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 Re:

Well, the early church certainly didn't have giant cathedrals and chapels to meet in. They met in houses. But as far as I see it, I don't think the Lord makes a big deal about forms in terms of what type of shelter you worship Him in. The church is not the building, or the house. It's the people. It all depends on the people, their doctrine, their devotion to Christ, their fellowship, their power with God, etc.

The house church movement in the USA greatly varies from fellowship to fellowship but for the most part I think a lot of it is deviating from biblical example (in terms of the official "movement"). That is, I see a lot of majoring on minors such as the forms of meeting, a lot of over-emphases on "body ministry" to an extreme and an anti-leadership complex (not to mention a despising of traditional pastors and elders). I've seen house churches weak on the Word of God without spending time to expounding upon and teaching the Word in their meetings, wanting everyone to talk in one meeting, and therefore destroying any opportunity for sound Scriptural exposition, teaching and application. In the name of "body ministry" they usurp the role of God-given teachers in the church and the result is a Body that is ignorant of Bible doctrine. A lot of the movement takes some great truths but runs to such an extreme with them that it becomes error. At least, this is what I've seen in personal experience.

Preaching and teaching the Word is a significant part of corporate worship and a major purpose of the local church which is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth. The truth has to be preached. I understand that there are many errors with the "institutional" model as well. I think what I'm for is something about half-way in between the two, no matter whether it meets in my house or in a large chapel. The Bible needs to be a central focus in the church when it meets, that God may speak and His Word may work its power to convert, convict, refine, purge, wash, empower, and edify.

 2009/12/16 23:11
Miccah
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Joined: 2007/9/13
Posts: 1752
Wisconsin

 Re:

TaylorOtwell wrote:

Quote:

I would say the "movement" is unhealthy, though some of the individual churches may be very healthy. By "movement", I'm speaking of the faddish type house churches who just don't like having anyone tell them what to do. Just as mega churches are buying into the culture, these churches are too, although less obviously. Just as consumerism is a snare, so is egalitarianism. So, forsaking all types of leadership, form, or structure is not necessarily the Biblical answer, in my opinion.

Paul states that what is of "first importance" is the message of the Gospel (1st Corinthians 15). So, given the choice of joining with a body of believers who have bad ecclesiology, and joining with a body of believers who don't get the Gospel - I would choose to join with the group who gets the Gospel, even if the church structure isn't completely Biblical. From my experience, the simple church "movement", is not very sound on their teaching of the Gospel. Some of it is influenced by books like "The Shack", etc.

I understand and sympathize with the concerns of those in the house church "movement", but I don't think they are heading in the right direction. It is entirely possible, and more Scriptural, in my opinion, to have a vibrant, Spirit filled church with functioning elders and teachers. If a church gets the Gospel, and has (or is moving towards) a real eldership (not just talking a lot of how eldership is Biblical), then I commend them, and I think the Scriptures do as well.

May the Lord give us light in these things...

P.S. - One caution. I have noticed those in the house church movement often taking little jabs at ordained elders in existing churches by calling them "clergymen", "professional clergymen", etc. I would strongly caution against that. [i]"They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries..."[/i] (2nd Peter 2:10).

With care in Christ...




I agree with most of what your saying. I can only speak on my situation.

Our House Church is one of about 16 that are unified together in my city. We all meet on different days of the week, and most come together for fellowship every Sunday, as some would say, as a church body... so as not to forsake the assembly.

There are 5 elders in our church, all men who are approved through the biblical standards set forth in the bible. The fellowship on Sundays is spectacular in my opinion. Worship technically starts at 10:00am, but people show up early and later then that. Everyone is in fellowship and we always have to break it up so we can start, between 10:15-10:30am. After worship (which includes singing and a message), we usually end around 12:00 - 12:30pm BUT, fellowship doesn't end there. If it is our House Church's month to open and close, I usually don't walk out of there until 2:00-3:00pm. No one leaves "to get home before the Packer game".

The reason that I bring up my situation, is because there are a lot of folks who think exactly like you do. They think that people start house churchs because of not wanting authority placed on them, or that those who start house churchs are a negative disgruntled bunch that don't "fit in" any where.

Well, yes and yes, and no and no.

