New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Tuesday, May 21 2002 Vol 02 : 088
Re: [NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures
Re: [NTCP] What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?
[NTCP] Doing Music in an open church
RE: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church
Re: [NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures
Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 05:51:54 EDT
From: Steffasong
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures


In a message dated 05/18/2002 11:15:53 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
jmuse(--AT--)gu.pro.ec writes:
>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?

Hello Guy and Linda, You present an interesting question. Here's my take on it:

Going 'house to house' to break bread together is more than just a first
century practice and less than a 'command'. Jesus said, when you do this, do
it in remembrance of me, which is a strong enough statement to just go ahead
and do it, however I do believe it is in the 'spirit' of breaking bread
together that life in the church is found.

Gathering around the table produces two very important things in the life of a
church. One, it is a visible expression that the Christian life is not a set
of rules, but rather a 'taking in' of the life and death of the Lord Jesus. It
is a strong, consistent, and visible statement to ourselves and others that
being a Christian means partaking OF HIM, not of dead religion or passe
religious practices.

Secondly, the Lord knows that in the breaking of the bread together we lay the
groundwork for fellowship to happen. Listening to teaching is simply that,
listening to teaching. When we go to someone's house, the scene is set for
something beyond teaching, ie., experiencing the presence of the Lord together
in the exchange of ideas, thoughts, prayers, songs, etc. It is a powerful mode
to fan the flame of fellowship with God and each other, so it is no surprise
that the Lord wanted us to remember Him when we break bread together, and gave
us the example so precisely and emphatically at the "Last Supper."

How to do it in Ecuador? I have never been there, so I do not know the
specific hindrances, but I'd say keep it simple. Make a pie and bring it to
someone's house to say hello. See what God does. If they are a closed people,
invite them one by one to your home. Serve tea and biscuits. Have open arms
and hearts. See what God does. :-)

Bless you!

Stephanie Bennett

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Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 14:43:04 -0700 (PDT)
From: Link H
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?

- --- George Patterson wrote:

>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).

I don't follow what you mean here. Do you mean that Paul made the agape meal
and the celebration of the body and blood of Christ into two ordinances in
chapter 11? If so I don't see that. Could you elaborate more on what you mean
by Paul separating the two.

To all, On a related note, Btw, occasionally I've encountered a house
church-type person who thinks any time we eat together, it is the Lord's
Supper. I don't agree with that perspective. The Corinthians may have been
_trying_ to have the Lord's Supper, but because of the glottony and division,
it wasn't the Lord's Supper they were eating. George Fox, of the Quakers, a
'house church planter' thought that Communion was when brethren ate and drank
together, and I haven't heard of Quakers making a special effort to do this.

So I've tried to think of some things the scripture has to say about the supper
to determine whether any eating or drinking together is supposed to be the
Lord's Supper, whether we eat and drink to remember the Lord or not. One
passage comes to mind. In I Corinthians 11, Paul rebuked the Corinthians for
their gluttony and division in the supper. He said that one man was hungry and
another was drunken. Pehraps the richer people were getting their firest, and
gobbling up the food before the poor and slaves could get off work to come to
the meeting. He said that one man was hungry and another was drunken. Paul
asked if they didn't have houses to eat and to drink in, and said, 'if any man
is hungry let him eat at home.'

From reading this passage, I get the impression that eating at home to satisfy
hunger is _not_ the same thing as eating together with the saints to remember
the Lord.

Some people develop doctrines and practices in reaction to 'the institutional
church .' If the institutional church has a formal ceremony, they want to have
something informal. Some think that breaking the bread together, and
remembering Christ's words is too ceremonial and 'religious.' But I think it
is a good thing to remember Christ's words when we eat, and to repeat them week
after week.

Btw, those of you who do have communion as a big common meal, what do you do
about the bread and wine in relation to unbelieving guests? I went to one
house church where they didn't quote any verses about the Lord's body, etc.
Someone there pointed to bread on the table while we were lining up to eat on
the carport, and said that was the communion bread. He pointed to the wine and
grape juice and said that was the communion wine. This wasn't announced in the
meeting. Do any of you separate the 'elements' of communion during the communal
meal? Do you have some regular bread and some communion bread, and regular wine
and communion wine at the table? How do you handle the mechanics of the Lord's
supper as a communal meal. Btw, does anyone dismiss the unbelievers before you
eat together?

