New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Tuesday, July 30 2002 Volume 02 : Number 131
Re[4]: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: Re[2]: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2002 20:47:00 +0000
From: ScogginsTravel * ccmail.lfa
Subject: Re[4]: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Dick to Link,
Good points in your response. Only a couple of responses on my part:

Paul was an apostle wherever he went, whether or not he exercised his
apostolic gifts.

DS: Yes, but he recognized that he had a limited "sphere" in which he
exercised his apostoleship. (2 Cor. 10).

Have you read Watchman Nee's, _Concerning Our Mission_/_The Normal Christian
Church Life_? Nee argues for the idea of one church per city, and he argues
for a presbytry on the city level.

DS: Yes, I am quite familier with these books and his others. I think
some of his books tend toward the purist which has led to some cult
type of thinking such as that of Witness Lee. eg. who determines if
there is a church there. It is easy for a church to come in and simply
declare all other groups as reprobate and therefore they are they only
"legitimate" church there (as has happened to me more than once).

Interesting observation. Something else to notice is that there is no
'Biblical pattern' of elders appointing other elders in the NT. Apostles or
their co-laborers did appoint elders.

DS: Of course we only have a very limited window into the appointing
of elders, normally when Paul's team planted a church. There is no
comment as to how additional elders were appointed. I think it
unlikely that apostles needed to come by whenever new elders were
appointed. Paul does visit a lot of the churches he planted, and of
course ultimately he died....

Btw, did you hear the Lord call you specifically to apostolic ministry
before you were 'separated to ministry' by church elders?

DS: Yes. I heard the calling from the Lord when I had been saved for three
years after reading Nee and Alexander Hay. WHen I approached the elders
they counselled me to plant at least on church out of the existing church
before launching out in an apostolic team.

Did they use the word 'apostle?'

DS: We referred a lot to the pattern of the apostles in the new
testament. Alex Hay and Watchman Nee were well read by the leadership.
Since the word "apostle" was very loaded we tended to steer clear of
it. I still do since for many 'apostle'= superman.


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Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 11:18:16 -0700
From: Krupp <kruppnj * open>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Dear Jay,

You DO know how to put it succinctly! And it's not on a page in "How To Win
Friends and Influence People." Well, no doubt you're influencing people,
but maybe not making friends in certain circles. (Just joking here.)

Love to you both,
Joanne


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Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 14:38:23 EDT
From: JAMESRUTZ * cs
Subject: Re: Re[2]: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Good word, John....

My gift is teaching, for another example. But it is expressed 90% of
the time by writing.

Welcome to the NTCP list!

Jim Rutz
jim * openchurch


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Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 15:05:21 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Krupp wrote:

>Dear Jay,
>
>You DO know how to put it succinctly! And it's not on a page in "How To Win Friends and Influence People." Well, no doubt you're influencing people, but maybe not making friends in certain circles. (Just joking here.)
>
Dear Joanne,

Your observation is no joke. Carleen was with me last night, and gave me
a sound beating for pricisely your point.

The problem is that I don't know anyone else in a position to ask these
kinds of questions, and so if I don't ask them who will? Certainly not
those who are making their living by presiding over the division of the
Body of Christ. Those who are the most successful at it, are the most
influlential, and the least likely to repent of the work of their own hands.

The best I can do is plant seeds, it is up to God to "influence people".
All I know is I am increasingly hungering and thirsting for the city
whose builder and maker is God, not the work of man's hands.

There isn't any time left for shmoozing leadership in the hope of
getting a word in edgewise. I try to be gentle with smoldering wicks,
and bruised reeds, but hell's gate keepers are another matter. Jesus
didn't shmooze them, and it's increasingly obvious why.

Thanks for your encouraging word.

Yours in Christ,

Jay

P.S. there just isn't anywhere else to be yours.


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Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 10:40:29 EDT
From: DenverWH * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Many thanks to you, Link, for raising this important subject. I appreciate
your good questions and thorough approach to the subject. Also, greetings to
Dick Scoggins. I've appreciated your ministry from a distance for a number
of years. Seems to me that you moved into this realm of house churches long
before it had even occurred to many of us. And you did it in a way that was
not excessively angry at the IC (now that you know what that means).

