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In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:3

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**Looking for some volunteers **

*Church leaders

We are seeking to rotate some worship teams twice a month on Wednesday for an all denomination worship/prayer night. 


We are a small church plant with a large building in Mechanicville. 


We have speakers and Bluetooth currently set up for our stage. 


God has placed this on our hearts for a fall/winter filled with worship and intercession for the return to our first love. 


Would you lend us your talent? 


*This won't be able to be done without the body coming to action. 


Please message us to discuss / call 518-652-2092

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Francis Chan and "We Are Church" are reaching neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area. The Underground Network spans across the nation from Tampa Bay. Fresh Expression's Dinner Church heals hearts from the Northern West Coast in Seattle to the shores of the Atlantic Sea. Church Project and many other house church networks are spread all across that vast land called Texas. All this, and until now, nothing in the central inner city of the second largest city in the U.S.A.: Los Angeles, California... Until now! 

At last! For years we have prayed and at last, the first house church in Los Angeles has finally opened, and... We want you! Pray for us! Help us! Come and break bread and love and be loved by us! 

Hallelujah! Jesus is here, among these three or more gathered together in his name. Come and let us let the world know that we are Christians by our love for one another.  :-) 

So happy! So very happy in Jesus!

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Dan, good to see you. Salutations!

Congratulations on your exciting new book, available free in audio and text. livingtruth.com

My, my in the 1800's several denominations had long debates about the legitimacy of even mission boards. Definitely bureaucracy has taken its toll in the church and in the corporate as well as political realms.

Charles Spurgeon used to pray: Lord, lead me not into a committee.  :)

In contrast to para-church ministries, the scriptures emphasize indvidual responsibility. For the good of the body, of course. If you can do it - you may do it, so to speak.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Rom. 12:6-8 

A para-church ministry, in my opinion, still could have its place just as Professor Snyder suggests. It might even be temporary. Just for a specific project. Considering our freedom in Christ, I would not be overly judgmental about a specific ministry undertaken by others.

Wonder what happened to Howard Snyder? He's definitely retirement age by now. A real pioneer and a good example of a righteous life.

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What I've come to discover is that many of these institutional churches hold up some form of barrier to the unity of the Body of Christ. I have no problem with a church defining what makes it distinctive, but when those distinctions are used to push other believers out of the fellowship then it makes it hard to even discuss what should be our shared goal of worshipping our Savior.

Hey Todd. Your observation here is one which I have also experienced. And may God forgive me if I were ever a part of making needless barriers to fellowship and unity..

Prior to his death on the cross, our Savior - faithful to the end - was more concerned about others than himself. In John 17 he prayed that his church would be one, just as he and his Father were one. 

Was this a mere unity for the sake of unity? No, Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified each day by his word which is truth. Obviously we don't agree on all the fine points of his truth but all of us should desire more of it and more of him. Because the truth represents Him and how to truly love one another. And how to live each moment unto his glory.

I'm thinking now of how John Bunyan was once placed in a jail cell with a Quaker. Yet as time went by, Bunyan became more respectful and even thankful for him. Even though he had written some severe criticisms of his movement.

As for the house church movement, there is not as much unity as one would hope for... and there is little desire to co-operate with other groups of Christians. I'm speaking from what I have seen and read over the last 25 years or so. This can change though, as it should.

Let us overcome evil with good. Rather than just attacking others. And pray to the Lord of the Harvest that he would send laborers into his vineyard. The harvest is great - the laborers few. 

People need examples - not just more critics.

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From "The Community of the King," by Howard Snyder:

"When we look at the contemporary church, we see not only the community of God's people; we find also a proliferation of local church organizations, denominations, institutions, agencies, associations and so forth. Such structures obviously have no biblical basis. How should we view them?

The two most common tendencies have been either to say these structures are actually a part of the essence of the church, and thus sacralize them, or to take an anti-institutional stance and say all such structures are invalid and must be abandoned.......

