New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, May 22 2002 Vol 02 : 089
Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church
Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church
[NTCP] Re: What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?
Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church
[NTCP] Lord's Supper
[NTCP] Amanda did not come home.
[NTCP] Doing Music in an open church
Re: [NTCP] What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?
[NTCP] Amanda came home.

Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 08:58:40 -0400
From: "Dan Beaty"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

Richard,

You wrote:

<<This may sound strange, but I have seen situations where conscious efforts to
avoid the "trappings" of traditional churches actually hinder the Holy Spirit's
flow among the saints. They become more conscious of what they do not want to
become, so they cannot recognise what God wants to do among them.>>

I was in a meeting a few years ago with some "cutting edge" house church people
who were following a popular church planter. They did not permit musical
instruments because that might constitute song leadership for the musician. But
I can tell you that this was one of the deadest times of singing to the Lord
that I have ever experienced.

Later that weekend we were in another house church meeting with electric
guitars, harmonicas, tamborines etc. There was definitely life in that time of
praising Him, for everyone had the freedom to express their love for the Lord
and use their talents and gifts to glorify Him!

Dan Beaty
Columbus, Ohio USA

http://www.livingtruth.com

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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 17:00:02 +0000
From: "David Jaggernauth"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

Dick said:

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 "gift of song leading". :)

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.

I wish to share something concerning the above.

We experienced something very special recently on one of our fast camps. During
our time of worship, the people began to take over from the worship leader (the
fast camp is not house church based). We were all standing in a circle and then
spontaneously, someone in the circle would begin singing a song and the whole
group would join in, then someone else would begin and the group would join in
again and so it went from one to the next.

This was one of the most powerful sessions of worship we had ever experienced
in a long time. The only music present was a keyboard that someone played.

The church I came out of was very strong in music. The pastor was a musician in
a band during his unsaved life and he spent a lot of time and money developing
that aspect of the church. very rarely though did I ever feel that the people
came into contact with God during this worship, for me personally, very rarely
did I if at all, my time would have been more profitbly spent at home in my
room.

Concerning the other issues that were raised about bringing institutional
church practices into the house church. I have been struggling with some of
this recently and have decided that the first step in our house church venture
was to deal with our foundation. Our foundation currently consists of
everything we have been taught since we were saved and deposited into the
modern "Church system". I realised that if our foundation is incorrect then
what is built upon it will also be incorrect.

We recently decided to start one main House meeting at my house. This meeting
effectively replaces the need for any of us to attend a Sunday service at our
Church, however we still attend this Church meeting to build relationship with
the pastor and the people there ( not during the service but at other times
during the week).

We had sveral meetings at other houses which were going on but I felt that we
were never able to fully express what the House Church was all about. many of
the people in these meetings have been raised with institutional church ideas
and foundation and just teaching truth isnt sufficient, it must be
demonstrated.

During our first meeting at our house, we only had our core group of workers.
We discussed what currently exists in the Church world and what do we have to
do to not get drawn back into that system. It was a very good meeting and we
uncovered many things in our lives that we have to address. Many things in our
foundation, we have to start with basics and that starts with relationship,
with each other and with God.

We had our first communion supper together. I personally do not think that the
Communion should be a casual experience, the Lord did say that there is healing
in the Communion. We prayed and shared the bread and wine with the meal and
ate together, it was wonderful. One of the couples there brought their kids
along, one was crying and fussing at the table, he eventually threw up. It was
all very unrehearsed, and natural but yet supernatural because the reason we
were sitting eating together at that moment in time was because our Lord was
crucified 2000 years ago. We were all brought together on that day because of
something that occured almost 2000 years ago. To me that in itself is
phenomenal.

If our personal walk with God doesnt carry the supernatural presence and power
of God then whatever we do is going to seem very casual. Our foundation starts
with our personal consecration and time spent with God on a personal level.
When each person is tuned in to the father, when we come together to meet, it
will be supernatural. The institutional church system has removed from the
believer the impetus to be consecrated priests, the system gives someone else
the mandate to do it for you. If you do not spend quality time with God on a
personal level then you will end up defrauding your brethren when you come
together to meet.

