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There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Ephesians 4:5

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Scientists now believe that there are more stars than grains of sand on the Earth's beaches. This rounds out to be about 200 galaxies for each person on Earth, by the way.

In the scriptures, God is said to call the stars out by name. Psalm 147:4. Frequent references are also made concerning God being the creator of the Heavens. Through his son Jesus Christ, of course.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26.

Does this awesome vastness increase your faith in Him? It works for me but let me attempt to link these thoughts to the matters at hand. When Christ sent his messengers out, prior to his departure, he reminded them that all power in heaven and earth belonged to him. Interesting to me is the fact the he did not explicitly command them to plant of start churches but rather to proclaim the gospel. The order here is natural because a person cannot truly belong to a church until he believes. Then his instincts will cause him to desire the fellowship with others - unless he is from North America where individualism prevails much of the time... 

Haha, I'm exaggerating a little....

may god give you his peace.

I have a house church child of god house church every Tuesday night services at 7pm. 108 9th st Niles Ohio come and be blessed

LivingTruth shared a discussion

J.H. Thornwell wrote more than a century ago:

"If the church could be aroused to a deeper sense of the glory that awaits her, she would enter with a warmer spirit into the struggles that are before her. Hope would inspire ardour. She would even now arise from the dust, and like the eagle plume her pinions for loftier flights than she has yet taken. What she wants, and what every individual Christian wants, is faith — faith in her sublime vocation, in her Divine resources, in the presence and efficacy of the Spirit that dwells in her — faith in the truth, faith in Jesus, and faith in God. With such a faith there would be no need to speculate about the future. That would speedily reveal itself."

librarian shared a discussion

The persecution of Christians in parts of the world is at near "genocide" levels, according to a report ordered by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The review, led by the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution. 

Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48146305

About 40 or so years ago, as a young lad, I would carefully examine each of the pieces of mail that came to our home. To this day I can recall the newsletters of the R.G. LeTourneau organization. Most of them had a large piece of earthmoving equipment prominently displayed in a black and white photograph - the sort of photo that would have captured the attention of any boy.

Wow. Every American is indebted to Mr. LeTourneau in that his factories supplied 70 percent of all heavy earthmoving equipment used by the Allied forces during World War II.

Here are a few short reviews of several books about him. Notice in the last review that he gave 90% of his income to Christian charities. In view of the fact that Jesus commended the widow that gave all she had, I sincerely believe that the subject is a little more complicated than: "We don't have to tithe anymore - that's the Old Testament."

What we can all agree upon, I hope, is: "The Lord loves a cheerful giver."

LeTourneau, R.G, A Picture Story on Industrial Chaplaincy, Zions Herald, March 14, 1945.

Depression-era businessman R.G. LeTourneau (1888-1969) understood the importance of stewarding one’s work and influence for the advancement of God’s kingdom. The earthmoving machinery entrepreneur said of his various factories, “We are seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and he adds all the rest.” LeTourneau’s goal was “to create an atmosphere that will be conducive to Christian living,” realizing that there cannot be any “respecting of persons” in the workplace. He recognized that from top to bottom, “as an industrialist, he ... cannot exist without the group.” Says this article’s intrigued author: “This is a revolutionary idea! People have used religion for centuries as a sort of ‘personal pleasure,’ but here is a down-to-earth plan that puts religion into the everyday living of mankind.” Note: No downloadable text or audio is available at this time.

R.G. LeTourneau: Moved by God to Move Men and Mountains, Rick Williams. Business Reform 2, no. 4 (July/August 2002).

R.G. LeTourneau (1888-1969) was mostly responsible for equipping the Allied invasion of Normandy with machinery during World War II. His life was changed by the realization that he could serve God as a businessman. LeTourneau’s first business went bankrupt, sending him into debt by $5,000, a large sum in his day. However, a pastor friend told him that God needed businessmen as well as pastors. Eventually he found a construction job and became successful. Amidst his success, LeTourneau remembered God’s faithfulness and gave 90 percent of his earnings to Christian endeavors. LeTourneau lived by the statement, “If you’re not serving the Lord, it proves you don’t love him; if you don’t love him, it proves you don’t know him.”

