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Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us that we may be saved.  Psalms 80:3

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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!

Many Chinese brothers (and sisters) are short in stature but these are very tall in conviction and courage. 

This is an unforgettable, haunting photo.

Beautiful timeless song. Beautifully sung.

librarian shared a discussion

"Religious freedom in China has really reached to the worst level that has not been seen since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution by Chairman Mao [Zedong] in the 1960s," says Bob Fu, a former house church pastor in China. Fu came to the U.S. to found China Aid to warn of the growing persecution in China. 

The picture that is shaping up is a highly controlled society with a personality cult. The control follows the pattern of other Marxist/Socialist/Communist countries, present and past. 

President Xi Jinping is the personality behind the cult. In the last 10 years, he has systemically restructured the government to put himself in permanent charge. 

Control is escalating by using modern technology. Cameras are installed in churches to record who attends. It is now a crime not to watch state television. 

As in Russia, the excuse for the crackdown is to "eliminate extremism." Detention camps have recently been constructed holding up to a million Uyghur Muslims in the western province of Xinjiang. Since the Christians, especially members of the unregistered "house" churches, are also considered "extremists" by the communist government, they are included in the government "elimination" efforts. 

Churches are now being forced to hang pictures of Xi beside crucifixes and sing communist anthems during service. In some places, children under 18 are forbidden to attend church and Bible camps are being closed. Bibles and other "illegal promotional materials" are being confiscated and burned. 

Authorities in some provinces are taking a harder line than others but the government has passed regulations directing the nation-wide shift toward less freedom. The emphasis is on forcing everyone to submit to the Communist Party and "Chinese" culture. And all rivals must be eliminated, including Christians. "Party members who have religious belief should have [be given] strengthened thought education," according to new government regulations released in February. 

Some brave pastors have tried to resist. The persecution has become worse since new government regulations were published. At least 250 Chinese pastors have signed a public statement against the regulations. It closed with: "For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses, —even the loss of our freedom and our lives." 

This stand could be costly. Witness the invasion of one church in Henan province: 50 officials stormed the service, beat the worshippers and confiscated most of the church property. One grabbed the microphone from the pastor, read a document declaring the church "illegitimate" and demanded the pastor sign it. He refused and was taken away. 

Some of the women attempted to video the attack and were beaten and kicked and their cell phones confiscated before they were taken into custody. Anyone who attempted to protect them was also beaten. 

"For the first time, people throughout China are saying 'NO!' to what the Communist party wants—control. Control over what they can do, what they can believe, where they can go, what they can say. It's yet another sign something is beginning to take shape here in China, the call for democracy! The call for freedom!" says Christopher Gregory of China Missions.

Decades ago the people of China chose Communism's hollow dream instead of the Bible. Now, millions there have discovered the truth and are willing to die for it —and some may have to...

from https://www.chick.com/battle-cry/article?id=china-churches-protest-government-crackdown

Glen Newman shared an article

Apostles: Train and then commission for ministry Prophets: Discern and confirm gifts in others. Intercede to see the plans and purposes of God. Evangelists: Win souls and turn them over to the pastors and teachers for discipleship . Pastors: Disciple and nurture the new believers. Teachers: Bring believers to maturity for the work of the ministry. Apostles: Close the circle by commissioning a new crop of believers into their place of ministry.

Besides these descriptions in simple terms the church has basically 3 functions beside worship and praising the Lord. 1. To win souls. 2. Make disciples. 3. Send out workers. Then it begins all over again with winning souls. Its simplistic but covers most of what we do. 

You can find more information in my book PASTORS MOVE OVER on amazon.com. 

Dear concerned friends. Thank you for visiting this site. I hope to have it completed in just a few more days. Yes, it looks like a simple site but actually it is not. Only simple to use.

Be thinking about what and how you might contribute. 

Take care.

   by Larry Crabb   

Why would a man redirect his life's work at its zenith? 

