New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


NT Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, October 17 2002 Volume 02 : Number 182
[NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] In defense of liberty
Re: [NTCP] In defense of liberty
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
[NTCP] sam is that you?
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
[NTCP] House Churches among Malaysian Chinese
Re: [NTCP] House Churches among Malaysian Chinese

Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 08:54:30 EDT
From: JoelBRJr * aol
Subject: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

We go and walk in the places He calls us, not to please men, but to please
Him alone. - Stephanie

Thank you Stephanie. This is what I was trying to say. God calls us to
different places. Shucks, even Jesus made it His custom to enter the Temple
when He was close by, and into synagogues (house or buildings, but
established places easily found nonetheless) when not in Jerusalem. Whose
example do we follow? Jesus or man?

The house church is the wave of the future, but writing off others who
disagree with us is exactly what is going on in the denominations, mainline
churches and pharisaical groups. Unfortunately, a lot of what I am seeing in
the house church vs IC posts reminds me of what I just left. Should I just write off
this wonderful movement because of the bitterness of a few? I don't think so.
So I will follow the Lord when He sends me to ICs as well as HCs.
Also to respond to a recent post, this "the Jews killed Jesus" stuff doesn't
wash and is getting very old for a half-truth. The Jews Pharisaical incited
the crowd to insist on Jesus' death, but the gentiles killed Jesus just to
keep the peace. No one is blameless in the death of the Lord, which was by
the way, ordained by God from the beginning of time. So why not blame Him for
the plan of salvation. We need to get off of blame and onto
praise/worship/etc.

Joel
Isa 40:31


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Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 09:16:05 EDT
From: Steffasong * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

In a message dated 10/16/2002 8:57:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
JoelBRJr * aol writes:
> . Should I just write off this wonderful movement because of the bitterness
> of a few? I don't think so. So I will follow the Lord when He sends me to
> ICs as well as HCs.

I see this too, Joel.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. There are a heckuva lot of 'lost' in
the denominations. There are people floundering, empty, scared, and
confused. It's not just the 'man on the street' that is in deep need of our
Lord's life.

Being in Christ means walking in Christ. As He leads, we go.
When folks ask me if it's God's will to do this or that I always have to ask,
"do you have the grace for it?' 'Has the Lord paved the way before you?'

For a while God called me to corporate america. That was tough, but His
grace prevailed, and there was much fruit. Then that season ended.
(Hallelujah!) If I had stayed longer I would have been striving.

There's some stuff that we cannot possibly do because of our predisposition
or our baggage or limitations, but other 'works' God gives us we can do with
His enablement.

We've got to know our limitations and be faithful to do what He has called us
to.
Blessings,
Stephanie
Stephanie Bennett
Creative Services & Consulting

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854


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Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 10:13:43 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] In defense of liberty

Steffasong * aol <mailto:Steffasong * aol> wrote:

> There's a lot of garbage out there passing for the church, and it
> should send us to our knees. I pray our hearts break as we weep with
> God over the apostasy that is apparant throughout the world.

Dear Stephanie,

It occurred to me recently that here in the "Bible Belt" we have
something that could be described as "no fault apostasy".

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 10:57:41 EDT
From: Steffasong * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] In defense of liberty

In a message dated 10/16/2002 10:13:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
jferris154 * mac writes:
> Dear Stephanie,
>
> It occurred to me recently that here in the "Bible Belt" we have
> something that could be described as "no fault apostasy".
>
> Yours in Christ,
>
> Jay
>

Hi Jay,

Good to hear from you.

Yes, I have heard it is like that in the midwest. There are particular
apostosies (is that a word?) in every region. You should see what it's like
here in South Florida.
AY, yi, yih!!!

