[House Church Talk] Pattern or simply an adaptation?

Bruce Woodford bwood4d at hotmail.com
Sat Jan 24 13:16:25 EST 2004

Hi Glenn,

You responded to my e with the following:"So you are saying that really it 
is just a purely practical and logistical reason that we would follow a 
similar pattern to what the early church practiced as far as house to house 
meetings -- Because it best facilitates the things we are told to do -- such 
as the one-another commands?

So then... taking into account that a number of typical church practices are 
really adaptations and assimilations of pagan practice (and trying to remove 
these) is there any reason that other ways of gathering and meeting together 
(in addition to meeting in small intimate groups)... And other kinds of 
'ministries' are needed or at least not prohibited?"

I would say that universal principles in new covenant church practice are 
established first of all by direct commands/instructions and actual examples 
of the practice recorded in scripture. i.e. believers' baptism, breaking 
bread in remembrance of the Lord, uncovered heads of men and covered heads 
of women when praying or prophesying, praying, teaching, prophesying, 
shepherding, preaching the Gospel, etc.

Now the methods and means by which these things are accomplished are NOT 
commanded, but are recorded for our learning and example.  Other methods and 
means need not necessarily be rejected (i.e. the use of modern means of 
transportation or technology used in communication) but should be evaluated 
to see if their use violates or restricts or hinders true Biblical 
functions.  In my opinion, from personal participation in them, two examples 
of means or methods which are actually counter productive to nurturing 
ministry relationships among believers are:- the clergy/laity distinction 
and -the common "spectator sport" of "going to church" as non-active 

You continued:"I say this only because the pastor of our church is of the 
view that home groups are great... But he sees them as just another of the 
many core 'ministries' of the church, not as the primary kind of ministry. 
He constantly argues that if a very needy person who is dealing with some 
specific addiction or circumstance comes into a small group, that it would 
take away from the group to try and have to deal with their issues every 
week. He thinks that person should be directed to another 'ministry' in the 
church that deals with their specific issue (some kind of 'support 
group'type ministry)."

You might ask him, "What  do you see as the PRIMARY kind of ministry in the 
church? And why do you consider this to be so?"

If such a "needy person" as he describes comes to that primary ministry of 
the church, would they be ministered to?  Should not a ministry which truly 
meets needs, delivers from bondage, equips saints for effective ministry to 
others be the kind of ministry that we consider to be "primary"?  If these 
kinds of needs cannot be ministered to and people cannot find liberty from 
such bondages in those ministries which we call "primary", what are our 
criteria for determining "primary" ministries?

When people come together in truly open, self-sacrificing kinds of 
relationships, there is tremendous liberty and deliverance from bondage, 
addictions, strongholds etc is the result. So ONGOING, week after week after 
week dealings with the very same problem with no resolution is abnormal and 
out of character with the power of God to change lives!  But people can "go 
to church" week after week and year after year and never have ooportunity or 
liberty to even express the struggles they face, never be accepted for who 
they are, and never be ministered to so that they find deliverance!
They are required to behave in a certain way to be accepted and so very 
often, they do not have the liberty to even express their struggles for fear 
of rejection!

It is for these kinds of reasons and many others that I'm convinced that 
home gatherings are far more effective than any other for one anothering and 
equipping ministries.

Your brother in Christ,

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