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  • FAQ9 - How can house churches compete with traditional churches?
    less likely to become deceived or authoritarian than small house churches Answer 4 Are you saying that church structure is the only thing that really matters and that all you need to do is to get that right Answer 5 How does church growth and expansionism work in this scheme of things you are pushing Do you actually want to stay numerically small Answer 6 How do you respond to the teaching that there are apostles today who have authority over the churches they plant in much the same way the apostles of Jesus did in New Testament times Answer 7 Why do you keep insisting that churches ought to meet in people s houses Won t anywhere else do For instance in America a lot of churches that practice in the way you advocate meet in Christian bookshops and coffee shops that have a lounge area just like in someone s private house What s wrong with that Answer 8 Why are there so many nutcases in the house church movement Answer 9 How can a tiny ramshackle spread out collection of house churches possibly compete with the existing infra structure of traditional churches and the evangelism missions and

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/faq_main.htm (2016-05-02)
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  • The Apostles' Tradition - Introduction
    this section we will demonstrate that the apostles of Jesus at His direction both established and set up churches to function and operate in a particular way Further we will make clear that this pattern or blueprint was intended to be universal and that all churches should be fundamentally the same when it comes to how they gather and are set up and organized Part 1 The Forgotten Commands Part

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/apol_intro.htm (2016-05-02)
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  • The Early Church Fathers - Introduction
    now turn to the reason why churches have been and are so different from the way in which Jesus instructed the apostles to establish them In order to properly do this we must examine the main historical influences which overruled and usurped the authority of the New Testament and which became the acknowledged final authority for the Christian Church So fasten your seat belts it s going to be quite

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/earlychurch_intro.htm (2016-05-02)
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  • The Apostles' Tradition - Part 1
    that the context of what he writes is what they were doing their practice when they come together as a church And what follows is a direct claim from Paul for divine command concerning the way believers ought to go about things when they gather together as a church I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions paradosis established practice even as I have delivered them to you I Corinthians 11v2 Revised Standard Version Paul is here referring to the comprehensive blueprint for the Corinthian church which he had passed on to them in particular their practices when they gather together Or to put it another way he is dealing with the issue as to how they met as a church and the way they went about things when they did so Paul is not here dealing with matters of doctrine or belief and neither is he concerning himself with that which pertains to personal holiness No his remit here is to correct certain abuses that were occurring when they came together as a church and in process of so doing he commends them that the mechanics of their coming together the nuts and bolts of what they actually did when they met as a church were in line with the traditions he had handed down to them And what this tells us is that it is quite obvious that Paul had indeed taught the Corinthian church to meet in a particular way and to proceed along particular lines and to do things in a particular way It is absolutely clear that he had in fact already given them a how to do it type set of instructions when it came to meeting as a church and he praises them for adhering to it even though he gives some corrections that need to be implemented If anyone is disposed to be contentious we recognize no other practice nor do the churches of God I Corinthians 11v16 Revised Standard Version Notice here Paul s assumption and insistence that all churches were set up the same and based purely on apostolic practice The particular issue he s referring to here was whether or not people in the church should have head coverings in order to participate in the open worship and sharing together that occurred when the New Testament churches met but the thing to highlight is his command and expectation of complete uniformity in that regard And of course what we are seeing quite clearly is that there was indeed a set way of doing things that the apostles expected all churches to adhere to Just for the record our own understanding of this is that women should have long hair and men short hair it being all to do with differing gender roles of men and women and with the angelic beings who are looking on at us As in all the churches of the saints I Corinthians 14v33b Revised Standard Version Here regarding the

