I have read with interest the thread about house church helps and was intrigued by the discussions. As I read the posts on the need for an Apostle, a gifted leader, etc. I thought of the shepherding movement back in the 1070's and early 80's.For you 30 somethings you will need to Google to know I am talking about. For the people who are my age 60.plus. we would remember this movement coming out of what we know as the Jesus movement. From the outset the Jesus movement was probably the last credible national move of God across this nation. The Holy Spirit birthed this movement as a response to the student activism of the 1960's. Viet Nam, Woodstock, the face riots, etc were the events that came out if a troubled decade and young students were looking for causes to get into. Thus tthe Jesus Movement as birthed.In its simplicity the Jesus Movement focussed on Jesus and a personal relationship with him. The thrust was to bring young adults into a saving relationship with the Son of God. As a result minisstries like Campus Crusade were seeing people come to Christ in life changing encounters. Then those converted would go out and bring others into that marvelous encounter with Jesus. It was said that Expli 72.in Dallas TX was the highh point if the Jesus Movement.Out of the Jesus Movement many sweet fellowships were birthed and house churches were formed (not a novel idea saints). The charismatic movement was happening. People were coming to Christ. It was glorious. But as usual with a movement of God Satan counter attacks. Cults were born. Abuses developed. There were many immature Christians. Something had to be done. Thus the shepetding movement or discipling movement was born. Those involved in the movement were Bible teachers such as Bob Mumford and Derek Prince.Those who started the movement had the best of intentions. The idea was to have shepherds oversee fellowships in various levels submitting to one another. This strategy was developed ad a means to help believers grow and prevent cults from developing. What developed became cultic and man centered. Resulting in many believers becoming scarred and some leaving the faith.People such as Derek Prince repented lf being part if the shepherding movement. But I believe this movement stands as a testimony of what can happen without the Holy Spirit in control. As we are thinking through the idea of house fellowdhips or gospel fellowships against the back drop of popossible persecution. Let us not go and repeat the mistakes of the shepetding movement with man in control. A philosopher once said that those that fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.I must run. Do not have time to proofread and correct typos. But felt I needed to post. My apologies for typos.Posted by Bearmaster.
I was thinking about the shepherding movement when the house church posts was in full swing. Several times I thought about including a few thoughts on the shepherding movement but couldn't find the words. My sister was involved in a house church group (1982) which was based in the Calder Valley of West Yorkshire. She was saved a few years before I was and I didn't have any knowledge of it until after I was saved (1984). Her house church in west Yorkshire was ran by men who followed on from the 70's Jesus Movement literature and was in essence imported into the UK along with everything else that has happened. I had a terrible conviction about this group in Yorkshire and in hind sight I can see that it ran along the lines of being restrained in some way and not free to grow properly. They caused my sister to fall and to this day she has not recovered. I personally rejected their methodology and they had no effect on me at all. They were all lovely brethren, but there was an underlying belief in the right to control and dictate spiritual direction which was very harmful. Today it is all in ruins and the testimony from it all is so bad it cannot be put into print. Despite this however I still think there is something to be had of a balance and this itself must be comprehended. Below is something I wrote a short while ago and posted. I repost it because it is relevant.
Well one would have to say that if the Scriptures taught that God is building the church Himself without labourers, we would be able to take our place in the faithful wait on God. We do not know what the church is! It has not yet been revealed because it has not yet been fully built. Yes God is building the church, and his tools are workmen. The church may well be a mystery but the workmen are flesh and blood. More than this we have a desire to be something more than a living temple, if we knew of it; we would also desire to be the Bride of Christ. The living temple of our God is the church, but the Bride of Christ is in the Church. The Groom is in heaven and will come to receive His bride at the appointed hour. Moreover the Bride must make herself ready. She cannot be forced to dress in readiness. She is not taken by force but must come in love for the Groom and in a willingness of submission and great hope. When the Bride has made herself ready then will the Groom come to gather his Bride from the church and to the marriage feast of the Lamb.
There is a dual responsibility for every saint of God and Christ. Firstly to labour according to Gods calling, secondly to dress in readiness. The labour is collective and distributed amongst the many according to Gods own distribution and determination. The dressing in readiness is personal and carried out in secret, which is to say in the heart. It is not possible to put aside the ministry of Gods Word any more than it would be wise to refuse to dress in readiness. Neither will the labourers be put aside nor will God compel anyone to dress in readiness. Unfaithfulness of either the labourer or the member will not pass without consequence or cost. The greatest responsibility in the body of Christ lies with those who are given as men to the body in the ministry of the Word of God. Many of these men will continue in their greed and unfaithfulness right until the end of this age. Only persecution will sift them. And even then some will deny Christ rather than obey. They will not go away however and so we have to know how to walk ourselves and at the same time trust in Gods choosing of His labourers for the purpose of the building of His house. Of these labourers no one is more equipped to cause stumbling than the prophet. Not a fake prophet, but a false prophet. One who turns Gods people away from God! God Himself will permit it and by it will sift the hearts of men so that in the end those who love truth will become the visible church and those who are become faithless will believe the lie and fall away.