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In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7

7/25/21

I'm new to the website today and frankly confused. I don't see anywhere to find a house church in my area. Also, don't see anyway to connect with others who are in a house church to find support in starting one. Is there anyone--a moderator....or someone. It's nice to see the posted articles, but I do really want to find a house church fellowship in my area. Please see my profile to respond, thanks. Cyndi

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OK. The following are important and urgent words which I desire to live by. Furthermore, I believe that much of the sad shape of affairs in the West (church and state) are rooted in these same issues:

The most serious error in much of the current 'prophetic' teaching of today is the claim that the future of Christendom is to be read not in terms of revival and victory but of growing impotence and apostasy, and that the only hope of the world is that the Lord will by His visible coming and reign complete the task which He has so plainly entrusted to the church… 

This claim is pessimistic and defeatist. I hold it to be unscriptural. The language of the Great Commission is world-embracing... The duty of the church is to address herself to the achieving of this task in anticipation of her Lord's coming, and not expect Him to call her away to glory before her task in accomplished.

   from the Foreword by O.T. Allis in a book entitled Israel and the New Covenant by Roderick Campbell

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Thank you to those who replied. I still am thinking that I am missing something. I was raised in the baptist church and we were not particularly encouraged to get involved with "this world". 

I am questioning my views hopefully in light of the Bible.

A few friends have encouraged my son to run for a local office. I am wondering how to advise him as a christian.

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Churches have lost millions of congregants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Will they return?

With millions of people having stayed home from places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic, struggling congregations have one key question: How many of them will return?

As the pandemic recedes in the United States and in-person services resume, worries of a deepening slide in attendance are universal.

Some houses of worship won’t make it.

Smaller organizations with older congregations that struggled to adapt during the pandemic are in the greatest danger of a downward spiral from which they can’t recover, said the Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School and co-pastor of a church in Boston.

On the Maine coast, the pandemic proved to be the last straw for the 164-year-old Waldoboro United Methodist Church.

Even before COVID-19 swept the world, weekly attendance had dipped to 25 or 30 at the white-clapboard New England church that could hold several hundred worshippers. The number further dwindled to five or six before the final service was held Sunday, said the Rev. Gregory Foster.

The remaining congregants realized they couldn’t continue to maintain the structure, and decided to fold the tent, Foster said.

"We can’t entirely blame everything on COVID. But that was just the final blow. Some people have not been back at all," he said.

In Virginia, the Mount Clifton United Methodist Church experienced a similar fate. The church can seat more than 100 but the number of weekly worshippers dwindled to 10 to 15, even before the pandemic.

The small white church built on a hill in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1880s may be rented to another congregation, or it may be put up for sale.

"It’s a complicated picture overall, but the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back," said the Rev. Darlene Wilkins, who oversaw Mount Clifton. "It just became next to impossible to sustain."

In the United States, the latest challenge for places of worship comes against a backdrop of a decadeslong trend of a smaller share of the population identifying as religious.

It’s too early to know the full impact of the pandemic. Surveys do show signs of hopefulness — and also cause for concern.

About three-quarters of Americans who attended religious services in person at least monthly before the pandemic say they are likely to do so again in the next few weeks, according to a recent AP-NORC poll. That's up slightly from the about two-thirds who said in May 2020 that they would if they were allowed to do so. But 7% said they definitely won't be attending.

etc, etc

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We also live in Deltona. Are you still doing house church with your family?

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 W. Carl Ketcherside

The ideal of God for a kingdom composed entirely of priests is achieved in the relationship created by the new covenant. That which could not be accomplished at Mount Sinai has been accomplished at Mount Sion, where we received a kingdom which cannot be moved or shaken. Every child of God is a priest, everyone is now a minister.

In the Revelation letter John informs us of Jesus "who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father." (Rev.1.5,6) This one statement tells us of the motivation (love), the action (freed us), and the means (his blood), by which Jesus achieved his goal of founding a unique kingdom.

Because of the priestly nature of the kingdom, celestial voices are raised in this hymn of praise:

"Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals,

For thou wast slain and by thy blood didst redeem men for God

From every tribe and tongue and people and nation

And hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God." (Rev.5.9,10)

Let us examine the language of the Spirit. The terms "high priest" and "chief priest" are found 123 times in the new covenant scriptures. Of these occurrences, 113 directly or indirectly refer to the high priests or chief priest of Judaism.

The ten exceptions are all located in the epistle to the Hebrews and are direct references to our Lord Jesus Christ. They present him as the great high priest who was foreshadowed by the high priests under the law of Moses. Accordingly, there is not a hint in these occurrences of any priest in the kingdom of God, except our Lord himself.

The Greek word for priest is hiereus. The term "priest" is found 33 times in the new covenant scriptures. It refers to the Levitical priests 18 times. Of the fifteen remaining occurrences, 8 refer to Christ, 3 to Melchizedek, 1 to the pagan priest of Jupiter, and the other 3 to the entire membership of the community of saints, who are described as "a kingdom, even priests."

