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ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION

_________________________ REGENT UNIVERSITY _________________________

A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE SCHOOL OF DIVINITY IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF MINISTRY

_________________________ BY STEVEN S. LYZENGA _________________________

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA APRIL 2009

Copyright 2009 by Steven S. Lyzenga No original material may be used without permission of the author All Rights Reserved

Dissertation Committee

___________________________________________________ Diane J. Chandler, Ph.D. Chair ___________________________________________________ Leslie Brickman, D.Min. Committee Member ___________________________________________________ Felicity Dale, M.D. Field Mentor

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ABSTRACT The purpose of this dissertation is to assess the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the Great Commission (GC). Various obstacles inhibit the task of finishing Christs long-standing Matthew 28:18-20 command. Foremost is a lack of workers being sent out into the ripe harvest fields, and the accompanying resources needed to send them Many churches in the USA spend a disproportionate share of their resources on themselves, leaving little to designate for the areas of the world that have been least evangelized, especially the nearly 1.9 billion unreached people. Simple churches, which are becoming more and more prevalent in the West, utilize a non-bureaucratic structure that potentially frees up an immense amount of resources time, talent, and treasure to reap the remaining harvest. Simple church, a NT form of church, is reemerging in the USA as a corporate expression of fellowship without the trappings of institutionalization. With simple churches being such a recent phenomenon however, it appears that no one really knows how many resources they are releasing towards finishing the GC. In fact, no one really knows if they have an outward vision for the GC, focusing on the ripe harvest fields of the earth, whatsoever. A vacuum of research exists on this topic. Helping fill this vacuum by collecting reliable data is the focus of this project. The methodology chosen for this project is the survey method. A survey will be designed and distributed electronically to collect and analyze quantitative data from a broad and

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diverse Simple Church population in order to assess the state of simple churches in the USA with regard to releasing resources toward finishing of the GC. Towards this end, the survey will assess four subjects: (1) a comparison of the participants simple church and institutional/traditional church experience, (2) the simple church participants Great Commission knowledge and perceived need for help, (3) the resource release of simple church workers, and (4) the resource release of simple church wealth.

DEDICATION

This work is dedicated to God, Jehovah, my Creator and Father/Abba; to His Son Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, sitting at His right hand; and to His Holy Spirit, my comforter, counselor, and advocate, who is dwelling within me. This dissertation is dedicated to seeing the story of the Fathers glory and the fame of His Name spread to the ends of the earth: to every unreached nation, tribe, people, and language. This ministry project is dedicated to seeing the Fathers Church, His Sons bride, renewed and restored fully to her Great Commission calling: to make disciples of all ethic people groups. My life is dedicated to see the Fathers Kingdom come and His will be done on this earth: until the task is complete ushering in the 2nd coming of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Rev 22:20)

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Im grateful to my loving helpmate and lovely wife, Kim. Im grateful to my supportive and loving parents, Marve and Nancy Lyzenga. Im grateful to my GC mentors, Irvin Rutherford and Howard Foltz. Im grateful to my house2harvest partner, Don Davis. Im grateful to my simple church family. Im grateful to my committee chair, Dr. Diane J. Chandler (a prolific chair extraordinaire). Im grateful to my committee member, Dr. Leslie Brickman. Im grateful to my field mentor, Felicity Dale, and her husband, Tony. Im grateful to my Doctor of Ministry coordinator, Melissa Falk.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... iv DEDICATION ............................................................................................................... vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............................................................................................vii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS .........................................................................................xii LIST OF TABLES ...................................................................................................... xiii DEFINITION OF TERMS ........................................................................................... xiv CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION TO THE MINISTRY PROJECT ........................... 1 Overview ................................................................................................................. 1 Statement of the Problem....................................................................................... 12 Rationale for Doing the Project.............................................................................. 14 Proposition Statement One (Philosophical Rationale) .................................... 15 Proposition Statement Two (Ideological Rationale) ....................................... 17 Proposition Statement Three (Pragmatic Rationale) ....................................... 23 Limitations and Assumptions of the Project ........................................................... 25 Literature Pertinent to the Project .......................................................................... 26 Biblical/Historical/Theological Perspective of the Problem.................................... 27 Method for Addressing and Analyzing the Problem ............................................... 29 Expected Results and Contributions of the Project ................................................. 30 Evaluation of the Project........................................................................................ 33 Summary ............................................................................................................... 33

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CHAPTER TWO: SURVEY OF THE LITERATURE .................................................. 35 Overview ............................................................................................................... 35 The Great Commissions Gross Imbalance ............................................................ 38 The Great Commission is Being Fulfilled Rapidly ......................................... 39 The Remaining Task to Fulfill the Great Commission is Immense ................. 41 The Church has a Great Amount of Resources ............................................... 46 The Church is Perpetrating a Gross Imbalance of Resources .......................... 48 The Institutional Church and the Great Commissions Gross Imbalance ................ 60 The Institutional Church as a Bureaucratic Structure ..................................... 60 How the Institutional Church is Allocating its Money.................................... 71 How the Institutional Church is Releasing its Workers .................................. 74 How the Institutional Church is Making Disciples ......................................... 78 The Simple Church in the USA ............................................................................. 84 Introducing Simple Church ............................................................................ 85 How Simple Church Differs from Institutional Church .................................. 98 Simple Church Patterns, Principles, and Practices ........................................ 126 The Resource Release Capacity of Simple Church ....................................... 143 Simple Church in the USA and the Great Commission ........................................ 155 Simple Church and the Great Commission in Church History ...................... 156 Simple Church a Well-Suited Great Commission Wineskin ......................... 161 Simple Churches in the USA and the Great Commission ............................. 175 The Need for More Simple Church Great Commission Data ........................ 188 Summary ............................................................................................................. 190

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CHAPTER THREE: BIBLICAL/THEOLOGICAL/HISTORICAL CONTEXT .......... 192 Overview ............................................................................................................. 192 A Mandate to Finish the Great Commission......................................................... 194 Biblical/Theological - Declaring Gods Glory and Making Disciples ........... 194 Historical - Great Commission Still Not Finished ........................................ 205 Current Implications - Going to Ripe Harvest Fields.................................... 212 A Must of Releasing Resouces ............................................................................ 219 Biblical/Theological - Releasing Resources as Worship ............................... 219 Historical - Not Much Resource Release...................................................... 227 Current Implications - Releasing Resources by Redistributing to UPGs ....... 236 A Method of using Simple Church Wineskins ..................................................... 247 Biblical/Theological - The NT Church Pattern, Principles, and Practices ..... 247 Historical - The Instutionalization of the Church ......................................... 271 Current Implications - The Simple Church Finishing the GC ....................... 297 Summary ............................................................................................................. 318 CHAPTER FOUR: DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS OF THE MINISTRY PROJECT ........................................................................................................... 322 Overview ............................................................................................................. 322 The Ministry Project Description ......................................................................... 322 Survey Instrument ....................................................................................... 323 Pilot-Testing ................................................................................................ 324 Survey Distribution ..................................................................................... 324 The Ministry Project Results................................................................................ 326 Survey Demographics ................................................................................. 326 Survey Section 1 Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church ........................................................................................................ 330

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Survey Section 2 Great Commission ..................................................... 331 Survey Section 3 Time .......................................................................... 331 Survey Section 4 Money ....................................................................... 332 Survey Chart Comparisons .......................................................................... 333 Summary ............................................................................................................. 337 CHAPTER FIVE: ANALYSIS AND ASSESSMENT OF THE MINISTRY PROJECT ........................................................................................................... 338 Overview ............................................................................................................. 338 Analysis of the Ministry Project .......................................................................... 338 Survey Section 1 Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church ........................................................................................................ 338 Survey Section 2 Great Commission ..................................................... 340 Survey Section 3 Time .......................................................................... 341 Survey Section 4 Money ....................................................................... 342 Limitations of the Ministry Project ...................................................................... 344 Recommendations for Future Research ............................................................... 345 Evaluation of the Ministry Project ....................................................................... 346 Summary ............................................................................................................. 348 WORKS CITED .......................................................................................................... 350 APPENDIX A - MISSIONAL DEFINITION OF A PEOPLE GROUP........................ 362 APPENDIX B - PAGAN CHRISTIANITY - SUMMARY OF ORIGINS.................... 363 APPENDIX C - 15 THESES TOWARDS A RE-INCARNATION OF CHURCH ....... 367 APPENDIX D - DALLAS/FORT WORTH SIMPLE CHURCH NETWORK VALUES............................................................................................................. 372 APPENDIX E - WHY SIMPLE THINGS ARE BETTER?.......................................... 374 APPENDIX F - ASSOCIATION OF HOUSE CHURCHES IN KILLEEN TEXAS MISSIONS AND BENEVOLENCE MINISTRIES ............................................. 377

APPENDIX G - WHERE PERSECUTION, POVERTY, AND PROGRESSION THE REAL REASONS FOR FIRST CENTURY HOUSE CHURCHES? ................... 379 APPENDIX H - HEBREWS 13:17 WHOM SHOULD ONE OBEY? ....................... 383 APPENDIX I - CHURCH PRACTICE/TRADITION .................................................. 385 APPENDIX J - THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS ..... 389 APPENDIX K - SIMPLE/HOUSE CHURCH SURVEY ............................................. 391 APPENDIX L - SIMPLE/HOUSE CHURCH SURVEY DATA .................................. 398 APPENDIX M - SURVEY SECTION 1-4 PERTINANT QUESTIONS BAR CHARTS............................................................................................................. 404

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure: 1. Literature review map ............................................................................................... 38 2. Biblical/theological/historical review map .............................................................. 194 3. Personal time and money releasability .................................................................... 333 4. Simple church time and money releasability ........................................................... 334 5. Personal charity giving and simple church administrative spending ........................ 335 6. Personal and simple church time given to administration ........................................ 335 7. Personal and simple church giving to unreached people .......................................... 336 8. Need help connecting with others and sending missionaries .................................... 337 9. Q 1 ......................................................................................................................... 404 10. Q 2........................................................................................................................ 404 11. Q 3........................................................................................................................ 404 12. Q 4........................................................................................................................ 405 13. Q 10...................................................................................................................... 405 14. Q 11...................................................................................................................... 405 15. Q 18...................................................................................................................... 406 16. Q 19...................................................................................................................... 406 17. Q 20...................................................................................................................... 406 18. Q 23...................................................................................................................... 407 19. Q 22...................................................................................................................... 407 20. Q 25...................................................................................................................... 407 xii

LIST OF TABLES

Table: 1. Top 10 Unevangelized Countries .............................................................................. 43 2. Top 5 Unreached People Group Countries ................................................................ 43 3. Worlds Cross-cultural Missionary Force .................................................................. 53 4. Water Baptism Cost Effectiveness ............................................................................ 56 5. How Americans Experience/Express Their Faith ...................................................... 86 6. 30 Dichotomies between IC and SC ........................................................................ 103 7. 13 Core Differences between Cell and House Church ............................................. 111 8. Comparison of Three Church Types ........................................................................ 112 9. Old and New Leadership Paradigms ....................................................................... 119 10. Reproduction Patterns of Elephants and Rabbits ................................................... 151 11. Age of Church versus People/Salvation Ratio ....................................................... 151 12. Theoretical Potential of Rapid House Church Multiplication ................................. 152 13. The 10 Super Centuries of Mission History ........................................................... 206 14. Missionary Distribution to World A, B, C ............................................................. 244 15. Survey Distribution Participants ............................................................................ 325 16. Demographic Profile of Participants (N = 159)...................................................... 326 17. Simple Church Questions (N = 159) ...................................................................... 328

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DEFINITION OF TERMS

Church. The word church will be capitalized when it is described as an institution and when it is considered in the context of a unified movement; it will not be capitalized in all other instances. Ekklesia. The English word church translates from the Greek word ekklesia, which is derived from ek, meaning out of, and kaleo, which means to call. Hence, the biblical meaning of the word church is a called out group. Finishing the Great Commission. This phrase refers to obeying Jesus Christs Great Commission toward the goal of completing it on a local (where you live), national (in the USA), international (outside the USA), and unreached people level; according to Jesus prophecy: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Mt 24:14). Frontier Missions. This term refers to cross-cultural evangelism to peoples among whom no missiological breakthrough has yet occurred. A missiological breakthrough in frontier missions is considered the establishment of a viable, indigenous, disciple-making movement. Great Commission (GC). This is the command of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded

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you (Mt 28:19,20). The Christian Church derives its call to world evangelization, discipleship, and transformation on individual, cultural, and societal levels to this mandate. Institutional Church (IC). An institutional church is a type of Church that proliferated in the era of the Roman emperor Constantine, characterized by being bureaucratic in nature, typically meeting in specialized church buildings, and using a hierarchical control structure (i.e., professional priesthood/pastorate) to administrate it. Modern-day ICs use budgets to track the cash-flow for required items such as payroll, payroll taxes, housing allowance, building payments/insurance, utility bills, maintenance, supplies, equipment, vehicle payments/insurance, liability insurance, health insurance legal fees, and denominational fees. Most ICs in the USA are Internal Revenue Service nonprofit 501C(3) organizations. This type of Church structure is not found in the New Testament. Summing up, an IC is a church that operates bureaucratically and subsequently requires money to pay for the operation and manpower to run the operation. Missions. Missions is the cross-cultural work of fulfilling the Great Commission. Missionary. A missionary is a person who enters another culture to fulfill the Great Commission. Missional. To be missional means to relate to or connect with a Christian mission; missionary. Missional Church. A missional church is a collection of missional believers acting in concert together in fulfillment of the Great Commission.

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Mobilize/Mobilization. This is the process of moving individual Christians and the corporate Church toward becoming actively involved in finishing the Great Commission. People Group. This is a group of individuals who share ethnic, linguistic, or cultural traits. For evangelistic purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the gospel can spread along natural lines without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance due to culture, language, and geography. Resources. The term resources will refer most commonly to what the Church has to offer to the world; primarily its workers (i.e., time and talent) and its wealth (i.e., treasure that will enable a worker). Simple Church (SC). This is a type of Church that attempts to closely follow the patterns, principles, practices, and precedents of New Testament ekklesia (where people met from house to house). The word simple is chosen to delineate it from the complexity of the modern-day, business-structured, institutional version of church. Other terms used to describe this simple form of ekklesia are: house church, organic church, micro church, family church, open church, liquid church, real church, and New Testament foundation church. In order to differentiate the Simple Church Movement from individual or collective simple churches, capitalization will distinguish usage of this term. The West. The countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, and Western Europe. Unreached People Group (UPG). This is a people group within which there is no viable indigenous church movement with sufficient strength, resources, and commitment to sustain and ensure the continuous multiplication of churches.

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Unreached People. These are people who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor have any access to this gospel (e.g. no Bible, radio broadcast, books, or Jesus Video in their language). They live in the darkest spiritual areas of the world. The Apostle Paul spoke of their plight in Romans 10:14, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION TO THE MINISTRY PROJECT

Overview In the midst of His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ declared to His disciples, Do you not say, Four months more and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest (John 4:35).1 Jesus then gave His disciples the mission of reaping the harvest as well as the strategy to accomplish the mission, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field. Go! (Luke 10:2-3). Jesus then modeled His strategy by sending the 12 disciples, and later the seventy, as workers into the ripe harvest field. They returned with a great report, Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name (Luke 10:17). It was a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission. At the end of His earthly ministry, on the brink of returning to His Father in heaven, Jesus restated His mission to the disciples, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Mt 28:18-20).2 Jesus then modeled His strategy
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Unless indicated otherwise, all bible verses will be quoted from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984). This command of Jesus is commonly known as the Great Commission. Throughout this paper, the tern Great Commission will be used synonymously with the phrase reaping ripe harvest fields.
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2 again by sending out the 12, followed by Paul and many other workers into the ripe harvest fields. This time, the entire Roman Empire, and as far away as India, was infiltrated with the gospel within 300 years after Jesus death.3 In fact, in AD 100 there were as few as 25,000 Christians, but by AD 300 there were up to 20,000,000 Christians!4 Jesus modeled a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission again. Why was Jesus strategy to accomplish His mission so wonderfully effective? Jesus used a very simple disciple-making process. He gathered His followers together in simple venues (often houses5), equipped them, and sent them out as workers into ripe harvest fields. Paul the apostle followed Jesus lead, making disciples by gathering Jesus followers together in simple venues (often houses6), equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields. Likewise, biblically and historically, it appears the early Church made disciples by gathering Jesus followers together in simple venues (often houses7), equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields.

The scriptural record informs us that the establishment of churches based in houses spread all across the Roman Empire in cities like Jerusalem, Caesarea, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, Laodicea, Troas, and even Rome itself All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood Gods grace in all its truth (Col 1:6). Allen Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, Reactivating the Missional Church (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006), 18. Mt 8:14, 9:10, 9:23, 10:11-14, 13:1,36, 21:13, 26:18, 26:6; Mark 1:29, 2:1-4, 3:20, 5:38, 14:13; Luke 4:38, 7:36,44, 8:51, 10:5-7,38, 14:1, 19:5, 22:54; John 11:31-35, 12:3, 14:2, 20:26. Acts 2:46, 5:42, 8:3, 10:1-48, 12:12, 16:14-15, 29-34, 18:8, 20:6-8,20; Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:15,19; Col 4:15-16; Phlm 1:2; 2 John 1:10. For the first three centuries, the Christians did not have any special buildingsThe Christianity that conquered the Roman Empire was essentially a home-centered movement, as noted by Frank Viola and George Barna in Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices (Carol Stream, IL: BarnaBooks, 2008), 14.
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3 Somewhere between the first 300 years of discipleship history and now, however, Jesus disciple-making process got off track and became much more complicated. The original model of gathering His followers together in simple venues, equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields started to drift off track, all the while, losing its simplicity and effective and efficient reproducibility. Historically, the line between simple and complicated models of disciple-making was drawn during the Constantine era of the Roman Empire. Throughout this era, disciple-making became the job for a new hierarchical class of professional clergy who began receiving money to manage the newly formed institutionalized version of Church. Another major paradigm shift during this newfound institutionalized Church era was believers having to gather together in newly built cathedrals, 8 a huge shift in comparison to the simple house-to-house venues that early century believers were used to. From this point forward, disciple-making became a very complicated institutionalized effort much more complex than the simple approach modeled by Jesus, Paul, and the early Church.9 Close on the heels of the Constantine era was the spiritual Dark Ages. During this 1000 year era, the institutional Church seemed to have lost a vision for the Great Commission (GC) and did not emphasize the ripe harvest fields as Jesus taught and modeled in John 4 and Luke 10. Therefore, disciple-making to the ends of the earth as mandated in Matthew 28 was all but extinguished. Its as if the enemy himself infiltrated Jesus simple disciple-making method and complicated the process, of gathering His
Emperor Constantine is the father of the Church building. He built nine churches in Rome and many others in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Constantinople. Modeled after basilicas, these huge buildings imitated the structure of pagan Greek temples and were said to be worthy of an Emperor. See Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity, 21-22. The author will define the early Church as the pre-Constantine era Church (i.e., pre-Council of Nicaea in 325 AD).
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4 followers in simple venues to equip them as ripe harvest workers, by institutionalizing the church. When one compares the Constantine Rome model of Church to the New Testament (NT) Antioch model of Church, it is far different. And it is apparent that the modern Western model of Church favors the former. This Church shift towards an institutional model, taking place over many centuries, was not without consequences. With its strong inward focus, institutional forms of church have left a bleak mark on ripe harvest field history. So much so, 20 centuries after Jesus walked the earth and 17 centuries after this tragic shift in Church history, there remain 1.9 billion people (28% of the worlds population) that have yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ even once!10 These 1.9 billion people, 11 who have yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ even once, are known as unreached peoples. 12 Collectively, in terms of ethnic divisions of people, they are referred to as unreached people groups (UPGs).13 The vastness of this potential human harvest field is almost beyond comprehension. To reap it will require a

David B. Barrett Todd M. Johnson, Status of Global Mission, 2008, in the Context of 20th and 21st Centuries, International Bulletin of Missionary Research (January 2008). http://www.gcts.edu/ockenga/globalchristianity/resources.php (accessed March 15, 2008). To put the magnitude of this number in perspective, shaking the hand of each one of these 1.9 billion people at a rate of one per second would take 60 years! An unreached person describes someone who has no access to the gospel message (i.e. no Bible, radio, books, Jesus Video, or any other means to hear about Jesus as the Messiah). The Apostle Paul spoke of their plight in Romans 10: 14, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? A people group is the largest group within which the gospel can spread along natural lines without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance due to culture, language, geography, etc. Therefore an Unreached People Group is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people. In other words, unreached people groups lack a church that has the numbers and strength to reach their own people.
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5 determined and concentrated effort by the Church to release resources, workers and accompanying wealth, to reach these 1.9 billion unreached peoples. Unfortunately, Western missions organizations tend to target population groups in already-evangelized countries, where the gospel has been preached over and over again throughout the decades and even centuries. Consider the allocation of missionaries to foreign fields: 96% work among already existing churches, whereas only 4% work where no church exists!14 Along these imbalanced lines, 40% of the Churchs foreign mission resources in North America are being deployed to just 10 oversaturated countries, which already possess strong citizen-run home ministries. 15 Why have Western institutional churches not had more sustainable impact in reaching the remaining unreached peoples? Assuredly, it is not due to the lack of resources. Nearly 97% of the total income of all Christian organizations was spent on Christians themselves. Whereas $261 billion was spent on ministering to Christians, only $7.8 billion was spent on already-evangelized non-Christians,16 and even more alarming, only $52 million was spent on reaching the 1.9 billion unreached peoples a mere 0.2% of what Christians spend on themselves!17 This colossal imbalance is truly not what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the church in Corinth: Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what
David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2001), 761.
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Ibid. Ibid., 661.

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John Rowell, To Give or Not to Give, Rethinking Dependency, Restoring Generosity and Redefining Sustainability (Waynesboro: Authentic Media, 2006), 51.

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6 they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need (2 Cor 8:13-15). Paul encouraged the church in Corinth to continue giving until they reached equality with their needy brothers and sisters elsewhere, taking from those who have plenty and redistributing it to those who were most needy. After Paul preached equality between the haves and the have nots, he then explained to the Corinth church why God would consider making them rich. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 states, Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. John Mott, a mission statesman and winner of the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize, applied Pauls call for equality and generosity to the spread of gospel. He said, If it is a good thing to go where were needed, it is more Christ-like to go where were needed most. God grant that we may step into the footprints of our Lord, to go to the most destitute fields of our own country and the great open fields beyond. 18 Pauls appeal for equality and generosity still applies to the Church today, as does John Motts cry for the Church to go where it is needed most. Most notably, the Western Church has been made rich in every way, blessed by God with plenty of resources workers and wealth in order to be generous with them on every occasion. Why then is the Western Church sending only 4% of its workers where no church currently exists? And why is it only giving 0.2% of its wealth to reach
Missionary issues of the twentieth century: Papers and addresses of the General Missionary Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, held in New Orleans April 24-30, 1901, Internet Archives, http://www.archive.org/stream/missionaryissues00methiala/missionaryissues00methiala_djvu.txt (accessed June 18, 2008).
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7 the 1.9 billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus even once? Why is the Western Church not following Pauls authoritative apostolic call for equality and generosity, and why is it not listening to John Motts 20th century heart cry to prioritize the most destitute fields of the world? Perhaps C.S. Lewis had these questions in mind when he wrote the following, There exists in every church something that sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence. So we must strive very hard, by the grace of God to keep the church focused on the mission that Christ originally gave to it.19 One of Christianitys most gifted thinkers was fully aware of mission creep in the Church, creep away from Jesus mission to make disciples of all nations and Pauls mandate for equality towards this end. What then exists in the Church that is now working against the very mission for which it came into existence? Whereas there are multiple somethings that work against the mission of the Church, there is a culprit that fights largely against the equality of resources needed to send workers to UPGs. In the context of this project, that culprit is bulky Institutional Church (IC) operating expenses. These bulky operating expenses, initiated in the days of Constantine and proliferated throughout Church history, are now built into the operational DNA of most IC structures. When a church operates with an institutional program-driven model, it requires a consuming budget that requires cash-flow for buildings, bills, big salaries, and the

Will Vaus and Douglas Gresham, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 167.

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8 commensurate number of bodies to maintain its bureaucracy. 20 The complexity of the current budget-consuming Western IC structure seems to be working against the very mission for which it came into existence. It seems that its mission is geared much more toward building the size and quantity of the church versus Jesus intended purpose to make quality disciples of all nations. Larry Kreider, founder and apostolic head of Dove Christian Fellowship International, which is a cell church/house church planting movement, along with Floyd McClung, recognize the potential that smaller, simple church formats have in reaching the unreached. They asserted, If we are going to reach the three billion unreached people21 of our planet it will not be through program-driven, professional-clergy models of Western church. There is probably no more significant factor in the growth of the Church worldwide than the recently rediscovered power of small, simple, easily reproducible churches.22 Clearly, Kreider and McClung endorse the simple church paradigm as a legitimate church paradigm for reaching the lost. Interestingly, a growing number of believers in the West are looking at the simple church as a call away from the ancient models of church instituted in the days of Constantine, and a call back to the model of church initiated by Jesus and imitated by Paul and the early Church. It is a call back to a disciple-making
Church researcher and missiologist Wolfgang Simson calls institutional church the 4 P church: always a pastor, always a program, always a parking lot, and always problems. Depending on the source, the figure is between 1.3 and 3.0 billion people. The disparity is so vast because of the variation of definitions and methods of classification and because counting unreached people in unreached areas of the world is far from an exact science. For the sake of this project (and knowing God is the only one with the exact number), the fact that there are still over a billion unreached people in the world is striking enough to substantiate an immense amount of attention and concern from the Church. That said, the author will continue to cite David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnsons 1.9 billion figure.
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Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung, Starting a House Church (Ventura: Regal Books, 2007), 6.

9 strategy, easily carried out by any able-bodied believer through the power of small, simple, easily reproducible churches. Billy Graham stated many years ago, The Great Commission is still in effect. Christs command has not changed, and neither has Gods great plan of redemption. 23 During His Olivet discourse, Jesus taught just how long His Great Commission would be in effect. Matthew 24:14 states, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. In other words, the GC will be in effect until end, and the end will not come until the GC is fulfilled. This prophetic belief of fulfilling the GC in order to usher in the end (i.e., Jesus 2nd coming) is known as finishing the Great Commission. With Jesus GC still far from complete, what must His Church do to finish the GC? Paul addressed this in his letter to the Romans: How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Rom 10:14,15). Pauls solution to finishing the GC is sending forth more workers, beautiful feet bringing the good news to the ripe harvest fields. And Kreider and McClungs solution to Pauls solution is to send forth more workers using small, simple, easily reproducible churches.24 Why these small, simple, easily reproducible churches modeled by Jesus, Paul, and the early Church a viable and timely solution? Without bureaucratic encumbrances
Billy Graham, Mission Jacksonville, The Resource, http://www.boldlion.com/cpr/res00f1.htm (accessed April 13, 2008).
24 23

Kreider and McClung, Starting a House Church, 6.

10 consuming them, small, simple, easily reproducible churches have the capacity to release their abundant resources in much greater measure than institutional churches. Accordingly, they have the capacity to send many more beautiful feet to preach Christ where UPGs have not yet heard of Him. Sadly, the current benchmark for Western IC giving to reach UPGs is 0.02% of their overall budget. Conversely, this 0.02% benchmark has the potential to be shattered to the upside by millions of Western believers operating from small, simple, easily reproducible churches. In doing so, communities of believers will have the capacity to free up workers and the accompanying wealth, literally billions of dollars,25 and reallocate them toward finishing the GC. Not coincidently, these small, simple, easily reproducible churches (from this point forward known as simple churches26 are beginning to dot the landscape in the West creating a Simple Church Movement. In fact, as last measured by the Barna Research group, there appears to be over 20,000,000 adults in the USA who are practicing their faith in alternative simple forms of church!27 This is great news for the ripe harvest fields of the earth many new workers and accompanying wealth potentially freed up to sow into the worlds ripe harvest fields. This news is only great, however, if

The term resources refers to a holistic view consisting of a churchs workers (i.e., time and talent) and wealth (i.e., treasure that will enable a worker). Monetary figures of treasure are used often because they are typically easier to measure than time and talent. The term simple church is used to describe a form of ekklesia that more closely represents the model of ekklesia found in the New Testament (where they met from house to house). This is compared to the modern-day, institutional, business-structured, complex version of church. Other terms used to describe this simple form of ekklesia are: house church, organic church, micro church, family church, open church, liquid church, real church, and New Testament foundation church. The author will fully define simple church in chapter 2.
27 26

25

George Barna, Revolution (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005), 13.

11 simple churches are actually focusing on finishing the GC and releasing their resources accordingly. With the SC Movement28 in the West being so young, relative to Church history, it appears that no one really knows if simple churches are actually releasing resources toward finishing the GC, or if it just a promising theoretical supposition. In fact, it appears that no one really knows if simple churches have any vision for looking outward to the ripe harvest fields whatsoever. This apparent vacuum of research and resultant reliable data is a problem, a problem that the author intends to address within the scope of this project. This chapter will provide a statement of this projects problem, discuss the rational for focusing on this problem, address the limitations and assumptions inherent in the project to keep it focused, and review the most important literature sources that inform the approach to the ministry problem and solution. This chapter will then briefly review the biblical/theological and historical basis to understand the problem, as well as the current implications. It will present the survey methodology used to analyze the problem, and discuss the expected results of the survey and ensuing contributions. Finally, this chapter will introduce the means to evaluate the overall project. The statement of the problem comprises the next section.

With as many as 20,000,000 adults in the USA practicing their faith in simple churches, the growth of the number of simple churches can most assuredly be called a movement. Note: simple churches when consider in the context of a unified movement or as a whole, will be capitalized as Simple Church (SC).

28

12 Statement of the Problem The SC Movement in the West is growing rapidly, and it is here to stay in the USA according to noted pollster George Barna. He believes that simple churches are moving from the appraisal phase into the acceptance phase and are becoming a permanent fixture in our society. Anticipating house church attendance during any given week to double in the coming decade, and a growing proportion of house church attendees to adopt the house church as their primary faith community, Barna claimed that continued growth and public awareness will firmly establish the house church as a significant means of faith experience and expression among Americans.29 Simple churches30 are full of passionate followers of Jesus whom Barna has referred to as revolutionaries. There is ample research, according to Barna, to show that these Simple Church revolutionaries have a passion to be faithful to Gods Word and to be in tune with His leading. They ardently want their relationship with the Lord to be their top priority in life. Barna affirmed, They are tired of institutions, denominations, and routines getting in the way of a resonant connection with Him. They are worn out on the endless programs that fail to facilitate transformation. They are weary of being sent off to complete assignments, memorize facts and passages, and engage in simplistic practices that do not draw them into God's presence.31

George Barna, House Church Involvement Is Growing, www.barna.org, http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=241 (accessed March 27, 2008). Simple church and house church are typically used synonymously in this dissertation. Chapter 2 will define and describe the SC more fully distinguishing any nuances between these two church terms.
31 30

29

Viola and Barna. Pagan Christianity, xxvi.

13 As these house church revolutionaries seek more of God in their simple church communities, they have the potential to release an enormous capacity of resources into the ripe harvest fields, becoming a major spiritual force on the earth. Why is this so? First, these revolutionaries are passionate for the things of God, and God is passionate for the ripe harvest fields of the earth. Second, their resources, no longer consumed by a bureaucratic IC structure, can be freed-up and reallocated strategically toward finishing the GC. Currently however, it doesnt appear that there has been any research done to determine if this enormous resource capacity is readily being tapped into, and it doesnt appear that there has been any research done to determine if a resource reallocation is actually materializing. This begs a two-part question: (1) how do we know if simple churches are releasing their freed-up resources, workers and wealth, and if so, where to and to what extent?, and (2) how do we know if these released resources are being reallocated strategically toward finishing the GC, and if so, to what extent? Taken together, these two questions pose the stated problem to be addressed with this project: assessing the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC. Put another way, discovering and quantifying to what extent simple churches in the USA32 are participating in finishing the GC as defined by the amount of resources, workers and wealth, they are bringing to bear on it. By surveying simple churches in the USA, the author hopes to address the stated problem. The rationale for doing so is considered in greater depth next.

At this point the author will narrow down the geographic scope from the West (including the countries of Western Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.) to only the USA. The USA will be the geographic boundary for the project survey.

32

14 Rationale for Doing the Project As per George Barnas statistics, 20,000,000 adults in the USA are experimenting with alternative forms of spiritual community other than IC, primarily simpler forms of church. 33 This vast number, in conjunction with the considerable amount of simple church literature being published, makes it appear that SC in the USA is alive and well and growing. Addressing the stated problem assessing the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing of the GC has wide repercussions on how alive and well the SC Movement really is. To the extent it is participating in Jesus Christs GC will determine if it remains alive and well and growing or dies a slow agonizing inward looking death, becoming another passing religious blip on the Western Church landscape. To present the case as to why addressing the stated problem is important to the SC Movement, philosophical, ideological, and pragmatic rationales will be presented. These rationales will be introduced as proposition statements and then they will be further developed as in-depth rational arguments. Proposition Statement One (Philosophical Rationale): Simple churches should follow the biblical mandate to release their God-given resources (top line: blessing) toward finishing the GC (bottom line: to be a blessing). Proposition Statement Two (Ideological Rationale): Without bureaucratic burdens, simple churches have an enormous capacity to release their resources, workers and wealth, toward finishing the GC.

33

Barna, Revolution, 13.

15 Proposition Statement Three (Pragmatic Rationale): Someone needs to assess if simple churches are releasing their resources toward finishing the GC, and if so, to what extent.

Proposition One (Philosophical Rationale): Simple churches should release their Godgiven resources (top line: blessing) toward finishing the GC (bottom line: to be a blessing). Don Richardson, the famous missionary author of the book Eternity in Their Hearts, observed that one of the biggest problems in the Church today is its penchant to focus on micro themes in the Bible, themes that offer worms-eye views of brief passages of scripture, instead of macro themes that offer eagles-eye views of major Bible themes.34 He went on to say that there are really only two macro themes in the Bible, both taken from Gods mandate to Abram in Genesis 12:2-335: (1) we are blessed (the top line), (2) to be a blessing (the bottom line). This theme is so prevalent in Scripture that there are 395 passages in the Bible where these two tracks are abridged (e.g., same thought expressed in fewer words or paraphrased).36 Not coincidently, Gods promise to bless Abram was preceded by a command. Genesis 12:1 states, Leave your country, your people and your fathers household and go to the land I will show you. Gods command to Abram was to leaveand go

34

Don Richardson, Stars, Sand, and Dust (Muskegon: Gospel Films, 1997), 3 videocassettes, no.

1. Genesis 12:2-3 states, I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
36 35

Richardson, Stars, Sand, and Dust, no. 1.

16 Incidentally, So Abram left, as the Lord had told him (Gen 12:4). Hence, Gods promise to bless Abram (top line) that he might be a blessing to the nations (bottom line) was predicated on His command to go. Jesus, in His last two recorded commands, followed the same pattern. His promise to the disciples: I am with you always, to the very end of the age (top line: blessing) was so they would make disciples of all nationsbaptizingand teaching (bottom line: to be a blessing), but it was predicated on His command to go (Mt 28:19,20). Following this commission, Jesus last commission also followed the same pattern: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you (top line: blessing), and you will be my witnesses (bottom line: to be a blessing) in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (go) (Acts 1:8). Two thousand years later, the Holy Spirit is still following the same pattern and telling us to go. Why? Because the job is not done, as Billy Graham reminded us the GC is still in effect. 1.9 billion unreached people are still in desperate need of the special revelation of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The Church of the 21st century is obligated to take Gods top line blessing, abundant resources, and utilize them for the sake of Gods bottom line blessing, reaching unreached peoples by obeying Christs continuing command to go. Simple churches certainly have the potential capacity to do so. They are well positioned to make disciples by gathering followers of Jesus together in simple venues, equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields, by utilizing their abundant resources, workers and wealth. Accordingly, the philosophical rational for this project is to show simple churches that they must follow the biblical mandate to go

17 and release their God-given resources (top line: blessing) toward finishing the GC (bottom line: to be a blessing).

Proposition Statement Two (Ideological Rationale): Without bureaucratic burdens, simple churches have an enormous capacity to release their resources, workers and wealth, toward finishing the GC. More and more missiologists believe that finishing the GC is within the reach of this generation. Indeed, one of the great mission statesmen of our age, Loren Cunningham founder of YWAM, claimed recently at a national missions conference: the whole world could be reached in our life time.37 Whereas time will tell if this grandiose statement comes to pass, the underlying assumption is that the Church has enough resources, workers and wealth, to pull it off. But does it? Not only is the answer yes, but it is an emphatic yes. In fact, not only does the worldwide Church have enough resources to finish the GC, the Church in the USA alone has more than enough resources to complete the task. It has the knowledge base, the computer power, the manpower, the technology, and more than enough finances to cover it all. 38 For instance, the total income of Christians in the USA is $5.2 trillion annually, nearly half of the worlds total Christian income.39 Out of this, the evangelical annual

Loren Cunningham, Can We Finish the Task? call2all, http://www.call2all.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?id=1000022208 (accessed May 6, 2008). This is not meant to be an ethnocentric statement whatsoever; it is just attempting to show from a resource perspective how much the Church in the USA alone has to offer the GC.
39 38

37

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 400.

18 share of income in the year 2000 was 2.66 trillion. 40 And out of this, evangelicals had $850 billion annually in disposable income. 41 To put this amount of wealth in perspective in the context of the GC, the Southern Baptist Conventions International Mission Board estimated that only $650 million was needed to complete the task of global evangelization.42 Accordingly, even allowing for estimates as high as $1 billion, one can easily see that this is a negligible amount compared with the $850 billion in disposable income flowing through the hands of evangelical Christians in the USA every year.43 In view of this, where is all the wealth going that instead could be used to enable GC workers? As the following statistics bear out, much of it is going towards Church bureaucracy: When asked What would you do with an unexpected financial windfall? thirty-one percent of Protestant pastors said they would build, expand or update their church buildings and facilities. Seven percent said they would give more to foreign missions and evangelism. 44 A 2004 survey of 34 denominations showed that the average amount of total denominational budgets earmarked for overseas missions was 2%.45

40

Ibid., 657.

Ron Blue, Generous Living: Finding Contentment through Giving, speech delivered at the annual Generous Giving Conference (Atlanta, Jan 14-15, 1999) cited in Research Library, Generous Giving, http://www.generousgiving.org/articles/display.asp?id=175 (accessed July10, 2008). John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving through 2004, 16th ed. (Champaign, IL: Empty Tomb, 2006), 53. The International Mission Board also calculated that $15 billion would bring about not only global evangelization, but also worldwide elementary education and an end to premature child deaths. To put this amount of wealth in perspective once again, the $15 billion could have been easily covered by the additional $164 billion available in 2004 had church members in the USA given at least 10% of their incomes, instead of the 2.5% actually given. Ibid.
44 43 42

41

Ron Sellers, New, Improved Facilities. Facts & Trends Magazine, vol. 52, no. 3 (May/June

2006): 7. John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving through 2000 (Champaign, IL: Empty Tomb, 2002), 54.
45

19 Annual church embezzlements by top custodians exceed the entire cost of all foreign missions worldwide. Emboldened by lax procedures, trusted church treasurers are embezzling from the Church $5,500,000 per day. Thats $16,000,000,000 per year!46 Senior pastors in the U.S. earn an average salary of over $80,000 a year, including benefits.47 85% of all church activity and funds are directed toward the internal operations of the congregation, such as staff salaries, building payments, utility and operating expenses. 48 50% of the average churchs budget goes to staff and personnel salaries; whereas missions/evangelism accounts for only 5%.49

Alas, these statistics probably only raise a few eyebrows because they are the benchmarks of how the typical institutional church in the USA operates. Spending a majority of its money on itself, institutional churches have evolved over the decades into a bureaucratic church that spends much more of its resources on buildings, bills and big salaries than it does on finishing the GC. The 1.9 billion unreached people who have yet to ever hear the gospel even once are hardly ever mentioned and rarely ever seem to make it as a line item in the annual budget. Instead of being the Way as defined in Acts 9:2, the bureaucratic complex IC has in many ways gotten in the way. Self-consuming budgets have directly affected how much the GC is being resourced. Giving a mere 0.2% of its income to reach UPGs, the

46

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 3.

Audrey Barrick, Survey Reveals Which Pastors Get Paid Most, The Christian Post, http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071002/29537_Survey_Reveals_Which_Pastors_Get_Paid_Most.ht m (accessed February 10, 2008).
48

47

Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving through 2000, 13.

Average Church Budget Spending, LifeWay Christian Resources, Oct 2006, http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/images/lwcI_research_chart_577x433_AverageBudgetSpending.jpg.jpg (accessed February 5, 2008).

49

20 Church is impeding the indispensable workers and the accompanying wealth from being dispatched into the ripest harvest fields of the earth. There has got to be a simpler and better way to do church. In fact, in Mark 2:2122, Jesus did introduce a simpler and better way, No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus made it clear that He was bringing both new wine and a new wineskin to replace the old covenant wine and the old covenant wineskin, a simpler and better way. Throughout history, man has complicated this new wine as well as the new wineskin. And as seen from the statistics above, the consequences of complicating Jesus simpler and better way have been dire concerning releasing resources toward finishing the GC. Jesus introduced a new simple community wineskin, and he modeled His unbureaucratic wineskin and lived it out with his 12 disciples. Subsequently, Paul and the early Church lived out this same unbureaucratic wineskin pattern of simple community, known in the NT as ekklesia.50 There are many reasons Jesus introduced a simple community wineskin, which will be discussed in a later Chapter. In the context of this section, however, one probable reason is that it is free from bureaucratic burdens, thus increasing the potential to the release GC resources dramatically. Accordingly, the potential for modern-day simple churches to exponentially multiply the 0.2% given to reach UPGs is not only an exciting supposition, but it is also excitingly realistic.
The English word church translates the Greek word ekklesia, which is derived from ek, meaning out of, and kaleo, which means to call, hence, the church is a called out group.
50

21 Not surprisingly, the SC wineskin has existed throughout church history, from Jesus day to modern day, and it is the prevailing wineskin in many areas of the world in our day (primarily non-Western undeveloped nations). In the USA however, the SC concept is in its infancy and most often thought of as a totally foreign concept (i.e., good for others but not good for us). Because of this, the following list is included to introduce a variety of values adhered to by simple churches: elevates Jesus Christ alone as its head, is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings, not only has a message, but is a message, allows every persons gift to function, is not led by a pastor alone, rediscovers the Lord's Supper as a real supper with real food, stops bringing people to church and starts bringing the church to the people, returns to 'fellowships with fellowship' based around a meal, is not under the control of bureaucratic clergy, models the priesthood of all believers, meets in house churches rather than church houses, exchanges organized Christianity for organic forms of Christianity, provides a sense of family rather than membership in some organization, brings back home as the most meaningful place for someone to be spiritual, replaces worshipping our worship with worshipping God, leaves denominations for city-wide celebrations,

22 develops a persecution-proof spirit.51

Simple churches meet in homes, offices, parks, coffee houses, and other venues, and by definition, do not hire professionally paid pastors. As a result, with no buildings, bills, or big salaries to budget for, simple churches potentially have negligible overhead. This allows for a large majority of its resources to be applied directly to releasing workers into ripe harvest fields. To realize the vast potential of SC resource release capacity in comparison to IC, the following monetary illustration is offered. Compare one institutional church with 1000 members operating with an 85% administration budget52 and match it to 50 simple churches with 20 people each (e.g., 1000 people total) operating with a 5% administration budget.53 If every person in their respective church gave $1000, the one institutional church would have $1,000,000 and the fifty simple churches combined would have $1,000,000. Heres how the differences stack up in terms of available resources left over: the one institutional church would require $850,000 (85%) to keep its doors open (e.g., payroll, payroll taxes, housing allowance, building payments/insurance, utility bills, maintenance, supplies, equipment, vehicle payments/insurance, liability insurance, and health insurance legal fees, and denominational fees), and would have $150,000 left over to release workers into ripe harvest fields. the fifty simple churches would require $50,000 (5%) total ($1000 per simple church) to keep their houses open, and would have $950,000 total ($19,000 per simple church) left over to release workers into ripe harvest fields.