Lord have mercy,
Steph

Stephanie Bennett
Creative Services & Consulting

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854


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Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 13:53:25 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

>Thank you Stephanie. This is what I was trying to say. God calls us to
>different places. Shucks, even Jesus made it His custom to enter the Temple
>when He was close by, and into synagogues (house or buildings, but
>established places easily found nonetheless) when not in Jerusalem. Whose
>example do we follow? Jesus or man?
>The house church is the wave of the future, but writing off others who
>disagree with us is exactly what is going on in the denominations, mainline
>churches and pharisaical groups. Unfortunately, a lot of what I am seeing in
>the house church vs IC posts reminds me of what I just left. Should I just write off
>this wonderful movement because of the bitterness of a few? I don't think
>so.

Nobody has been "written off" by me. I have, against great opposition and
over a long period of time, defended the bona fide Kingdom citizenship of
EVERY believer in Jesus regardless of how or where they meet.
Furthermore, to disagree with is not to "write off."

>So I will follow the Lord when He sends me to ICs as well as HCs.
>Also to respond to a recent post, this "the Jews killed Jesus" stuff doesn't
>wash and is getting very old for a half-truth. The Jews Pharisaical incited
>the crowd to insist on Jesus' death, but the gentiles killed Jesus just to
>keep the peace. No one is blameless in the death of the Lord, which was by
>the way, ordained by God from the beginning of time. So why not blame Him
>for the plan of salvation.

Why don't you ask Peter about it? Here is what he said:

Acts 2:23 Him (Jesus), being delivered by the determinate counsel and
foreknowledge of God, YE HAVE TAKEN, AND BY WICKED HANDS HAVE CRUCIFIED
AND SLAIN:

Now, who were those words addressed to, Joel? Just back up one verse and
you'll see it:

Acts 2:22 YE MEN OF ISRAEL,

Nobody suggested that the entire blame was upon the Jews or that God did
not have deeper designs than were visible to human eyes. My point, and I
stand by it for now, is that the Jews - those to whom He came, yet
received him not - are not always reliable guides for belief and practice.

>We need to get off of blame and onto
>praise/worship/etc.

Good, please lead the way instead of blaming others, yourself. Thank you.

David Anderson


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Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 14:20:17 -0400
From: "Peter Burritt" <pburritt * sympatico.ca>
Subject: [NTCP] sam is that you?
I have just got hooked up to Sympatico, at least a working copy =
anyhow...been on the service for three months now, just going through 93 =
messages that have been stored for a few weeks

Almost like a guy in a traditional church meeting, then he comes to a =
place where he sits before the Lord with the WORD open, and BANG he =
busts through the wall into sunshine of the Spirit and understands, =
Gods' presence and provision for all his needs

Just returned home from a conference for the deaf and there was =
interpretation for the hearing people, like me...that put me in my =
place.

Much to share if you wish, be glad to come over to your place some =
Wednesday night,,,just name time and place and I'd be glad to share and =
receive from your group

Peter Burritt


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Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 15:56:00 EDT
From: Steffasong * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

In a message dated 10/16/2002 1:55:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
david * housechurch writes:

> . My point, and I
> stand by it for now, is that the Jews - those to whom He came, yet
> received him not - are not always reliable guides for belief and practice.
>

So true, David.

Surely I am coming in too late to the conversation here, because I wasn't
even aware that you were involved in the discussion, but I see now that there
are other issues involved in the thread.

That said, I will move away a bit from the fringes of this thread and tell
you about some recent reading I am doing. This month I am reading
Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison, and taking a closer look at one
of the letters, -- the one about religionless Christianity. Though I still
shiver at what this meant for he and his loved ones, it's REALLY neat to see
what confinement and silence does for our perspective. Many words are one
thing. Silence and confinement produce a depth that few of us (myself
included) ever experience.

As Bonhoeffer's time in prison continued, reading and understanding the Old
Testament grew more important to him. In fact, he said that he began to see
all of the NT in light of the Old. He makes a point about the reality of
'junk' (sin, etc.) that went on among the people of God, and believed that
this non-religious picture of God's people gives us greater perspective as to
the purposes of God and the advancement of the Kingdom on this Earth.
- -- That the Jews were reliable guides for belief and practice? I think not.
I would not follow the example (on purpose) of an adulterer (King David) or
walk the way of Moses in his murderous rage. By the grace of God we live and
breathe. By the grace of God we learn from one another and grow in our
understanding.

