New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Friday, November 1 2002 Volume 02 : Number 194

Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk


Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 08:05:09 -0500
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

John Henneberger wrote:

>With regards to buildings et al, I must agree with
>Michael though; It's very tough for me to buy into the
>adage that "buildings are bad" or even that buildings
>are somehow "less than". And here are my concerns
>regarding the anti-building stance: a) logistics b)
>the lack of specific scriptural mandates on the
>subject.
>
Dear John,

Just for openers, I would like to suggest, perhaps not a "specific"
mandate against buildings, but one which, none the less, is indicative
of a pervasive mandate against such, at least, from the perspective of a
New Testament of the Spirit: James 4:4: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses,
know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?
whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
and from that vantage point, respond in some detail to what you have
written:

>First let's deal with logistics. While some may argue
>an advantage in home churches, it hardly seems
>conducive to large groups. I've had church in my
>house before, and to be honest, it was a bit of a
>pain. People everywhere, dog barking, kids pulling
>the cat's tail...and never enough seats to go around.
>The fact is, a lot of homes just aren't suited to
>church.
>
I believe that it may be a matter of what's in our mind's eye, when we
think of "church".

>Which takes me to my second point; if you observe the
>church in scripture, sometimes you see a crowd
>plodding around with Jesus, or some kind of gathering
>in a amphitheatre to listen to Paul. You had
>preaching in the Temple and preaching in the streets.
>You had preaching in synagogues and preaching from
>boats. And in the modern day? Let's just say that
>the hillside forum has largely gone out of vogue and
>that amphitheatres have been replaced by movie
>theatres. And synagogues? Well, you can forget that;
>the Jesus teaching is kind of out of the bag and we
>don't get many invites these days.
>
Ah yes, but we do have our contemporary equivalent of those who still
think that God lives in "... temples built by human hands...", that
which we are calling "church", and we can go there, and, as there is
opportunity, share something along the lines of Stephen's message. Of
course, we should still be prepared for a response often indicated by a
certain foaming at the mouth.

>So, what's a wandering Christian to do?
>
Gather with others of like precious faith, within or without the gate,
as the Spirit leads.

>Build buildings of course.
>
With the possible exception of the leftovers of a kingdom which was of
this world, there is no place which even comes close to inviting us to
build anything, and a great deal which suggests that only Jesus Christ
is to be the builder. I trust enough Scripture immediately boots up on
your hard drive to confirm what I am saying without the need to burden
you with any lengthy citation of Biblical addresses.

>They aren't evil, or even less than, they just a means to an end--and infinitely
>practical at times.
>
The world has already erected plenty of them, with out our redirecting
our resources from the building up of one another to the building up of
bricks and morter. The legal entities which must be created as a first
step to building anything which is "of" as well as "in" this world, are,
in and of themselves, a fraud on the public, and rooted in our own
self-deception as to what constitutes the "Church" and the "Kingdom of God".

>If a building serves a purpose then let it.
>
As near as I can tell, our buildings tend to serve the purpose of being
half-way houses, in which we stop and rest, some never leaving, in
preference to pressing into the "all the way" house, the house which
Jesus is building, and "we are that house", conditional on our courage
and our boasted hope.

>And as I pointed out earlier, Jesus,
>Peter and Paul all used to preach in buildings, so
>what's the problem?
>
Which of those building did Jesus Peter and Paul build? I think, only
Jesus, and that, His own body, which body we are by extention, living
stones, built up together in His Love.

>And since the first 70 years or
>so were the building phase of Christianity (so to
>speak), the lack of buildings seem more a logistical
>phenomenon than anything of great spiritual
>significance.
>
I would suggest that the "spiritual significance", in case you missed
it, is that the "church went from being the business of being every
believer, every day, in every place, to being the business of certain
believers, at special times, in special places. That in my understanding
had, and continues to have great "spiritual significance", but not a
good one.

>Bottom line is that if a new faith (covenant if you
>prefer) begins around 30 AD, you should expect a bunch
>of basillica's standing on every corner by 70 AD.
>These early Christian folks were refugees and
>persecuted...not exactly the best time in the world
>for a building program, huh?
>
Clever, but, again I must ask, just when is a good time for "a building
program"? All of them I have ever seen, sooner or later, only serve as
monuments to our inability to get along. Is that really the message we
want to invest our time and efforts in? Surely there must be a better
building in which to invest "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred
honour".

>Seems to me that an anti-building mentality is no
>better than a mentality that states that church can
>ONLY be held in a "special building".
>
I continue to believe that we need to continue to think about this,
attempting to get beyond the peer pressure of our fallen practice, to
the end that we might get some great light from above about our
dependency on the things of this world, for source, means, and end of
our labors.