Adapted from the introduction to Wolfgang Simsons book, Houses that Change the World (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Publishing, 1999), xv-xxv.
52

51

See footnote #48.

This 5% number to administrate a simple church is unsubstantiated. From the authors four years of simple church experience, however, with no building, bills, and salaries to fund, an average admin budget of less than 5% per annum is a very realistic figure.

53

23 When multiplying this basic comparison scenario over the entire USA Church landscape, one can easily see the mammoth difference a SC wineskin could make in releasing the wealth needed to enable workers to be sent into ripe harvest fields. For that reason, the ideological rational for doing this project is to show that without bureaucratic burdens, simple churches have an enormous capacity to release their resources toward finishing the GC.

Proposition Statement Three (Pragmatic Rationale): Someone needs to assess if simple churches are releasing their resources toward finishing the GC, and if so, to what extent. The Lord is calling many in His Church back to the NT model of ekklesia. One of the reasons may be the SCs ability to release resources toward finishing the GC in greater measure than the IC. This is an ideology worth pursuing. However, it is important to note that simple churches are not a panacea. Paul the apostle had to deal with many issues and problems that were associated with the simple churches in his day, as evidenced by his numerous letters of instruction and correction. Simple churches in our day are no different because people in our day are no different than those in Pauls day sinners in need of Gods grace and in need of discipleship. For instance, on the subject of giving, there is no indication that believers in simple churches will give any more than those going to institutional churches. Personal giving can be as challenging for someone in simple church as it can be for someone in institutional church; especially in the USAs consumerist culture. In addition, just because simple churches can operate at a fraction of the overhead cost of institutional

24 churches, this doesnt mean that they will use their additional capital in strategic ways toward finishing the GC. Believers in simple churches need to be inspired toward a lifestyle of giving and going rather than keeping and staying. They need help overcoming tendencies toward an inward focus and isolationism, and they need to be inspired to look outward to the ripe harvest fields of the world. No different than institutional churches, simple churches need to be inspired to intentionality mobilize their resources strategically to the 1.9 billion unreached people, the ripest harvest field of all. Along these lines, the author anticipates initiating a ministry that will inspire simple churches to mobilize and give their resources, workers and wealth, to the ripest harvest fields of the earth, primarily to UPGs. A likely name for this ministry is House2Harvest. House2Harvest is a name that encapsulates Jesus ancient simple disciple-making strategy where His followers met from house to house (Acts 5:42, 8:3, 20:20) to equip each other for the sake of sending out workers from their house to harvest. Starting and implementing a House2Harvest is one of the authors life goals. However, as a prerequisite, it is prudent to first find out if simple churches understand the concepts of ripe harvest fields, releasing resources, UPGs, and finishing the GC. In order to find out this information, simple churches will need to be assessed. And to be assessed they will need to be surveyed. Surveying simple churches will help determine: (1) if they are releasing their resources, and if so, where to and to what extent, and (2) if they are considering the concept of finishing the GC in their resource release, and if so, to what extent. With this knowledge base in place and as the Lord leads, the author will then delight in an opportunity to follow-up with a House2Harvest mobilization ministry.

25 Therefore, the pragmatic rationale for doing this project is for someone to assess if simple churches are releasing their resources toward finishing the GC, and if so, to what extent.

Limitations and Assumptions of the Project To address the stated problem, this project utilized a survey methodology. In collecting data for the survey, the author attempted to reach as many simple churches in the USA as possible to get as accurate of a picture as possible. An anticipated limitation in securing enough participants to take the survey derived from the heterogeneous nature of the simple churches. Simple churches tend not to formalize with denominational-like directories. And they do not typically market themselves to a broad audience like institutional churches do using signs, ads, and flyers. Certainly, simple churches are outreach motivated, but their outreach is thought of in terms of relationship building, instead of come into my building. All to say, many simple churches were difficult to track down for survey participation. The survey was conducted electronically following e-mail distribution, with data collection done solely over the Internet. The best opportunity for the survey distribution was through the authors network of simple church relationships, both individual simple churches and leaders of simple church networks. Thus, one assumption included the effectiveness of the authors simple church relationships. The intent was to distribute the online survey via websites and e-mail distribution lists to hundreds of participants. As far as the author can tell, no one else has attempted to assess the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC. Whereas this presented a challenging dissertation project, it did limit the opportunity to

26 build on someone elses data base foundation and subsequent conclusions. In other words, this project treaded in uncharted research territory. The greatest presupposition underlying this project was the forecast that simple churches have a much greater capacity to release resources toward finishing the GC than do institutional churches. Theoretically, because simple churches have so much lower overhead than their institutional church counterparts (e.g., 5% versus 85%) they have the potential capacity to release 633% (95% 15%) more resources into the ripe harvest fields. Whether or not simple churches devote these resources toward releasing workers into ripe harvest fields is the problem to be addressed with this project. Addressing this problem necessitated a thorough literature review on the subjects of IC, SC, and how they release resources toward finishing the GC. The next section will take a brief look at the literature pertinent to this project.

Literature Pertinent to the Project First, the survey of literature as it pertains to the project will begin with the current state of how close/far the Church is from finishing the GC. This will include demographic studies such as the religious state of the world, as well as current statistics regarding church resource distribution toward unreached peoples. Second, the current institutional model of church in the USA will be reviewed, primarily with regards to how this bureaucratic structure spends its resources. It appears that bureaucratic church structures necessitate a large percentage of their income for bureaucratic operations. This in turn prevents the required resources, workers and wealth,

27 from going to the worlds ripest harvest fields at an alarming and epidemic rate. Statistics will verify that only a small percentage shift could create a tremendous difference in the amount of resources being released toward finishing the GC. Third, the Church wineskin reformation that is afoot in the USA today will be explored. An examination of the SC Movement will show that it is alive and well and growing quickly within the USA. A move towards this emerging simple church wineskin has an enormous potential to positively affect the release of workers into the ripe fields of the earth. A few sample success stories will show how simple churches/networks are positively affecting the world around them, by releasing resources toward finishing of the GC. Is this happening on a consistently broader scale? Answering this question is the problem to be addressed with this project. What will drive simple churches to send workers into the ripe harvest fields? More than likely, it will be faithfulness to the proper biblical/theological and historical perspectives of Jesus GC. These perspectives, as they relate to the problem to be addressed with this project, will be introduced next.

Biblical/Theological/Historical Perspective of the Problem The biblical/theological and historical perspective, as well as the current implications, of this projects problem is based upon the following three concepts: (1) finishing the GC, (2) releasing resources, and (3) the potential contribution of simple churches. Each of these three concepts is found in the title of this dissertation: Assessing the State of Simple Churches in the USA Regarding Releasing Resources toward Finishing the GC. These three major concepts comprise the substance of this ministry

28 project and will be introduced in the opposite order of how they appear in the title according to the following outline: I. A Mandate to Finish the Great Commission A. Biblical/Theological Declaring Gods Glory and Making Disciples of All Nations B. Historical The GC is Still Not Finished C. Current Implications Going to Ripe Harvest Fields (primarily UPGs) II. A Must of Releasing Resouces A. Biblical/Theological Releasing Resources as Worship B. Historical Not Much Resource Release C. Current Implications Releasing Resources by Redistributing to UPGs III. A Method of using Simple Church Wineskins A. Biblical/Theological The New Testament Church Pattern, Principles, and Practices B. Historical The Instutionalization of the Church C. Current Implications The Simple Church Finishing the Great Commission With the proper biblical/theological and historical foundation, as well as current implications, in place for this minsitry project, the next step is to discuss the method that was used to address and analyze the problem.

29 Method for Addressing and Analyzing the Problem A survey was the best suited method to address the stated problem presented in this ministry project. Towards this end, a survey was designed, pilot tested within the context of a focus group, and then distributed in order to collect and analyze quantitative data from a diverse simple church population. The surveys design incorporated foundational questions predicated on the literature review, as well as the biblical/theological and historical views of releasing resources toward finishing the GC. The survey assessed the state - both attitudinal and behavioral perspectives of simple churches regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC. The survey consisted of four categories, followed by demographics: I. II. III. IV. Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church comparison, Simple church Great Commission knowledge and perceived need for help, Resource release of simple church workers (e.g., time in the survey), Resource release of simple church wealth (e.g. money in the survey).

To ensure the answers to the survey questions led to a successful survey, a large enough sample and an appropriate cross-section of participants was needed. According to the Barna Research group, over 5 million Americans engage exclusively in some form of simple church.54 Linking with simple church networks in the USA assisted in forwarding the survey to a cross-section of these participants. Helpful in this endeavor was a connection with some key influencers in the SC Movement. On this list was the authors field mentor, Felicity Dale, co-founder of www.house2house.com. House2House is a resource base for simple churches as well as

54

Barna, Revolution, 49.

30 the host for the annual national Simple Church conference. Along with many other simple church relationships, this allowed for an appropriate size survey distribution. The survey was conducted exclusively online, and the research instrument of choice for data collection was a survey designed and implemented from the professional survey web site: www.SurveyMonkey.com. Surveys designed through SurveyMonkey.com are custom designed to garner quantitative response data on the front end, while providing helpful analysis features on the back end. Capitalizing on the strengths of surveymonkey.com, the author designed and distributed the survey, collected the data, and analyzed the results. The results then lead to the assessment of the ministry project. The following section describes the expected results of this project as well as how these results may contribute to the long-term interests of the SC Movement.

Expected Results and Contributions of the Project The SC Movement in the USA is a fairly new phenomenon. Although there has always been a remnant of simple churches, never have they begun to take hold of the overall Church consciousness like they have in the last decade to the magnitude of becoming almost 15% of adult Christian Church adherents in the USA (20 million adults practicing their faith in alternative simple church wineskins55 133.4 million adult Christian Church adherents56) and growing rapidly. The novelty of this movement, however, does not lend itself to projecting the expected results of this project. Since there
55

Barna, Revolution, 13.

Table 76. Christian Church Adherents, 2000., The 2008 Statistical Abstract, http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/population/religion.html (accessed June 20, 2008).

56

31 is not much, if any, conclusive data on record concerning the stated problem, projecting expected results was somewhat difficult. The expected results revolved around two possible phenomena: (1) a SC with greater capacity to release resources per giving unit than IC, and (2) a SC with an unrealized and under-activated capacity regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC. As shown previously, IC statistics regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC are unimpressive at best.57 Therefore, with this ministry projects surveys collected and data analyzed and interpreted, the expected results were a SC that releases resources that far surpass IC statistics per giving unit. At the same time, the numbers may not be as high as expected (i.e. the figures less than ideal). Additionally, the numbers may reflect a highly unrealized and under-activated capacity when it comes to simple churches releasing resources toward finishing the GC. The results of the survey should help build a much needed database for ongoing and future analysis of the SC Movement in the USA. In addition, a major contribution of this project is the collection of beneficial research data that begins to lay the groundwork for a releasing resources toward finishing the GC solution if needed. Along these lines, the next potential contribution of this project is the synthesis of the primary ingredients of a solution into a formalized ministry, one that will be able to serve simple churches by assisting them to better release their resources toward finishing the GC. Towards this end, the author foresees using the survey results to grow the newly established SC service organization House2Harvest. With House2Harvest in the
For example as a recap concerning the IC in the USA: (1) church members give only 2.5% of their incomes, (2) 85% of all church activity and funds are being directed toward the internal operations of the congregation, such as staff salaries, utility expenses, and operating expenses, and (3) only 0.2% of what Christians spend on themselves is being given towards reaching the 1.9 billion unreached peoples.
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32 prototype stage, it is hoped that the subsequent analysis and interpretation of the data will move the ministry into an accelerated building stage. Accordingly, addressing the problem of this ministry project has been fundamental to building upon the House2Harvest ministry foundation, which in theory has the potential to be a major contribution to the SC Movement. Allowing others access to the survey data will be an additional contribution of this project. Conveniently, surveymonkey.com gives the ability to share reports and analysis publically with an open link or privately with password protection. Having the survey results systematically documented and made available will allow others, with a similar vision to see simple churches in the USA better release resources toward finishing the GC, utilize the results however they want for the sake of planning a multitude of SC and GC initiatives. In summary, there seems to be little, if any, formal research focused on addressing the stated problem of this project. There is an abundant supply of researched literature focused on finishing the GC,58 and increasingly, there is a healthy supply of researched literature on the subject of SC. The combination of the two, however, does not approximate the desirable amount of researched literature this subject deserves. The results of this project have helped remedy this, contributing to the under-researched combination of SC and finishing the GC.

In 1900, there had been just 250 global plans to evangelize the world since AD 33. By 1970, that number had doubled to 510. In the 26 years between 1970 and 1996, the total had more than doubled again, reaching 1,190. By 2000, there were 1400 world evangelization plans with anticipation to double again by 2025 to 3,000. Justin Long, Megatrend 9: 50 New Global Plans Yearly, Monday Morning Reality Check http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/globalchristianity/mmrc/mmrc9640.htm (accessed June 10, 2008).

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33 Evaluation of the Project Evaluating the research data collected by the surveys comprised the essence of this ministry project. Chapter 4 describes the ministry project description and data results, and Chapter 5 describes the overall analysis and assessment of the ministry project. The overall effectiveness of the project was also evaluated according to the following four criteria: 1. Were the data useful in addressing the stated problem related to number of participants and a demographic cross-section of participants? 2. Was the methodology useful enough to address the stated problem (e.g., was the design appropriate, the collection of data suitable, and analysis of the data accurate)? 3. Will the data be useful to lend itself to potential solutions to the stated problem (e.g., did enough ideas and suggestions come forth to build a solid foundation for a prototype House2Harvest)? 4. Will the data be useful to lead others to seek answers to the stated problem (e.g., did the survey spark a healthy level of interest in exploring further research related to the problem)? Finally, writing this dissertation and receiving final approval is the academic culmination of my Doctor of Ministry degree, providing an evaluation of this season of my life. However, my heart culmination will not take place until simple churches in the USA are releasing resources to their full capacity toward finishing the GC playing their part in ushering in the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father perhaps, the evaluation of a lifetime!

Summary Jesus charged the 70 with this exhortation: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the

34 harvest field. Go! (Luke 10:2-3). Then at the end of His earthly ministry, He charged His disciples: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Mt 28:18-20). Two-millennia later, the harvest is still plentiful, the workers are still too few, and Jesus is still telling the Church to go and make disciples of all nations! It is the duty of the Church to send workers to reap the remaining harvest of lost souls. In order to do so, however, it will take a massive amount of resources, workers and wealth. Institutional churches in the USA continue to spend a disproportionate share of their resources on bureaucracy and budgets, leaving very little to reap areas in the world where the harvest is most ripe, primarily the 1.9 billion unreached people. Simple churches in the USA are a growing phenomenon that seems to be here to stay. Free from institutional bureaucracy, collectively these simple churches have the potential to free-up and redirect a massive amount of resources toward finishing the GC. Whereas simple churches have an enormous capacity to release workers and the accompanying wealth into the ripest harvest fields, the question was: are they doing so? Surveying the SC community by collecting and analyzing quantitative data helped address this problem. Additionally, utilizing the interpreted survey results will give future mobilization ministries an informative foundation to build upon to help ensure the SC Movement grows and goes. Towards this end, assessing the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC was a problem worthy to be considered and addressed.

CHAPTER TWO: SURVEY OF THE LITERATURE

Overview For the GC to be fulfilled, many more workers need to be released and redirected to the ripest harvest fields on the earth, primarily UPGs.59 The most prominent type of church in the USA, the IC, has an abundance of these resources, both workers and wealth. However, a large proportion of a typical institutional churchs resources are directed toward self-sustaining initiatives and overhead, with little directed toward reaching unreached people at home or abroad. An emerging type of church in the USA, the SC, operates on a low overhead; and as a result, seems to have greater potential to release and redirect its resources toward GC initiatives. Towards discussing this further, this literature review will survey four primary areas: (1) the GCs gross imbalance, (2) the IC and the GCs gross imbalance, (3) the SC in the USA, and (4) the SCs capacity to correct the GCs gross imbalance. First, this literature review addresses the current gross imbalance of the GC, particularly related to the churchs abundance of workers and wealth. Before introducing SC as a potential solution to the problem, the problem must be clearly understood. The work of several authors verifies a rapidly expanding faith in Jesus Christ throughout the
Previously an Unreached People Group was defined as a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people. It may also help to clarify what the term does NOT mean. Since an unreached people group refers to a group of people with no viable and relevant church, a non-Christian neighbor of most Americans would not be termed unreached. They are unsaved and need the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet they probably have a church available in their own language and culture and have access to the gospel. They could go to church or read a Bible if they chose. In other words, they may be termed unsaved or unevangelized but not unreached because they are part of a reached group.
59

35

36 earth; but also a remaining task that is immense. Therefore, this section substantiates evidence of an abundance of workers and wealth to solve the problem of extending the Kingdom of God to the worlds remaining unreached peoples. But it also identifies a church holding on to its workers and wealth to the level of generating a gross imbalance, further hindering Gospel expansion. Statistics demonstrate how only a small percentage shift could create a tremendous difference in the amount of resources being released toward finishing the GC. Second, this literature review addresses the GCs gross imbalance of resources as it relates to the IC structure. The term institutional church will be defined and its bureaucratic structure examined as to how it affects the release of its resources toward finishing the GC. Subsequently, evidence is presented showing how the IC is allocating its wealth, releasing its workers, and making disciples, none of which is conducive to sending disciple-making laborers where they are needed most, primarily to UPGs. Third, this literature review addresses the SC in the USA. An examination of SC will show how it is emerging to the point that it appears to be here to stay in the USA. This section will then describe the SC, including its biblical roots, and explain how it differs from the IC. Next, SC patterns, principles, and practices will be examined, followed by a look at how a simple church, due to its very low overhead, has tremendous capacity to release and redirect its resources, workers and wealth, toward finishing the GC. Fourth, this literature review addresses the SC in the USA related to the GC. In addition to its tremendous resource release capacity, there are numerous other corresponding reasons why the SC is a well-suited wineskin to help finish the GC, which

37 will be addressed. And whereas the SC wineskin has an enormous potential to positively affect the release of workers into the ripe fields of the earth, it is essential to find out if simple churches in the USA are playing a part. Accordingly, a handful of examples of simple churches in the USA positively releasing resources toward finishing the GC will be looked at. In order to evaluate if the SC Movement is indeed releasing resources on a broader scale, this section will demonstrate that a larger sampling of simple churches in the USA is necessary to determine if, in fact, they are releasing resources toward finishing the GC. A literature review map is presented next in Figure 1 as an illustrative overview of Chapter 2.

38

Assessing the State of Simple Churches in the USA Regarding Releasing Resources toward Finishing the Great Commission

The GCs Gross Imbalance

The IC and the GCs Gross Imbalance


The IC as a Bureaucratic Structure How the IC is Allocating its Wealth How the IC is Releasing its Workers

The SC in the USA

The SC in the USA and the GC

The GC is Being Fulfilled Rapidly

Introducing SC

SC and the GC in Church History

The Remaining Task to Fulfill the GC is Immense

How SC Differs from IC

SC a Well-Suited GC Wineskin

The Church has a Great Amount of Resources


The Church is Perpetrating a Gross Imbalance of Resources

SC Patterns, Principles and Practices

Simple Churches in the USA and the GC The Need for More SC GC Data

How the IC is Making Disciples

The Resource Capacity of SC

Figure 1. Literature review map

The Great Commissions Gross Imbalance In this process of understanding the potential of the simple churches toward releasing resources toward finishing the GC, it is prudent to understand the current state of GC initiatives, including resource release, workers and wealth, and cost effectiveness of these resources. To do so, the state of the GC, including the good news that the GC is being fulfilled rapidly, and the challenging news that the remaining task to fulfill the GC is immense will be explored. The next section will explore the state of the GCs

39 gross imbalance, including the good news that the church has a great amount of resources, and the challenging news that the church is generating a gross imbalance of resources.

The Great Commission is being Fulfilled Rapidly We are currently living through one of the most transforming periods in the history of Christianity, with much reason for optimism. Several authors attest to the expansion of global Christianity. The Lausanne Statistical Task Force affirmed: It took 18 centuries for dedicated believers to grow from 0 percent of the worlds population to 2.5 percent in 1900, only 70 years to grow from 2.5 to 5 percent in 1970, and just the last 30 years to grow from 5 to 11.2 percent of the world population. Now, for the first time in history, there is one believer for every nine people worldwide who arent believers. 60 Missions experts Ralph Winter and Bruce Koch studied the amazing progress of the gospel over the last few decades, especially penetrating previously unreached areas, and discovered that one of every ten people on the planet is of the Bible-reading, Biblebelieving stream of Christianity.61 The number of believers in what used to be mission fields, according to Winter and Koch, now surpasses the number of believers in the countries from which missionaries were originally sent: The Protestant growth rate in Latin America is well over three times the biological growth rate. Protestants in China grew from about one million to over 80 million believers in less than 50 years, with most of that growth occurring in just the last few decades. In the 1980s, Nepal was still a staunch Hindu kingdom with only a small persecuted church. Today there are hundreds of thousands of
60

Cited in Wesley Campbell and Stephen Court, Be a Hero: A Battle for Mercy and Social Justice (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2005), 156. Ralph D. Winter and Bruce A. Koch, Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge, Missions Frontiers (June 2000) http://www.missionfrontiers.org/2000/03/200003.htm (accessed May 9, 2008).
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40 believers and churches have been started within each of the more than 100 distinct people groups.62 Noted researchers Dr. David Barrett and Dr. Todd Johnson projected that in the year 2025 the number of Christians in three fastest growing continents will be: 640 million in Latin America, 633 million in Africa, and 460 million in Asia. Europe, with 555 million, will have slipped to third place.63 Africa and Latin America would be in competition for the title of the most Christian continent, and together these two continents will account for half the Christians on the planet. Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, confirmed this global expansion and described how the center of gravity in the Christian world has already shifted inexorably southward to Africa, Asia, and Latin America: As Kenyan scholar John Mbiti has observed, the centers of the churchs universality [are] no longer in Geneva, Rome, Athens, Paris, London, New York, but in Kinshasa, Buenos Aires, Addis Ababa and Manila. Whatever Europeans or North Americans may believe, Christianity is doing very well indeed in the global Southnot just surviving, but expanding. 64 In presenting the state of the Gospel, Justin Long and Jason Mandryk alleged that the worlds population is growing at an average annual rate of 1.2%. When comparing Christianity [in all forms] with other world religions, Christianity reflects a 1.4% growth rate. This is not as fast as Islam or ethnic religions, only slightly faster than the global average population growth, but faster than Buddhism or the non-religious sector. The evangelical brand of Christianity however, is growing at an average annual growth rate of
62

Ibid. Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 321.

63

Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 2.

64

41 4.7%.65 As Patrick Johnstone, editor of Operation World, confirmed, Evangelical Christians are the fastest growing major religious group in the world today and it is the only one growing rapidly by conversion.66 Evangelical Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds, especially in the developing nations. This is a terrific report! Despite this rapid growth however, the Churchs remaining task of reaching the remaining UPGs, those who have yet to hear the gospel even once, is still immense as is examined next.

The Remaining Task to Fulfill the Great Commission is Immense While the amazing progress of the spread of the gospel throughout the world gives much cause for rejoicing, it obscures the tragic reality the remaining task that is immense. An article in the highly acclaimed International Bulletin of Missionary Research revealed that while 72% of the world is adequately evangelized, there are 1,871,208,000 unreached people remaining to be evangelized67 (belonging to 6,857 UPGs68). Moreover, although the 28% of the world left to be adequately evangelized is a decrease from 58% in 1900, it is actually an increase from 24% in 1980.69
Justin Long and Jason Mandryk, Presenting the State of the Gospel, Momentum 1, no. 8 (Nov/Dec 2006): 33 www.momentum-mag.org. Ralph Winter, State of World Evangelization, Missions Frontiers, http://www.missionfrontiers.org/newslinks/statewe.htm (accessed April 30, 2008). David Barrett, Todd Johnson and Peter F. Crossing, Status of Global Mission, 2008, in Context of 20th and 21st Centuries, International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Jan 2008), 29. 6,857 UPGs out of a total of 16,470 people groups (i.e., 41.6%). Cited in Global Summary, Joshua Project - Bringing Definition to the Unfinished Task, http://www.joshuaproject.net/ (accessed June 12, 2008). David Barrett, George T. Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson, (ed.). World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World (2 Volume Set), 2d ed. (Oxford University Press, 2001), 2:538.
69 68 67 66 65

42 Barrett and Johnson confirmed this sobering reality in their landmark book, World Christian Trends, Ad 30-Ad 2200, Despite billions of dollars spent by dozens of denominations toward over a hundred major programs to fulfill the GC by the year 2000, Christianity didn't even keep up with population growth, much less reach the nearly two billion unreached people.70 They go on to explain that even though Christianity's 4,000 foreign mission agencies baptize upwards of 4,000,000 new people a year, there are 124,000,000 new people born each year.71 And, even though there are 87,000 new people evangelized per day, there are 340,000 new people born per day. 72 All told, the number of unevangelized people rose from 1.7 billion in 2000 to 1.8 billion in 2007, and will likely continue to rise to 2.1 billion by 2025.73 The churchs task to reach the remaining UPGs is immense and getting larger. The essential first step toward reversing this losing battle is to know where the unreached people live. Toward this end, Long and Mandryk recorded the Top 10 Unevangelized countries (see Table 1) as seen through the unreached people lens. Additionally, the Joshua Project,74 conversely, catalogued the Top 5 Unreached People Groups countries

70

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 3. Ibid. Barrett, Kurian, and Johnson, World Christian Encyclopedia, 2:538.

71

72

Justin Long, Aiming for 50,000 teams, Momentum Magazine, May 1, 2007, under Mobilization, http://www.momentum-mag.org/2007/05/aiming-for-50000-teams (accessed July 3, 2008). http://www.joshuaproject.net/ is a pioneer organization for cataloguing unreached people groups, and it continues to be the definitive ongoing source for quality information. Having catalogued all the remaining UPGs, they not only know where each of the 6,700 UPGs (out of a total of 16,300 people groups) is located, but they also know multitudes of information about them, including: cultural traits, religion, and if they have the Bible/Jesus film/radio translated into their language, etc.
74

73

43 (see Table 2) as seen through the UPG lens.75 [See Appendix A for a missional definition of people group, in relation to the barriers that need to be overcome in order to be reached.] Table 1. The Top 10 Unevangelized Countries76 Country 1. India 2. China 3. Pakistan 4. Indonesia 5. Iran 6. Thailand 7. Algeria 8. Morocco 9. Bangladesh 10. Afghanistan Unevangelized People 344,000,000 262,000,000 144,000,000 68,600,000 48,700,000 34,100,000 32,900,000 30,900,000 30,000,000 26,000,000

Table 2. Top 5 Unreached People Group Countries77 Country India China Pakistan Bangladesh Nepal Total People Groups 2,596 504 390 402 335 Unreached People Groups 2,283 415 375 355 312

The Joshua Project defines an UPG as a people group with less than 2% evangelical individuals and less than 5% Christian adherents.
76

75

Long and Mandryk, Presenting the State of the Gospel: 64.

Status of World Evangelization - 2008, Joshua Project, http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dd2fkbwh_52fgm7wnc5 (accessed May 27, 2008).

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44 Each of these countries, not coincidently, is in an area of the world that has colossal spiritual, cultural, logistical, and geo-political barriers. This area is commonly known as the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is a rectangular-shaped geographic area of the world between latitudes 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north covering North Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia. Referencing the 10/40 Window, missions statesmen Louis Bush asserted that this geographical area encompasses: Ninety-five percent of the worlds UPGs, the greatest concentration of the world's Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, 50 of the top 50 least evangelized megacities (those with a population of more than one million), more than eighty percent of the worlds poorest of the poor, who on average exist on less than $500 per person per year, and a majority of the 160,000 martyrdoms per year. 78 John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and prominent missions advocate, personalized the spiritual plight of this area by recommending all Christians get a copy of the world prayer guide called Operation World,79 and then pray and read and ponder your way through the nations day by day. Piper listed some examples: Libya with its six million people and perhaps ten indigenous believers. Bhutan, a hermit Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas, cut off from Christian witness for millennia with only a handful of indigenous believers among its two and a half million people. The Maldives, off the southwest coast of India, and one of the most closed countries on earth.

Luis Bush, The 10/40 Window Booklet: Getting to the Core of the Core. (AD 2000 & Beyond Movement, 2000), 1-7. Operation World is a prayer guide for all the nations of the world: Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World: When We Pray God Works (Waynesboro, Ga.: Paternoster USA, 2001). See the online version at http://www.gmi.org/ow/.
79

78

45 North Korea, a pariah nation gradually starving to death under its crazed Communist leadership, with no open witness or church life for fifty years. Saudi Arabia, the headquarters of Islam where Saudi believers, if found, are executed. India, perhaps the greatest challenge of all, with its vast Ganges plains that contain the greatest concentration of unevangelized people in the world. For instance, the number of people in Uttar Pradesh in North India is about 180,000,000 and the Christian percentage is 0.1% and falling. Turkey, the secular, mainly Muslim state with an ongoing Christian witness in only 15 of its 100 provinces. 80

No doubt, those living in the 10/40 Window have the greatest spiritual and economic needs on the planet. Penetrating the metaphorical devils coffin81 with the light of the gospel will require a concerted effort by churches, which in turn will require a transfer of a huge amount of resources.82 In the next section, it will become apparent that the Church has more than enough resources to accomplish the task. However, it will also become apparent that many churches are not distributing enough of these resources toward the 10/40 Window, where they are needed most. The SC paradigm on the other

80

John Piper, Dont Waste Your Life (Group Study Edition) (Wheaton, Il: Crossway Books, 2007),

176. The devils coffin is a metaphorical term used by some to describe the rectangular coffin shape of the 10/40 Window. When combined with its huge spiritual needs, it is as if the devil has undo authority over this area. It is therefore up to the church to try to shrink this coffin to the point of oblivion. For example, the church needs to provide resources in the following areas: (1) Bible translation: whereas 96% of the world's population has adequate Scriptures in their language, the remaining 4% will require possibly as many as 3,000 new translation efforts; (2) Christian radio broadcasting: where studies indicate Christian radio broadcasts are in the languages of about 81% of the worlds population with 19% to go; (3) the Jesus Film: with approximately 6,159 billion viewings of the Jesus Film to date and available in languages spoken by over 90% of the worlds population - with 10% to go; and (4) Workers: with 50,000 long-term pioneer teams who are on a non-tourist, non-missionary platform with many more to go. See: Status of World Evangelization - 2008, Joshua Project, http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dd2fkbwh_52fgm7wnc5 (accessed May 27, 2008) and Justin Long, Aiming for 50,000 teams, Momentum Magazine, May 1, 2007. http://www.momentummag.org/2007/05/aiming-for-50000-teams (accessed June 29, 2008).
82 81

46 hand may provide an efficient conduit through which these resources can be more effectively distributed.

The Church has a Great Amount of Resources The GC is being fulfilled at a rapid pace. However, it is now evident that the remaining task is immense. Whereas approximately 70%, or 4.4 billion of the worlds population, have heard the gospel in some form, the remaining 30%, nearly two billion, have virtually no exposure to the gospel message. The good news is that churches worldwide, and in particular evangelical churches in the USA, have more than enough resources to reach the nearly two billion unreached people. Consider the following facts on how much money is circulating in Christian communities. According to Barrett and Johnson, evangelicals worldwide collectively had personal income totaling more than $16 trillion in 2007,83 while evangelicals in the USA alone (pop. 98.6 million) collectively had personal income totaling $2.66 trillion back in 2000.84 Furthermore, Ron Blue, owner of a national financial counseling firm, noted in a speech that evangelicals in the USA collectively had personal disposable income estimated at $850 billion.85 These are enormous sums of money; certainly enough to ensure each unreached person has an opportunity to understand the gospel, which will become evident. The good

David B. Barrett, Tom M. Johnson and Peter F. Crossing, Missiometrics: Creating Your Own Analysis of Global Data, International Bulletin of Missionary Research 31, no. 1 (2007), 8.
84

83

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000, 657.

Ron Blue, Generous Living: Finding Contentment through Giving, speech delivered at the annual Generous Giving Conference (Atlanta, Jan 14-15, 1999) cited in Research Library, Generous Giving, http://www.generousgiving.org/articles/display.asp?id=175 (accessed July10, 2008).

85

47 news does not stop with an abundance of finances however. Dr. Howard Foltz, professor of Missiology, used the following two historical records to indicate that there are also more than enough churches and believers to finish the GC: Concerning churches: In AD 100, estimated one church for every 12 UPGs, in AD 1000, estimated one church for every five UPGs, in AD 1500, estimated one church for every one UPG, in AD 1900, estimated 10 churches for every one UPG, in AD 2000, estimated 900 evangelical churches for every UPG.86

Concerning believers: in AD 100, estimated 360 non-believers for every believer, in AD 1000, estimated 270 non-believers for every believer, in AD 1500, estimated 85 non-believers for every believer, in AD 2000, estimated seven non-believers for every believer. 87

The statistical bottom line reveals 900 evangelical churches per every UPG and one evangelical believer per every seven non-believers in the world. This is good news for 21st century Christians! Not only is the Church strategically advancing in unprecedented proportions, it also has more than enough resources, workers and wealth, to complete the remaining task. Of course, finishing the GC will not be easy. As noted earlier, a vast majority of the UPGs are located in the 10/40 Window, a window the devil is vehemently working to
Howard Foltz, Harvest Connection Power Point Presentation (Virginia Beach: Accelerating International Missions Strategies, 2000), slide #37.
87 86

Ibid., slide #38.

48 keep shut. One method he is using to keep the window shut is to keep Christians ignorant of the task, and according to Barrett and Johnson, this method is working. They discovered that of the worlds two billion Christians, only 648 million are active in the GC. To make matters worse, out of these 648 million Christians, 70% of them know nothing about the nearly two billion unreached peoples.88 What is more, as presented next, the 30% of Christians who do know about unreached peoples are only allocating a tiny portion of their resources toward reaching them.

The Church is Perpetrating a Gross Imbalance of Resources As noted, most Christians are not aware of unreached people. Due to this unawareness, it appears that they and the churches they belong to have not made reaching UPGs a priority; in effect they have neglected them. This will become apparent when looking at the imbalance of how little of the churchs resources goes to reach UPGs. Indeed, the imbalances are so bad that they can be classified as gross imbalances. This next section will address these gross imbalances in two categories: workers and wealth, with a follow-on discussion on a cost effectiveness imbalance. There is a wealth gross imbalance. As stated previously, the total annual income of evangelicals worldwide is $16 trillion. Of this $16 trillion, according to David B. Barrett, Tom M. Johnson and Peter F. Crossing, $370 billion is given to Christian causes (2.3% of total income).89 Of this $370 billion given to Christian causes, only $15 billion is given to foreign missions (< 0.1% of

88

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 3. Barrett, Johnson, and Crossing, Missiometrics, 8.

89

49 total annual income). And of this $15 billion given to foreign missions, distribution is as follows: World C - $13,000 million (86.6%)90 World B - $ 1,750 million (11.7%) World A - $ 250 million (1.7%)91

To reiterate, of the $15 billion given to foreign missions by Christians worldwide: 86.6% goes to nations already Christianized (World C), 11.7% goes to nations already evangelized (World B), while only 1.7% goes to nations unevangelized (World A), or < 0.002% of total annual income! Illustratively, this means that out of every $1000.00 of evangelical income worldwide: $23.00 is given to all Christian causes, $0.93 cents is given to foreign missions, $0.015 cents (1 pennies out of every $1000) is given to World A where a large majority of the UPGs live! Additionally, according to Barrett and Johnson, 91% of all church outreach/evangelism budgets do not target non-Christian nations but target other

World A: the 38 countries primarily unevangelized. <50% unreached (1.9 Billion souls). Mostly Asia and North Africa - often called the 10/40 Window. World B: the 59 countries evangelized by not converted. >50% reached but <60% Christian (2.6 billion souls). World C: the 141 countries primarily or predominantly Christian already. >95% Evangelized and >60% Christian (2 billion souls) These are mostly the West - North, Central and South America, Europe, Southern Africa, and Australia.
91

90

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 55.

50 Christians in World C. 92 Collectively, these statistics verify a gross imbalance of financial stewardship by the church, especially in terms of the serious oversight of World A.93 Churches in the USA are essentially no different than the worldwide churches when it comes to operating with a gross imbalance of giving toward World A. According to John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, experts in documenting church giving, the average church in the USA designated 85% of all church funds on internal operations for such things as staff salaries, building payments, utilities, and operating expenses.94 Subsequently, a survey of 34 denominations showed that the average amount of total denominational budgets going to overseas missions in World A, B, and C combined was a mere 2%, with World A receiving only a minute portion of the 2%!95 Sadly, the gross imbalance of the Churchs resource of wealth between World A and World C is magnified even more in comparison to how little is needed to meet World As needs, both socially and spiritually. Case in point, according to the Borgen Project, annual expenditures of $19 billion between now and 2015 could eliminate global starvation and malnutrition found mostly in World A. Another $12 billion per year over that same time period could provide education for every child on earth. And an additional

92

Ibid., 3.

These statistics are corroborated by similar levels of imbalance in relation to the worldwide distribution of: (1) Christian broadcasting of the $5.8 billion per year spent by Christians on broadcasting (radio/TV) worldwide, distribution is as follows: World A - $6 Million (0.01%), World B - $226 Million (3.9%), World C - $5,568 Million (96.0%); and (2) Scripture of the 4,600 pieces of Scripture given out per year worldwide, distribution is as follows: World A - 20 million (0.4%), World B - 680 million (14.5%), World C - 3,900 million (84.8%) (Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 55).
94

93

Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving through 2000, 13. Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving Through 2004, 54.

95

51 $15 billion each year could provide universal access to clean water and sanitation. 96 Spiritually, when it comes to declaring the gospel to every person on the planet, according to the Ronsvalles, conservative estimates indicated that $1 billion a year could be all thats needed financially to complete this task.97 If these estimates are accurate, they add up to $54 billion needed annually between now and 2015 to eliminate global starvation and malnutrition, educate every child on earth, give universal access to clean water and sanitation, and preach the gospel to every unreached person. Certainly $54 billion is a lot of money, but when compared to the wealth of the USA evangelical church alone it is a negligible amount.98 In fact, above the $850 billion of USA evangelical disposable income available per year, according to the Ronsvalles, if church members would increase their giving to 10% of income (versus the average of 2-3%99) an additional $164 billion a year would become available to be applied to the $54 billion needed.100 When compared to the total income of evangelicals worldwide, the $54 billion needed annually equates to a mere 0.3% of their $16 trillion annual income. Needless to
Clint Borgen, U.S. Consumer Spending, Borgen Project, http://www.borgenproject.org/spending_habits.html (accessed June11, 2008).
97 96

Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving Through 2004, 62.

If $54 billion seems like an unrealistic amount, consider other spending trends in the US. First, Americans spent over $40 billion on their pets in 2007 (American Pet Products Manufacturers Associate, Inc., Industry Statistics and Trends, 2007, http://www.appma.org/press_industrytrends.asp). Second, it is estimated that by 2010, Americans will spend over $60 billion on weight-loss programs (Market Data Enterprises, US Weight Loss Market to Reach $58 billion by 2007, http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dd2fkbwh_68hdx2dmcx). Third, American Christians enjoy an average annual household income of $42,409, while 1.2 billion of the worlds poorest people must survive on $1 a day (Ronald Sider, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Dartmouth, MA: Baker Books, 2005, 21). George Barna, Surveys Show Pastors Claim Congregants Are Deeply Committed to God but Congregants Deny It! news release by Barna Research Group, January 10, 2006.
100 99

98

Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving Through 2004, 1.

52 say, the gross imbalance of the resource of wealth of evangelical churches worldwide is staggering. The spiritual have nots of World A consistently receive a miniscule amount of wealth resource distribution from the spiritual haves of World C. Given these alarming statistics, might simple churches inherently possess a greater giving potential to UPGs because of their lack of financial overhead? This is exactly what this research initiative explores. As presented next, however, the imbalance examination continues, this time concerning the gross imbalance of the resource of workers between World C and A. There is a worker gross imbalance. The imbalance of Christian wealth resources between the developed nations (World C) and the developing nations (World A) is certainly grossly inequitable. However, this wealth imbalance is only a segment of the imbalance that requires the churchs attention and subsequent restitution. Consider the imbalance of Christian workers spread throughout the world. Even though UPGs make up 27% of the worlds population, as illustrated by Long and Mandryk (Table 3), they receive only 2.5% of the churchs cross-cultural missionary force.

53 Table 3. Worlds Cross-cultural Missionary Force101 World Population Christian Evangelized Unevangelized102 33% 40% 27% Foreign Missionaries 80.0% 17.5% 2.5%

Fully, 80% of all foreign missionaries are deployed to World C, to areas of the world that are already Christianized. In total, 97.5% of cross-cultural missionaries are being sent to areas of the world that have already received workers resources at the expense of unreached/unevangelized areas. Truly, this worker imbalance is grossly disproportionate. Its apparent that the church, especially in World C, continues to eat its own seed instead of sowing it to where it is needed most. Mission researcher Dr. Todd Johnson claimed that nine out of ten missionaries in recent decades were sent to those already contacted with the Christian message and in many cases already heavily Christianized.103 Missiologist Ralph Winter confirmed this assertion by showing where missionaries worldwide are distributed (as of the year 2000):
101

74% among nominal Christians, 8% among Tribal Peoples, 6% among Muslims,

Long and Mandryk, Presenting the State of the Gospel: 71. The term unevangelized in this figure is used synonymously for unreached.

102

Todd Johnson, It can be done: The impact of Modernity and Postmodernity on the Global Mission Plans of Churches and Agencies, in Between past and future: Evangelical mission entering the twenty-first century, ed. Jonathon J. Bonk, EMS series no. 10 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2003), 43.

