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Breaking Bread

July 30, 2008 3 comments

One of the best descriptions we can find of an early church gathering is found in Acts 20:7,11: And on the first day of the week, when we gathered to break bread, Paul began talking to them… when he had gone back up, and had broken bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while.

Unfortunately, this brief description of the early church is often overlooked. In some way this situation reminds me of the initial days of the Internet, when people used to say: “You can find that book at http://www. amazon. com”. Later they would shorten that and say: “www.amazon.com”. Now, of course, it is just: “amazon.com” (sometimes just: “ebay”, “google”, etc.). We intuitively know what the speaker is saying, having followed the progressions ourselves!

Herein is precisely our problem when we try to put together “snapshots” of the New Testament church and how they met and functioned from the NT. We were not there to live through the NT expansion of church life! When we read of it in the Scriptures, the apostolic authors cut short their communication when referring to the churches they have planted and watered. They are not trying to paint a picture of the way churches should meet, for how long, or their size, etc. but correct things that have gone awry or simply recount church history. This leads to us – nearly 2000 years later- paying little attention to vital church life clues! I often wonder if, over the centuries, we have “strained out the gnat, and swallowed the camel” in this regard…

In this snapshot from Acts 20, though, I find three key ingredients that have great significance for today.

1. They gathered together on the first day of the week…

As we know from history the Jewish day was from 6 pm to 6pm. The early church gathered together in the evening of the “first day” of the week, evidently a carry-over from the weekly rhythm/flow of the Old Testament Sabbath. St. John wrote that he was “caught up in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10), which most scholars today equate with the first day of the week.

I think we can assume then that the apostolic pattern then was to start churches that kept to a weekly flow of gathering together once a week. They also met in different ways throughout the week to have fellowship and pray but once a week they all met together. I think we have followed this practice quite well even to the present day!

2. They gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread…

Here you may be very surprised where we haven’t gotten the apostolic practice down quite so well. For Luke, writing in apostolic “dot.com shorthand”, just records that the church in Troas waited a whole week to gather together again and the reason they met was to break bread. Period!… not to worship, pray, give, fellowship, or to listen to a sermon!! How can this be? “They meet to eat!??!” Incredible!

“ They did not think that religion was meant only for Sundays, and for what men now-a-days call the ‘House of God’. Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord’s Supper that to this day the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they stopped eating their common meals, and when they began eating the Supper of the Lord.” (C. H. Spurgeon, 1874)

What was unmistakably a big part of the early church lifestyle has become a mere “token practice” in our day, completely devoid of the very setting that would make it meaningful!

“To simply explain ‘the breaking of bread’ as ‘the Holy Communion’ is to pervert the plain meaning of words, and to mar the picture of family life, which the text places before us as the ideal of the early believers”. (Page)

3. They gathered together in homes and talked with each other…

Although Paul was to leave the next day for a very long time and spoke into the wee hours (so long that he put the young man Eutychus fast asleep), this should not be considered the norm for a first century home gathering. What is more, the words “talked to them” (which the KJV regrettably translated “preached unto them”) is dialegomai in the Greek, from which we get our English word dialogue. A synonym for dialogue is an exchange of ideas! The great apostle Paul talked, but then they asked questions, Paul talked some more, others talked, they all sang and prayed, they ate food and broke bread. This same Greek word is used of the disciples who “discussed with one another” other about who would be the greatest (Mk 9). Clearly they weren’t “preaching unto” each other!

Without a doubt, we know that God gave teachers to the Body (Eph 4:11) and that the elders were called to teach (I Tim 3), but we also must practice the art of “When you assemble, each one has a hymn, a teaching…” (1 Cor 14:26)

So, where does this leave us now?

If we want to be Biblically-oriented, orthodox believers we need to look afresh at every description of NT church gatherings and try our best to reproduce it today! This obviously doesn’t mean we need to speak Greek or wear robes and sandals, BUT we must do that which reproduces church more like a family gathering than an institutional one. As one house church planter has observed:

“Size is the real issue. The church should [have]… more participation, closer interaction, more accountability, more commitment and closer relationships.” (Dick Scoggins, fcpt.org)

Yours for the Least in the Kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Africa?