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/apol_partone.htm (2016-05-02)
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  • The Apostles' Tradition - Part 2
    Sundays is established apostolic practice as far as the New Testament is concerned But let s move on now to the question of meeting in houses That the New Testament churches met exclusively in believers homes for their weekly plenary gatherings is something no one with even a modicum of Bible knowledge is going to deny Indeed the very nature and format of their gatherings when believers did come together as a particular and specific church meant that there was no possible need for them to do otherwise Numbers in each church were by definition small and interactive gatherings with no one leading and with a full meal thrown in for good measure were just perfect for a house setting What better venue could there possibly be Once again we see form following function in the New Testament as it always does The eventual move from houses into specially sanctified religious buildings was as with all the changes we are considering down to the teachings of Early Church Fathers but couldn t be realized until the supposed conversion to Christianity of the Emperor Constantine Interesting too is the fact that this was the final change made to the apostolic blueprint and that meeting in houses was the part of it that survived the Fathers reinvention of the Christian church the longest But let us now consider the plight of twenty Eskimos somewhere near the North Pole who have just become Christians and who therefore want to become a church but whose largest igloo can only fit eight people in it If they therefore decided to hire a slightly larger igloo with the express purpose of using it for their gatherings as a church then assuming that they still meet as that church as the Bible describes and don t therefore change the nature of what their gathering together ought to be then such would not be a problem even though they are not actually meeting in their homes Again I would rather be part of a biblical church that met outside of homes for their main gathering assuming though that the other biblical practices were in place than part of a church that met in homes but which was unbiblical in other respects You can if you really have to still maintain the nature and functioning of a church even though meeting somewhere other than in peoples homes Indeed there was a time when the church of which I am a part sometimes utilized a rented hall for the part of our gathering that included our worship and singing this being out of love for some neighbors who at the time complained about the noise But we still sat in a circle just as if we were in someone s home and the worship and sharing remained completely open and participatory with everyone being free to spontaneously take part and without anyone leading from the front And once we had concluded that part of the gathering we returned to one

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/apol_parttwo.htm (2016-05-02)
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  • The Apostles' Tradition - Part 3
    order to spend time with each other with the Lord They talked and prayed together They sang songs of praise and worship to the Lord and they built each other up spiritually by teaching and encouraging one another from the Word of God And all this they did in the context of the heart of their gathering being a meal they ate together in joyful acknowledgement of their guest of honor who though not present physically was nevertheless still with them by His Spirit empowering them for their service to Him through the week to come That and nothing less is what a gathering of a church a little extended family of God as described in the pages of the New Testament was like and that is why Jesus had the apostles establish churches in the specific and particular way they did A family is neither an organization nor a corporation and if you treat it and have it function as such then you simply destroy everything that it is intended to be Can you imagine a family get together organized on the lines of a religious meeting Picture it with me A senior patriarch of the family stands up the front of course it s in a public building and not the home of one of the family members and all else present are seated in rows so that the personal contact of being face to face and actually looking at each other and relating together is precluded From that point onwards all is directed from the front the audience being allowed varying degrees of involvement and interaction depending on each particular family At some point the senior family member who is leading from the front gives a speech of varying duration after which a morsel of bread for each adult present and little sips of wine or grape juice are distributed before everyone goes home More progressive families may of course provide a time for coffee and chit chat afterwards Then happy that duty has been done and that family responsibility has been satisfactorily expedited all return hungrily to their individual homes in order to eat a meal and then to get on with the rest of the day Now that I tell you is not my idea of a family gathering And neither is it the Lord s idea of His extended family meeting together What I think of as the shape of churches in the New Testament was both very deliberate and carefully implemented and the design was intended precisely to produce personal relationships and mutual interaction the very thing family is all about Indeed we know from the human biological family unit that if you change its shape from what it was designed by God to be that is a married man and a woman in a lifelong mutually loving and serving relationship then what results is completely other than what the Lord intended Whether families with parents who neither love and serve each other

