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narrowpath
Member



Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1053
Germany NRW

 Revival or Reformation?

When I read the NT and apply the most simple and obvious interpretation, I come to the conclusion that the church of Jesus Christ was be centred around families and households. Apostles who were sent out by fellowships would found new fellowships. Teachers and preachers would go from house to house, teach, have love meals, and break bread. Prophets would bring strong messages watch jealously that the fellowship continuously holds fast to the truth. Evangelists would take the lead to reach out to non-believers. They would be invited and depending on their faith and repentance either join or leave. Discipleship would happen almost naturally, no pew sitters, everybody would find abundant ways to serve. Gifts of the Spirit would abound and the preached word confirmed with signs and wonders. As the church grews new houses would open up for fellowship. The church was a spiritual house, but also a movement. There would be few tares among the wheat and few goats among the sheep. Money could be used very efficiently as the financial need of the church do not have to support a huge budget. We would know most people personally and no one would be lonely. We would quickly find out any sin and hypocrisy or sin among us as this is difficult to hide when you visit someone’s home. Satanic forces would constantly batter this heavenly entity with persecution and seduction to no avail but rather spurn further growth and purity.Is this utopia or can this be reality? If you know such a church or are part of one, please let me know.

Nowadays the church is at best a house but no longer a movement. Let us say we preach the message with great unction and many come to Christ. How can they possibly grow strong in a building based institutional church with paid staff, and a managed programme to cater for all needs and tastes? Would not be there great restrictions? Would we not have to work out many compromises and come out with a hybrid that is half corporation and half house of God?

I am all for revival, but if we just fill an institution that is ill-equipped to facilitate true discipleship would not all our efforts and prayers be half-wasted?

Jesus said new wine needs new wineskins. I believe one of the reasons we do not have revival is because we want to revive the old wineskins rather than let God’s word guide us how to build a church. Nobody fills new wine into old wineskins lest it burst the skin. In the past God may have graciously sent revival to certain places. It is good to look back into the past and study what the great men of God did right. But we cannot just simply re-live the past. There is a lot of idolatrous nostalgia in all the revivalism that I see around me. “O that John Wesley would come out of the grave or Spurgeon be resurrected.” I have once preached in a church that had bust of Spurgeon on the table; that borders on catholic saint worship. Spurgeon was a hero of the faith, no doubt, but I wonder how many of those in Spurgeon’s church were more than mere admires of this great teacher but real does of the word of God in a place of service.

These revivals always would restore truth to a certain degree but it quickly died down as Christian leaders stopped leading the church further in to the whole truth of God. Churches became fossils, trapped in their own ways, sidelined by God.

The word revival implies that something that is dead and gone is revived. This is wonderful but perhaps only a fix until we lapse back into our old ways. I have been driving through Wales and seen some of the Churches that were effected by the revival 100 years ago. Some had their windows lined with fiberboard to guard it from deterioration and vandalism - and keep the light out (!?)

Time is short. The world is getting darker and darker every day. Apostacy is increasing, the love of many is growing cold. Christ is waiting to return for a spotless bride; not one that is beautiful only in her own eyes.

We need a new reformation.

narrowpath

 2008/11/15 12:29Profile
narrowpath
Member



Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1053
Germany NRW

 Re: Revival or Reformation?

Is anyone here part of a house church and can share from experience?

narrowpath

 2008/11/15 16:43Profile
AbideinHim
Member



Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 3446
Louisiana

 Re:

Brother, you seem to have some insight on house churches. Have you ever prayed about starting one?

The Christians that I fellowship with get together every Sunday afternoon after the main service for a meal, fellowship, and sometimes bible study and prayer. Many times we get more out of these fellowships than at the regular church services. I am very open to becoming involved in a house church as the Lord leads.

Just a few years after I was saved I became involved in some home meetings, and the Lord blessed those meetings despite our immaturity.

The advantage of a house church is that there is "Body Ministry". There is not just one man leading the service and doing everything, but all are open to the Holy Spirit, and all are allowed to pray, share, and minister as the Lord leads. Of course there is a need for leadership in these meetings.

Frank Viola has some excellent books on house churches.

The underground house church movement in China remains strong despite the persection from the Chinese government.