103

54

4% among Non-Religious/Atheists, 3% among Buddhists, 2% among Hindus, 2% among Chinese Folk Religions, 1% among Jewish Peoples. 104

Reiterating, the largest percentage of the churchs workers continues to minister to World C and nominal Christians, people who already have access to the gospel and people who have had an opportunity to hear it many times in many ways. Although most of these missionaries are doing the Lords work at great sacrifice, it is evident that a majority of them are plowing the same ground over and over. Once again, the church in the USA mirrors this inequitable distribution of resources; the worker imbalance is just as inequitable as the wealth imbalance. Concerning Christian youth workers, Dave Livermore recognized that youth under 18 in the USA comprise 0.3% of the worlds youth population, yet they comprise 99% of all youth pastors in the world. Stated another way, 99.7% of the worlds youth population lives outside the USA, but they comprise only 1% of the worlds youth pastors!105 Additionally, according to David Barrett & Todd Johnson in World Christian Trends AD 30-AD2200, The average American has more than one discipleship/evangelism offer per

Ralph Winter, State of World Evangelization, Missions Frontiers, http://www.missionfrontiers.org/newslinks/statewe.htm (accessed April 30, 2008).
105

104

Dave Livermore, Billions to be Won, Evangelical Missions Quarterly 37, no. 3 (2001): 331.

55 DAY; however, the average person in places like Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, and other countries has less than one opportunity per YEAR to become a disciple of Jesus.106 Instead of sending World A a more balanced allotment of workers, it appears that the spiritually rich in the USA and elsewhere in World C continue to get richer. As the statistics confirm, it is obvious that the Church in the USA needs to stop business as usual and become much more effective in obeying Jesus mandate to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to the remaining UPGs. SC could be one means of doing church a different way, with a strong possibly of differing results in worker and wealth allocation. As presented next, however, one more imbalance needs to be addressed: the churchs cost effectiveness gross imbalance concerning how it uses its abundant worker and wealth resources. There is a cost effectiveness gross imbalance. As another gauge of the churchs gross imbalance of resource allocation, the following table (Table 4) reveals the amount of money the church spent on evangelism within a particular geographic nation according to how many individuals in that nation received water baptism (i.e., cost per baptism). Of note is the huge gap of cost effectiveness between the developing nations (mostly World A) in the left hand column and the developed nations (mostly World C) in the right hand column:

Paul Grabill, Unreached People, Beside the Point, entry posted January 11, 2007, http://scassembly.blogspot.com/2007/01/unreached-people.html (accessed May 1, 2008).

106

56 Table 4. Water Baptism Cost Effectiveness107 Most Cost Effective Country 1. Mozambique 2. Ethiopia 3. Tanzania 4. Congo 5. Sierra Leone 6. Nepal 7. Chad 8. Burundi 9. Somaliland 10. Cambodia Cost/Baptism $1,366 $2,127 $2,495 $2,619 $3,623 $3,715 $3,865 $3,986 $4,245 $4,292 Least Cost Effective Country 1. Japan 2. Switzerland 3. Bermuda 4. Denmark 5. Belgium 6. Norway 7. Germany 8. France 9. Austria 10. Italy Cost/Baptism $2,721,000 $2,656,000 $2,507,000 $2,337,000 $2,202,000 $2,190,000 $2,119,000 $2,030,000 $1,943,000 $1,902,000

Comparing Japan and Mozambique in Table 4 reveals that it costs almost 2000 times more money to baptize a convert in Japan than in Mozambique.108 In conjunction with this cost effectiveness gross imbalance, it is not surprising that 40% of the churchs entire global foreign mission resources are being deployed to just 10 oversaturated countries already possessing strong citizen-run home ministries.109 Dr. David Barrett, one of the editors of World Christian Trends who originated the above Water Baptism Cost Effectiveness statistics, made the following poignant observation about cost effectiveness and the gospel:

107

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 400. For reference, the cost per baptism in the USA is $1,551,000, and the average for all nations is

108

$330,000.
109

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 3.

57 Dollar for dollar and hour for hour, the harvest coming from the 10/40 Window nations [World A] outstrips that from the rest of the world 100 to 1. That is, if the same money and time spent to win one person to the Lord in the West were put to use in the 10/40 Window nations, the effort would yield a harvest of 100 souls added to the kingdom of God. It is 100 times more cost effective, to reach those in the 10/40 Window.110 In relation to these startling statistics, Barrett believes that it is outrageous for Christians to squander their evangelistic resources in heavily Christianized countries (World C) instead of the area where never-reached persons would hear the Good News for the first time (World A). He implored, If we are to be good stewards of Gods resources, doesnt it make sense to invest where the harvest is most plentiful? That is where we will see the greatest return for His kingdom.111 Certainly it does make sense to invest the churchs resources in the most cost effective manner. To do this, however, the church must redistribute its resources in order to send out laborers to where the harvest is most plentiful, to World A and the 10/40 Window. Why? Because this is where 95% of the UPGs live, where 80% of the poorest of the poor live, and where, according to Dr. Barrett, the church could potentially receive a 100-fold return on its investment. In affirmation, Bob Sjogren, co-founder of Frontiers mission agency, admonished, Christ did not give us the GC as an exercise in futility but a command to be obeyed.112 Towards this end, as the following reiteration of statistics bears out, it is certainly feasible to reach the remaining UPGs with a redistribution of the churchs resources.

Beverly Pegues and Luis Bush, Resources to Reach the Window: Will the Church Respond? International Journal of Frontier Missions 16, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 91.
111

110

Ibid., 94.

Ted Elder, Can We Really Reach the Whole World? The Traveling Team, http://www.thetravelingteam.org/?q=node/189 (accessed August 19, 2008).

112

58 There are over 900 evangelical churches per every UPG. If only one-third of these churches participated in Christs GC, that would signify 300 churches, on average, reaching each UPG. If, in turn, each one of those 300 churches only sent two missionaries to each UPG, that would equate to 600 new workers for every UPG! Furthermore, there are certainly enough finances to fund these workers. Out of the $370 billion given per year by evangelical Christians worldwide, only $250 million is given to World A (six cents on each $100). Only a 10-fold increase (60 cents on each $100 given) would equate to an enormous $2.5 billion given to World A. As determined previously, this would be more than enough to fund each missionary, while having plenty left over to distribute Scriptures and media broadcasts, as well as every other means necessary to reach the remaining UPGs. To summarize, the issue is not whether churches have sufficient resources to finish Christs GC; the issue is where they choose to invest them. Will churches continue to invest the vast majority of their workers and wealth inward on bureaucracy and budgets, or will they choose to direct their resources outward toward God's purposes for all nations to know Him? Neil Cole succinctly stated this as a choice Christians need to make: Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction. If we fail to reproduce ourselves and pass the torch of life into the hands of the next generation, Christianity will be over with in just one generation. Yet because of the power of multiplication we are also one generation away from worldwide fulfillment of the Great Commission. The choice is ours.113 The choice is ours. Will the Church in World C continue to direct its strategic resources toward initiatives that focus on already reached, and oftentimes saturated,
Neil Cole, Organic Church, Growing Faith Where Life Happens (San Francisco, CA: JosseyBass, 2005), 105.
113

59 mission fields, while 66,000 unreached people die each day (6619/hour, 110/minute, 1.64/second)?114 Or will the church in World C choose to correct the gross imbalance of resources it has perpetrated by releasing them to World A and the 10/40 Window and subsequently see the devils coffin shut and sealed for its final burial? One could only hope that churches in World C would choose the later. For this to happen, however, the Church must be shaken out of its resource imbalance indolence and be spurred on towards its rightful destiny. May it hear the clarion call of William Booth, the famous founder of the Salvation Army, who spurred on the Church of his day: Not called! did you say? Not heard the call, I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there.115 Up to this point, the discussion has focused on the church in general, with the only distinguishing factor being geographic (i.e., the church in World A, B, and C). Next, the distinguishing factor of church structure will be introduced and scrutinized as one of the reasons why the imbalance of resources is so inequitable between churches in World A and C. In the spotlight will be the IC structure, which is the most predominant church structure in the USA and much different in structure than the SC being proposed in this project. Examination of the ICs GC effectiveness will be presented in the next

Missions Education: Perspective of the World, AFCM One World Missions, http://www.oneworldmissions.com/index.cfm?pageid=5521 (accessed April 3, 2008). Missions Quotes, The Bible Channel, http://www.thebiblechannel.org/Missions_Quotes/missions_quotes.html (accessed Jnue 2, 2008).
115

114

60 section as a backdrop to the potential that lies in the SC to deploy workers and wealth toward finishing the GC in greater measure.

The Institutional Church and the Great Commissions Gross Imbalance In this process of understanding the potential of the SC toward releasing resources toward finishing the GC, it was prudent to understand the current state of GC initiatives, including resource release (workers and wealth) and cost effectiveness of these resources. At this point, it should be clear that the GC is being fulfilled even though the remaining task being immense. And despite the Church having substantial resources, only a minute disproportionate share of its workers and wealth are being dispatched to the worlds neediest spiritual and physical areas. This section will take a hard look at why the church is not giving more of its workers and wealth toward finishing the GC. Toward this end, this section will assess church structure, specially the IC structure, as a plausible explanation of why the church is perpetrating such a gross imbalance of resources between World A and C. With regard to this, the term Institutional Church is defined, and then the ICs bureaucratic structure is examined in relation to its resource release toward finishing the GC, particularly, how the IC is allocating its workers and wealth and making disciples.

The Institutional Church as a Bureaucratic Structure The term Institutional Church evokes many images and characterizations. This section highlights various authors descriptive viewpoints related to the IC and also provides a perspective related to the ICs traditional bureaucratic structure. Wolfgang

61 Simson, a veteran missionary and church strategy consultant used the following list of key areas to define the IC: Place: meets in sanctuaries, Main functionaries: pastors, teachers, and evangelist, Finances: tithes and offerings, Evangelism: outreach, action, programs, specialist, Battle cry: getting more people into the church, Size: large, impersonal groups, Teaching style: static, sermon-central, Most important task of pastor: preach good sermons, house visits, Center: worship service in a religious building, Keyword: become a member, Ministry: performance-orientated, Mission: sending specialized missionaries. 116

Bill Beckham, also a veteran missionary and president of TOUCH Global, defined IC using the successive characteristics of what he called Constantines cathedral paradigm: People go to a building (cathedral) on a special day of the week (Sunday) and someone (a priest, or today, a pastor) does something to them (teaching, preaching, absolution or healing) or for them (a ritual or entertainment) for a price (offerings).117

116

Simson, Houses that Change the World, 31.

William A. Beckham, The Second Reformation: Reshaping the Church for the 21st Century (Houston: TOUCH Publications, 1995), 43.

117

62 Jim Rutz, author of the revolutionary book, Open Church, defined IC as follows: Institutional Church connotes things like a professional pastorate office, committees with official channels of procedure, distinct departments of ministry such as Sunday school and social outreach, etc. Doctrines and practices that flow from a denominational heritage determine many institutional matters. [also] there are superior/subordinate relationships among laity and clergy. 118 Gene Edwards, author of the modern classic Tale of Three Kings, used the following list of attributes to define IC: the church building, pastors, the order of worship, the sermon, the pulpit, the pew, the choir, Sunday school, the seminary, the Bible school, interdenominational and para-church organizations, the matter of Protestants going to church on Sunday at 10 or 11 A.M., the altar call.119 In addition to this list, many institutional churches now have their own small groups. Rad Zdero, editor of Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, calls them home groups and said this about how they operate in an institutional church: These home groups usually involve only people who are members of the mother congregation and are not outreach focused. Here are usually a few of the small groups floating around, but there are not the main program offered by the congregations. The main thing is the large group Sunday morning service. This is like a bicycle wheel hub (Sunday morning large group) with the odd spoke (home group) protruding out.120 The most recent phenomena concerning IC in the USA is the development of the mega-church. Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung, both former mega-church pastors, commented on some advantages of the mega-church, noting that it is not unusual for people to drive for an hour or more to attend a mega-church worship service:

118

James Rutz, Megashift: Igniting Spiritual Power (Colorado Springs: Empowerment Press,

2005), 118.
119

Gene Edwards, Beyond Radical (Jacksonville, FL: SeedSowers, 1999), 13. Rad Zdero, The Global House Church Movement (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library,

120

2004), 4.

63 Mega-churches have much to offer. There are ministries for every member of the family, 12-step programs for those with addictions, Bible schools, concerts, youth ministries, singles ministries you name it, almost anything is available. This kind of large church with its expansive programs appeals to baby boomers and others who enjoy the polished nature of the worship services, and who find the size and the upbeat style of these churches appealing. 121 Additionally, Kreider and McClung identified one of the benefits of the mega-church as offering many services under one roof. They stated, Mega-churches, like Wal-Mart superstores, are large and offer an abundance of services to the churchgoer. Like WalMart superstores, everything is easily accessible in one location. 122 Recapping these various descriptions, an IC is a church that operates with a bureaucratic structure using distinct departments of ministry, meeting in specialized buildings led by a single pastor, offering various programs, and seeking growth by membership. For the purpose of this project, grounded in these above definitions, IC is defined and described as follows: An institutional church is a type of Church that proliferated in the era of the Roman emperor Constantine, characterized by being bureaucratic in nature, typically meeting in specialized church buildings, and using a hierarchical control structure (i.e., professional priesthood/pastorate) to administrate it. Modern-day ICs use budgets to track the cash-flow for required items such as payroll, payroll taxes, housing allowance, building payments/insurance, utility bills, maintenance, supplies, equipment, vehicle payments/insurance, liability insurance, health insurance legal fees, and denominational fees. Most ICs in the USA are Internal Revenue Service non-profit 501C(3) organizations. This type of Church structure is not found in the New Testament. Summing up, an IC is a church that operates bureaucratically and subsequently requires a proportional amount of wealth to pay for the operation and workers to run the operation.

121

Kreider and McClung, Starting a House Church, 22. Ibid., 23.

122

64 Howard Snyder, Professor Emeritus of History and Theology of Mission at Asbury Theological Seminary, highlighted the necessity and the importance of church in general, The experience of salvation is incomplete and not fully biblical without genuine experience of the church as the community of Gods people and agent of the Kingdom.123 Unquestionably, as per biblical mandates and examples, salvation and the process of discipleship must be worked out in a genuine church community experience. However, he went on and emphasized: The church is essentially the community of Gods people, not primarily an organization, institution, program, or building. This is a distinction of fundamental importance because it is linked to the basic models of the church which Christians employ. 124 Dr. Snyders comment that the church is essentially the community of Gods people, not primarily an organization, institution, program, or building will be analyzed in greater depth in Chapter Three. The current focus, however, is how the IC with its bureaucratic structure, affects resource release toward reproduction, primarily in World A among UPGs. Along these lines, Neil Cole, a simple church planter, discussed the rate of church reproduction in the USA. In his research, he discovered that only 4% of the churches in USA will plant a daughter church, which means that 96% of the conventional churches in America will never give birth. Vividly relating this to childbirth, Cole stated: Imagine the headlines if it were suddenly discovered that 96 percent of the women in America were no longer fertile and could not have babies. We would instantly know two things. First, this is not natural, so there is something wrong with their health. Second, we would also know that the future is in serious
Howard A. Snyder, Liberating the Church: The Ecology of Church and Kingdom (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 17.
124 123

Ibid.

65 jeopardy. This is the state of the church in America right now. It is that serious, and we need to take heed.125 Based on his experience, Cole believes this 96% statistic to be true. And even worse, he suspects that a majority of the 4% that do give birth will do so with an unwanted pregnancy, which we call a church split.126 He reiterated the seriousness of the USA Church situation in its present institutional form: American Christianity is dying. Our future is in serious jeopardy. We are deathly ill and don't even know it. Our illness has so saturated our institutions that we are not healthy enough to live beyond the present generation. Our only hope is to try to keep current organizations alive for as long as possible, by any means possible. This is the mentality in Christian churchianity. Many institutions are holding on to life support, fearing that death is the end of us. 127 One man who discerned the seriousness of this situation already at the turn of the last century and wrote about it from a World A perspective was Roland Allen. Allen was a missionary in China from 1895 to 1903. Although his ideas were not accepted in his own time, his writings now appear to be very prophetic in understanding the much too bureaucratic nature of Christian organizations (i.e., the church institutions of his day). A scholar of the missionary methods of Paul the apostle, 128 Allen clearly recognized the difference between the apostolic organizations of the [early] Church and the organization which we exported from England.129

125

Ibid., 92. Cole, Organic Church, 91. Ibid. Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Pauls or Ours (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962). Roland Allen, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1962),

126

127

128

129

120.

66 Allen was concerned with how this exported organization affected the native Chinese Christians of his day, claiming that the foreign missions councils misled them as to the true character of church organization. He pointed out that church councils were put into the prominent place while the fundamental simplicities were neglected, and therefore, the natives did not find the church which they joined a little family in the town or village guided by a father who knew every one of them intimately, a family in which all were mutually responsible for the well-being of the whole.130 Instead, according to Allen: They [the natives] learned that it was a strange form of government in which they might elect a representative to attend a council to do something which they did not understand, generally with the result that they were asked to increase their contributions; while far away there was an exalted ruler called a bishop from whom they might occasionally receive a visit. 131 Offering a solution to this exported organizational dilemma, Allen exclaimed, The spontaneous expansion of the Church reduced to its elements is a very simple thing. It asks for no elaborate organization all that is required to consolidate and establish that expansion is the simple application of the simple organization of the Church. 132 As pointed out by Cole, the modern IC exhibits the same problems as Roland Allen diagnosed in the Christian organizations of his day: becoming too complicated and thus hindering the spontaneous reproduction of the church. Spencer Burke, author of Making Sense of Church, also suspected this when he described a problem he confronted as an institutional church pastor:

130

Ibid., 122. Ibid. Ibid., 156-57.

131

132

67 For years Ive tried to put my finger on it the reasons why I left the professional pastorate. And you know, more than anything, I think its this: I left my first love. The reality is that much of what we call ministry today is really administration. Its about adding things programs, strategies, and rules. In my 22 years as a pastor, I often administered more than I ministered, if that makes sense. Ive come to see that I was an add-minister more than a minister.133 Burke had a revelation that he administered more than ministered, which in essence led to his frustration that he was running the business of church more than shepherding the flock. Where did this phenomenon of doing church as a business come from? Priscilla Shirer, daughter of famed preacher Tony Evans and author of Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, in a broad sweep of history, elucidated the progression of how church in the USA has evolved into a business: In the first century in Palestine, Christianity was a community of believers. Then Christianity moved to Greece and became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome and became an institution. Then it moved to Europe and became a culture. And then it moved to America and became a business. We need to get back to being a healthy, vibrant community of true followers of Jesus. 134 Without a doubt, the IC operating as a business is a far cry from the simple vibrant community of believers that it started as. Instead, using a bureaucratic business model with all its associated overhead expenses is now a common institutional church practice in the USA. One of the major differences of a church operating as a business-modeled IC rather than as a simple community of believers is related to leadership. Instead of leaders operating primarily in the gift and function of shepherd/pastor of the flock, they have
Spencer Burke, A Church With No Name, Edgenet - ideas from the edge, http://www.edgenet.org.nz/ideasfromedge/achurchwithnoname.htm (accessed August 1, 2008). Joel C. Rosenberg, Notes from the Christian Booksellers Association, Joel C. Rosenberg, entry posted July 11, 2007, http://joelrosenberg.blogspot.com/2007/07/morning-with-tony-dungyhighlights-from.html (accessed January 5, 2008).
134 133

68 elevated to preeminence the position and title of CEO. This has become a common IC practice as expressed by simple church practitioners Tony and Felicity Dale, formerly from the UK: In one of the first churches that we were a part of in the States we were told in no uncertain terms that the vision was the pastors and everyone else was to support the pastors vision. We have found that this pattern exists in practice in most American churches. There is a CEO who definitely has the first and the final say. The interesting thing is that both the senior pastor and the congregations seem to like it that way. Our impression has been that the adulation that is received by many senior pastors is close to idolatry. 135 Jim Rutzs description of a bureaucratic business-modeled IC uses a blend of four Western iconic models: 1. Harvard, where the professor is a preacher, the lectern is a pulpit, and the students are parishioners. Trouble is, they can sit and take notes for forty years, but they'll never graduate, never get a degree, and never ever become professors themselves. 2. Hollywood, with its stage, entertainers, polished performances, costumed singers, applauding audiences, etc. All the church needs is popcorn. 3. IBM, where a board of directors runs everything from the top down, where permission to do things is denied or granted by the CEO and committees, where finances are the overriding factor behind policies, and where the institution competes with other churches for market share. 4. Wal-Mart, whose aisles and aisles of tempting merchandise offer something for everybody. Seeker-sensitive mega-churches, with their array of 100+ programs, mirror beautifully the consumer heaven ideal of Wal-Mart.136 A common attribute that flows from modeling church like a combination of Harvard, Hollywood, IBM, and Wal-Mart is that it is consumer driven. Just as a business cannot survive without market consumers, neither can a business structured IC survive

135

Tony and Felicity Dale, Simply Church (Manchaca, TX: Karis Publishing, 2002), 70. Rutz, Megashift, 115.

136

69 without spiritual consumers. Although a business is for-profit and an institutional church is non-profit, both are similar in that their economies are built on and sustained by consumerism. Doug Pagitt, the pastor of Solomons Porch in Minneapolis, insinuated how the congregants of a church, as well as the church itself, are now consumers of religious goods and services: If churches see themselves as suppliers of religious goods and services and their congregants as consumers, then offerings are payment... [also] the essential relationship between the church and its members has shifted: churches have become consumers of givers money rather than conduits for supporting ministry.137 Neil Cole went as far as to depict the IC as a consumerist monster with an endless hunger that leads to a corrupted caricature of the Kingdom of God: What we draw them with is what we draw them to. If they come expecting to be entertained, we had better entertain them if we want to keep them coming back every week. This mentality creates a vicious circle of endless program upgrades, staff improvements, and building campaigns to feed the consumer monster. The monster is always hungry. Pastors are burned out. Members are marginalized and lost in the programs. The lost community gets a corrupted caricature of the Kingdom of God.138 Does IC operating as a bureaucratic business have an effect on the churchs efforts to finish the GC? Robert Fitts, a prolific author on the subject of church, thinks it does. He claims that we have been led to believe that large congregations with large offerings and beautiful buildings are sure signs of success in the ministry, and so the accepted thing to do is strive to raise up a such a congregation. He then described why this is counter-intuitive to efforts to finish the GC:

Doug Pagitt, The Consumerist Trap, Leadership 23, no. 4 (Fall 2002): under October 1, 2002, http://www.ctlibrary.com/le/2002/fall/2.32.html (accessed July 18, 2008).
138

137

Cole, Organic Church, 95.

70 We want to be a success in the eyes of our people, our leaders, and in our own eyes, consequently, we get caught in this web of deception. This produces a spirit of greed, selfishness, pride, and possessiveness. In this climate there is no thought of sending anyone out to the mission field or down the street to start another congregation. The only thought that meets with approval in such churches is something that will add more people to that congregation.139 Fitts challenged the IC model of church with a question, Can we consider simplifying our concept of church so that we can more effectively reach the cities and the nations?140 Howard Snyder, a Ph.D. in historical theology at the University of Notre Dame, also contemplated the negative effect of institutional churches on the GC and asserted the following, The gospel says, Go, but our church buildings say, Stay. The gospel says, Seek the lost, but our churches say, Let the lost seek the church.141 Snyder essentially stated that the IC, with its bureaucratic structure and consumerist culture, is not conducive to going but instead to staying, which is the direct opposite of what is needed to finish the GC. SC, however, operating without a bureaucratic business structure and consumerist culture, appears to be a much more conducive model to going instead of staying, which is exactly what this research initiative seeks to examine. Before delving into this further however, the financial cost of IC is considered next with a look at how it is allocating its wealth.

Robert Fitts, Saturation House Church Planting, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 465-471 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 467.
140

139

Ibid.

Howard A Snyder, The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in Technological Age (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1975), 32.

141

71 How the Institutional Church is Allocating its Wealth An institution of any kind (e.g., government, military, business) typically comes packaged in a bureaucracy that necessitates budgets, buildings, bills, big salaries, and enough bodies to sustain it. The IC is no different. Consider the following statistics from various sources: 85% of all church activity and funds are directed toward the internal operations of the congregation, such as staff salaries, building payments, utility and operating expenses. 142 In 2001, the typical operating budget of USA Protestant churches of all sizes was about $115,000.143 On average, mega-churches in America had 20 full-time leadership staff in 2005, up from 13 in 2000.144 Senior pastors in the USA on average earn $81,432 (salary plus benefits).145

In addition to the costs associated with running an institution, an infamous attribute of institutions is their financial inefficiencies, especially institutions that are not profit motivated. Prominent church statistician George Barna calculated the financial cost of the bureaucratic inefficiency of institutional churches in the USA: In the last decade, the churches in the U.S. spent $500 billion on domestic expenses with no growth to show for it. Now, how long would a board of directors take to fire a corporate president who went through that much money with no growth to show for it? The word nanosecond comes to mind.146
142

Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving through 2000, 13. George Barna, The State of the Church: 2002 (Ventura, Calif.: Issachar Resources, 2002), 114.

143

Warren Bird, Scott Thumma, and Dave Travis, Megachurches Today 2005: Summary of Research Findings (Hartford, CT: Hartford Seminary, 2005), 24. Audrey Barrick, Survey Reveals Which Pastors Get Paid Most, The Christian Post, Oct. 02, 2007. http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071002/survey-reveals-which-pastors-get-paid-most.htm (accessed June 2, 2008).
146 145

144

Cf. his press release June 4, 2002 at www.barna.org, cited in Rutz, Megashift, 130.

72

J. D. Payne, a former institutional church minister, shared his frustrating experience in relation to the inefficient financial pressures of budgets, buildings, big salaries, and even vacation Bible school: Seventy-six percent of our budget was given to salaries and the expenses related to our physical facility. Although we spent so much in these two areas, our growth was slow at best, we were not raising up leaders, and our facility was falling apart. My frustration increased when it took us several months to recover financially from the few thousand dollars we spent on vacation Bible school during the summer.147 Without a doubt, the frustrations related to budgetary pressures of keeping the bills paid and the doors open are very real in many institutional churches. Beyond this however, perhaps the most disadvantageous aspect of the how institutional churches allocate their wealth is that the more they spends on themselves the less they can give to missions, especially World A and UPGs. The following statistics from various sources confirm this: Missions and evangelism to World A, B, and C combined accounted for only 5% of the average church budget:148 o o o o o o o
147

Staff Personnel 49% Buildings: Rent, Mortgage 13% Utilities 9% Denomination Contributions 9% Other 9% Office Supplies 7% Missions/Evangelism 5%

A 2004 survey of 34 denominations showed that the average amount of total denominational budgets going to overseas missions was only 2%. 149

J. D. Payne, Missional House Churches (Colorado Springs, CO: Paternoster, 2007), 95.

Average Church Budget Spending, LifeWay Christian Resources, http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/images/lwcI_research_chart_577x433_AverageBudgetSpending.jpg.jpg (accessed February 5, 2008).
149

148

Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving Through 2004, 54.

73

Statistical studies have demonstrated that some Christian denominations spend more money each year on interest payments on mortgages than they do on missions.150 When asked What would you do with an unexpected financial windfall? 31% of Protestant pastors said they would build, expand or update their church buildings and facilities, while only 7% said they would give more to foreign missions and evangelism. 151 Christians spent more on the annual audits of their churches and agencies, $810 million, than on all their workers in the non-Christian world. 152 Annual Church embezzlements by top custodians surpassed $16 billion per year or $5.5 million per day, which exceeded the entire cost of all foreign missions worldwide. 153

John Rowell, who serves on the board of directors for Food for the Hungry (US) and Antioch Network, contended, If giving towards frontier mission were viewed as a strategic, high priority, one would expect measurements of our monetary giving to reflect it.154 However, consistent with the above statistics, he poignantly verified that giving to frontier missions by institutional churches is really quite dismal: The 2001 edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia reveals that only 0.18%, or $490 million, goes to outreach ministries aimed at lost people living in already evangelized cultures. And a mere $54 million, or 0.02%, of all giving to the worlds churches goes into the work of reaching the truly unreached, who are also often among the worlds truly poor peoples. 155
Maurice Smith, House Church, Financial Upheaval and The Gods Of The Copybook Headings, A Kingdom, A People & A River, entry posted Oct 15, 2008, http://www.parousianetwork.org/Newsletter_Archive/Parousia_Weekly_E-Letter_For_10_15_08.htm (accessed Oct 17, 2008).
151 150

Ron Sellers, New, Improved Facilities. Facts & Trends Magazine, vol. 52, no. 3 (May/June

2006): 7.
152

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 3. Ibid. Rowell, To Give or Not to Give, 51. Ibid., 101.

153

154

155

74

It should be immediately apparent that something is amiss in our missiology when Christians keep 99.8% of all church revenues for themselves. As Rowell concludes, We must reexamine why the global church has fallen so far short of the generous spirit God intends his children to manifest.156 Sorrowfully, as Rowell contends, giving towards frontier missions is not a strategic high priority of the church. Furthermore, it appears that a large part of the cause stems from an inefficient bureaucratic IC structure that requires a large percentage of its wealth allocation to support large inward-looking budgets. If this is the case, maybe it is time to consider a much simpler non-bureaucratic pattern for church, which would require miniscule wealth allocation to an operating budget. Additionally, a simpler church pattern might also help the church release its workers, which is also a concern with institutional churches as pointed out next.

How the Institutional Church is Releasing its Workers Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in California, one of the biggest institutional churches in the USA, when asked how someone can tell if his church is healthy, replied, The percentage of members being mobilized for ministry and missions is a more reliable indicator of [church] health than how many people attend services.157 Mobilizing people to missions and other forms of ministry is a good reliable indicator of church health. The question is: are institutional churches healthily mobilizing

156

Ibid., 101.

Rick Warren, Comprehensive Health Plan: To Lead a Healthy Church Takes More Than Technique, Leadership Journal 18, no. 3 (Summer 1997), 23.

157

75 their people into missions and ministry? Or are they mobilizing workers in the same manner as their financial inefficiencies? Alas, when it comes to releasing workers to the ripe harvest fields, most institutional churches follow the 80/20 Pareto principle, which applied to church implies that 20% of church members do 80% of the work. Sunday Adelaja, pastor of the biggest institutional church in Europe, expressed his frustration with the non-mobilizing Pareto principle while being confronted by church members around the world who often tell him that they feel trapped in the pews of their churches.158 Adelaja revealed one such testimony of a couple who felt trapped and quoted from their letter to him: We have served on the staff of churches. But as regular church members now, we have been frustrated at the lack of ministry opportunity. We see that others share the same sense of discouragement. These are people who love the Lord and have a burning passion for ministry in their hearts, but for the most part go unrecognized, unempowered, and often misunderstood by church leadership. Many people desperately want their relationship with God, leadership skills, talents, and life experience to count for the kingdom, but their experience has been that few pastors and leaders know how to embrace and empower them to become ministers outside the four walls of the church. So, people leave their abilities and skills outside the door while they worship and fellowship with other believers. When they leave, they again pick up their leadership roles. This has created a trend now where gifted people leave the organized church and unite in home group settings. Those with a more defined and focused ministry vision form parachurch ministries rather than defending their already proven leadership abilities before a church board. These people are often labeled rebellious renegades. Though their ministries may be flourishing, they are flourishing right outside the walls of their home church It has long been our desire to see all the resources God has placed within the hearts and lives of believers turned loose on an unsuspecting world. Let us not become permission-withholding Pharisees who stifle the gifts, skills, and talents of the very people God sent to help us. Let us become compassionate, permissiongranting spiritual leaders.159

158

Sunday Adelaja, Church Shift (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2008), 45. Ibid., 45-46.

159

76 As this couple epitomizes, there are many other institutional church believers who are tired of sitting on the sidelines, feeling trapped in the pews. Unrecognized, unempowered, and often misunderstood by church leadership, these people are pressure cookers needing release desperately wanting their gifts, skills, talents, and life experience to count for the Kingdom of God. The good news is that there seems to be an awakening by some institutional church pastors who do want to empower their people to do the works of ministry, beyond simply preaching about it week after week. One institutional church group, facilitated by the Pastors Prayer and Ministry Alliance of Sonoma County, started the process with a letter of confession and repentance to their members: As pastors and ministry leaders within the local church we have believed and operated with the mindset that all ministries were church related and that they were to be under its government and control. We have not understood the Kingdom of God or how it was to manifest on the earth. As a result we have used people to build our churches and ministries. In doing so we have not honored those called by God to minister in commerce, media, arts, government, social services and most other occupations outside the influence of the organized church. If individuals could not or would not serve our vision for our churches, we undervalued them as less important - but accepting them as sources of income. Most of these people have been ignored and as a result they have become discouraged and disconnected. Many have left in frustration, anger and disillusionment, believing somehow that they were less spiritual. Others have given up trying to fit themselves into the limited space within the local church structure and ministry. We have attempted to make business executives into intercessors, sales people into childrens nursery workers, business administrators into Sunday school superintendents, and so the list goes on and on. As pastors and ministry leaders we want to tell you that we have been wrong. What we have taught and demonstrated for generations within the church has been shallow and selfish. We are sincerely sorry, and we come in repentance for our bad attitudes, wrong beliefs, and our poor behavior towards you. Please forgive us. We honor you as Kingdom people called by God to the marketplace. We believe you are ordained by God to occupy and to transform your sphere of influence and the territory to which you have been called. We release honor, blessing and favor on your life and personal calling to the marketplace. We as pastors and ministry leaders are prepared to stand with you and support you in

77 your God given ministries. You have dreams ordained by God. It is our privilege and hearts desire to call them forth, and to see you fully established in the destiny for your life. 160 Hopefully, this kind of expression reflecting sincere and well-intentioned repentance will catch on and lead to a practical release of workers into the marketplace in the USA, as well as into World A and its UPGs. If repentance, as reflected in the above letter, means change, might this change include the trend where gifted people leave the organized church and unite in home group settings?161 In other words, might it call for change on the magnitude of a church shift to a much simpler and smaller structure, one that meets in homes as well as other practical places, one that is less encumbered by bureaucracy? Pertaining to a church structure shift to a much simpler and smaller structure, Christian Schwarz, in his well researched book Natural Church Development, conducted a global survey of the worldwide church and made this discovery, The evangelistic effectiveness of mini-churches is statistically 1,600% greater than that of the megachurches! His team calculated 170 variables and determined which factors were the most negative in relation to health and growth. They found that large size was the third most negative factor, on par with liberation theology and traditionalism.162 Whereas the findings of this research do not specifically address the differences between IC and SC, it does bode well for the simple church as a type of mini-church. The 1,600% greater evangelistic effectiveness clearly shows that the characteristically smaller
160

Cited in Adelaja, Church Shift, 52-53. Adelaja, 45.

161

Christian Schwartz, Natural Church Development (Saint Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996), 46-48.

162

78 SC structure is a much more efficient and effective pattern for releasing its people evangelistically outward than the larger IC structure. Moreover, greater evangelistic effectiveness has greater potential to spill over into World A and UPGs, helping to correct the current gross imbalance that institutional churches have perpetrated by not releasing their workers in greater measure. Whereas evangelistic effectiveness through worker release is a crucial aspect of the Churchs goal to finish the GC, so is Jesus fundamental GC mandate to make disciples of all nations. How IC is making disciples is evaluated next, especially concerning its effectiveness in releasing disciple-making laborers toward making disciples of all nations.

How the Institutional Church is Making Disciples A common sense principle states that the larger the input, the larger the output; or applied to the business realm, the bigger the investment, the bigger the anticipated profit. As Christian Schwarz pointed out in his research, however, this doesnt always equate in the church realm. In fact, just the opposite was found to be true: the smaller the church, the bigger the evangelistic effectiveness. Doug Pagitt, author of Church Re-Imagined: The Spiritual Formation of People in Communities of Faith, also found this to be true in relation to the high cost of doing institutional church: Doing church today costs more than ever. Like expanding government, the spending habits of churches are escalating. The increase of staff, buildings, and programs has put many churches on an unsustainable path. They find themselves requiring more resources to perpetuate the ministry. And more money spent doesn't always equal effectiveness of ministry. 163
Doug Pagitt, The Consumerist Trap, Leadership 23, no. 4 (Fall 2002): under October 1, 2002, http://www.ctlibrary.com/le/2002/fall/2.32.html (accessed July 18, 2008).
163

79

Despite all the resources being spent by institutional churches to win converts and make disciples, many leaders such as Doug Pagitt are taking notice that more money spent doesn't always equal more effectiveness of ministry. Reggie McNeal, Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, alleged: A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their spiritual development.164 McNeals wake-up call contends that institutional churches are becoming ineffective at contributing to a congregants spiritual development to the extent that they are actually leaving to preserve their faith. This clarion call has implications for one of the USAs biggest institutional churches, Willow Creek in Barrington Illinois. The worlds quintessential seeker sensitive church recently conducted a survey of their members, as well as the members of six other similar churches. In a video entitled The Wakeup Call of My Adult Life, pastor Bill Hybels acknowledged that when it comes to reaching pre-Christians and ministering to young believers, Willow Creek is effective. But as young believers begin to grow in their faith, Willow Creek's effectiveness falls off dramatically. 165 Having spent 30 years creating and promoting a multi-million dollar organization driven by programs and measuring participation, and convincing other church leaders to

Reggie McNeal, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Church Communication Network, 2005), 4. Watch Bill Hybels: The Wake Up Call of My Adult Life, Reveal, http://revealnow.com/story.asp?storyid=49 (accessed July 1, 2008).
165

164

80 do the same, Hybels called for this research on Willow Creeks effectiveness, which was to be a formative wake-up call for him and another one for the church at large: We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become self feeders. We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own. 166 Christianity Today contributor, Matt Branaugh, discussed the surveys results that Willow Creek presented in their book Reveal: Where are You? He reiterated that 25% of the close to Christ and Christ-centered crowd described themselves as spiritually stalled or dissatisfied with the role of the church in their spiritual growth. However, even more alarming to Willow Creek was finding out that about 25% of the stalled segment and 63% of the dissatisfied segment contemplated leaving the church. Furthermore, Branaugh stated, As Willow Creek expanded its research into churches of varying geographic locations, sizes, and ethnic and denominational backgrounds, the church said the same general pattern emerged, an indication that the problem extends beyond Willow Creek.167 As is typical among the institutional church learning paradigm, the solution to a problem is to offer another program. In line with this paradigm, Willow Creeks solution was to create a new discipleship program. They canceled some seeker-sensitive services and replaced them with classes to encourage growth and depth. Simple church author and

Leadership Journal Editors, Willow Creek Repents? ChristianityToday.com, entry posted October 18, 2007, http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2007/10/willow_creek_re.html (accessed August 2, 2008). Matt Branaugh, Willow Creek's 'Huge Shift': Influential megachurch moves away from seeker-sensitive services., Christianity Today, June 2008. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/june/5.13.html (accessed July 13, 2008).
167

166

81 radio personality, Maurice Smith, contemplated Willow Creeks attempted solution from the framework that discipleship is a relationship, not a class: If you really want to see people grow, place them into real-life ministry situations where they must feed the poor, deliver the demonized, pray with the distraught and actually hear from the Holy Spirit about what to do next. Then let them decompress in a small-group community (strangely resembling a house church) where they can share their stories, get answers to real questions (rather than classroom questions) and build community with like-minded believers who share their battle scars. Trust me. Growth will be no problem! 168 The most effective way to grow disciples of Jesus Christ according to Smith is meeting the spiritually sick where they are at, in real-life ministry situations where reallife happens. Followed by decompressing in an environment where they can share their stories and real-life lessons in a small community of like-minded believers resembling a house church. This in essence describes the simple church discipleship methodology; and not coincidently, looks much like Jesus and Pauls discipleship methodology. The small community of like-minded believers (i.e. a simple church environment) is also imperative to produce effective disciple-making missionaries. After all, one reproduces oneself in like kind. If ones only church experience is institutional church, this is what one will tend to reproduce on the mission field. An anonymous experienced missionary named Camel, trained in the Southern Baptist Church Planting Movement (CPM) model and blogged about the downside of his institutional church experience on his mission field experience. According to Camel, whereas his missions organization spent tons of money, time, and energy researching, documenting and teaching a simple church approach to mission work, they were seeing very few CPMs actually taking
Maurice Smith, Everything Must Change (But Not So Much...), A Kingdom, A People & A River, entry posted May 21, 2008, http://www.parousianetwork.org/Newsletter_Archive/Parousia_Weekly_E-Letter_For_05_21_08.htm (accessed May 28, 2008).
168

82 place. Attempting to get at the root of the problem, Camel discovered that you cant create, model, and coach something into place that youve never experienced (i.e. you cant create, model, and coach a simple church approach on the mission field if youve only experienced an institutional church approach back home).169 Camel analyzed the two main elements of a CPM and why missionaries with an institutional church background often fail at it, (1) Meeting in homes: How many of us attend small groups in the USA as our sole and primary form of church? We do Sunday school, have big choirs, massive budgets, impersonal services, shallow interactions, staff to do all of the dirty work and then we come overseas and try to plant small groups that meet in homes. We dont understand it because weve never experienced it. (2) One-on-one discipleship: In a recent team meeting of around 25 people we were asked to describe a time when we were discipled. The room was full of people with vast church experience, seminary degrees and ton of training and yet there were only two responses. Why? Because in the SBC we usually interpret the Great Commission as a call to go and tell ... not a call to share life, the good and bad with those around us in order to help others be disciples. If were not being discipled by our leaders, then how can we expect to know how to do it with new believers? 170 Camels story can be repeated many times over by those who attempt to take IC discipleship methods to the mission field, especially World A. In contrast, the SC value of meeting in small disciple-making environments seems to be much more conducive to releasing effective disciple-making laborers toward making disciples of all nations. Mortimer J. Adler, Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica, philosophically stated, Instead of retracing the steps that lead back to their

Camel [pseudo.], You reproduce what you are, camel crossing, entry posted April 29, 2008, http://camelcrossing.net/?p=345 (accessed August 8, 2008) Camel [pseudo.], You reproduce what you are, camel crossing, entry posted April 29, 2008, http://camelcrossing.net/?p=345 (accessed August 8, 2008)
170

169

83 sources in little errors at the beginning, modern thinkers have tried in other ways to circumvent the result of the initial errors, often compounding the difficulties instead of overcoming them.171 This wise statement could very well be apropos in unfolding the roadblock many church leaders and organizations continue to run into when looking for solutions to IC problems, on and off the mission field. Could it be that they are not retracing church steps that lead back to the sources of the little errors at the beginning, primarily in relation to costly church structure in terms of wealth allocation, worker release, and discipleship effectiveness and thus circumventing these little errors and compounding them rather than overcoming them? IC has attempted many iterations of how to improve the business of church. However, in the midst of these attempts, its bureaucratic structure continues to consume resources at an alarming rate, much of which could be redirected to finish the GC. Bill Hybels offered another reminder: Some of the stuff we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn't helping people that much. Other things that we didn't put that much money into and didn't put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.172 As per Adlers wise counsel, overcoming this calls for nothing short of retracing the steps that lead back to their sources in little errors at the beginning. Might this imply a return to simple church patterns, principles, and practices taught and lived by Jesus, Paul, and the early Church? Conceivably, only a change of this magnitude has the potential to correct the gross imbalance of resources perpetrated by the IC.
171

Mortimer J. Adler, Ten Philosophical Mistakes (NY: Touchstone, 1997), xv.

Leadership Journal Editors, Willow Creek Repents? ChristianityToday.com, entry posted October 18, 2007, http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2007/10/willow_creek_re.html (accessed August 2, 2008).

