New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Monday, September 9 2002 Volume 02 : Number 162
RE: [NTCP] Post-scriptum
Re: [NTCP] Jesus not God but as a god and as the Word of Salvation
[NTCP] Report from Texas Conference
Re: [NTCP] Jesus not God but as a god and as the Word of Salvation
Re: [NTCP] Components of proper church meetings
Re: [NTCP] elder designates their age - pastoring, their role
[NTCP] Please read-- brief note from the moderator

Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 08:34:34 -0500
From: "Scott Dowlen" <scott * dowlen>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] Post-scriptum

Ampe,

I have only recently joined the group, just recently enough to have seen
some of the posts about the discussion you mentioned.

Let me say that a true Christian filled with the Spirit would never attack
you for expressing your beliefs. Fearful flesh might attack with words,
insults, virus-ridden emails, and even hacking. But a disciple of Christ is
to be known by love, in the way Christ himself was known for his love.

That said, it is really hard to know where to draw the line of fellowship
sometimes. Our faith is based on belief in the Word of God -- both the
written form and the Living form, Christ himself. Some folks are going to
believe quite strongly that a trinitarian view is a part of what one must
accept to be saved. That a Christ created by God is not the same Christ who
_is_ God. The Bible (actually Jesus himself) warns about false Christs and
false Gospels, and many would feel that your view of Christ amounts to a
false Christ.

This discussion is also hard to maintain since the cults and other groups
that tend to hold a non-trinitarian view often join a group with false
intentions looking for converts rather than seeking growth and fellowship.
You were asked to answer your intentions in this regard and I didn't see
your clear reply (I probably missed it, I've been busy and scatter-brained
lately).

Let me also say that God loves you and wants you and me and everyone else to
be saved. What we need to figure out is whose set of beliefs is most in line
with God's Word. Is there room for both belief systems? I have a real hard
time saying yes to that question, but I don't want to drive you away. My
hope would be that you could stay and discuss and that we all could benefit.
Perhaps one or more folks could share off-list on the trinity issue while
everyone else continues discussing the normal issues of the list?


In Christ and in His love,
Scott Dowlen


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 19:22:43 EDT
From: TheologusCrucis * cs
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Jesus not God but as a god and as the Word of Salvation

Jay,

You wrote:

>>Now for us, this same Jesus has become both Lord and
Christ. Of all the things He's Lord of, relationship is perhaps the most
important. So it is very important for us to be very careful about "I
will... " and "I will not... " statements.<<

Jay, I merely meant to say that I wouldn't become the "father" (Elder) of an
house church that didn't see worship as a renewal of the New Covenant inaugurated by
Jesus in His death and resurrection. And that I will not thru relationship be
an acting gift (shepherd/teacher/evangelist) in an established group that
didn't do the same. I have spoken and taught in HCs and groups that do not
fit this, but I really don't consider myself, nor do they consider me, a
member of the group. I occasionally fill in pulpits for IC (AG) church
pastors who are away, and I'll probably keep doing so until my credentials
lapse after December.

I feel fairly confident in this "I will not..." statement simply because I
know what committing myself to groups that called what they did church has
done to me and my wife. My head and my heart are bowed down by sorrow and
loss, and my wife's heart has been shattered to the extent that she wonders
if a loving and gracious God could have put her in a situation like that with
a people that called themselves "Christian."

The group I attend now is a New England United Church of Christ
Congregationalist Church in Hadley MA. Their interim Pastor reads and
identifies with Crossen and Mack of "Jesus Seminar" fame, and believes Jesus
rose from the dead only in the hearts of those who believe -- but not
historically. Why do I continue going? Because the members have refused to
change their liturgy, and their liturgy reflects their old reformed covenant
theology that, at least to me, is an alive and vibrant tradition. I hear an
invocation every Lord's Day that calls on God to come and save them. I hear
the OT reading of the Law, and the Lord's Prayer asking for repentance. I
hear Scripture from the New Testament and from the Gospels read, although the
Word isn't necessarily exegeted faithfully. Time is spent giving thanks for
all God has done for us, and prayers are offered for those sick or in
distress. The Lord's Table isn't every Sunday like I'd prefer it to be, but
it is given once a month. And as we leave, the Pastor gives God's Benediction
on His people. This Advent season I'll be teaching the Jr. High class the
Lord's prayer, and will be instructing the Youth Group on the Apostle's Creed.