The word "priest" is never once applied to a special ministry or caste in the congregation of our Lord. No gospel preacher, pastor, elder, or deacon, was ever referred to as a priest in any distinctive sense; no such individual was a priest by right of office.

The word "priesthood" is found but six times in the new covenant scriptures. Four of these appearances are in one chapter (Hebrews 7). In every instance the four refer either to the Levitical priesthood or to that of our Lord. The other two instances are also found in one chapter. They designate the entire body of believers as "a holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2.5), and "a royal priesthood."(1 Peter 2.9)

Nothing is clearer than the fact that in the primitive Christian community there was no priesthood other than that of the Lord Jesus Christ and every one of his followers, who were to "offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable unto God." The special priesthood which is so prevalent in our day has no scriptural precedent under the rule of Jesus. It has been created by men and has arisen without divine warrent. It usurps the privileges and prerogatives which belong to all alike. It makes a pretentious claim to authority but it asserts a divine right without a word of divine writ to sustain it. God's magnificent plan for the ages culminates in every saint recognized as a real priest. Any attempt to promote a special priesthood clothed with special powers to minister in things pertaining unto God thwarts the divine purpose. It exists as an affront to the Great King and his humble and loyal subjects.

In spite of this we are faced with the fact that in our day the idea of a special priesthood to minister for and in behalf of other saints is so prevalent that a majority of believers have no concept of the people of God functioning in any other manner. Few indeed realize that they were ever intended to be priest, and their idea of priesthood has been so conditioned by the subservient role to which they are reconciled that they find it lubicrous to consider themselves as priests in any sense.

The danger of this lies in the fact that the kingdom of heaven is designed to be a kingdom of priests. It derives its nature fro a citizenry composed of priests. If we create a wholly different order in which the citizens disclaim any relationship as priests, there is a question as to whether it can be regarded as the kingdom of heaven or not. To what extent can we alter the fundamental constituency of the kingdom of heaven and still regard ourselves as composing it? Perhaps nothing is more important for our generation than a recapture of the royal priesthood.

This brings us to the place where we may well investigate another word - clergy. It is from the Greek kleeros which means "a lot, an inheritance." In the original it occurs thirteen times in the Scriptures. It is rendered "heritage"-1 time, "lot"-3 times, "lots"-5 times, and "part"-2 times. The word is never used to mark off a segment or portion of God's people from the rest in the new covenant scriptures. All who have been redeemed and have entered into Christ constitute the heritage (clergy) of God. He has not selected a special group to serve as his lot or inheritance.

This was not true under the legalistic regime created by the old covenant. Then God had a special inheritance, a clergy to act as his special functionaries. "At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi, to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to him, and to bless in his name to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, as the Lord your God said to him." (Deut.10.8,9)

Observe that here a special group was set apart, or ordained to minister unto God and to pronounce a blessing or benediction upon the remainder of the congregation in God's name. Under Judaism there was a distinction between the clergy and the laity. There were certain rituals reserved exclusively for the priests, or clergy, to perform. The people were not permitted to enter the sacred areas or to engage in the clerical functions.

Inasmuch as the Levitical priests constituted a special clergy to minister unto God, they were to be supported in their clerical duties by those in whose behalf they ministered. "The Levitical priests, that is all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings by fire to the Lord, and his rightful dues. They shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance as he promised them." (Deut.18.1,2)

Nothing is clearer than the fact that under 'the ministration of death" which was written and engrave in stones God created a clergy with certain sacerdotal functions. Those who composed it wore distinctive robes and stood between the people and God. But all such distinctions were rendered invalid by the cross of Christ.

We are not under law, but under grace. "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." We are under a better covenant based upon better promises. Under the reign of grace God no longer has a special tribe ordained as clergymen. Through grace every child of God is sanctified and anointed, set apart and ordained to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable unto him. We are all God's portion or inheritance in the world.

Every Christian is a clergyman in the only scriptural usage of the term. To create a special clergy is to lapse back into Judaism. It is easier to live under law than under grace. Law creates it special interpreters and judges, and the community can rest in their judgment and be relieved of personal responsibility. When problems arise men can "go up to the priest," and his clerical interpretation becomes the authorized guide. Yet it was from this very system Jesus died to deliver us. He made us free from all priestly and hierarchical domination.

It is impossible to create a special clergy without, by the same act, creating a laity. The word Laos from which we get 'laity" is found at least 141 times in the new covenant scriptures, wher it is translated "people."

In every instance when applied to the community of Christ it refers to the whole body of believers. It never refers to a group as distinguished from a priestly or ministerial class. This was not true under the legalistic covenant. There was always a careful line of distinction drawn between the priests (clergy) and the people (laity).