Mover of Men and Mountains: The Autobiography of R.G. LeTourneau, R.G. LeTourneau. Chicago: Moody Press, 1972.

This autobiography relates the story of how one entrepreneur used his extraordinary business skills and creativity to further the missionary work of the Great Commission and the cultural mandate to cultivate both the natural world and the dignity of human beings created in the image of God. An eminent 20th-century innovator in the world of manufacturing and construction, LeTourneau tithed 90 percent of his personal and business income to the Lord’s work, establishing a foundation and a liberal arts and technical college, as well as making significant contributions to expanding the work of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and Christian Business Men’s Committee. Especially helpful is his discussion of bearing a gospel witness to his employees not by instituting mandatory chapel programs or Christian-only hiring practices but, rather, by diligently promoting a biblical work ethic at every level of his operation. “In that kind of atmosphere your toughest roughneck is very apt to find Christ himself, and then you’ve got something.”

Randi Dryden shared a discussion

I am looking for a House Church in my area zip 77092, Near NW. Any meetings near me?

Sandy shared a discussion

Why do women constantly outnumber men in our churches? My experience has shown about two thirds. By that I mean 2 men for every 3 women.

We have prayer and share times. Most of the participants are consistently female. 

There must be a reason. In the scriptures such as the book of Acts, we see men and women.

    

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE MODERN CHURCH

Sometimes my heart breaks when I see the times we are living in and the effects upon believers all around me. In this post We are dealing with today an on going very real experience which is harming many believers.  Most of The denominations are dealing with the demonic attack which seeks to shut down the anointing in the gathering of believers and in worship. Instead of dealing with and overcoming these challenges, leadership many time caves in and agrees to quench the Holy Spirit' work during the gatherings. I note that following a small group circle their often is room for the Holy Spirit where in contrast in the corporate setting Jesus and His Spirit as in the Book of Revelation chapter three has been cast out of the church. Thus in our modern churches today we can see that they can do church without Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Clearly we see that Jesus is outside knocking appealing not to the leaders who have turn a deaf ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit through Jesus' calling, so rather Jesus calls to the individuals who might be respective enough to respond. Notice that this giant Mega church believes themselves to be in a spiritual condition that is completely contrary to the view of the HEAD OF THE CHURCH! Much of the American churches see themselves in this condition. So I have been witnessing the calling of Jesus upon the sensitive hearts toward His Spirit calling them back to an earlier and more inner personal revival of their hearts by the means of His outreaching grace toward a more intimate companionship with Him. As the Lord is drawing them out to see the spiritual futility and unfulfilling direction of the modern church's morphing of Christianity into another system center upon marketing, dismissing the core needs for believers to coming into a deeper walk and become disciple adheres and find a restoration of the image of Jesus in their lives, my focus directed by the Lord is to help guide each person back to see what the Scripture reveals as example of what the early church looked like, what and how did they have intimate fellowship with our Lord? I am located in the Midwest, and have begun a podcast, and broadcast seeking to talk about these topics in hope of awakening those lost in the maze of smoke and mirrors;  the substitution, and counterfeit brought about by the same spirits that seduced the Laodicean to remove Jesus and His Holy Spirit from their midst!    

Like it or not, ours is the age of 'social media'. 

Do you own or maintain an interesting web site? Are you a blogger? Do you have a youTube channel? Twitter? Instagram?

Tell others about it here. Here in the Links category of the Discussion Forum. And as many as possible, please give others a thumbs up. 

Let's support one another. More than ever before.

Jesus is Lord of all things - even the internet.

LivingTruth shared a discussion

Hello all. I am hoping for comments on something I have written. See below.

The End of the World?