A more helpful option, however, is to view all institutional structures as para-church structures which exist alongside of  and parallel to the community of God's people but are not themselves the church.....they exist along side or parallel to the church community; and they exist ostensibly to serve the church."

For some time I took the second stance, that all institutions must be abandoned. In fact I thought they would have been mostly abandoned by now when people found they had a choice. (I was obviously wrong about my expectation.)

Has anyone thought of Snyder's option, of seeing these things as "serving" the church?

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It is interesting that you should bring this up. I saw a video of a Methodist church in a rural area that decided to give up the building that had ties to the denomination. They found this change was liberating and the church grew into a tighter knit community. They rented space if I remember correctly from schools and got back to the basics in Christ.

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Hi readers. Hi Dan. Hi there Todd. The evidence for the change of the Sabbath to Sunday also looks rather scanty to me. I hope you will share your thoughts in a separate thread here in the discussions.

Regardless, God made a special day for our benefit. Why would we not want to pursue such a gift and learn more about it?

To your point, culture is indeed dominating the church rather the followers of Jesus being the light of the world and salt of the earth.

    Let us bow in prayer...

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The last few days I've watched a handful of videos on the impending split of the United Methodist Church over cultural issues. It seems that in every video the topic of money comes up. Now while I'm very concerned for our dear brothers and sisters in Christ and what the future holds for them, I can't help but think about how much angst that they are having over something that should not be all that important. I've heard much during this time about issues of property ownership and unfunded pension liabilities. I don't ever recall seeing any of this in the New Testament.

Thanks much for sharing!

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Hi friends. One other aspect of synagogue life was the role of the young people. They could publicly read from the scriptures at age 12. Imagine what a confidence builder that occasion would have been! As God's living truth was proclaimed and the older ones said their "amens".

Remember, the "not failing to assemble" is immediately followed by "but encourage one another". Those who participated were blessed. As were those who listened.

Some have painted the early Christians as illiterates... But Timothy from a child had known the scriptures. And history teaches us that the Jews were highly literate.

Some also have attacked the traditional church as being non-participatory. There is merit in such criticism and reform is needed. But in fairness, most churches have what is called Sunday School where virtually everyone is welcome to contribute and the vast majority of teachers love it when they do. As most "preachers" are delighted when there is a special song sung or a testimony given. (I can only speak here from my own experience which is indeed limited. There are no doubt certain pastors who are jealous of their microphone and their pulpit.)

The meetings described in 1 Corinthians were not completely open to everyone on every occasion. "Let two or three prophets or tongue-speakers...".

In the early days of Christianity there were obviously no newspapers, radio, TV, internet or telephones. Most lived in small apartments. The synagogue met their social needs in many ways which we cannot imagine. So yes Dan, it is interesting that the word synagogue encompasses the idea of hospitality. 

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Many of my good friends in Christ interpret bible prophecy differently. I really to not want to separate over these differences - except where I feel they are harmful to our walk in Christ. As far back as grade school I heard preaching that the world would only become darker in the future and more horrifying than any horror film I had seen. This led me to wonder if there was any reason at all to work for a better future.

Fortunately I had influences in my life that encouraged me toward optimism. I resisted pessimism as best as I could. Many years later I found that there were several views on bible prophecy and that some reflected more of the goodness and greatness of God and His desire to bless His creation. While I do not claim to be an expert on the subject of bible prophecy, I have had a greater than average interest in it over the past 40+ years. As confusing as this subject can be, it is still an important one.

Lately I have been wondering if each of the major 3 views of the Last Days according to the bible might be partly correct. One says that the 1,000 year reign (the Millennium) is spiritual and that heaven is the ultimate goal for us anyway. Another says that very soon there will be a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ when all evil powers on this earth will be put down. Then another says that the Kingdom is spiritual and natural, but progressive. Christ is reigning now already but will not fully subdue all His enemies until He finally appears in power to the world. At the same time, we are to expect the substantial progress of the Gospel in the world to continue up until that time.