172

84 Wolfgang Simson summarized it distinctly, I believe that God has blessed the world through the existing church structures, and is still doing countless miracles of transforming peoples lives, and doing good in ways too numerous to mention. But the church should never settle for less than it has been made for.173 Toward this end, the next section will introduce SC, how it is emerging in the USA, and how its nonbureaucratic structure is conducive to redistributing its resources, workers and wealth, to release disciple-makers where they are needed most, the UPGs in World A.

The Simple Church in the USA In the process of understanding the potential of the SC toward releasing resources toward finishing the GC, it was first necessary to understand the current state of GC initiatives. Particularly, focusing on the gross imbalance of resource release (workers and wealth) in completing the GC and how and why the IC perpetrates much of this imbalance of resources. At this point, it should be clear that church structure impacts the release of resources toward finishing the GC. The ICs bureaucratic structure allocates a sizeable portion of its revenue on sustaining its administrative viability, while its workers are often trapped in the pews and not released to ministry beyond the church walls. Therefore it is often ineffective in making true disciples. This combination certainly does not bode well for releasing disciple-making laborers to World A and the UPGs, where they are needed most. This section will introduce a potential solution to this problem, the SC. SC, with its non-bureaucratic structure has great potential to redistribute its resources, workers and

173

Simson, Houses that Change the World, xxxii.

85 wealth, to release disciple-makers where they are needed most, the UPGs in World A. Toward exploring this potential, an introduction of SC will show how it has emerged to become a growing movement based on an authentic biblical church paradigm. This introduction will also describe the SC, including its biblical roots, and explain how it differs from the IC. Following this, SC patterns, principles and practices will be examined. This section will conclude by revealing how a simple church, due to its very low overhead, has tremendous capacity to release and redirect its resources, workers and wealth, toward finishing the GC.

Introducing Simple Church Simple Church is emerging in the USA. George Barna has been described as the most widely quoted Christian leader in America because of the credibility and sound methodology behind his polling. In his book Revolution, he outlined survey results showing that the number of American Christians who see a traditionally structured church as the primary means for expressing their faith is declining rapidly. There is a corresponding large increase in the number of people who see their faith as being primarily expressed through, what Barna described as, alternative forms of faith-based community, in which he includes simple/house churches, home schooling associations, marketplace ministries. With this trend so compelling, Barna estimated that by 2025 participation in traditional local churches, alternative faith-based communities, and media/arts/culture based ministries will be about equal. Table 5 highlights this projection with

86 approximately 30-35% of American Christians expressing their faith equally across these three delivery systems. Table 5. How Americans Experience/Express Their Faith174 Traditional Church 2000 2025 70% 30-35% Alternative Faith Based Community 5% 30-35% Media, Arts, Culture 20% 30-35%

Another Barna study found that 9% of American adults, approximately 20 million, attend a house church in any given week, which has grown from 1% in the last decade. The study estimates that more than 70 million adults have at least experimented with house church, and 20% attend at least once per month. Among those who attend church of some type, 5% attend a house church only, and 19% attend both a traditional church and a house church. 175 Dr. J. D. Payne, an assistant professor in the Billy Graham School of Missions at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, attested to this emergence of SC by researching the number of house churches in the North America: According to Laurie Goodsteins 2001 article in The New York Times, as many as 1600 groups in all fifty states are listed on various websites. Citing Rick Hieberts article, There's No Church Like Home, Rad Zdero states, It has been estimated that there are about 200 house churches in Canada and about 1500 in the United States. Citing a much greater estimate, Rita Healy and David Van Biema, in a 2006 Time online article, note that some have set the number from 50,000 into the millions.176

174

Barna, Revolution, 49.

Barna Group, House Church Involvement Is Growing, The Barna Update (June 19, 2006) http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=241 (accessed May 24, 2008).
176

175

Payne, Missional House Churches, 13.

87 Dr. Rad Zdero, cited in this quote, additionally attested to the emergence of simple churches in North America while foreseeing its vast potential: It does not seem like much now, but the explosive potential is there. As I survey the immensity of what Jesus is doing globally through the house church movement today, I am gripped by the awesome vision of what the church in North America could become in the years ahead. Sometimes, in communicating vision to people, I like to phrase it this way: Every Church, Start a Church, Every Year. In the next ten years, this could mean the birth of 1000 house churches in our region.177 Renowned church practitioners Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung predicted, We believe that within the next several years, house-church networks will as the homeschooling phenomena did in the 1980s and 90s mushroom all across America.178 Frank Viola, a prolific author on the subject of SC, wrote of his journey out of institutional church and into simple church and speculated the significant number of Americans who are taking the same journey, When I stepped out of the institutional church back in 1988, I thought I was only one of a handful of people who had taken that particular plunge. Today, one million Christians a year leave it [IC], and the number is increasing.179 SC is emerging in the USA to such an extent that Barna has claimed it has now reached critical mass. He defined critical mass as when an institution reaches 15% market penetration, and has evidenced a consistent or growing level of affirmation for at least six years, that entity shifts from fad to trend status; and at that point, it becomes a permanent fixture in our society. Along these lines, Barna projected:
177

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 14. Kreider and McClung, Starting a House Church, 24.

178

Frank Viola, Why I Left the Institutional Church, The Ooze, entry posted August 1, 2008, http://www.theooze.com/articles/article.cfm?id=2075 (accessed August 21, 2008).

179

88 We anticipate house church attendance during any given week to double in the coming decade, and a growing proportion of house church attenders to adopt the house church as their primary faith community. That continued growth and public awareness will firmly establish the house church as a significant means of faith experience and expression among Americans. 180 As Chapter Threes research will affirm, the SC paradigm has existed throughout all Church history, from Jesus day to our day. In fact, it is still the prevailing wineskin in many areas of the world. In the USA however, the SC concept is still in its infancy, even though as Barna statistics demonstrate and the other authors substantiate, simple churches are steadily emerging. In light of this, a description of SC is presented next. A description of Simple Church. Rick Joyner, the founder of MorningStar Ministries, prophetically declared a profound change in the structure and organization of basic church life that will overshadow the Great Awakenings in their social impact, transforming cities and even whole nations: A revolution is coming to Christianity that will eclipse the Reformation in the sweeping changes that it brings to the church. When it comes, the present structure and organization of the church will cease to exist, and the way that the world defines Christianity will be radically changed. What is coming will not be a change of doctrine, but a change in the basic church life. The changes that are coming will be so profound that it will be hard to relate the present form of church structure and government to what is coming. 181 If the projected trends for a changing church structure materialize, then it appears that a revolution is coming to Christianity that will redefine the structure and organization of basic church life. The changes could be so profound that it will be hard to relate to
Barna Group, House Church Involvement Is Growing, The Barna Update (June 19, 2006) http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=241 (accessed September 14, 2008). Rick Joyner, Revolution, Morning Star Prophetic Bulletin 30 (May 2000) cited in Larry Kreider, House Church Network: A Church for a New Generation (Ephrata, PA: House to House Publications, 2001), 88.
181 180

89 current IC structure and government. Interestingly, Joyner uses the same word revolution that George Barna uses as the title of his book Revolution to describe the measure of those leaving traditional church structures for alternative forms of church. As the previous section demonstrated, one of these forms is the SC. Simple churches, which are growing steadily in the USA, could possibly be the radical change in basic church life and could possibly be the new dynamic church life that will transform cities. Roger Thoman, on his blog SimpleChurch Journal, stressed the importance of moving past the traditional IC lens in defining the church, Our first challenge in grasping what God intends church to be, is to stop looking at it through the lens of our background and through the lens of 2,000 years of church as a formal institution. He followed with his definition of SC, A loose-knit network of Jesus followers who gather together to encourage each other in their spiritual life and who go out, moved by the Holy Spirit, sharing and demonstrating the Gospel.182 He described characteristics of those who participate in simple church as those who: Are loose-knit: not informal membership, just a love-commitment to God and each other, Are Jesus followers: the basic requirement for membership in the church, Gather together: to build one another up and to worship, Go out: the purpose of believers to GO with the message, Are moved by the Holy Spirit: the one and only LEADER of the church, Share and demonstrate the gospel: The reason that the church GOES.183


182

Roger Thoman, House Church Basics -- Part 1-A: What Is Church? SimpleChurch Journal, entry posted February 25, 2004, http://sojourner.typepad.com/house_church_blog/2004/02/_house_church_b.html (accessed June 25, 2008).
183

Ibid.

90

Jim Rutz, called the SC the new church, and asked the question, Whats new about the new church? He answered, Plenty!: New freedom, new excitement, new empowerment, new growth, a new relationship to God, new kinds of people, new open meetings, new spontaneity, new close relationships, a new flow of authority, new depth in sharing, new servant-leadership, new kinds of prayer; a new use of gifts, new training, new teamwork, new communal righteousness, new ministry focus, new regional cooperation, new flexibility, new low expenses, new wider outreach, new variety of activities, new higher goals, new unity in love, and lots of new surprises!184 Rad Zdero, an experienced simple church practitioner, pictured simple churches spread out all over the city in small living room-sized groups committed to getting to know each other and God together. These groups would meet primarily in homes, but also in offices, apartments, and meeting rooms on the local university campus; and rather than one-man shows, meetings are participatory and interactive family-type gatherings where everyone has the opportunity to contribute something. He continued, They gather weekly to explore issues of faith, family, the media, culture, suffering, relationships, career, and social action. They may be working on projects, looking at the Bible, praying, crying, eating, sharing the Lords Supper, baptizing new believers, and playing. 185 Zdero recapped his view of the SC: These house churches are not led or hosted by traditional clergy but by average folks who have a deepening love for Christ and other people. They have discovered that the secret of life is to love God and others and to become more like Christ. These folks simply want to rediscover the power and person of Jesus in community and as they engaged in mission, as his early followers did. No church buildings, professional clergy, highly polished services, or expensive programs are required nor desired.186
184

Rutz, Megashift, 110-11. Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 2. Ibid.

185

186

91

Whereas Zdero described the nature of SC, what it looks like (i.e., participatory and interactive family-type gatherings) and what it doesnt look like (i.e., church buildings, professional clergy), Tony and Felicity Dale narrowed in on the most basic biblical description as where two or three gather together because they are [Christs] (see Matthew 18:15-20 for Jesus teaching on this). They followed, at the simplest level, what more do we need?: Where the King [Jesus] is in residence, the kingdom cannot be far behind. That is why a Bible study group at work is probably closer to real church than the place that we may go to on Sunday. Here we see the reality of each others needs. Here we know when someone loses his or her job, or the struggle when a colleagues child is seriously ill. Here we rub shoulders, and overcome real-life issues and challenges in an environment that will show whether or not we really care. 187 Keeping the focus on Jesus and His mission, Neil Cole, a prolific simple church planter, defined what he terms the organic church movement as the presence of Jesus among His people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet.188 The term organic church is another synonym identified as being characteristic of simple church. Frank Viola wrote a book about the organic church and stated, By organic church, I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of being constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. 189 He expanded on this: Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), nonhierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. Put
187

Dale, Simply Church, 47. Cole, Organic Church, 53.

188

Frank Viola, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008), 32.

189

92 another way, organic church life is the experience of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it's the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings.190 DAWN, a worldwide saturation church-planting ministry also included the term organic in their definition of simple church: The house church is a structure that reflects the core nature of the church It is a spiritual, enlarged, organic family It is inherently participatory and not consumer-provider driven. Its responsibility structure is also very simple and effective: individual house churches are fathered by elders, who in turn are equipped by itinerant servants like those in the fivefold ministry (see Eph. 4:1113) The church is the people of God. The church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. 191 Up to this point, numerous terms have been used to describe what Barna called alternative forms of faith-based community as described in the last section. The primary terms are: simple church, house church, and organic church. Other terms used to describe non-traditional church structures are: micro church, family church, open church, liquid church, real church, and New Testament foundation church. Throughout this paper, all of these terms will continue to be used synonymously. However, the preferred default term is Simple Church (SC) because it most accurately sets itself apart from its antonym term complex church, which structurally coincides with the term IC. This train of thought is explained by Neil Cole: The term simple church began to gain popularity, because we valued a simple life of following our Lord and avoided many of the complexities of the traditional church. Complex things break down and do not get passed on, but simple things are strong and easily reproduced.192
Frank Viola, What is an Organic Church? Present Testimony Ministry, http://www.ptmin.org/organic.htm (accessed August 5, 2008).
191 190

The Church Comes Home, DAWN Report no. 38 (August 1999): 1-2.

Neil Cole, Case Study (USA): The Story of Church Multiplication Associates, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 349.

192

93

John White, a simple church pioneer and advocate in the USA, also prefers the term simple church. In an article entitled Honey, I Shrunk the Church!, he explained that the synonymous term house church may carry some unintended negative bias. This is because many house churches are similar in pattern to traditional churches, in that they are really a traditional church shrunk down to fit in a home. In other words, although they meet in a house (or some other location other than a church building), their focus is on holding a meeting and implementing a program. White emphasized that this is not what simple churches are called to do; instead, they are called to something radically different. He underscored: Because we feel strongly about this, we have chosen to emphasize the term simple church instead of house church (although in actual conversation a number of different terms get used). By simple church, we mean a small group of people called out by God to function as an intimate spiritual family on a 24/7 basis. Families do meet together (perhaps many times in a week) but they see themselves as far more than a meeting.193 Also seeing church as much more than a meeting, Roger Thoman strongly expressed his emphasis of simple church as a way of life: Simple church is not about doing church differently, rather its about a way of life, the Jesus way of life, and supporting that way of life through simple, organic gatherings. In other words, the way of life really is the primary focus while the structure, format, or type of gathering is completely secondary. Our communities/gatherings must consist of people who are living or learning to live dynamic, purposeful, intimate, prophetic, missional Christian lifestyles rather than just being house-sized containers for passive Christians to gather in.194 To summarize these various descriptions of simple church, a simple church is a church that operates as a spiritual, organic, interactive gathering of believers irrespective
193

John White, The Vision, the Network and the Strategy, The Dawn Invitation (4/24/06): 5.

Roger Thoman, Re-Thinking House Church, SimpleChurch Journal (March 18, 2004) http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2008/03/re-thinking-hou.html (accessed March 19, 2008).

194

94 of day, time or location, for the purpose of worship, fellowship, mutual ministry, and the equipping of one another for missional works of service. In four words, simple church is the Triune God in community. For the purpose of this project, grounded in these above descriptions, simple church is defined as follows: The SC is a type of Church that attempts to closely follow the patterns, principles, practices, and precedents of New Testament ekklesia (where people met from house to house). The word simple is chosen to delineate it from the complexity of the modern-day, business-structured, institutional version of church. Other terms used to describe this simple form of ekklesia are: house church, organic church, micro church, family church, open church, liquid church, real church, and New Testament foundation church.

The Biblical roots of Simple Church. Although biblical references are thread throughout the previous SC descriptions, it is paramount to understand that simple churches are built upon a strong scriptural foundation. Whereas Chapter Three will explore the biblical, historical, and theological aspects of SC in depth, the following review provides a brief synopsis. Tony and Felicity Dale, who were very active in the British SC Movement in the 1970s, looked to Bible for the answer to what is a church? They noticed that the NT describes only three types of churches, and of these, Jesus only mentions two: (1) The Church universal, made up of all Christians all over the world in all times and places. Jesus says of this church, All the powers of hell will not conquer it (Mt 16:18). (2) The church in the home, the small gathering of believers that Jesus refers to in Matthew 18:15-20 as the place where two or three gather together because they are Mine. Additionally, the continued emphasis on the small gathering is seen from the beginning of Acts (see Acts 2:42-46), through the various churches in homes mentioned in the

95 epistles to the end of Pauls ministry, which ends with him ministering in his home to groups of believers (see Acts 28). The Dales concluded that the third and final description of church in the Bible comes repeatedly in the epistles when the writers refer to the church in a locality, such as Jerusalem or Ephesus. This local expression is made up of all Christians in that area, whether or not they meet together. 195 D. R. W. Wood and I. H. Marshall, editors of the New Bible Dictionary, explored the importance of the function of the house in early Christianity. The deduced that the NT developed the house of God theme into an important theological concept: A most important development of the idea of Gods house was its application to the church (e.g. Eph 2:1922; Heb 3:16), whose communal character was emphasized in the concepts of the spiritual house (1 Pet 2:5) and Gods temple (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19). In contrast to the pagan temples and even the stone Temple in Jerusalem, the believers were living stones (1 Pet 2:5) in a temple built by Jesus, Gods Son (Heb 3:3, 6).196 Wood and Marshall continued and validated the biblical roots of simple church: The theme of the household of God undoubtedly owed much to the function of the house in early Christianity as a place of meeting and fellowship (e.g. 2 Tm 4:19; Phlm 2; 2 John 10). Whole households turned to the Lord (e.g. Acts 16:34; 1 Cor 1:16), and the breaking of bread (Acts2:46), evangelism (Acts 5:42) and teaching (Acts 20:20) were conducted from house to house.197 In summary, the NT church, or the household of God, was a spiritual community that functioned primarily in the homes of early believers. The household structure provided a natural setting and enabled Christians to gather together for worship and fellowship from the earliest days. Theologian Floyd V. Filson noted, It was the hospitality of these homes which made possible the Christian
195

Dale, Simply Church, 50-51.

D. R. W. Wood and I. H. Marshall, New Bible Dictionary (electronic ed. of 3rd ed.), (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996, c1982, c1962), 488.
197

196

Ibid.

96 worship, common meals, and courage-sustaining fellowship of the group. The Christian movement really rooted in these homes.198 Not coincidently, Wood and Marshall claimed that church rooted in homes continues to be supplemented considerably by the results of archaeological excavation.199 In fact, Del Birkey in his survey of NT house churches, stated, These small fellowships were not dependent on conforming to temple or synagogue worship, nor on buildings they had erected there is no extant church building built prior to Constantine.200 Robert Fitts, a respected simple church author, pointed out that Pentecost occurred in a house, When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting (Acts 2:1,2). He also pointed out the number of foundational events that took place in someones house: The first worship service happened in a house, The first communion service was in a house, Jesus preached and healed the sick in a house, The gospel was first preached to the gentiles was in the house of Cornelius, And the first churches that the Apostle Paul started were all in houses. 201

198

Floyd V. Filson, The Significance of the Early House Churches, (J. Biblical Literature, 58:105-112, 1939), 109, cited in Del Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 49-69 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 63-64.
199

Wood and Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 488.

Del Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 49-69 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 64. Robert Fitts, The Church in the House: A return to Simplicity (Salem, OR: Preparing the Way Publishers, 2001), 25.
201

200

97 When a simple church family gathers together, its members believe that Jesus is truly present in their midst (Mt 18:20), and that He is the Leader and Builder of the church (Mt 16:18). Along these lines, John White, the founder of the simple church planting ministry LK10.com, acknowledged that the model for simple church gatherings derives from Scriptures such as 1 Cor 14:26, Col 3:16, Eph 5:18-20, Heb 3:13 and 10:2425. Accordingly, White declared that there is no program except to listen to Jesus (see John 5:19), obey Him, and teach others to do the same. He added, We believe that all of the functions of church (fellowship, teaching, worship, mission, etc.) flow naturally from this listening to Jesus posture. The simple church becomes the base of operations from which the Kingdom of God begins to permeate a neighborhood or people group.202 Beyond the model of simple church gatherings, Rad Zdero listed many other Scriptural practices that are inherent to simple churches: These home-based and house-sized groups were characterized by Spirit-led participatory meetings, consensus decision-making, the Lords Supper as a full meal, baptism of adults immediately upon profession of faith, co-equal teams of unpaid leaders, and recognition of apostolic teachings and practices as authoritative in all respects. House churches were networked together through occasional citywide meetings and by traveling apostolic teams that circulated from group-to-group and city-to-city. 203 Steve Atkerson, leader of the New Testament Reformation Fellowship, suggested that NT evidence asserts that the apostolic traditions discussed above were meant to be followed throughout the history of the Church: An analysis of the New Testament writings suggests that the apostles indeed had a definite and particular way in which they organized churches and
202

John White, The Vision, the Network and the Strategy, The Dawn Invitation (4/24/06): 5.

Rad Zdero, Constantines Revolution: The Shift from House Churches to the Cathedral Church, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 183.

203

98 encouraged them to function. The evidence further asserts that they intended all congregations to follow these same apostolic traditions and that these traditions were in fact meant to be seen as authoritative. 204 Atkersons premise will be explored in much more depth in Chapter Three. For now, as each of these authors attested, simple churches have deep biblical roots. Its patterns, principles, and practices are clearly built upon a strong scriptural foundation as well as apostolic traditions. Next, the SC is further described by explaining how it differs from the IC.

How Simple Church Differs from Institutional Church How Simple Church practices differ from the Institutional Church practices. Watchman Nee, spiritual father of the modern home church movement in China, at the start of his devotional classic The Normal Christian Life, asked, What is the normal Christian life? He then declared, It is something very different from the life of the average Christian.205 He was of course referring to the Christian life held to be normal by the NT writers, not what was regarded as normal in the 1930s, when the book was written. He was referring to the first and second century Christians whose church practices looked very different from that characterized by 20th and now 21st century church practices. According to Frank Viola and George Barna, co-authors of Pagan Christianity, many of the church practices in place today are not apostolic or biblical practices but

Steve Atkerson, The Authority of Apostolic Tradition in the New Testament Era, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 151-57 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 152.
205

204

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1977), 1.

99 instead are vestiges of pagan practices adopted by Christians in the third century or later. With extensive footnotes and documentation, they accounted for the origins of many common routines widely used in institutional churches and ascertained that most modern day church practices subsequently had little to do with scriptural mandate or apostolic application: Church buildings were initially constructed under the Roman emperor Constantine, around 327; the early Christian church met in homes, Preaching a sermon to an audience was ushered into the church world late in the second century; sermons were an extension of the activity of the Greek sophists, who had mastered the art of rhetorical oratory, The pulpit was a piece of stagecraft borrowed from Greek culture in the mid-third century in which professional speakers delivered monologues in public debates; there is no evidence that Jesus, the apostles, or other leaders in the early Church used a pulpit, The order of worship originated in the Roman Catholic Mass under the leadership of Pope Gregory in the sixth century, There were no pastors, as an official or director of a group of believers, until sometime in the second century; that was eventually furthered by the practice of ordination, which was based upon the prevailing Roman custom of appointing men to public office, The biblical approach to communion or the Lords Supper, was truncated late in the second century from a full, festive communal meal without clergy officiating to the presently common habit of having a sip of wine and morsel of bread (or juice and a wafer) under the guidance of a recognized clergyman.206

Additionally, Pagan Christianity addressed a myriad of other church practices that have no biblical or apostolic precedent, including: tax-exempt status for churches, pews, stained glass windows, altar calls, the pastoral prayer, church bulletins, bishops, clergy attire, choirs, tithing, the collection plate, seminary training, infant baptism, the sinners
Published on www.barna.org, Americans Embrace Various Alternatives to a Conventional Church Experience as Being Fully Biblical, released February 18, 2008.
206

100 prayer, and funeral processions, among others [see Appendix B for a more extensive summary of IC origins]. When you research the origins of church practices and study the practices of the early church, according to Barna, you discover that most of our current church practices have ancient cultural origins, with no biblical basis. 207 All the same, Barna also acknowledged that the objective of Pagan Christianity is not to criticize IC, but to give people the freedom to re-think many modern church practices: Often, people feel as if their worship and ministry are confined to what is routinely done because those patterns have a biblical basis or mandate. As people seek a deeper relationship with God and other believers, the book encourages them to do so with the knowledge that the Bible describes a spiritual experience that relatively few Americans have known - a model that is more organic and in which every person functions as a priest of the living God.208 Beresford Job, author of Biblical Church - A Challenge to Unscriptural Traditions and Practice, traced the cause of unbiblical church practices to the Early Church Fathers, As you read it [the below list] bear in mind that at the time of Jesus Israel had its own practices and teachings, referred to in the New Testament as the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:3), which not only didn't come from the Old Testament, but which actually went directly against it. Job then exposed his list of the traditions of the Early Church Fathers of things pertaining to church life and practice which most believers would take absolutely for granted and without a second thought, but which nevertheless all go completely against the teaching of the New Testament209:

207

Ibid. Ibid.

208

Beresford Job, The Early Church Fathers - The Heart of the Problem! house-church.org, http://www.house-church.org/earl_partfour.htm (accessed June 7, 2008).

209

101 Priesthood and any form of clergy/laity divide, including Bishop, Archbishop, Pope, Cardinal, Vicar, Rector and the like, Special titles such as Reverend so and so, Right Reverend so and so, Pastor so and so, Apostle so and so, Prophet so and so, Evangelist so and so, Elder so and so, and so on and so forth, Dog collars, clerical vestments or special religious dress of any kind, Sacred buildings or holy places, Pulpits and the sermons that go with them, Leadership structures that put one man at the top, either locally, nationally or internationally, and which include the notion of hierarchy in any form, Sunday services or any form of worship led from the front, Bread and wine communion services, Infant baptism or pre-baptismal instruction involving a period of delay, Any form of church membership or signing on dotted line, Denominationalism in every form; by which I mean any organizational and hierarchical networking of either individual, or groups of, churches together, whether on a local, national or international level. 210

Job concluded, Of such unbiblical practices Jesus has long since given His own verdict, So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the Word of God (Mt 15:6 RSV).211 One prominent historical person who recognized the difference between institutional church practices done for the sake of your tradition and church practices with a more biblical basis was Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and of the first Baptist Church in the Americas in the 1600s. He believed that churches should strive to
210

Ibid. Ibid.

211

102 be as close as possible to NT forms and ordinances. Subsequently, this belief led Williams to resign the professional pastorate to found Rhode Island on the NT pattern of a separation between church and state.212 So what are some of the fundamental differences between simple church practices and institutional church practices today? Wolfgang Simson, renowned church researcher, framed Fifteen Theses towards a Re-Incarnation of Church in his classic book Houses that Change the World. These fifteen theses were his attempt to articulate the differences between SC and IC [see Appendix C for a full description of each of the 15 theses]: 1. Christianity is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings, 2. Time to change the cathegogue system [cathedral and synagogue combined], 3. The third Reformation [reformation of structure], 4. From church houses to house churches, 5. The church has to become small in order to grow large, 6. No church is led by a pastor alone, 7. The right pieces fitted together in the wrong way, 8. Out of the hands of bureaucratic clergy towards the priesthood of all believers, 9. Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity, 10. From worshipping our worship to worshipping God, 11. Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing the church to the people, 12. Rediscovering the Lord's Supper as a real supper with real food,213

Dan Trotter, Towards a Biblical Home Church Ecclesiology, theologyweb, entry posted October 9, 2003, http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=11625 (accessed June 12, 2008).

212

103

13. From denominations to city-wide celebrations, 14. Developing a persecution-proof spirit, 15. The Church comes home. 214 Jim Rutz analyzed the shift from Traditional Church (IC) to Open Church, his label for SC, and came up with his own list of 30 dichotomies between SC and IC (Table 6): Table 6. 30 Dichotomies between IC and SC 215

The Traditional Church 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.
213

The Open Church 100% open worship/sharing/ministry Meetings open, spontaneous Meet in homes, offices, and dorms Every meeting different Christ-centered, Spirit-driven People united Based on Scripture Empowering for ever-wider ministry Slightly more men than women Most decisions by consensus Led by elders People proactive People free Members go to outsiders Inexpensive Emphasis on small groups Apostolic oversight Building the Kingdom

5% participation in meetings Meetings programmed Meet in building, sit in rows Meeting format boring Pastor-centered Clergy and laity divided Based on tradition Emasculating from ministry Two-thirds women Most decisions by decree Led by one pastor or board People passive People controlled Inquirers must visit church Expensive Emphasis on large meeting Denominational oversight Building a private empire

In relation to item 12, the late William Barclay, professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow, wrote, The Celebration of the Lords Supper in a Christians home in the first century and in a cathedral in the twentieth century cannot be more different. They bear no relationship to each other. Cited inTony Collis, Micro Leadership: Unlocking Small Group Dynamics for Serious Church Growth (Wellington, New Zealand: Jubilee Resources, 2003), 24.
214

Simson, Houses that Change the World, xv-xxv. Rutz, Megashift, 111.

215

104 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. Doctrine is flag, battle cry Isolation, loneliness Jesus as guest of honor Hidden sin often lingers Self-image: sinners Goal: perseverance, stability Immaturity, growth plateau Leadership limits expansion Churches isolated and weak Fossilizes over time Institutional hierarchy Your presence irrelevant Doctrine is anchor, foundation Teamwork, closeness Jesus as host, emcee Communal righteousness Self-image: saints Goal: overcoming, victory Spiritual maturity, growth stimulus Leaders created continuously Area teamwork and city "elders" Always reforming, learning, growing Family-type relationships You are needed, loved, important

Although Simsons and Rutzs lists are not comprehensive, they do elucidate a fundamental dichotomy between simple church practices and institutional church practices. One of the biggest dichotomies between SC and IC, listed by both Simson and Rutz, is the use of church buildings. Michael Green, Principal of St. John's College of Nottingham, England was a participant in the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne Switzerland in 1974. In his paper sent to the Congress, he substantiated that in the early church, buildings were unimportant; in fact, they did not have any during the period of their greatest advance.216 In contrast, Green lamented: Today they [church buildings] seem all-important to many Christians; their upkeep consumes the money and interest of the members, often plunges them into debt, and isolates them from those who do not go to church. Indeed, even the word has changed meaning. Church no longer means a company of people, as it did in New Testament times. These days it means a building. 217 Another major dichotomy between SC and IC on both lists is the church meeting. Concerning this, John Wesley once asked, Does this attendance at church produce the love of God and man? He answered, Sometimes it does, and sometimes it does not. I
Michael Green, Methods and Strategy in the Evangelism of the Early Church, Lausanne 1974 Documents (1974): 160 http://www.lausanne.org/documents/lau1docs/0159.pdf (accessed August 25, 2008).
217 216

Ibid.

105 myself thus attended them for many years, and yet am conscious myself that during that whole time, I had no more of the love of God than a stone! And I know many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of serious persons who are ready to testify the same thing.218 Probably sensing the same institutional church frustrations as Simson, Rutz, Green, and Wesley, Watchman Nee called the church of his day back the biblical pattern for all time: Acts is the genesis of the churchs history, and the Church in the time of Paul is the genesis of the Spirits work we must return to the beginning. Only what God has set forth as our example in the beginning is the eternal Will of God. It is the Divine standard and our pattern for all time. God has revealed His Will, not only by giving orders, but by having certain things done in His church, so that in the ages to come others might simply look at the pattern and know His will. 219 Interestingly, in relation to the Church following biblical patterns, Wolfgang Simpson offered a reminder that most church-plants in the West, which have now evolved into institutional churches, actually began in homes living out simple church practices: Almost all contemporary church-plants in the West go through an organic house church phase in their early days. Many Western Christians still look back with fond memories of the spontaneous early months or the good old times when we still had our church in homes. The problem is not so much that there are no house churches in the West but that this form of church has neither been consciously acknowledged nor actively sought after.220 As this section demonstrates, there is a fundamental dichotomy between simple church practices and institutional church practices. As Nee, Barna, Viola, Job, Rutz, Simson, Barclay, and Green have asserted, many if not most institutional church practices

John Wesley and John Emory, The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M. (n.p.: T. Mason, 1839), 45, http://books.google.com/books?id=g8gOAAAAIAAJ (accessed August 7, 2008).
219

218

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Church Life (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1980),

xvi.
220

Simson, Houses that Change the World, xxx.

106 have no biblical precedent and alternatively, are patterned after pagan cultural traditions. It can go without saying that institutional church members have bore much fruit for the Kingdom of God throughout history, as bearing fruit is tied to the Holy Spirit working through people in the name of Jesus Christ no matter what the wineskin. The premise of this section is not to disregard the IC contribution in advancing the Kingdom; rather it is to concentrate on assessing if the SC may be a more conducive wineskin/structure for maximizing fruit-bearing potential. Whereas the majority of institutional churches have not acknowledged or sought after the SC model as Simson noted, many of them however have recognized the concept of small groups. One of the models that institutional churches have used to emulate small groups is the cell church model. How the cell church differs from simple church is discussed next. How simple church differs from the cell church. To help explore the differences between simple church and cell church, various authors perspectives will be presented including: (1) Ralph Neighbour, (2) Joel Comiskey, and (3) Bill Beckham. First, it is essential to define cell church. Ralph Neighbour, a cell church pioneer in the West, explained cell church as a human body that is made up of millions of cells, the basic unit of life. Likewise, cells of 5-15 people form the basic unit of the Cell Church. He continued, Believers actively seek relationships with God, each other, and unbelievers in Cell Groups, and these relationships stimulate each member to maturity in worship, mutual edification and evangelism.221 Neighbour further described the cell community:

221

Ralph W. Neighbour, Welcome to the Cell Church! Cell Church Magazine, August 1994, 5.

107 Built on the principle that all Christians are ministers and that the work of ministry should be performed by every Christian, the Cell Church actively seeks to develop each disciple into the likeness of Christ. The Cell Groups are the very forum for ministry, equipping, and evangelism Therefore, the life of the church is in the Cells, not in a building. The church is a dynamic, organic, spiritual being that can only be lived out in the lives of believers in community. 222 Joel Comisky, cell church author and practitioner, described cells as open, evangelism-focused small groups that are entwined into the life of the church. They meet weekly to build up each other as members of the Body of Christ, and to spread the gospel to those who dont know Jesus. He stated, The ultimate goal of each cell is to multiply itself as the group grows through evangelism and then conversions. This is how new members are added to the church and to the kingdom of God.223 Bill Beckham, another cell church advocate and expert, gathered key characteristics to explain the structure and dynamic of the cell church. Conspicuously, most of these characteristics are similar in nature to simple church characteristics: Cells or small groups of Christians meet in homes during the week and are the basic unit of the church, These cells act as the delivery system of the church through which cell members live out the gospel in the world, Every member of the church receives equipping for the work of the ministry in these small groups, Members are accountable to each other, The cell church produces large numbers of servant leaders who enable the work of ministry to take place at the basic cell level, In the small groups, members take off their masks and receive edification and healing. Real New Testament fellowship takes place,

222

Ibid. Joel Comiskey, Home Cell Group Explosion (Houston: Touch Publications, 1998), 17.

223

108 The one another passages found in the New Testament have a context in which they can be experienced, The church centered in home cells is designed to survive persecution, The lost are reached through cell friendship evangelism, Spiritual gifts essential for edification, equipping and evangelism are released in the natural setting of the cells, Full-time leaders are set aside for prayer and to seek Gods face for the body, Multiplication of cells, converts, disciples and leaders constantly occurs, Operating cell churches have a dramatic impact upon the society. Their small groups touch the hurts and needs in the world around them, The growth of the church doesnt depend on how much square footage can be financed and provided. The building formula of the cell church is: grow and then build, Leaders and pastors provide oversight, vision, and accountability for leaders of the cell groups, More money is available for ministry and missions as each member matures in their understanding of stewardship as a lifestyle, The community of cells is a place of healing for the individual and the family, The administration of the church is simplified around the basic cell unit. This significantly reduces the multiple programs necessary to run a traditional church, Primary care for members is provided at the cell level instead of the professional staff level. 224

As per these cell church descriptions, it is apparent that simple church is similar to the cell church in many ways. For instance, they share the following characteristics: small

William A. Beckham, The Second Reformation: Reshaping the Church for the 21st Century (Houston: Touch Publications, 1995), 29-31.

224

109 groups meeting with a goal of multiplication, members accountable to each other, unsaved people are reached through cell friendship evangelism, community is a place of healing for the individual and the family, small groups touch the hurts and needs in the world around them, administration of the church is simplified, and more money is available for ministry and missions. In light of these similarities, however, there are also major differences between the cell church and simple church. While describing cell churches, Ralph Neighbour noted a distinct difference between simple church and cell church, House Churches tend to collect a community of 15-25 people who meet together on a weekly basis. Usually, each House Church stands alone. While they may be in touch with nearby House Churches, they usually do not recognize any further structure beyond themselves.225 Further, distinctions between simple church and cell church have been noted by Jim Rutz, Wolfgang Simson, Rad Zdero, and Robert Fitts. Jim Rutz recognized that a house church is a complete church by itself, not part of a traditional church like cell church. He elucidated: A cell is a subdivision of a central traditional church (which usually receives and retains all offerings). A house church is independent, though it probably networks with other home churches and meets with them from time to time. Both kinds can and do multiply nicely, but no matter how much you expand a cell church, you only have one church (with all the limitations and conformities of a single church).226 Other differences between simple church and cell church, according to Rutz, Its free to express the unique gifting of each member, fulfill the dreams of all its members, meet the

Ralph W. Neighbour, Where Do We Go From Here: A Guidebook for the Cell Group Church (Houston: Touch Publications, 1990), 193.
226

225

Rutz, Megashift, 132.

110 special needs to its own neighborhood, do their own weddings, baptisms, and funerals, and multiply infinitely. He also talked about how since simple church is not locked into someone elses vision, you to learn to feed one another spiritually with the Word of God and seek direction from Him rather than expecting to receive most of your nourishment and guidance from the pulpit or the cell leaded for the rest of your life. 227 Wolfgang Simson articulated his list of differences between simple church and cell church: Leadership is still centralized and ultimately top-down in the cell church concept, whereas in the simple church model it is decentralized and able to make way for the Biblical idea of apostles and elders, In cell churches there is usually a fairly set agenda for each cell meeting which means that the cell church is still largely program based, whereas the house church ideally is more able to respond spontaneously to the leading of the Holy Spirit, Simple churches may appeal to Generation Xers and similar, who will be alienated by cell-based corporate institutions, The house church network, or loose movement of many networks, escapes the bureaucracy and careerism inevitable with a large organization, and is non-controlling of the move of God, The cell is an important part of a larger entity, whereas the house church does not organizationally belong to a larger unit but it should be part of an interdependent network of similar churches.228

Simson also categorized what he called the core differences between cell church and house church in Table 7:

227

Ibid. Simson, Houses that Change the World, 130-55.

228

111 Table 7. 13 Core Differences between Cell and House Church229 Core differences 1. philosophy 2. reflects 3. flourishes in 4. cell is 5. administration 6. program 7. structure 8. leadership 9. centre 10. celebration 11. visibility 12. set-up 13. big wing is Cell church Chiefdom city culture warrior nations part of larger unit Jethro system agenda-driven pyramid leaders ladder headquartered must high evangelistic denominational church House church headless tribe village culture peaceful nations as well the unit itself fivefold ministry house church is agenda flat elders and apostles decentralized optional low apostolic and prophetic the city church

Rad Zdero builds on Rutz and Simsons differences by adding traditional church to the comparison list. Whereas each of the three church types: traditional church, cell church, and house churches, have small groups that typically meet in homes and encourages the participation of all believers, he commented, Thats where the similarities end.230 He then pointed out the following differences in Table 8:

229

Ibid., 133.

Rad Zdero, ed, Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 8.

230

112 Table 8. Comparison of Three Church Types231 Traditional Church Organizational Principle Church WITH small groups Hub Cell Church Church OF small groups Hub and Spokes House Churches Church IS small groups Network

Organizational Diagram

Size of Meetings

Large Group with some Small Groups Programmed Ritual and Passive Audience One-man show

Equal Emphasis on both Large and Small Groups Large Group: Programmed; Small Group: Open Large Group: Oneman Show; Small Group: Mutual Benefit Large Group: Church Building; Small Group: Homes Large Group: Sunday; Small Group: Any Day Large Group: Usually Fixed; Small Group: Flexible Denomination Pyramid Structure & Leaders Ladder

Small Groups Primary HC Network Supplement Open: Participatory and Interactive

Format of Meetings Purpose of Meetings Location of Meetings Day of Meetings Duration of Meetings Broader Connection Leadership Structure

Mutual Benefit

Church Building

Homes Sunday and/or Every Day Flexible HC Network Flat Structure & Leadership Teams

Sunday

Fixed (1-2 hours) Denomination Concentrated in One Person

231

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 127-28.

113 Robert Fitts also used the hub and spoke analogy to point out the structural difference between cell church and simple church. He compared the traditional church approach of small groups that meet weekly in homes to a wheel which has spokes going out in all directions and coming together at the hub, the center of the wheel. He said, This is the picture of Pastor Chos church in South Korea, which is the largest church in the world and has been instrumental in spinning off many other large congregations and thousands of cell groups!232 Be that as it may, Fitts remarked: The early church grew even faster by taking a different path that was like a vine. The vine church could be compared to a strawberry plant. It grows out in all directions, multiplying itself over and over as it puts new roots down, giving birth to multitudes of baby strawberry plants which, in turn, put out vines that put down roots that give birth to more and more strawberry plants (2 Tm 2:2).233 The most dramatic growth in the history of the church since the first century is taking place now in China, India, and Africa. And according to Fitts, they are all vine-like house church movements.234 Paul Gustitus is a pastor who started his ministry career in a traditional church on the left side of Zderos chart before transitioning to a cell-based church. He then envisaged a new wineskin beyond the cell church: I had the privilege of transitioning a program-based church [Indianapolis Christian Fellowship] to a cell-based church. As a result, we have seen wonderful fruit and growth in the lives of Gods people. Yet, I sense in my heart another change coming. I believe God is speaking to many church leaders to reach the next generation giving us a clear, God-given vision for another new wineskin.235
Robert Fitts, 40 Trends that are Reshaping the Church Today, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 273-293 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 282.
233 232

Ibid. Ibid.

234

Larry Kreider, House Church Networks (Ephrata, PA: House to House Publications, 2001), endorsements.

235

114

Wolfgang Simson, former journalist with DAWN ministries, in the introduction to his book Houses that Change the World, called this new wineskin the second reformation. Later in his book, he noted that cell churches have done only half a paradigm shift (i.e., they have not fully entered the second reformation). He concluded, I believe that God wants us to go full circle, returning back wholeheartedly to the New Testament God and consequently His model of house churches, incarnate in apostolic and prophetic ways into our soil, time, people group, and culture, because God wants once more to turn the world upside-down.236 As each of these authors has attested, a clear overlap between simple church and cell church exists, especially in relation to the values of community and small group dynamics. Beyond this, there are a myriad of differences between simple church and cell church as described by the authors, including simple church: being considered a church in and of itself and not tied bureaucratically to a larger body, having meetings that are completely open, interactive, and fully participatory, and having a flat leadership structure. Concerning church leadership structure, the next SC/IC difference to be discussed is the matter of how simple church leadership differs from institutional church leadership. How simple church leadership differs from institutional church leadership. As has been presented, many simple church practices are different from institutional church practices; and in many ways, the simple church is also different from the cell church. As presented next, the SC is also different from the IC in terms of leadership. Towards understanding this difference, it is important to highlight that
236

Simson, Houses that Change the World, 154.