When I first got saved my life became very supernatural but when i got plugged
into the system I wasnt able to do the things I previously did and my spiritual
life began to decline. All the spontaneity I enjoyed with God vanished. I felt
I lost the presence and power of God. Suddenly the organiztion took precedence
over everything else. This may be the reason why so many moves of God in the
past aborted eventually, including the pentecostal movement. We may be in
danger of aborting this move as well if we dont address our foundation.

This is why i spend much time praying for my co workers and I encourage them to
do the same. I also try to pour as much as I can into their lives and they
likewise. We have to always guard each others spiritual walk, always. This is
the only way corporate worship can be properly expressed.

David Jaggernauth
Trinidad.

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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 13:24:06 -0700
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [NTCP] Re: What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?

Dear Link,

I was thinking that the Lord's way is to eat with the tax collectors and
sinners. I'm sure glad He didn't "dismiss" me!

This may be a good reason to have the Lord's table as something unique -
distinct from simply eating together in a common way (not necessarily a
separate meeting - but somehow distinct). Inviting people to eat with us is a
wonderful way to share the gospel... seems like the Lord ate with people a lot.

On the other hand we should tell them that partaking of the bread and the cup
is for believers. It's something we do in remembrance of the Lord. It's our
testimony that He has gone through a process to redeem us and to become edible
to us... and that we live by Him.

If they're not clear whether they believe in the Lord it's best they don't
partake of the bread and cup... (that doesn't mean we dismiss anybody... we
just help them to understand).

We can tell them about the significance of those elements.... actually that
could be a little gospel message... and we should definitely help them to know
how much the Lord desires them to be saved.

Perhaps before too long they'll be joining us in remembering Him at His table.

Your fellow partaker,

Dan

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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 17:07:27 -0400
From: Richard Wright
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

On Tue, 21 May 2002 08:58:40 -0400, Dan Beaty wrote:

>This may sound strange, but I have seen situations where conscious efforts to
>avoid the "trappings" of traditional churches actually hinder the Holy
>Spirit's flow among the saints. They become more conscious of what they do not
>want to become, so they cannot recognise what God wants to do among them.

Which is exactly what I was referring to. As I mentioned, the goal of our
meetings is that God have free rein to move in the individuals of the group. To
base a meeting on "what I'm against" would in deed hinder the Spirit because
that attitude is fleshly.

That is a different thing all together than making a conscious effort to remove
structural impediments to open worship. Which is why I do not believe it is
likely NT order can be substantially implemented in an institutional church ,
because it goes against the very nature of organized church structure. It may
help in some ways, but it will always be limited in it's effect., and the old
order will constantly be trying to reassert itself.

The Lord speaks of this when He says:

Matthew 9:17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles
break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine
into new bottles, and both are preserved. Mark 2:22 And no man putteth new
wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine
is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new
bottles. Luke 5:37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new
wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. Luke
5:38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. Acts
2:13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

To many, speaking of the institutional church in such a way makes us appear as
though we are "full of new wine". :) Dick Phil. 3:12-14

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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 19:56:56 -0400
From: David Anderson
Subject: [NTCP] Lord's Supper

>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.

Hey brother,

I am keenly interested in these questions, too, Guy. My former confidence
concerning the traditional "Lord's Supper" has been all but shattered.

http://lords-supper.org/supper_files/fox_real_meal.html

blessings to thy house and upon your work in Ecuador,

David Anderson

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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 20:16:10 -0400
From: David Anderson
Subject: [NTCP] Amanda did not come home.

Urgent prayer appeal.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

On Tue, 21 May 2002 14:09:50 -0400, Terry Walters wrote on
alt.religion.christian.home-church (in message ):

>Hi friends,
>
>Please pray. Our 14 year-old, Amanda, didn't come home from school today. Her
>friends all say they haven't seen her, and we haven't been able to pick up any
>trace of her. She simply didn't get on the bus. The local law enforcement
>folks are looking, but it's getting dark, and she's never been away from home
>alone before. This is totally unlike her.
>
>We've placed her in God's hands, and are trusting Him. Please stand with us in
>prayer on this.
>
>Yours In Messiah, Terry
>

Terry,

I cannot imagine how difficult this must be. Oh, how we groan with you.