This is of course a very simplified explanation, but I feel it is helpful.

The first one I mentioned (A-Mill) is very reassuring. Things are going well according to God's perspective. "This world is not my home, I'm just passing through." By His grace we will all be together "in the sweet bye and bye." We can be a positive influence in this world but we do not get too wrapped up it it's problems.

The second one (Pre-Mill) is more realistic. The fact that the past hundred years has seen 2 world wars, a Great Depression, global terrorism, the threat of a nuclear holocaust, global pandemics etc. is not only proof that the end of time is near, but a great reason to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His promise of eternal peace. The great hope in this view is that Christ will win in the end on this earth as well, and that those who trust in Him will rule and reign with Him for a literal 1,000 years and live in heaven for eternity.

All the views take the bible seriously, and the third option makes a valiant effort to connect all the scriptures in such a way that the bible is fully validated. This (Post-Mill) position states that Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of God two thousand years ago, and that it has been advancing ever since. It grows not only in the numbers of believers but in influence in the world as well. This is to me more of a victorious eschatology and is less about an escape from the troubles of this world.

It seems to me that the division of the physical world and the eternal realm is more of an ancient Greek philosophy that found its way into Christianity through what has been called Gnosticism. Jesus did differentiate between the two but also told us to pray for God's Kingdom to come, for His will to be done in earth as it is in heaven. Was the church to wait for 2,000 years for that to happen, or were they to expect their prayers to be answered, if not at least partially in their time?

Great thinkers and godly teachers have stood behind all of these three major views of biblical prophecy.  We can learn from them all. I have some unanswered questions about Postmillennialism, but I like that it challenges me to believe for greater things. It reminds me of how Jesus taught that all things were possible to those who believe in Him.


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David, Thanks for pointing out the Greek word in Hebrews 10:25. I drilled it down to one of the root words in Thayer's definitions.  "sunago" (G4863 in Strongs)

1. to gather together, to gather a. to draw together, collect 1. of fishes 2. of a net in which they are caught.

2. to bring together, assemble. collect a. to join together, join in one (those previously separated) b. to gather together by convoking. c. to be gathered, i.e. come together, gather, meet.

3. to lead with one's self a. into one's home, i.e. to receive hospitably, to entertain.

Isn't it interesting that the word for synagogue is built on a word that is related to hospitality? 

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Here is a song that was written and performed by a dear friend and bother in Christ, Harold Willison. He went to be with the Lord this year.

There is Nothing to Compare

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I've been thinking a lot recently about how cultural influence has impacted how the church operates. Consider the Sabbath as an example. At what point did God switch the seventh day of the week for the first? While we do indeed see the early church gathering together on the first day of the week, does this mean that they stopped resting on the seventh day? I can't seem to find any evidence that they did.

Perhaps a more extreme example of cultural influence is how decisions are made in the church. My experience has been that most churches use some form of Robert's Rules and majority rule to make decisions, but as far as I can tell this does not fit the command for unity in the church. Oftentimes majority rule leads to decision making based on coercion, threats, or good-old pork barrel politics rather than decisions made for the sake of glorifying God and unifying His church.

The only remedy that I see comes from Jesus Himself when He says in John 10:27-28 that "27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." I have completely lost any interest in fighting with anyone over church matters. Whether God uses these other churches for the purpose of His salvation is up to Him. What I do know is that that when we share the true Gospel of Christ then the sheep will hear His voice and follow. Jesus has made this promise.

So to directly answer your question of "How can we convince our fellow believers that this was never the New Testament model?"... I'm not sure that we can or should. I very much appreciate the sentiment behind your question and your desire to change hearts to Christ. When someone tells me that they need a couple hundred grand for a new building then that tells me that they are worshipping the facility and those who gather there more than Jesus. If we are teaching the Gospel without all of the "extras" and their hearts are so inclined to hear it then praise be to God for His mighty work! But until God acts, I think that all we can do is to demonstrate how it should be done through our words and actions.

