House Church Talk - Re: hc, women JL

Bruce Woodford bwood4d at
Sun May 9 22:15:15 EDT 2004

Hi Dan,
You have touched on some important issues relative to the willingness 
principle!  You wrote:"I like what you express here, Bruce about the 
willingness principle. It is a similar manner in which I desire to see 
things. But as any man, I am prone to want to stay in the vein of tradition 
- it is comfortable. And, even more so when a comfortable position has been 
hard to gain and has been held for some time. I mean - I am much like 
Jonathan in home style - we both home school and home church."

You are very right! We are all creatures of habit and long-held traditions 
are always very difficult to shed. But there are good traditions 
(scripturally consistent ones) and there are bad traditions (those which are 
contrary to scripture).  For my wife, Judy, and I, sending our children to 
the public school was a tradition we inheritted from our parents and the 
community in which we lived.  Breaking that tradition and starting to home 
school when we knew almost nobody who did so was not an easy transition. (A 
few years in a "Christian school" was the final factor that finally launched 
us on our 15 year homeschooling "career" as we searched the scriptures 
relative to our parental responsibilities!)    A much longer journey of over 
25 years lead us to shed many "church traditions" and brought us to the 
place where we are convinced of our responsibilities relative to relational 
Chrisatianity in the context of house churching.

Both our homeschooling tradition and our home churching tradition were very 
"difficult to come by" and thus would be very difficult to shed, simply 
because we have had to search scipture and buck a lot of pressure from 
others to come to those convictions. We are convinced that both are 
scripturally consistent.  But many of the traditional doctrines and 
practices we have had to shed over the years were those which we simply 
received from those we respected before us WITHOUT SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES 

You continued:"As to the topic in hand, it seems that you have a clear 
vision of what church as spoken in the Bible comprises. While I have skimmed 
repeated posts about three church meetings, etc - I am unclear about what a 
church in your clear vision comprises? Can church be anything but what your 
clear vision comprises? Can church be a bit more fluid in terms of function? 
While I appreciate the watchman character that you, Jonathan, David have 
been expressing, is there a place to allow? Allow/let God work differently 
than our visions? I thought Jonathan's initial rebuttal on this discussion 
was critical and David picked up on it also - any expressed views do not 
constitute control. Expressed views can and should be just that - expressed 
views which are then fit into another frame of reference. Church in Tronna 
versus church in Springville can be different things, can't they? Indeed, it 
is of interest to see what is being discussed here, but in that, can't 
differences be allowed? While I agree that any attempt or seeking for 
conformity to Truth is certainly the goal for each of us, God has us in 
different places and different growth positions."

Dear brother, personally, I am convinced that "church is church"  whether or 
not we as believers even realize it!  The church which is Christ's body is a 
reality revealed by God in scripture and every believer is a member in that 
body even when they do not know such a body exists!  But as they learn the 
truth of scripture concerning membership and ministry in the body, it will 
definitely affect the manner in which they relate to other members in that 

In like manner, the church of God in your community or mine was also a 
reality revealed by God in scripture before either one of us was aware that 
such a church existed. But as we learn that every child of God in our 
community is part of that church of God (absolutely nothing to do with 
denominational ties or "where we go to church") it also begins to change how 
we relate to other saints in our own neighbourhood!

In just the same way, the church in your house, the church in my house, or 
the church in the house of any child of God is a reality in ANY HOUSE where 
there are two or more believers in Jesus Christ.  But only as we learn the 
truth of scripture relative to nurturing relationships and ministering to 
one another (as we have opportunity Gal.6:10 to interact with and exhort one 
another) will this truth actually begin to affect and transform our 
relationships WHERE EVER we encounter other saints!

But church MEETINGS/GATHERINGS are a different story!
The gathering of the Body will only happen as THE ANGELS gather the elect 
together unto Christ at the last trump as Christ is returning to the earth 
and we are caught up to meet Him in the clouds as He descends.  (Matt.24:31; 
I Thess.4:13 to II Thess.2)  See "our gathering together unto Him"  II 

Gatherings of the church of God in any city only happen as those who are 
recognized LEADERS (apostles and or  elders) call the saints in that city 
together into one place.(Acts 6, 15, 19:9 and I Cor 14)

But gatherings of churches in houses take place only as we (INDIVIDUAL 
SAINTS) purpose "not to forsake the assembling of OURSELVES together."  

None of these churches are defined by ACTIVITIES, but rather by 
RELATIONSHIPS:  i.e. to Christ and other saints.  But churches (ekklesias or 
"called out companies") certainly are active and certainly do function!  I 
wholeheartedly agree with you that the functioning of churches IS A VERY 
FLUID THING!The functioning of the Body is very real even though we have 
never yet been gathered together!

The functioning of the church of God in Chicago, Illinois  will be very 
different from the functioning of the church of God in Norwich, Ontario.

And the functioning and ministry of saints in your home will also be unique 
and different from the functioning and ministry of saints in mine.