Link Hudson Jefferson, Georgia

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Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 15:03:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: Link H
Subject: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

To NTCP:

I'm still involved with the open church church plant I have been telling you
about. Of course, one of our first major issues- which isn't resolved yet, is
what to do with the kids. Last week, during the singing at the beginning, some
of the kids were going wild. We've been meeting in the basement of a
restaurant that has an open garage door. A dog ran into the meeting and ran
around in the circle in front of our chairs (chairs arranged in a circle.)

Other than that, something else seems to me to be a sort of problem. I don't
know if it is to anyone else. We don't have songbooks or an overhead. We have
a song leader who likes new songs. I don't know the new songs since I've been
out of the country for nearly five years. I don't know if everyone else knows
the songs, but about half of them don't seem to be singing. Maybe they don't
know the songs like me, and maybe songbooks or an OHP would erradicate the
problem.

There is something I've been pondering about music for a long time, especially
in regard to an 'open' setting, like in an open church or a house church.

In the liturgical churches of the 200's or 300's, I've read that they had
antiphonal singing. A song leader (deacon, etc.) would sing a line, and the
congregation would respond with another line. Some of the Psalms may have been
sung this way according to the way they are written-- one at least comes to
mind. I've read that these early songs had a very simple tune in order that
people would be able to follow them and would be able to focus on the words of
the songs.

I am on an email list of a Greek and Latin PdD., and Bible teacher, who is an
elder in his church. He suggested that 'speaking to yourselves in psalms,
hymns, and spiritual songs' may refer to one person singing such a song to the
whole congregation, rather than to congregational singing. This would seem to
be possible in light of I Corinthians 14:26. I read a quote from Tertullian in
which he said that after the supper, the saints would come up one by one and
sing songs from the scriptures or from their hearts to the Lord.

In the middle ages, some church music was sung by choirs--sometimes choirs
offstage that could not be seen by the congregation. When Luther camer along,
he put a lot of emphasis on congregational singing.

So here is my question: How essential is congregational singing? Should a
church try to 'get out of the box' in regard to congregational singing?

I've read that the early Quakers would take turns speaking or singing. In a
Quaker meeting in those early years, one might sing out a song, and the
congregation would listen. Now, the congregation might sing along.

Has anyone had any experience in a church that practiced solos-for-edification
(rather than entertainment) interspersed with teachings, prophecies, etc? I
imagine a meeting where one stands to share a teaching, another stands and
sings, and another shares a revelation, etc. (I Cor. 14:26.) Has anyone gone
to meetings that had a time of congregational singing, and that also allowed
for spontaneous prophetic songs or other types of songs during the sharing
time?

Btw, I'm not saying that congregational singing is wrong. I do suspect that
since the Protestant Reformation, it has gotten more emphasis than it is given
in the NT. Certain Psalms may imply some type of congregational singing. The
one example I can think of from the NT of congregational singing is the verse
that says that after the Last Supper, they sang a hymn. I don't know if this
hymn was sung 'congregationally' or antiphonally, but I would imagine they sang
together. The other references to singing in meetings that I can think of seem
to allow for the possibility of one person singing to the whole congregation.

Any comments?

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Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 17:11:47 -0500
From: "Tony Dale"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

Link,

We follow some suggestions that I believe came initially from John Wimber
(Vineyard). We , at any given time, only work with around 15 simple songs, so
that everyone, including the newest believers quickly comes to know them by
heart. We encourage the worship in terms to signing to always be based around
these so people are focused on the Lord and not trying to remember the words.
Periodically we introduce a couple of new ones, and drop ones that nobody seems
to be singing any more. We also find that this works fine in groups with
no-one very musical, or maybe no guitar. People know them well enough that
they are comfortable without any musical lead. When actively discourage more
than one new song been taught in any given week, so that we don't get
side-tracked continually on just learning words, and actually focus our worship
on Jesus rather than the OHP!