July 28, 2008 Leave a comment

Certainly there is still much suffering and poverty in the world but nothing compares to the magnitude in sub-Sahara Africa. (See attached picture showing the Human Development Index 2007 created by the UN to measure poverty. Red and dark red are the least developed.)

If you take the whole globe and shake it until the “poorest of the poor“ nations drop out the bottom, the first 25 nations shaken out would all be in Africa!

They are: Uganda (25), Gambia, Senegal, Eritrea, Nigeria, Tanzania, Guinea, Rwanda, Angola, Benin, Malawi, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Chad, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Mali, Niger, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, (Somalia and Liberia should be on this list but are war-torn and unable to be monitored!)

If you take the “Bottom Billion” of humanity in terms of health care, longevity, economic ability, etc. 700 million of those inhabitants live in Africa. Economists write now of the “new third world”. It’s called sub-Sahara Africa. China and India no longer “qualify”.

Why are millions still dying in Africa every year?

“More people [10 million people] die every year of causes related to hunger and malnutrition than the total number who die of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.” James Morris, chief executive of the U.N. World Food Programme.

This is the critical question!

For months as Maria and I have prayed about this “decades long tragedy” we have come to a word we feel is from the Lord: “the answers are all in the Gospels”. We believe that there are principles for poverty and generosity that still need to be uncovered and unpacked for Africa and the West.

Jesus’ life and teaching addresses poverty and giving in numerous cases. I would like to bring up just two examples from the Gospels.

1. In the parable of the Good Samaritan – to prove who is my neighbor – a man gets beaten and robbed by thieves and others passed by “on the other side”. A Samaritan was moved with compassion, however, and bandaged the injured man’s wounds and helped him with his own donkey and his personal finances. (Luke10)

Moral of the story: “Loving your neighbor will cost us.”

2. In the story of the Widow’s Mite, Jesus shows that Kingdom economy is not relative to the size of the offering but the sacrifice. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

Is there not a principle here for the West and for Africa?

Where do we go from here?

We believe the answer is a two-handed approach. Using homegrown, piecemeal solutions for the practical side and a re-examining of the Gospel for spiritual breakthroughs.

Already some of you are asking if we are going out with an organization, etc. The answer at this time is no. We don’t sense we are to be sent out by an NGO or some type of agency but simply go as “fellow believers” who want to do our part amongst the poor in Africa.

Others have asked about supporting us financially.

If you would like to participate financially with us, I have set up an account where you can make on-line Donations at my Burning Bush Web Design web site. You can pay with Credit Cards or PayPal. You just need to click on the “Make A Donation” icon on my website and then enter your donation amount and click Update Total on the PayPal page. These are not tax-deductible as we are not a 501c3.

We do feel quite strongly that donations need to be given as the Spirit of God leads! Since we are going into a situation of potential greed, abuse, and harmful habit patterns with money, we don’t want to carry in any extra “baggage”.

“Western money continues to make the national church dependent on the West. It creates a sense of rivalry, greed and competition. It often robs the national church of its natural potential. When the easy money from the West is available, very few want to explore indigenous ways of fund raising.” Atul Aghamkar

If you want to stay connected with us in this journey let us know! I will keep you on the mailing list!!

Yours for the Least in the Kingdom,

Jeff and Maria

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Jeff and Maria Gilbertson
2434 10th Ave
Chetek, WI 54728

(715) 859-6246

Website: Burning Bush Web Design

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Dear Friends and Fellow Bloggers.

July 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Maria and I have been sitting on some “new news” for sometime now and wanted to slowly introduce the subject. We sense the Lord leading us back to the mission field… to work amongst the poorest of the poor in Africa.

I think this is in many ways a continuation of what Christ did in us and through us during our years in Hungary and then, more clearly, later in Tajikistan.

Let me give you a few details of that!

HUNGARY:

At the time we moved to Hungary in 1990 we were one of only 2 YWAM families living and working in the Eastern bloc. Communism had been the “great evil” for decades and had brought destruction and fear to millions. In the grand scheme of the Kingdom it was time to be in the Eastern bloc countries but most people were too far removed from there to actually see a way to do it.