"And he (the high priest) shall make atonement for the priests (clergy) and for all the people (laity) of the assembly."(Lev.16.33) "These preparations having thus been made, the priests (clergy) go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people (laity)."(Heb.9.6,7)

The great difference under the new covenant is illustrated in one important verse. It affirms the priesthood of all believers and uses the term laos designate the same group. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people (laity), that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."(1 Peter 2.9)

This is a significant passage because it identifies the royal priesthood with God's laity. Every priest of God is one of his laity, every member of God's laity is a priest. Every child of God is his lot or inheritance through the blood of Jesus, therefore, all of God's children constitute his clergy. Since they also constitute his laity, there can be no distinction between clergy and laity in the kingdom of Christ.

It is worth noting that Peter declares that Christians are God's laity (people), "that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness." God's laity are not those to whom messages of God are brought. They are themselves the bringers of a message. The laity are not those who listen to a clergy declare the wonderful works of God; they are the clergy who do the declaring.

It is sad indeed to contemplate how far we have fallen away from God's ideal of the priestly citizenry. It is not uncommon to hear Christians excuse themselves for their ignorance or apathy with the words, "After all, I am just a layman." This is equivalent to saying "I am just one of God's people." The tragedy is that those who thus speak proceed to act is if they are not God's people.

The clergy are expected to engage in religious activities, to walk circumspectly, to employ proper language, to visit the sick and study the Bible. This is regarded as the field of clerical function. This is what the clergy is paid to do. Those who are "just laymen" live on a different plane. Their function is to go listen to the clergyman and pay his salary for performing a priestly role. But all of this is as far from God's program for the Christian life as the blood of Christ is from the blood of bulls and goats.

Just as any attempt to create a special clergy must result in a laity, so any attempt to create a distinctive laity must result in a special clergy. Sometimes men seek to avoid the implications of their philosophy by employing other terms to designate what they create. They frequently borrow scriptural terminology in the vain hope that a thing may be sanctified by calling a good name over it.

But we may designate the clergy system by whatever terms we will, borrowing the language of apostate ecclesiasticism, or "stealing the livery of heaven" in which to clothe it, yet the fact is that so long as the idea of a special ministerial caste exists, and the remainder of the saints are regarded as "the laity," that long we are nearer to Rome than to Jerusalem. And that long we are standing at a mount that can be touched rather than before Mount Sion.(CF: Heb.12.18-24)

Let us be very plain so there can be no ground for misunderstanding. We may call our clergyman "our minister," "pastor," or just plain "preacher," but if he occupies a place of prominence in the assembly of saints as the front man for the congregation, if he is the exclusive minister, by virtue of his office, "to declare the wonderful works of God," when the whole community comes together in one place, and if other saints are excluded from the opportunity by his very presence, we have a special clergyman. A preacher can be a clergyman as easily as a clergyman can be a preacher.

It is going to be very difficult to recover the abandoned ideal of the universal priesthood of believers. This is true for several reasons. The greatest deterrent is the bitter opposition to it by many who profess to be followers of Jesus. We have converted men to systems, structures and organizations. They have no real sense of vital relationship to Jesus as the head of a living organism. They are often lazy, indifferent and unconcerned. And many who never thought of fighting the devil will fight the thought of returning to the responsible role of priesthood. Too, we have been betrayed into measuring spiritual growth by numerical statistics. We have two criteria by which to judge our success - attendance and contributions. This may well be called 'the scholar-dollar' fallacy. It operates on the assumption that the greater the number in Sunday School and the greater the bank account the closer to heaven we are. Actually there may be little relationship between the number of dollars in the bank and the number of names in the Book of Life.

To abandon the clergy-oriented modern institution for the Spirit-filled community of saints in the first century is the last thing most people will consider. It is probable that the primitive community was more adapted to meaningful meetings in small homes, third floor walk-up tenements (as at Troas), or in catacombs and caves. Here those who were fighting for survival of a cause could come and bind up their wounds, share their experiences and exhort one another to shoulder the cross again. Their problem was not the institutional community image but how to survive individually until the morrow.

We must be realistic enough to recognize that we live in a modern world. There are many conditions in twentieth century America which were undreamed of in first century Palestine or Asia Minor. Religion has been institutionalized for many centuries. Millions who want to follow Jesus do not think of themselves as runners, pugilists or soldiers in a spiritual sense. References to such activities are regarded as portraying a quaint symbolism of a bygone era.

We are resigned to being spectators rather than participants. The action is to be carried out by trained professionals. We are the drama critics who sit in favored locations and observe the presentation without ever becoming really involved. We are like natives watching a battle from the hills whose special interests favor one side in the conflict, but who never move down into the fray.