>Aren't both just an attempt to spiritual physical phenomenon?
>
Meaning unclear.

>Just my opinion, but I can't see any obvious logical flaws.
>
So much for logic.

>Peace.
>
"Peace, peace where there is no peace." Peace is not to be found in a
physical place, on the contrary, in this world, and even in the things
of this world, there is no peace, but there is a spiritual place where
there is peace, and it is already ours by down payment, if only we can
find the faith to make our hope substantial in the now.

Yours in Christ,

Jay

P. S. I also don't wish to seem harsh, but there are other views and
understandings of these things, even if they have not been ligitimized
by incorporation or buildings.

One thing about special buildings though, they are great places for
taking up offerings.


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


Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 14:25:21 +0000
From: "Bruce Woodford" <bwood4d * hotmail>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have just been following this discussion for a few days now, but would
like to make a few observations:

(1)The word "synagogue" (Strong's #4864) is found 57 times in the New
Covenant scriptures. 54 times it refers to a physical building and only 3
times does it actually refer to the gathered people.

Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation <4864> was broken up, many of the Jews
and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them,
persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou
art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are
not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which
say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come
and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

(2) The use of the word in James 2:2 "unto your assembly" (KJV) is a poor
translation. Every other time the Greek word EIS (Strong's #1519) is used
prior to SUNAGOGE, it is translated "into the synagogue" (the physical
building) NOT "unto the assembly/congregation" (gathered people).

(3)The word SYNAGOGUE (except in Rev.2:9 and 3:9) is consistently used in a
Jewish context, not in a context of a church gathering or EKKLESIA of
Christians with no regard for nationality. It is true that the people
addressed in the Book of James are Christians, but it is also clear that
they are Messianic Christians of the "twelve tribes".

(4)The word synagogue is never used of a PLACE where just Christians
gathered, nor is it ever used of an ASSEMBLY of Gentile belivers or of an
ASSEMBLY of Jewish and Gentile believers.

(5)When the Jewish believers addressed by James were sick, they were not
instructed to "call for the elders of the synagogue", but rather to "call
for the elders of the church". James 5:14

(6)Any synagogue would be open to the active participation of any Jewish
people, saved or unsaved. But when the church must deal with judicial or
legal matters between believers in its company, those matters are NOT to be
dealt with before the unjust, the world, the unbelievers. (I Corinthians
6:1-6)

I don't get the impression that anyone has ever maintained in this
discussion that Jews or Jewish believers in the first or second century did
not gather in special buildings (synagogues) as Jews, to fulfill certain
Jewish functions. Rather, it is my impression that some are maintaining (as
I myself do) that (except for gatherings of the whole church in a particular
city i.e. Acts 2:46a; 6:2; 15:22,25 and I Cor.14:23) Christians (Jews and
Gentiles) had no "special"
buildings/temples/synagogues in which they met together for teaching,
fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.

Rather, they simply met for these purposes in their own houses, or lodging
places. See Acts 2:46; 12:12; 16:15,34,40; 18:17; 20:7,8,20; 21:8; 27:35;
28:30; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; and Philemon 1:2.

When ever anyone desired to arrest large numbers of Christians, they did NOT
go to temples/sanctuaries/synagogues or religious buildings of any kind.
They went to houses of Christians because they knew that was where
Christians assembled! See Acts 8:3 and 17:15.

When the apostle John gave instructions on how to deal with a false teacher,
he did not tell the saints "receive him not into your
temple/sanctuary/synagogue", but rather commanded, "receive him not into
your house."

Certainly the apostles and early Jewish Christians took many opportunities
to preach the Gospel in synagogues, temples, markets and many other buldings
where unbelievers were normally gathered of their own accord. But I would
maintain (James 2:2 notwithstanding) that there is no precept, pattern,
practice, or example recorded in
scripture that would guide any gathering of Christians to obtain the use of
any other building than their own homes for regular gatherings for teaching,
fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.

Whenever such a practice is adopted, one will always see the following:
- -full and active participation of all the saints is soon replaced by a
clerical or professional class of "ministers",
- -most saints simply become spectators at a "performance",
- -responsibility of teaching one another is relinquished,
- -intimacy in fellowship is lost,
- -breaking of bread becomes a ritual rather than the eating of a common meal
together, and
- -united prayer becomes almost unknown.

Michael, may I ask you if you know of any gathering of Christians, which
regularly meets in a building other than one of their homes, where these
things are not true?

I am certainly willing to be corrected at any time by statements of
scripture.