Two years ago, in an interview with Christianity Today, Larry Crabb, a Christian psychologist and best-selling author, announced, "In the end, all counseling—intentionally or not—deals with issues of sanctification. The primary context for healing, then, should be the Christian community, not the antiseptic world of a private-practice therapist." 

Put simply, Crabb has had a conversion experience, and his new thinking has direct implications for pastoral work. 

Crabb coined the term eldering to describe what he believes ought to go on in the local church between older, wiser members and younger, struggling men and women. He believes this interaction can often be more redemptive and healing than traditional psychotherapy. 

Leadership wanted to know what eldering looks like in the local church and how it affects the way pastors care for believers.

You've called for new ways that the church can help people change. What's wrong with the current approach?

Larry Crabb: Much of the church for too long has had a limited approach to helping people change. I would simply describe it, "Do what's right." 

The counseling community then came along and said, "No, there's something beneath people's outward problems that's all messed up." They came up with a model that perhaps simplistically I dub, "Fix what's wrong."

My understanding is that beneath all the damage, because of the New Covenant, there is something good that God has placed within us-his Spirit and a new heart. Rather than fixing what's wrong or doing what's right, we need to release what's good. 

A connection between elders and friends awakens within them what is powerful and good.

Are you really advocating that "eldering" can replace private-practice counseling?

There will always be a place for good therapists. But what they are doing is closer to what the Bible calls "shepherding" than what our culture calls "therapy." And that has implications. I envision a community of shepherds and friends with the power to address the underlying issues beneath most of what we call "psychological problems." But I now use the word "shepherding" more than "eldering." People thought I was talking about the business people of the church. They said, "I wouldn't go to the elders in my church." 

Can "shepherding" be programmed? 

I'm loathe to introduce programming too soon. In a Sunday school class I was teaching, I used an illustration from one of Henri Nouwen's books where he discusses one of his dark nights of the soul, what a psychologist might diagnose as "clinical depression." Nouwen talks about an older priest who would take Nouwen's head and pull it to his chest. The priest would hold it there in silent prayer for a length of time. That particular act, said Nouwen, expelled the demons of despair and would let him rise up with new vitality. 

A week or two later at church, an older gentleman was listening to a younger fellow tell about several miscarriages he and his wife had suffered. He was sharing emotionally about the pain of that. After class the older gentleman went up and took the young man's head and pulled it into his chest for a while. 

He meant well, and the younger man told me he was encouraged. But it's too easy to reduce a wonderful idea to a technique and expect it to work every time. In this case it was a good thing, but I don't want to reduce this mysterious work of the Spirit to "Here's what you do the next time this happens."

If shepherding can't be programmed, what's the first step in moving a church toward your model?

What's lacking most is belief that ordinary relationships have power that has not been released. There needs to be teaching that shepherding and friendship can reach deeply into people's souls. I'd love to see church mission statements include this. 

We can also ask the question, "What is the major message that somebody who visits our church for three months would get?"

Is this a church where the preacher is popular? Is this a church where you have a bunch of programs? Or, is this a church that believes the power of the Spirit can move quietly and deeply and profoundly between ordinary Christians as they relate?

complete article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/1997/spring/7l2037.html

Exciting news!

Today, the creators of this platform announced that they finally had a working product:

"Yesterday Alex T briefly announced the final release of the UNA 9. Indeed, after more than 3 years since of active development and testing; over 3 MILLION code additions in over 4000 commits; 1300 closed issues and 17 pre-release versions, we finally have the stable UNA 9."

Still, there are a number of fixes which must occur... Hang on. I believe it will be worth the wait.

LivingTruth shared a discussion

Hey guys, I thought I might share something I have been thinking about lately. Genesis begins with God's blessing to humanity to be fruitful and multiply in the earth. Matthew's Gospel ends with Christ's command to go in His authority and teach all nations to obey His commands. His message message was one of Good News of great joy which would be to all people! His Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit has come and we can enter into it today!

Yes there was an original sin, but also an original blessing! Christ ensured that we can still enjoy that blessing!