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Joined: 2016/3/11
Posts: 301

 Home Gatherings: Advice for promoting love and fellowship


I moved from Milwaukee to San Diego a year ago. Prior to moving I had removed my family and I from gathering in an institutional/traditional church setting. We had various home gatherings that we either attended or hosted, including a "Lord's Supper" gathering in which a meal was served and the saints ate together and partook of the bread and "wine" in remembrance of Jesus.

These were blessed gatherings, and there were other brothers who hosted other gatherings as well. One in particular had a bible study. This brother was also very involved in street evangelism and many of the brothers would spend hours preaching the word and witnessing to the lost in Milwaukee and the surrounding area.

The problem is that division and disunity plagued the brothers, and it was hard to keep momentum or for true ministry to take place.

I perceive that no small part of the problem is that most of the brothers had their own "church" they attended and their own "pastor" and didn't recognize the gatherings as "church", per se, and acted in ways that they likely never would have "in church".

Some of the brothers were fairly lacking in their relational/people skills in terms of spiritual discourse and gathering - owing to the fact that they are not subject to much dialogue and in depth, personal, and organic operation in a 'religious' setting. They are used to listening to a preacher pontificate for an hour and chatting with brothers and sisters for 20 minutes or so before grabbing lunch (perhaps with a few that they 'like' and 'get along with').

So even before I moved what had started and had been a blessing was already running aground and a few of the brothers were put off and not interested in continuing to gather with certain other brothers (one reason was over-zealous dogmatism about things that scripture isn't 100% clear or final about and a thumping of one another relentlessly over these things).

I even felt the Lord lead me to distance myself from the routine evangelism outreach for certain reasons...

And all along I was bothered by the fact that the emphasis on love and fellowship was not equal to that which was put on street evangelism, and brothers that may not attend a bible study in order to keep their distance from another brother (or at least didn't look forward to it or him) would go out witnessing with him.

I was concerned when I observed that if there were brothers that were acting unloving and harsh or had a legalistic spirit (or any other perceived issue), no one would go to that brother. Or even if one did and he didn't receive it, two wouldn't. Or if two did, and that was unsuccessful, the group would sweep it under the rug and move on and let it fester.

It also bothered me that the brothers didn't see a problem with their lack of humility and love for one another, and didn't feel amiss going out to witness to the lost as a group when in truth some among them were very divided at worst, and only superficially 'friends' at best.

As I said before, I believe that part of the problem was that all but two of the brothers attended regular services at traditional/institutional churches and didn't view what they did with one another as anything more than "hanging out" and didn't see each other as beloved brothers or gifted of the Lord for the edification of the body - and certain imperatives of the Lord (such as the 'Law of Christ', washing one anothers' feet, and Matthew 18:15-17) did not apply.

Well, before moving I became burdened for the brothers I was leaving behind in Milwaukee and entreated them to all gather to share a burden and a 'departing word' of sorts. We did, and I exhorted them to love and the Law of Christ and to not neglect/forsake the genuine assembling of themselves together (while continuing to emphasize "witnessing").

I believe the burden was received by most and there were willing hearts present.

But now, as I am planning my first return visit since moving, I am getting reports (as I have from a brother or two all along) that the situation has not gotten any better - and if anything it seems to be worse. Some that had some fellowship in their institutional churches feel that is proving to be superficial and lacking, and are discontent with them. Others are attending "sketchy" churches and toying with an ungodly "expression" of church.

But all around it appears that there is a lack of humility, love and unity among this group of zealous and devoted brothers.

Well, I have a burden and a potential opportunity to call another gathering while I am visiting in about a month - and I trust that I have a fair amount of respect from and influence on more than a few of them.

I am wondering if anyone that took the time to read all of that has any advice or insight... I do plan to try to get as many of the brothers together to share my burden again - and seek the Lord for a fresh word from Him for the group.

Thanks for reading and for weighing in as you feel led.

~ Forrest

 2016/7/27 18:26Profile

Joined: 2007/1/15
Posts: 365

 Re: Home Gatherings: Advice for promoting love and fellowship

Oh brother,
The issue isn't about the brothers' ideas about church. It's about their need for the Lord to do a work in their dear hearts.
If you would spend time praying for them, perhaps,instead of praying about them, it might help.

May the good Lord reveal Himself to all concerned.

With much love ....


 2016/7/27 19:29Profile

 Re: Home Gatherings: Advice for promoting love and fellowship

That's good Forrests, thanks for sharing.