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce Woodford, Norwich, Ontario, Canada

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

Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 15:50:16 +0000
From: "Bruce Woodford" <bwood4d * hotmail>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Dear John,

You wrote: "With regards to buildings et al, I must agree with Michael
though; It's very tough for me to buy into the adage that "buildings are
bad" or even that buildings are somehow "less than". And here are my
concerns regarding the anti-building stance: a) logistics b) the lack of
specific scriptural mandates on the subject. First let's deal with
logistics. While some may argue an advantage in home churches, it hardly
seems conducive to large groups. I've had church in my house before, and
to be honest, it was a bit of a pain. People everywhere, dog barking, kids
pulling the cat's tail...and never enough seats to go around. The fact is,
a lot of homes just aren't suited to church."

John, if you think of "church" as a place where everyone must be comfortably
seated, and "sitting still" so the professional clergy can "instil" could I
ask you for any specific scriptural mandates that would indicate such a
concept of church? The pattern of "church in the house" is clearly seen in
scripture. Can you show any example of regular gatherings of believers for
teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers in any building other
than than homes? I don't think that anyone has claimed that "buildings are
bad", but many of us would maintain that the use of "consecrated church
buildings" other than believers' homes inevitably have very detrimental
effects upon Christian ministry and the exercise of gifts given to all
members of the Body of Christ.

You wrote: "Which takes me to my second point; if you observe the church in
scripture, sometimes you see a crowd plodding around with Jesus, or some
kind of gathering in a amphitheatre to listen to Paul. You had preaching
in the Temple and preaching in the streets. You had preaching in synagogues
and preaching from boats. And in the modern day? Let's just say that the
hillside forum has largely gone out of vogue and that amphitheatres have
been replaced by movie theatres. And synagogues? Well, you can forget that;
the Jesus teaching is kind of out of the bag and we don't get many
invites these days."

John, I would suggest that the words of the Lord Jesus, Himself, would
indicate that "a crowd plodding along with Jesus" was NOT a church! He said
in Matthew 16:18 ..."I will build my church"..., not "I am bulding my
church."It is my understanding that the Lord Jesus Christ, crucified,
buried, risen and ascended is the foundation and chief cornerstone of the
church and that the church, which was a mystery in past ages, was only begun
when the Holy Spirit was sent down and began to unite Jew and Gentile in one
Body.

You also seem to imagine that "preaching" (monologue lectures to a silent
audience) is what "church" is primarily about! Not so! When Christians
assemble together they are commanded to be "provoking (stirring up) ONE
ANOTHER to love and to good works" and "exhorting ONE ANOTHER". They are
never instructed to gather to hear "sermons"!!! Paul's "preaching" in Acts
20:7 was a dialogue! In Bible school, I was taught that homilies were
sermons and that homiletics was the art of preparation and delivery of
sermons! But all homilies in scripture are conversations among a number of
people!! The Greek word HOMILEO is found in Luke 24:14,15; Acts 20:11 and
24:6. It is translated by the words "communed" and "talked". Brother, do you
know of any church gathering in a building other than a believer's home
where "one anothering" is the norm as scripture teaches it ought to be??

Certainly there are many examples of monologue preaching of the Gospel to
the unconverted, but that is always done in places where the unsaved are
gathered of their own accord, not in gatherings of the saints for teaching,
fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.

You asked, "So, what's a wandering Christian to do?"
And then you answered your own question:"Build buildings of course. They
aren't evil, or even less than, they just a means to an end--and infinitely
practical at times. If a building serves a purpose then let it. And as I
pointed out earlier, Jesus, Peter and Paul all used to preach in buildings,
so what's the problem?"

John, just as the Lord Jesus and the apostles used buildings (synagogues,
markets, amphitheaters etc) to preach to the unsaved in places where they
had gathered of their own accord, so should we. But the problem is that
neither the Lord Jesus nor the apostles taught that Christians should build,
or own or use any "consecrated buildings" for church gatherings! The problem
is that when such buildings were first introduced by Constantine in the 3rd
century, it ushered in the darkest days the church has ever known! The
majority of the saints were silenced and a small professional group were
salaried! And so, as Jay has aptly observed, church buildings have become
the place where offerings are received!!!

But if the truth was known, corporate church collections were unknown in the
first century! The order of the day was personal collections!
"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order
to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week
let every one of you lay by him in store, (not "let all of you lay out on
the offering plate and entrust to the elders") as God hath
prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." I Cor.16:1,2

The responsibility for Christian stewardship was personal. It was not
relinquished to others who decided what to do or whom to pay with "the
collection". Rather, individual believers were to lay aside by
themselves in store so that as God brought the needs of others to their
attention, they could personally minister directly to such needs.
Furthermore, there was no professional clergy salaries to be paid and no
"sacred buildings/temples" to be maintained (these two things drain at least
80% of institutional church resources today which Paul said was to be used
for the needs of "the saints"!!!!)