Have you ever heard people say that the Bible contradicts itself? This was a statement that I often heard growing up by those who disliked what the Bible had to say about them! I am forever grateful to God that my mother, her family and her friends had a different view. When I was young I worked with an uncle who knew and loved God and who also loved the Scriptures. He studied the Bible every day and took special interest in the passages that people thought were contradictory. From him I learned the true meaning of many passages and realized that the same Holy Spirit Who inspired every part could not contradict Himself!

Many wonderful and godly individuals over the centuries have also believed that the Bible has a unified message. They have taken the time and resources they had to see how each passage and teaching would fit together into the whole picture. It was Paul who said he had not shunned to declare unto the people the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:27). He had special insights that even his fellow apostle Peter found difficult to understand! (2 Peter 3:16)

Not everyone has the patience or the willingness to learn about the whole counsel of God. It is easy to find a passage that excites us and to ignore others that might bring better balance to our understanding.

For the past 150 years or so, Christians have become more concerned that we are living in the "Last Days," that were spoken of in the Bible. We are more aware of natural disasters, crime, injustice and wars than ever before, due to advances in communication. This can heighten our anxiety and concern for the future and seem to confirm that we coming to the end of time. But allow me to let you in on a secret. This is nothing new. Many times over the last 2,000 years people have thought the end is near! There have been many great wars, earthquakes, famines, and plagues that have wiped out major populations in the distant past.

There is reason to believe that the Coming of Christ is near, but that can mean different things to different people. In keeping with the belief that the Bible does not contradict itself, I would like to present a different view than what you might have heard about the end. In my previous messages I have not taken a verse here and there, but have shown the consistent goal of God from the beginning. In the midst of judgments and corrections He has continued to demonstrate His love for His creation and his plan to rule it in righteousness, peace and joy through His Son Who gave His life as a sacrifice.

The work of our adversary the devil has tested those who believe in and follow God, but the testing only serves to strengthen us in the end. The forward movement of the Kingdom of God in the earth through men like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, the prophets of the Old and the apostles of the New Testament have resulted in the Gospel and its influence spreading throughout the world today. The bold confession of every born-again Christian is that Jesus Christ is Lord -- right now and always!

Jesus and the prophets and apostles have shown us a glorious future in the Kingdom of God. Every Christian is told to pray the Kingdom to come and for God's will to be done in earth as in heaven. But are these prayers destined to fail? According to some views of Bible prophecy it would seem so. Every view of the end of times is based upon certain passages of scripture. Each version tries to reconcile the passages that seem to disagree. I completely understand and respect the serious scholarship of other views. And yet, I find points of disagreement in everyone so far that I have studied.

The foundation is that God is sovereign, and that He has a plan that cannot fail. He has painted a clear picture in the scripture of that plan to bless all the families of the earth through Christ, the seed of Abraham. His reign begins in each heart and spreads outward from there, impacting every area of society. In the mean time there is a great battle going on in the spiritual realm. That battle is reflected in the horrible and devastatingly evil actions of those who resist Christ. The enemy knows his time is short and he will intensify his efforts.

This battle is depicted in the figurative, symbolic language in the writings of prophets like Daniel, Ezekiel and John in the Revelation. Jesus Himself made use of dramatic symbolic language to depict the fall of Jerusalem after the people rejected Him. Most of the dire warnings in the New Testament were directed at that generation, but all of us should take seriously every word.

At the same time each word has to fit into the big picture as well. A large area of misunderstanding has come from the older English translations. When Jesus spoke of the end of the world, the Greek word, "Aion," an age, or period of time was used. The end of the age of the Temple and the sacrificial system was coming to a close. Jesus was the true Lamb that took away the sin of the world! The end of that age fully came after His crucifixion and the sacrificial system ended in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In a sense, the older translation was correct for that world did come to an end!