Keep us informed as our prayers fill the throne-room of our heavenly Father.

I'll get the word out, brother.

David Anderson

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Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 08:31:40 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] Doing Music in an open church

Link H. wrote:

>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.)

And Tony D. similarly wrote:

>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....
>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!

When I first walked into an orthodox synagogue service in 1982 I was surprised
to see squealing children chasing each other up and down the rows of chairs,
and people talking while the KHAZAN (the rough equivalent of a "worship
leader") sang his heart out. There were times when people were more
concentrated and times when ... they were not so focused. It bothered me. I
considered it disrespectful to the Lord. That was my first encounter and
impression.

I now live in Israel where one can see kids playing soccer in the holy of
holies of a 4000(!) year old Canaanite temple. Or where part of the watchtower
to the city wall that stood when Jesus walked the earth is built right into the
structure of our college's foyer. We notice it when we grab a basketball; the
"ball hamper" is right where the 2000+ year-old carved stone steps are visible
in the more modern building's (1860s) wall. My wife and I have a collection of
pottery handles from various biblical and historical sites throughout the land.
The "youngest" ones are *over* 1000 years old (Byzantine period). We have
some from Ashkelon (where Samson went and thumped a few Philistine heads) and
Timnah (also see the Samson story) which are over 4000 years old. We use them
for napkin rings at our more formal dinners. Every site of NT importance, or
presumed NT importance, has a church building built over it. The effect is
that the monks live, work, and use the potty right next to the sites where,
say, Jesus was born. Or rose from the dead.

The most popular destination in Jerusalem for Christian Protestants from the
west tends to be the "Garden Tomb," a fictituous contender for the place of
Jesus' resurrection. Why? Europeans and Americans, not acclimated to Middle
Eastern concepts of "holy" say that it just *feels* more sacred there. More
like how they expected it should.

But they are basing their impressions on sentiments and not on solid evidence.
And sentiments are easily clouded by cultural conditioning. Some questions we
should consider together to help get us thinking, for the moment, more Middle
Eastern:

1) What's wrong with the kids "going wild" during the singing ... so long as
they are not sinning? 2) What's wrong with a dog (or donkey, or camel) coming
in ... so long as he/she doesn't leave any "presents" behind? 3) Who says one
can't be focused on the Lord while trying to remember the words to a song(s) or
straining to see the OHP?

I remember a really helpful bit of advice I once read. It is found in a book
entitled EXPERIENCING THE DEPTHS OF JESUS CHRIST by Madame Guyon. Some of you
Nee fans out there might have read it. It is basically a manual on prayer. I
really didn't like the book; a little too "Zen" for me. But John Wesley,
Watchman Nee, ... even Keith Green thought it was great! It did have one
section that nevertheless has helped me immensely with my prayer times through
the years. And even with making the transition into Middle Eastern thinking.

Madame Guyon described a situation I'm sure we can all relate to: you are
praying, focused on the Lover of your soul, when suddenly a stray thought flits
in from somewhere. You try to dismiss it. Perhaps it is lust, perhaps it is
worry, perhaps it is nothing save a snatch from an innocent song you use to
sing when you were a kid. But it comes in at the wrong time-- while you were
reserving your focus for the Lord. Guyon goes on to explain that there are
then two basic responses: 1) try to re-focus your thoughts on Christ OR, 2) to
incorporate that stray thought into your prayer to him. She states that the
first is not the best option because in trying to recapture your focus you
actually lose it through focusing on trying to recapture your focus. The
second option is best because it sanctifies the thought (even that lustful one)
and no extra energy is expended-- or focus lost. Almost anything that happens
during prayer (or worship) may be brought in as part of that prayer (or
worship) experience. If it is sinful, confess. If not, give thanks. It's all
one prayer experience, communing with the Savior who loves us.