Now, I came to Amherst, MA, the hopes of starting an HC. But this is in God's
timing, not mine. I have been tempted to put an add in the paper with our
picture, but friendship with an AG pastor who planted an AG IC ten minutes
away persuaded me to hold to do it the way God told me to -- by becoming part
of the small town community thru unconditional friendship. All I'd have got
from that add would've been the radical individualist, the therapeutic
"woodstock" group, and those disgruntled with whatever IC church they are
attending now.

My friend started with 80 people, suffered thru the equivalent of THREE
church splits down to 18 people, and has only been over the last 3 years been
able to bring it up past 60. And He did that thru abandoning trying to base
things on relationship (read "community") and felt needs: people are horrible
at community because they are generally self-centered narcissists, and people
don't even know what they really need -- they think it's affirmation and
self-esteem and security when really they need to be totally broken by life
of any confidence in themselves so they can beg God for His saving help. (His
deacons voted to separate from the AG coming this Fall).

So here's my paradox: I go to a liberal IC "church" whose worship is closer
to what I believe to be NT worship than the Evangelical ICs in town or the
HCs that I have visited in the area. If I had my preference, I'd rather be
doing worship in my house, but for now this is where God has me.

Blessings to you, Jay, and may God bless you, your family, and the community
of faith God has brought you to,

TC


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 20:47:17 -0400
From: forwarded <forwarded * homechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] Report from Texas Conference

Received: from RobertJoni * aol via an unrecognized address.

To House Church People Everywhere, The Labor Day House Church Conference
in Waco, TX. was the best yet! I had the priviledge of sharing the 4H
Vision and also of listening to some of the most thrilling reports of
what God is doing in China, Equador, and here in the USA in the house
church movement. We are all grateful to John White for his ability to
capture the essence of a meeting and put it into writing. Below is his
report of the conference. Please forward this to all your friends who
have an interest in church planting.

Dear Church,

Tamela and I traveled to Waco, TX over Labor Day weekend for an excellent
House Church Conference sponsored by House2House magazine (thanks Tony,
Felicity, Jon and the gang!). Before my memory fades (which happens
quickly at my age!), I wanted to share an observation about the
conference. (For pictures, go to www.parousianetwork)

When I began doing house church a little over 4 years ago, I could find
almost no resources on the subject. Much of what was available was by
people who were angry at the traditional church and who had little
interest in reaching the lost ("us four and no more") or in church
planting. I knew that house churches were rapidly multiplying overseas
but I couldn't find much in this country.

A little over 2 years ago I found Wolfgang Simson's book ("Houses that
Change the World") and then heard him speak at a conference in Austin, TX
(thanks again, Tony and Felicity) in March of 2001. Later in the year,
Wolf spoke at conferences here in Denver. We hung on every word! Here was
a real person who knew what he was talking about (thank you, Wolf!).
Maybe God really was going to start a house church planting movement in
the US!

In Waco, this last weekend, I could see the progression. Some of the
speakers were still talking about what God was doing overseas in places
like China (name withheld) and Equator (Guy Muse). These are great tapes.
We have so much to learn from what God is doing in these places! At the
same time, there were many other speakers and participants that I spoke
to who are "doing it" here in this country.

Here are some of the resource people that God is raising up:

*Neil Cole - Powerful (and hilarious) teaching on how to plant churches
from Mat. 10. You will love this tape. And it's not just theory. Neil's
network has planted well over 100 house churches in the US. Also, get to
his Greenhouse Training Conference if you can.