You see, true unity requires not only similarities but also a balancing of 
differences. The persons of the Godhead are similar in nature, power and 
attributes, but different in functions and responsibilities.

So too, God has designed marriage unions to have six features which balance 
similarities and differences: Such relationships are human, heterosexual, 
non-incestuous, non-adulterous, marital and monogamous .

Spouses in marriages which God joins are the same in 3 basic features: they 
are of the SAME SPECIES (human), they are both in the SAME CONDITION (not 
adulterers)and they are joined in the SAME UNION (monogamy).
But spouses in God-joined marriages are also different in 3 basic features: 
they are of DIFFERENT GENDERS(male and female), they come from DIFFERENT 
FAMILES (Smith and Jones), and have DIFFERENT ROLES to fulfil (he is her 
husband, she is his wife.)

The 6 basic aberations to this God ordained design for marriage are 
bestiality, sodomy, incest, adultery, harlotry and polygamy.

In a similar fashion , God has ordained that the church be characterized by 
unity in the spirit. (Ephesians 4)  There are 7 basic features in which all 
believers are the same: We are members in the same body, we are indwelt by 
the same spirit, we are called in the same hope, we have the same Lord, we 
have the same faith, have been baptized with the same baptism and have the 
same God and Father who is above, through and in us all.
But we also have different gifts, different ministries, different 
personalities, different nationalities, appreciation for different truths of 
scripture, and different assignments from our Lord.

Some aberations to God's design for His church are: unregenerate church 
membership, denominationalism, heresy, clerisy, idolatry, uniformity, 
legalism etc

A few years ago, as I began to appreciate God's truths of unity and 
diversity, I wrote a little song that helped me to express this truth:
UNITY SONG (Deut.6:4; Matt.19:5; Col.1:18)

Three Persons: The Father,The Son and Holy Spirit,
We worship, we praise you,The Lord our God is ONE LORD.
You're different yet similar, You're all together in ONE GODHEAD,
Different yet similar, You're all together in ONE.

A man leaves his parents and takes his wife as his partner,
God joins them together, they're no more twain but ONE FLESH.
They're different yet similar, they're joined together in ONE FAMILY
Different yet similar, they're joined together in ONE.

We Christians were sinners, redeemed by the blood of our Saviour,
Are members and Christ is the Head of the body, THE CHURCH.
We're different yet similar, we're joined together in ONE BODY,
Different yet similar, we're joined together in ONE.

You also wrote:"It just seems to me that in conveying ideas about a city 
church meeting, etc, the picture I see is typical instutional church again, 
perhaps not as well developed denominationally as we know today, but 
institutional church nonetheless. I dunno, that was the sense I took from 
some of what you wrote - and I don't know that I like it, that's all. 
Besides, in this corrupt generation, how and where is there any opportunity 
for this to flesh itself out?"

Excellent comments brother! If what I have sought to describe of a whole 
church gathering sounds like an IC, I have done a miserable job of 
describing it!  Let me try to clarify some clear distinctions between a 
whole church gathering and an institutional church meeting:
-A scriptural whole church gathering has no clergy/laity distinctions, nor 
is preference given to any special class of ministers. Any believing man in 
the city has opportunity to speak for the edification of the saints. But men 
are to be the vocal participants and women are to be silent.
-"The agenda" for whole church gatherings do not include many things that 
are common in IC gatherings...such  things as (1)an order of service that is 
set in stone before the gathering begins (2) one man who is "MC", (3) the 
taking up of an offering, (4) congregational tongues speaking, 
congregational praying, or congregational singing, (5) monologue 
sermonizing, (6) breaking of bread or communion,.
-The venue for a whole church gathering is not a building that is owned, or 
controlled by the church or a particular denomination. It is a facility that 
is used for other purposes. It may be a temple Acts 2:46, it may be a school 
Acts 19:9, it may be a facility that is owned by one of  the believers (a 
warehouse, an auditorium, a theater, a stadium) Romans 16:23, it could even 
be an open air gathering in a park, field or  forest.
-The hallmark of such a gathering is that unsaved people who may attend are 
convinced by the order that God is in you of a truth!
-A variety of purposes are fulfilled by different whole church gatherings: 
-instruction of new believers after mass conversions (Acts 2:46), dealing 
with specific problems relative to the care of saints in a particular city 
(Acts 6), Gospel testimony to the unconverted (Acts 2:47 and 19:9 etc), 
dealing with doctrinal disputes that have practical effects on the ministery 
and relationships of the saints. (Acts 15)
-There is no indication in scripture that such meetings were "opened or 
closed with prayer" as if the saints  entered and left the presence of the 
Lord when they gathered and dispersed!  New covenant saints have constant 
access to and, in fact, live in the holiest of all 24/7! (Heb 10:19-22, 

Trust these may help us all to see, to desire, and to pray that God would 
bring about the necessary transformation in us that will be necessary if we 
are ever to see such gatherings in our day!

Your brother in Christ,


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