For us it what a simple step from living in Vienna, Austria to travel east about 3 hours by car and live in Budapest, Hungary. It seems that God often has us at the forefront of new territories or new movements. We have been told that our ministry is like that of John the Baptist: “a voice in the desert preparing the Way of the Lord”.

Many in our own mission and even top leaders were so surprised to find that we could move in! Some came for a visit and wondered if our telephones were bugged or if we could find enough food to eat, etc. By the summer of 1992 we sensed that our time of being “a voice for the post-Communist countries” was coming to an end. This was brought clear to me one sunny day as Maria and I and Patricia strolled along the walking street in downtown Budapest and were approached by German “tourists” speaking German and handing out Christian tracts and witnessing as freely as any place on earth!

TAJIKISTAN:

Years later as we headed off to Tajikistan in 2000 we had to deal with another “Iron Curtain”. This one was built up by 100’s of years of tradition in how we “do church” overseas. We did not see it right away but God again would use us again as a “voice in the wilderness”. Working amongst the Muslims and the poor in Tajikistan we felt so compelled to shake off “church-as-we-know-it” and embrace the house church / simple church movement.

At that time, we new of no one who was suggesting something akin to house churches in missionary work but we knew from God speaking to us that this was the way forward. We have spent the past 8 years fully involved in this work.

Now it seems as if that “voice” is no longer need as strongly as in the past. The house church/simple church movement is being recognized by many leaders, in and out of the church, as a new wine skin to be reckoned with and is growing healthy roots the world over. I still fell as though many (most?) house churches still carry too much of the “old church system” DNA but I can’t get stuck there.

Sub-Sahara Africa

Our call, as we see it now, is to be a voice for the struggles of the poorest of the poor in Africa. We see our task as “enabling local Africans to find local solutions to local problems”. I hope to be on the ground in Africa in 6 months and scouting out the land, maybe with one of my older sons!! We are targeting the sub-Sahara countries, but not necessarily war torn and in the midst of civil war (like Somalia).

What really ignited my thinking of how we could help in such a huge area like “poverty in Africa” came from a book I read lately by William Easterly – The White Man’s Burden “Why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good”. I sent an excerpt sometime ago and a link to the 1st chapter on this blog.

After reading this book and exchanging a few e-mails with the author, I saw the way forward in helping the poorest in Africa that I had not seen before. He convinced me in the “piecemeal, home grown, local solutions for local questions, ripple effect approach”. Using trial and error for Africans solving their own problems with minimal foreign aid or influence. (see attached picture of a pot-in-pot system that allows produce to last longer: from 3 days to 3 weeks. Thus making a small ripple effect on the local community for good.)

Easterly also writes convincingly that the other approach (UN, World Bank, IMF ) is not working and hasn’t in 50 years. What he calls “the big plan”, top down, “expert driven”, the sexy Bono/Angelina Jolie approach, etc.

Anyways, we would love to dialogue / process with you on our going forward. I felt the Lord lead me to challenge others to go to Africa as well and to go “2 by 2 into the 20 poorest nations for 3 year terms” using the principles from the White Man’s Burden as a foundational world-view, plus of course the Bible!!

We are waiting on the Lord for more and more confirmation. I am quite certain that it is “Africa Now!” for us and that the White Man’s Burden (what Tom Sine calls “the culture of privilege”) is the next institution that will be confronted by the spirit of God and brought down to be replaced by something more simpler, more liberating, more like Jesus!!

We hope to hear from you again. I intend to write the second part of this vision soon and explain why Africa and where do we go from here?

Yours for the least on the Kingdom,

Jeff and Maria

P.S. One important caveat remains: Those we hope to see go with us have to be in their Jubilee years: 50 years of age (plus or minus 5 years!)

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Strategic Giving: “An Urgent call for fiscal responsibility in the mission fields of the 10/40 Window”.

July 23, 2008 2 comments

I have wanted for some time to write about the tragic consequences of “uninformed giving” to missions, especially in the poorest countries on earth located in the 10/40 Window. In our generosity and compassion, we can inadvertently cause unimaginable chaos and pain.

