Dan, that is an understatement. Actually, you were the regular painter for the governor's mansion in the capital of Ohio. Wow.
Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank. Proverbs 22.
Again, I wrote to the effect that I was unaware of any first century Christians going out to plant or start or organize or organize churches. Rather, IMHO, they sought first to preach the good news then to encourage the new converts to meet as the church or, if you will, as a church.
Yes, there is plenty said about planting and watering but it's related to the gospel seed - not to church formations or structures.
Again, I am fascinated that in reading the scriptures, there is _nothing_ about starting churches or planting churches. No one is referred to as a church planter. No one is told to do such.
This isn't just an insignificant detail or just semantics. The tremendous reality here is that Jesus himself will build his church. No one needs to start one or plant one because its already been done once and for all. He did it and did it right.
We thus read: Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Acts 11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.
** This is why the Roman Churches, which Paul said he had not yet visited were ALREADY in existence. Attendees at Pentecost just took the message back home. **
1 Cor. 11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye *come together not for the better, but for the worse.
1 Cor. 11:18 For first of all, when ye *come together in the church*, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
1Cor. 11:20 When ye *come together therefore into one place*, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
1Cor. 11:33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye *come together to eat, tarry one for another.
1Cor. 14:23 If therefore the whole church be *come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
1Cor. 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye *come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
(To this list could be added the many texts that speak of gathering together and gathering in Jesus' name and forsaking not the gathering together.)
Furthermore, if we were ordered to "start" churches, surely there would be minimum requirements or specific instructions as to what this would entail. Surely there would be some mention of a "core group" somewhere waiting to attain "real church" status. Most assuredly would someone, somewhere be referred to as a church planter.
Unfortunately, much house church literature is full of "church planting", "church planters" and of outsiders needing to come in to assist... One writer even boasted that the real church planters today were the ones trained by him. : )
The modern plan for "starting churches" is, I believe, from the same factory which gave us the sacraments, and priestly kinds of church leaders who had the sole right to "adminster" them. When they speak of starting churches what they mean is starting a catholic-type parish where everything will essentially be centered around the pastor, "officers", and the building.
Furthermore. It should also be noted that no one in the Biblical history is ever said to have "joined a church". WOW! This is because membership goes into effect at conversion.
I realize that this may just sound like technicalities or trivialities but I believe that we often put the cart before the horse in these pursuits. It is a bit like a woman who is in a turmoil about wanting a family but hasn't yet found a husband.
All of us desire the same thing - to see more conversions and to see Christians meeting as the Church. My question is "What does it take and who does it take?"
Sorry, but I cannot see in the scripture that every church had to resemble every other one in every aspect. Consider the synagogue, a prototype of the church. It was the natural outgrowth of the social needs of God's people. It was not commanded but rather organically adopted. Eventually it was endorsed by the Lord and his apostles. Yes or no?
I am in search of the lowest common denominator when it comes to the Kingdom's advancement strategy and meeting the needs of Christians to meet together. To add to God's prescription is to put myself in bondage and become a stumbling block to others.
This plan which I have proposed, of course, does not preclude a specialist or many specialists who could expedite matters either in person or via letters or email. One may construct a house or he may employ professional builders (or both).
Whatever you want to call them - church planters or apostles, etc - there just doesn't seem to be enough of them to go around. But, if one should happen to come along to assist that would be WONDERFUL.
In summary: 1. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. Assemble in His name. 3. Exercise your gifts for the good of others. 4. Proclaim Christ and let this wonderful cycle begin again.