As one who was in a large Instutional Traditional Church & some ministry for years and who is now on our second attempt at a home based fellowship, I can tell you that your thinking is right & your experience isn't isolated or abnormal. Some of it is normal and to be expected in close community, some of it is flesh & immaturity (to which I myself have both wrongly contributed & been the benefactor of), etc. Just stay with the heart you are expressing concerning these things, keep speaking the truth in love, & keep hoping & believing God to do what is His will. Funny, I was in Israel a month ago & Robert (Bob) Gladstone was a speaker there. Cool to get to hang out with him. He was the senior teaching minister at FIRE school of ministry (Dr Micahel Brown's ministry & missions training school) for many years. He still guest speaks there, but left his main role there to start a house church network. At the conference, he spoke of NT kingdom expression within the close community & ekklesia that house churches /small groups provide for Body life and ministry. And as we sat and discussed these things one day over lunch, he said the key to some of these issues is true apostolic leaders who are older in the faith, mature, seasoned & experienced with wisdom to help in these matters. I have thought much about that. The apostle Paul said "you have many teachers, but not many fathers" (spiritually speaking of course). And when you look at Paul's apostolic anointing & His words to say the Corinthian church. They were a hot mess, but he brought stability, divine wisdom & scriptural truth to bear. If people in a true attempt at NT Body ministry ekklesia aren't really educated scripturally on these things & committed to the Body, it would be tough to really grow in love and unity & truth (cause at times it's tough even when everyone is! 😊). Anyways, I would certainly pray & share what's on your heart in meekness, love, truth and boldness though! You aren't alone though. Anyone in such a local Body who's being honest can attest to the same thing, unless theirs isn't really close and open enough to have gotten that way at times yet. 😊 I love hearing your heart though. The heart should always be for these things & to see growth, maturity, Grace, humility, love and unity displayed. We should all be checking our hearts in these things. I know I have been.
God Bless,

 2016/7/27 20:07


And just some advice: I would highly filter "advice" on this from people not themselves personally submitted to it. If someone is a long term "Lone Ranger maverick Christian", they probably aren't the best, wisest, most balanced source of advice in these matters generally. If someone is out fellowship for a year or two searching for it, it's understandable. The wilderness is sometimes a place we must tread for a season. If someone has been "out of the church" for 20 years, very often there is a reason. Their opinions in my experience may not be seasoned with as much grace and wisdom to offer good advice in this area in particular. That's not anything but good common sense wisdom (& experience) I think.

 2016/7/27 20:13


When seeking to have close relationships with other brethren in an intimate (home) setting, I would remember:

Pro 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: BUT LOVE COVERETH ALL SINS.

1Pet 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: FOR CHARITY SHALL COVER THE MULTITUDE OF SINS.

Col 3:13 FORBEARING one another, and FORGIVING one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Col 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Rom 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Rom 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Rom 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Rom 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

2Cor 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

1Pet 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1Pet 5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

 2016/7/27 21:13

Joined: 2011/10/21
Posts: 145
Marshfield, Wisconsin

 Re: Home Gatherings: Advice for promoting love and fellowship

Brother, how are you? I have lost your contact. When will you be heading back? I will be up in the Northern, IL area in early Aug. Would love to catch up or even come up to meet the others.


Brother Jeremy

Jeremy B Strang

 2016/7/27 22:29Profile


Yeah, amen.

Good verses cited to remember for such Julius, for sure!

 2016/7/27 22:43


And gather around Jesus (the Person), not doctrine or belief systems. You will have a good chance of bonding together in the Spirit and having a strong and lasting fellowship. Lay down your lives for one another and avoid the following:

foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they do gender strifes. (2 Tim 2:23)

and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. (Tit 3:9)

It will be a battle to keep Jesus preeminent and the center of all fellowship but it will be rewarding to all.

 2016/7/27 23:04

Joined: 2011/8/23
Posts: 1632


Forrest, I love your post here.

No advice from me. I am actually frightened by your words. Very jealous against seeing these things develop among our own small home fellowship.

God, grant that we love one another every day before we "one another" anything else. I find myself almost palpably craving to forbear after reading this. Jesus' prayer for us in John 17 is essential to the true witness of Christ.


 2016/7/27 23:38Profile

Joined: 2016/3/11
Posts: 301

 Re: Jeremy

I live in San Diego now, I will be in the Milwaukee area near the end of August. My email is on my profile. We are well. Hope to catch up again soon.

~ Forrest

 2016/7/28 1:00Profile

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