The same is true of Middle Eastern thinking. Ancient pagan temples make great
soccer areas in the cramped cities of modern Israel. Holy and mundane exist
side by side in everday life. Church buildings (sorry, that's a bad word for
some of you) need upkeep, and people need to relieve themselves somewhere. It
can all be holy work when done as unto the Lord. Screaming kids, dogs, OHPs are
all part of what it means to be holy. I say with Madame Guyon, don't waste the
energy or focus trying to fight the normal occurences of a less-than-perfect
world. I say, if it is not sinful per se, then sanctify it and offer it back
to the Lord in worship. If it is sinful, confess it. All within the flow of
the same prayer or corporate worship time. You will find that you will be less
frustrated. In fact, you might even derive a degree of satisfaction from
knowing that you have robbed the devil of one of his chief weapons against
Christians-- distraction. And dedicated it to the Lord's service.

Michael
Jerusalem

P.S. Link wrote:

>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?

This was (and still is) called the "great Hallel" which is actually a series of
Psalms (113-118 or 136) sung at the conclusion of the Passover Seder (set order
of service). We know this because ... we know the essential liturgy for the
Passover that Jews celebrated at the time of Christ. And we know that Christ
followed it-- save the inaugeration of the Lord's Supper-- from the narrative
accounts of the NT. The Greek word HUMNEO (from which we get "hymn"), and it's
various inflected forms, more specifically means "praise" (see Heb. 2:12, where
it is usually translated "praise" or "praises), often set to song. That is
what the Hebrew word HALLEL means as well.

If modern Passover liturgy is any indication-- and we have no good reason to
doubt that it isn't-- the HALLEL songs are sung by the Seder participants
together as a group. Congregationally. Not antiphonally.

<><><> ntcp info page: http://world-missions.org/planting <><><>


Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 08:33:28 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What did it mean to break bread in homes in Acts 2?

Link H. wrote:

>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.... 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.

I too encountered this type of anti-liturgical thinking when I worked with the
Salvation Army. They argued that every meal eaten together should be a "holy
experience," and thus constitutes "communion". In one sense this is very
"Jewish" thinking since one of the foundational principles of Judaism is to
take the mundane and sanctify it to the worship of YHWH. And I agree that
every meal should be holy ... doesn't Paul say as much in 1 Tim. 4:4, 5:

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is
received with thanksgiving, because it is *consecrated* by the word of God and
prayer" (emphasis mine).

But the inference goes too far when someone replaces a command of our Lord's
with something reasoned out of his/her head. With no biblical precedent. Every
meal should be a holy experience ... AND we should observe the ordinance of the
Lord's Supper. If the two are in some sense combined, with communion given a
greater emphasis in the meal, all the more the better in my book.

>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? .... 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?

Our congregation in Jerusalem does not dismiss unbelievers, but the elder
leading the blessings at that time simply emphasizes that this part of the meal
is for baptised followers of Yeshua (Jesus) only. One church planter I read
suggested that either all the baptised believers stand during this part of the
meal, with a request that those not yet baptised remain seated, OR for the
believers to leave the room to partake together of unleaved bread and wine,
while the not-yet-believers remain to eat, talk ... and ponder. These are a
couple of possiblities for what to do.

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Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 15:44:08 -0400
From: forwarded
Subject: [NTCP] Amanda came home.


From: "Terry Walters" Newsgroups: alt.religion.christian.home-church

Hi again.

Amanda turned up last night (same day she disappeared) about 11 PM, in a local
convenience store. She's fine.

Seems she had gotten in trouble at school, and (being 14 and melodramatic) blew
the whole thing out of proportion, to the extent that she decided to lay low
until it all cooled off. She realizes she made the wrong choice, and that she's
not in trouble at home, and that her action just made things worse.

At 14 you sometimes don't realize you're putting yourself in danger when you
make stupid choices. She's in a very emotional state right now (time of
month+puberty+hassles from the birth family+trouble at school=more than her
immature mind could handle), but all will be fine.

Thanks for all the prayers and concern that we received. We love and appreciate
every one of you very much.

Yours In Messiah, Terry


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