115 leadership was important in the NT church, and therefore is equally as important to the church today. In fact, Paul told Timothy, The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor (1 Tm 5:17). That said, it is also crucial to highlight that Jesus style of leadership predicated on servanthood is much different than the worlds systems of leadership. When the mother of Zebedees sons came to Jesus and asked Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom (Mt 20:21), Jesus responded: You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:24-28). Jesus taught and modeled servant leadership to His disciples. Chapter Three will present evidence showing that the disciples, under the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit, set up churches to be led by plural, co-equal, non-hierarchical, home grown elders; elders who simply performed a function without in any way being seen to hold a position. Evidence will also show that little by little some of the influential Early Church Fathers made decisions to implement clergy positions, which in-turn created a new-found laity class of Christians. It will be apparent from the evidence that this clergy-laity divide shifted the church away from Jesus servant leadership model toward a more institutional version of hierarchal leadership that followed the Roman system of government. Graham Cooke, founder of United Christian Ministries in Southhampton England, pointed out that there are a lot of leaders today clinging to titles like apostle, prophet, bishop, reverend, minister, pastor. Noting that those are not titles, theyre biblical

116 functions; he observed the difference between hierarchical church-based leadership with titles versus Jesus model of leadership functioning as a servant: Theres no hierarchy in the body of Christ of status not when Jesus could say He came down and laid down His Sonship and took upon Himself the form of a servant. In Scripture there are only three titles that God gives us: the first one is servant, the second is steward, and the third one is bond-slave. You get promoted downward to different levels. You start off as a general servant, then you get promoted down to being a steward and then you get promoted, after a series of deaths, down to being a bond-slave. 237 Robert Fitts, an experienced leader in the Body of Christ, related to this downward promotion leadership concept and noted that the phrase raising up gives the impression that in order to be a leader you have to be raised up or elevated above the common, ordinary people. In reality according to Fitts, the process God usually employs to prepare true leaders rather than raising up would more accurately be described as, battering down leaders! The process of spiritual preparation that God puts us through to become servant leaders inclines us to be servants rather than lords.238 Fitts also commented on why hierarchal leadership is so hard to resist, Wherever there is a ladder-oriented organizational structure, there will always be those whose ambition and desire is to climb up one more rung of that ladder till they reach the top. The urge to be above is almost irresistible to the flesh. Hierarchy is a system of this world, not of the kingdom of God.239

237

Graham Cooke, Second Wind (Gresham, OR: n.p., 1998), 10. Fitts, 40 Trends that are Reshaping the Church Today, 286. Ibid., 276.

238

239

117 Whereas organizational hierarchical leadership is hard to resist, Jesus clearly called the church and its leaders to be lowly in attitude, functioning humbly without titles and positions: You are not to be called Rabbi for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth, father, for you have one Father and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called teacher for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Mt 23:812). A.W. Tozer, 20th Century author of more than 40 books including The Pursuit of God, found the Church of his day in a state of leadership crisis contrary to Jesus mandate, The church is like a constitutional monarchy, where Jesus is allowed the title, but has no authority to make any decisions.240 He then declared the need for a change in this type of church leadership: If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. 241 Robert Fitts echoed Tozers call for change: The clergy-laity system has fostered the idea that the common people should be pouring out their lives to minister to the spiritual leader, as if that leader were a sort of queen bee of the hive; that they are more important and need lots of attention. Another way the clergy put themselves above the common people is to quote the Scripture from the Old Testament Touch not Gods anointed. As if the pastor is anointed and the people are not. The New Testament makes it clear that all believers are anointed; not just certain leaders (1 John 2:26-27).242
240

Dale, Simply Church, 19.

A. W. Tozer, A New Type of Preacher, SermonIndex.net, http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=16460 (accessed September 1, 2008).


242

241

Fitts, 40 Trends that are Reshaping the Church Today, 286.

118

Jim Flynn, Wie Tjiong, and Russell West in their co-authored book also spoke of a clergy-laity system in the church that is not of Scripture, Kenneth Gangel points out that it is tradition and not the Scriptures that has made a distinction between laity and clergy. This false division is a function of ecclesiological paradigms that were directly confronted through the Reformation.243 Whether its leaders with titles as per Cooke, or a ruler-of-the-synagogue as per Tozer, or a clergy-laity system as per Fitts and Flynn, there is a system of hierarchal leadership in the IC that seem to be contrary to Jesus system of leadership based on humble servitude from the bottom up. J. L. Dagg, professor of theology at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, also recognized this and called the church back to an apostolic organization and government [leadership]: [The apostles] have taught us by example how to organize and govern churches. We have no right to reject their instruction and captiously insist that nothing but positive command shall bind us. Instead of choosing to walk in a way of our own devising, we should take pleasure to walk in the footsteps of those holy men from whom we have received the word of life. respect for the Spirit by which they were led should induce us to prefer their modes of organization and government to such as our inferior wisdom might suggest.244 In an attempt to call the Church back to an apostolic organization and government, Tony and Felicity Dale created the following chart (Table 9) to explain the leadership differences between IC and SC, what they refer to respectively as the Old Leadership Paradigm and the New Leadership Paradigm. Inherent in this chart is a call to

James T. Flynn, Wie L. Tjiong, and Russell W. West, A Well Furnished Heart: Sustaining Renewal Through Effective Theological Education (Fairfax, VA: Xulon Press, 2002), 297.
244

243

John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology Christian Doctrine Church Order (NY: Arno Press, 1980),

84.

119 a new SC leadership paradigm, which essentially is a call back to the biblical patterns of church leadership (i.e. apostolic organization and government): Table 9. Old and New Leadership Paradigms245 Old Leadership Paradigm One man leadership Eagles Hierarchical structure Based on charisma Training in academic institutions CEO keeps the programs running Rules over people You carry my suitcase Visible on the rooftop New Leadership Paradigm One Man, Jesus, as head of the body (Col 1:18) Doves Flat structure (Mt 20:25-28) Based on character (1 Tm 3:1-13) School of hard knocks; backside of desert (2 Cor 11:22-29) Weeping fathers, longing for sons to overtake them (1 Thes 2:7-12) Servant/slave of others (Mt 20:26,27, 2 Cor 4:5) Ill carry your suitcase (2 Cor 12:15) Unseen in the foundations (Eph 2:20) Ordinary given to death (John 15:13, 2 Cor 4:7Superstar larger than life 12; Gal 2:20) Equips and releases others for their vision (Eph Leaders vision that counts 4:12) Showcases own gifts/talents Equips others to minister (Eph 4:12) Spiritual authority based on relationship with Authority is positional Father (John 5:19, 8:28) Wants power, authority, Gives it away (1 Cor 3:5-9) control Builds an empire Builds the Kingdom (Eph 4:11) Raises bar on leadership Lowers bar on leadership (Rom 16) Hard to multiply Easy to multiply (Acts 16:5) Out of control control given to Holy Spirit Maintains quality control (John 16:13) Success measured by Success based on obedience and faithfulness numbers and dollars (Acts 5:29; 2 Tm 2:2; How high can I fly How low can I go (1 Cor 4:10-13; 2 Cor 12:9) Looking for success and Dead to glory, limelight and ambition (Phil 2:5-8, glory 3:7-9) Gives greater honor to the weaker (1 Cor 12:22Ignores the weaker 24) Alpha male Male and female (Rom 16) Creates a successor Raises many sons and daughters (2 Tm 1:2)
Tony and Felicity Dale, Leadership, House2House, http://www.house2house.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=205 (accessed June 26, 2008).
245

120 Clearly, an extensive distinction between SC and IC leadership paradigms is evidenced in many aspects. Most notably is a hierarchical, one man in charge leadership structure operating out of positional authority that is prevalent in institutional churches. In contrast, prevalent in simple churches, is a plural, flat, servant-based leadership paradigm operating out of spiritual authority. Strong biblical support for a SC leadership style is also supported in the Dales chart. Of note is Paul the apostle never referring to one person as the leader of a church but always addressing the leaders/elders/overseers within a congregation in the plural. Steve Atkerson, author of the book Ekklesia, confirmed that the NT church had clearly identified local leaders as elders/presbyters, pastors/shepherds, or bishops/overseers. However, he also noted that these terms were simply different names used for the same person(s) that functioned as leaders. He ascertained, The interchangeability of these terms can be determined from a cross comparison of key Scriptures: Acts 14:23, 20:17,28; Eph 4:11; Phil 1:1; 1 Tm 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9; Jas 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-3.246 According to Aubrey Malphurs, although there were apostles who had great influence in the early Church, a close reading of the NT, especially the pastoral epistles, clearly revealed that there was a plurality of leadership among the churches (whether meeting locally in the city or in a house). This took the form of spiritual leaders called elders or overseers who seemed to do the work of the modern day pastor collectively (Acts 15; 14:23; 20:17; Phil 1:1; 1 Tm 5:17; Jas 5:14; Tit 1:5).247 Along these lines, Frank
246

Steve Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 143-150 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 149. Aubrey Malphurs, Being Leaders: The Nature of Authentic Christian Leadership (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), 24-26.
247

121 Viola and Gene Edwards pointed out how infrequently the NT actually mentions church leadership, especially a pastor. According to Viola, The noun pastor shows up just once in the New Testament; overseer appears four times, and elder is used five times. Contrasted, brothers (which of course includes sisters) comes up 346 times. 248 Likewise, according to Edwards, Paul left every church he ever raised up (on those first two church planting trips of his), and left them without any leaders. No leaders of any sort.249 Edwards elaborated, In nine letters Paul wrote to churches, he made only one reference to elders. Paul made scores of references directly addressed to the brothers in each locale. 250 Edwards dug even further into the history of this often overlooked phenomenon: Counting all types of written documents and correspondence, archeologists have about 500,000 specimens from this [early Christian] era, with about 25,000 of them categorized as Christian or probably Christian. Not one of these pieces of papyrus, etc., makes any reference to a clergyman. There is absolutely no mention of a minister or priest or pastor or any other term for any office or any kind of leadership.251 Once again, church leadership is biblical. However, an over-emphasis on set-apart leadership and one person in a hierarchical authoritative position leadership seems to go against the grain of the servant-based plurality of leadership model found in the NT church. Viola confirmed, The vocabulary of New Testament leadership allows no

Frank Viola, Who Is Your Covering A fresh Look at Leadership, Authority and Accountability (Gainesville, FL: Present Testimony Ministry, 2001), 28.
249

248

Edwards, Beyond Radical, 73. Ibid., 89.

250

Gene Edwards cited by James H. Rutz, The Open Church (Portal, GA: Open Church Ministries, 1993), 51.

251

122 pyramidal structures. It is a language of horizontal relationships that includes exemplary action (he cites 1 Cor 11:1; 2 Thes 3:9; 1 Tm 4:2; 1 Pet 5:3).252 So, if one person is not designed to carry the responsibility of leading a church, then the consequences of doing so are potentially devastating. Dr. Joseph Umidi, professor of Practical Theology at Regent University, tallied the numbers of priests and pastors who burn out and quit professional ministry each year: Twenty years ago, sociologist John Norval of Notre Dame claimed that one in four Catholic priests and one in eight Protestant ministers quit the ministry each year. More recent estimates suggest that the number of Protestant ministers who quit each year has grown to one in six, which equates to more than fifty thousand of the nations total of three hundred fifty thousand ministers.253 Additionally, Charles Crismier, host of Viewpoint, a national radio broadcast, interviewed H. B. London, head of pastoral ministries for Focus on the Family on this subject. London disclosed that at least 70% of pastors in America claim they have NO [emphasis added] friends.254 Crismier rightfully followed, Whatever happened to Christian community? Are we [church leaders] destined to be strangers in the Commonwealth of Faith?255 The answer of course is no. Church leaders are supposed to be in the midst of community, sharing life together with the family of God, not positioned above it. As the ole clich goes, its lonely at the top. And in the case of the church community, its even lonelier when there isnt supposed to be a top. Brother Dong, a house church leader in China, said the
Frank Viola, Pagan Christianity: The Origins of Our Modern Church Practices (Gainesville, FL: Present Testimony Ministry, 2003), 146.
253 252

Joseph Umidi, Confirming the Pastoral Call (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000), 12-13.

Charles Crismier, Counterfeit Community, Save America Ministries, http://www.saveus.org/articles/counterfeit_community.htm (accessed July 26, 2008).
255

254

Ibid.

123 Chinese explain it this way, If only one flower stands out, it is not truly spring. 256 The SC form and style of leadership provides a leadership paradigm in which there is no top and no single flower that stands out. Keith Jones, in his paper on shifting church leadership toward a SC model, stated, There is a plurality in leadership within the New Testament that is not found in todays modern church, especially the very influential mega-church built on a business CEO model. Still, there is a need for leadership authority in the SC community of believers. Concerning this, Jones asked a valid question, Where [then] does authority come from within a community of believers?257 He answered: The simple answer is Christ (Col 2:10). He has complete authority and headship over the church. Second in authority is that of the apostles who were the eye witnesses of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-11).258 Their preaching and teaching as Christs representatives (2 Cor 5:20), later recorded in their writings, are the authority for the church as Christ Himself (1 Thes 5:27; 2 Thes 2:15; 3:14). Third, congregations where given authority as the elders/overseers shared from the apostles teachings (1 Thes 5:12-13; 1 Tm 3:5; 5:17; cf. 1 Cor 16:15-16).259 In NT churches, the elder-led consensus of the whole congregation was paramount in decision making (Mt 18:15-20; Luke 22:24-27; John 17:11, 20-23; Acts 15:22; 1 Cor 1:10, 10:17; Eph 2:19-20, 4:13-17; Phil 2:1-2; 1 Pet 5:1-3). Along these lines, Steve Atkerson observed that NT church leaders led more by example and persuasion than by command. He added, Achieving consensus was possible in a house

Justin Long, If only one flower stands out, it is not truly spring: a Chinese house church pastors perspective, The Network for Strategic Missions, entry posted April 16, 2009, http://www.strategicnetwork.org/2009/04/if-only-one-flower-stands-out-it-is-not-truly-spring-a-chinesehouse-church-pastors-perspective/ (accessed April 17, 2009).
257

256

Keith Jones, A Community of Leaders (masters thesis, Tyndale Seminary, 2008), 5-6. And those in close contact with the apostles who were eye witnesses of Christ (e.g. Luke). Jones, A Community of Leaders, 5-6.

258

259

124 church where everyone knew each other, loved each other, was patient with one another, and was committed to one other.260 The DFW Organic Church Connection, a simple church network in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, also believes a plurality-style leadership format is important for a SC community. They expressed the leadership values they deem important: Accountability, pasturing, teaching and encouraging is expected to happen naturally as a result of the relationships between believers, not because of a specific job description of those with the proper ministry credentials. The primary purpose of leadership to promote the spiritual growth of each believer so that their ministry to others can be stronger and more effective. Leadership is fluid, overlapping and never exclusive. Leadership within each group of believers and across the wider networks is recognized and based on character, function and service rather than a title or office.261

Victor Choudhrie, a former cancer surgeon and now prolific house church planter in India, 262 also expressed his view of simple church leadership and emphasized that elders need to come from the locality where they were in community, Elders are spiritual father/mother figures, responsible for administration of the church. They mentor

Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, 149. Values of Organic Christianity, The DFW Organic Church Connection, http://dallashousechurch.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/dfwocc_0003_2008-05-06.pdf (accessed August 26, 2008). In 2004, after a few short years, Choudhrie estimated that 3500 churches had been planted numbering 70,000 people, cited in Rad Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 71.
262 261

260

125 the flock and equip them for ministry. Paul never imposed an outsider as a long-term, local elder in any church, but always empowered local persons to be the leaders. 263 As different as simple church leadership is from institutional church leadership, so will the differences be between training and empowering local persons to be simple church leaders. Commenting on the unscriptural practice of a clergy-laity divide, Flynn, Tjiong, and West recognized years ago that the hour is late and the stakes are high. Millions of souls are in desperate need of effective leadership. Radical change is needed in how we train our leaders in the Church if renewal is to continue. 264 They continued: If history provides a glimpse at what to expect in the future, the changes in the nature and delivery of theological education that occur to contextualize it to meet the needs of the new generation of emerging leaders is substantial New systems of training must be developed that equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:12) in a practical, application-oriented manner.265 Whereas Flynn, Tjiong, and West are not specifically addressing the training of simple church leaders, their position on contextualizing education to meet the needs of a new generation of emerging church leaders is relevant and applicable. If Barnas prediction is accurate that house church attendance during any given week could double in the coming decade, 266 then a multitude of simple church leaders will need training in the near future.

Victor Choudhrie, The Types of Qualifications of House Church Leaders, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 439-442 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 440.
264

263

Flynn, Tjiong, and West, A Well Furnished Heart, x. Ibid., 52,54.

265

Barna Group, House Church Involvement Is Growing, The Barna Update (June 19, 2006) http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=241 (accessed September 14, 2008).

266

126 Leadership can be a complex subject and certainly not an exact science. As the authors cited in this section have articulated, clear differences exist between institutional church leadership, which tends to be hierarchical, one man in charge leadership operating out of positional authority, and simple church leadership which tends to be plural, flat, servant-based leadership operating out of spiritual authority. Overall, this section has helped define and describe the SC by distinguishing the differences between it and the IC on the subjects of church practice, cell church, and leadership. Next, the SC will be further defined by describing its patterns, principles and practices.

Simple Church Patterns, Principles, and Practices A common theme running through SC literature and those advocating simple church is the attempt to emulate biblical doctrine and biblical patterns, generally referred to respectively as the wine and the wineskin. American theologian Robert Webber observed that the main concern for Christians living prior to Constantine was how to practically live out the life of a true disciple of Jesus, rather than clarifying theological matters. He also noted that todays simple church advocates agree that this sentiment for church values prior to Constantine has been the clarion call down through the ages of Christians seeking a more authentic and holistic expression of church life that holds true to the New Testament witness and whole-hearted discipleship.267 Jim Elliot, missionary martyr, wrote about the importance of emulating NT church patterns and seeking a more authentic and holistic expression of church life in a letter to his wife Elisabeth:
Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 217.
267

127 The pivot point hangs on whether or not God has revealed a universal pattern for the church in the New Testament. If He has not, then anything will do so long as it works. But I am convinced that nothing so dear to the heart of Christ as His Bride should be left without explicit instructions as to her corporate conduct. I am further convinced that the 20th century has in no way simulated this pattern in its method of churching a community it is incumbent upon me, if God has a pattern for the church, to find and establish that pattern, at all costs.268 Elliot encapsulated the journey of simple church advocates who believe God left behind explicit instructions as to the churchs corporate conduct by revealing a universal pattern for the NT church as modeled by Jesus and His apostles. As a result, simple church advocates are on a mission to find this pattern and reestablish it. Determining the biblical pattern of church and reestablishing it in the 21st century is a noble goal. However, it is first of all prudent to determine the biblical pattern for the church. The next section explores the SCs alignment with the NT biblical church pattern, and accompanying principles and practices, and how these are being lived out by modern-day simple church advocates. A sample of simple church networks and their patterns, principles, and practices. New Springs, a community of home churches in Central California, explained their understanding of a biblical patterned church by asking a lead-in question, Why This Type of Church [i.e. simple church]: It's Caring: People feel known and cared about in this type of church family. A single woman said, Home church is a place where I belong, where people are concerned for each other. We need people in our lives that will be there for us through thick and thin. In this type of extended family church we discover what it means to devoted to one another in love. It's Faith-Building: Everyone develops his/her special God-given gifts and can participate in the wonder of seeing God work through him/her.

Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (NY: Harper One, 1989), 128-29.

268

128 Our services are carefully facilitated by leaders who keep order while allowing the leading of the Holy Spirit. Church is a miraculous display of God working through His People (the church) to display His love and power. What a faith-builder to participate in this!!! It's Freeing: Everyone is valued. Everyone matters. Everyone gets involved in the decision-making and planning. Everyone takes ownership and fully belongs. It's Biblical: The early church did not meet in large buildings that were bought and set aside for "church." They met in facilities that were available: most regularly in homes and then, less often, in synagogues or at the temple for larger gatherings. Notice that churches were identified by the home that they met in because this was the basic church structure: Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house (1 Cor 16:19) and Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house (Col 4:15). It's Inexpensive: Church financial expenses are reduced which frees up more money for missions and charitable causes. It's Easily Reproducible: Imagine vibrant families of caring Christians meeting in every neighborhood and marketplace of the world. Simplehouse churches are easy to start and multiply so that God's love and glory can easily reproduce in every part of the earth. Christianity Becomes a Way of Life: One young woman said this about her home church experience: It is an environment of faith in which I am being opened, nurtured, challenged, supported. It is an occasion from which I go out to be more effective during the week as a result of the focus that the group offers. 269

The Hampton Roads Simple Church Network is a network of simple, organic, house churches in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia. They also attempt to follow the biblical pattern of church and accordingly described their principles and practices:

Why This Type of Church, New Springs a Community of Home Churches, http://www.newsprings.net/why.htm (accessed September 1, 2008).

269

129 There is nothing to join, there are no dues to pay, and there is no personality to submit to but Christ. It is a simple voluntary relationship with one another expressed from congregation to congregation. We are inclusive of all followers of Jesus Christ, who proclaim Him as their God, their King, and their Lord. Our only written creed is the Bible. We have no centralized governing body, but recognize the relationship we all have with one another being submitted to one another under Christ. We have no clergy/laity divide, but honor the priesthood of every believer and their personal responsibility to grow in Christ. We welcome the gifts the Lord has given the church to equip her to do the works of the ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers) but do not see them as positions within a hierarchy but servants functioning in their gifting. We stay connected through our voluntary relationships with one another and serve, love and minister to one another based upon those relationships. We desire to cooperate with other expressions of church in our region without being exclusive or judgmental, but expressing our love for one another in unity and truth. We desire to serve our community in unity in order to bring about transformation, renewal and demonstrate the kingdom of God.270

The Dallas/Fort Worth Simple Church Network recorded a list of the values including principles and practices that they observe while attempting to follow the NT church pattern. Their 29 values are listed under the following categories: The Kingdom of God, Ministry, Leadership and Accountability, Structure, Finances and Giving, Corporate Worship, Dissolution of Denominational Distinctives, Evangelism, and Our Relationship with Non-Believers. Consider a sample of the Dallas/Fort Worth Simple Church Network value statements, one per category [see Appendix D for their full list of 29 values]:

Who is Hampton Roads Simple Church Network? Hampton Roads Simple Church Network, http://www.hrscn.org/About_Us.html (accessed September 19, 2008).

270

130 New churches are planted and outreaches are planned in an endeavor to building the Kingdom of God, not necessarily a church or an organization. Ministry is the right and function of all believers, not a select class or group and certainly not the exclusive function of the leadership. Leadership within each group of believers and across the wider networks is recognized and based on character, function and service rather than a title or office. Gatherings can be (and often are) pre-empted in favor of activities that satisfy Christian responsibilities to the poor and needy, both domestically and globally. Expenses of single-purpose buildings for use by the church are foregone in favor of simpler gathering spots, such as homes, offices, restaurants or any places not requiring regular rent payments. Communion is usually observed within the context of a full meal and viewed as a metaphorical expression of the deep and authentic relationships enjoyed with each other as a result of Christs death and resurrection. Unity as viewed as belief in, obedience to and relationship with Christ, not in mental conformity to a particular set of doctrinal statements. Agreement and conformity are not prerequisites for acceptance into a group or networks of believers, but rather a confession of belief in Christ as the son of God. The importance of living in such a way that non-believers receive a taste of what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God is valued as important a means of evangelism as simply disseminating information. 271

The principles and practices followed by these three SC networks, and many others like them, attempt to emulate NT biblical paradigms. By so doing, these simple church networks embody Jim Elliots heart commitment, It is incumbent upon me, if God has a pattern for the church, to find and establish that pattern at all costs.272 Toward
271

Values of Organic Christianity, The DFW Organic Church Connection, http://dallashousechurch.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/dfwocc_0003_2008-05-06.pdf (accessed August 26, 2008).
272

Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty, 128-9.

131 this end of finding and establishing Gods pattern for the church, three simple church principles/practices will be explored: (1) the simple church with Jesus Christ as the center, (2) the simple church as an authentic community, and (3) the simple church meeting place and meeting. The simple church with Jesus Christ as the center. According to proponents, a paramount non-negotiable principle of simple church relates to its being centered exclusively on the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus made it very clear that He alone was the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). He said to the Pharisees, You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life (John 5:39). Robin Corner illustrated how biblical church meetings were filled with the manifest presence of Jesus. Jesus Himself spoke personal messages to the churches (e.g. 1 Cor 14:24-25). Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, was present in a manifest way in the church community (Mt 28:20; John 14:23; Acts 2:4). Jesus personally directed evangelism (Acts 9:10-16). He directed missions and appointed missionaries (Acts 13:1-4). He appointed church leaders (Acts 20:28). The whole church was obviously intimately related to Him in every facet of its existence. Any other way would have been unthinkable. 273 In Matthew 16:18, Jesus stated, I will build My church. In Ephesians 4:14-15, Paul described Jesus as the head of His church. In her book on ordinary people advancing Gods Kingdom, Felicity Dale talked about how the church is not about buildings, meetings, and charismatic leaders, but about relationships, first with Jesus and then with those in His body. She commented Jesus needs to be our primary focus, pleasing Him our highest calling, communicating with Him the heartbeat of our
Robin Corner, Simple Church Networks: An Emerging Methodology to Fulfill The Great Commission (2006), 9.
273

132 existence. She then exhorted, Lets give God His church back! Enough of our programs and plans! Its about Jesus! Jesus is the Head! We, the Church, are His body. Lets fall in love with Jesus all over again Jesus as head of His church is a foundational principle for simple churches. Jesus, build Your church! 274 Neil Cole told of a time where some Japanese church leaders paid for him to fly to their country to assist them in developing simple church strategies for their nation. He felt Jesus telling him to not come with an agenda, only to focus on Him and wait for His counsel. He tells of his trepidation in explaining this to his hosts, who had invested several thousands of dollars in paying for his trip, that Jesus had the agenda, not him. With the outcome far above anything they had expected, Cole explained, We felt the heavens respond, and I am convinced that on that day a victory was won in the spiritual realm for the hearts and souls of the Japanese.275 Frank Viola also noted the difference that focusing on Jesus exclusively makes in a meeting, Such meetings are marked by incredible variety. They are not bound to a one-man, pulpit-dominated pattern of worship. The overarching hallmark of these meetings is the visible Headship of Christ.276 Simple churches abound with the desire to get back to the place where Jesus truly is the Head of His church. Next on the simple church desire list is for the church to be an authentic community.

274

Felicity Dale, An Army of Ordinary People (Austin, TX: Karis Publishing, 2005), 128-29. Cole, Organic Church, 51-52. Viola, Pagan Christianity, 70.

275

276

133 The SC as an authentic community. The NT church was a community of people whose overwhelming preoccupation in life became relationship with God and relationship with each other. Community was Gods idea from the start, as He, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit existed together as an eternal community. One of Jesus final prayers was that His followers would have the same quality of community and oneness as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (John 17:20-23). Jesus also made the statement that the world would know Christians were indeed his disciples by the mutual love they demonstrated for each other (John 13:35). His followers were to be about the business of building a community together, living the common life, and engaging in mutual life-on-life ministry. Jesus disciples obeyed this call to communal love by devoting themselves to the apostles teaching, praying, fellowshipping, breaking bread, and sharing their lives together (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37). Eric Svendson instructed concerning this NT call to community: The community aspect of church is very solidly woven through the language of the New Testament: we are seen as the household (Gk = oikos) of God; Christians are called brothers and sisters; we are children of God and born into His family, and should therefore relate to one another as a family (he cited Gal 6:10; Col 4:7; 1 John 4:21; Phlm 2; Rom 16:2; 1 John 3:1; John 1:1213; 1 Tm 5:1-2; Rom 16:13).277 Robert Banks believed that the NT thinking on community finds its fullest development in Pauls letters. Banks concluded his studies of Pauls idea of community by observing that even though Paul recognized NT Christians failed to live up to the full measure of his directives to dwell in authentic community, he meant his prescriptions to

Eric Svendson, The Church that Meets in Your Home, cited in Steve Atkerson (ed.), Towards a House Church Theology (Atlanta: NTRF, 1996), 29-36.

277

134 be practical instructions and not just abstract idealism. 278 Paul understood that authentic community was required to obey Jesus mandate to make disciples; after all, it was the paradigm that Jesus modeled with his 12 disciples and the paradigm that he modeled with his own disciples. Recognizing this paradigm of discipleship in the life of the apostles, Rad Zdero noted, The apostles knew that forging deep, authentic, and mutually transforming friendships could only occur in such intimate gatherings. Tying these intimate gatherings to an intentional practice, he continued, This may have been another reason why their [apostles] practice was to pattern the early Christian communities using a house church model.279 Zdero implied that meeting in houses was more than a convenient place to gather believers. To the contrary, it was an intentional pattern that facilitated the forging of deep, authentic friendships, which was important in a believers discipleship process. Most Christians are familiar with the Scriptures portraying the church as a family, meeting in intimate gatherings, and making disciples of one another. But in actual reality, this aspect of the Christian faith for many believers often goes only skin deep. Simple churches by nature are attempting to remedy this by following the patterns of NT church life, embodying the principles and practices of authentic Christian community. Frank Viola discussed this and noted that whenever Christians meet together in a church setting, it is exceedingly difficult for them to be anything but serious and formal, We hide

278

Robert Banks, Pauls Idea of community (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 189-

192. Rad Zdero, Constantines Revolution: The Shift from House Churches to the Cathedral Church, 78.
279

135 behind a mask. Our vocabulary, our style of speaking, and our praying all changes when we get together with others for a Christian meeting280 In contrast, Viola contended: The early church was born in an atmosphere of informality. The Body of Christ breathes the air of informality. It is void of ritualism, legalism, professionalism, and religiosity. By learning to get to know one another in an informal, nonreligious atmosphere, we are providing a womb for authentic Body life to be born.281 In an atmosphere of informality, simple church provides a womb for authentic body life. Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung bolstered this pattern with the example of a group of house churches in Keswick, Ontario, consisting mostly of new believers: They are bringing many nonbelievers into the family thanks to their new expression of a more relaxed church atmosphere. These new Christians bring their non-Christian and Christian friends to house-church meetings, where they simply hang out and talk about life and how the Bible applies to everyday situations. These people, and so many others, want spirituality made real. They want talk translated into action. House churches provide that place of interaction and authenticity. 282 Spirituality made real by talk translated into action or walking the talk is a natural outcome in the informal authentic environment of simple church. Summed up well by one simple church network leader discussing the best way to interact with people, I always try to think of how I would deal with an issue if it occurred in my (natural) family, rather than in a corporation.283 Making disciples from authentic relationships born out of trusted friendships, just as Jesus modeled with his disciples, is the SC way. With minimal structure in an
Frank Viola, How to Have Participatory House Church Meetings, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 394-400 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 399.
281 280

Ibid. Kreider and McClung, Starting a House Church, 31. Corner, Simple Church Networks, 10.

282

283

136 atmosphere of informality, SC principles and practices of authentic community toward the biblical pattern are not only possible but are actually happening. With Jesus as the Center of the church, and trusted relationships in authentic community following NT principles and practices, the pattern of the simple church meeting place and meeting is addressed next. The simple church meeting place and meeting. A brief survey of the NT record establishes a first century pattern of the church holding its meetings primarily in private homes (Acts 2:46, 5:42, 8:3, 10:1-48, 12:12, 16:14-15,29-34, 18:8, 20:6-8,20; Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:15,19; Col 4:15-16; Phlm 1:2; 2 John 1:10). Additionally, this pattern of the church meeting in private homes has been documented extensively by biblical scholars.284 One of these scholars, Dr. Mike Barnett from Southwestern Seminary, maintained that the home served as the center of gravity for Jesus ministry, and he therefore stated, No wonder the early Jesus movement swept through the Roman Empire house-to-house. It was modeled by the Master.285 Steve Atkerson, M.Div. from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, noted the fact that the early church continued the practice of home meetings for hundreds of years, long after the New Testament writings were completed.286 Verifying this, Graydon Snyder, professor at Chicago Theological Seminary, asserted that the NT church
For example: Roger Gehring, House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004); Robert Banks, Pauls Idea of Community (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994); Del Birkey, The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1988); Floyd V. Filson, The Significance of the Early House Churches, (J. Biblical Literature, 58:105-112, 1939). Mike Barnett, Why Do House Churches and Small Groups Persist Throughout Church History?, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 161-66 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 163. Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, 143.
286 285 284

137 started as a house church movement and remained so up until about the year AD 300. 287 Furthermore, he claimed that there is no evidence that any home during that period was ever converted into a special building devoted solely to religious services for Christians.288 The practice of meeting in private homes greatly helped the early church embody its authentic life as the family of God. Archaeological evidence indicates the physical size of the average home was able to accommodate on average 20 to 40 individuals. 289 Thus, a very large church would have been one that was filled to the brim with perhaps as many as three-dozen people. However, as Rad Zdero estimated, Many household churches were probably significantly smaller than this and, hence, were more reminiscent of Jesus first discipleship circle of 12.290 Applying extensive scholarship, Robert Banks wrote a book based on reconstructing the scene of a typical church meeting in NT times. Throughout the story, he noted the naturalness of the people and how a visitor would be impressed by the lack of formal religiosity about the meeting. Additionally, revolutionary for those times, he noted how slaves were treated with respect as people with feelings and importance.291

287

Graydon Snyder, Church Life Before Constantine (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1991),

166.
288

Ibid., 67.

Roger W. Gehring, House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), 290. Rad Zdero, The Nature and Function of the Early House Churches, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 70-83 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 83.
291 290

289

Robert Banks, Going to Church in the First Century (Jacksonville, FL: SeedSowers, 1980), 7-

48.

138 Wolfgang Simson, a prominent theologian in the SC Movement, asked, What is the most difficult and therefore most meaningful place for someone to be spiritual? He answered, At home, in the presence of their spouse and children, where everything they do and say is automatically put through a spiritual litmus test against reality, where hypocrisy can be effectively weeded out and authenticity can grow.292 He added: Much of Christianity has fled the family, often as a place of its own spiritual defeat, and then has organized artificial performances in sacred buildings far from the atmosphere of real life. As God is in the business of recapturing the homes, the church turns back to its roots back to where it came from. It literally comes home, completing the circle of church history at the end of world history.293 Following the lead of their NT counterparts, many modern day simple churches meet in homes. But with a plethora of options unavailable in the first century, this certainly does not have to be the case today. A simple church can meet in any type of venue. In keeping with NT principles and practices, however, venues are usually small and private so they can retain the personal intimacy of authentic relational NT Christianity while also avoiding administration costs. Regarding the meeting itself, the NT pattern for when the church came together is found in Scriptures such as 1 Cor 14; Eph 5:19-20; Col 3:16; Heb 10:24-25. The primary principles and practices included meetings that were interactive, fully participatory, and Holy Spirit led. Specifically, 1 Cor 14:26 admonished early church Christians, When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. In

292

Simson, Houses that Change the World, xiv. Ibid.

293

139 other words, any person could participate as long as it was edifying and designed to strengthen the church. Scholars Dr. John Drane and Dr. A. M. Renwick affirmed the participatory and Holy Spirit led nature of early church meetings. Drane, in Introducing the New Testament, wrote: In the earliest days their worship was spontaneous. This seems to have been regarded as the ideal, for when Paul describes how a church meeting should proceed he depicts a Spirit-led participation by many, if not all There was the fact that anyone had the freedom to participate in such worship. In the ideal situation, when everyone was inspired by the Holy Spirit, this was the perfect expression of Christian freedom.294 Renwick, in The Story of the Church, stated, The very essence of church organization and Christian life and worship was simplicity Their worship was free and spontaneous under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and had not yet become inflexible through the use of manuals of devotion.295 Applying these NT church meeting principles and practice to modern day, Steve Atkerson said its important to allow any of the brothers [and sisters] who so desire to verbally participate in the meeting, allowing for a greater working of the Spirit as various ministry gifts function. Conversely, not allowing them to function can cause atrophy and even apathy. He explained the benefits of participatory meetings: Learning is increased as questions are asked of a speaker. Additional applications and illustrations can be offered to a word of instruction by the body at large. False doctrines can be judged and exposed publicly, at the point of presentation. New believers learn how to think biblically and with the mind of Christ as more mature believers are seen reasoning together and interacting with each other. Maturity

294

John Drane, Introducing the New Testament, rev. ed. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001),

402.
295

A. M. Renwick, The Story of the Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1958), 22-23.

140 rates skyrocket The brothers begin to own the meeting, taking responsibility for what goes on, and become actively involved. 296 One key principle of meeting together is to keep the practice of church so simple in its organization that any believer could respond by saying I could accomplish that. A type of meeting in simple church conducive to this principle is the open meeting, where everyone is encouraged to contribute. These meetings are unstructured and have a lot of variety, with participants looking to the Holy Spirit to run the meeting. Participatory bible study is often a feature of these meetings. Two other types of meetings are those held for training and those held for larger celebrations where several simple churches or networks join together. One Australian simple church network founded by Stuart Gramenz297 uses these three types of meetings. The first type is a meeting for edification and exhortation. Believers gather with an agreement, we are here to help each other come into the image of Jesus. The meeting is unstructured and includes a meal. Mature believers are encouraged to share what Jesus has told them during the week and how they have heard from him; newer believers share what Jesus had done for them during the week. The second type of meeting is a training meeting; leaders know that nothing will happen in meetings unless the individual believers are trained to expect to hear from God. The third type is a celebration when the entire network gathers together to celebrate what God has done. This celebration happens once per month.298

296

Steve Atkerson, Ekklesia: To the Roots of Biblical Church Life (Atlanta: NTRF, 2005), 40. Spirit-led-network.inc. (http://www.spiritled.com.au). Corner, Simple Church Networks, 12.

297

298

141 Although these types of gatherings are biblical, Frank Viola made it clear that open participatory meetings are not easy. He noted that meeting in a home without a traditional pastor entails a significant cost: The meetings are now in our hands. What to do with the children is now a problem that we as a group must resolve. Difficulties with the other members is a challenge that we must tackle. Add to that, authentic church life will not work if we come to the meetings only to receive and not to give. And giving requires preparation. It requires time. It requires energy. 299 Roger Thoman agreed that there are many challenges in working with a simple/house church pattern. They include: (1) community/family life in small groups is challenging, 300 (2) despite good intentions, the consumer attitude of whats in it for me can still be the prevailing attitude, (3) we can talk a lot about a 24/7, Jesus-following lifestyle, but the reality is often that the only real change is that we gather in a small, participatory gathering rather than a large, stage-oriented one, (4) participatory gatherings, that seek to have the Holy Spirit lead, often fall short of such an ideal, and (5) simple/house churches can become a place for Christians who are done with traditional church, for whatever reason, but who are not really ready to move forward into something substantively different in terms of lifestyle. 301 In the midst of these challenges, it is also important to keep in mind that the meeting is not the end in itself. The purpose of the meeting focuses on believers edifying
Frank Viola, How to Start a House Church, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 385-393 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 391. John Eldredge wrote about how a true community is something youll have to fight for. He passionately proclaimed, Youll have to fight to get one, and youll have to fight to keep it afloat. But you fight for it as you bail out a life raft during a storm at sea. You want this thing to work. You need this thing to work. You cant ditch it and jump back on the cruise ship. This is the church; this is all you have. Without it, youll go down. Or back to captivity. This is the reason those small house fellowships thrive in other countries: they need each other. There are no other options. John Eldredge, Waking the Dead (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 199.
301 300 299

Thoman, Re-Thinking House Church.

142 and encouraging each other to live a life of being conformed into the image of Christ. Toward this end, another important biblical pattern followed by simple churches is the practice of partaking in communion as a full meal. At least a few scholars are persuaded that the Lords Supper was originally celebrated weekly as a full fellowship meal (i.e. the Agape Feast).302 Steve Atkerson observed that each local house church was to be like a family (Titus 5:1-2), and one of the most common things families did was to eat together: Early church meetings centered around the Lords Table, with tremendous times of fellowship, community, and encouragement (Luke 22:16-19, 29-30; Acts 2:42, 20:7; 1 Cor 11:17-34); and rather than a funeral-like atmosphere, the Lords Supper was to be in anticipation of the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb (Rev 19:69).303 Wolfgang Simson described the loss of rich significance of the Lord's Supper when it ceased to be held as a full meal, but instead became a symbolic ritual in Constantine's basilicas of the 4th century. He noted that from this time forward the Lord's Supper was a supper no more, it had lost its powerful meaning of having dinner with God, expecting His physical presence at any time just like after the resurrection.304 He added: Church tradition has managed to celebrate the Lord's Supper in a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the Lord's Supper was actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.305
Roger Gehring, House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), 171-177; Robert Banks, Pauls Idea of Community (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 80-85; Del Birkey, The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1988), 122-124,131-133. Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, 148.
304 303 302

Simson, Houses that Change the World, 26-27. Ibid., xxii.

305

143

If God is restoring eating back into our meetings (Simson also calls them meatings 306), most simple churches are partaking in it, often basing their meetings around food and fellowship while practicing communion as a full meal. A description of the SC includes its attempt to emulate biblical church patterns (i.e., the wineskin left behind by Jesus and recorded by his disciples). This means following the principles and practices found in Scripture, including: (1) having Jesus as the center of the church, (2) pursuing authentic community, and (3) gathering in intimate places such as homes with Holy Spirit led, interactive and participatory meetings based around sharing a full communion meal together. Next, another aspect of the SC is considered, its capacity to release resources, workers and wealth, and its propensity for multiplication.

The Resource Release Capacity of Simple Church Considering the wealth release capacity of simple church. The NT writers urged generous support for traveling leaders such as apostles and evangelists, as well as for the poor (Luke 10:1-11; 1 Cor 9; 3 John 5-8). According to Steve Atkerson, first century believers were able to fund church planters [missions] and assist the poor [benevolence] because they met as house churches, without the financial burden that would have come had they constructed special buildings like their Jewish and pagan contemporaries. 307 Similarly, todays simple churches have found that without

306

Ibid., xvii.

Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, 150.

307

144 fixed expenditures on bureaucracy such as buildings and salaries, they are free to release their money directly to missions and benevolence. J. D. Payne studied 33 missional simple churches308 and found that the majority of churches surveyed used their finances for missions and benevolence, meeting both community needs and needs within the church. One church leader noted that his church usually gave 70-80% of their finances to missions and to meet community needs. Payne concluded, Within missional house churches, it is not uncommon to hear of such large quantities (including higher percentages) being given to these two areas [missions and benevolence].309 Paynes own house church, for instance, responded benevolently to the tragic Asian Tsunami in 2004 by collecting $2000 from the 30 believers present. He reflected on this as a former traditional church pastor and now house church advocate: I share this story as an example of the use of finances in many house churches. Our small group of believers gave more to missions on that particular Sunday than many churches with hundreds of members give to missions over an entire year. In fact, when I was a member of this particular church, we were blessed to give over $10,000 to missions one year. In many house churches, money is rarely an issue of debate and division, as it has been in many traditional churches throughout North America. 310

Paynes definition of missional: I use the term missional to distinguish house churches that engage the culture with the gospel, make disciples, and plant churches from those house churches that do not. A missional church is not content to talk about the need to do missions, to have missions as a separate program, or to understand missions as something done two weeks every summer or on Thursday nights at the homeless shelter Missional house churches have within their very DNA a passion to take the gospel to their Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and throughout the world. They believe if they cease to be intentionally and regularly involved in evangelism, then they cease to be a church. Missional house churches obey our Lords command to go into all the world rather than waiting for unbelievers to come to their church gatherings. Cited in Payne, Missional House Churches, 8.
309

308

Payne, Missional House Churches, 97. Ibid., 95.