I trust this may give a little different perspective on the whole "church
building" issue!

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce Woodford Norwich,
Ontario, Canada

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

Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 09:10:45 -0800 (PST)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * yahoo>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

So many straw men, so little time :)

Bruce,

You said:

>>John, if you think of "church" as a place where
everyone must be comfortably seated, and "sitting
still" so the professional clergy can "instill." could
I ask you for any specific scriptural mandates that
would indicate such a concept of church? The pattern
of "church in the house" is clearly seen in scripture.
Can you show any example of regular gatherings of
believers
for teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and
prayers in any building other than homes?<<

I never said anything about "professional clergy" or
"monologues"? It really appears that you projecting
some bad experiences of the past on me without taking
time to hear my view point. And you have created an
image which has no relationship to me--and then you
knocked it down. This is what is commonly referred to
as creating a straw man. I really have to dismiss
your point.

You also said:

>>Can you show any example of regular gatherings of
believers for teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread
and prayers in any building other than homes? I don't
think that anyone has claimed that "buildings are
bad", but many of us would maintain that the use of
"consecrated church buildings" other than believers'
homes inevitably have very detrimental effects upon
Christian ministry and the exercise of gifts given to
all members of the Body of Christ.<<

There are several problems with this line of
reasoning. First, my failure to demonstrate that
church was held in a building does not equate to a
specific mandate that church should not be held in a
building. And if this "doctrine" of homechurch were
as important as you appear to believe, then why didn't
any of the New Testament writers state the doctrine
clearly and explicitly? We've got instructions about
giving, qualifications of elders, divorce, food and
even sex. But not a single clear and explicit
instruction to hold church only in homes. Why would
scripture be silent on this doctrine if it were
essential?

Now of course, my own point does not prove the
opposite view either; however, when looking at
scripture, I think it is a good guideline to focus on
the explicit commands rather than trying to ferret out
the nebulous. In other words, with so many
instructions in scripture being stated explicitly, we
seem to be better off focusing on what is clear; from
my viewpoint, that's enough to keep most of us busy.

But no matter how you slice it, the absence of
something is in no way the proof of the opposite. And
so your demand that I produce a verse to prove that
church "can be held in a building" settles nothing.
Jesus preached from a boat on one occasion, which is
well documented. And so, if I can't find any
instances of preaching from a canoe, does this support
a doctrine of preaching from boats only? It may seem
like absurd example, but it is build on exactly the
same line of reasoning. As I said, the absence of
something is not the proof of the opposite. This is a
basic tenet of rational argument. I'm afraid I must
dismiss this argument as well.

You also said,

>>You also seem to imagine that "preaching" (monologue
lectures to a silent audience) is what "church" is
primarily about! Not so! When Christians assemble
together they are commanded to be "provoking (stirring
up) ONE ANOTHER to love and to good works" and
"exhorting ONE ANOTHER". They are never instructed to
gather to hear "sermons"!!! Paul's "preaching" in
Acts 20:7 was a dialogue!<<

You're back on the straw men again. I never said
anything of the sort. The reality at this point is
that your dispute appears to be between you ... and
you!

Now, I could go on and on in this fashion, pointing
out where you are using straw men, or are trying to
prove a point by saying the opposite point can't be
proven. But if we are going to get anywhere with
this, we need some kind of scriptural basis on which
to build (can we at least agree on this much?). You
rightly say that the temple is Christ, and we
ourselves temples as well. But none of this excludes
the use of something other than a house for church
gatherings. I applaud what a home church can bring --
I've got nothing against the idea whatsoever. My
remarks about having church in my home were more a
point of humor than anything else--or did you miss
that fact that I do on occasion have church in my
home? In fact, I went to church for years in this
fashion (in someone else's home which was much
larger). And no, when I had church in my home, it
wasn't a monologue.

I'd like some proof here: if home church is "the way"
then lay the scripture out for me. But let's quit
with all the debate games; I'm hardly getting what I
would call a fair hearing here. I made several
reasonable points in my last post: perhaps we ought to
focus on them. Isn't it reasonable:

1) that if Jesus, Peter, Paul and others made use of
buildings in preaching the gospel that we ought to as
well?

2) and if holding church in homes exclusively were
"the way", isn't it reasonable to have some clear
specific scriptural guidance on the matter?

3) isn't it reasonable to assume that if the church
was being persecuted in the 1st century (by Jews and
later the Romans) that it would go underground and not
gather in formal buildings? Wouldn't this explain why
we have so many examples of church in home?