Also, Bonhoeffer's thoughts on the church in Life Together make clear the
need for a Christo-centric meeting, but he was more and more inward in his
understanding of the Christian life and the church life during those last
days. In fact, he wrote to his parents of the radically different kind of
Christian faith he was experiencing inwardly, and brought most of his
theology down to the simplicity of Christ. This is very far removed from
patterning ourselves on the Jewish (or Christian) system of belief.

Are there any avid Bonhoeffer fans out there on NTCP? If so, please chime
in. I'd love more perspective.

Blessings,
Stephanie
Stephanie Bennett
Creative Services & Consulting

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854


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Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 21:03:57 -0400
From: "Link Hudson" <Linkh * mcdowell.main.nc.us>
Subject: [NTCP] House Churches among Malaysian Chinese

John White wrote the following,
> Jeremy is a young man who is in training to go as a missionary to
> Malaysia. His target group there is Chinese who are very Western in their
> thinking. Jeremy suggested to his supervisor that he would like to "work
> towards a house church network approach".
>
> His supervisor responded that that strategy wouldn't work with that
> people group and he challenged Jeremy to identify a house church movement
> that is going well in a Western culture. (That's the kind of response
> I've heard from lots of church leaders in America.)

I would like to respond to this post from a different angle. I wonder if it
would be possible for a copy of my response to be forwarded to the Jeremy
mentioned in this post.

Jeremy, here is my argument for house churches among Malaysian Chinese.

I spent over four and a half years living in Indonesia, a close neighbor of
Malaysia that speaks almost the same language. I've known many Indonesian
Chinese. I've also gone to church with with Malaysian Chinese, and worked
with a Malaysian Chinese in the secular workplace. Malaysian Chinese seem
to me to be culturally a cross between Indonesian Chinese and Singaporians.
(I've known Singaporians as well.) I will write based primarily on what I
know about Indonesian Chinese.

My impression is that the Chinese in these parts of the world may be more
'western in their thinking' than 'pribumi' or 'putribumi'-- the native
inhabitants of Indonesia or Malaysia. But I don't think they are completely
Western in their thinking. Talk about their views on medical treatments if
you don't believe me. Also, compared to Americans Malaysian and Indonesian
Chinese are a lot more stiff and formal. Americans are really laid back.
Indonesian Chinese seem to have strong Asian-style family ties, and are more
'traditional' in these respects than many
Americans.

In a church setting, the Chinese tendancy to network and have strong social
ties could help church growth. In the 50's, a missiologist named McGravan
called the relationships (family, etc.) that new believers have 'bridges of
God.' New Chinese believers will likely have 'strong bridges.'

The church growth caused by new believers bringing in their friends and
family may be more of an advantage in a house church situation. House
churches are supposed to function as families anyway. Some Chinese
Buddhists might be more inclined to visit a home meeting than a traditional
church meeting. As new people repent and believe and are added to the
church, a house church setting filled with people they already know can
provide them with the spiritual intimacy and emotional support they need.

One young Chinese man, a teen or college student, refused to burn incense to
an ancestor. His father threatened him with kicking him out of the house if
he didn't do it, and asked if the young man's preacher would clothe and feed
him.

In a house church setting where people actually know one another, it is more
likely that someone would take a young man like this in if he got kicked out
of his home for not committing idolatry.

One young Chinese woman ina boarding house I lived in when I was in Jakarta
had decided to become a Christian. She attended church, but hadn't been
baptized yet. She told how she had not bowed down with incense, but had
held incense for her mother. I think she was hiding her beliefs from her
Buddist mother.