How’s that you ask? Consider the following quotes:

“Westerners who do the funding have the best of intentions. But reliance on foreign funding does not empower an indigenous leader. Rather, it makes him an object of suspicion. You may not like that perception. But you’ll get nowhere if you try to ignore it.” John Haggai

“Missions thus is increasingly driven by a response to poverty rather than by an understanding of lostness.The American response, inbred by a pragmatic heritage, is to naively cast small doses of money to new converts to help and encourage: local preachers are quickly put on American salaries, service ministries created which can be maintained only by Western economic help, and Western-style training institutions developed. Money then becomes the tool by which Western control is superimposed over missions churches.” Gailyn Van Rheenen

I have no desire in this article to be sensational or to seek a confrontation with mission agencies but I seek rather to prepare the church, especially the global house church movement to “give strategically” to poor countries. I am convinced that soon the house church movement will awaken from her “giving phobia”, and will have untold millions at her disposal: free of building projects, paying salaries and utilities, the house church movement will be able to lead the way on the subject of giving and generosity.

We desperately need to “think and pray” long and hard on how to be involved financially in “preaching the gospel to all nations’.

The Death of a Young Tajik Believer

Our family lived through a tragic incident in the early 2000’s in Tajikistan. The backdrop to this situation is common in many “undeveloped nations”:

e.g. Western Christians enter the nation to preach the Gospel and need a “valid reason” for living in that country. Many times missionaries will focus on the obvious physical needs of the country – clean water, health care, disaster relief, development, etc. In and of themselves, these are all valid reasons but they bring one “problem” with them. The need for an infrastructure built from Western capital.

In Tajikistan it was no different.

One mission agency in Tajikistan developed a program to provide young boys, many of them orphans, skills for learning a job. To make things run they needed outside capital included machinery, tools, office space and housing. In the course of providing these needs a very large sum of money was sent over to Tajikistan and kept in the office safe. Word got out about this money (either through the boys or the local office staff) and it was stolen.

Regrettably, on the night it was stolen a young Tajik believer from another city just happened to need a ‘bed for the night’. He was due to leave for his home in the morning. Tragically, he was awoken in the night by the thieves and killed. He was sleeping in the office where the safe was located. The thieves themselves were later caught and executed.

When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough

There is a helpful axiom that says

“If you only have a hammer in your toolbox, then every problem you encounter is a nail.”

In the Western world we only have a checkbook in our toolbox, so all the problems we encounter require money. However, we desperately need rock solid, Biblical principles, put together by proven ministries over the course of many years.

For example, a principle provided for us by Glenn Penner from his excellent paper Dependency: When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough is:

“When aid is needed, resources should be sought in as close of geographical proximity as possible.”

We in the global house church movement are sitting on a powder keg of finances that will be available to release into the kingdom of God to penetrate into the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist worlds.

The question is will be ready for the task? Let’s think BEFORE we act so as not to make the same old mistakes our “forefathers” did.

How Shall We Then Give?

The main principle that Maria and I hold to is this: the best giving is done by those living closest to the need.

We see this as the heartbeat of Jesus’ ministry with His disciples: “They do not need to go away: you give them something to eat!” (Mtt 14) The disciples could only come up with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Not too impressive with 5000 hungry mouths! But here is where we err, hoping to provide through our strength (financial might and sheer numbers) and not in the miracle working power of Jesus.

In actual fact, the disciples were quite slow to get the message of Jesus’ miraculous provision, as just a few days or weeks later they where faced with the task of feeding of the 4000: “Where will anyone be able to find enough to satisfy these men with bread here in a desolate place?”

They had forgotten WHO is the real provider! Could it be that because we don’t bring the miraculous to the mission field we end up bring the money?

Can I say it again: “those closest to the problem are best suited to find the answer”. That is a Starfish principle if I ever read one!!

Is there a need to support national workers/ministries? Yes! And the best people to give to this need are the local people themselves. Not some “rich” Westerner living 1000’s of mile away. (BTW, the poorest person in America is extremely rich in the eyes of most people living in the 10/40 Window).

Are there huge developmental needs? Yes! And, once again, the best people to give to this need are the local people themselves.

Consider this quote from well-known Christian researcher David Barrett: “If African Christians gave just 2% of their income, the church could pay all its bills.”