Yes, authority that is lorded over people and/or is not bibically sound is not tolerated. Yes, those that start house churchs MAY be disgruntled... with a system that has been abused and brings people further away from Christ then it does guiding them to Him. This is true then.

No, authority IS wanted by most House Church people that I know. True biblical authority that is. Authority that is not hypocritical. Authority that SERVES instead of demanding service to it. Authority that is not afraid to wash others feet and exault Christ above their own "position".

No, we are not disgruntled with the Church. We are only disgruntled with the hypocrisy of a church system that has long held its members in bondage and slavery to a system that we see glorifies men over Christ.

From what I have literally seen, the direction of House Churchs leads people to Christ, a deeper love for the father and allows for the Holy Spirit to move in their lives. Do ALL gain this? no. But I see radical trasfomations at the heart level with people in house churches. I do not see or hear about much of this at institutional church settings in my area.

So which shall it be? Why can it not be House Church and Sunday worship? Why can't it be biblical all around? Well, it can and it does. Glory be to the Lord! :-)


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Christiaan

 2009/12/16 23:40Profile
KingJimmy
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Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re:

Quote:

No, authority IS wanted by most House Church people that I know.



Biblically our concept of authority has been perverted by much of the institutional model. There is definitely Biblical authority of elders and such in the church. But their "authority" is found not in the militant running of a programs and services, but in their demonstration of what it means to live a truly Christian life. That is where their authority comes from. The life they live and the things they teach are to be submitted to, because the life they live and what they teach is in keeping with what Christ and the apostles lived and taught.

This is an "authority" almost entirely foreign to those in an institutional setting, who prefer to be more like Caesar than Christ. In Bible college we were taught to hide behind our authority and the institutions we represented, and not to get too close to the sheep, because if the sheep saw how we really lived, we would "lose" the power of our office. Not all are like this of course. But a great many are.


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Jimmy H

 2009/12/17 0:24Profile
ADisciple
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Joined: 2007/2/3
Posts: 835
Alberta, Canada

 Re:

Quote:
Biblically our concept of authority has been perverted by much of the institutional model. There is definitely Biblical authority of elders and such in the church. But their "authority" is found not in the militant running of a programs and services, but in their demonstration of what it means to live a truly Christian life. That is where their authority comes from. The life they live and the things they teach are to be submitted to, because the life they live and what they teach is in keeping with what Christ and the apostles lived and taught.



Excellent word, Jimmy.

Those who are seeking to meet in the simple pattern of the early church (in homes) are not "running away from their masters," as Nabal accused David. In fact, they are seeking to give the Master His true lordship in the liberty of the Spirit.

"For where the Spirit of the [b]Lord[/b] is, ther is liberty" (2 Cor. 3.17).

But having a vital home gathering where the Spirit of the Lord has His liberty is not easy to come by. In fact at times it can be... lets just say less than edifying. But more and more these days, hearts are hungry and reaching out for something the institutional church is incapable of providing them with.

And the time is at hand when the Cloud is going to rest over these little churches, vindicating them. The institutional churches are not going to like that (I am generalilzing), and we are going to be surprised where persecution comes in that hour.


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Allan Halton

 2009/12/17 0:51Profile
Mattie
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Joined: 2004/7/23
Posts: 210


 Re:

I will pose this as a question to those who believe the leaders are the authorities of the church....

Evidently, most believe (I used to myself) that leaders have authority over the church and we are called to submit to that authority because of passages like these:

Hebrews 13:17 'Obey your leaders and submit yourselves to them, for they watch out for your souls'

1 Peter 5:5 'Likewise, you younger ones, submit yourselves to your elders'

The word 'submit' itself gives us the idea that there is an authority that we are to place ourselves under.

Interestingly enough, the same word 'submit' is also used in 1 Peter 5:5 when it says 'yes, all of you, submit to one another'

as well as Ephesians 5:21 'submitting to one another out of the fear of Christ'

So my question then comes, what is it that we are submitting to? If submission is to leaders, why would the same word be used for everyone in the church? What is the submission? What is the authority?

Your thoughts.

 2009/12/17 11:39Profile
KingJimmy
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Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re:

Quote:

So my question then comes, what is it that we are submitting to? If submission is to leaders, why would the same word be used for everyone in the church? What is the submission? What is the authority?