310

145 Simple churches, with very little overhead, have great capacity to release wealth for missions and benevolent work. For instance, one house church in Australia has been able to monetarily support an orphanage and Bible school for Burmese refugees in Thailand.311 In another instance, Jim Mellon, a simple church leader in Killeen Texas stated, Over the last 13 years we have been able to deploy approximately $l Million away from building payments and salaries towards benevolence and missions. We have helped plant over 450 churches in India, influence our community, and save a life through benevolence giving.312 In a discussion on the subject of simple church and finances, Rad Zdero noted that unlike institutional churches that spend up to 80% of their budget on support, individual house churches do not utilize their money on expensive programs, rent, church building projects, church building mortgages, or supporting professional clergy. Instead, he said, theyre able to funnel their money to the poor, to resources for use within the house church and/or network, to support house church planters, and to overseas mercy ministries. Additionally, according to Zdero, because money flows directly from giver to receiver and bypasses middle agencies like denominational finance departments, a house church cluster with the same number of people as a single traditional church has significantly more financial leverage in supporting overseas missionaries, relief organizations, and local mercy ministries.313
311

Corner, Simple Church Networks, 12.

Jim Mellon, The Big Bang (For Your Bucks) Theory, Association of Home Churches, http://associationofhomechurches.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=2 (accessed July 17, 2008). Rad Zdero, True Community: Doing Life Together as a House Church, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 401-407 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 406.
313

312

146 Jim Rutz agreed that the SC has greater leverage than the IC in relation to giving capacity. Concerning the institutional church, Offerings dont vanish down a rat hole, he said, they just get siphoned off into things that merely maintain the church instead of multiplying it. Conversely, Rutz argued, [simple churches] are freed from the ball and chain of institutional expenses, meeting mostly in homes, have overhead expenses that are light enough that believers are left with more money to give to various other Christian causes of their choice, which is liberating.314 Rutz added, Many of your offerings will go to some member with a special need. Some fellowships cache a few hundred dollars to help members through rough spots, but most prefer face-to-face giving because it really brings hearts together.315 For example, a simple church in Hong Kong was able to meet the need of a Filipino domestic helper who had got herself into deep financial trouble through borrowing from a money lender.316 Because the church community is small and intimate, the members can know if a need is genuine, and underlying causes of problems can be ministered to personally and sensitively. The wealth resource release capacity of the SC has even caught the attention of Time magazine: Indeed, house churching in itself can be an economically beneficial proposition. Golden Gate Seminarys [church planting professor D. Allan] Karr reckons that buildings and staff consume 75% of a standard churchs budget, with little left for good works. House churches can often dedicate up to 90% of their offerings. Karr notes that traditional church is fine if you like buildings. But I

314

Rutz, Megashift, 130. Ibid., 130-31. Corner, Simple Church Networks, 11.

315

316

147 think the reason house churches are becoming more popular is that their resources are going into something more meaningful.317 In concert with Karrs statements in Time, Ted Esler, an executive with the missions organization Pioneers, stated, House church members should not look on their congregational size as an indicator of small global impact. In the area of finances, small churches pack big potential.318 Simple churches, with very low overhead, do have great capacity to release their wealth to missions and benevolence. Additionally, as presented next, they also have a great capacity to release their workers. Considering the worker release capacity of simple church. As important as wealth resources are in making an impact in missions and benevolent work, even more so are human resources, men and women created in the image and likeness of God. Tom Sine, who wrote The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, commented on the shortage of ministry workers available to meet the worlds challenges due to being consumed with church work: We are concerned that fewer than 10% of the believers we work with in North America have any time outside of home and church to work in ministry with others. Clearly this level of involvement will not begin to engage the mounting challenges in our world today and tomorrow.319 George Barna discovered that in a typical week, only one out of every four believers will allocate some time to serving other people. He acknowledged, Most of that time is dedicated to volunteering in church programs that serve congregants; little
Rita Healy, Why Home Churches are Filling Up, Time, Feb. 27, 2006, 3 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1167737-3,00.html (accessed July 24, 2008). Ted Esler, Whos a better missionary? Esler.org, http://www.esler.org/2008/06/16/whos-abetter-missionary/ (accessed August 24, 2008). Tom Sine, The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time (Nottingham, UK: IVP Books, 2008), 237.
319 318 317

148 effort is invested in serving needy people outside the congregation.320 In addition to a large percentage of believers spending most of their ministry time in church programs, Charles Spurgeon attributed the clergy-laity split as the cause of engaging only a select few to fight the Lords battles [outside the church]. Blaming the devil for inventing pulpit gowns and bibs and all sort of distinction between clergy men and laymen, he professed: I am no clergyman; there is no such distinction in the New Testament. We are all Christians if we are converted, and there is no other distinction I do not believe, in my soul, that there is authority for saying, These men are to preach, and these people are to talk of Christ, and all the rest of you are to hold your tongues and listen. No, no, no! I do believe it is the invention of Satan to lift up some few men above the rest and say, Only some of you are fight the Lords battles. 321 Dr. Donald McGavran, father of the Church Growth Movement, echoed Spurgeons sentiments of releasing all Christians to expand the church: Develop unpaid lay leaders Laymen have played a great part in urban expansions of the Church. One secret of growth in the cities of Latin America has been that, from the beginning, unpaid common men led the congregations.322 Robert Fitts confirmed McGavrans findings and noted that modern day Church Planting Movements around the world are driven by laymen. He said, The majority [of CPMs] continue to be led by lay or bi-vocational leaders. This reliance upon lay leadership ensures the largest possible pool of potential church planters.323

320

Barna, Revolution, 34.

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Church: The Worlds Hope, sermon given at Metropolitan Tabernacle (Newington, England, 1863).
322

321

Donald McGavran, Understanding Church Growth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 286. Fitts, 40 Trends that are Reshaping the Church Today, 271.

323

149 Transitioning from the terminology laymen to ordinary people, Wolfgang Simson, in his endorsement of Felicity Dales An Army of Ordinary People, asked, Did Jesus really mean it when he said, The meek shall inherit the earth? His answer implied a call back to a simple church pattern, After a church-age of famous names and an ecclesial version of Fortune 500, it seems that the future of God's Kingdom is being firmly placed by God in the hands of ordinary people made extraordinary by God.324 Neil Cole agreed, I believe we are leaving the day of the ordained and ushering in the day of the ordinary. It is a time when common Christians will do uncommon deeds because God delights in using weak and foolish things to shame the world.325 Jim Rutz also sensing it is time for the ordinary believer to be unleashed using simple church patterns, principles and practices, called it the beginning of the end for Spectator Christianity. He clarified, Suddenly, it's out of style to be a pew potato, doing little for the kingdom except sitting in a row on Sundays, looking at the back of someone's head, and wondering if your team will win the afternoon game on TV.326 Noting that for centuries, the main way to express your Christian identity has been by going to church, Rutz realized that both laymen and pastors are starting to figure out what was wrong in that routine: It was like having the hockey team listen to the coachs pep talk for an hour, and calling that the game. So now we're changing the whole shebang. Around the world, we're rapidly drafting Christians into ministry teams and the players are loving it. The bleachers are beginning to empty as 707 million action-oriented Christians start to pour out onto the playing field and discover the joy and challenge of every-member ministry.327
324

Dale, An Army of Ordinary People, vii. Cole, Organic Church, 215. Rutz, Megashift, 65. Ibid.

325

326

327

150

Rutz concluded that, The church's fighting force is thus being multiplied up to 100 times as God redeploys large, passive audiences into small, power-filled teams where every person has an important function.328 With workers being freed-up from the pews and wealth being freed-up from bureaucratic institutional structures, it appears the capacity to release resources towards missions and benevolence is multiplied using a SC paradigm. This propensity towards multiplication, considered crucial for Kingdom advance, is also an inherent characteristic of simple churches as considered next. Considering the multiplication capacity of simple church. Concurring with Jim Rutzs spectator Christianity premise, the organization Empower Missions stated, Many feel that the conventional church in the 20th and 21st centuries tends to produce congregants who are spectators rather than disciples, and that the typical church is unable to significantly reach out to non-believers. Not surprisingly, this does not work well in unevangelized societies, where missionaries found that conventional mission methods were unable to keep up with population growth. By contrast, Empower Missions noticed that simple churches can multiply like rabbits and have the ability to quickly replicate themselves. 329 How fast do rabbits multiply? To grasp the numerical growth potential of simple churches, Wolfgang Simson calculated the differing reproduction patterns of elephants

328

Ibid.

Empower Mission, Empower-Gram No 25 (March/April 06), cited in Corner, Simple Church Networks, 7.

329

151 and rabbits, applying this principle in comparing the SC and the IC reproduction capacity (see Table 10): Table 10. Reproduction Patterns of Elephants and Rabbits330 Elephant Reproduction only fertile four times a year only one baby per pregnancy 22 month gestation period sexual maturity: 18 years in 3 years grow from 2 to 3 Rabbit Reproduction practically continuously fertile average of seven babies per pregnancy 1 month gestation period sexual maturity: 4 months in 3 years grow from 2 to 476 million

Certainly simple churches are not multiplying as fast as rabbits, but as this example shows, the theoretical potential of rapid multiplication of something small, young, and fertile, from 2 to 476 million in just 3 years, is awe inspiring. Along these same lines, Fuller Theological Seminary did a research study and found that, if a church is ten or more years old, it takes 85 people to lead one person to Christ. If the church is between four and seven years old, it takes 7 people to lead one person to Christ. If a church is less than three years old, it takes only 3 people to lead one person to Christ (see Table 11). Table 11. Age of Church versus People/Salvation Ratio331 Age of Church 10+ years old 4 to 7 years old 3 years and under People/Salvation Ratio 85:1 7:1 3:1

Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung commented that the results of this study make the notion of simple church viability and church planting abundantly clear:
330

Simson, Houses that Change the World, 106.

Enlarging Our Borders, American Society for Church Growth, report presented to the Executive Presbytery, January 1999, cited in Kreider and McClung, Starting a House Church, 30-31.

331

152 Planting new churches is the most effective way to reach more people. Church planting keeps our faith alive and our focus clear. As micro-churches are planted, we can ask God to reproduce them rapidly within an area. And as the network of these simple churches grows, there will be more and more opportunities to reach people with the good news.332 Why is rapid multiplication so important? Simson figured out that to reach the world's population in a personal relational way, 200 million simple churches would be needed. And he figured the only way anything like this could be achieved is by selfmultiplying church planting movements.333 Toward this end, Simson did another calculation, this time determining the potential of simple churches reproducing. With a set of realistic assumptions, 334 he ended up with the scenario in Table 12: Table 12. Theoretical Potential of Rapid House Church Multiplication335 After Year 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 10 15 20 Number of House churches only 1, not 2 2 4 8 12 (16-25%) 48 96 288 (= 384 - 25%) 6912 (= 9216 - 25%) 165,888 (= 221.184 - 25%) Number of People 12 24 48 96 144 576 1152 3456 82.844 1,990,656

332

Kreider and McClung, Starting a House Church, 31.

Wolfgang Simson, Simple Church and the Remaining Task (lecture, House2House National Conference, Dallas, TX, August 30, 2008). A typical house church may have between 6 and 20 people, and usually doubles itself once every 6 to 9 months. For our example we take an average size of 12 people per house church, and a lessthan-average doubling rate of 12 months. We also assume that in the first year of operation, the house church actually does not double itself at all, it may have a leadership problem, or any other starting problem. We remain slightly pessimistic and also assume a 25% fallout rate, periods of growth and consolidation, which means that one out of every 4 house churches which are started will eventually close down within a given 5 year period for any number of reasons.
335 334

333

Simson, Houses that Change the World, 107.

153

Simson concluded, This scenario, not unrealistic in church history, will incorporate almost two million people in a house church movement within a period of 20 years [birthed from just one house church]!336 Robert Fitts confirmed the historical precedent for SC multiplication, The fastest growing movements in history have always been those that have not bogged down under ponderous organizational structures.337 Fitts also noted the importance of simplicity, apart from church traditions, as a key ingredient toward the ease of multiplication: To plant a house church you do not need to buy property or build a building. You wont need a pulpit or pews or hymnbooks or a piano. You can do without a baptistery, a Sunday School and a youth pastor. You wont have to belong to a denomination or be incorporated or meet on Sundays or have a church bulletin or meet in the same place every week We make it too complex. God is calling us back to simplicity and ease of multiplication.338 Rather than having a goal of becoming large, the goal of the SC is to multiply, and form new groups that will themselves form new groups. Robin Comer noted that once the mind-set of Christians is changed, multiplication of house churches becomes quite easy. He stated, The community aspect is intimate, natural and rewarding, and the huge barriers to multiplication presented by the costs associated with a salaried minister and payment for a building are gone. He added, This is how the Christian movement grew in the first three centuries; it was essentially a living room movement. Ordinary people gossiped the Gospel and their neighbors and associates were impressed by their style of life.339 Gossiping the Gospel using a simple church wineskin has the capacity
336

Ibid. Fitts, The Church in the House, 21. Ibid., 17. Corner, Simple Church Networks, 11.

337

338

339

154 to figuratively multiply like rabbits, which according to these authors is clearly the most effective way reproduce the church in an exponential manner. Neil Cole, a former traditional church pastor, made the transition from institutional church to simple church when he noticed that simple churches multiply more readily and rapidly. As a result of planting the seed of the Gospel in good soil and watching the church emerge more naturally, organically, in coffeehouses, campuses, businesses, and homes, Cole expressed a key value toward simple church multiplication, We believe that church should happen wherever life happens. You shouldnt have to leave life to go to church. Smallness and a common mission are also key values according to Cole, The reason our churches tend to stay small is the dynamic lifechanging property of a band of brothers and sisters who are actively on mission together. There is an innate quality to our expression of church that causes them to want to remain small, intimate, and involved in mission.340 Mission for multiplication, after all, was a key value of Jesus ministry on earth and subsequently, what His church is to be about. As discussed in this section, simple churches, with their nonbureaucratic/institutional structures have great capacity to release their resources, workers and wealth, and to multiply themselves exponentially. And if done so according to Jesus mandate, these resources could be released to help finish the GC. By introducing the SC and examining various authors definitions and descriptions of simple church patterns, principles, and practices, this section provided an apologetic for simple church development and argues that the SC has greater inherent multiplication capacity than the

340

Cole, Organic Church, 23-24.

155 IC. In the next section, the discussion will integrate this topic of the SC and the previously discussed topic of the GC to determine how simple churches in the USA are contributing to finishing the GC.

The Simple Church in the USA and the Great Commission With 1.9 billion unreached people in spiritual darkness, the harvest fields are as ripe as when Jesus declared them so 2000 years ago. And His solution is still the same, He gave them this charge: What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands (Luke 10:2 MSG). The primary task of the Church has not changed in two-millennium, it is to be about the Fathers business of reaping the ripe harvest fields of the earth. To do so, workers are still needed, as well as the resources to mobilize them to where they are needed most. As previously discussed, the IC in the USA has an abundance of these resources, both workers and wealth. But due to self-sustaining initiatives and bureaucratic overhead, only a small proportion these resources are directed toward reaching unreached people at home or abroad. In contrast, the SC with its non-bureaucratic structure has the capacity to release a vast amount of resources, workers and wealth, as well as to multiply itself exponentially. And if done so according to Jesus mandate, these resources could be released to help finish the GC. In addition to its resource release capacity, there are numerous other corresponding reasons why simple church wineskins are well-suited to help finish the GC. The primary reason is its propensity to spawn off into church planting movements, which is due to two of its primary GC strengths: (1) simple church has a go to them

156 versus come to us orientation, and (2) simple church has the innate ability to multiply through the power of simplicity. Whereas the SC wineskin has an enormous potential to positively affect the release of laborers into the ripe fields of the earth, it is essential to find out if simple churches in the USA are playing a part? Accordingly, examples of simple churches in the USA positively releasing resources toward finishing the GC include: J. D. Paynes study on missional house churches, the Association of Home Churches in Killeen, Texas, the Sojourners Network of Simple Churches in North Caroline, and Hilton Village Simple Church in Newport News, Virginia. Beside these examples, in order to evaluate if the SC Movement is indeed releasing resources on a broader scale, this section will demonstrate that a larger sampling of simple churches in the USA is necessary to determine if, in fact, they are releasing resources toward finishing the GC. First, however, a brief historical view of the SC and the GC is considered.

Simple Church and the Great Commission in Church History Relying upon church historian Rodney Stark, Alan Hirsch, founding director of Forge Mission Training Network, calculated that the Church grew from 25,000 in AD 100 to about 20,000,000 in AD 310. Attempting to understand this vast growth, Hirsch asked the question that has haunted him to this day, How did the early Christians do it? How did they grow from being a small movement to the most significant religious force in the Roman Empire in two centuries?341 Toward gaining an understanding, Hirsch offered an initial list of qualifications he said should be factored into any explanation:

341

Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 18.

157 They were an illegal religion throughout this period. They didnt have church buildings as we know them. They didnt even have Scriptures as we know them. They didnt have an institution or the professional forms of leadership normally associated with it. They didnt have seeker-sensitive services, youth groups, worship bands, seminaries, or commentaries. They made it hard to join the church by the late second century, aspiring converts had to undergo a significant initiation period to prove they were worthy.342

Hirsch also pointed out that this early Christian movement cannot be dismissed as a freak of history. From the modern era, perhaps a more astounding manifestation of a significant religious force is the underground church in China. When Mao Tse-tung seized control of the church, which was modeled on a Western colonization institutional wineskin, its estimated membership was 2 million. The explicit aim of the Cultural Revolution was to obliterate Christianity and all other religions from China. Banishing all foreign missionaries, Mao perpetuated one of the cruelest persecutions of Christians on historical record, killing millions of believers and most of the Chinese church leaders. Remarkably, when the Bamboo curtain was lifted about 30 years later, instead of finding the church decimated, the world discovered that the church in China flourished beyond imagination to 60 million believers!343 With the number of Christians in China estimated at 80 120 million today, Hirsch again asked, How did that happen? Not coincidently, he contended, Not unlike

342

Ibid. Ibid., 19.

343

158 the early church, these people had very few Bibles (at times they shared only one page to a house church and then swapped that page with another house group). They had no professional clergy, no official leadership structures, no central organization, no mass meetings, and yet they grew like mad.344 Additionally, another remarkable church movement Hirsch mentions is the Celtic movement that changed the destiny of Europe and beyond. He noted that this spiritual force also shared characteristics that were similar to that of the early church and of the Chinese church, 345 which were simple, flexible, and easily reproducible church structures. Jeremy Pryor, writing a blog entry entitled, Exploring Explosive Growth in Church History commented on Hirschs question, We should ALL be totally obsessed with this question [How did the early Christians do it?] and we should ALL be willing to lay down our plans and models to move the church in our city and country into alignment with those things that allow for exponential growth.346 Mike Barnett, Ph.D. in church history and professor of Missionary Church Planting, examined the same question as Hirsch by exploring the shared characteristics of church multiplication throughout church history. Barnett confirmed that the expansion of Gods kingdom throughout history is attributed to house churches and small groups. The house church and its distinctive family environment is Barnetts consistent answer to the following series of historical church expansion questions:
344

Ibid., 19-20. Ibid., 20.

345

Jeremy Pryor, Exploring Explosive Growth in Church History, From Eden to Zion, entry posted September 8, 2008, http://jeremypryor.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/exploring-explosive-growth-inchurch-history/ (accessed September 20, 2008).

346

159 What was the primary venue for the expanding gospel throughout the Roman empire? The house church. How did the invading Germanic tribes of Northern Europe receive the gospel? From traveling families of Celtic missionaries. How did God carry the gospel from Persia to China from the 7th to the 14th centuries? Through Nestorian merchant missionaries, practicing their faith in their caravansancient mobile homes.347 Barnet continued his analysis into the modern era: When the gospel spread from the original colonies of America into the frontier lands, it flowed through the log cabins of pioneers. Throughout the oppression of communist China and the former Soviet Union, the church first survived, then thrived, in homes. In recent decades, when the Cuban government suppressed Christianity, believers found refuge in house churches. The largest house church movement in history is no longer a secret as tens of millions of Chinese Christians worship today in homes.348 Barnett concluded by noting that the study of history reveals a simple, subtle, but profound association, When God moves to expand his kingdom on earth beyond its borders, he uses the home-based fellowship. It is undeniable. He prodded, There must be a reason. What can we learn from this providential persistence? 349 The reason for rapid church growth according to Steve Atkerson, a former Southern Baptist pastor, is the same reason the first-century church turned its world upside down (Acts 17:6), it did so using the New Testament house church model House churches were low cost, led by ordinary people, could reproduce quickly, and had great potential for growth through evangelism. 350 Roland Allen weighed in on the reason and had this to say about providential persistence, The spontaneous expansion of the

347

Barnett, Why Do House Churches and Small Groups Persist Throughout Church History?,

164.
348

Ibid. Ibid.

349

Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, 149.

350

160 Church is impossible or at any rate is severely checked by our refusal to recognize that the apostles knew how to organize the Church so that it could expand spontaneously and rapidly.351 E. H. Broadbent, who traced the pathway of the house church movement from Pentecost to the 20th century in his classic book The Pilgrim Church, spoke of the negative consequences of departing from and the positive consequences of returning to the apostolic pattern of church: Events in the history of the churches in the time of the Apostles have been selected and recorded in the book of Acts in such a way as to provide a permanent pattern for the churches. Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the pattern and principles contained in the Scriptures.352 Going back to Hirschs question, how did the early Christians [and subsequently the Celts and the underground church in China] do it? How did they grow from being a small movement to a significant religious force?353 According to Hirsch, Barnett, Atkerson, Allen, and Broadbent, it was by following the NT apostolic pattern of church, essentially a SC model. In contrast to the SC model, Roger Thoman, SimpleChurch Journal blogger, wrote, Institutional structure now defines what the church is, which leaves no room for the full and rich diversity of the movement of the Spirit through God's people. He followed, Could this be the reason that we are not seeing the glory of the Lord cover our

351

Allen, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, 142. E. H. Broadbent, The Pilgrim Church (Port Colborne, ON: Gospel Folio Press, 1999), 26. Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 18.

352

353

161 neighborhoods and nations? Church-as-we-know-it has become a box to live within, not a movement to participate in.354 As discussed previously in this chapter, there is a shift taking place in the USA toward getting the church out of box and back into becoming the spiritual force it was meant to be. By adapting back to apostolic patterns set forth in the NT, the SCs patterns, principles, and practices are well-suited to help finish the GC, which is examined next.

Simple Church, a Well-Suited Great Commission Wineskin Multiple reasons why simple church is a well-suited Great Commission wineskin. When Robert Fitts first read the book by Jim Montgomery, Dawn 2000 with the subtitle 7 Million Churches To Go, he professed, I thought to myself, how could anyone even dare to think in terms of planting millions of churches?I hadnt read long before I knew that he could also believe with Montgomery for seven million churches to be planted throughout the world.355 The reason was clear. Fitts began to grasp the concept of simple churches planting simple churches as the key to fulfilling the GC. He realized, The plan that is attracting the attention of many mission strategists these days is to plant a church in every community of from 500 to 1000 people. Saturation church planting! To accomplish this, Fitts recognized: We will have to discard our stained glass concept of church. We can no longer think of church as buildings. We must begin to think of church as people. And that means people coming together in the name of Jesus in homes, shops, offices, factories, stores, schools, mortuaries, parks, jails, prisons, hospitals, deserted buildings, street corners, halls, womens clubs, and service clubs. 356
354

Thoman, House Church Basics -- Part 1-B: What Is Church? Fitts, Saturation House Church Planting, 466. Ibid.

355

356

162

Roger Greenway, a specialist in reaching cities, echoed Fitts church saturation call, The churchs [worldwide] evangelistic task demands that every barrio, apartment building, and neighborhood have a church faithful to Gods word established in it. 357 Concerning this demand toward reaching an entire city for Christ, Rad Zdero is confident that simple churches are the solution. Because simple churches do not allow denominational boundaries or traditions to prevent partnering together as one citywide body, he realized that this allows for unity within the body of Christ to the extent that it would be evident to everyone in seeing how Christians can work together as a single cohesive citywide church.358 Zdero described what this would look like: To network together, these house churches meet house-to-house, organize citywide events for teaching and worship, and/or have a mobile workers that circulate from group-to-group and city-to-city like blood through arteries. Leaders of these groups from across the city also meet regularly as a team to pray, exchange resources, and coordinate their efforts to strategically plant new house churches new lighthouses of hope in every neighborhood of their city, like yeast working its way through and saturating dough.359 Roger Thoman noted another reason why simple church is a well-suited GC wineskin. He perceived that one of the fundamental potentials of the house church movement is that churches can go to where the people are and can start quickly anywhere and reproduce rapidly. He stated, In this way, the church becomes what it is meant to be: a going movement.360 Thoman applied this to his personal situation:
357

Roger S. Greenway, ed., Discipling the City: Theological Reflections on Urban Mission (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, c1979), 104.
358

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 3. Ibid.

359

Roger Thoman, House Church Basics -- Pt. 3: Missional Church, SimpleChurch Journal (March 04, 2004) http://sojourner.typepad.com/house_church_blog/2004/03/house_church_ba.html (accessed March 11, 2008).

360

163 In our own churches we work hard to make sure that reproduction is in the DNA of each house church that we start. That means that they fully expect to grow and reproduce another house church within a year (at most). We want it to be a going out thing reproducing churches that are reproducing churches that are reproducing churches which is the key to true multiplication. 361 In relation to finishing the GC and reaching UPGs, Ted Esler, a missions leader, ascertained that Whether the issue is persecution, money or any number of pragmatic obstacles, the simple church model is naturally suited to the realities of cross-cultural church planting among the unreached particularly in closed nations.362 He also recognized that church planters who have experience ministering in smaller settings and understand the dynamics of how the Holy Spirit leads in these contexts are often better equipped to reproduce the SC model worldwide. As an insider in missionary agency leadership circles, Esler divulged: I have observed that some agencies have decided that it is more expedient to work with mega-churches because of their potential to fund large projects. However, for those agencies whose goal is to plant churches (like the one I work for, Pioneers), large-scale projects are often counter-productive. We benefit from missionaries who have lived and breathed the house church air as it makes the path to field success much shorter, and straighter.363 Whether in the USA or in a UPG, another place where the SC is well-suited and appears to be making a positive impact is on university campuses. According to Jaeson Ma, president of Campus Church Networks, simple churches are a very effective way to reach young people. He found that whereas many students responded to Gospel outreaches on campus, most times they were resistant to joining local churches, which seemed to them to be very culturally alien to their way of life and thought. Jaeson found
361

Ibid. Esler, Whos a better missionary? Ibid.

362

363

164 that when he organized the students who wanted to be Christians in biblically-based simple churches of their own on campus, the work was much more effective.364 As demonstrated, several reasons attest to why simple churches are well-suited wineskins to finish the GC. Consolidating these reasons was a task of the missions track attendees at the 2008 national House2House conference. During a brainstorming session, the experienced missionaries came up with the following list of why the SC is a wellsuited wineskin to finish the GC: Kingdom focused not denomination or missions organization focused; not bound to traditional, denominational, or institutional models; the message is focused on the gospel of the Kingdom and not a theological grid, Team driven no clergy/laity split; ordinary believers are empowered and released in their calling and giftings, Less baggage and bottlenecks able to move and respond faster; no denominational administration, thus free of sterile policies and procedure; able to be more spontaneous and to respond to Gods provenience, Understands relational life relational not policy driven; since the churches planted in unreached areas are simple house churches who better to plant these churches than those who are already doing it; most UPG cultures are highly relational, Open to creative ideas more appealing to post-modern and post-church cultures, Apostolic DNA missional orientated, workers sent out; focus on making disciples as the foundation of planting churches (i.e. when we make disciples, church happens), Economical less money is needed to operate due to little or no overhead; financial flexibility,

Jaeson Ma, Campus Church Networks: The Gospel for every campus, a church for every student! House2House, July 2005, 25.

364

165 Reproducible church is simple and able to be done by anyone regardless of the amount of education; no seminary experts, big budgets, real estate deals needed.365

Although not exhaustive, this list helps explain why simple churches are well-suited to play a big role in finishing the GC. To expound on this list and reinforce it, simple church is considered further in relation to two of its primary GC strengths: (1) simple church has a go to them versus come to us orientation, and (2) simple church has the innate ability to multiply through the power of simplicity. Simple church has a go to them versus come to us orientation. The Churchs true nature is best seen by the life that Jesus modeled. He took the life of the Kingdom everywhere he went, particularly out into the world where He ministered. In the process of going, He healed, loved, delivered, and shared good news. Likewise, the Church (i.e., the people of God) is supposed to go and do the same. Concerning this mandate, Roger Thoman exclaimed: The church is becoming unleashed as Christians are re-discover the daring adventure of going and taking the presence (love, life, and power) of God everywhere that they are going. Jesus called us to a lifestyle that would take us out of our comfort zone and into the adventure of miraculous living as we extend ourselves to extend his kingdom. 366 In order to extend His Kingdom, Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations and Paul told us to be Jesus ambassadors (see 2 Cor 5:20). Rick Meigs acknowledged however that many churches today have inadvertently changed the go and be command to a come and see appeal. He continued, We have grown attached to buildings,
Adapted from Simple Churches Doing Missions, House2Harvest Network Blog, http://h2hmissions.wordpress.com/category/11-training/servant-perperation/ (accessed September 27, 2008). Roger Thoman, Comfy Christianity, SimpleChurch Journal, entry posted August 3, 2008, http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2008/08/comfy-christianity.html (accessed August 12, 2008).
366 365

166 programs, staff and a wide variety of goods and services designed to attract and entertain people.367 Meigs differentiated between go and be and come and see: Missional is a helpful term used to describe what happens when you and I replace the come to us invitations with a go to them life. A life where the way of Jesus informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others, one where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture. It speaks of the very nature of the Jesus follower.368 Another writer who acknowledged the come and see/come to us orientation prevalent in the church today is Reggie McNeal. He attributed this type of evangelism orientation to the Pharisees, The Pharisees evangelism strategy sounds eerily familiar. Their approach to sharing God was, Come and get it!... [conversely] Jesus evangelism strategy directly challenged the Pharisees approach. Instead of Come and get it! it was Go get'em!369 Jesus strategy was to go where people were already living, which is why he went to weddings, parties, and religious feast day celebrations. Taking the gospel to the streets, according to McNeal, means we need the church where people are already hanging out, We need a church in every mall, every Wal-Mart supercenter, every Barnes and Noble.370 He challenged that they're not coming to us, so we've got to go to them: I am not talking about short forays into port off of the cruise ship. I am speaking of an intentional 24/7 church presence in the community, not tied to church real estate: [rather] office building, malls, school campuses, sports complexes, storefronts, homes, apartment buildings, and community centers. We need to go where people are already hanging out and be prepared to have

Rick Meigs, What is Missional - A Short Answer, Friend of Missional, http://www.friendofmissional.org/ (accessed September 9, 2008).
368

367

Ibid. McNeal, The Present Future, 28. Ibid., 35.

369

370

167 conversations with them about the great love of our lives. This will require our shifting our efforts from growing churches into transforming communities. 371 Coming to us versus going to them is also known in church speak as attractional versus incarnational respectively. Blogger Hamo wrote on the difference between an attractional versus incarnational approach to mission. Concerning the attractional approach, he wondered, if Jesus walked the earth today, Would he hire a building, set up a sound system, develop a music team, drama team, and then do local letterbox drops advising people that they could come and be part of his church on Sunday?372 Hamo persisted in pointing out the difference between the attractional and incarnational approach to mission: Perhaps the question we ought to ask ourselves is why do we think they [pagans] would want to come to church? Was it ever Jesus intention that non Christians should seek us and desire to attend our worship events? Or didnt he say quite clearly that it was his calling, and now ours to seek out and save the lost; to go to their world and enculturate the gospel there. Little Bo Peep evangelism (leave em alone and theyll come home) is fast running out of steam.373 By contrast, the incarnational approach to mission is refreshingly simple according to Hamo. It requires us to live amongst the people in our communities, love them, share the good news of the kingdom both in action and in speech and then as people become followers of Christ to form up indigenous communities of faith that reflect the specific context. He concluded, This requires no great resources or buildings, no slick marketing plans and no highly talented people. In incarnational mission the

371

Ibid., 42.

Hamo [pseudo.], Incarnational V Attractional Mission, backyardmissionary.com, entry posted August, 2005, http://www.backyardmissionary.com/2005/08/incarnational-v-attractionalmission.html (accessed September 4, 2008).
373

372

Ibid.

168 gatherings exist to support the believers as they move out in mission rather than being seen as the place to bring people to.374 For example, the Praxis Church, an institutional church in Tempe Arizona, offered the following as a partial definition of their church, As a Missional Church we value the time you spend in the world and so instead of filling your life with a variety of church events we would rather send you into the culture equipped with the Gospel. 375 It is great to hear of this institutional church being missionally focused, attempting to be a go to them versus a come to us church. The bottom-line however, is that an institutional church by definition uses an attractional model, requiring a bureaucracy of buildings, bills, budgets, and big salaries to sustain it. Consequently, this makes it very difficult to function in a fully incarnational manner modeled by Jesus, His apostles, and the early church. The simple church, on the other hand, is a well-suited wineskin to function in a go to them incarnational manner. As described previously, the hallmark of the SC is that it is inexpensive, easily reproducible, and a way of life rather than a series of meetings and programs. It is a wineskin conducive to being missional. Jerry Smith, a former institutional church pastor and now house church leader, talked about how being in simple church is a radically different lifestyle than being in a institutional church. Being trained in the institutional approach of programmed evangelism and discipleship, Smith portrayed what it led to, In my generations church life, we have cultivated (for decades and decades) a separate culture that has cut us off from the general culture around us so that most of us dont have
374

Hamo [pseudo.], Incarnational V Attractional Mission.

Welcome to Praxis! Praxis Church, http://praxischurch.com/content/view/5/27/ (accessed July 1, 2008).

375

169 natural relationships with unbelievers.376 Smith illustrated the affects of what his previous cut off situation transpired into: I lived in my home with Christians, worked all day with Christians, I taught Christians in a Christian university, spent time co-pastoring Christians and spent three nights or days week in church with Christians. I then traveled around the world training Christians. Where in that dynamic is there any time for me to develop natural friendships with unbelievers?377 Reviewing this, Smith believes simple church is a call to change this lifestyle. He remarked, It is a model to help us connect relationally once again to each other and to offer an atmosphere that will enable us to help each other with creative ideas of how to be with people who are not believers.378 Don Davis, also a former institutional church pastor and now house church leader, came to the same realization as Smith. Desiring to leave attractional Christianity behind him and live incarnationally in his neighborhood, Davis and his wife moved to a tough neighborhood in Portsmouth, Virginia to be a light to that community. He explained, This is not in the way you would normally do it in an attractional church evangelistic campaign or program; but rather, it is to integrate our lives with the lives of our neighbors.379 Davis encapsulated this missional ethos: That is one of the characteristics of being missional being in proximity of the world we are called to reach. I had spent so many years being isolated from the world, almost living in spiritual bubble surrounded by Christians. Now we are attempting to live near those who are in need of Jesus. To be honest this is more

376

Jerry Smith, interview by the author, Virginia Beach, VA, February 15, 2008. Ibid. Ibid.

377

378

Don Davis, Learning to Be Missional, The Dreaming Revolutionary, entry posted August 20, 2008, http://dondavis.wordpress.com/ (accessed September 3, 2008).

379

170 difficult than we had imagined since our lives have been so segregated for so long from those whom Jesus has called us to serve.380 Whereas the simple church wineskin is well-suited to being missional by getting the church in the proximity of the world, it still has to overcome a come to us attitude itself. In conferences and conversations all over the world about simple church, it seems that people usually want to learn first about how to gather. This is natural since church for so long has been about events and gatherings. The problem is that even after replacing larger events and gatherings with smaller ones, the motivation may still be to hang out solely with Christian friends and, again, seek to reach others by inviting them to join us. Roger Thoman addressed this: By focusing first on the gathering we miss the point that Jesus focus was first on the going way of life. If gatherings develop that support a dynamic, outward, supernatural lifestyle, then the gatherings will be powerful and relevant. However, if gatherings become a replacement for the true adventure of Jesus-following (which can easily happen), then we will again regress into a comfortable Christianity with little life in it.381 Overcoming an inward focus means changing the paradigm from going to church to being the church in mission. A simple church network in New Zealand called Edgenet agreed that the church needs to rediscover itself as the people of God through whom the Holy Spirit works to impact the world. They conveyed, When the Church is seen as the instrument of Gods activity in the world, then the focus moves off ourselves breaking us out of the consumer mind set, turning us outwards as mission people.382 Edgenet further described what this would look like:
380

Ibid. Thoman, Comfy Christianity.

381

The Shift from Consumer Church to Missional Church, Edgenet - ideas from the edge NZ house churches, http://www.edgenet.org.nz/ideasfromedge/consumershift.htm (accessed August 9, 2008).

382

171 People wont go to Church, but will be the Church a group of people less interested in programs and events, and more focused Christ and his activity in the world, Our focus will shift from planning events that give people a specific experience, and be more about equipping people for kingdom living through the week, People will naturally want to feed themselves on the Bible and be devoted in prayer, since it will be perceived and believed that our relationship with Jesus is our own responsibility to grow (1 Pet 3:15-16), People will more naturally see the Church, not as a building that we go to for certain things, but as a community of faith a family with whom we share a journey, with all its struggles, joys, difficulties and encouragements (Acts 2:42-47), People will come to believe that the needs of strangers, newcomers and fledgling believers take precedence over their own needs, We will see ourselves as ambassadors of Jesus (2 Cor 5:20) seeking to incarnate the values of Jesus in all that we say and do, Evangelism will naturally become a part of the fabric of who we are, Genuine and deep rooted every member ministry will move from being a theory to a reality and an expectation of all, including new people, We will naturally have a greater concern for social justice, poverty, injustice and the needy, as an expression and fruit of our mission orientation.383

Jesus went everywhere proclaiming and demonstrating the reality, love, and power of the Kingdom because His Fathers heart is missional to the core. Simple church is a well-suited wineskin to walk in Jesus footsteps because like Him, it is prone to an incarnational go to them way of life. Simple church is also well-suited GC wineskin because of its innate ability to multiply through the power of simplicity as seen next.

The Shift from Consumer Church to Missional Church, Edgenet - ideas from the edge NZ house churches, http://www.edgenet.org.nz/ideasfromedge/consumershift.htm (accessed August 9, 2008).

383

172 Simple churchs innate ability to multiply through the power of simplicity. One of the most exciting developments around the world in relation to expanding the Kingdom of God is rapid church planting movements. These take place when disciples are consistently made and simple churches are rapidly reproduced. Where this happens, entire cities and regions are impacted with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Roger Thoman identified, There are several components that must be present for church planting movements to take place, but one of them is a model of church that is easily reproduced a simple/house church model.384 Contrary to this, however, is a church mindset that the solution to world evangelization will come from a complex composite of things. Robert Fitts noted the consequences of complex solutions in church history, Over the centuries we have lost the dynamic of simplicity and have added things that have slowed the progress of the church into all nations.385 Neil Cole called attention to this in todays church, Many travel every year to new seminars and conferences, buying the latest books and binders full of new methods in our search for the answer. Conversely, as he quoted Albert Einstein, When the solution is simple, God is answering.386 In keeping with Einsteins counsel, Cole and his team at Church Multiplication Associates came up with the following principles of simplicity towards multiplying and

Roger Thoman, Simple/House Church Revolution (Nipomo, CA: Appleseed Publications, 2008), 8, Electronic Format.
385

384

Fitts, The Church in the House, 25.

Neil Cole, Multiplying and Networking House Churches that Saturate Neighborhoods and Nations, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 415-423 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 415.

386

173 networking house churches to saturate neighborhoods and nations with the message of Jesus Christ [See Appendix E for the complete text of Why Simple Things are Better]: The Power of Simplicity Many of the most profound things in life are indeed simple; discipleship has become so complicated that it is no longer an easy burden and a light load. Simple Things Last, while Complex Things Breaks Down If the process is complex, it will breakdown early in the transference to the next generation of disciples. Simple Things are Sticky and Transferable to Others A simple pattern can stick with people in such a way that it is unforgettable and easily passed on to others Simple Things Keep the Focus on what is Important Simple structures keep the message focused on Christ, not on the wineskins (i.e., systems and strategies) or the people dreaming them up. Simple Things Can Reproduce Easily Reproduction comes from a natural desire and ability inherent in all healthy living things; similarly, reproduction of churches should not be hard.387

Cole humorously shared a testimony of the power of simplicity toward simple church multiplication. While talking to a gathering of 15 high school kids, he told them, I think Satan is more intimidated by this than by any of those Godzilla-sized churches.388 He then illustrated why so: How many of you think you could start a church like one of those megachurches? No one raised a hand. I asked, How many of you think you could start a church like this one [a gathering of 15]? and all raised their hands. I asked them to look around the room at all the raised hands, and I said with a new found soberness, I assure you, Satan is terrified by this. 389

387

Ibid., 415-418. Cole, Organic Church, 212. Ibid.

388

389

174 Cole then summarized the power of simplicity in church planting to a broader audience, Hey, if a fifteen-year-old girl can do this, how about you?390 Even leaders in the institutional church are finding a need to return to a simple model of church for the sake of growth. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and Eric Geiger, the executive pastor of Christ Fellowship near Miami, in their book called Simple Church, verified through research that vibrant growing churches were much simpler. They revealed that churches consumed with the call to make disciples had designed and implemented a simple process to reach and mature people: Simple church leaders design opportunities for spiritual growth. Complex church leaders run ministry programs. To have a simple church, you must design a simple discipleship process. This process must be clear. It must move people toward maturity. It must be integrated fully into your church, and you must get rid of the clutter around it.391 Institutional churches simplifying the discipleship process is a good thing for institutional church growth. However, church multiplication is another issue. Jeremy Pryor presented a scenario that addressed this. If revival hit your city, to the level where 25% of the people in your city came to Christ in one year, what paradigm of church would best be able to contain it, simple church or institutional church? He then asked, Are you part of building a structure that will train them into disciples, allow them to form a interdependent common life, and release their gifts for the city and the world or are you a part of building a structure that cannot handle exponential growth

390

Ibid.

Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger, Simple Church, Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 13-15.

391

175 [multiplication] because it relies on paid professionals, church buildings, a weekly worship service as the church identity? 392 In other words, if 25% of a city were to come to Christ in one year, could Christians build enough buildings and hire enough professional clergy to meet the need? Along these lines, and perhaps the most significant case for the SC as a well-suited wineskin toward finishing the GC, simple churches can easily be started and easily be multiplied in already existing structures such as homes with already existing non-paid workers because everyone is considered a minister. Roger Thoman expounded: Rather than build buildings and organizations that require tremendous time, finances, and energy to reproduce, the kingdom of God multiplies organically: one seed produces fruit that produces more seed that produces more fruit. Take a look at any forest and realize how much is accomplished through natural reproductive processes without any human aid at all. The power of [simple church] multiplication is far more powerful than we realize.393 Gods clear desire is for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14). The SC with its innate ability to multiply through the power of simplicity is far more powerful than we realize and truly a well-suited wineskin to help fulfill Gods GC desires. Next, examples of simple churches in the USA that are helping to fulfill Gods desire to see the GC finished are presented.

Simple Churches in the USA and the Great Commission The often beyond belief missionary work of simple churches throughout much of the world comes as no surprise to those who are GC savvy. Constant reports of rapid church growth through multiplication occur through the ministries of such churches in
392

Pryor, Exploring Explosive Growth in Church History. Thoman, Simple/House Church Revolution, 8.