It is evident that a priestly role involves service to God. A priest under the old covenant did not act by proxy. He was not a mere onlooker but an active sharer in the responsibilities pertaining to the temple. But this was only a step in the divine program which was to culminate in a universal priesthood of all believers.

Our tragedy is that we have been betrayed into going back to before the cross and reinstating the concept of priesthood which was a part of Judaism. We have again created a professional priesthood to minister in our behalf. We think of the pulpit as "a holy place" in "the sanctuary" where only those with special ordination or anointing may officiate.

In many cases those who enter the pulpit wear robes to distinguish them from the rest of the saints. They regard the speaker's stand as a "sacred desk" and pronouncements made from it may be uttered in a special "religious voice" adopted for the occasion.

The minister may develop a sense of importance as to his position and speak about "my elders," "my church," "my laymen." If he ever regards the body of believers as constituting a priesthood he regards himself as a sort of local high priest whose task is to correlate and be responsible for a ritual or liturgy by which men approach God through his leading or direction. This has tended to institutionalize the church and to eliminate the family feeling so essential to the maintenance of brotherly love under the fatherhood of God.

From time to time there have been movements sparked in the history of the Christian community to get rid of the clergy. John Milton led such an attempt in his day and directed a vitriolic attack. Unfortunately most of these ventures were as negative as they were antagonistic. They were anti-clerical and were directed toward the goal of reducing the clerics to what is called lay-status.

It would seem that a reverse approach would be more in keeping with God's purpose. Those who think of themselves as as "the laity" should be taught to regard themselves as "priests of the most high God," and should be equipped for the fulfillment of the priestly function required by the new covenant.

We must come to recognize that God's only sanctuary is the human heart consecrated and dedicated to the high calling of Christian service. In the economy of Christ, priest and sacrifice become one. Jesus offered himself, and it is written, "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb.10.10) As a part of the priesthood inaugurated through this universal sacrifice we also must "present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, as a spiritual service." (Romans 12.1)

Unfortunately, we have been betrayed into erecting temples and tabernacles in which we dedicate sanctuaries, and we tend to think of what we do in such special places as service to God. But all of this is pre-Christian and Judaistic in origin. It actually nullifies the power of the cross, while pampering our pride and salving the conscience. Temples require priests, vestments, liturgies, orders of service, and a great many other things wholly unknown to the new covenant. We have actually forsaken "the order of Melchizedek" for that of Aaron and Levi, and have reverted to "the law of a carnal commandment" in preference to "the power of an endless life."(Hebrews 7.16)

This does not mean that members of the royal priesthood should not assemble together. Indeed, the very epistle which says the most about priesthood specifically says we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. But the same passage tells us that the purpose of our convening should be to incite one another to love and to good works, and to encourage one another. (Hebrews 10.24,25) We do not meet to conduct a service to God, or to offer a ritualistic sacrifice. We are the sacrifice.

This means that wherever a child of God is, there God is in his sanctuary. If one works at a lathe in the shop, at a desk in the office, at a table in the laboratory, or at a counter in the store, he is God's priest in that place, and whatever he says or does must reflect the glory of God.

It is very difficult for one who works on an assembly line to see how the affixing of three nuts to their respective bolts can have any regal or priestly significance, but this is because we are not trained to see how God uses things to open up doors of ministry. Jesus took advantage of a well curb when he was tired to talk to one woman who was a social outcast, and through her ministered to a whole city. So priests of God can use coffee-breaks and lunch hours in our own day of industrialization.

One of the major differences between Judaism and the Christian community is that under the former the important thing was the place where the sacrifice was offered, while under the latter, place has lost significance. The true worshipper no longer thinks in terms of a particular site or city as "the place where men ought to worship" but in terms or spirit and reality.

Under the Levitical priesthood men had to go where the high priest was in order to sacrifice, but our high priest left heaven to come where men were, and by so doing he lifted worship from the drudgery of time and place and made it universal as to both. God can only be confined by what he has made, and never by anything which men have made. "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelt not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything."

It is a tremendous challenge which confronts us. We must undo the crystallizing trend of centuries, and turn back the tide of ecclesiasticism which has engulfed and overwhelmed the ideal of God. We must instill in the hearts of men a recognition of the placelessness of worship and universality of priesthood of the chosen generation comprising the citizenry of the holy nation. In short, we must restore to earth the dream of the prophets and the vision of the apostles. We must uncover the Word and discover the Way.

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Movement is a Jesus community based in the Fort Worth, TX area. We have no hierarchy (no leader), no staff, no building, and no formal liturgy. We meet each week for a meal and plan our weekly gathering online each week. Anyone looking for a place to ask questions, engage others, and explore their faith should reach out.

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Love this. Definitely worth sharing!

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This is the one minute elevator version... 

The story begins and ends with the glory of God - to the amazement of and benefit to all mankind, now and forever. He extends his love to us through Christ for his own glory. His name is love and love is what he does. 

