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That Dean Taylor article was a good read, Greg. Thanks for posting it.
| 2011/1/1 2:10||Profile|
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Excellent article you posted Greg. thank you, very concisely written.
| 2011/1/1 10:21||Profile|
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When I first came across the Organic Church/House Church literature by Gene Edwards, Frank Viola and others, I jumped in head first. I joined in three separate house church planting endeavors. All three failed. In retrospect, I have to admit that we were mainly motivated by bitterness toward the professional clergy. This is understandable. Organized religion is basically a commercial racket and the industrial clergy is an inherently farcical vocation. Of all the ridiculous things to do for a living, Professional Religious Person is the most ridiculous.
So the Organic Church seems like a rational solution to the Commercial Christianity problem. But in real life, it has not worked out the way it was supposed to.
The Plymouth Brethren movement didnt work out the way it was supposed to, either. It began in the 19th Century when four Irishmen observed that there was no biblical basis for a professional clergy and that clergymen were largely responsible for all the disunity, error and worldliness in the church, so they organized a fellowship "run strictly along New Testament lines," with no ordained ministers. They were confident that this Church Model would end sectarian strife and provide a basis of unity for all believers. By the 20th Century, the Brethren had schismed into 48 warring factions. A whole cascade of divisions and subdivisions resulted from increasingly inane Baptism controversies: "household" or "believer's baptism; indoors or outdoors; in running water or still; one dip or three; forward or backward. One faction, the River Brethren, added to river baptism the ordinance of foot-washing. But then a controversy arose: should one Brother wash and another dry, or should both functions be performed by the same Brother? They divided into the One-Mode and Two-Mode River Brethren.
Let's face it: there is no magical "church model" solution.
| 2011/1/1 11:13||Profile|
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I only recommend the book for the historical study it provides explaining why we practice some of things we have historically practiced as a church. But I do not commend to anybody the ministry of Frank Viola at all. While highly sympathetic to the house church movement, and a major proponent of many of the things this movement represents, I have found that Christ is hardly the center of this movement, in spite of the prolific language of many who attempt to say otherwise.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. I have known brethren who were part of "house churches" that were some of the greatest saints I have ever known. But I have found saints who were of equal stature in more traditional churches. Indeed, presently I am part of a "mega church." And while it does have some of its typical institutional top-down issues, I have found rich fellowship and spiritual depth amongst many.
Indeed, last night about a dozen saints from my church gathered in my apartment to celebrate the New Year. I'm going to a hockey game with some of them tonight. Now, these things might not sound very spiritual. But, it has been altogether very organic, and even though we are meeting for purposes other than reading the Bible or praying, Christ still is the center of the things we are doing.
Yes, we do the other things as well. But, I say all this to say I am experiencing "life together" in a massive church, and in the process of doing life together, we are ministering to one another and praying with one another. It's absolutely fantastic. I've been a part of much smaller fellowships over the years, and have never had the depth of fellowship I am experiencing now.
| 2011/1/1 13:12||Profile|
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Emergent Church Theology
Frank Viola and others, such as Rob Bell, Steve Chalke I would flee from there theology as fast as you can! They are on things such as the Nomad Podcast which is an open Emergent Church Podcast!
Jude 1:3 KJV
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
2 Thessalonians 3:2 KJV
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
Grewing up in a House Church
I grew up in a House Church and there are many benefits! I struggle with these different church models and structures to me it sounds like more computer structures whether they should be hierarchical, to me they should work more of the servant structure placed by jesus in the bible! I know church has got to have a structure.
1 Corinthians 16:19 KJV
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Colossians 4:15 KJV
Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house
Philemon 1:2 KJV
And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
| 2011/1/1 13:46||Profile|
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Intersting points made by Kingjimmy and Wayneman, which both make some good points.
I read both Pagan Christianity and Reimagining church, when they were lent to me a while back.
Now I lean heavily to the 'house church / priesthood of believers' type church. I don't agree with the head pastor, professional corporate style leadership model many churches follow and believe all members of the church are able to minister one to another according to the gifting God gives them. The only biblical authority in the church is a plural eldership, with each elder submitting equally to the others. Their role is overseeing (bishoping) and shepherding (pastoring) God's flock.
HOWEVER - I cannot recommend the books by Frank Viola, because although he makes many points I would agree with, he seems to me to over emphasise the points he makes and writes of in far too simplistic a way many things. He clearly has an agenda to promote 'his idea' of church.
