New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, September 26 2002 Volume 02 : Number 170
Re: [NTCP] Components of proper church meetings
[NTCP] Some gems for our nugget-loving readership.
[NTCP] missionary schools

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2002 14:04:03 -0400
From: theologuscrucis * cs
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Components of proper church meetings

Michael,

Thank you for yor prayers! When I got home I found that the situation was much worse than I had known. Many of the Doctors here believe she has only 6-8 weeks left. However, this week she seems to be doing much better, and she is in the middle of a six week chemmo and radiation treatment schedule. She has pretty much said that she knows God can heal her -- she has seen enough medical miricles in my life. However, even if she is not healed, she still is ready to enter into the joys of being in the presence of God.

I have taken a leave of absense from my job in Amherst, and am working at a sugar factory here in Western Nebraska. As you know, we need God's providence now more than ever -- my wife was unable to come with me, and is working in Amherst. It's tough to be away from her...

As to the current thread about the bread and wine, you could probably tell from past posts that I believe them to be more than mere symbols of the blood and body of Christ. I believe that about a month or so ago I wrote something on this more extensively than I can now. I believe the bread and wine to be the symbol and also part of what is symbolized.

No, I am not Roman Catholic -- but I am not on Zwingli's position either. I truly do believe that the cup and bread are sacraments instead of merely elements. So -- there's that!

As to my current situation in the Congregational church I attend, the situation may determine much for me. I was hoping to be able to leave and begin attending a group on campus called Mercy House. They are non-liturgical :o( but the preaching and dicsipleship seems to be there.

I am finding out that my gift is not one of being an apostle, at least in the sense of being one sent out that can begin and organize a community of faith from sctratch. I find myself more to be able to evangelize, i.e., to tell my co-workers and friends about Christ. I think I am also a pretty fair teacher. As I realize this, I am finding that what I am doing in Amherst is changing. I'm not sure of any of this, and I am praying and seeking counsel with others as to my situation.

EVERYTHING seems to be in flux!

TC


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Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 11:14:53 -0400
From: forwarded <forwarded * homechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] Some gems for our nugget-loving readership.

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers
worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we
must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time
is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor
in Jerusalem... Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true
worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the
kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers
must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:19-24 (NIV)

"If you had asked, 'Where is the church?' in any important city of the
ancient world where Christianity had penetrated in the first century, you
would have been directed to a group of worshiping people gathered in a
house. There was no special building or other tangible wealth with which
to associate 'church', only people!" Walter Oetting, The Church of the
Catacombs

The 'church building' exists as a largely unquestioned cornerstone of
modern Christianity. Suggest that the church building is unscriptural,
unnecessary, and perhaps detrimental to our faith, and people will either
think that you are joking, or that you have lost your mind and become a
heretic. And yet, this is exactly what I claim. On the basis of Scripture
and history. Somehow, the early Church managed to thrive and overtake the
world with the gospel, all without the benefit of a church sanctuary. No
cathedrals, no temples, no sanctuaries were built by Christians for
hundreds of years. Today, most Christians cannot conceive of life without
their 'church building'. In fact the modern concept of the church as a
building subverts the true meaning of church in the New Testament-a group
of believers-flesh and blood. Some will argue that the early Christians
met in the Temple (true, for a short time in the part called Solomon's
Porch) and that Paul spoke in synagogues (true also, until they kicked
him out, or tried to stone him in each city). But these things belonged
to the Jews. After a short time, the synagogues were no longer open
opportunities for evangelism. The Jewish temple was destroyed around 70
AD. To try to use these things to prove that the Church should erect
buildings betrays a lack of basic understanding of the New Testament. The
church mainly met in the homes of believers. Of course, being led by
elders, and not a 'pastor', they were able to do this. Leadership by one
man, rather than by a group of elders is another roadblock to many even
considering the house church model.

In the early part of the 4th century, Roman emperor Constantine funded
the building of Christian 'temples'. By this point, the church had been
adopting a hierarchical structure based on the Roman form of government.
Instead of plural elders, churches were governed by a Bishop. Constantine
extended special governmental privileges to the clergy. The marriage of
church and state was consummated, and the 'Holy Roman Empire' was born.
The church slid into decline.