393

176 many developing nations.394 The question is why this is not occurring in the USA, with an accompanying release of resources toward finishing the GC? David Garrison ends his book Church Planting Movements with an encouraging challenge, It [church planting movements] cant happen here [in the USA]. This is what they said in Vietnam until they saw it in Cambodia. Its what they said in Cambodia before the saw it in China. Its what they said in Central America before they saw it in Bogot. Its what they said in Sudan before they saw it in Ethiopia. Perhaps its what they are saying where you live.395 In other words, if it can happen elsewhere, it can happen here in the USA. In fact, as previously shown and as presented next, it is beginning to happen here in the USA. The following examples bear this out. The example of J. D. Paynes missional simple church study. Dr. J. D. Payne is a national missionary with the North American Mission Board and assistant professor of church planting and evangelism at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. For several years he wondered what a church planting movement would look like if one occurred in the West. Whereas a myriad of examples can be given from different parts of the world where the gospel is spreading rapidly, he noted that essentially the USA had no church planting movements. Payne proposed that if and when they do occur, house churches that are missional, incarnational and reaching outward

For example, in Vietnam, house churches typically see 2-6 people come to Christ every week, over 3,000 house churches are already established. In China, house churches typically see 5-15 people come to Christ every week, with 500,000+ house churches already established. In Cuba, house churches typically reach one person for Christ every week, with 15,000+ registered and unregistered house churches; In Ethiopia, house churches average two decisions for Christ per week per house church. See: Accelerated Church Planting, WorldServe Ministries, http://www.mostimportantstory.com/church_planting.html (accessed October 1, 2008). David Garrison, Church Planting Movements - How God is Redeeming a Lost World (Midlothian, VA: WIGTake Resources, 2004), 301.
395

394

177 would likely be positioned to play a significant role in catalyzing rapid and reproducible church planting movements in the USA.396 To determine the viability of his proposal, Payne studied 33 house churches in the USA and recorded his research and findings in his book, Missional House Churches: Reaching Our Communities with the Gospel.397 Payne used two screening criteria for study inclusion: (1) a house church had to have baptized at least one person in the year prior to the study, and (2) a house church had to have planted at least one other house church within the three previous years.398 The 33 house churches chosen by Payne to comprise his study generated some surprising numbers: On average each church baptized four to six people in the previous year and had some of the lowest baptism to membership ratios [the lower the better] of any type of church in all of North America. Each church consisted of 24-43% recent converts. On average each church planted four to six churches over the past three years, and three churches in the study planted ten or more (note: over the three years prior to the study, these 33 churches planted between 132-198 churches).399

396

Payne, Missional House Churches, 7.

The thirty-three churches represented in the study are located in every geographical region of the United States. They were found in rural areas, suburban communities, small towns, and large urban environments. Although the Anglo community was the most represented group among the churches, there was a great amount of ethnic diversity. The churches also consisted of people from every living generation. Such churches were not solely comprised of young adults, but age ranges extended from infants to adults in their seventies. Such churches had a high view of the Bible and espoused many conservative evangelical theological perspectives, especially related to salvation matters. Many of the churches were only a few years old. Forty-six percent of the churches had been meeting for one to three years. However, twenty-one percent were at least ten years old. The average size of each of these churches ranged from fourteen to seventeen people, with one church consisting of more than thirty-four members.
398

397

Payne, Missional House Churches, 9.

J. D. Payne, Missional House Churches in the United States, Lausanne World Pulse (August 2008): under Themed Articles, http://www.lausanneworldpulse.com/themedarticles.php/990/08-2008 (accessed September 2, 2008).

399

178 Payne exclaimed, Clearly, such church planting numbers are dwarfed in comparison to many non-North American churches. However, in light of church growth in the Western world, these are outstanding numbers!400 Encouraged by the results of Paynes book, Carol from Canada wrote to him about her own house church testimony. Her house church has seen three to six conversions per year for the last three years and has helped about 30 people who were hurt in church situations come back from being out of fellowship. Additionally, they are putting their money into needy people in their church and overseas missions. She said, We have helped to feed orphans in Israel, supported one family of seven whose mother was killed in a bombing, and the fathers legs were blown off. The body is being equipped to do the work of ministry as we all are engaged with doing the work of the kingdom.401 What can we learn from Paynes study? His own evaluation came up with five important matters in relation to missional house churches in North America: 1. Even in post-Christianized, Western societies, simple expressions of the church can be effective in penetrating certain sectors of those societies with the gospel. 2. If the sovereign Lord decides to bring about a church multiplication movement to the United States, it is most likely to happen among those churches embracing a biblical ecclesiology, without the numerous Western cultural expectations of what is required for a church to be a church. 3. These churches can teach us much about the importance of relationships in the evangelism, assimilation, and leadership development process. These

400

Ibid.

Comment by Carol Cartwright (August 5, 2008), cited on Payne, Missional House Churches in the United States.

401

179 churches placed a great amount of importance on significant relationships for witness and accountability. 4. Many of the churches in the study gave away between eighty and ninety percent of their offerings to missions and benevolence. Few of their pastors received a salary, and few of the churches met in a location other than someones house. 5. If the attitudes of the church leaders are correct, then the United States will see a substantial increase in the number of house churches in the future. It was common to hear these leaders say, Their numbers will explode or Such churches will become more and more prevalent.402 Although the 33 churches do not comprise a compelling research representative sample of all USA simple churches, they do offer an encouraging indication of what the Lord is presently doing in a Western context through non-traditional expressions of the Body of Christ. Three specific examples in the USA are presented next. The example of the Association of Home Churches in Killeen, Texas. In 1992, Jim Mellon, dissatisfied with being an elder in his traditional church, asked the Lord this question, What is the church? He asked the question primarily due to frustration with how his churchs million dollar budget was being spent. Reading the NT again with new eyes led him and his family to embark on a journey that ended with them doing church in their living room. Mellon said, Instead of going to church, we started to be the church that meets in a home.403 Felicity Dale wrote a story about the early years of the Mellons journey. She spoke of how initially they didn't approach home church as the NT model, or even as a better way to minister to people, but as a financial model that made more sense
402

Payne, Missional House Churches in the United States.

Jim Mellon, The Big Bang (For Your Bucks) Theory, Association of Home Churches (March 27, 2006), http://associationofhomechurches.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=2 (accessed May 3, 2008).

403

180 economically. It did not take long before others joined Jim and Cathy and their six kids. Eventually, they incorporated as The Association of House Churches, started collecting offerings, and came to the understanding that anyone joining or leading a house church was committed to being bi-vocational and working in a secular job, as well as serving the church.404 From the outset, Mellons desire was for his group to transfer wealth that used to support traditional church bureaucracy and apply it directly to the mission field, both local and foreign. The goal of this association of home churches was to multiply into 1,000 members meeting in 50-80 homes, with 80% of a $1,000,000 budget going to benevolence and missions. Although they have not reached 1,000 members yet during their first 13 years, Mellon stated, We have been able to deploy approximately $1,000,000 away from building payments and salaries towards benevolence and missions.405 Choosing Jim & Cathys Story as one of her An Army of Ordinary People stories, Felicity Dale testified what the Association of House Churches money helped support: We support eight local missions in our city and we are involved heavily in India [helped plant over 450 churches]. We give to missions in Haiti, and we help some of our people that go on short-term mission trips. And of course, there is benevolence. We feel we have a church where no one is in need, because if anyone does have a need or an emergency crops up, we have money set aside to help them as part of our budget. We're able to help those not only in our own fellowship, but others they may know who have financial needs.406
404

Dale, An Army of Ordinary People, 211. Jim Mellon, The Big Bang (For Your Bucks) Theory.

405

Dale, An Army of Ordinary People, 211-12. Additionally, see Appendix F for detailed testimonies of the missions and benevolence ministries of the Association of House Churches.

406

181 Believing that we are in the middle of an unprecedented shift in church structure, Mellon said, Its important for the home church movement to network and to use its resources to further the Kingdom of God apart from buildings and salaries. what an opportunity to be good stewards and impact society around us. The example of the Sojourners Simple Church Network in North Carolina. Sojourners Simple Church Network is a network of simple churches and ministries based out of the Raleigh, North Carolina that meets in homes located in Rayleigh, Cary, Durham, Wake Forest/Youngsville, and Boone. Sojourners Simple Church Network was born several years ago when the pastor and elders of a local independent church became spiritually discontent with doing church in a traditional institutional manner. After much discussion and prayer, they decided to sell their building and break up into four home churches to follow more closely to what they believed was a NT pattern of church. The network leaders said, What keeps us connected is our love of God as Father, Jesus as Lord and Savior, and belief in the Holy Spirit as Comforter, Counselor, and Empowering Presence. We all share the common goal show everyone in our area, everyone we come in contact with, who Jesus is through the wineskin of simple church.407 According to their website, a Sojourner is one who is sojourning, traveling, journeying, and walking as a pilgrim and an alien. Whereas they see house church as a refuge and haven for the wounded, most of them also see the house church as a new (but ancient) way to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28).408 Sojourners is
History, Sojourner's Simple Church Network, http://sojournersnc.org/History.html (accessed August 14, 2008).
408 407

Ibid.

182 doing just that, making disciple of all nations and playing their part in finishing the GC. Heres a sample: They have groups that focus on reaching the growing Hispanic community and international students on the local college campuses, They have an outreach to the homeless in Raleigh, They support missionaries in South Africa, Ecuador, Mexico, and Mozambique,409 They raised $70,000 for the ministry Accelerating International Mission Strategies (their biggest donor) to help the Chinese house movement, They give approximately 95% of their budget to the poor and missions.410

In addition, the Sojourners Simple Church Network has a strategic outreach among local Muslims and an ongoing work among the poor in Ecuador. Concerning the Muslim work, Ralph Reachem (fictitious name due to the sensitivity of the ministry work), has a house church that focuses exclusively on reaching out to the 25,000 Muslims in the Raleigh area, and he is supported by Sojourners on a monthly basis to do so. Currently, Reachem has an oikos (a community of genuine friends) of Muslims who meet on a regular basis to study the Bible and the Quran together. He is overjoyed because his Muslim friends are recognizing that much of what they study points to Jesus Christ as Lord. Since these Muslims all work for the government in a particular Middle Eastern nation, and this government continues to send its people over to be educated in Raleigh on a regular basis, Reachem sees them as a steady stream of potential

Missions and Ministries, Sojourner's Simple Church Network, http://sojournersnc.org/Ministries.html (accessed August 14, 2008).
410

409

Ralph Reachem [pseudo], interview by the author, Dallas, TX, September 1, 2008.

183 relationships, With the Lords leading, I believe this could have an influential Kingdom of God impact on this nation one day.411 Other fruit born from this Muslim outreach is three Sojourners couples having answered the call to do missionary work in Muslim lands. Additionally, the network has started the Sojourners Raleigh Internship to equip local believers to do ministry among the Muslims. Reachem has also started a satellite training site in Chicago to teach about Muslim outreach and has a vision to start more sites all over the USA where there are large Muslim populations.412 Sojourners Simple Church Network is also heavily involved in missionary work to the poor of Quito, Ecuador. Van Langeland, from Sojourners began traveling to Ecuador in the summer of 2001 with his traditional church. Each year they would take a large group of about 175 people, including a medical team, full band and worship team, construction team and evangelistic teams. Whereas these trips always bore fruit, Langelands ekklesia shift toward simple church caused him to question this type of missions strategy. He started seeing how Gods Kingdom principles were to be lived out, not only in daily fellowship but also in missional work. He said, One factor that continued to come up repeatedly was the need for deep relational partnerships and connections [beyond mass short-term trips].413 Accordingly, Langeland began to speak to his house church about how the Kingdom moves most within the context of ongoing, committed relationships.

411

Ibid. Ibid. Van T. Langeland, email interview by the author, Rayleigh, NC, October 10, 2008.

412

413

184 Langeland and his Sojourners house church followed the Lords leading and established a church relationship in Quito, Ecuador that led him and his house church to become involved in feeding lunch to 100 very poor children five days a week. They saw it as a way for their house church fellowship to be involved relationally on a long-term basis with another church fellowship, living out the GC of Christ. Langeland summarized: We never asked for pledge cards or any other form of commitment from any of our members....we just trusted in The Word of The Lord. We have sent on the average of $1000 to $1200 dollars every month by faith. I have gone down to Quito about three times each year to connect and build relationships. sometimes taking 2-4 persons with me. To date we have served around 81,000 lunches over a period of four years, and we have seen many families and individual lives changed by the love of Jesus.414

The example of Hilton Village Simple Church in Newport News, Virginia. Hilton Village Simple Church (HVSC) in Newport News, Virginia started in the home of this author and his wife Kim in 2005. Joined by one other person initially, it has blossomed into a spiritual family with deep interactive relationships. The weekly Friday evening gathering is a full-meal participatory meeting under the headship of Jesus Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. Spin-off discipling relationships inside and outside the group has become a way of life for most. The downside for the author was the length of time it took for the group to get involved in local and global outreach to any significant level. Hearing stories of simple churches and their GC activities but not seeing it realized was frustrating. This began to change, however, after much prayer and when the group began to follow the Lords

414

Ibid.

185 leading into what the group now terms the Burmese connection. In a fund-raising letter for her mission trip to Burma, Kim Lyzenga described the Burmese connection. Her house church had supported Augustine Sum Pi, a believer from Burma whom her husband had connected with on an earlier mission trip, both for Augustines computer training and subsequent aid after the devastating cyclone Nagris. Next, they began supporting 10 orphans in Burma. While planning a trip to Burma to put hands and feet to our monthly pledge, Lyzenga shared how her group was also encouraged by a visiting prophet to adopt some local refugee families. Contacting the local Refugee and Immigrations Office, she found out that the neediest people group arriving in the area was Burmese families. Instantly making the Burmese connection, she exclaimed, Wow! aiding a believer in Burma, supporting orphans in Burma, taking a trip to Burma, and now we were going to adopt two refugee families from Burma who happen to be Muslim and live only 5 miles from our house! Some may call all these Burma connections coincidence; but needless to say, I call it the thumb print of God. She concluded, For sure, it is quite evident that God wants to use our little ole house church to be involved in His Great Commission!415 On a blog dedicated to reaching out to the Burmese refugee families, Kim Lyzenga dialogued how initially it was somewhat awkward to meet with these strangers from a foreign land, with no English or culture in common. A simple step of faith and daily acts of obedience in serving their adaptive needs, however, has led to great relationships with these families, to the point where she said that these lovely people are now best of friends. Noting that it has been one of the best experiences for her house

415

Kim Lyzenga, fund-raising letter, Newport News, VA, August 10, 2008.

186 church, Lyzenga encouraged, you will never experience anything like this the privilege of being the Light and Love of Christ to these strangers in our land. 416 Another active disciple of HVSC who is pouring her life into the Burmese refugee families is Kelly Carr. Carr admitted that she had never even thought about refugees. She had always heard about people who were forced to leave their homes because of war, famine, etc., but thought that they were there and I was here.417 Her eyes and heart have now been opened to a whole new world of people. She knows that refugees, especially the children, have no hope for the future due to their native countries/communities not wanting them, and whoever is their host usually not wanting them either. She is excited however for the families that HVSC has adopted because the USA now represents hope for the future for them and their children. Of course, serving always benefits the server as Carr acknowledged, I have learned about the heart of God in this process and what it means to really give yourself to others; to just love as I have been loved.418 Approximately, 70,000 refugees per year are flooding into the USA and are being disbursed into communities across the nation. 419 Whereas the government provides a service to help settle them, it is minimal compared to the need (e.g., daily help with English language training, medical advice, school tutoring, transportation, and finances). HVSC was first critical of Social Services for not meeting the needs of these refugees
Kim Lyzenga, kims intro, Servinghrrefugeess Weblog, entry posted October 14, 2008, http://servinghrrefugees.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/burmese-refugees/ (accessed October 17, 2008). Kelly Carr, Refugees:What I have learned, SimpleChurch.com, entry posted September 11, 2008, http://www.simplechurch.com/profiles/blog/show?id=2303672%3ABlogPost%3A4382 (accessed October 16, 2008).
418 417 416

Ibid.

Refugee Facts, Catholic Diocese of Arlington Office of Migration and Refugee Services, http://www.arlingtonrefugeeservices.com/new_page_3.htm (accessed October 18, 2008).

419

187 until its members realized these needs could and should be served by the church. As Carr testified, The world and its organizations cannot handle the needs that are present in society. They only know how to apply a band aid. We, the church of Jesus Christ, have the answers!420 Blogging their experiences with the Burmese families, HVSC hopes that it may spur others on to do the same, which has recently happened with another simple church in Newport News, who have adopted two refugee families from Togo. They hope the call to serve the strangers in our land (Mt 25:43) with incarnational go to them love, spreads throughout their community and beyond toward finishing the GC.421 The example of J. D. Paynes missional simple churches, Association of Home Churches in Killeen, Texas, Sojourners Simple Church Network in North Carolina, and Hilton Village Simple Church in Newport News, Virginia are just a few examples of simple churches in the USA who are participating in the GC around the block and around the world. Quite possibly, there are hundreds and even thousands more doing so. But with simple church acceptance and growth in the USA as a recent phenomenon, it is difficult to know what the level of simple church participation in the GC is. Clearly, there is a need for more simple church GC data, which will be addressed next.

Kelly Carr, Kellys Two Cents, Servinghrrefugeess Weblog, entry posted October 16, 2008, http://servinghrrefugees.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/kellys-two-cents/ (accessed October 17, 2008). Also of note for HVSC, and in line with the premise of this paper, the author estimates that they spend approximately 1%-2% of their finances on overhead the cost of eating utensils at COSTCO.
421

420

188 The Need for More Simple Church Great Commission Data We live in the era of history in which the church of Jesus Christ is experiencing its greatest growth worldwide. Simple churches outside the USA are playing a large role in this. The good news is that there is a now a ground swell of simple churches in the USA that are joining in. The question concerning this, as per Ted Esler is this: Will they [simple churches in the USA] join with God in raising up millions [emphasis added] of new, simple, congregations?422 Don Graves, former institutional church pastor and now simple church network leader in Philadelphia, shared three factors that motivated him to get involved in simple church. Taken together, these three factors reveal why millions of simple churches may be needed in the USA in the very near future: 1. The fact that some experts say that by the year 2020, nearly 50% of those evangelicals who attend Church [IC] as we know it today will no longer have that as their primary vehicle for connecting with the Living God. 2. The number of born again people today who (for whatever reason) are no longer connecting with Church [IC] as we know it (15-22 million by some counts); these precious souls deserve a community of faith where they can be nurtured in their faith and strengthened in their resolve of obedience to King Jesus. 3. The sheer amount of people who don't have any relationship with Jesus at all; for them Church [IC] as we know it is a huge barrier to reaching freedom in Christ.423 Graves made the following observation concerning these three factors, So we look at whats now [born again people not connecting with the institutional church and

422

Esler, Whos a better missionary?

Don Graves, Neil Cole in Philadelphia and Network Gathering, SimpleChurchNetwork.com, http://www.simplechurchnetwork.com/index.php?option=com_acajoom&act=mailing&task=view&mailing id=17&Itemid=99999999 (accessed July 5, 2008).

423

189 unsaved people not coming to institutional church due to the barriers] and whats coming [a mass exodus of evangelicals leaving the institutional church] and we seek to follow the leading and preparation of the Lord today. 424 In other words, if Graves three factors are veritable, the church in the USA needs to be seeking the Lords will now concerning His leading in preparation for what is coming. Following the Lords leading today and preparing for tomorrow will require much wisdom in many forthcoming church structure decisions, especially concerning the potential shift from institutional church to simple church. This, in turn, will call for as much knowledge on the subject of simple church as possible, and subsequently as much accurate simple church data as possible. Additionally, addressing the pragmatic rationale of this project, there is a need to assess if simple churches in the USA are releasing their resources toward finishing the GC, and if so, to what extent. As previously discussed, it appears that the Lord is calling many in His church back to a NT model of ekklesia. One of the reasons may be the SCs capacity to release resources toward finishing the GC in greater measure than the IC. Accurate data will be needed to assess this projected trend, which is exactly what this research initiative seeks to examine. Since simple church in the USA is a fairly new phenomenon, the novelty of this movement lends itself to a shortage of information on the subject of simple church and the GC. Whereas an abundant supply of research has focused on finishing the GC, increasingly, valid research on the development of the SC and the GC is needed. According to J. D. Payne, his research project on simple churches and the GC, as documented in his book Missional House Churches, was the first of its kind in North

424

Ibid.

190 America. He claimed, I am unaware of any extensive research being conducted on house churches in general or missional house churches in particular. 425 In the same manner, this proposed research will address this lack of empirical data. With very little, if any, formal research and conclusive data on record concerning simple church and the GC, it is critical to determine the following: if simples churches are aware of the ripe harvest fields and UPGs, if simples churches are releasing resources, workers and wealth, commensurate with their non-bureaucratic potential, if simples churches are releasing their resources toward finishing the GC.

In order derive this information, the SC Movement will need to be surveyed and assessed, which is the proposed basis for this dissertation. Subsequently, the results of this project will contribute to the under-researched subject of simple churches in the USA releasing resources toward finishing the GC.

Summary The literature in this chapter verified a rapidly expanding faith in Jesus Christ throughout the earth. However, it also verified a remaining task that is immense, with approximately 1.9 billion unreached people remaining to be presented with the gospel message. Reaching these unreached people toward finishing the GC will require a large amount of resources. The good news is that the Church has more than enough resources to complete the task. The bad news is that these resources in large part are being consumed internally, and hence need to be released and redirected to the ripest harvest fields on the earth, primarily to UPGs.
425

Payne, Missional House Churches, 167.

191 The IC in the USA has abundant resources, both workers and wealth, but due to self-sustaining initiatives and bureaucratic overhead only a small proportion of these resources are directed toward reaching UPGs. In contrast, the SC with its nonbureaucratic structure has great capacity to release its resources, workers and wealth, and to multiply itself exponentially. And if done so according to Jesus mandate, a large portion of these resources could be released toward finishing the GC. Appropriate toward summarizing this chapter, Wolfgang Simson described his vision of a SC Movement toward finishing the GC: [I dream of a] church, which does not need huge amounts of money, or rhetoric, control and manipulation, which can do without powerful and charismatic heroes, which is non-religious at heart, which can thrill people to the core and simply teach us The Way to live. A church which not only has a message, but is the message. Something which spreads like an unstoppable virus, infects whatever it touches, and ultimately covers the earth with the glory and knowledge of God.426 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14) is an OT prophecy that has yet to find fulfillment in human history. As Simson suggests, perhaps the SC wineskin may help bring this biblical prophetic proclamation to fulfillment. Towards a continued journey into deeper discovery of the SC wineskin and how it affects the GC, the next chapter will examine the biblical, historical, and theological foundations, as well as the current implications of the three primary topics of this ministry project: (1) the GC, (2) the releasing of resources, and (3) the SC.

426

Simson, Houses that Change the World, xii-xiii.

CHAPTER THREE: BIBLICAL/THEOLOGICAL/HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Overview Jesus Christ gives a clear mandate in Scripture to finish the GC. To see this happen, His Church must release its resources, workers and wealth, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. To do so, the SC wineskin, with its tremendous resource release capacity due to its low overhead, was suggested in Chapter Two as a viable ekklesia methodology. This chapter will examine the biblical/theological and historical contexts, as well as the current implications, of the three primary areas inherent to this project: (1) a mandate to finish the GC, (2) a must of releasing resources, and (3) a method of using simple church wineskins. First, this chapter will examine the biblical/theological mandate to finish the GC. Starting with the OT, this section will explore Gods global glory stories, stories that build the framework for the GC theme in the NT, resulting in Jesus mandate to make disciples of all nations. Historically, notwithstanding the GC mandate, it will be evident that the nation of Israel in the OT after two millennium and the Church in the NT after two millennium have both fallen far short of the task of declaring His glory among all nations and making disciples of all nations (i.e., finishing the GC). In order to finish the GC, current implications call for the Church to understand the concept of ripe harvest fields, which in relation to finishing the GC means focusing on UPGs. Second, this chapter will examine the biblical/theological must of releasing resources in order to finish the GC. Scripture will show that a common theme throughout

192

193 the OT and NT is God calling His children to release their time, talent, and treasure as worship to Him. Historical evidence, however, will reveal that the Church in general has held on to many of its resources rather than redistributing them to where they are needed most. Current implications call for a shift in the Church toward a more righteous balance of resource release by redistributing them to the least and the last, to be defined as the worlds poorest of the poor and UPGs. Third, this chapter will examine the biblical/theological method of using SC wineskins to release resources toward finishing the GC. To begin with, the NT pattern of church will be thoroughly studied, especially as a church that met in houses, without a professional clergy versus laity split. Considered next is an in-depth historical investigation of where the pattern of the early church converted toward a more institutional version, even to the point where meeting in homes became illegal. Finally, the current implications of what returning to a SC wineskin could portend toward finishing the GC will be explored. A biblical/theological/historical review map is presented next in Figure 2 as an illustrative overview of Chapter 3.

194

Assessing the State of Simple Churches in the USA Regarding Releasing Resources toward Finishing the Great Commission

A Mandate to Finish the GC

A Must of Releasing Resouces

A Method of using Simple Church Wineskins


Biblical/Theological The NT Church Pattern and Practices

Biblical/Theological Declaring Gods Glory

Biblical/Theological Releasing Resources as Worship

Historical GC Still Not Finished

Historical Not Much Resource Release Current Implications Releasing Resources by Redistributing to UPGs

Historical The Instutionalization of the Church

Current Implications Going to Ripe Harvest Fields

Current Implications The SC Finishing the GC

Figure 2. Biblical/theological/historical review map

A Mandate to Finish the Great Commission Biblical/Theological Declaring Gods Glory and Making Disciples of All Nations The Old Testament call to declare Gods glory among the nations. To understand Gods mandate to finish the GC to its fullest, it is important to review the OT foundations of Gods desire declare his glory among all nations. The Bible is many things to many people, but ultimately it is Gods global glory story. The wisest

195 of all men, King Solomon sang, Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory (Ps 72:19). Further, Isaiah gave us a glimpse of heaven where the Seraphs are above the throne and were calling to one another, Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory (Isa 6:3). Even God Himself made proclamation, For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14). He also charged His beloved Israel to Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples (Ps 96:3). Why is God so engrossed in His glory? Why is He so adamant to have His glory spread throughout the whole earth? Why did Jesus cry out during His transfiguration Father, glorify your name (John 12:28)? The answer posits in Gods knowing that if man does not worship Him as the Creator, he will succumb to the bondage of worshipping the creation. As Romans 1:25 states, They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised. In anticipating this tendency, the Psalmist described what happens when created things are worshiped instead of God, Those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them (Ps 115:8). Hosea described how this very thing happened to the ten northern tribes of Israel, But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved (Hos 9:10). Worshipping the God of the universe, whose image and likeness man is made in, draws a man closer to God and hence more like his Son Jesus, which is freedom at its best. To the contrary, a man who worships idols is drawn closer to the idol and hence

196 more like a created thing, which is bondage at its worst. God knows that His glory brings His presence, and that His presence brings freedom from bondage. It also brings life, both abundant life and eternal life to those who worship Him and glorify His name. The Tower of Babel story is a classic OT example of a people who worshipped something created versus their Creator. Gen 11:4 states, Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves. Anticipating their sure destruction if they continued to make a name for themselves, the Lord intervened, So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world (Gen 11:8,9). Concerning this act of God, Steve Hawthorne, co-editor of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, believed that it was one of the most stunning acts of mercy in history. Whereas most people think of the scattering at Babel as judgment, he saw it as God breaking in before He had to do something more drastic, like he did in Noah's day. According to Hawthorne, by dividing humanity into language groups, a world of peoples, clans, families, and cultures, The plethora of people would never again rise as easily in united rebellion against God. They would each be preserved as winnable parts of humanity, susceptible to belief in God, and free to influence other peoples redemptively. God was getting the world ready for salvation.427 With His children scattered throughout the world speaking a multitude of languages, God mapped out His redemptive battle plan. In a pivotal OT narrative, known as the Abrahamic covenant, The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your
Steve Hawthorne, Mercy to Babel God answers man's desire, The Traveling Team, http://www.thetravelingteam.org/?q=node/25 (accessed June 23, 2008).
427

197 people and your fathers household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you (Gen 12:1-3). By conscripting Abram, father of Isaac, father of Jacob (called Israel), God was unveiling His eternal plan to use the nation of Israel to reveal Himself to the nations of the earth. Certainly, God would use the linage of Israel to bring His Son Jesus as the sacrificial lamb to set people free from their sins. But even under the Old Covenant, He was beseeching Abram/Israel in this passage (known to missiologists as the original GC) to be His glory mouthpiece to the ends of the earth. Those who grew up going to Sunday school most likely remember renditions of the grand ole stories of the OT. David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions den, and Jonah and the whale, all of them are classics that proved the strength and power of Israels God. These same stories with the same interpretations are being proclaimed throughout the world. Although these childhood lessons stand true, often overlooked in OT studies is a much bigger picture of meaning a picture so big that it weaves these ancient Bible stories into a single progressive drama, a drama that declares Gods heart for all the nations to glorify Him. As a sample, the following list reveals Gods OT global glory stories,428 demonstrating Gods mission to declare His glory among all nations of the world [with the global emphasis underlined]: 1. Global glory from Jacob Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and
The author was first introduced to the concept of Gods global glory stories by Steven S. Hawthorne, The Story of His Glory, in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, eds. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1999), 34-48.
428

198 to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring (Gen 28:14). 2. Global glory from the Exodus Then the LORD said to Moses, Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to himLet my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against youso you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth But I have raised you up for this very purpose, thatmy name might be proclaimed in all the earth (Exod 9:13-16). 3. Global glory from the Ten Commandments Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people (Deut 4:6). 4. Global glory from crossing the Jordan The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful (Jos 4:23-24). 5. Global glory from Solomons Temple so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name (1 Kgs 8:43). 6. Global glory from Namaan the Syrian Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel (2 Kgs 5:15). [Jesus also talked about Naaman in Luke 4:25-27, explaining that Gods desire was to reach beyond the Israelites.] 7. Global glory from Hezekiahs Prayer It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God (2Ki 19:17-19). 8. Global glory from David and Goliath This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and Ill strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel (1 Sam 17:46). 9. Global glory from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Then Nebuchadnezzar said, Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their

199 houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way (Dan 3:28-29). 10. Global glory from Daniel in the Lions Den Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end (Dan 6:25-26). 11. Global glory from Jonah and Nineveh On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned. The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth (Jon 3:4-5). 12. Global glory from Isaiah I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth (Isa 49:6). In response to these global glory stories, John Stott, one of the principal authors of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974, said, We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.429 In addition to these global glory stories, the Psalms reflect, acknowledge, and predict Gods desire for global salvation. Roger Hedlund credited G. W. Peters in A Biblical Theology of Missions for recognizing more than 175 references in the Psalms concerning hope of salvation for the nations of the earth.430 For example, Psalms 2, 33, 66, 67, 68, 72, 87, 96, 98, 117, and 145 are saturated with the responsibility of all the earth to praise and worship the name of the Lord. Psalm 2:8, which is a prophecy of God's work through Jesus Christ resounds, Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. King David pronounced, All the

Inspirational Quotes, Global Missions Network, http://www.globalmissionsnetwork.info/flquotes.html (accessed April 23, 2008). Roger E. Hedlund, The Mission of the Church in the World: A Biblical Theology (Ada, MI: Baker Pub Group, 1991), 55.
430

429

200 nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name (Ps 86:9). Psalm 67 is a song of the Hebrew people that reflected their understanding of Gods mandate upon them to bring His blessing to the nations: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, (Selah) that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. (Selah) May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him. Psalm 67 shows that Israel knew that the nations were watching them as a spectacle of what God wanted to bring forth among all nations. The destiny of the nations not some, but all nations is to sing praise to God. Gods purpose is the resolute focus of the Psalm, God blesses us with a purpose, so that all of the ends of the earth may fear Him. Tradition says that Psalm 67 was sung at the Feast of Pentecost. Concerning this, Walter C. Kaiser, evangelical OT scholar, commented, It is not without significance that this psalm was sung at the Feast of Pentecost. When one remembers that it was at the Feast of Pentecost that God was to pour out his Spirit on all flesh . . . the connection of this psalm with the Feast of Pentecost and its missionary message is all the more remarkable.431 In the context of Gods global glory being proclaimed in the OT, it is fitting that the last book of the OT boldly declares Gods intent. Malachi 1:11 states, My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD Almighty. Whereas the people at Babel wanted to
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 31.
431

201 stay and make a name for themselves, Gods OT mandate was explicitly to go and make a name for Himself. As we will see, this mandate continued seamlessly into the NT Age of Grace. The New Testament call to make disciples of all nations. Indeed, the OT mandate to Israel became the NT mandate to the Church, and the OT mandate to spread the story of Gods glory became the NT mandate to make disciples of all nations. This NT mandate, articulated by Jesus and recorded by Matthew, states, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Mt 28:18-20). This Jesus mandate, known as the GC, was so influential to the Gospel writers that Mark, Luke, and John also recorded it: He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15). He told them, This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46,47). As the Father has sent me, I am sending you (John 20:21). But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Each writer built up to an encapsulating statement, complementing and supporting one another, reflected Jesus mandate, Go and make disciple of all nations (Matthew), go into all the world (Mark), preach in His name to all nations (Luke), I am sending

202 you (John), and be witnessesto the ends of the earth (Luke). Dr. Cornell Goerner, the late Missions Professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote, The disciples got the message [the GC mandate], so much so that each Gospel writer made it the climax of his story.432 Jesus not only mandated the GC but He also modeled it, showing a concern for all peoples during His ministry here on earth. Yes, He was called to the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 15:24), but He also exerted a considerable amount of time and effort expanding the story of His Fathers glory among the Gentiles: Jesus based His ministry in Capernaum Intriguingly, Jesus did not choose His ministry headquarters in Jerusalem the headquarters of the Jews; instead he choose Capernaum, which bordered on Gentile Syria, Decapolis, Latin-speaking Tiberius, and close to four Aramaic-speaking regions (Mt 4:13-25). Jesus ministered among many Gentiles The Spirit led him into a Samaritan village where He ministered to a Samaritan woman and then her whole village (John 4), He identified a Roman centurion as having great faith beyond all in Israel (Mt 8:5-11), He healed various Gentiles (Mark 5:1-20, 7:24-30), and returning from Phoenicia and his encounter with the Canaanite mother, He fed the 4000 on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee within the gentile region of the Decapolis (Mk 7:31-8:10). Jesus said the Temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations After driving out the Jewish moneychangers, Jesus insisted that the spiritual need of the Gentiles would be established in a Jewish temple My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17).

After Jesus three years of modeling ministry among the Jews and the Gentiles, the book of Acts records the effective participation of His disciples in the GC. They embraced it so clearly that Christ's final words to them in Acts 1:8 seemingly form the outline of Luke's record of their activity, But you will receive power when the Holy

432

Cornell H. Goerner, All Nations in God's Purpose (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1979), 97.

203 Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8): 1. Peter preached in Jerusalem Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say (Acts 2:14). 2. Persecution scattered believers to Judea and Samaria On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). 3. Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabus to the ends of the earth While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them (Acts 13:2). Describing the account of the gospel spreading to the ends of the earth Acts, Goerner commented, The story unfolds just as Jesus said it would.433 Jesus last command, the GC, truly became His disciples first concern. This included Paul and his missionary band who made disciples all the way to Rome and beyond. Pauls epistles record how he took Jesus last command seriously: Paul offered the nations to God to be a minister of Christ to the Gentiles so that the Gentiles [nations] might become an offering acceptable to God (Rom 15:16). Pauls goal was the ends of the earth It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known (Rom 15:20). Paul taught that all Christs disciples are ambassadors And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christs ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2 Cor 5:19,20).

At the end of history, the world will marvel at how Gods desire to be glorified is fulfilled. Revelation 7:9 reflects this reality, After this I looked and there before me was
433

Ibid., 101.

204 a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. As glorious as this picture of heaven is, however, the culmination of history will not take place until the GC is complete as described by Jesus end times discussion with the disciples, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Mt 24:14). In other words, Jesus second coming is contingent on completion of His GC, and completion of the GC is contingent upon preaching the gospel to every ethnic people group on the face of planet earth, and subsequently, making disciples of all nations. This precept, known as finishing the GC, is the spiritual and practical foundation of this ministry project. Joshua Project, one of the premier missions organizations focusing on finishing the GC, expressed it this way: Not because it is our duty, though it is. Not because it will bring eternal life to many, though it will. Not because it will improve the living conditions of the poor, though it will. Not because it will improve stability in the worlds institutions, though it will. Not because it will improve environmental stewardship, though it will. Not because we will be rewarded, though we will. We should disciple the nations because Jesus is worthy to receive their honor, glory and praise, Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise (Rev 5:12)!434

Status of World Evangelization - 2008, Joshua Project, http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dd2fkbwh_52fgm7wnc5 (accessed May 27, 2008).

434

205 John the apostle penned Revelation 5:12 before the close of the first century, 2000 years after Abraham and almost 2000 years ago. Next, a historical view of how Israel obeyed Gods GC (given to Abraham) and how the Church obeyed Jesus GC (given to his disciples) is considered, which underscores Gods desire to declare His glory among all nations and make disciples of all nations.

Historical The Great Commission is Still Not Finished Missionary author David Shenk wrote, The Bible is primarily a history, not a philosophy. It is an account of God's acts in history as he works to bring about his plan for the well-being of the whole earth.435 Historically, Israel under the Old Covenant and the Church under the New Covenant have yet to complete the task of the GC. In fact, after 4000 years of effort, from the time of Abraham until now, an estimated 1.9 billion unreached people remain on planet earth.436 Whereas there are many themes found in the biblical account of God's acts in history, they all find their place in the ultimate mission of God, to declare His glory among the nations and to make disciples of all nations. The following chart (Table 13), adapted from Ralph Winters article The 10 Super Centuries of Mission History, is a brief historical overview of how Gods mission has transpired over the past four millennia:

435

David W. Shenk, God's Call To Mission (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994), 80.

As a reminder, an unreached person describes someone who has no access to the gospel message (i.e. no Bible, radio, books, Jesus Video, or any other means to hear about Jesus as the Messiah). The Apostle Paul spoke of their plight in Rom 10: 14, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

436

206 Table 13. The 10 Super Centuries of Mission History437 Period Super Century Key Leader Mission Thrust 2000 - 1600 Patriarchs Abraham - Abraham obeyed and received blessing - Joseph was a blessing 1600 - 1200 Egyptian Moses - Represented God Captivity to Pharaoh - Joshua led to promised land 1200 - 800 Judges Gideon - Conquered enemies in the name of God - Ruth came to Israel - David's heart for the nations - Temple built; Sheba's visit Reason for Decline - Genesis begins with life - Ends with death (Joseph in a coffin) - Israelites didn't believe/obey God - Israelites turned to foreign gods and practices - Last verse in Judges: Every man did what was right in his own eyes.

800 - 400

Kings

400 - 0

Post Exile

0 - 400

Romans

400 - 800

Barbarians

800 - 1200

Vikings

- Solomon ended up loving world more than God. - Many Israelite kings followed in his footsteps Nehemiah - Esther and Ezra - Israel forgot God represented - Alexander the Great Yahweh in foreign and Julius Caesar land conquer the land - They returned to Israel Constantine - Jesus and the - Roman Christianity 325 A.D. Apostles was soft politically - Rome became correct Christian - Didn't evangelize Barbarians Charlemagne - Tried to create - Mixed Christianity new Holy Empire with Paganism; no outreach Pope - Started order of - Mixed Christianity Innocent III the Friars for 100 with political power

Solomon

Ralph Winter, The 10 Super Centuries of Mission History, The Traveling Team, http://www.thetravelingteam.org/?q=node/88 (accessed May 23, 2008).

437

207 years 1200 - 1600 Muslims Francis of - Franciscan monks Assisi - Ramon Lull reached Muslims 1600 - 2000 Ends of the Earth William - Francis Xavier; Carey Martin Luther - 3 eras of modern missions

- Plagues in Europe - Crusades against Muslims - selfish Christianity - remaining unreached areas very difficult to reach

Although the above chart encompasses only a brief snapshot of missions history, it does show how Israel had 2000 years to declare Gods glory among all nations and how the Church has had 2000 years to make disciples of all nations. Concerning the first 2000 years, in keeping his promise to Abraham, God repeatedly blessed Israel in order that the nation would in turn be a blessing to all other nations. Ron Blue summarized, God blesses so that His blessings may overflow to those who are outside the huddle. 438 In other words, Israels service, obedience, and worship to God were supposed to bear witness to Him. Isaiah 43:10; 44:8; 49:3,6 each state, You are my witnesses, says the Lord. God also told Israel, You shall be my possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod 19:56). Conversely, Israel historically struggled with her role, oftentimes resembling the character of the nations rather than being the kingdom of priests and holy nation God desired her to be. As stated by Roger Hudlund, the consequences were dire, Israel's role was to be a light to the nations. But when she disobeyed God and compromised her faith,

Ron Blue, Evangelism and Missions. Strategies for Outreach in the 21st Century (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2001), 24.

438

208 her light grew dim as she wandered in the pagan darkness. 439 The nations, to whom Israel was supposed to be a witness and declare Gods glory, instead became the means of her correction. Despite Israels waywardness, God remained faithful to His GC. Jesus came to earth and picked up the mantle to declare Gods glory among all nations. In His final weeks, Jesus made it clear that He came to continue His Fathers global mission: In riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, He fulfilled Zechariah's prediction of a king who would speak peace to the nations, and whose dominion would be from sea to sea (Zech 9:9-10). In the court of the Gentiles, He drove out the buyers and sellers while quoting from Isaiah 56:7, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17). In open judgment of the chief priests and Pharisees, He lambasted them for their failure to participate in God's mission, Therefore, I say unto you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a nation producing the fruit of it (Mt 21:43).

When He departed the earth, Jesus passed His Fathers global mission on to his disciples and effectively made the GC, now to make disciples of all nations, a command to His Church through all generations. Unfortunately, the pattern of the Churchs faithfulness to Gods mission did not change much from that of Israels. After 2000 years of effort, the Church of Jesus Christ, like the nation of Israel before her, has not even come close to finishing the task. How could this be? Bypassing the subject of Gods sovereignty and sticking to mans free will, there are essentially only two broad choices: (1) disobedience (i.e., wrong priorities, apathy, worldliness, and materialism), and/or (2) ignorance (i.e., poor training, false teaching, bad theology, and wrong paradigms).

439

Hedlund, The Mission of the Church in the World, 69.