“Western money continues to make the national church dependent on the West. It creates a sense of rivalry, greed and competition. It often robs the national church of its natural potential. When the easy money from the West is available, very few want to explore indigenous ways of fund raising.”
Atul Aghamkar

Of course, there are times when the physical situation is so catastrophic that giving from far away is not only the right thing to do but also the best. (Think back to the Tsunami of 2004) In the NT we see that the churches Paul planted gave money to meet needs of the “mother church” in Jerusalem because of the famine. But this was a one-time deal it appears and not a steady practice.

Yours for the least in the kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

P.S. What do I recommend?

My first thoughts are that one of the best things we can do is find out ‘local problems’ and help solve them. ‘Loving your neighbor’ type things like we see with the Good Samaritan parable. In the Rich Man and Lazarus parable the poor man lay at his gate!! He was not being judged for not helping 1000’s of miles away.

Secondly, when there is more to give, we should give as the Holy Spirit leads! I suggest to give to people/ministries who are taking the ‘mustard seed’ approach: Little changes that have a ripple effect. I am attaching a picture that shows what homegrown, piecemeal, ripple effect change can look like. It does not take lots and lots of money. Here is the link: http://other90.cooperhewitt.org/Design/pot-in-pot-cooler

Blessings.

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“Church Planting Among the Nations” by Victor Choudhrie

July 11, 2008 Leave a comment

For this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:16-18 NASB)

The Lord Jesus did not instruct Paul to just go and give a well polished Sunday sermon or do a healing crusade or have a convention [conference] or broadcast a message or show a Jesus film because, by themselves, they do not result in churches being planted. Despite many astronomical claims, these efforts do not produce much “fruit that remains”. (John 15) None of the above things are wrong, but church planting is not a haphazard series of events but a rather well-planned, goal-driven process, which results in multiplying the church planting movement.

Sadly, we Christians are expert “Event Managers” and need to change into “Process Managers”.

Jesus gave Paul the whole process: to open their eyes of the unbelievers, to bring them form darkness into light and from the power of Satan to God, and to enable them to receive forgiveness of sins and become inheritors of the Kingdom. Jesus gave very specific instructions on church planting. He sent his seventy disciples two by two to find the “person of peace”, live and eat there, conduct and in-house healing and deliverance ministry, make disciples, baptize, and plant a multiplying church. (Luke 10: 1-9)

We should do whatever it takes to saturate our city with rapidly multiplying churches. When a child learns the Alphabet, his goal is to learn all the way to Z. This “Z thinking” is essential in church planting so that we have the aims, objectives, goals, and methodology worked out clearly before we begin in order to avoid failure and disappointment.

Just like the permanent fruit of an apple tree is another apple tree, similarly, the fruit of the church is not just a new convert but a new church. Without a well-planned and systematic approach for saturation church planting of the city, we might as well be operating a religious treadmill that goes nowhere.

Victor Choudhrie The Prayer Warrior (English Edition 2003)

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Is Africa Stuck in a Poverty Trap?

July 7, 2008 1 comment

During the past six months or so I have been searching the question about the poor and needy in the Muslim world, especially in Africa. One book that really grabbed me was:

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, by William Easterly.

In this book Easterly, a Professor of Economics at New York University, lays out a simple strategy of how to really help Africa. In a word it is the “Piece-Meal Approach”. His advice is to find local solutions for local questions, one-at-a-time, that will heal Africa’s depleted economy and save the lives of children.

I urge you to give a listen to his message at:

http://www.bigthink.com/business-economics/663

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5 Signs of a Healthy Church

July 4, 2008 Leave a comment

In this e-epistle I would like to suggest five signs that point us to a vision of what the New Testament church looked like 2000 years ago. I believe that we can measure for ourselves – for better or for worse – against these signs. We can, and should, look for these NT principles and practices of apostolic churches in our modern times to gauge if we meet their standards.

The apostle Paul wrote to two churches he had “birthed” that they should:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith.” (2 Co 13:5).
“Test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1Th 5:21).

