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 Re:

I am sure there are lots and lots of reasons why 30 million christians self identify as "dones" according to Josh Packard (christian sociologist) who coined that term. He wrote a book called "Church Refugees" that was released last year. I have not read this book but have gleaned through many of the reasons (excuses?) that people give. Whatever they are and whatever ideas men come up with to explain this away, Jesus had this to say about the last days, just prior to His return:

"and because sin will increase, the love of many will grow cold".

This coldness has crept deep into the heart of every engine of society. We still maintain a level of civility but on a whole we just are not the same people we once were. Those who are in their 70s and 80s would be able to speak of days gone by when things were simpler and technology did not permeate every facet of our lives. Family life was warmer and people spent much quality time together. So were churches. Not so much anymore. Things are different now. Much has changed. A general frosting over of society has occurred and even the church has been affected.

The love of many has grown cold!!! IMHO, this is the overarching explanation why so many have left the American "Sunday morning experience" and the exact same reason why so few have any interest in doing much about it, including forming house churches. Maybe I'm wrong and if so please put me in my place, but I'll say it again...we need revival!!!

 2016/3/15 12:33
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 Re:

Quote:
I am sure there are lots and lots of reasons why 30 million christians self identify as "dones"



I would guess that some of that number are border-line atheists and one's that are not fitting in morally with the Gospel or Church gatherings. Of course there is a significant number of saints that are finding it very hard to find any meaningful fellowship in evangelical churches as many services are not about Jesus Christ and devoid of His presence.

I personally would say that the reason for people leaving evangelical denominational churches is not usually: "and because sin will increase, the love of many will grow cold". But that exact warning is over the door of those who seek to thread the Christian walk alone without brothers or sisters in the Lord. Of course love can grow cold in an Assembly like Ephesus. But it seems the Scriptures warn over and over again about being alone.

Jesus only had certain God-directed times He was alone. Otherwise He was surrounded day and night with His disciples. Paul the Apostle had a season of being alone with God to un-learn his religious ways. Some also need this but it is stretching Scriptures to say that all evangelicals leaving Churches need a pro-longed wilderness time. The apostles always worked together and Jesus sent out His disciples in two's. Rarely we see any "solo" Christianity in ministry or being alone in the New Covenant, but rather it was always together.

Many Bible promises in the New Testament cannot work if we are not with other fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. So there is alot of credence in what brother Mark is sharing.

As one brother shared in this thread that house churches are very relational and demand a measure of fellowship.

We will not be able to make it alone in the end times especially, we will need brothers and sisters in the Lord. One brother stated here locally that our greatest asset in the body of Christ is each other.

We also need to have grace for each other as many of us have had times where we could not find like-minded fellowship and it was a journey until the Lord connected us with the right people and fellowship.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2016/3/15 14:33Profile









 Re:

Unlike man, God does not have a "herd mentality" and therefore is not trying to organize His Church in a physical way. Nimrod did this, religion does this but the Lord sees every member of His Church and is organically and spiritually connected to them. He knows where they are and He knows how to direct each member of His Church. We are in this world to do His will and thus we are all on a mission, that will not last long and then we are ushered into eternity. The Lord's goal is not to build large, comfortable fellowships but to send us forth to reach the lost. The Lord was a hardened spiritual warrior who "came to seek and to save that which was lost". He was a warrior with a soft heart towards the lost and He endured hardship from within and without. The apostles followed exactly in their Master's steps and we are called to do the same. There is only one verse in the Bible that speaks of "not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together". Stay balanced and don't get too hung up on that one verse to the point of self-condemnation. Get hung up on the will of God for your life which will bring you to meet many brothers and sisters through the years and sometimes you may not be around too many at all. There are different seasons in one's life.

Sometimes, I think we are too hung up today in trying to make the best possible house church thinking it must somehow be the panacea. Knowing how house churches are growing and knowing man, I have often been concerned about men wanting to organize all the house churches. Organic networks are fine and we should be relationally connected around Christ, but I sure hope no one tries to "organize" house churches with a central administration.