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Hi Dan,

Thanks for your response and for sharing a bit of your experience as well. I wasn't sure when I wrote my comment if it came across with the right tone. The last 12 months has left me completely broken with respect to the church which has let me somewhat bitter. Yet I feel this experience has left me stronger in my relationship with Christ. In the past I have looked to church leadership for guidance and affirmation because I believe that the office of elder is Biblical. That has changed. If an elder is unable or unwilling to submit to Christ's authority then I have no obligation to follow their instruction. In other words, it's not enough to have been elected to church office by the majority of the congregation. They need to conform to Hebrews 13:7 ("those who spoke to you the word of God") before they can exercise the authority found in Hebrews 13:17.

I will carefully consider your comments on joining a house church, including your caution about a "new set of problems". I agree that nothing in this world is perfect, but I am hoping to find a group of people whose primary interest is in worshiping our Savior and not the organization of His church.

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Hi David,

Thanks for getting back with me. This paragraph of yours really stood out for me...

"Ultimately, there is but one true church. We are either a part of it or we need to become a part of it. All Christians should be welcome wherever other believers are found."

I think that this is the first time that I've ever heard someone say it and thought that they really meant it. So often it feels like we only want to interact with people who are "my kind of Christian". My prayer is for more unity in the church regardless of what we think about particular issues in Scripture.

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Dan, my friend and brother. Loved your previous message! Wow. Amen. 

Back to your original inquiry regarding the origins of the synagogue.

The first Christians came over from the Jewish community. They already had a long history of regular public meetings for instruction and fellowship. They were now born again and eager to be with their new spiritual family. Personally, I would say that they were ready to tear the door off the hinges to get to these meetings. 

The synagogue was the center of the community and a joyful place, too. There they would see their relatives and friends and also make new ones. There they would learn news things - as the truth was told and the scrolls unrolled. There they would get the latest news often passed around as prayer requests. :) There they would receive a holy kiss or perhaps have their feet washed. Since the meeting was open, things were a little unpredictable. Especially with regard to who might show up to speak.

As John wrote: We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers. 1 John 3:14. What could be more intuitive and natural than to be with those whom you love?

We do however notice a warning about failing to meet with others. It's found in Hebrews and you are familiar with it. And familiar with those who translate it to mean something else. "Don't go to church - just be the church". The greek verb here for meeting surely refers to synagogue: epiSunagoge. On that we can agree. Just as the word for church is a general word also meaning an assembly of persons for a specific purpose. 

In summary, although there is no direct NT command to meet, there is one which forbids not meeting - failing to assemble. Which is really... the same idea.

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The one thing I disagree with in this post is this:

"But now, the true and grand idea of a Church, that is, a society for the purpose of making men like Christ, earth like heaven, the kingdoms of the world the kingdom of Christ, is all lost."

If it was up to us, all would be lost. But while we are weak, He is strong. That which is impossible with men is possible with God!

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Todd,

Thank you for sharing some of the details of your recent experience. From my experience and that of others I have known, it looks to me like God is challenging you to a greater vision of Him and His Church. It might be that He desires for you to either join a house church or start one.  At one time I thought that was the great solution to the churches problems. Actually I discovered a new set of problems in it. But that is okay, Jesus Himself said that in this world we will have trouble.

The important thing is that we follow Him where He leads us.  From the humility I sense in your request, I believe you will find His leading for you and your family.

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"Normal church growth is not really limited by lack of financial resources or physical facilities. We do not find Paul complaining that more could be accomplished if only more funds were available. Nor is there any evidences that the early church was hindered in its growth by its lack of church buildings. If anything, the opposite is true. Heavy financial investment in buildings, property and programs intended to facilitate church growth often becomes a limiting factor. Emphasis is shifted to these things and the vision for ministering the Gospel simply and directly to persons is dimmed or lost altogether."

