesus. I'm
almost 30, and feel that I must begin my REAl work for God now... suddenly, a
lot of christians who don't want to go to these 'churches' are asking me to
study with me, and much has come my way to do the work of charity, but the
enemy wants to impede my working... I'm having lots of little dizzy spells and
problems with my family... that come up right when we're about to start. Please
pray for us!
04/29/02: Remember these are dear Christians who love Jesus deeply, and NOT
horrible criminals like the Chinese government claims.
1. Pray God would be glorified and His Kingdom continue to grow in China as a
result of these attacks. 2. Ask God to intervene with His mighty power. Pray
only His will would be done in the lives of those arrested. 3. Pray against the
Satanic forces behind these brutal attacks. Not able to damage God, the devil
does all he can to smash God's children. Ask God to bind the demonic forces in
Jesus' Name. 4. Ask the Lord to strengthen our brothers and sisters in prison,
to sustain them, and to help them overcome whatever trials they face. 5.
Fervently pray for the hundreds of families of those arrested, who often face
great hardship with no food or money. They usually lose their jobs, and their
children are expelled from school. 6. Pray for mercy for the persecutors, that
they may be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgement and come to a saving
knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray the believers in prison may show them a
Christ-like example of patient endurance in the face of suffering. - ----
5/4/02: I am praying for more opportunities to interject Jesus into my
conversations and activities. I need more boldness. More concern, too, which
translates into love for the lost and the saved.
5/6/02 : Please pray for us and the Church, that God's truth and his will shall
prevail over all religious tradtions and customs. and that the pastors and the
people will get a revelation of the house Church and embrace it fully to
express the life of God in this nation.
Anyway, I'd appreciate prayer for grace in this matter, that the brother may
repent. He's having marriage problems over these and other issues. (See
5/15/02: Please keep praying for Tom & the rest of us. It has been 12 weeks
now, and Tom is not responding very well. The doctors are thinking of sending
him to a hospital an hour away. And now things with Toms mother are looking
bad. She is 62 and in the hospital with either pneumonia or she could be
rejecting her organ transplant. Please pray for her and Tom's step-dad. Her
name is Jean. Blessings to all through Jesus Christ our Lord,
God is still on His throne & prayer does change things!!
We sent the following prayer request on 04/21/02: Dear Saints,
We have received a desperate plea for prayer from a Christian family on the
Their daughter is divorced and has a 3 year old boy. A judge has given the
father unsupervised stays with the child . The father has taken the child on at
least three occasions to a child pornography group.
They are desperate!! - Please pray!!
*Yesterday, this family called to thank us for our prayers. They said since we
began praying the boy's father has only taken the child to his parents and has
not made any visits to the porn group. They do ask that we pray that the judge
will take away his visitation rights at a hearing they are having in June.
God answers when we take the time to pray!!
5/14/02: Please please but my brother BobJ and wife Ms Melly on the list... He
is suffering w/ ALS... and w/ these days of advanced stages... They need the
Lord, in all the little ways, desperately also... Bob, Ms Melly and I go back
29 years now... I could use prayer also, that I be encouraging to them, that I
remain sensitive to his needs, offering to do what he can no longer do for
himself... When you really really really love someone, love produces a
vulnerability to pain... I hurt for him...
Thanks for your faithful support.
End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #87
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