I recently came across "The Starfish Manifesto", by Wolfgang Simpson, have you read it? I am just in the early stages of it.

I notice there are many sites that talk about it, here is one I just found so you can get an intro. I know nothing about this site so keep that in mind.

http://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=get-the-starfish-manifesto-read-it

 2016/3/15 14:50









 Re:

I appreciate your points and understand what you are saying brother Julius. Personally I do not think that what the Lord wants has anything to do with buildings, large or small. Or movements or networks or organizations. But He is building a body, that is for certain. And He has been doing so for 2000 years. But what is a body if it is made up of disconnected members? It is not a body at all, but merely a pile of dismembered parts. Thats quite a gross picture when you think about it.

I doubt anyone would have a problem with your first point that God knows who His sheep are and where and how to direct them, but this is speaking more to the universal worldwide and inter-age body of Christ. This thread from what I can tell is about local bodies. So to that point, how can the Lord build local bodies if each member chooses to remain alone?

As brother Greg and others point out, there are certainly going to be seasons that we walk alone and yes it can be very difficult to find a fellowship where it is all about Jesus, but I think there are many who have resigned themselves to remaining alone. And that is sad and tragic and I believe that many new believers will suffer and many yet to be saved unbelievers will suffer and be deprived as a result of those mature believers who choose to accept an independent christian life.

 2016/3/15 16:35









 Re:

awakened,

This is a very good thread, by the way. T

The true Body is connected to Christ. We cannot all be connected to each other, physically. If one is truly connected to Christ which implies, submission, walking in love, and Christ's character and spirit is alive in them, then when the Lord brings one such person together with another, like-minded person, they instantly recognize Christ in each other. Jesus is what binds them together, not doctrine. So, the true Church of Jesus Christ is not dismembered in the least. We are all one in Him and when we meet each other, we recognize that oneness we both have. Look at it by faith and not with your physical eyes (not trying to be insulting, just encouraging you to see what already exists in Christ).

One who is truly connected to the Lord, is either always looking for likeminded people, or witnessing to the lost, or any number of other things connected to being about their Father's business.

Yes, there are many who are discouraged and have fallen into despondency and they love the Lord with all their heart, just weak and hurting and needing encouragement. We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak. You find them every once in awhile, in the grocery store, at flea markets, at work, etc, etc.

This world is totally against Christ and the religious world, with all of it's programs, activities, agendas, conferences, works, etc., etc., ad nauseum is a poor substitute for true koinonia and brotherly love. Not that someone may not find it or does not have valuable relationships in the religious system. Some do have life giving, relationships centered on Christ. It is not the norm though, and I understand that many have resigned themselves that they will be alone. I don't think that is a good place to come to, because I think the Spirit of God is always prodding us to "encourage ourselves in Him" and look outside of ourselves to the eternal welfare of others. I do understand it, because I have been there, too. There are many that don't want to compromise or put themselves into a lukewarm religious environment because it is not good for them or their children and so they reason that being alone is better than being in such an environment.

This thread reminds me of Jeremiah 9. Jeremiah, seemed so despondent and discouraged with the "people of God", around him. He just wanted a few wayfaring men in the wilderness who were faithful to God. Just a few...not much...doesn't take much...
Jer 9:1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Jer 9:2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.
Jer 9:3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.

...even one good faithful Christian friend, changes everything.

Ecc 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
Ecc 4:10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Ecc 4:11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
Ecc 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I have been in this situation several times through my life and I just had to lead someone to the Lord if I was going to have any fellowship at all. Who knows if I would have had that chance or made that opportunity if I was enjoying a good, home based fellowship? It seems when I was alone in the past, I would get out more and mingle with people and witness to them. The Lord scattered the saints in Jerusalem, didn't He?

 2016/3/15 17:22









 Re:

Hi Julius,
I agree this is a very good thread, I would go so far as to say "vital" if we can see it?

You said, "The true Body is connected to Christ. We cannot all be connected to each other, physically."