( from page 120 of The Community of the King, by Howard Snyder.)

I attended a meeting a while back where it was stated that $200,000.00 was required to start a new church! It looks like Snyder here made a valid point. How can we convince our fellow believers that this was never the New Testament model?

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These colorful welcoming signs are found in thousands of towns across our land. They remind us, however, that local civic organizations operate voluntarily. Whereas local churches do not.

This is significant. Several thousand of churches will close this year due to the lack of money for staffing. 

Our Lord - did he not say that the children of darkness are sometimes wiser than the children of light? And no, that's not to suggest that the men and women involved in local service groups are somehow against Christ's Kingdom. We know better. I'm just borrowing a figure of speech. As I pray for new kinds of churches and new kinds of leaders.

Down through the ages, echo the words of the Apostle: These hands provided for me, my necessities, and for them who were with me. I lived accordingly as an example to you (elders).

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Hey there dear brother, thank you for sharing! Good to hear from you. We are also searching for the answers and longing for more of Christ in our lives. And for his Kingdom to come to this world - on earth as it is in Heaven.

Ultimately, there is but one true church. We are either a part of it or we need to become a part of it. All Christians should be welcome wherever other believers are found.

Regarding our Presbyterian friends, we love them are are thankful for much in their lenghty heritage. Interestingly, they make much of the household baptisms but little of the early household meetings. And although every elder is to be "apt to teach" - they have a special officer known as a teaching elder. Other elders are confined to ruling - mere laymen, they say. Hmmm.

So sorry that things turned sour but do not be discouraged. And leave the doors open, where possible. God knows and God cares. Stick with the Scriptures and you will not go wrong. There are no magic formulas regarding church structures or much else...

We all want the best for ourselves, our families, our churches, and our careers. That's only natural. And there are always many along the way who desire to assist us and to show us a "better way" or a "deeper walk". Just be a little wary of those who try to monetize their good advice.

House churching will not fix everything but can bring new challenges along the way, of course. For me, it has been a good path. May the Lord direct your steps! Keep us posted, friend.

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I recently found this site. After reading several posts, I have found the discussions to be both thought-provoking and balanced. I appreciate the wisdom and respect in the conversations that I've read so far. Thank you!

I got here after Googling "house churches". I have a keen interest in learning more. A quick bit of info about me might help you understand why. I have attended Reformed churches for much of my 59 years on Earth, although I have also had significant (> one year) experience with Baptists, Assemblies of God, Covenant, Presbyterian, and Calvary Chapel. What I've come to discover is that many of these institutional churches hold up some form of barrier to the unity of the Body of Christ. I have no problem with a church defining what makes it distinctive, but when those distinctions are used to push other believers out of the fellowship then it makes it hard to even discuss what should be our shared goal of worshipping our Savior. My most recent experience was with the Presbyterian church. I was once a member, and when the Elders asserted their authority to make decisions on cultural issues then I tried to engage them in a discussion of how those issues related to spiritual concerns. My attempts to talk it out failed, primarily because those same Elders expressed their belief that their authority to run the church superseded Christ's. At that point I resigned my church membership. I tried to stay on as a non-member for both the sake of unity and to encourage the church body in their faith in Christ, but closed Communion did me in. I was asked by the Elders to worship elsewhere rather than violating their rules for Communion which require church membership to partake of the elements. Since I take God's appointment of leaders in the church seriously, I had no other choice but to leave even though I did not want to.

With that in mind, I am looking for a few things in worship. First and foremost is worship that is centered around the preeminence of Christ (Col 1:15). That doesn't necessarily mean that one needs to be a Calvinist to worship with me. On the contrary, 1 John 4:2 lays out a clear definition of who is a professing Christian, and it's pretty broad when it comes to theological interpretation. I just don't want Jesus to be an afterthought either. My second desire is that worship conforms to Christ's saying in John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." As I think about this more deeply I begin to see just how much the trappings of the institutional church have, at least for me, interfered with hearing our Savior's calling. Church attendance for the last year has been stressful as I feel the need to parse every word of the preaching to determine whether or not it is God speaking. The Gospel is pure, gentle, and sweet.