Another passage that seems to contradict our optimistic understanding of the Kingdom of God is found in 2 Peter 3:3-13. He begins by warning that scoffers would deny the promise of Christ's coming. Then he reminds his readers that the world in Noah's day perished, being overflowed by water. The planet earth, however, was not destroyed! The word "world" in the Greek is according to Strong's dictionary: 

"kosmos-

orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration; by implication, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]):"

In fact the planet and the atmosphere were both preserved. Noah's family was saved by the very water that brought an end to mankind's evil activities.

Please bear with me here. We are simply attempting to show how the Bible does not contradict itself. Often we encounter highly symbolic language in Biblical prophecy. This appears to be one of those instances. His point is that the Day of the Lord will come! The end of the day of evil is sure! He continues:

2 Peter 3:7

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

KJV

The judgment is not against the planet or the sky, but against ungodly men and their habitation! In fact, the delay of His coming is because of the Lord's long-suffering and desire to see people repent so His creation can be blessed! His desire has always been to save the world! (John 3:16-17)

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

KJV

The elements will be burned up, along with the heavens and the earth. If the language here is figurative, then the fire, which is often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and even God as the consuming fire, could be figurative as well. He could be saying that the elemental principles of this world will be consumed in God's judgment. Just as in Noah's day, heaven and earth become made new!

This is a place wherein righteousness fully dwells!

Paul even uses the metaphor of the new creation in relationship to those who are "in Christ." But are believers physically crucified, killed or destroyed when they become a "New Creation" in Christ? (2 Corinthians 5:17) Of course not!

If the language is not figurative, then much of what we have read before would seem inconsistent. 

Genesis 1:26-28: God was pleased for humanity to bear His image, and blessed them to be fruitful, fill the earth and take dominion over it.

Genesis 3:15: After the fall, God promised that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent, indicating the restoration and triumph of Christ over sin.

Genesis 12:1-3: God called Abram out and promised to bless him, so that all families of the earth would be blessed through him.

Deuteronomy 18:15-18: Moses told of a prophet to come which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

1 Chronicles 17:1-14: God promised King David that He would raise up his son to reign forever.

Isaiah 7:14: A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, who would be Emmanuel, God With us.

Isaiah 9:6-7: A Son would be born, who would be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, and His kingdom would reign forever.

Isaiah 2:2-4: The nations will come to learn of God's ways and He will put an end to war.

Daniel 2:44-45: In the days of the Roman Empire, the Kingdom of God will be set up and begin to fill the earth.

Mark 1:14-15: Jesus declared the Good News of God to repent for the time of the Kingdom had come.

Matthew 28:18-20: Jesus claims all authority in heaven and earth, commanding his followers to disciple the nations.

Acts 1:8, 2:4, the disciples are given power by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to the whole earth.

Acts 28:23-31: Paul takes the message of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to Rome, which later becomes the center of Christianity.

1 Corinthians 12:3, Philippians 2:9-11: The Church confesses Jesus is Lord now and that one day every knee would bow and every tongue would also confess He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Paul the apostle states in Romans 8:16-22 that the whole creation is earnestly waiting for God's sons to be revealed, and is groaning and travailing in pain in anticipation of its deliverance into the glorious liberty of the children of God. If the language in 2 Peter 3 is not symbolic or figurative, then this groaning to be delivered from the bondage of corruption would be only answered by total destruction!

That would also mean that Christ came in the time foretold to establish His Kingdom on earth only so His subjects would be forced to abandon that which was to be obliterated. In answer to what they have always prayed, this kingdom came to earth but not for long. The meek would inherit a doomed earth. The nations would come up to be taught the ways of the Lord, end all the fighting and then see all the good accomplishments destroyed by a literal fire.

Even the book of the Revelation does not describe the total destruction of the universe. It does describe the defeat of Satan, the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to the earth, and the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah!

With all of our individual biases, there are bound to be mistakes in our interpretation of prophesy. The basic direction that Christ has given His people is not so complicated. We are to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. We are to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord, to shine as lights in the world. We are to live as the salt of the earth, and to pray for our leaders and our governments in order to live peaceably and freely share the Good News.