Excellent question. Our mutual submission to one another happens when we as a body recognize the Lord's life, authority, and ministry existing in another human being. We all mutually submit to one another as we see that ministry take place through our brother and sister in Christ. This submission is where we take on a posture to yield ourselves to what the Lord is doing through another believe, so as to make it possible to receive whatever it is the Lord wants to give us through them.

Our submission to those "over us in the Lord" is in the same manner. However, those who we recognize as elders in our midst are given an extra place of honor, so that we would be especially considerate of what the Lord may be saying to us through them. Why? Because these individuals are older saints who have proved themselves faithful to the Lord and to the Church, and are recognized models of what it means to be a Christian. They have a known history with God and with the Church. And while they must also mutually submit to the Lord and what He does through us, they do have a special place of honor in the Church so that if some crucial decision must be made about something, as father figures, they have the ultimate say in the house they have been appointed over.

However you break it down, the "authority" ultimately resides with Christ. Every believer only has "authority" over another to the degree they conform their lives to the faith once and for all handed down to the saints, as modeled by Christ and His apostles. Anytime any saint tries to assert something that is clearly contrary to this apostolic faith, and that deviates from its doctrine and practice, that person is operating outside of their authority, and should not be submitted to in what they assert.

This view of authority is clearly at odds with most of the institutional models of ministry. Most insitutions say their ministers have authority, regardless if what they believe and practice is at odds with the New Testament. Thus, you have many "pastors" who militate the most crazy things. They dream dreams and see visions that have nothing to with the faith, and demand submission and obedience to what the Lord has shown them.

Not to sound rude, but such men need to sit down, shut up, and learn to be a mature saint. They are not a pastor. They should not be submitted to in these things, and if necessary, clearly opposed. Of course, it should be done in a loving and kind manner, according to the way Christ showed us to correct a brother in error. Much mercy must be shown, and much prayer should go up before the throne.

I hope this helps you.


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Jimmy H

 2009/12/17 12:03Profile
Miccah
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Joined: 2007/9/13
Posts: 1752
Wisconsin

 Re:


Mattie wrote:

Quote:


So my question then comes, what is it that we are submitting to? If submission is to leaders, why would the same word be used for everyone in the church? What is the submission? What is the authority?

Your thoughts.




Submission to Christ first, then to your family, then to the church.


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Christiaan

 2009/12/17 12:11Profile









 Re:

Quote:
I would say the "movement" is unhealthy, though some of the individual churches may be very healthy. By "movement", I'm speaking of the faddish type house churches who just don't like having anyone tell them what to do.



This is precisely why I said the house church must be structured according to scripture.

I also agree the church leadership is not there to lord their authority over the lay people. KingJimmy I think has the best take on that.

Krispy

 2009/12/17 12:34
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4499


 Re:

Good points, Jimmy...

I would remind people that the English etymology of the word "church" is drawn partially from the word "house" itself. Of course, the word "church" itself was a questionable translation from the Greek word "ekklēsia." A more literal translation would be "assembly" -- as people who were "called out" in a gathering. In fact, some individuals and groups prefer to refer to the Body of Christ as a "gathering" rather than an hierarchical institution.

This is not to say that the Body of Christ did not have a sense of authority in the first century. Paul and Barnabas were faced with a question about circumcision. The leadership in Antioch couldn't reach a consensus, so they sent Paul, Barnabas and some other believers down to meet with the apostles [i]and[/i] elders in Jerusalem. As far as hierarchy, I don't know that elders were ever officially designated (like deacons). They may have been, in fact, old men...or men who had been in the faith for a longer time.

Yet, as Jimmy pointed out, today's denominations (which is a very, very different thing from THE "church") follows an institutional hierarchical structure in order to maintain a sense of "authority" in a quest for "decency and order." The designated, licensed or ordained ministers in such organizations are typically men who are recognized as authorities by the authority of the denominational organization (and its leadership) itself. I think that we can all agree that this is very subjective. There are pastors within certain denominations that I would hardly agree with concerning doctrine. Yet, they are designated as a "pastor" simply because the denomination's leadership (mostly made up of other similarly designated "pastors") agree to designate them as such.