Peace

Eph 2:14 -- For He Himself is our peace NKJV

- --- Bruce Woodford <bwood4d * hotmail> wrote:
> Dear John,
>
> You wrote: "With regards to buildings et al, I must
> agree with Michael
> though; It's very tough for me to buy into the
> adage that "buildings are
> bad" or even that buildings are somehow "less
> than". And here are my
> concerns regarding the anti-building stance: a)
> logistics b) the lack of
> specific scriptural mandates on the subject.
> First let's deal with
> logistics. While some may argue an advantage in
> home churches, it hardly
> seems conducive to large groups. I've had church in
> my house before, and
> to be honest, it was a bit of a pain. People
> everywhere, dog barking, kids
> pulling the cat's tail...and never enough seats to
> go around. The fact is,
> a lot of homes just aren't suited to church."
>
> John, if you think of "church" as a place where
> everyone must be comfortably
> seated, and "sitting still" so the professional
> clergy can "instil" could I
> ask you for any specific scriptural mandates that
> would indicate such a
> concept of church? The pattern of "church in the
> house" is clearly seen in
> scripture. Can you show any example of regular
> gatherings of believers for
> teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers
> in any building other
> than than homes? I don't think that anyone has
> claimed that "buildings are
> bad", but many of us would maintain that the use of
> "consecrated church
> buildings" other than believers' homes inevitably
> have very detrimental
> effects upon Christian ministry and the exercise of
> gifts given to all
> members of the Body of Christ.
>
> You wrote: "Which takes me to my second point; if
> you observe the church in
> scripture, sometimes you see a crowd plodding
> around with Jesus, or some
> kind of gathering in a amphitheatre to listen to
> Paul. You had preaching
> in the Temple and preaching in the streets. You had
> preaching in synagogues
> and preaching from boats. And in the modern day?
> Let's just say that the
> hillside forum has largely gone out of vogue and
> that amphitheatres have
> been replaced by movie theatres. And synagogues?
> Well, you can forget that;
> the Jesus teaching is kind of out of the bag and
> we don't get many
> invites these days."
>
> John, I would suggest that the words of the Lord
> Jesus, Himself, would
> indicate that "a crowd plodding along with Jesus"
> was NOT a church! He said
> in Matthew 16:18 ..."I will build my church"..., not
> "I am bulding my
> church."It is my understanding that the Lord Jesus
> Christ, crucified,
> buried, risen and ascended is the foundation and
> chief cornerstone of the
> church and that the church, which was a mystery in
> past ages, was only begun
> when the Holy Spirit was sent down and began to
> unite Jew and Gentile in one
> Body.
>
> You also seem to imagine that "preaching" (monologue
> lectures to a silent
> audience) is what "church" is primarily about! Not
> so! When Christians
> assemble together they are commanded to be
> "provoking (stirring up) ONE
> ANOTHER to love and to good works" and "exhorting
> ONE ANOTHER". They are
> never instructed to gather to hear "sermons"!!!
> Paul's "preaching" in Acts
> 20:7 was a dialogue! In Bible school, I was taught
> that homilies were
> sermons and that homiletics was the art of
> preparation and delivery of
> sermons! But all homilies in scripture are
> conversations among a number of
> people!! The Greek word HOMILEO is found in Luke
> 24:14,15; Acts 20:11 and
> 24:6. It is translated by the words "communed" and
> "talked". Brother, do you
> know of any church gathering in a building other
> than a believer's home
> where "one anothering" is the norm as scripture
> teaches it ought to be??
>
> Certainly there are many examples of monologue
> preaching of the Gospel to
> the unconverted, but that is always done in places
> where the unsaved are
> gathered of their own accord, not in gatherings of
> the saints for teaching,
> fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.
>
> You asked, "So, what's a wandering Christian to do?"
> And then you answered your own question:"Build
> buildings of course. They
> aren't evil, or even less than, they just a means to
> an end--and infinitely
> practical at times. If a building serves a purpose
> then let it. And as I
> pointed out earlier, Jesus, Peter and Paul all used
> to preach in buildings,
> so what's the problem?"
>
> John, just as the Lord Jesus and the apostles used
> buildings (synagogues,
> markets, amphitheaters etc) to preach to the unsaved
> in places where they
> had gathered of their own accord, so should we. But
> the problem is that
> neither the Lord Jesus nor the apostles taught that
> Christians should build,
> or own or use any "consecrated buildings" for church
> gatherings! The problem
> is that when such buildings were first introduced by
> Constantine in the 3rd
> century, it ushered in the darkest days the church
> has ever known! The
> majority of the saints were silenced and a small
> professional group were
> salaried! And so, as Jay has aptly observed, church
> buildings have become
> the place where offerings are received!!!
>
> But if the truth was known, corporate church
> collections were unknown in the
> first century! The order of the day was personal
> collections!
> "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I
> have given order
> to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the
> first day of the week
> let every one of you lay by him in store, (not "let
> all of you lay out on
> the offering plate and entrust to the elders") as
> God hath
> prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I
> come." I Cor.16:1,2
>
> The responsibility for Christian stewardship was
> personal. It was not
> relinquished to others who decided what to do or
> whom to pay with "the
> collection". Rather, individual believers were to
> lay aside by
> themselves in store so that as God brought the needs
> of others to their
> attention, they could personally minister directly
> to such needs.
> Furthermore, there was no professional clergy
> salaries to be paid and no
> "sacred buildings/temples" to be maintained (these
> two things drain at least
> 80% of institutional church resources today which
> Paul said was to be used
> for the needs of "the saints"!!!!)
>
> I trust this may give a little different perspective
> on the whole "church
> building" issue!
>
> Your brother in Christ,
> Bruce Woodford Norwich, Ontario, Canada
>