The knowledge that His success actually awaits us, empowers me personally to fulfill my part in His plan. How about you?





Regardless of what sort it is, do not stay in a church that is going nowhere and taking no one! Year after year, decade after decade. Just let the dead bury the dead. And have no fellowship with darkness.

Yes, this can sometimes be a hard choice because our first instinct is to want to see things turned around, improved, and fixed.

Here is a story of a couple who left their church years ago and started one themselves. Their original church, back in the 60's, did not allow blacks to join. So, off they went with their young friend.

The young man's name who wasn't allowed membership was Tony Evans. You may have heard of him as Dr. Tony Evans.

https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155803604420194&id=690895193&set=a.10151490186070194

librarian shared a discussion

Hi all. Today I would like to call your attention to a recent and provocative article about church size. It's borrowed from

Christianity Today magazine. Here's a few paragraphs for your perusal. Author Karl Vaters boldly declares:

No one in the New Testament cared about congregational size.

We know that because, while virtually every other aspect of church health is mentioned, attendance numbers are never even hinted at.

(Yes, some crowd sizes are mentioned in the Gospels and Acts, but those crowds weren’t churches. In fact, those figures were more like counting total conversions in a town than seeing one congregation grow while others are ignored.)

In the first century, faithful churches were encouraged and applauded, even if they were small and struggling. Yet some numerically-growing churches were criticized for becoming lukewarm as their success went to their heads.

In a hyper-growth culture, a church like Philadelphia might have been told to “get those numbers up or we’ll bring in someone who can” instead of “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Rev 3:8)

Meanwhile a large, growing church like Laodicea might have been holding church growth conferences, while we all ignored the underlying reality of “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev 3:17)

If it seems like I’m bashing the big church for being big, I’m not. And neither was John the Apostle.

John simply recognized a truth that is very easy to forget – that the size of a congregation has no direct correlation to their health or faithfulness. Numerical growth didn’t make Laodicea complacent any more than lack of numerical growth made Philadelphia unfaithful.

It Takes Our Eyes Off The Prize

What’s the prize? More people coming into a saving relationship with Jesus and being discipled.

That can happen in any size of church.

But when church size is the primary focus of church leadership, it becomes very easy to put all our eggs in the “bigger church” basket instead keeping our eyes on the bigger and more important aspects of overall kingdom growth.

Going back to the illustration of the town with one church growing while overall church attendance was dropping – what if some of that growth was at the cost of the smaller congregations? That’s not a stretch. It’s almost always the case.

We’re not just ignoring the small churches, we’re often promoting the growth of one congregation at the direct expense of others.

While we praise the growing church, we’re not just ignoring the small churches, we’re often promoting the growth of one congregation at the direct expense of others. Then we blame the shrinking church(es) instead of tackling the deeper issues.

Think Truly Bigger

As long as church growth keeps being about congregational size, these problems will not just persist, they will get worse.

There’s only one way out of this. We need to think bigger. Truly bigger.

Bigger than numerical growth.

Bigger than congregational size.

Bigger than attendance figures.

We need a renewed, Christ-honoring, cooperative approach to kingdom growth that ignores no one, includes everyone, and utilizes the gifts of every church, no matter their size.

Looking for a house church in the DFW, the closer to Denton the better

LivingTruth shared a discussion

A good friend in Tennessee gave me some books years ago that I greatly appreciated.  I would love to discuss this one with anyone.

Dan Beaty

There's A Church In Your House

And it meets ev'ry day.

Our lives make the text

As we live them each day.

While you do the small tasks

Which my fall to your lot,

You perform them for Christ,

And not one is forgot!

When a fam'ly is come

Then the Lord will be there;

For it pleases Him well

When you meet Him in prayer.

Once a fam'ly is saved,

And the Scripture is read,

You soon know you are one,

And that Christ is the Head!