I would like to bring up the issue of hermeneutics as we continue to discuss
the concept of apostles. By this, of course, I mean seeking to understand
Scripture in it's historical and grammatical context.

It seems to me that because Paul's epistles play such a huge role in our
written New Testament, we almost unconsciously tend to make him the dominant
and solitary focus of the first 40 years of the church. Paul becomes the
central figure from which we develop most of our theology and practice. (Oh,
and, by the way, there were other leaders like Peter and James but we treat
them as rather secondary.)

Of course, when we stop to put ourselves into the historical context of those
first 40 years we realize that Paul wasn't the solitary central figure. He
was certainly important but he operated mostly out on the periphery with the
Gentiles. The center point of the early church was Jerusalem and James and
Peter were at least as important as Paul. Consider how this hermeneutical
insight might bear on our discussion of apostles.

1. "Apostles, by definition, plant churches only in 'new territory'."
Certainly this would be true of Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles but what
about Peter (and perhaps the majority of other apostles on the earth at that
time) who was an apostle to the Jews (Gal. 2:8). Who were the Jews and what
did it mean to be "an apostle" to them?

The Jews were God's people. They had a covenant relationship with Yahweh.
They believed in the Scriptures. They attended "worship service" every week.
Being an apostolic church planter with these people was quite different from
being an apostolic church planter with pagan Gentiles.

Consider possible implications of Peter's apostolic ministry for us today.
Perhaps there are parallels between the Jews of the First Century and church
goers of today. (I am not saying that today's church has replaced the Jews.)
Church goers have some sort of belief in God. They have some sort of
understanding of the Scriptures. They attend "worship services" on some sort
of regular basis. Etc.

Are many of the church goers not in need of renewal? Do they not need to
hear about genuine New Testament church life (and maybe even hear about Jesus
again)? Is there not a need for perhaps thousands of apostles to modern
church goers? As in the First Century, this may be some of the most fertile
ground for planting house churches. Should we overlook this ground because
of a perhaps mistaken belief that apostles always must go to "new" territory?
(This doesn't even address Barna's estimate of 10 million Christians who are
no longer church goers. They consider themselves Christians but have given
up on church.)

2. "Apostles, by definition, never stay in one place. They are always
traveling." Now an apostle is, by the definition of the word, a "sent one".
But Jesus never gave further definition to the specifics of being "sent". We
don't know how far they were sent or how long they stayed. We have derived
most of our principles from perhaps the most extreme apostle of the early
church - Paul. Probably no other apostle traveled as much and as far as he
did. Praise God that Paul did what he did but let's not make him the sole
model for apostolic ministry.

On the other hand, consider James. While the evidence is not conclusive, an
argument can be made that he was an apostle (1 Cor. 9:5). As far as we know,
he never left Jerusalem. It is hard to imagine that he didn't plant and
"father" churches in that city. He was likely a "sent one". He just wasn't
sent very far.

All of this is to say that most likely the church in general and the ministry
of the apostle in particular was probably quite fluid during the first 40
years. Apostles were understood to be servants who were sent to plant and
father churches. Beyond that, there was great diversity as to how it was
done, where it was done and to whom it was done. Reexamining this historical
context will lead us to look to Paul as "a" model and not "the" model.

As we think about planting a million house churches in the U.S. in the next
decade, there will need to be thousands of people functioning as apostles. I
believe we will need to enjoy and affirm the diversity of those apostles.
Some will be apostles to completely unreached groups (the Mong? people).
Others may be apostles to the Presbyterians (as a former Presbyterian, I'm
not sure if they are an unreached people group or not). Some may travel
widely (Robert Fitts comes to mind). Others may focus on a city or region (I
think of Kevin Rains in Cincinnati or Joe Boyd in Las Vegas). And, we
haven't even started talking about women apostles! (My understanding is that
70-80% of the church planters in China are women.)

Let's pray for (Luke 10:2) and encourage the same diversity of apostlic
church planters as the early church did.
John White
House Church Coach
Denver, CO.

Every believer a church planter.
Every home a church.
Every church building a training center.

 


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