*Mike Steele - North American Coordinator for DAWN Ministries. Mike is
playing a unique and invaluable role in networking the house church
networks. (Look for a new website in the next month or two that will tell
about the various networks.) Listen to the tape on "Simple Church" from
Mike's workshop at the conference .

*Tony and Felicity and Jon (son) Dale - The "masterminds" behind the
conference and the magazine. Growing network in Austin, TX. Listen to the
tape of Felicity's workshop on how to start a house church. Check out
their new book "Simply Church". (on their website)

*Robert Fitts - A wonderful, gentle, tenacious man. Has developing house
church networks in 9 states. Listen to his tape on the "4H" vision.

*Jeremy and Lori Ohl. Planting churches with the Apex Fellowship in Las
Vegas, NV. More than 25 HCs.

*Maurice and Gale Smith. Planting and coordinating house churches in
Spokane, WA. Sign up for his excellent "E-Letter" of The Parousia Network
of House & Cell Churches at Subscribe * parousianetwork

(All of this is my subtle way of saying GET THE TAPES! Even if you
couldn't attend the conference you can still benefit from the excellent
teaching. You can get them at http://www.house2house/ )

Of course, there were many others at the conference through whom God is
developing significant house church planting ministries. And, of course,
there are many more who weren't at the conference who God is using in
this way.

So, from my limited perspective, I have a sense of growing momentum and
great anticipation. If this thing were plotted on a graph, there would be
a significant upward slope over the last two years. And, there's nobody
(humanly speaking), in charge. No committee sat down and strategized
about how to make this happen. There's no towering personality leading
the charge for house churches. It's all happening sovereignly and
preveniently.

And I, for one, can't wait to see what He is going to do next!

John White
House Church Coach
Denver, CO.

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

Robert Fitts
Web Site <robertfitts>
\o/


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 09 Sep 2002 05:49:18 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Jesus not God but as a god and as the Word of Salvation

TheologusCrucis * cs <mailto:TheologusCrucis * cs> wrote:

> Jay, I merely meant to say that I wouldn't become the "father" (Elder)
> of an house church that didn't see worship as a renewal of the New Covenant
> inaugurated by Jesus in His death and resurrection.

Dear TC,

I'm sure that anything you father will probably have your genes, if not,
it's probably not yours. In any case, it looks like you have a good gene
pool. I like your summary of the content of a house meeting. As I recall
there is room for conversation and spontenaity in the worship and
renewal of Covenant.

> And that I will not thru relationship be an acting gift
> (shepherd/teacher/evangelist) in an established group that didn't do
> the same. I have spoken and taught in HCs and groups that do not fit
> this, but I really don't consider myself, nor do they consider me, a
> member of the group.

It's not so easy to plow in another man's field.

> I occasionally fill in pulpits for IC (AG) church pastors who are
> away, and I'll probably keep doing so until my credentials lapse after
> December.

Praise The Lord for "lapsed credentials"!

> I feel fairly confident in this "I will not..." statement simply
> because I know what committing myself to groups that called what they
> did church has done to me and my wife. My head and my heart are bowed
> down by sorrow and loss, and my wife's heart has been shattered to the
> extent that she wonders if a loving and gracious God could have put
> her in a situation like that with a people that called themselves
> "Christian."

I will send you off list a letter sent only last week to some local
leadership about this very problem.

> The group I attend now is a New England United Church of Christ
> Congregationalist Church in Hadley MA. Their interim Pastor reads and
> identifies with Crossen and Mack of "Jesus Seminar" fame, and
> believes Jesus rose from the dead only in the hearts of those who
> believe -- but not historically. Why do I continue going? Because the
> members have refused to change their liturgy, and their liturgy
> reflects their old reformed covenant theology that, at least to me, is
> an alive and vibrant tradition. I hear an invocation every Lord's Day
> that calls on God to come and save them. I hear the OT reading of the
> Law, and the Lord's Prayer asking for repentance. I hear Scripture
> from the New Testament and from the Gospels read, although the Word
> isn't necessarily exegeted faithfully. Time is spent giving thanks for
> all God has done for us, and prayers are offered for those sick or in
> distress. The Lord's Table isn't every Sunday like I'd prefer it to
> be, but it is given once a m! onth. And as we leave, the Pastor gives
> God's Benediction on His people. This Advent season I'll be teaching
> the Jr. High class the Lord's prayer, and will be instructing the
> Youth Group on the Apostle's Creed.