His love motivates us to deny ourselves and to love others. So true it is that the Scriptures can say: "Whoever is born of God loves the brethren." What could be more natural? Love always desires the company or fellowship of it's object, be it one or more persons.

And what could be more natural and instinctive than to eat with and meet with other Christians in a domestic setting? Thus house church - a simple, scriptural, time-proven, low-cost arrangement for young and old.

House church is not an end in itself but rather a means the end that in all things Christ will have the pre-eminence in all things in both the spiritual and physical realms.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:46

Going up?

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Can someone please email me where this is? Hoffmansm@appstate.edu

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Supreme Court Blocks California’s Restrictions on In-home Religious Gatherings

The Supreme Court late Friday ruled against California, blocking the restrictions ban on in-home Bible studies and other religious gatherings.

The court’s narrow 5–4 ruling was in favor of a group of Santa Clara residents who asserted the restrictions violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

“Applicants are likely to succeed on the merits of their free exercise claim; they are irreparably harmed by the loss of free exercise rights ‘for even minimal periods of time’; the State has not shown that ‘public health would be imperiled’ by employing less restrictive measures,” an unsigned opinion of the court’s majority said in its opinion.

The ruling is the fifth time the nation’s highest court has overruled the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on California COVID-19 fueled restrictions, including a February ruling that saw the court grant a worshipper’s application asking for restrictions on in-person religious services be rolled back.

“It is unsurprising that such litigants are entitled to relief. California’s Blueprint System contains myriad exceptions and accommodations for comparable activities, thus requiring the application of strict scrutiny,” the majority wrote on Friday.

          by Zachary Stieber. Continued here.

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We had this playing at our wedding. 

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God is changing the Church, and that, in turn, will change the world. Millions of Christians around the world are aware of an imminent reformation of global proportions. They say, in effect: "Church as we know it is preventing Church as God wants it." A growing number of them are surprisingly hearing God say the very same things. There is a collective new awareness of age-old revelations, a corporate spiritual echo. In the following "15 Theses" I will summarize a part of this, and I am convinced that it reflects a part of what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church today. For some, it might be the proverbial fist-sized cloud on Elijah's sky. Others already feel the pouring rain.

1. Church is a Way of Life, not a series of religious meetings

Before they where called Christians, followers of Christ have been called "The Way". One of the reasons was, that they have literally found "the way to live." The nature of Church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritually extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, at the place where it counts most: in their homes.

2. Time to change the system

In aligning itself to the religious patterns of the day, the historic Orthodox Church after Constantine in the 4th century AD adopted a religious system which was in essence Old Testament, complete with priests, altar, a Christian temple (cathedral), frankincense and a Jewish, synagogue-style worship pattern. The Roman Catholic Church went on to canonize the system. Luther did reform the content of the gospel, but left the outer forms of "church" remarkably untouched; the Free-Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, the Salvation Army put it into a uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the superstructure. It is about time to do just that.

3. The Third Reformation.

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the Church through a reformation of theology. In the 18th century through movements like the Moravians there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure.

4. From Church-Houses to house-churches

Since New Testament times, there is no such thing as "a house of God". At the cost of his life, Stephen reminded unequivocally: God does not live in temples made by human hands. The Church is the people of God. The Church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. There, the people of God: ~Share their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, ~Have "meatings," that is, they eat when they meet, ~They often do not even hesitate to sell private property and share material and spiritual blessings, ~Teach each other in real-life situations how to obey God's word, dialogue - and not professor-style, ~Pray and prophesy with each other, baptize, `lose their face' and their ego by confessing their sins, ~Regaining a new corporate identity by experiencing love, acceptance and forgiveness.

5. The church has to become small in order to grow big

Most churches of today are simply too big to provide real fellowship. They have too often become "fellowships without fellowship." The New Testament Church was a mass of small groups, typically between 10 and 15 people. It grew not upward into big congregations between 20 and 300 people filling a cathedral and making real, mutual communication improbable. Instead, it multiplied "sidewards", like organic cells, once these groups reached around 15-20 people. Then, if possible, it drew all the Christians together into citywide celebrations, as with Solomon's Temple court in Jerusalem. The traditional congregational church as we know it is, statistically speaking, neither big nor beautiful, but rather a sad compromise, an overgrown house-church and an under-grown celebration, often missing the dynamics of both.

6. No church is led by a Pastor alone

The local church is not led by a Pastor, but fathered by an Elder, a local person of wisdom and reality. The local house-churches are then networked into a movement by the combination of elders and members of the so-called five-fold ministries (Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers) circulating "from house to house," whereby there is a special foundational role to play for the apostolic and prophetic ministries (Ephesians 2:20 and 4:11.12). A Pastor (shepherd) is a very necessary part of the whole team, but he cannot fulfill more than a part of the whole task of "equipping the saints for the ministry," and has to be complemented synergistically by the other four ministries in order to function properly.