I thought it a bit contradictory (also amusing) that he stands against 'organised church', but is going around speaking at conferences about 'the house church movement' and how to set up a house church!Just another movement.
We have been down that road in the UK. Back in the 70's there were a number of 'house church' streams that started and very quickly became very organised with a clear leadership structure of Apostle, head pastor, elders, deacons, etc. Some also became involved in the heavy shepherding movement that was around at that time. They became just another 'non denomination - denomination'. Sad thing is now most are into error of one type or another.
One thing I remeber Viola picks on is 'preaching' and says this is not biblical and says it comes from the Greek Philosophers, yet he fails to understand that scripture speaks about preaching and also the purpose of preaching.
I think that our only focus should be Jesus Christ and our submission to Him, not structure or methods. Zac Poonen seems to me to have a very good view of Church leadership and operation. i.e. No paid clergy.
There was a very good article posted a little while back by Pilgrim (who I don't see around here now) called 'Simply Stated' by Oliver Peng. My understnding is that this is written by a House Church person, but is very balanced and explains that just trying to go back to a NT church church model will not produce the life of Christ. You can check it out at www.thecloseddoor.com
| 2011/1/1 13:59||Profile|
Whittier CA USA
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Wayneman, I recently visited a Brethren church in my area. I think it is good that they believe in a plurality of elders and endeavor to keep that role in a humble status, acknowledging the equality of all brethren in Christ.
KingJimmy, good post. I would have to say I agree and have had a similar experience myself at times.
deltadom, I have had the same concern about Frank Viola's friendships with Emergents. That's why I don't usually recommend his books. There is plenty of material on organic/simple/house church life out there written by more sound authors. Like Jimmy pointed out, Viola's book is good for the historical info(He also makes many points that agree with most organic/simple/house churchers concerning authentic church life). The trouble that Viola gets into sometimes stems from his pointed statements without enough clarification or elaboration. Many misquote or misinterpret his writings.
Heydave, good post also. Concerning Viola's views on preaching, it seems to me that you may have misunderstood him somewhat. He is not against sermons, just long ones in church meetings, because they take up almost all the time of the meetings and leave no room for others to participate as prescribed in 1Cor.14. Like many others, he points out that "school of Tyrannus" type preaching/teaching meetings are biblical, as clearly seen in Paul at Ephesus in Acts 19.
| 2011/1/1 15:03||Profile|
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All of the post have been good on this subject, each one has good points.
What is hard for me is where is the balance. I am not an emergent. I am very old school believing in true repentance, holiness, prayer, bible study, true spirit filled living, dying to self and so on......
I don't want to be a part of anything emergent, but I don't want to be a part of traditions just to be apart of something.
Why can't there be balance on this subject without throwing out the whole subject. What I am finding is that no one really wants to open up this "can of worms" this says to me that they are content with the system. That we just need to pray harder and longer and eventually God will move and a great revival will occur. Maybe God is waiting for us to really look at the "house" and finally build it the way He wants and then His Glory will fill it. But until we are really ready to give up our traditions and the way "we" have built the "house" I believe the house will either be empty of His Glory or only partial harvest will occur just like in Haggai.
| 2011/1/1 15:38||Profile|
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I have to agree. Both sides of this conversation have been very convincing and have put forth good points. I have learned much, but I, for one, am still undecided on the issue.
One thing I have thought of lately though is, if the church is supposed to be like a family, and the first "institution" created by God is the family, then that means members of the "church", like those in a family, should one day grow up into maturity.
The one negative outcome of a having a full-time clergy (whether paid or unpaid) is that christians under that type of ministry seem to never mature, and "grow up in christ" as was Paul's desire for the Ephesian church.
As a father, I want my children to grow up. I want them to change and mature and one day, if I do my job correctly, they will no longer be dependent upon me. Also, I interact differently with my children, based upon their ages. I am more authoritarian with my toddlers because they need that due to their age and ignorance. They should not be making their own decisions yet.
But I interact with my 11 year old daughter much differently. I want her to start making decisions. I want her to question things. Under my, and my wife's care and supervision, I want her to grow up and mature and eventually blossom in to a young woman.
I interact with my boys differently than I do my girls, etc.
Shouldn't this be the way the church lives. In my limited experience, about 16 years or so, I have not seen individual christians given the opportunity to mature, within the traditional church setting.
When you have believers of 5 - 10 years or more still going down to altar calls, I think there is a problem. Just my thoughts.
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