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


Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 14:18:14 -0800 (PST)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * yahoo>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Jay wrote: >>Just for openers, I would like to
suggest, perhaps not a "specific" mandate against
buildings, but one which, none the less, is indicative
of a pervasive mandate against such, at least, from
the perspective of a New Testament of the Spirit:
James 4:4: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye
not that the friendship of the world is enmity with
God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world
is the enemy of God."<<

Wow! What a stretch. Having church in a building
makes you a friend with the world. I'm well familiar
with this particular verse, but I fail to see a
connection. Quoting a verse such as James 4:4 and
applying it in the most general way is not a
substantial argument. Furthermore, I think you may be
guilty of misapplication here.

I said: >>First let's deal with logistics. While
some may argue an advantage in home churches, it
hardly seems conducive to large groups.>> and I also
said <<The fact is, a lot of homes just aren't suited
to church.<<

Seems like common sense to me. I might add that my
statement does not preclude home churches; it just
says home churches may not be right in every
circumstance. In fact, I attended a home church for
several years. I'm not against them at all.

Jay responded: >>With the possible exception of the
leftovers of a kingdom which was of this world, there
is no place which even comes close to inviting us to
build anything, and a great deal which suggests that
only Jesus Christ is to be the builder. <<

Jay, if I'm not mistaken, houses are of this world
too. That is, people build houses the same as they
build churches. Both are of this world. Furthermore,
isn't there a temple in heaven? If God is so
anti-building, why the temple in heaven? If your
point is that Christianity has lost its sense of
intimacy, I would agree. I've been in plenty of
spectator churches myself, and I don't like them
either. But that's not the point here: the point is
whether, in fact, Christians ought to avoid building
permanent church structures.

Moreover, it seems to me that you are defeating your
own argument when you focus on the home church as
being "the place" for church. If your point is that
God's temple is the human heart, then what difference
does it make so long as the church gathers where that
occurs, aren't you making your own point moot? Your
contention that home church is somehow more sanctified
seems to be the same attitude of some formal churches
in the reverse? Honestly, I feel I'm closer to the
ideal of a building less church than you since my
attitude is that church exists WHEREVER two or three
are gathered in my name--which incidentally includes
church buildings. Your simply tying church to a new
building--the home.

I said: >>They (buildings) aren't evil, or even less
than, they just a means to an end--and infinitely
practical at times.<< and that >>If a building serves
a purpose then let it.<<

Jay said: >>As near as I can tell, our buildings tend
to serve the purpose of being half-way houses, in
which we stop and rest, some never leaving, in
preference to pressing into the "all the way" house,
the house which Jesus is building, and "we are that
house", conditional on our courage and our boasted
hope.<<

I understand that you think there is a causal link
between apostasy and buildings, but I don't
necessarily agree. I think the program mentality
inside these large churches is the real culprit. Are
there a lot of bad program churches out there? Are
there a lot of one-way spectator style pulpits? Sure,
plenty of them. But that seems more correlative than
causal to me.

I pointed in my last post that Jesus, Peter and Paul
all used to preach in buildings.

Jay responded: >>Which of those building did Jesus
Peter and Paul build? I think, only Jesus, and that,
His own body, which body we are by extension, living
stones, built up together in His Love.<<

You can't be serious here? Your point is that because
we have no specific reference of an apostle building a
church that they were indeed against them? Do you
have a reference of them building a home for a home
church? Does that make them against home churches
too? This really isn't a persuasive argument at all.

I said: >>And since the first 70 years or so were the
building phase of Christianity (so to speak), the lack
of buildings seem more a logistical phenomenon than
anything of great spiritual significance.<<

Jay responded: >>I would suggest that the "spiritual
significance", in case you missed it, is that the
"church went from being the business of being every
believer, every day, in every place, to being the
business of certain believers, at special times, in
special places. That in my understanding had, and
continues to have great "spiritual significance", but
not a good one.<<

Paul's epistles were written during this "golden age"
of home churches. Yet many of Paul's letters
contained strong rebukes against heresy, promiscuity,
paganism, greed and the like. The letters to the
churches in Revelation were similarly stern. The
wording of these letters was pretty harsh. And if
only home churches existed during this period, why
didn't it help them? I really don't think buildings
were the root of problems, then or now.