7. The right pieces - fitted together in the wrong way

In doing a puzzle, we need to have the right original for the pieces, otherwise the final product, the whole picture, turns out wrong, and the individual pieces do not make much sense. This has happened to large parts of the Christian world: we have all the right pieces, but have fitted them together wrong, because of fear, tradition, religious jealousy and a power-and-control mentality. As water is found in three forms, ice, water and steam, the five ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-12, the Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists are also found today, but not always in the right forms and in the right places: they are often frozen to ice in the rigid system of institutionalized Christianity; they sometimes exist as clear water; or they have vanished like steam into the thin air of free-flying ministries and "independent" churches, accountable to no-one. As it is best to water flowers with the fluid version of water, these five equipping ministries will have to be transformed back into new, and at the same time age-old, forms, so that the whole spiritual organism can flourish and the individual "ministers" can find their proper role and place in the whole. That is one more reason why we need to return back to the Maker's original and blueprint for the Church.

8. God does not leave the Church in the hands of bureaucratic clergy

No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one professional "holy man" doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding some relatively passive religious consumers Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan religions, or at best from the Old Testament. The heavy professionalisation of the church since Constantine has now been a pervasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God artificially into laity and clergy. According to the New Testament (1 Timothy 2:5), "there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." God simply does not bless religious professionals to force themselves in-between people and God forever. The veil is torn, and God is allowing people to access Himself directly through Jesus Christ, the only Way. To enable the priesthood of all believers, the present system will have to change completely. Bureaucracy is the most dubious of all administrative systems, because it basically asks only two questions: yes or no. There is no room for spontaneity and humanity, no room for real life. This may be OK for politics and companies, but not the Church. God seems to be in the business of delivering His Church from a Babylonian captivity of religious bureaucrats and controlling spirits into the public domain, the hands of ordinary people made extraordinary by God, who, like in the old days, may still smell of fish, perfume and revolution.

9. Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity

The "Body of Christ" is a vivid description of an organic, not an organized, being. Church consists on its local level of a multitude of spiritual families, which are organically related to each other as a network, where the way the pieces are functioning together is an integral part of the message of the whole. What has become a maximum of organization with a minimum of organism, has to be changed into a minimum of organization to allow a maximum of organism. Too much organization has, like a straightjacket, often choked the organism for fear that something might go wrong. Fear is the opposite of faith, and not exactly a Christian virtue. Fear wants to control, faith can trust. Control, therefore, may be good, but trust is better. The Body of Christ is entrusted by God into the hands of steward-minded people with a supernatural charismatic gift to believe God that He is still in control, even if they are not. A development of trust-related regional and national networks, not a new arrangement of political ecumenism is necessary for organic forms of Christianity to reemerge.

10. From worshipping our worship to worshipping God

The image of much of contemporary Christianity can be summarized, a bit euphemistically, as holy people coming regularly to a holy place at a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual lead by a holy man dressed in holy clothes against a holy fee. Since this regular performance-oriented enterprise called "worship service" requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy to keep going, formalized and institutionalized patterns developed quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional 1-2 hour "worship service" is very resource-hungry but actually produces very little fruit in terms of discipling people, that is, in changed lives. Economically speaking, it might be a "high input and low output" structure. Traditionally, the desire to "worship in the right way" has led to much denominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. This not only ignores that Christians are called to "worship in truth and in spirit," not in cathedrals holding songbooks, but also ignores that most of life is informal, and so is Christianity as "the Way of Life." Do we need to change from being powerful actors to start "acting powerfully?"

11. Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing the church to the people

The church is changing back from being a Come-structure to being again a Go-structure. As one result, the Church needs to stop trying to bring people "into the church," and start bringing the Church to the people. The mission of the Church will never be accomplished just by adding to the existing structure; it will take nothing less than a mushrooming of the church through spontaneous multiplication of itself into areas of the population of the world, where Christ is not yet known.

12. Rediscovering the "Lord's Supper" to be a real supper with real food

Church tradition has managed to "celebrate the Lord's Supper" in a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the "Lord's Supper" was actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.

13. From denominations to city-wide celebrations

Jesus called a universal movement, and what came was a series of religious companies with global chains marketing their special brands of Christianity and competing with each other. Through this branding of Christianity most of Protestantism has, therefore, become politically insignificant and often more concerned with traditional specialties and religious infighting than with developing a collective testimony before the world. Jesus simply never asked people to organize themselves into denominations. In the early days of the Church, Christians had a dual identity: they were truly His church and vertically converted to God, and then organized themselves according to geography, that is, converting also horizontally to each other on earth. This means not only Christian neighbors organizing themselves into neighborhood or house-churches, where they share their lives locally, but Christians coming together as a collective identity as much as they can for citywide or regional celebrations expressing the corporateness of the Church of the city or region. Authenticity in the neighborhoods connected with a regional or citywide corporate identity will make the Church not only politically significant and spiritually convincing, but will allow a return to the biblical model of the City-Church.