Been there, and done that. I know that it has to be more a mission field
than Church for you.

> Now, I came to Amherst, MA, the hopes of starting an HC. But this is
> in God's timing, not mine. I have been tempted to put an add in the
> paper with our picture, but friendship with an AG pastor who planted
> an AG IC ten minutes away persuaded me to hold to do it the way God
> told me to -- by becoming part of the small town community thru
> unconditional friendship. All I'd have got from that add would've been
> the radical individualist, the therapeutic "woodstock" group, and
> those disgruntled with whatever IC church they are attending now.

It's always good to "spy out the land" to see, not whether, but how to
take it.

> My friend started with 80 people, suffered thru the equivalent of
> THREE church splits down to 18 people, and has only been over the last
> 3 years been able to bring it up past 60. And He did that thru
> abandoning trying to base things on relationship (read "community")
> and felt needs: people are horrible at community because they are
> generally self-centered narcissists, and people don't even know what
> they really need -- they think it's affirmation and self-esteem and
> security when really they need to be totally broken by life of any
> confidence in themselves so they can beg God for His saving help. (His
> deacons voted to separate from the AG coming this Fall).

Sounds like business as usual.

> So here's my paradox: I go to a liberal IC "church" whose worship is
> closer to what I believe to be NT worship than the Evangelical ICs in
> town or the HCs that I have visited in the area.

Interesting how that works, isn't it. The one's who make the loudest
claim for the Bible as their only rule for faith and practice, seem to
wind up furthest from it. You do have to watch out for those old
liturgies, however, sometimes their appeal is more based on the "warm
fuzzies" of nostalgia, then on the Spirit of God.

God Bless you, and guide you both in a place to live in the Spirit, and
the ministry to which He has and is calling you.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 13:12:27 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Components of proper church meetings

T.C. wrote:

> I think it's important to have the
> theory down before the practice
> so that you can recognize like-
> minded folks to even begin an HC.

I agree with Jay F. Your (T.C.'s) synopsis of essential components to
a church gathering-- house church or not-- is top-notch, and worthy of our attention.
And what's more, its biblical. In emphasis and in particulars, your
"suggestion" for a "proper" church meeting, centered on "covenant renewal"
with Christ, with the sacraments and instruction in the word given proper
prominence, is about the best "nutshell" I've ever seen on the subject. As
you noted, "Invocation, the reading of the law, confession of sins, the
Elder's prayer, the preached Word, the Lord's Supper, thanksgiving and
offerings, and a benediction" are all essential.

An observation then a question to perhaps take us further toward our
goal of more practical church-planting discussions: your expression of the
"components," though excellent, seems to presuppose a large degree of
"Christianization". In other words, your use of phrases such as
"like-minded," "what *they* believe," "join *my*self to ...," etc. tells me
that you are thinking in terms of a Christian or post-Christian context, in
which believers already have somewhat firm views on how church meetings
should be conducted. And you're either joining in with them or forming a
"plant" mostly from already existing believers. Am I right?

But what about those of us who minister in non-Christianized
countries, where the majority of our target group(s) have never attended
their *first* church meeting? What we often deal with is the challenge of
contextualization: trying to decide whether certain practices are 1) even
allowable and/or 2) optimum for the group to honor the King of the covenant
and to adequately separate from the world-system as it manifests in our
particular locale(s).