We also need to examine our lifestyles and practices and see how they compare with the NT example. Our first and highest standard is the Bible. There we find how it is supposed to work: “We must actually find the cure before we find the disease.” G.K. Chesterton

The Bible was not just written for our personal instruction but for our corporate instruction as well. It is “our” a standard, “our” guide, “our” road map for our corporate life as Christians. It is in the Scriptures that we find “what is right” so we can correct “the things that are wrong” in our personal and corporate lives.

Sign #1. Growth.

I once heard Loren Cunningham (Founder of YWAM) say that “if something is alive it is also growing”. The early churches must have been dynamically alive because they were “added to daily” and “multiplying greatly” throughout the NT.

Ac 2:47 And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Ac 5:14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women
Ac 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Ac 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.
Ac 16:5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

Just as in the plant and animal kingdom, if something is alive – breathing and eating – he or she will also be growing and multiplying! A sure sign of a healthy church is that it is growing with new blood, new converts and not just bloating on the dreaded “transfer growth” syndrome.

Sign #2. Involvement.

Non-involvement leads to feeling non-important. An involved church where every member ministers, everyone participates, in an ongoing and daily way, is a dynamic church.

Did not God already circumvent this major problem of non-involvement by telling us that “When we come together, each one…” (1 Cor 14:26) is to contribute with a teaching, lead out in a song, a tongue with an interpretation, a revelation, a prophecy?

* Was not the whole church to weigh the prophecies given and not just the leaders? (1 Cor 14)
* Was not the whole gathered church in Acts 6 to “choose from among you seven men” who would be added to the apostolic team?

Show me a church that believes in, and practices, “every member a minister”, where every member -young and old, male and female – is involved and I will show you a healthy church.

Sign #3. Ownership precedes Stewardship.

We often hear preaching about giving to the local church (i.e. practicing good stewardship), but the people often have no sense of ownership of the church. If we are honest, we have to admit that in most churches, the church runs fine whether we are there or not! After all, the pastor and staff are paid to keep it running and we are just the spectators, watching an all-too familiar show week in and week out!

It could just be the #1 reason why the 1st century church gave of themselves so greatly, is that they considered themselves such a vital and integral part of its life! Without them the church would DIE! People don’t sell their homes or give away their property just so the church can build a bigger, more comfortable building for them to sit in or buy the latest and greatest state-of-the-art sound system!

The First Century believers gave up everything they had to the church because they were the owners of the church.

And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Acts 2: 44-45

Sign #4. An Eldership team.

If we closely look at the New Testament practice of church leadership, we will see that elders led, or “were shepherds of” the early church and not the (lone) pastor. This is more than just semantics.

Firstly, we see that elders were selected from “among the flock”, and not brought in from the outside (ie. surrounding cities or nations). NT elders were foremost homegrown leaders, good fathers and husbands, who had “proven” themselves in the battle field of their own homes and in the marketplace.

Secondly, we see that elders were either working full-time in their normal jobs (i.e. being a elder was not their “money-making job”) or they did receive money as needed from the flock. Certainly the idea of a salaried pastor and staff is difficult to find in the pages of the NT.

Sign #5. Mutual Edification (using supernatural / spiritual gifts).

What then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1Co 14:26

When we come together as a body of believers – a living, functioning Bride of Christ – our main focus is to make sure that everything we do, the “all things” of 1 Cor 14, is done for the edification, encouragement and up building of “one another”. The context here is talking about using supernatural gifts (healing, tongues, discernment, prophecy) for the strengthening of the gathered church. There is no pre-ordained order of service in a healthy church because the Holy Spirit is free to “just show up” and minister blessing and freedom to those in need, to those hurting or to those rejoicing!

Spiritual gifts are key to a healthy church and I don’t mean only the gifts of helps and administration! Church, we need to rediscover the power gifts in our gatherings so we can biblically edify one another and strengthen the church!

In closing, feast your hearts on these fine words from author and missionary pioneer Floyd McClung:

“It is not a model of church that excites me, but what the Spirit of God does in people’s lives when they discover the New Testament principles of doing church in small communities. It is those principles that are the engine that powers the house church model, not the model itself. These principles are not complicated, and they don’t require a theological education to figure them out. They are woven all through the story of the church in the book of Acts. And they permeate the house church movement world-side.” (Floyd McClung, used with permission)

Yours for the least in the kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

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