14. Developing a persecution-proof spirit

They crucified Jesus, the Boss of all the Christians. Today, his followers are often more into titles, medals and social respectability, or, worst of all, they remain silent and are not worth being noticed at all. "Blessed are you when you are persecuted", says Jesus. Biblical Christianity is a healthy threat to pagan godlessness and sinfulness, a world overcome by greed, materialism, jealousy and any amount of demonic standards of ethics, sex, money and power. Contemporary Christianity in many countries is simply too harmless and polite to be worth persecuting. But as Christians again live out New Testament standards of life and, for example, call sin as sin, conversion or persecution has been, is and will be the natural reaction of the world. Instead of nesting comfortably in temporary zones of religious liberty, Christians will have to prepare to be again discovered as the main culprits against global humanism, the modern slavery of having to have fun and the outright worship of Self, the wrong centre of the universe. That is why Christians will and must feel the "repressive tolerance" of a world which has lost any absolutes and therefore refuses to recognize and obey its creator God with his absolute standards. Coupled with the growing ideologisation, privatization and spiritualisation of politics and economics, Christians will, sooner than most think, have their chance to stand happily accused in the company of Jesus. They need to prepare now for the future by developing a persecution-proof spirit and an even more persecution-proof structure.

15. The Church comes home

Where is the easiest place, say, for a man to be spiritual? Maybe again, is it hiding behind a big pulpit, dressed up in holy robes, preaching holy words to a faceless crowd and then disappearing into an office? And what is the most difficult, and therefore most meaningful, place for a man to be spiritual? At home, in the presence of his wife and children, where everything he does and says is automatically put through a spiritual litmus test against reality, where hypocrisy can be effectively weeded out and authenticity can grow. Much of Christianity has fled the family, often as a place of its own spiritual defeat, and then has organized artificial performances in sacred buildings far from the atmosphere of real life. As God is in the business of recapturing the homes, the church turns back to its roots, back to where it came from. It literally comes home, completing the circle of Church history at the end of world history.

As Christians of all walks of life, from all denominations and backgrounds, feel a clear echo in their spirit to what God's Spirit is saying to the Church, and start to hear globally in order to act locally, they begin to function again as one body. They organize themselves into neighborhood house-churches and meet in regional or city-celebrations. You are invited to become part of this movement and make your own contribution. Maybe your home, too, will become a house that changes the world.

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He's called the master of light. Dozens of his beloved paintings have biblical themes.

What or who do YOU weep over?

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Use our new Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/253298842843172 OR Discord link for YAI: https://discord.gg/sKaWz7U2WW and introduce yourself. Let's build together in Jesus name! You can download the Discord app from the App Store or online here: https://discord.com.. We are also now here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn3AeBK8J5EYDGK0tYTKOSw

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What does it mean for the Church to be the Body of Christ?

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Two female prophets: God speaks through Judith and Anna.

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The Anabaptist is a  ministry broadcasting from our home to yours.

In this time of pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions sharing reflections, devotions, poems, stories and prayers for people to use in their worship at home. 

Tune in to some silent worship here - 

https://anchor.fm/silentworship

Or check out some written posts here - 

http://dthministry.worthyofpraise.org/

You can also see some sermons by Mark MacLeod (my brother) at Whytes Causeway Baptist Church in Kirkcaldy on the feed below. 

This ministry does not aim to replace other churches or ministries, but in the spirit of Christian brotherhood to share or compliment them. 

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If you would be interested a modern technical (lengthy and scholarly) book about house churching, this may be the one for you. 

Granted, no books are necessary. But remember that Christ is Lord of all life and learning. And that he has ordained teachers in his church. So we can surely enjoy their work through the convenience of black and white print.

Caveats? It's a little pricey.

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Gregory Linton, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament, Johnson University, Knoxville, TN USA

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We finally got moved and look forward to more privacy beyond the city. Thanks David for helping us back onto the site.

New England churches are all but dead, so it seems. The house churches we found there were far apart and highly insulated. There was little interest in outreach-spiritual or physical. 

I see today that the freedom seekers in Hong Kong are mostly young-as young as 12. So I ask where are the committed young people in the a house church movement or whatever it's called. 

We liked that video here about optimistic prophecies and God being victorious in history. But the speakers were strikingly in their latter days themselves. I say it not to be insulting because no one can set their age. 

Young people: Please speak up.

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It is good to consider what the Lord teaches in scripture in comparison to our priorities in church life. Paul wrote to young Timothy:

2 Tim 2:22-26

22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.  (NIV)

There have been times in our life that church as we knew it became a distraction from the Lord Himself. It has been helpful to us to know that we can always seek out others who "call upon the Lord out of a pure heart."  Guess what? We have never been denied that kind of fellowship! It might never lead to a "church meeting" as such, but there is much comfort and joy in finding others who also want to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace while calling on the Lord.