So now that you know a very little bit about me, I'd like to hear what you think. Although we don't know each other, I welcome your honest input. If you think that I should join a house church then please say so and tell me why. If you question if I'm leaving the institutional church for the right reasons then please say that too. I'd like to think that I'm here with an open mind, insomuch as that is possible.

God bless you

- todd

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David, You wrote:

"No, we cannot present the truth without exposing error. Much of what goes on in traditional churches has little or no basis in scripture. Nevertheless, the "out of church movement" would do well to overcome evil with good - rather than continually attack the institutional church, in word and print, for the wrong reasons."

This is one of my concerns as well. I was once caught up in the trend of vindicating what I believed the Lord wanted me to do by discrediting what others were doing. In several cases I alienated people who still believed in traditional church forms. Eventually I began to remember many of the wonderful ways God had used the traditional forms for my benefit in the past.

Also I observed a sort of "legalism" in the house church movement that would forbid many things that were taught in scripture! After that the trend to discredit the scriptures began to emerge.

Take the issue of leadership for example. We know there have been many abuses of leadership. We also know leaders themselves can be abused by unbiblical pressures put on them by the system as we know it today. So is the answer to convert to "leaderless" church meetings? I say no, and will go so far to say that is a myth.

I was once in a gathering of several house church minded people when a brother stood up to share a teaching. Then another brother attempted to set him down I supposed because he thought he was trying to lead us. Some times no one in charge leads to the wrong ones in charge!

In trying avoid the "one man show" that has become the norm in our day, I think fear can take over.  Cannot we trust that Jesus is still building His church, even our imperfect, less than ideal settings?

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Hey Dan, your original question is an important one. Let's return to it:

My question is this: if Jesus, Paul and others made use of this form of assembly to spread the Good News of the Kingdom, why would other means of organizing gatherings, as long as they served God's purpose be forbidden?

Consider the precision of God's works in the physical world. Everything has a purpose: To declare his name. And look at the precision of the guidelines for the Tabernacle and Temple. 

If the precise location of church meetings were of the utmost importance, surely Jesus would have revealed this on his first visit to the temple or later to the synagogues. He would have encouraged believers not to return but to only meet in a private home setting.

Since he did not address this, it is a safe assumption that any arrangement is OK, according to the needs of the persons involved.

Here are a few more clues from the times after Christ ministered.. Paul reminded the abusers of the Lord's supper that they would be better off "at home". And he exhorted certain women to ask their husbands "at home" rather than interrupt the public meeting. 1 Cor. 11:34, 1 Cor. 14:35. Obviously then, the saints were not gathered at private home (unless quite a large one which would have been possible).

Back to Jesus, he foretold that the unbelieving Jews would eventually run them out of the synagogues: John 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. If house churches were to become the only option to "do church", would He have not have reminded them at that point?

No, we cannot present the truth without exposing error. Much of what goes on in traditional churches has little or no basis in scripture. Nevertheless, the "out of church movement" would do well to overcome evil with good - rather than continually attack the institutional church, in word and print, for the wrong reasons.

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Another 'institution' which, along with the synagogue, naturally came into existence due to necessity and expediency, was the diaconate or the table servers for the poor widows. Chronicled in Acts 6.

Wow, how we long for the church to again become a health and welfare provider!

OK. In other words, the first Christians were not met with permanent "church blueprints" for all people in all ages in all places. But rather a few abiding principles which also left room for change according to the changing landscape. Where the spirit is - there is liberty. 

If the Almighty has not forbidden something - and it is beneficial for the edification of others, by all means, prayerfully consider such a course.

As for the interior of a synagogue, the benches were positioned toward Jerusalem. This gives new meaning to Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well:  

"Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. ... But the hour is coming, and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."