I wrote: >>Bottom line is that if a new faith
(covenant if you prefer) begins around 30 AD, should
you expect a bunch of basilicas standing on every
corner by 70 AD. These early Christian folks were
refugees and persecuted...not exactly the best time in
the world for a building program, huh?<<

Jay responded: >>Clever, but, again I must ask, just
when is a good time for "a building program"? All of
them I have ever seen, sooner or later, only serve as
monuments to our inability to get along.<<

I was certainly trying to be facetious, but I can now
see how this could come off as being sarcastic.
Nonetheless, my point is valid. Building a communal
building was no small undertaking in the 1st century.
Structures like that took years to build -- and lasted
for centuries. Moreover, my point that Roman and
Jewish persecution created an underground church also
seems self evident. I don't think this is "clever" at
all. It seems a reasonable explanation as to why we
don't have 1st century church structures that survived
to the current age. And had one been erected, say in
Jerusalem, isn't it likely it would have been torn
down, or at least confiscated?

I wrote: >>Seems to me that an anti-building mentality
is no better than a mentality that states that church
can ONLY be held in a "special building".<<

Jay wrote: >>we need to continue to think about this,
attempting to get beyond the peer pressure of our
fallen practice, to the end that we might get some
great light from above about our dependency on the
things of this world, for source, means, and end of
our labors.

You point sounds noble but as I said, people build
homes too. And clothing for that matter. As far as
the building being the problem, I contend that the
argument has yet to be substantiated.

Jay said: >>So much for logic.<<

I'm sorry Jay, but an ad hominem debate holds no sway
with me whatsoever. Nor for that matter does the
practice of fighting with straw men. And whether you
say so directly or not, you argument strongly suggests
that any sort of church building is bad. Your lone
proofs appear to be "the way you feel", the
application (or misapplication) of some generic
scriptures (which can tailored to fit practically
anything), and the absence of any specific reference
to a church building in the New Testament. If that is
all you have, your case just isn't very substantial.

Jay said: >>P. S. I also don't wish to seem harsh,
but there are other views and understandings of these
things, even if they have not been legitimized by
incorporation or buildings.<<

To the contrary. I think you are trying to be harsh,
or at least provocative. It seems obvious you are
attempting to use an aggressive style to get a
reaction (and I'm sure you believe in what you are
saying). However, aggression alone cannot support an
argument. Zeal without knowledge is still error. I'm
in no way inferring that you have no knowledge, or
even trying to slight you here. My point is genuine:
your argument simply isn't persuasive scripturally or
logically. I have no particular bias here. I'm just
willing to meet wherever the fellowship is good and
the faith genuine. And if you are really trying to
persuade me that meeting in a church building is
somehow inherently wrong, I need something tangible to
support the argument.

Jay said: >>One thing about special buildings though,
they are great places for taking up offerings.<<

Sarcasm is a poor substitute for a persuasive
argument. Incidentally, offerings are God ordained.
So where is your sarcasm really directed? I don't
mind debating topics like these, but really don't want
to engage in flame fests where the only point seems to
be to win a debate. I hope that isn't the case here.
For the record, should I ever come to the conclusion
that home churches were truly a mandate, I'd be the
first to rise up and support them. I actually view
correction as an opportunity to better myself. Be
that as it may, I do not as yet see a case for
teaching that home churches are "the way" or that
church buildings are "bad". The case just hasn't been made.


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


Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2002 09:26:20 +0000
From: "Bruce Woodford" <bwood4d * hotmail>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Dear John,
While scripture certainly commands Christians to gather together, it is true
that scripture gives no explicit commands about the venue of those
gatherings. In like manner, scripture commands believers to be baptized but
gives no explicit commands regarding the medium in which they are to be
baptized!

So, I cannot say that those who might choose to baptize converts in vinegar,
honey, olive oil or any other fluid are being disobedient to any command of
scripture by so doing. In like manner, I cannot say that those who choose to
have "church" in a cathedral, an auditorium, a hall, a sanctuary or a
theater are being disobedient to any command of scripture by so doing. But I
would simply ask both, "When you have clear and consistent examples of
believers being baptized in water and meeting in homes, what good reason
would lead you to do otherwise?"