As you pray, as you sing,

You don't wish then to roam

For the joy of your faith

And of sharing at home!

Every word that you say

Shows the faith that's inside-

There's a church in your house

When in Christ you abide.


     Katherine Ballard Anderson

A follower of Jesus Christ in the Omaha area.  Looking for organic, Spirit-led fellowship with fellow believers.

It would be great to see people describe some of their special moments or experiences in house churches - like those times when God is clearly using us to minister to each other. Please share!

My experiences of house churching (yes, I made it verb there) have revealed something lacking when it comes to music in this age.

Contemporary worship songs are almost entirely written for performance, not for groups of various sizes to sing with or without skilled musicians. So we have a generation of Christians who do not have a shared hymnal, if you will. Have you ever been in a social setting where someone could just start singing a hymn or chorus, and others would join in (and even harmonize) without any powerpoints or song books? It seems like those experiences are fewer and farther between. We are forgetting how to really sing together!

Our house church has just undertaken an effort to rediscover some of the choruses and scripture songs from the 70's and 80's and before - mainly because you have to go back that far to find songs that were written to be remembered and sung anywhere. They often include rounds and echo's that create harmonies even from the musically challenged. We have no guitars or instruments other than one small hand drum to keep us in rhythm. There is almost a look of surprise when we finish singing a song at how good it felt and sounded for such amateur singers to sing together.

Anyone else out there seeing this challenge and addressing it? 

This description is put forward by one of the church's members to provide a window into the life and function of this church in Greensboro/High Point, NC. As you will see below, there is no official process to ratify this description - since we are all free to share, describe, and invite people to our group as the Spirit leads us. That said, I believe this accurately reflects our current state as I have experienced it, or heard discussed within the group. I post this description as an article in this forum for anyone to interact or discuss, as well as for anyone local to our area to feel free to join us any time.

We are, so far, a group of about 6+ families who gather regularly on most Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights to "stir one another up toward love and good works" as one part of Christ's global family. We seem to have embraced three values that shape our gatherings and cause us to function like a family, rather than a corporation: open membership, shared responsibility, and equal authority. Here are some explanations for each value.

Open membership:
Membership always includes any and all of Christ's family who choose to participate (any who call on Jesus as the Christ). If you show up and are in Christ, you are in! 1 Cor 1:2, Eph 4:1-7, 1 John 5:1. Of course, the more frequent your participation, the more opportunity you have to impact and be impacted within the group.

Equal Authority:
All members have equal authority and importance under the ultimate authority of Christ alone, and we "submit to one another" for mutual accountability. As such, the gatherings are not a good place to hide - but rather to face and address together the raw truth of our walk with Christ in this world. Luke 22:24-30, Eph 5:21, 1 Peter 5:1-5, Phil 2:1-11

Shared Responsibility:
All members share equal responsibility for carrying out the many "one another" activities that are taught in the Scriptures, even though gifting varies from person to person and time to time as the Spirit leads us toward unity in Christ. Eph 4:11-16; 5:15:21, Gal 6:1-10, 1 Cor 14:26

These three values seem to have shaped our church so far in a number of ways...

A corporate structure to define the church is not desired or needed. Corporate structures require limited definitions of membership (to determine who gets to vote). They also require authority hierarchies to make operational decisions about corporate resources. But since we simply share our private resources as needed to facilitate our gatherings or other mutual endeavors, there are no corporate resources to govern. That does not say that "spin off" para-church corporations, such as a charitable organization to meet a particular ongoing need in the surrounding community (such as a soup kitchen or daycare), can't be created by various members of the church and others to efficiently pool and allocate resources to meet that need over time. But that would be separate from the core function and definition of the church family itself.