I have even spoken with one person who even told me that the ONLY reason that he became a "pastor" was because he was encouraged to do so by his mother, father, siblings and ministers from his local congregation. He told me that he hated his "job," and realizes that he engaged in the "wrong profession."

In addition, there are pastors from "churches" that I don't regularly attend but I would also recognize as pastors of the greater Body of Christ. This is true of evangelists, teachers, deacons, etc...

As such, I see the Body of Christ as a living organization -- like a literal body. I Corinthians 12 talks about the makeup of this body. It isn't held together by denominational, organizational or hierarchical structure -- but by the blood of Jesus Christ. To become a "member" of that Body -- to become infused in the "gathering" or "assembly" -- you merely need to belong to Jesus Christ in truth. Now, I am a part of a local congregation. It even belongs to a particular denomination. Yet my allegiance isn't to the local pastor, congregation, denomination, or set of doctrines espoused by such. My allegiance is to Christ Jesus. I feel the liberty to fellowship, encourage and challenge (and BE encouraged and challenged) by believers from other congregations near and far. I will also say that I have felt that some men were "pastors" or "elders" who didn't actually hold such a title. Yet, they were men who others turned to when they had questions or needs. I suppose that might be a part of the "de facto" or "de jure" question.

I would also remind people who are opposed to "house" churches altogether to consider the Body of Christ in persecuted lands. We applaud the faith of those who serve Christ (or have served Christ) in the face of persecution. We marvel at the vitality of the Church in Cuba, China, North Korea or in Muslim nations. Yet, most of these believers do not meet in "official" or "authorized" denominations. They meet in underground gatherings -- usually in homes.

In fact, the true Body of Christ never actually organized in a hierarchical sense until after the Protestant Reformation (and yes, I don't consider the Roman organization itself to have much semblance with the [u]true[/u] Body of Christ). This "organizing" didn't take place until after more than 1500 years of the Church. So what did the Church do between 70 A.D. and 1500 A.D.? Who were their designated "authorities?" Where did they meet? Who "ordained" men as "ministers" of Christ? Where did they meet?

Although the official state religion of the Soviet Union was atheism, there was an officially recognized (and authorized) "church." Yet many true believers did not submit to the authority of this "church." Rather, they continued to meet together in homes, barns, and in secluded places. They submitted to one another. Who knows? Perhaps a time is coming when this will be the case again. Through such a time and condition, I don't think that there will be any legal or tax protection for local, national or sectarian congregations. Who will be "ordained" -- and by whom? Who will be recognized as official "leadership?" Maybe (and just maybe), it will become like it was supposed to be all along.


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Christopher

 2009/12/17 13:10Profile
ShalomoBR
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Joined: 2009/12/17
Posts: 1


 Re: Authority

4 Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day. ACTS 16:4-5

Well the Ultimate and true 'authority' has to be The spiritual authority, which is the Lord himself which He confers to those he places through divine order and separated lives who are truly called of God. These were closer to the Lord Jesus and had first hand intimate fellowship with our Master. The great cloud of Martyrs depicted throughout scripture. Who were all baptized with salt and FIRE! Their examples cannot be written off as 'oh that was back then' type of corrupt philosophy. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

To go any further with this consideration in todays North American church climate, would be very complicated as selfishness is so rooted in the national culture. Godly integrity is forsaken for SELF-SEEKING, man pleasing and power/money coveting actions, some of which actions have destroyed the faith of many by bitter disappointment and acts of personal offense and betrayal. Thus just like America was birthed of both the 'Rebellious' religious pilgrims AND the always rebellious covetous opportunists, so the church has both contained in it. The Winnowing/sifting Jesus pronounced concerning Peter, is Gods process of building and purging his church. Welcome to North America!

The authority is found submitting under Him who searches mens hearts!

The Lord is Soverign...PERIOD. HE knows which are HIS!
Keep your self in the LOVE of God...He will winnow out all the chaff...first from our lives and then what remains will be HIS KINGDOM which shall not be moved!

He is faithful who called you, and will do it!

May the Lord give us simple and profound understanding of HIS Holy ways by HIS word!

Good thought provoking/scripture digging questions MattieBoy! Love you! Glory to God!

Shalom
ShalomoBR ;-) :-)

 2009/12/17 16:05Profile





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