BUT, if such a practice of baptizing in olive oil, for example, had other
detrimental effects such as making baptism available only to the extremely
wealthy, it would violate clear directives of scripture! So too, if the
purchasing, maintenance and use of cathedrals, sanctuaries, auditoriums etc
have the detrimental effects of fostering a clergy/laity division among the
saints, the misuse of church funds on mortgages, utilities, maintenance,
insurance and salaries of paid clergy instead of using such to minister to
poor saints...then it would violate scores of clear scriptural commands!!!

Yes, it is also true that you did not specificly mention "clergy",
"monologue preaching" etc, but I noticed that you failed to respond to my
question, "Brother, do you know of any church gathering in a building other
than a believer's home where "one anothering" is the norm as scripture
teaches it ought to be??"

Do you also know of any church gathering which meets in a building other
than a believer's home which does not have a corporate collection (which
syphons off a major portion of what is to be for saints and spends it on
mortgages, utilities, rent, maintenance, insurance etc etc?)

You say that when you had church in your house or someone else's, it was not
a monologue. That is as it should be! But if it does not work that way in
other buildings, then specific commands of scripture ARE being violated!!!
Examples are Hebrews 10:24,25 and I Peter 4:10,11
" And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some
is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day
approaching."
" As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to
another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak,
let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as
of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified
through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.
Amen."

You also wrote:"We've got instructions about giving, qualifications of
elders, divorce, food and even sex. "

Have you ever wondered why church gatherings which meet elsewhere than homes
disregard those very scriptural instructions??!! How many such gatherings
in "church buildings" are you aware of which follow and teach the
instructions of I Cor.16:1,2 and encourage the saints to personally lay by
themselves in store, rather than contributing to the "offering plate"??
How many teach and practice the principles of II Cor.8 and 9 regarding those
who gathered much but had nothing over so that those who had gathered little
would have no lack??

How many such gatherings, when they are seeking a pastor, or elders go
solely to I Tim.3 and Titus 1 to determine who is qualified??

How many such gatherings teach clearly what scripture so clearly states
regarding divorce??

How many such gatherings diligently apply all that the scriptures teach
regarding food and sex??

The fact of the matter is that whenever we introduce some practice or policy
into the ministry of the church which is not found to be exemplified as a
commendable practice in scripture, we simply introduce the "thin edge of the
wedge" for a multitude of other ideas that are foreign and contrary to
scripture!

You wrote:"I made several reasonable points in my last post: perhaps we
ought to focus on them. Isn't it reasonable: 1) that if Jesus, Peter, Paul
and others made use of buildings in preaching the gospel that we ought to as
well? 2) and if holding church in homes exclusively were "the way", isn't it
reasonable to have some clear specific scriptural guidance on the matter? 3)
isn't it reasonable to assume that if the church was being persecuted in the
1st century (by Jews and later the Romans) that it would go underground and
not gather in formal buildings? Wouldn't this explain why we have so many
examples of church in home?"

I responded very clearly to your #1 as follows:"Certainly there are many
examples of monologue preaching of the Gospel to the unconverted, but that
is always done in places where the unsaved are gathered of their own accord,
not in gatherings of the saints for teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread
and prayers."

Also, "John, just as the Lord Jesus and the apostles used buildings
(synagogues, markets, amphitheaters etc) to preach to the unsaved in places
where they had gathered of their own accord, so should we. But the problem
is that neither the Lord Jesus nor the apostles taught that Christians
should build, or own or use any "consecrated buildings" for church
gatherings!"

You did not acknowledge that I agreed very clearly with you on this one but
clearly distinguished between Gospel preaching to the unsaved and gatherings
of believers!

Re. your #2, I thought I'd given plenty of examples! Would you teach that
when believers are baptized they should be baptized in WATER because that
was the way it was done in N.T. times, because water is the most common and
readily available medium available and that it is also the most inexpensive
medium for baptism?

If I then teach that believers should meet together in homes for teaching,
fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers because that was the way it was
done in N.T. times, because homes are the most common and readily available
meeting places in any culture, and because meeting in homes is by far the
most inexpensive place to gather...would you not agree that the case for
meeting in homes is just as sound, (if not far more so!) as the case for
water being the medium for believers' baptism?

Re. your #3, is it not very evident that Christ designed His church to
THRIVE under persecution without formal buildings? Is it not evident that
even today the church is thriving most in countries where believers are
persecuted and meeting in homes? If large church gatherings in buildings
are really to be considered a valid, valuable and viable option...why is it
that the vast majority of believers in such gatherings are not personally
involved in ministry, are not being equipped for ministry, that meetings in
church buildings are almost exclusively "presided over" by an unscriptural
clergy class? May I remind you that all of these things ARE definite
violations of specific and explicit scriptural instructions?

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce

 


End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #194 < Previous Digest Next Digest >



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