Let's take for example Sam's suggestion of Pepsi and Pizza for
communion. In Canada. Seems shocking to you, huh? I noticed your long
list of ?????s (Sep. 6 post, same thread). However, what on earth would we
do in, say, a tribal culture where they do not even eat bread ... and wine
is unheard of? Or illegal? I guess what Sam's comments bring up is the
question of appropriate contextualization. How do we know if and when we
are no longer doing church biblically?-- i.e. in our search for "dynamic
equivalance" we cross some sort of line. Then on the flip side, how do we
know when we *are* doing church biblically, but with *meaningful* and
culturally significant substitutes to the "traditional" components?

Michael
Jerusalem


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 13:13:16 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] elder designates their age - pastoring, their role

Link H. asked:

> Why did they translate the word for
> tending sheep as 'feed' in the KJV?

"ra`ah, [Heb.] 'to feed a flock': The name 'shepherd,' so precious in both
the Old Testament and the New Testament, comes from a verb meaning 'to
feed,' hence, to protect and care for out of a sense of devotion, ownership
and responsibility. It is employed with reference to civil rulers in their
positions of trust (2 Sam 5:2; Jer 23:2); with reference to teachers of
virtue and wisdom (Prov 10:21; Eccl 12:11); and preeminently with reference
to God as the great Shepherd of His chosen people (Ps 23:1; Hos 4:16). Ezek
34 presents an arraignment of the unfaithful shepherds or civil rulers; Ps
23 reveals Yahweh as the Shepherd of true believers, and Jn 10 shows how
religious teachers are shepherds under Jesus the Good Shepherd."

"poimen, [Gk.] 'a shepherd': The word for shepherd signifies one who tends a
flock, and by analogy a person who gives mental and spiritual nourishment,
and guards and supports those under his care (Mt 9:36; Jn 10:2,16; 1 Pet
2:25; Eph 4:11). Love is a fundamental prerequisite to the exercise of the
shepherding function (Jn 21:15-18). The duties are to be discharged with
great diligence and in humble recognition of the gifts and appointment of
the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28)."

(INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA, BibleWorks Edition, 1998).

It wasn't a bad translation (the KJV's) in light of how the term(s) is
used in the entire Bible. The fundamental job of the "shepherd (pastor)" is
to *bring* the sheep of his flock to the places wherein they might *feed
themselves*. And flourish. All else-- the leading of the sheep from their
pen, the counting, the moving of them to "green pastures" and places where
there are "still waters," the "restoring" of those who have fallen and
cannot rise due to the weight of their wool, the guarding of them from
predators, the searching for strays, the counting and the returning to the
sheep-fold for the night-- must all be seen in light of the essential duty
of the shepherd to provide an environment of *nourishment* for those under
his care.
A re-examination of the so-called "five-fold" ministry reinforces this
observation. The exegetical question is whether or not there were/are five
or four "gifts" given to the Church to help bring us all to spiritual
maturity. The Young's Literal translation renders Eph. 4:11 as follows:

"... and He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as}
proclaimers of good news, and some {as} shepherds and teachers, ..."

A semantic-linguistic breakdown of that which He (Christ) gave is as
follows:

He gave
*some*
apostles
*some*
prophets
*some*
proclaimers of good news
*some*
shepherds and teachers

Each *singular* category is prefaced with the the word "some," (Gk. TOUS).
And then we come down to *the* category of "shepherds and teachers,"
precisely prefaced with the exact same pronoun-- apparently as two aspects
of a sole role. Even if the results of this analysis are not absolute (I
admit there is some ambiguity in the verse), then it is at least clear that
both "shepherds (pastors)" and "teachers" have overlapping functions. That
much is certain. Pastors teach and teachers pastor. Which, if the truth be
admitted, is scary for me!

Michael
Jerusalem


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 22:58:26 -0400
From: "Link Hudson" <Linkh * mcdowell.main.nc.us>
Subject: [NTCP] Please read-- brief note from the moderator

I realize it is easy to just hit the 'reply' button, but I would like to ask
everyone to change the subject line any time they reply to the thread,
"Jesus not God but as a god and as the Word of Salvation".

Thank you.

 


End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #162

< Previous Digest Next Digest >

 


house church eldership servanthood lord's day lord's supper world missions