- ---------------------

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread
from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of
heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord
added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47 (NKJV)

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and
dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Acts 8:3 (NKJV)

Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved
Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. Romans 16:5 (NKJV)

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily
in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 1 Cor 16:19 (NKJV)

Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that
is in his house. Col 4:15 (NKJV)

... to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the
church in your house: Philem 1:2 (NKJV)

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


"When the church was very young, it had no buildings. Let us begin with
that striking fact. That the church had no buildings is the most
noticeable of the points of difference between the church of the early
days and the church of today. In the minds of most people today, "church"
means first a building, probably something else second; but seldom does
"the church" stand for anything other than a building. Yet here is the
fact with which we start: the early church possessed no buildings and
carried on its work for a great many years without erecting any." Ernest
Loosley When The Church Was Young

"You mistakenly think we conceal what we worship since we have no temples
or altars. Yet how can anyone make an image of God? Man himself is the
image of God. How can anyone build a temple to Him, when the whole world
can't contain Him? Even I, a mere human, travel far and wide. So how can
anyone shut up the majesty of so great a Person within one small
building? Isn't it better for Him to be dedicated in our minds and
consecrated in our innermost hearts - rather than in a building?" Mark
Felix in "Octavius" 2nd Century A.D.

Francis Schaeffer, in his book "The Church at the End of the Twentieth
Century" writes concerning dedicated church buildings in this way: "It is
interesting, however, that the church was in their home. Lightfoot says
that there were no church buildings as such before the third century.
Since Lightfoot made that statement, however, archaeologists found a most
interesting place in Rome. Roman houses - unless they were the great
mansions- were relatively small. What archaeologists found was a place
with the facade of two houses still untouched, but with the internal
walls torn out to make a larger room. And from everything that was found
there, the archaeologists believe that this was a church building. This
structure is dated at the end of the second century. But whether one
accepts Lightfoot's starting point in the third century, or whether one
dates it at the end of the second century, it really makes no difference.
There is no biblical norm as to where, and where not, the church should
meet. The central fact is that the early concept of the church had no
connection with a church building. The church was something else: a group
of Christians drawn together by the Holy Spirit in a place where they
worked together in a certain form..."

Reformer Martin Luther wrote in 1526: "The right kind of evangelical
order cannot be exhibited among all sorts of people, but those who are
seriously determined to be Christians and confess the gospel with hand
and mouth, must enroll themselves by name and meet apart in one house,
for prayer, for reading, to baptize, to take the Sacrament, and exercise
other Christian works. With such order it would be possible for those who
did not behave in a Christian manner to be known, reproved, restored, or
excluded, according to the rule of Christ (Matt. 18:15). Here also they
could, in common, subscribe alms, which would be willingly given and
distributed among the poor, according to the example of Paul (2 Cor.
9:1-12). Here it would not be necessary to have much or fine singing.
Here a short and simple way of baptism and the Sacrament could be
practiced, and all would be according to the Word and in love. But I
cannot yet order and establish such an assembly...In the meantime I will
call, excite, preach, help forward it, until Christians take the Word so
in earnest, that they will themselves find how to do it and continue in
it." Quoted by E. H. Broadbent in The Pilgrim Church

"Theologically, the church does not need temples. Church buildings are
not essential to the true nature of the church. For the meaning of the
tabernacle is God's habitation, and God already dwells within the human
community of Christian believers. The people are the temple and the
tabernacle... Thus, theologically church buildings are superfluous. They
are not needed for priestly functions because all believers are priests
and all have direct access, at whatever time and place, to the one great
high priest. A church building cannot properly be "the Lord's house"
because in the new covenant this title is reserved for the church as
people (Eph. 2; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 10:21). A church building cannot be a
"holy place" in any special sense, for holy places no longer exist.
Christianity has no holy places, only holy people." Howard A. Snyder, The
Problem of Wineskins, Chapter 4

"The church is never a place, but always a people; never a fold but
always a flock; never a sacred building but always a believing assembly.
The church is you who pray, not where you pray. A structure of brick or
marble can no more be the church than your clothes of serge or satin can
be you. There is in this world nothing sacred but man, no sanctuary of
man but the soul. " John Havlik, People-Centered Evangelism

"Whether we are considering the smaller gatherings of only some
Christians in a city, or the larger meetings involving the whole
Christian population, it is in the home of one of the members that the
'ekklesia' is held-for example in the 'upper room.' Not until the third
century do we have evidence of special buildings being constructed for
Christian gatherings." Robert Banks, Paul's Idea of Community

 


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Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 12:37:11 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] missionary schools

Dear TC,

I know that it must be difficult working so hard and long without being
able to go home to your wife each day. Inform us when things change. Your
circumstances are difficult but I know your faith will be increased,
brother.

Hi all,

Television viewers yesterday witnessed the rescue of an entire school of
missionary children in West Africa. I wonder if anyone is aware of
research or surveys pertaining to missionary children who are sent to
boarding school. Perhaps a personal experience.

I question this practice. But I question everything ...

David Anderson


End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #170

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