Yes but He, the Lord Jesus is clever enough to figure out how we can each be connected to at least one other person on a regular ongoing basis. In community, submitted to Him and to each other. I don't believe that Gods will has ever been for any person to ever dwell alone but to be in a vital local body community, even if it is only with one or two others. Yet so many millions of believers in North America are apparently living below this. Some are quite happy to remain so but many others are wanting change.

So much of the new testament is written as instructions on how to love one another in community. It just doesn't make sense to attribute these instructions to merely loving one another in a general, worldwide body sense. For that is quite easy when you think about it. What takes dying to self and the fruit of the Spirit is to love one another in local community...which is exactly what Jesus lived out and taught...as did all the apostles.

On a personal note, I lived below this bar (for want of a better term)...many times in my life. And I hated it. I was meant to be a part of a local body and yet I was alone and everything within me cried out for more. I prayed along with my family for God to join us together in this city with other wholehearted believers who desired the same thing. And God heard us and did just that.

My hope is that others will be stirred to believe God to bring about change in their own circumstances too.

 2016/3/15 18:17









 Re:

I can't say it is not God's will for someone to dwell alone for a season. Paul went into Arabia for about 14 years, no doubt tho search the scriptures and pray and allow the Lord to reveal the gospel to Him. God can and probably does call people away for a season.

But, you are talking about those who don't want to be with anyone else. If they know other believers exist and they don't want their fellowship, it certainly would make you wonder why. In that vein, I do agree with you. Something else is going on.

In Jerusalem God brought persecution too scatter the Church. This time, He may use persecution to bring the Church together.

 2016/3/15 18:45









 Re:

We've got to do better than that...using Paul as an example for believers not fellowshipping with others is hardly a strong example from a very large subset lol. What about everybody else in the new testament, what about the apostles and the many thousands that came to know the Lord...that grew to become millions in just a few decades?

How many out of those millions were sent away by the Lord to be alone for 14 years (and went to third heaven on a side trip to boot).

Maybe one in a million:-)

First off Paul had just gotten saved after spending his every waking moment trying to kill the christians. How easily would it have been for him to be welcomed into their fellowships? Time had to pass before he could join them.

Secondly he was called as THE apostle to the gentiles. I hardly think any of the rank and file believers sitting at home in front of their computers and televisions in solitary christian living - qualify to use use Pauls life as a comparative example as to why they are going it alone.

And finally, Paul after his 14 years alone set about to build the church and was always with at least one other person for the rest of his life, except when in prison of course. So, if we are going to use Pauls first 14 years as an example we had better be able to point to the example of the rest of his life as well.

Just to be fair:-)

 2016/3/15 19:34









 Re:

Awakened,

I was thinking out loud in my first paragraph. Did you read the second one?

Paul wasn't in the desert because he did not want to be with people. One thing that Paul was able to discern was who the false brethren were. I would say there are a lot more false than true brethren. Anyway, I don't think you will be able to draw broad brush strokes for 20-30 million Christians. How does anyone even know how many Christians don't have any source of fellowship?

 2016/3/15 21:15
InTheLight
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Joined: 2003/7/31
Posts: 2734
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 Re:

Quote:
So much of the new testament is written as instructions on how to love one another in community. It just doesn't make sense to attribute these instructions to merely loving one another in a general, worldwide body sense. For that is quite easy when you think about it. What takes dying to self and the fruit of the Spirit is to love one another in local community...which is exactly what Jesus lived out and taught...as did all the apostles.



Amen, this is well said! I'm reminded of Peters instructions;

But the end of all things is at hand: therefore be sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:7-8)

Above all, he says, that means it's most important and I agree that it's not just about a general love, but a love among the saints that casts out fear. And as Art Katz would say, it's far beyond a saccharin back-slap and a bear-hug, it's serving one another in humility.

So also John agrees;

He that says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. (I John 2:9)

That word 'hates' means to 'love less'. Are we loving to the full? It sure is easy and common to find fault among any church members, but are we burdened with love and tears when we find it?

These things apply whether you're in a house church or a traditional church.

In Christ,


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Ron Halverson

 2016/3/15 22:07Profile





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