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/apol_partthree.htm (2016-05-02)
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  • The Apostles' Tradition - Part 4
    all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare So he will fall down and worship God exclaiming God is really among you Paul here makes clear that whereas un interpreted public tongues are pointless in a public gathering no one has the faintest idea what is being said prophecy most certainly isn t And of course the thing to grasp here is that he encourages everyone to prophecy So there you have it again all present were free to take part 1 Corinthians 14 26 What then shall we say brothers When you come together everyone has a hymn or a word of instruction a revelation a tongue or an interpretation What is the push here then That everyone should take part and quite spontaneously as well The Holy Spirit and not some human master of ceremonies is seen to be leading the proceedings 1 Corinthians 14 29 31 Two or three prophets should speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down the first speaker should stop For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged This verse also shows us as clear as day that the gatherings of the New Testament churches were open and participatory and without any human leadership from the front Such instructions as we are seeing here would be nonsensical if directed towards a gathering that was led by someone who was directing the proceedings and conducting some kind of religious service They make perfect sense however when understood as instructions for everyone in the church to adhere to and implement Just imagine Paul here tells them that someone already sharing something is to give way to another who indicates they now have something to bring This is no church service Indeed this is the exact opposite of a church service It is rather the coming together of a group of believers in someone s home to function and to share together like an extended family All are free to contribute and take part for the corporate good and spiritual well being of each person present It isn t merely that Paul doesn t lay much stress on the person leading from the front it is rather that he lays no stress in that regard at all and that any such idea is completely alien to his thinking Nothing is further from his mind in his writings than the notion that someone might be leading the church gathering As we have already noted in someone s lounge there isn t even a front for anyone to lead from Few things could be more alien to the New Testament than the idea of church services being led from the front by a Minister whose job it is so to do When New Testament churches met they partook of the Lord s Supper as a full meal Another aspect of Paul s context in 1 Corinthians 11 14 is to make it clear to certain believers in the church that they should no longer be attending the infamous love feasts at the Temple of Diana located in their city These were sordid affairs to put it mildly with priestesses doubling for prostitutes and the whole thing was basically a drunken orgy Further he addresses the fact that not only were believers in the Corinthian church failing to maintain proper relationships with each other and then eating the church love feast without first putting such behavior right with those they had sinned against but some were even getting drunk and eating all the food before the poorer brothers and sisters had even arrived Needless to say we are not going to be seeing the apostle correcting the abuses of some communion service consisting of a ritual with bread and wine as we have seen so clearly the New Testament church had nothing that would have even vaguely resembled such a thing we are going to see him correcting the abuse of a corporate shared church meal which he refers to as the Lord s Table and the Lord s Supper The Greek word translated supper here in this Corinthian letter is deipnon and it exclusively denotes the main meal of the day eaten towards evening His cure for the problems being encountered is to simply tell them that if they can t conduct themselves properly and treat the church meal as something a bit special that is the Lord s Meal then they should just go to their own homes and eat selfishly and get drunk there 1 Corinthians 10 16 17 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ Because there is one loaf we who are many are one body for we all partake of the one loaf Using the terminology of the food and drink at the Passover itself a full meal Paul indicates that the food and drink represents among other things the unity we have because of what Jesus accomplished for us in His death The truly awful and perfectly misleading phrase Holy Communion comes from the fact that in the Greek the word translated participation is koinonia and means fellowship Hence we have such associated words as communication communique and communion As stated earlier the New Testament knows nothing of communion services and the early churches shared bread and wine as part of a communal church meal as simple as that The idea of there being a communion service tacked on to the end of a normal service would have been quite ridiculous to them if only for the simple reason that there weren t any normal services for them to be tacked on to in the first place 1 Corinthians 10 21 You

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/apol_partfour.htm (2016-05-02)
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  • The Apostles' Tradition - Part 5
    s Supper was moved to a special building and Christian prayers and praises that had developed from the synagogue services and other sources were added to create a grand ceremony Used with permission Canon Leon Morris Commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries published by Inter Varsity Press 1976 General Editor R V G Tasker On page 158 Ch 11 reveals that at Corinth the Holy Communion was not simply a token meal as with us but an actual meal Moreover it seems clear that it was a meal to which each of the participants brought food Used with permission I Howard Marshall Christian Beliefs Chapter 6 The Christian Community on page 80 Published by Inter Varsity Press 2nd Edition 1972 The Lord s Supper was observed by His disciples at first as part of a communal meal Sunday by Sunday Used with permission Each church practiced non hierarchical plural male leadership that had arisen from amongst the people in the church These men were known as elders pastors or shepherds and bishops or overseers these being synonymous terms in the New Testament Decision making however was on the basis of the consensus of all in the church Donald Guthrie The Lion Handbook of the Bible 2nd Revised Edition 1978 Section on 1 Timothy 3 on page 620 It was Paul s practice to appoint several elders the same thing as bishops to take charge of each church Used with permission Donald Guthrie New Testament Theology Chapter 7 The Church The Early Community Inter Varsity Press The churches were living organisms rather than organizations When decisions were made they were made by the whole company of believers not simple the officials Used with permission A M Renwick The Story of the Church Chapter on The Apostolic Age on page 20 21 When we come to consider the permanent officers of the Church we find that in the days of the Apostles elders and deacons were appointed and their duties defined The office of elder is variously described in the New Testament as bishop pastor teacher preacher minister and steward The various terms mentioned referred to the same officer but each presented a different aspect of their work Thus pastor indicated their duty to shepherd the flock of Christ Bishop a word used to translate the Greek episkopos indicated that as overseers they had to feed the Church of God Acts 20 That the presbuteros and episkopos elder and bishop were the same is shown by many facts Furthermore the qualifications for bishop and elder were the same Scarcely any scholar today would dispute the words of the late Dr J B Lightfoot Bishop of Durham and an undoubted authority It is a fact now generally recognised by theologians of all shades of opinion that in the language of the New Testament the same Officer in the Church is called indifferently bishop and elder or presbyter Lightfoot s commentary on Philippians page 93 Used with permission Dr John

    Original URL path: http://www.house-church.org/apol_partfive.htm (2016-05-02)
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