New Chinese believers need a family-like support network to help them with
persecution. Persecution of Chinese who come to Christ may be less severe
than the persecution of Muslim 'putri bumi' that come to Christ in Malaysia,
but there still may be persecution from some family members. In Jakarta,
even among the young, secular-seeming, western-seeming Chinese, there were
still grandparents who burned incense. Fortunately, as all over the world,
Chinese have been coming to Christ in droves in Jakarta, and the problem of
pressure to idolatry in the family is decreasing for many.

In a house church setting, if the believers really love one another, and
they have been the Biblical ethic of hosptiality (often ignored in the west)
and taught to honor those who endure persecution for the Lord, then there is
a support network for the young believer, who is not yet economically
viable, who is kicked out of his house. Send a new believer into a
mega-church, and who will know his need? If they know, who will meet them?
Even in a house church, there is a need for teaching that believers _should_
take young persecuted brethren in this situation into their homes.

Getting kicked out of the house is _very_ common with new believers. I've
spoken with church planters and church planter trainers dealing with Hindu
Balinese and unreached Muslim people-groups in Indonesia. Among these
groups as well, it is common for the younger people to believe. Young people
in this part of the world stay dependant on their parents longer. Many
college students don't get a job until they graduate college-- no part-time
McDonald's or grocery store work. It is fairly common for church planters
working with UPG's to have several young people in the churches they plant
who have been kicked out of the house, and greatly in need of work.

In a loving house church setting, a vunerable young person in this situation
may be able to find someone to take him in, maybe even someone to offer him
some sort of work or vocational training, and the emotional, spiritual, and
prayer support he needs from other believers. He has lost his father, but
in church he finds other men able to act as fathers to him. He has lost his
mother, but he finds other mothers at church. He can't talk with his
sisters any more, but he has sisters to talk with at church. In a Chinese
house church, a young man in this situation may be able to find other
Chinese from his own community to treat him like a son or a brother. In a
traditional church, his problems could easily be overlooked.

When I say 'house church,' I am thinking of a relational gathering-- one in
which believers talk to one another rather than only hearing sermons--
meetings for mutual edification as per I Corinthians 14:26 and Hebrews
10:24-25. In this type of setting, a new believer might actually get the
opportunity to voice his needs. Others may take turns praying with him.
One may feel free to speak in this format and offer the new believer a place
to stay.

And what about persecution from the government and angry mobs.

Chinese Malaysians may not be the most severe target of Islamic govbernment
and Islamic mob persecution, but don't discount the possibility of this
occuring. When Buddhists come to faith, Muslims don't dance in the streets.
When Muslims turn to Christ, some Muslims want to light fires, at least in
some parts of Indonesia.

Another thing to take into consideration is the 'spill-over' effect that an
ethnic-targetted church planting effort can have on other ethnic groups.
Malaysia has plenty of unreached people. The Malayu, if I am not mistaken,
are classified as a UPG, with less than 2% Christian. The Minangkabau are a
UPG, and there are maybe a million of them in Malaysia. I don't know the
other Muslim UPG's in the country, but I would imagine there are a number of
them.

Even if a Chinese focused church-planting effort started in Malaysia has a
lot of cultural, racial and language barriers to cross, it is still possible
that it could spawn churches that included 'pribumi.' After reading Paul's
writings about there being no Jews or Gentiles in Christ, I am of the
opinion that it is healthier for a local church to be multi-ethnic, if it is
located in a multi-ethnic area. Wouldn't it be better for Chinese, Indian,
and Malayu and other putri bumi groups to meet together rather than to just
have Chinese churches?

Imo, the chances of a house church movement spawning churches among the
UPG's of Malaysia is a lot greater than the chances of an institutional
church doing the same thing. A house church can move easily. It is more
persecution resistant in a lot of ways. An institutional church with a
building is an easy target for government harrassment or mob burning if too
many native Malay people decide to become Christians. A house church
meeting can look like a party or a get-together to neighbors, things that
don't draw intense persecution.