Our Lord is declaring here that location is no longer important in the big picture of worship and life. Whether public house of worship or private house meeting - both of these are mere physical locations. God is seeking SPIRITUAL worship irrespective of the physical location. 

Carefully observe that Jesus did not teach: "But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in private houses only." Yet this is what house church purists maintain. Personally, I have heard it and I have read it online and in several books. In reality, it just makes us all look a little backward...

If house meetings were the only legitimate form of church structure for all people in all places for all time, Jesus surely would have had something specific to say about it. Instead, he attended both small household meetings and large public meetings, too. As did his apostles. On many recorded occasions. Over a period of many years.

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The Spreading Flame, by F.F. Bruce,  page 185: The Growing Day: Epilogue

Christianity was organized for catastrophe....

The Story of the Christian Church of the first three centuries is largely a commentary on this. In the fiercest of tribulations Christianity proved its capacity for survival, and not for mere survival, but for actual victory. And the victory was won by spiritual weapons alone.

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David,

All of this information is very helpful and interesting. What I am intrigued about is how the synagogue came about as a practical way to meet several needs. Since it was not specifically commanded in the Law under Moses, it could be seen by some as an innovation. 

Yet Jesus and the apostles saw the gatherings as providing an opportunity to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I suppose that criticisms could have been brought forth against some of the practices as can be said against any group of people. 

Yet no where in the NT does Jesus or any of His apostles condemn the practice of synagogue worship itself. My point is that patterns of meeting and gatherings that are not found explicitly in the bible are not all necessarily wrong. Each situation should be judged on its own merits or faults, IMO.

For example, some people say that Sunday School for children at church is unbiblical. We know that the primary responsibility to teach the children on the parents. However, we have seen the benefits in our own lives growing up and learning about God from others besides our own parents.

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Allow me to share a couple of more short passages from a writer, Alfred Edersheim, who was considered an expert witness in this matter. From Chapters 17 and 18 of his Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Of course, the synagogue system is not in every way to be equated with the church.

As a rule, synagogues were built at the expense of the congregation, though perhaps assisted by richer neighbours. Sometimes, as we know, they were erected at the cost of private individuals, which was supposed to involve special merit. In other cases, more particularly when the number of Jews was small, a large room in a private house was set apart for the purpose. This also passed into the early Church, as we gather from Acts 2:46, 5:42. Accordingly we understand the apostolic expression, "Church in the house" (Rom 16:3,5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Phile 2), as implying that in all these and other instances a room in a private house had been set apart, in which the Christians regularly assembled for their worship. Synagogues were consecrated by prayer, although, even thus, the ceremony was not deemed completed till after the ordinary prayers had been offered by some one, though it were a passing stranger. Rules of decorum, analogous to those enforced in the Temple, were enjoined on those who attended the synagogue. Decency and cleanliness in dress, quietness and reverence in demeanour, are prescribed with almost wearisome details and distinctions. Money collections were only to be made for the poor or for the redemption of captives.

Also:.

 It was customary to have service in the synagogues, not only on Sabbaths and feast-days, but also on the second and fifth days of the week (Monday and Thursday), when the country-people came to market, and when the local Sanhedrim also sat for the adjudication of minor causes. At such week-day services only three persons were called up to read in the law; on new moon's day and on the intermediate days of a festive week, four; on festive days - when a section from the prophets was also read - five; and on the day of atonement, six. Even a minor was allowed to read, and, if qualified, to act as translator from the Hebrew to the Aramaic.

Takeaway: There were no money collections to pay the "Staff" or the rulers or the chief rulers of the synagogues. Yes, there appear to have been chief rulers of some sort. Note the word only in the first quotation.

Even children could participate in the formal readings. I find this last point interesting in view of the previous discussions from years ago on the various house church forums. It was regularly asserted that the scriptures had little usefulness in the early church because that vast majority of Christians were illiterate.

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Thanks David.  Great stuff!

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