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Our Nation's Capital and a great place for small groups.

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Sometime between AD 360 and 370, the Council of Laodicea banned Christian gatherings in private homes.

That's it...  But it is not comprehensive in it's scope. Since home meetings were never commanded in Scripture we cannot assume that every Christian met in a home setting prior to this law. (That's 'law' in quotes, of course.) But we can assume that many if not most did. 

Regardless, this edict can only be viewed as a disturbing development and as a infringement upon our liberty in Christ. 

Bureaucrats - they can be seen in every age and in every institution.

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Welcome! 

Our church does not really have a name, most of our members just call it group. We started out as a bible study several years ago, but as many of the traditional churches attended by our members have gone to digital services or restricted who can attend each week, now for many of us it is the only gathering we attend.  Our Group currently has ten members, not counting children, we are a mixed bunch, each with their different backgrounds and understanding, but we are all striving to be like the bereans and test everything to the scriptures. 

We currently meet every Tuesday night at 7:00 pm. Each week we pick a different topic to discuss, sometimes specific questions and other times just general themes.  Whoever is hosting acts as mediator ensuring that the conversation stays on topic and that passion doesn't overflow. Our meetings usually last two hours, with the main discussion ending at 9.

Please give me a call if you are interested in learning more. (570)8518301 There is a worldwide call back to the home where a church can thrive under the authority of the Lord. Breaking bread, forming relationships, and hopefully collectively growing closer to Christ.

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And this all Christians ought to know: That the title of clergy St. Peter gave to all God's people, till Pope Higinus and the succeeding prelates took it from them, appropriating that name to themselves and their priests only; and condemning the rest of God's inheritance to an injurious and alienate condition of laity, they separated from them by local partitions in churches, through their gross ignorance and pride imitating the old temple, and excluded the members of Christ...

For we have learned that the scornful term of laic, the consecrating of temples, carpets, and tablecloths, the railing in of a repugnant and contradictive mount Sinai in the gospel, as if the touch of a lay Christian, who is nevertheless God's living temple, could profane dead Judaisms, the exclusion of Christ's people from the offices of holy discipline through the pride of a usurping clergy causes the rest to have an unworthy and abject opinion of themselves, to approach to holy duties with a slavish fear and to unholy doings with a familiar boldness. For seeing such a wide and terrible distance between religious things and themselves, and that in respect of a wooden table and the perimeter of holy ground about it, a flagon pot and a linen corporal, the priest esteems their layships unhallowed and unclean, they fear religion with such a fear as loves not, and think the purity of the gospel too pure for them, and that any uncleanness is more suitable to their unconsecrated estate. 

But when every good Christian, thoroughly acquainted with all those glorious privileges of sanctification and adoption which render him more sacred than any dedicated altar or element, shall be restored to his right in the church, and not excluded from such place of spiritual governments his Christian abilities and his approved good life in the eye and testimony of the church shall prefer him to, this and nothing sooner will open his eyes to a wise and true valuation of himself, which is so requisite and high a point of Christianity, and will stir him up to walk worthy the honorable and grave employment wherewith God and the church hath dignified him; not fearing lest he should meet with some outward holy thing in religion which his lay touch or presence might profane, but lest something unholy from within his own heart should dishonor and profane in himself that priestly unction and clergy-right whereto Christ hath entitled him. 

Then would the congregation of the Lord soon recover the true likeness and visage of what she is indeed, a holy generation, a royal priesthood, a saintly communion, the household and city of God. And this I hold to be another considerable reason why the functions of church government ought to be free and open to any Christian man, though never so laic, if his capacity, his faith, and prudent demeanor commend him. And this the apostles warrant us to do. But the prelates object that this will bring profaneness into the church; to whom may be replied that none have brought that in more than their own irreligious courses, nor more driven holiness out of living into lifeless things.

John Milton, The Reason of Church Government, 1642. English poet and scholar who is best known for the epic poem Paradise Lost (1667).

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Hello dear friends in Christ, near and far.  

As much as possible we will adjust this site to no longer link to Big Tech. Yes, it is an almost impossible task but we will move toward that goal.

Reason? Big Tech no longer supports free speech and desires to track everyone's movements online. And then to secretly monetize the data which they have collected about you and me.

In the beginning, the whole idea of the internet was for each person to have an uncensored voice and that privacy would be guarded. 

Things have changed.

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This question was raised in a book entitled, "The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church." It is striking when you think about the emphasis Jesus placed on our attitudes and actions and the very lack of that emphasis found in most of the creeds.

It is not suggested that we should abandon the creeds, but what would happen if we took the sermon on the mount more seriously?

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