Mike


_________________
Mike

 2008/11/15 17:36Profile









 Re: Revival or Reformation?

HI narrowpath.You write

"Time is short. The world is getting darker and darker every day. Apostacy is increasing, the love of many is growing cold. Christ is waiting to return for a spotless bride; not one that is beautiful only in her own eyes.

We need a new reformation."

I thought you may be interested in this post...

http://scottishwarriors.wordpress.com/a-coming-reformation/

..........................Frank

 2008/11/15 21:19
White_Stone
Member



Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 1196
North Central Florida

 Re: This is an excellent thread - glad to have found it

Hello narrowpath,

To answer your question, my husband and I have left the 'visible' church and have been worshiping at home for several years. We do not know any others to share our worship with around our home but have met one man on-line we consider a member of our Church family.

Frank, The link to a coming reformation was well worth the long read. Thank you for posting it.

Back to narrowpath's thread, your description of the different participants in the Early Church was one of the clearest breakdowns of it I have ever seen. Perhaps it was just this time my eyes were opened. Wouldn't that be wonderful to have that kind of fellowship. Of course they didn't have to worry about gasoline prices or cars breaking down back then, so the new Home Church will have a different 'look,' for certain. It will be exciting to see it come alive.

Best regards,
white stone


_________________
Janice

 2008/11/15 21:57Profile









 Re:

Narrowpath

Yes, we have been having a house church at our home for the last 7 years. Generally it has been only my family, but on occasion, there have been visitors that have stopped in. We also do have contact with quite a few people that we consider brethren around the world through the internet; but since the Christian has always been required to walk alone, the luxury of good fellowship is not always available. Here is a little article I wrote on the topic.

http://www.theinvisiblechurch.ca/invisibly/The_Lone_Ranger_Christian.html

I could say quite a bit more, but much of what I might say can be found on my website.

www.theinvisiblechurch.ca

Feel free to PM me or e-mail me.

 2008/11/16 0:07
Miccah
Member



Joined: 2007/9/13
Posts: 1752
Wisconsin

 Re:

Yes brother. We have lead a house church out of our home for the past 2 years. We are also part of a network of around 15 different house churches throughout our small city. We usually have between 6-12 people attend house church each week, not including my family, children and others children. This is the perfect number to be able to pour Christ's life into others. Once the house church reaches a sustained level above 15 for some time, we usually split and allow the Lord to raise up new HC leaders for the new fellowships to come.

After being saved, my wife and I was discipled by a missionary couple for 2 years. They started me and my wife off in house church, and it has been house church ever since. It has grown from this first house church in our area, to the now over 15 house churches that fellowship together. All memebers of the original house church that I attended now lead a house church in the community.

In our area, the Lord is raising up more and more house churches. We see many people moving away from the institution of church and beginning to fellowship in house churches. We have even had a few churches/pastors approach us about how to start a HC connected with their church. It is exciting to see what the Lord is doing in HC, and that is just the ones we know about in our city. Look at what the Lord is doing throughout the world!

Brother, if I may, house church can be and is a wonderful thing, but do not break fellowship with your current body unless you are absolutely positive that starting or joining a house church is the Lords will for you and your family. The Lord will lead you and guide you.

Blessings brother. :-)


_________________
Christiaan

 2008/11/16 0:49Profile
AbideinHim
Member



Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 3446
Louisiana

 Re:

Hi Miccah,

It is a blessing to hear about what the Lord is doing through the house churches in your area. There seems to be a lot of resistance to house churches in Southwest Louisiana where I live.

We have been taught for so long that we are to be under the authority of a pastor that people are afraid to leave the organized church. I realize that zealous, immature Christians have started house churches and it has done more harm than good. Mature leadership that is submitted to the Head is essential for a house church to work. It appears that you all have that kind of leadership and that is why you are bearing fruit. I really like what you had to say about building the life of Christ into the believers. It is the measure of Christ that means everything.

I am not anti pastor. I believe that we should know authority in the Body of Christ and submit to that authority.

Jesus is the head of the Church, and He is working through His many membered Body. The Lord has given us the fivefold ministry in the Church to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.