Thanks,

Tony tdale(--AT--)thekarisgroup.com www.thekarisgroup.com

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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 08:30:20 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Dealing with Rusty Denominational Structures

George P. wrote:

>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.

I am so glad to read someone say this. Too often ignorance is presented as a
willful evil, when in many instances it is not (I realize that it sometimes
is). Thanks George for your broad and realistic perspective.

>But few missionaries, including those with extensive Bible knowledge, actually
>know what Jesus' commands are .... 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.

According to DAKES'S ANNOTATED BIBLE there are 1,050 commandments in the NT
scriptures. Compare that with 613 in the Law. Almost double. One of my
long-term projects is to list out every NT commandment and classify each as:

1) "repeat" (what was already specifically mentioned in the Torah, e.g., "He
answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as
yourself'" [Luk. 10:27]).

2) "time/situation specific" (those which are not able to be literally
fulfilled as written, e.g., "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the
altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave
your gift there in front of the altar" [Mat. 5:22, 23]-- the temple alter was
carried away from Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but the principle of fast and
prioritized reconciliation still remains).

3) "gender specific" (e.g., "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you
live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as
heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your
prayers" [1 Pet. 3:7]).

4) "passe" (e.g., "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the
Samaritans" [Mat. 10:5]).

5). "ethnic specific" (e.g., "The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the
Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings .... It seemed good
to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the
following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from
blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will
do well to avoid these things. Farewell." [Act. 15:23-29]).

... and many other such categories. One of the additional categories will be
Jesus' commandments, so your (George's) summary of them into seven is helpful
to me. And a good way to practically conceive of Christ's commands.

>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.

I couldn't agree with you more. On the field in which I minister I see this
all the time. Folks think they can pursue an evangelistic course of action, or
set up a church just any ole way they assume is culturally relevent. When
inspired Scripture presents them (and us!) with a different picture. Hence my
harping on "to the Jew first" (Rom. 1:16).

Stephanie B. wrote:

>One, it is a visible expression that the Christian life is not a set of rules,
>but rather a 'taking in' of the life and death of the Lord Jesus.

While in essence I most certainly agree with the above statement, and the
thrust of your post Stephanie, I would rather avoid such a "black or white"
(fallacy) presentation, since the Christian life is not *merely* a set of rules
... but it certainly entails that. If we conceive of it as "either/or," when
in truth our Christian life is "both/and" regarding Christ's life AND
rules-keeping (see above section on NT commandments), we fail to grasp an
important aspect of this covenant relationship into which God has called us.
IMO.

Michael
Jerusalem

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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 07:07:10 -0400
From: Richard Wright
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

Hello,

Two things (and two cents): There must be freedom to exercise ones gifts, and
they must edify those present.

By definition a song leader impedes the ability of all to function at the
direction of the Spirit, and this may be why you are experiencing a lack of
edification. I don't believe there is any &quot;gift of song leading&quot;. :)

If a brother or sister wants to invite the rest of the group to sing along
with a song or two, that's one thing. But to have one person tasked to 'lead'
like that goes against the spirit of the scripture in my opinion.

The issue isn't whether you sing as a group or individually, with or without
song books, but whether your meeting is open enough to allow God's Spirit to
actually lead it's flow.

On a more personal note, I would stay away from the 'trappings' of traditional
churches: song leaders, overheads, children's church, and above all, the term
pastor. These things will only hinder your meeting as a NT church. To be
honest, like mixing water and oil, you can't really mix institutional churches
and house church's together because they will be in a constant struggle for
dominance.

As far as children in the meeting. In some meetings, we would keep the children
with us in the beginning and sing some songs together that we all knew, and the
children liked. Then they went to a room where there were games and books for
them, with the older ones taking care of the younger ones (biblical instruction
was done at home by their parents...no 'Sunday school'). When we were ready to
remember the Lord and break bread, they came back into the main group. We
finished with a fellowship meal.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there
are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one
of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an
interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 1 Corinthians 14:40 Let
all things be done decently and in order.

Dick
Phil. 3:12-14


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #95 < Previous Digest Next Digest >

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