Another reason for having house churches rather than institutional churches
for Chinese in Malaysia is to avoid the type of 'plastic Christianity' that
is so common. When I heard the question of whether house churches were
suitable for Chinese Malaysians, I asked myself the same question about
Chinese Indonesians. The 'joke' response I thought of was "If the house is
very nice." That answer is actually based on a stereotype. Typically,
Chinese Indonesians are more well-to-do than their local prebumi citizens.
I get the same impression about Chinese Malaysians.

I asked my (Indonesian) wife if she thought house churches were suitable for
Chinese Indonesians, and she had similar thoughts to mine. Yes and No she
said. The reason for the 'no' is that, she said, some Chinese Indonesians
like to buy fancy things and show off their wealth a little bit. I realize
this is a stereotype, but there is some truth to it.

Some of my experience in the Charismatic movement in Indonesia confirms
this. Some of the churches with a lot of Chinese upper-middle class people
tended to be highly beauracratic, light on deep personal relationship, and
focus a lot on externals like wearing nice suits to church. One church I
attended had their deacons collect offerings once a month. They wore
matching suits to collect offerings. Every so many months, the deacons were
given cloth and had to have a suit made to match the other deacon's to
collect the offering. In the music program, if you didn't have white shirts
to wear and the guzzillions of hours to put in, you couldn't participate in
the worship team.

This mega-church with sattelite congregations I was in was not a Chinese
church per se. The leader over the West Java portion of it wasn't even
Chinese, but the mega-church was packed with Chinese. There were plenty of
upper-middle class and richer Indonesians of other ethnic backgrounds that
were in it as well. It just seemed like what they did was aimed at
attracting a certain upper-middle class strata of society, which seemed to
be predominantly Chinese, at least in Jakarta. A lot of what they did with
clothing, etc. had little to do with the life of the average Indonesian.
Some Indonesians couldn't even afford a white shirt to be in the music
program, much less have a suit tailor made every few months.

Planting a house church movement instead of an institutional one among
Chinese in Malaysia could hopefully help nuetralize some tendancies toward
materialism and the tendancy to put on a good 'show' at church. The 'show'
mentality of the church I was a part of seemed to permiate all the meetings.
It was as if people were wearing masks (not just the women in make-up) and
didn't show their true, frail, human selves. The clothes were just right.
The music had to be perfect. Fortunately, there seemed to be a lot of
intense intercessory prayer, and there were some other positive aspects as
well.

I actually went to a house church in Jakarta that had a fair number of
Chinese in it. I don't know if there was explosive growth.

The main reason for going with house churches among Malaysian Chinese rather than
insitutional churches is that the Bible teaches us to follow apostolic
example. The early church met in homes. The Jerusalem church met from
house to house. When the Gospel went to the Greeks, they still met from
house to house. When the Gospel went to the Romans, they met in homes as
well. (We know of one church that met in a house mentioned in the book of
Romans.) Why waste money building buildings? Why not do what the early
church did? Why hamper church growth with man-made traditions about needing
a building to meet in. People imitate what they see and what they grow up
with. Why not help these people group up with a Biblical paradigm.


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Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 10:13:46 +0200
From: <castillofuerte * airtel>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] House Churches among Malaysian Chinese

 
I am convinced that Jeremy's supervisor is confusing HCs with Cell
churches (which often claim to be house churches. Cell churches have
had phenomenal success in southeast Asia, yet not so much among notably
western thinkers. I am at the moment working on some thoughts about the
growth of cell churches and House Church networks, comparing ther
growth in areas where folk are largely compliant and malable in their
thinking and relationships ( S.America, and SE Asia) and places where
people are more analytical and questioning (Europe and N.America). I am
already sure that cell churches work best in the compliant zone. HC's
are moredifficult to analize due to their near invisibility in some
settings (Talking to one house church leader in the UK recently, although very
open and aware, did not know of other house churches in his area. Which I knew
of, even though I live 1000 miles away).
 
I would recommend that Jeremy seek to make a clear difference between
Cell Churches (that at their most basic level meet in houses), that are
program driven, and House Churches that are relationship based.
 
Blessings,
Keith

End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #182 < Previous Digest Next Digest >



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