The Lord intends for every member of His Body to function. This is not just for a few leaders to do all the work and the rest of the church to be mere spectators. This is what is happening in many of the large churches. The pastor gives a message and the people go to recieve. Each member should be giving their part for the building up of the Body.

Mike


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Mike

 2008/11/16 9:23Profile
narrowpath
Member



Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1053
Germany NRW

 Re:


Quote:
Frank Viola has some excellent books on house churches.



I checked his website. Although I agree with many of his points I was disappoitend about his strong inclination towards the Emergent Church. The Emergent church is very much in favour of informal circles of fellowship as opposed to the institutional church, but I do not think that their model and understanding is biblical.

narrowpath

 2008/11/22 20:52Profile
CJaKfOrEsT
Member



Joined: 2004/3/31
Posts: 901
Melbourne, Australia

 Re:

Quote:

narrowpath wrote:
Is anyone here part of a house church and can share from experience?



I have waded into this discussion before, in the early part of our "house church" (a term I'm not the biggest fan of, now... which I'll explain later) experience. Much of what we were doing back then was virtually replicating "institutional" style worship, in a house setting, but now I believe that a more radical separation is required.

I don't mean separation in the sense of a "parting of company", but as a "departure from empty tradition". What began my journey was a PM I received from fellow SermonIndex member UlsterMan, where he recommended that I check out a freely downloadable e-book, written by a guy named Stan Firth, called [url=http://www.hislife.co.uk/Copy%20of%20custom%20&%20command.pdf]Custom and Command[/url]. Over the past four months, I have been hopping back and forth from reading it, and it has challenged a lot of what I have previously taken for granted.

In the past, our home fellowship consisted of a fortnightly meeting, where we would share the Lord's Supper, and study the Bible. Over time, it became a mere academic exercise. Our goal was always to establish a community of believers, who where bearing each other's burdens, etc. What we found was, by focusing so heavily on the study of the Bible, we were able to hide from each other, behind our empty theories.

At one point we made a conscious effort to abandon all structure. It was awkward at first, and there were a few meetings where our fellowship was more relational than spiritual. But over time things are finding an equilibrium. We bring our concerns, and frustrations, and together search the Scriptures for answers. We celebrate the insights that are brought forward spontaneously. The fascinating thing is the depth we are seeing in the growth of the newest convert in our group (I'm probably making it sound more exciting that it is, because our membership is currently three, originally brought together because we had a new convert that we were afraid would be corrupted by the trappings of organised religion, as had been our experience in the past).

When there is sin, we confess it to each other, that we may pray for each other, and be healed. Lately, our "youngling" has been coming for advise with evangelism, and no one has told him that he has to do it. He has been sharing his faith out of a burden for souls.

The challenge is whether or not our faith will stand, without the programs to prop it up. The only safety we have is the one prescribed in Scripture, the love of the brethren. We still meet fortnightly, but are now working towards removing even that structure, reducing things down to being a "core group" who keep in contact. This is the challenge brought forth by Firth in [url=http://www.hislife.co.uk/Copy%20of%20custom%20&%20command.pdf]Custom and Command[/url]. We used to think that we were trying to build a community, but now we are seeking the community itself, as the Lord leads us to it.

This is my reason for not being a fan of the term "House Church", because it puts the focus on the structure, rather than the people that God has called together...which is The Church. Having said that, apart from the term "Unstructured Christianity" (using Firth's terminology), it best describes what we are talking about, as far as being church outside "the system".

On a side, I share your concerns about people like Viola, which is another reason I like to distance myself from "house church". There are many outside the system, with big chips on their shoulders, against the system. I have been blessed with meeting many inside the system with a highly authentic faith (although not without spending many years doubting their existence :-)).

I remember going to an Art Katz conference, hosted by the "house church" community, where they all spent the whole week telling everyone else that they were wrong. Even Art, himself wasn't immune to the criticism. After being there, I longed to find people who are pursuing God, and working through their differences, when necessary. Now considering the I and a Charismatic who regularly attends a cessationist Baptist fellowship, I now know that it is very possible.

Good luck in whatever course to find yourself pursuing. Just remember that it is a "walk" with God, and not a "run". Patience is the key. :-)


_________________
Aaron Ireland

 2008/11/23 1:38Profile





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