Staff positions are not desired, and are not needed. All the work is shared by all of us freely as the Spirit leads and gifts us. We are to meet one another's physical or financial needs as they arise and as we are able, equally true for those who take on the extra work of leadership. But that is very different from an employment contract, salary, or professional clergy. An important part of leading, actually, is keeping our "day jobs" to be an ongoing example of meeting the needs of others and of walking with Christ in the midst of life's financial demands. (See Paul's instructions to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:32-35.)

Leadership happens by willing example, initiative, and teaching - not by title, position, or pedigree. Even gifted leaders are equally accountable to everyone else as we all "submit to one another". The difference between a leader (elder, if you will) and members is a difference of degree - that is, the degree to which they take humble initiative and responsibility for the care and condition of others, as an example to follow.

Corporate ownership of properties or buildings are not desired, and are not needed. We meet in each other's homes so far. We are free to use other creative locations on occasion as desired (park? nursing home? restaurant?).

Large group weekly gatherings are not the goal. We have started with a habit of two gatherings per week (that most of us attend) for the purpose of smoother growth - let me explain. Our current thinking is that if our gatherings become too large for our homes, we will simply add additional days/times/locations as needed to spread us out a bit thinner. If most of us then stay in the habit of attending two of the gatherings per week, with the freedom to individually choose (each week) which two meetings to attend, then the gatherings can remain smaller, still overlap over time to keep people connected, and avoid the pain of "splitting" to stay intimate and manageable. (At least, this is the current, untested theory.) Ultimately though, I am confident we will follow the Lord's lead for numerical growth as the opportunity arises, and I'm sure we will place high value on keeping the core gatherings small, simple and intimate.

Meetings are not pre-choreographed by anyone, but some healthy patterns have emerged - patterns that we are all free to interrupt as the Spirit leads. There are usually free-flowing, overlapping times of song, teaching, discussion, sharing and prayer. We often share the bread and cup to remember and celebrate the Lord's death and resurrection (and all that it means for us). At some gatherings we share a meal. At the time of writing this, we currently lack any instrumentalists other than a djembe drum that keeps us on rhythm, so we are focussing on learning/relearning simpler choruses (mostly scripture songs) with rounds, echos, etc, to help us blend and harmonize our voices. It's far from professional, but so far we are really enjoying this. Our hope is that deeply learning simple choruses might enable us to sing together more spontaneously in various contexts (campfires, hikes, park, restaurant, etc). We also sing along to recorded music at times for the more complex/contemporary songs. Anyone can teach, pray, ask, share, sing, or lead in song as they are led. Some do so more frequently than others. Some prepare material ahead, but the most important preparation seems to be our walk in unity with Christ - which overflows into our meetings as we interact and respond dynamically to one another. The gifts vary, but everyone is equally necessary - and everyone is responsible for carrying out (in their own ways) all the "one another" teachings in the Scriptures.

Children and teens are encouraged to participate with the adults as equally important members of Christ's family, and we have discussed being open to addressing needs differently or even separately at times as the shape of groups change. We will likely revisit together frequently the needs of parents, children, and teens. So far, we have tried activities to engage the children on their level, sought input from the teens on issues relevant to them and their families or friends, encouraged youth/children to facilitate scripture discussions by prompting us through some generic questions, held separate teaching times with the teens, and more. Honestly, they often split off and just play when we outlast their attention spans. We are open, learning and adjusting in this area.

There are different theological backgrounds and perspectives within the group, and we are learning from and sharpening one another as we communicate with patience and grace, and as we search Scriptures together. We find this approach to be self-correcting as well as stretching. We often unearth our own baseless assumptions or reasonings that we were always taught, but were never encouraged to question. In a similar group in the past, one member asked what will keep the group from doctrinal error if they didn't adopt a doctrinal statement. Another member wisely answered, "YOU will!"

All that said, I think I represent the group well by saying that they/we would love to meet you, encourage you, stretch you, and be encouraged and stretched by you! You are welcome any time.

Let's join in prayer for the house churches around the world. Why? Because every means must be employed to spread the Good News and to serve others in our Lord's name. The hour is late!

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