209 Concerning these two broad choices, Robert Speer, secretary of the American Presbyterian Mission in the early 1900s, came down hard on the side of disobedience, I have said that there is nothing in the world or the Church, except its disobedience, to render the evangelization of the world in this generation an impossibility. 440 In agreement with this viewpoint, Samuel Zwemer, famous Muslim missionary in the early 20th century, stated, I feel now, that Arabia could easily be evangelized within the next thirty years if it were not for the wicked selfishness of Christians. 441 Switching to the side of ignorance as the reason the GC may not be finished, a good example is the infamous quote at a Baptist ministers meeting to missionary hopeful William Carey. They exhorted, Young man, sit down: when God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.442 Disobedience and ignorance over the centuries has led to a tragic history of missed global mission opportunities. The following three vignettes related to (1) Islam, (2) the Mongols, and (3) Japan are examples of this dark side of missions history in the Church age where the GC was sadly subverted. First, Islam was born out of the spiritual hunger of an Arabian man by the name of Mohammed (570632). Unfortunately, the Church failed him and his people by not having the Bible translated into his native language, Arabic. The Church had nearly 600 years to accomplish this, and yet it remained undone six centuries after Jesus walked the earth. What makes this a complete travesty is that the translation of the Bible from

Important Quotes on Missiology, Missiology.org, http://www.missiology.org/missionsquotes.htm (accessed June 23, 2008). Revival Quotes, Measure of Gold Revival Ministries, http://www.evanwiggs.com/revival/fireham/Revival%20Quotes.htm (accessed July 23, 2008).
442 441

440

R. Alan Streett, The Effective Invitation, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004),

93.

210 Hebrew/Aramaic to Arabic would have been relatively easy, due to these languages being of the same Semitic family. Mohammed was left with stories he had heard in his travels a mixed bag of stories from Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians (Persian fire worshippers), and groups of Sabeans, cultish heretic Christians living nearby. This begs the question, what would have happened if Mohammed had been able to read the Word of God for himself in his spoken language, not dependent upon the false interpretations of man? Interestingly, the only churches in Asia and North Africa to that survived Islamic occupation were those that had the Scriptures in their language (e.g., the Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic churches). To the contrary, the Persians, Berbers, and Arabs with no Bible available in their mother tongue has led to a Muslim movement that is 1.3 billion people strong and counting.443 Second, Genghis Khan (11621227) controlled the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous empire in history. Although he personally didnt adhere to Christianity, his grandson Kublai Khan issued this challenge to Marco Polo: Go to your Pope and ask him to send me a hundred men learned in your religion who will show their mastery by making the sorcerers powerless to perform these marvels in their presence. Then I will be baptized, and all my magnates and barons will do likewise, and their subjects in turn. Then there will be more Christians here than there are in your part of the world.444 Back in Rome, the pope with whom Polo had a relationship, died. Consequently, the Church in Rome did not answer the call. Marco Polo never returned to Kublai Khan with the missionary force needed to saturate the Mongolian empire with the gospel. The Far

443

Krikor Markarian, Todays Iranian Revolution, Mission Frontiers (September-October

2008): 12.
444

Paul Hattaway, Operation China (Carlisle, UK: Piquant, 2000), 363.

211 East, a large part of the former Mongolian Empire, remained largely unevangelized for the next 500 years. Third, at the end of World War II, Japan was humbled in defeat. Their god Hirohito had not brought victory and the state religion Shintoism had failed them. Helping to rebuild the Japanese governmental system, General Douglas MacArthur said to a visiting group of Protestant leaders in 1945 that Japan is a spiritual vacuum. If you do not fill it with Christianity, it will be filled with Communism. Send me 1,000 missionaries.445 It was a classic moment of opportunity for Christianity to walk into the colossal spiritual vacuum. In the minds of many American Christians at the time, however, the Japanese were still the enemy. So instead of rising the occasion, the American church hesitated and eventually sent only a handful of Christian workers. Lamentably, over the decades, Japan groped toward a new religion to fill their spiritual vacuum aggressive but empty materialism. To this day, Japan is one of the most unevangelized nations in the world. Of course, despite these infamous missed missions opportunities in Church history, and many more like them (e.g., the Crusades), Gods global mission marches on. As confirmed by the statistics in Chapter Two, the Kingdom of God is advancing to the ends of the earth thanks to the obedience of a historical remnant of mission-minded disciples of Jesus Christ. However, in spite of the progress, the Church still finds herself with a huge remaining mission, with approximately 1.9 unreached people yet to be reached for the first time with the Gospel. These people groups comprise the ripest harvest fields on earth. As presented next, in order to finish the GC, declaring Gods
Helen Hardacre, Shinto and the State, 1868-1988 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 135, http://books.google.com/books?id=nP7vr5yaaZIC (accessed November 17, 2008).
445

212 glory among all nations and making disciples of all nations, current implications are that these ripe harvest fields need to be the focus of the Churchs missions efforts.

Current Implications Going to Ripe Harvest Fields (primarily UPGs) Every farmer knows that harvest time is the part of the annual agricultural cycle when the maximum number of laborers is needed to reap it. Because the number of available harvesters is invariably limited, they must be deployed as wisely as possible. Farmers therefore send laborers to reap fields that are ripe white unto harvest (John 4:35 ASV). Sending laborers to reap green fields that have yet to ripen would be an obvious waste of time. Accordingly, a wise farmer complies with the following harvest principles: harvesting requires a ripe crop, different crops ripen at different times, and reaping needs laborers in the right place at the right time. Jesus understood farming and therefore, He tapped into these harvest principles. When He sent out His 12 disciples, He instructed them, Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 10:5). Why were Jesus harvest field instructions so narrow? Was He that ethnocentric? Most likely, Jesus knew that after centuries of ethnic division and hatred, His Jewish disciples were not ready to go to the Samaritan, let alone the Gentiles; and likewise, the Samaritans and Gentiles were not ready to receive them. So in effect, the Samaritans and Gentiles were not yet a ripened harvest field and therefore the disciples would have wasted their time trying to reach them.

213 Jesus had further instruction to help His disciples hone in on the ripest harvest. He told them to seek out the man of peace (Mt 10:11-13).446 The man of peace would be people who tipped the scales on being very receptive to the gospel; they would welcome the disciples with welcome arms. Of course, not all the Jews would be receptive. So Jesus told the disciples how to handle this situation as well. Matthew 10:14 states, And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Shaking the dust off was a public statement that the disciples did not plan to return to the resistant unreceptive Jews. Instead, they would push out to new frontiers and find those who were receptive ripened harvest fields, men and women of peace, that were waiting for laborers to come into their lives.447 Paul the apostle followed the same harvest principles as taught and modeled by Jesus. At the beginning of his second missionary journey, Paul had a desire to minister in the province of Asia. It was not until Paul attempted to go east that the Holy Spirit said no (Acts 16:6b). Paul then attempted to go into Bithynia to preach the gospel, but again the Holy Spirit said no (Acts 16:7). Once again Paul kept moving and eventually came to Troas. It is here where he saw a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading, Come over to Macedonia and help us (Acts 16:9). The Holy Spirit knew where the harvest was ripe, in this case Macedonia, and accordingly, He directed Paul the laborer to Lydia, the woman of peace.
Jesus repeated this strategy when He sent out the 72 as recorded in Luke 10:5-7, When you enter a house, first say, Peace to this house. If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house. Whether in agriculture or in evangelizing the lost, God is the only one who ripens the harvest. No human being ever manufactured a cauliflower or an ear of corn. Paul said, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (1 Cor 3:6). Yes, mankind plays a part in the harvest but only God, through the Holy Spirit, can change hearts. Following Gods pattern of evangelization ensures that He alone receives all the glory for the harvest, while it also leads to a much more efficient and effective harvest.
447 446

214 Paul, Silas, and Timothy were also implementing the ripe harvest principle when they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia without preaching the gospel while on their way to Thessalonica (Acts 17:1). Thessalonica was riper to receive the gospel than either Amphipolis or Apollonia because a synagogue was located there. Why was a synagogue important? It was because God-fearing Gentiles,448 whom Paul was called to preach to, often visited the local Jewish synagogue (Acts 17:4). Therefore, Pauls ripe harvest strategy was to go straight to the local synagogue where he would find receptive Gentiles, men and women of peace, who were eager to hear the gospel message (e.g. Antioch Pisidia (Acts 13:16), Iconium (14:1), Thessalonica (17:1), Berea (17:10), Athens (17:17), Corinth (18:4), and Ephesus (19:8)). By obeying Jesus model and the Holy Spirits voice, it turns out that Paul followed the farmers harvest principles. As a result, he was implementing a very effective missionary strategy for the future, seeking out the man of peace in the ripest harvest fields. John Mott (18651955), long-serving leader of the YMCA, cried out for a return to this strategy in his day, If it is a good thing to go where were needed, it is more Christ-like to go where were needed most. God grant that we may step into the footprints of our Lord, to go to the most destitute fields of our own country and the great open fields beyond.449

Before the advent of Christianity, God-fearing Gentiles could convert to Judaism and be admitted to the synagogue. To do so however, all male Gentiles had to undergo circumcision. God-fearing Gentiles, on the other hand, that didnt want to convert through circumcision, could still visit the synagogue without being allowed into the synagogue (e.g., similar to the outer court of the Temple). Missionary issues of the twentieth century: Papers and addresses of the General Missionary Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, held in New Orleans April 24-30, 1901, Internet Archives, http://www.archive.org/stream/missionaryissues00methiala/missionaryissues00methiala_djvu.txt (accessed June 18, 2008).
449

448

215 So where are the most destitute harvest fields today? Where are the God-fearers who are ripe unto salvation? Where is the Holy Spirit directing laborers to be sent to? Whereas it is reasonable that all peoples, whether receptive or resistant, need to receive a witness of Christ, biblical precedence reflects a greater investment of resources to be expended among the receptive. Just as different farm crops ripen at different times, so also different ethnic peoples ripen for the gospel at different times. Reinhard Bonnke, the celebrated evangelist who has preached to more people than any person in history, testified about following the ripe harvest principle. He said, I go to my neighbors [Africa] where the harvest is ripe, and when my neighborhood [Germany] is ripe, they will come to me.450 Even though many people need to hear the gospel in post-Christian Germany, Bonnkes strategy is to go to particular regions in Africa first because he believes that the harvest fields there are riper than in his homeland (i.e. more people receptive to the gospel). In effect, he is following Jesus strategy of shaking the dust off his feet in Germany and moving on to find the ripe man of peace in Africa. Following this biblical premise, if all believers and churches followed Bonnkes strategy, who in turn followed Jesus and Pauls ripe harvest strategy, it would lead them to the ripest harvest fields on earth. This in turn would lead them to the most spiritually destitute areas of the globe, where the gospel has never been preached or communicated in any form. More explicitly, it would lead them to ethnic peoples who live day after day without any access to the gospel in any form, including the Bible in their heart language, missionaries to reach them, nor media gospel presentations.

450

Reinhard Bonnke, speaking at the Fire Conference, Singapore, March 20, 2002.

216 These ethnic peoples451 with no access to the good news of Jesus Christ are also known as unreached people. Ted Esler defined the term unreached, When missionaries use the term unreached they are not talking about unsaved people nor are they referring to unchurched people. They are referring to entire cultures that have no access to gospel.452 As defined previously, a majority of these ethnic clusters of people, known as UPGs, live geographically in what missiologist call the 10/40 window.453 It is a window that the devil has been fighting hard to keep shut since the days of Jesus. Larry Stockstill, pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center, vividly depicted the abysmal plight of these unreached people, The 3 billion454 unreached people on earth would form a single file line that would stretch around the equator 25 times! Can you picture 25 lines of Christless people, trampling toward hell? Let that vision stay with you day and night.455 How could the Church allow this happen? How, 2000 years after Jesus came to the earth, could over 25% if the worlds population still be completely in the dark concerning God love for them via His Sons death and resurrection? How can a majority of Christians continue to ignore Oswald J. Smiths clarion cry, No one has the

451

Ethnic is the biblical ethne which is Greek for nation. Esler, Whos a better missionary?

452

As a reminder, the 10/40 Window is the area of the world between latitudes 10 degrees and 40 degrees north covering North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The window is home to more 95 percent of the worlds UPGs, 80 percent of the worlds poorest of the poor, the top 50 cities on the worlds least evangelized list, and the greatest concentration of the world's Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews. Depending on the source, the figure is between 1.3 and 3.0 billion people. The disparity is so vast because of the variation of definitions and methods of classification, and quite simply because counting unreached people in unreached areas of the world is far from an exact science. For the sake of this project (and knowing God is the only one with the exact number), the fact that there are still over one billion unreached people in the world is striking enough to substantiate Stockstills line of reasoning.
455 454

453

Larry Stockstill, 25 Lines Around (Heartbeat Publishing, 1993), 1.

217 right to hear the Gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once!456 Fundamentally, as discussed previously in the context of mans free will, only two broad choices explain why there are still so many UPGs remaining: (1) disobedience, and/or (2) ignorance. Disobedience, a heart issue, can only be remedied with confession and repentance. Ignorance, a mind issue, can only be remedied with the correct knowledge knowledge of the OT mandate to declare Gods glory among all nations and the NT mandate to make disciples of all nations, especially the ripest harvest field nations on the planet: UPGs in the 10/40 window. The churchs ignorance of the magnitude of the remaining task needs a knowledge solution. There is no better place to find a knowledge solution than in Gods Word, the Word that became flesh. With great compassion, Jesus taught of His Fathers love for every one of His children: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulder and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Luke 15:3-7). Later in His ministry, Jesus taught that to reach this one unreached sheep, it would be up to His followers to bring the message of forgiveness. John 20:22-23 states, And with that he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. In other words, then as well as now, there is no other way for an unreached person to be saved
Missions and Evangelism Quotes, Tentmaker, http://www.tentmaker.org/Quotes/evangelismquotes.htm (accessed July 24, 2008).
456

218 unless they accept the forgiveness of their sins in the name of Jesus offered to them by one of His followers. This puts the task on Jesus followers to reach the unreached. Jesus also gave the best strategy to make this task as easy and productive as possible. It begins with petitioning His loving Father, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (Mt 9:37). As discussed previously, these workers were to go look for a man of peace, someone readied by the Holy Spirit to be ripe unto salvation. Now as then, workers are needed to reap the ripest harvest fields of the earth, sent out to find the man of peace in every UPG city, town, or village. Sending out the workers into ripe harvest fields will require resources. On the disciples first short-term trip, Jesus told them, Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep (Mt 10:9,10). Nearing the end of His ministry, Jesus told His disciples just the opposite. Luke 22:35 states, But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you dont have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Twenty centuries later, it still takes purses, bags, and swords for workers to be sent out. In fact, it will take an enormous amount of resources to penetrate the hardest and darkest areas of the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Kurt von Schleicher contended that Our God of grace often gives a second chance; but there is no second chance to harvest a ripe crop.457 Many crops of ethnic people groups are dying on the vine before being harvested. Like never before, churches need to arise and release all the resources necessary, workers and wealth, to declare
Inspirational Quotes, Global Missions Network, http://www.globalmissionsnetwork.info/flquotes.html (accessed July 24, 2008).
457

219 Gods glory among all nations and make disciples of all nations. As Billy Graham correctly asserted, The Great Commission is still in effect. Christs command has not changed, and neither has Gods great plan of redemption.458 Because the GC is still in effect, the Church must release the resources needed to finish it; this is discussed next.

A Must of Releasing Resouces Biblical/Theological Releasing Resources as Worship Churches are called to release their resources (i.e., giving of their workers and wealth) toward finishing the GC. In turn, individual disciples of Jesus Christ are called to release their resources (i.e. giving of their time, talent, and treasure) toward finishing the GC.459 Indeed, this premise is based squarely on a multitude of Bible passages in both the OT and NT. Scripture clearly shows how giving of ones time, talent, and treasure is an act of worship to our Father in heaven, especially when giving benevolently to the least and the last. Releasing time, talent, and treasure as worship. Throughout the OT there were periods of extensive giving for the construction and maintenance of Gods two dwelling places, His tabernacle in the desert and His temple in Jerusalem. Under Moses leadership, God asked the Israelites for a free will offering to build His tabernacle. Exodus 25:2 states, You are to receive the offering for

Billy Graham, Your Calling from God, The Resource, http://www.boldlion.com/cpr/res00f1.htm (accessed April 22, 2008). According to George Barna, when believers were asked to explain their understanding of biblical stewardship (giving of resources), less than one out of every twenty included resources such as time, relationships, ideas, or skills (talents) in their assessment (cited in Barna, Revolution, 33). This is a discipleship issue that needs to be addressed by churches. However, it is an issue that is beyond the scope of this project.
459

458

220 me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. The Israelites obeyed and brought silver, gold, fine cloth, wood, oil and precious stones their treasure (Exod 35:4-9). They also offered God their time and talent to fashion these gifts into the tabernacle (Exod 35:10). The Israelites generosity was so overwhelming that according to Exodus 36:6, the people were restrained from bringing more. In the OT, before the Holy Spirit dwelt in the hearts of his people, worshipers of God went to the tabernacle and subsequently the temple to encounter Him. Giving for the construction of the tabernacle and temple therefore provided the environment that was prescribed for responsive acts to a generous God in worship (Exod 40:34-38; 1 Kgs 8:27; 2 Chr 7:1-3). King David insisted on purchasing the future location of the temple at great cost (2 Sam 24:21-25). David was fully aware that A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great (Prv 18:16). Toward culmination of his fathers dream of an earthly house for God, King Solomon gathered skilled craftsmen to build and decorate the temple with large amounts of gold, precious stones, and wood from far away Lebanon, thus utilizing the Israelites time, talent, and treasure (2 Chr 2:2). To begin the NT era, Jesus story of the widows mite provided an illustration of the type of giving that is glorifying to God (Luke 21:1-4). It showed that God is truly after the heart of worship behind the giving, not the amount. Paul expressed clearly to the Corinthians that generosity will lead men to a life of worship, thanksgiving and praise to a graceful God. 2 Corinthians 9:12,13 states, This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of Gods people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ.

221 Paul urged his brothers in Rome, In view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices [i.e., through time, talent, and treasure], holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship (Rom 12:1). As the Spirit of God made the tabernacle and the temple holy places of worship, He now makes every follower of Christ a holy place of worship, which is then expressed back to Him through a generous giving lifestyle. Who should a follower of Christ be generous to as a spiritual act of worship? Two priorities that have a clear scriptural precedence are: (1) giving to the poor and oppressed (the least), and (2) giving to reach UPGs (the last). Releasing time, talent, and treasure to the least. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus showed great concern for the least of these, namely the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, and the prisoner. Matthew 25:40 states, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Jesus goes on to finish the parable with a bone-chilling prophecy, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment (Mt 25:45,46). In Gods economy, serving those in dire need is serving God himself, and failing to serve those in dire need is failing to serve Him. The OT established Gods consistent concern for the least of these: the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (c.f., Exod 22:22; Deut 10:18,19; 14:29; 24:19; 26:12; Ps(s) 10:14; 68:5; Zech 7:10). This OT pattern then carried over into the NT church: The early church clearly provided for its needy members (Acts 4:34-35) and offered ongoing food assistance for the widows (Acts 6:1-7).

222 Agabus predicted a severe famine in the Roman world, and the church in Antioch sent assistance to the brothers living in Judea (Acts 11:28-29). Paul spoke of how the Gentile churches assisted the poor believers in Jerusalem (Rom 15:25-26). Paul offered several detailed instructions regarding the benevolent ministry of the church toward their widows (1 Tm 5:3-16). James summed up true religion as looking after orphans and widows in their distress (Jas 1:27).

Jesus provided an illustration of how His Church is to love others even ones enemies in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:28-37). Here we see a complete stranger providing for the needs of another person in a dangerous place. The morale of the story is that followers of Jesus are expected to release their time, talent, and treasure to help those in desperate situations?460 Augustine (AD 354430) said it this way, That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong.461 Serving the least of these is truly an act of worship on behalf of a loving heavenly Father.

Is it more important that desperate people have their needs met or that they be reached with the gospel? The two are simultaneously critical, which is why Jesus commanded both. He knew that desperate people are more prone to listen to the gospel when their needs were met. Most likely this is why He performed so many miracles in meeting peoples physical needs (e.g., feeding, healing, and deliverance). Jesus also taught that loving others means loving them in the same way that you would love yourself (Mt 22:39), or caring for them as you care for yourself. How then would we want to be loved and cared for if we were poor and needy while others were rich and in need of nothing? Clearly, one way is that we would want help getting our basic needs met when disaster strikes (e.g., war, natural disaster, job loss, illness, crippling government or corporate corruption, theft, struggles arising from systemic poverty and social degradation, lack of education and family support as with orphans, or any one of a number of problems). ChristianHistory.net, Money in Christian History (I): A Gallery of Church Fathers, 1987, under Issue 14, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1987/issue14/1410.html (accessed July 28, 2008).
461

460

223 Releasing time, talent, and treasure to the last. In addition to this debt of love to the least, the Church owes a debt of love to the last, who are comprised of unreached people. The nearly 1.9 billion unreached people who have yet to hear the gospel deserve to have workers sent to their doorsteps. Jesus foresaw this in His day as He observed the crowds. Matthew 9:36 states that he had compassion on them [the unreached of Jesus day], because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. The verb to have compassion is the Greek term splanchnizomai, which is used in the NT only by the Synoptic Gospel writers. Suggesting strong emotion, it means to feel deep sympathy.462 Neil Cole painted a vivid description of just how deep Jesus sympathy was for the harassed and helpless crowd. He discovered that the term splanchnizomai in the original language literally means bowels. He noted that when we want to express love and compassion in our day, we choose another part of the anatomy or a different organ, the heart. Nonetheless, reality says that we feel emotion in our bowels/gut not our heart (i.e. we don't get butterflies in our heart; we get them in our gut). Cole illustrated: The first time we men picked up the phone to call a special girl and ask her out, we felt it in our splanchnizomai. The first time you women felt the boy's arm go around your shoulders at the movies, you felt tingly in your splanchnizomai. When the doctor has crushing news from the results of your blood test or biopsy, you feel it first in your splanchnizomai. So when Jesus saw all the [harassed and helpless] people, his breath was taken away. He was hit in the solar plexus. He was bent over in discomfort. 463 Jesus had a deep gut-wrenching felt need for the people he was ministering to. He recognized that they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. The
J. F. Walvoord, R. B. Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 2:41.
463 462

Cole, Organic Church, 145-146.

224 Greek word for harassed is skullo, which means to trouble, to rend, and even to mangle, to vex, and to annoy.464 The Greek word for helpless is rhpt, which means to cast to the ground, to throw away, to cast off.465 In other words, Jesus had a terrifying prophetic picture of the harassed and helpless people who were vexed by the enemy, annoyed, troubled, and even mangled by him; he saw them cast to the ground and thrown away. This is why Jesus has such an immense amount of compassion for them, even to the point of feeling the anxiety deep within his gut. Jesus also knew that The harvest is plentiful [full of harassed and helpless sheep] but the workers [to rescue them] are few (Mt 9:37). Too few workers and too many harassed and helpless sheep was a problem that called for Gods intervention. The Message version of Matthew 9:38 states, On your knees and pray for harvest hands! Concerning this, Charles Spurgeon (18341892) spoke of the need to approach God boldly, Prayer pulls the rope down below, and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give only an occasional jerk at the rope. But he who communicates with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might.466 Jesus certainly had bold continuous prayer in mind when he told His disciples to ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into his harvest field (Mt
J. Strong, The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order, electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), G4660. G. Kittel, G. Friedrich, & G. W. Bromiley, Theological dictionary of the New Testament. Translation of: Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament, (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995, c1985), 987. Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, FINAL WORDS Christ's Farewell to Those He Loved, moodychurch.org, http://www.moodychurch.org/radio/transcripts/finalwords.html (accessed July 10, 2008).
466 465 464

225 9:38). The word send is the bold almost violent Greek term ekballo. In fact, the word ekballo in this verse is the same word used in Mark 1:34; 16:9,17 to drive/cast out demons.467 In other words, with the same violent force that Jesus used to cast out demons, He told his disciples to ask His Father to send out (ekballo drive/cast out) workers into the harvest field. Jesus always modeled what He taught. In this case, in the very next verse He gathered His 12 and then ekballo-ed them to the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 10:1-6). At a later date, He modeled it again by ekballo-ing the 72. The results were astounding for these first-time harvest workers. Luke 10:17 states, The seventy-two returned with joy and said, Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name. After these two short-term ekballo episodes, Jesus reiterated to His disciples what their lives would center on after He returned to His Father in Heaven. John 20:21 states, As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Jesus would leave the mission of rescuing the harassed and helpless sheep to His 12 and subsequently to every new generation of harvest workers. Even during the 12s lifetime, a disciple named Philip would be used to introduce a harassed and helpless Ethiopian eunuch to his compassionate Shepherd (Acts 8:26-40), and a man named Paul would be used to introduce Gentile harassed and helpless sheep to their compassionate Shepherd. When Jesus modeled sending/ekballo-ing on the first two short-term ventures, he specifically told the 12 and seventy-two not to take anything with them (i.e. no resources were necessary). This instruction changed at the end of His time on earth with them. Luke 22:35-36 states, When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything? Nothing, they answered. He said to them, But now if you have a purse,
James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 1997), GGK1675.
467

226 take it, and also a bag; and if you dont have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. From this point forward, Jesus instructed that resources would be required to send/ekballo laborers into the ripe harvest fields. Paul followed Jesus instructions and wrote to the church in Corinth about the rights of an apostolic worker to receive resources to accomplish their mission. 1 Corinthians 9:11,12 states, If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldnt we have it all the more? According to Paul, an apostolic worker who was sent out by the church had the right to be supported. Hence, in order to continue their harvest work, it was up to the rest of the church to support them with a material harvest. Whereas Paul had to instruct the church in Corinth on the matter of releasing resources, he was able to praise the church in Philippi for meeting his needs. Philippians 4:18 states, I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. Not coincidently, one of the most quoted promises in the Bible, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19), came on the heels of an obedient church supplying the needs of an apostolic worker. Paul made it very clear to the church in Corinth and in Philippi that apostolic workers needed support in order to preach Christ [to harassed and helpless sheep] where He was not known (Rom 15:20). Fully aware of spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-18), Paul knew that the enemy, Satan himself, would do everything in his power to keep helpless sheep from knowing their compassionate Shepherd by continually harassing them. Today, with approximately 1.9 billion people remaining who have never heard of the Great Shepherd, the enemy is still

227 doing everything in his power to prevent apostolic workers from being ekballo-ed to them. This is why churches must arise and release their workers and wealth, and believers must arise and release their time, talent, and treasure as never before in order to ekballo laborers to rescue the harassed and helpless unreached sheep. As presented next, however, the historic release of Church resources has been less than stellar.

Historical Not Much Resource Release A gross imbalance of resource release. Christian congregations during the first several centuries were house-sized and home-based groups. This changed, however, in the early fourth century AD when the newly crowned Roman emperor Constantine (AD 272337) endorsed Christianity as a legal and later favored government religion. What did this change mean for the Christian faith? According to Mary B. Cunningham, Byzantine and Patristic scholar, This Christianization of the Roman Empire initiated the institutionalization of government sponsored and financed church life.468 Constantine initiated government sponsored and financed church life by building the first official church buildings and managing them with paid professional clergy. In the early AD 320s, Constantine began his building campaign by erecting the basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, followed by a large basilica on Peters grave site called Old St. Peters.469 The emperor went on to finance the construction of 17 more

468

Mary B. Cunningham, Faith in the Byzantine World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,

2002), 19. Mark J. Johnson, Architecture of Empire, in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, ed. Noel Lenski (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 283, 286.
469

228 church buildings throughout the Mediterranean world. To administrate these buildings, Constantine provided the churches and their leaders with financial gifts and tax exemptions, as well as allowing them to receive bequests. The church in Rome, for instance, from 314 to 336 AD annually amassed 963 kilograms of gold, 5300 kilograms of silver, and revenues from landed properties that totaled another 148 kilograms of gold.470 Due to Constantines newfound institutionalized financed church life, the next 1000 years of church history saw very little resource release for laborers to take care of the least and go to the last. The financed church life over time led to indulgences for construction of expensive church buildings and opulent bishop salaries. The poor majority grew to resent the increasing wealth of the Church, which included a papacy that bought and sold high offices. Eventually, this led to the Protestant Reformation, which was launched primarily over abuses related to fund-raising. Martin Luther (14831546) and the other Protestant forefathers did much to fight the financial corruption of the Catholic Church. Effectively, they reformed the theological wine by reviving the simplicity of the gospel, salvation by grace alone and not by works or indulgences. However, they did little to reform the ecclesiological wineskin by not reviving the simplicity of inexpensively meeting from house to house. As a result, the Protestant forefathers barely affected the institutionalization of the financed church life. Essentially, they kept the patterns, principles, and practices of the Catholic Church in terms of gathering in specialized church buildings managed by professionally paid clergy

Georges Depeyrot, Economy and Society, in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, ed. Noel Lenski (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 248.

470

229 (e.g., pastors and denominational leaders instead of priests, bishops, and popes).471 This in turn continued to hamper the capacity of the Church to release resources to the least and the last. According to Christian historian Kenneth Scott Latourette, between 1500 and 1750 the geographic spread of Christianity was mainly through Roman Catholics. Whereas the Catholics continued to horde a large portion of their resources in Rome, they were able to spread their counter-reformation through means of explorations, conquests, commerce, and settlements as well as through monastic orders such as the Jesuits, Lazarists, Franciscans, and Dominicans. To the contrary, Latourette asserted that princes were so intent upon gaining the control of the Church in their domains by promoting Protestantism that they could give little attention to missions. Also, some Protestant reformers were frankly not interested in missions to non-Christians.472 William Carey (17611834), known as the father of modern missions, broke the Protestant missions ice by establishing the Baptist Missionary Society and bringing the gospel to India. Not long after, famous China missionary Hudson Taylor (18321905) received a personal wakeup call concerning the churchs urgent responsibility to release its resources for the sake of the least and the last. As the story goes, a new Chinese believer once asked him, Why didnt you come sooner? How long have your people known this Truth? Taylor searched for the right words, but they didnt come, We have known this Truth for many centuries. The mans jaw dropped and his eyes widened.

Lecture 3: The Protestant Reformation, The History Guide, http://www.historyguide.org/earlymod/lecture3c.html (accessed November 3, 2008). Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity: Reformation to the Present (Volume 2: AD 1500 - AD 1975) rev. ed. (Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1977), 924-26.
472

471

230 My father has spent his whole life searching for this Truth, and so have I also searched. But you have known for centuries? The man paused and then spoke the words again, pleading for an answer, Why did you not come sooner? 473 In response to this desperate plea from an unreached culture, Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in 1865. He had to do so because no church would facilitate those who responded to his challenge to go to China. Just like the churches in era of Mohammed and Marco Polo, the protestant churches in Europe during the Hudson Taylor era often slighted Jesus GC call to release their workers and wealth into the worlds ripest harvest fields. Certainly there has been a slow trickle, and even some heroic occasions, of GC resource release since the days of Hudson Taylor, but essentially, churches in modern history have not generous in giving away their workers and wealth. According the George Barna, churched Christians today give an average of 3% of their income and feel pleased at their sacrificial generosity. And fewer than one out of every ten churched Christians donate at least 10% of their income to churches and other nonprofit organizations.474 To make matters worse, the imbalance of church resources between those who have heard the gospel many times and those who have never heard it is grossly imbalanced. Reiterating the statistics presented in Chapter Two, out of every $1000.00 of evangelical income worldwide: $23.00 is given to all Christian causes, $0.93 cents is given to foreign missions,

Rit Nosotro, Taylor, James Hudson: Founder of the China Inland Mission in 1865, HyperHistory.net, http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b3hudsoneu.htm (accessed July 4, 2008).
474

473

Barna, Revolution, 33.

231 and only $0.015 cents (1 pennies out of every $1000) is given to World A where a large majority of the UPGs live.

This equates to modern-day churches spending only 0.0015% of their total income on UPGs, while keeping 99.9985% of their available funds for themselves and their immediate neighbors! Over 16 centuries ago, John Chrysostom (AD 347407) addressed this same issue, We should not be mean and calculating with what we have but give with a generous hand. Look at how much people give to players and dancers why not give just as much to Christ?475 Gordon MacDonald, editor-at-large of Leadership, claimed, One of the greatest missing teachings in the American church today is the reminder to men and women that nothing we have belongs to us.476 The consequences of ignoring Chrysostoms exhortation and McDonalds assertion is history continuing to repeat itself vis--vis a perpetual gross imbalance between the gospel haves and have nots, especially in relation to releasing resources for laborers to be sent out to the least and the last. Rationalizing the gross imbalance of resource release. Concerning the perpetual historical gross imbalance between the gospel haves and have nots, Ronald Sider, professor of Theology at Palmer Theological Seminary, concluded that wealthy Christians always find a way to justify it. He said, It would be impossible for the rich minority to live with themselves if they did not invent plausible

Key Quotations on Generous Giving, Generous Giving, http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=80&page=348 (accessed September 30, 2008).
476

475

Ibid.

232 justifications for ignoring the needs of the poor.477 Nearly 30 years ago, Sider openly declared that in the coming decades, rationalizations [for Western affluence] will be legion.478 John Rowell, an author and advocate for increased generosity from the Western church, addressed this penchant for affluent Christians to rationalize away the gross imbalance of resource release. He believes that traditional rationalizations that defend tendencies to hold back relative riches when the least and the last have serious and often life-threatening needs should make the gospel haves uncomfortable. To help explain the dilemma created by a disparity of wealth, he parodied and adapted Shakespeares well-known words reflecting Hamlets inner turmoil: To give or not to give, that is the question! Whether it is nobler in mind to part with a portion of the means and surpluses of outrageous fortune, or to take up arms against a sea of troubles that flow from sharing wealth and by opposing simple generosity to end them. To buy: to keep; always more; and when we keep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that wealth is heir to: tis a protection devoutly to be wished. Our neighbors lot is better off if we determine just to buy: to keep; to keep and thus to spare our friends the pressures that material blessing has brought on us. But what of their need and their chance to dream? Ay, theres the rub.479 Richard Foster echoed Rowells parody on the Westerners propensity to buy and to keep, agreeing that contemporary culture is plagued by the passion to possess. 480
Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1984), 46.
478 477

Ibid., 49. Rowell, To Give or Not to Give, 4.

479

Concerning the Westerners propensity to buy and to keep, the Center for International and Security Studies Maryland, and the School of Public Affairs at the University of Maryland, in February of 2001, reported that Americans have a grossly exaggerated sense of how much funding the government makes available for international assistance programs. In the programs surveys, respondents estimated that America gives 20 percent of its federal budget to assist other nations. Actually, foreign aide makes up only 0.14 percent of the US annual budget. Cited it Jeffery D. Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), 218.

480

233 He said, The lust for affluence in contemporary society has become psychotic: it has completely lost touch with reality.481 Rowell summarized, Christians all around seem to be weary of giving!482 Losing touch with reality in relation to possessing and being weary of giving was also a problem with Israel during the era of the prophet Haggai. Personal accumulation at the expense of releasing resources for the work of the Lord in this case, rebuilding His House of Worship was not pleasing to the Lord. Haggai 1:3-6 states, Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. Throughout her history, Israel was entrusted with great blessings and accordingly, her mandate was equally great, to bless all the families of the earth. When the chosen nation rebelled in selfishness and idolatry, her punishment was correspondingly severe. Is it not the same for the Church? Jesus declared, From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48). Jesus modern day disciples who have the means to take the gospel to the ends of the earth are obligated by opportunities to do so releasing their time, talent, and treasure to send out workers to the earths ripest harvest fields, to UPGs.

481

Richard J. Foster, Freedom of Simplicity (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1981), 3. Rowell, To Give or Not to Give, 101.

482

234 The renowned evangelist and disciple-maker, John Wesley (17031791), not only agreed with the believers obligation to release resources to further the cause of Christ, he lived it. In one particular year, Wesley lived on approximately 30 (in today's currency, approximately $2,400). However in that same year, he earned and gave away an additional 1,400, which means that he gave away nearly 98% of his earnings for that year!483 Wesley regarded his life and wealth entrusted to him by God to be used for the benefit of those around him. He wrote, If I leave behind me 10 you and all mankind bear witness against me that I lived and died a thief and a robber. 484 According to Michael Hamilton, historian of American religion at Seattle Pacific University, Wesley predicted that Western evangelicalism would one day become wealthy. However, transport him forward through time to the parking lot of a gleaming glass and steel megachurch, amidst the BMWs and SUVs and it's not hard to imagine him standing on the bed of a rusty pickup truck, preaching [against this type of church wealth]. Hamilton estimated that the Western evangelical church spends well over 90% its money on itself, while giving away only 4-8% of its income on average. 485 In contrast, Paul told the church in Corinth to excel in this grace of giving (2 Cor 8:7). He also told them to not accept imbalances between those with plenty and those in need. 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 states, Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your
Maurice Smith, Sacrificial Giving, House2House Newsletter (June 7, 2005) http://www.house2house.net/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=6 (accessed June 11, 2008). W. H. Daniels, The illustrated history of Methodism in Great Britain and America, 3rd ed. (New York: Methodist Book Concern, 1880), 243. Michael S. Hamilton, We're in the Money!: How did evangelicals get so wealthy, and what has it done to us? Christianity Today, June 12, 2000. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/june12/1.36.html?start=1 (accessed June 6, 2008).
485 484 483

235 plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Randy Alcorn painted a scenario where Jesus multiplied the five loaves and two fish, but instead of his disciples distributing the food, they accumulated the proceeds until they were buried underneath while the masses went unfed. Its a bizarre scenario, said Alcorn, yet how yet how easily we bury ourselves in the resources God has handed to us, while the needs of the world go unmet. We assume that God has multiplied our assets so we can keep them, when in fact he has multiplied them so we can distribute them (2 Cor 8:14; 9:11).486 How churches distribute their God-given resources is of paramount importance to the worlds least and last. Concerning the least, while Christians in the West live in relative luxury and spend over 90% of their church money on themselves, more than 50% of the world's people live below the internationally defined poverty level of less than $2 a day. 487 Concerning the last, billions of people are perishing without the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Consequently, a reallocation of church resources can mean the difference between souls spending eternity apart from God or spending it in His presence. Os Guinness, D.Phil., asserted that the spirit of mammon always presents us with a choice,
Randy Alcorn, Giving and the Great Commission, Eternal Perspectives (Fall 2008): 2-3 http://epm.org/media-files/newsletter/08fall.pdf (accessed October 24, 2008). Ellen Carnevale, PRB's 2005 World Population Data Sheet Reveals Persisting Global Inequalities in Health and Well-Being, Population Reference Bureau, http://www.prb.org/Journalists/PressReleases/2005/MoreThanHalftheWorldLivesonLessThan2aDayAugust 2005.aspx (accessed May 25, 2008). Astoundingly, solving this poverty problem would only take a small redistribution effort from the worlds wealthiest nations. According to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of The Earth Institute, Columbia University, For less than 1 percent of annual income of the high-income countries the U.S., Europe, Japan, and a few others we could end poverty once and for all. Its enough to get the poorest countries onto a path of long-term development. Cited in, Kirk Shinkle, Where Markets Dont Work, U.S. News & World Report (April 21, 2008), 78.
487 486

236 We can either serve God and use money, or we can serve money and use God.488 Ralph Winter implied the later as being a major GC stumbling block, Obedience to the Great Commission has more consistently been poisoned by affluence than by anything else. 489 With its fair share of affluence intact, churches the USA have more than enough workers and wealth to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. As Joel Vestal, founder of ServLife International, confirmed, I believe with all of my heart that Gods people possess Gods provision to accomplish and fulfill Gods purposes in the world.490 Toward this end, a non-negotiable for finishing the GC is for these resources to be redistributed to where theyre needed most, to the least and the last, UPGs in World A and the 10/40 Window.

Current Implications Releasing Resources by Redistributing to UPGs The biblical mandate for redistributing resources. Leviticus 25:8-50 is a key passage in explaining Gods redistribution plan for Israel. Israels agricultural economy revolved around a 49-year cycle which ended in the 50th year, the year of Jubilee. At this time, liberty was proclaimed throughout the land. Indentured servants were released, debts were canceled, and land rights were redistributed to their original recipients. Property rights could only be sold for temporary periods of time because the land ultimately belonged to God (Lev 25:23).

Os Guinness, Doing Well and Doing Good: Money, Giving, and Caring in a Free Society (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 79. Ralph Winter, Commitment to a Wartime Lifestyle, Missions Frontiers (September - October 1994) http://www.missionfrontiers.org/1994/0910/so948.htm (accessed June 26, 2008). Funding the Great Commission, Maximum Generosity, http://www.kluth.org/church/quips&quotes.htm (accessed September 30, 2008).
490 489

488

237 Christopher Wright, an Anglican clergyman, called God the real landlord, and explained that His detailed laws in the Torah specified economic mechanisms designed to sustain an equitable distribution and enjoyment of resources. These economic mechanisms included: preservation of peoples share in the land, justice and compassion in sharing its produce, protection of those who work on it, and special provision for those who become poor and had to sell it.491 Whereas the practice of the year of Jubilee did not seem to carry over to the NT church, its principles of redistribution did. The earliest recorded fellowship of believers appears to have followed the the year of Jubilee principles. Acts 2:44-45 states, All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Again, two chapters later, All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. There were no needy persons among them (Acts 4:32,34). And again, The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea (Acts 11:29). Poverty did not exist within the community of the early Church because believers voluntarily shared their possessions. Even though they owned their own property and possessions individually, followers of Jesus did not claim it as their right. In the same way, Paul made voluntary redistribution of resources a priority in the churches he ministered to. Those with resources were consistently called to show love and unity by aiding those who were suffering, whether in the local church or in churches abroad (cf. Rom 15:24-28; 1 Cor 16:1-4; Gal 2:10; 2 Cor 8-9; 1 Tm 6:18). He also
Christopher Wright, Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament, 3rd ed. (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 225.
491

238 encouraged support for missionaries, including himself (1 Cor 16:5-11; Phil 4:10-19), which in effect was a redistribution of resources to send workers to areas where there were no previous spiritual resources. How much should a church/believer redistribute? Under the New Covenant there is no specified amount, as it is up to each individual. 2 Corinthians 9:7 states, Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion. Paul did specify a redistribution benchmark however: At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality (2 Cor 8:14). What did Paul mean by equality? Once again, it is up to each individual to determine, but Paul did tell Timothy, If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that (1 Tm 6:8). Food and clothing is certainly a short list when tallying the real necessities of life. With those intact, it seems that most believers in the USA could redistribute an ample amount of resources toward equality to the least and the last. It was Jesus who said, From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48). Andrew Murray, South African evangelist and writer, said, The world asks, What does a man own? Christ asks, How does he use it?492 Truly, churches in the USA have been blessed with a disproportionate amount of the worlds resources. Therefore, they ought to bear a disproportionate responsibility to release their resources to send workers to ripe harvest fields, and more precisely, to the ripest harvest fields on the earth, UPGs.
Key Quotations on Generous Giving, Generous Giving, http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=80&page=348 (accessed September 30, 2008).
492

239 Redistributing resources to UPGs. Paul told the church in Rome that he preached the gospel from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum (Rom 15:19). He then shared his not-so-secret aspirations with them. Romans 15:20,21 states, It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone elses foundation. Rather, as it is written: Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand. In this last verse, Paul quoted from Isaiah: See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand (Isa 54:13-15). Isaiah prophesied that nations and kings would someday see and understand what Jesus horrific marred death and resurrection was all about. Paul, now in the other side of this prophecy, was eager to tell others about Jesus death and resurrection, and his ambition was to do so where Christ was not known. It seems like common sense to preach Christ where He is not known, so as to not build on someone elses foundation. If so, a valid question emerges. Why almost 2000 years after Paul are there still nearly 1.9 billion people who never heard of Jesus marred death and glorious resurrection? Additionally, why would evangelical churches worldwide spend only 0.0015% of their total income to preach Christ where He is not known? Not only does God care for each of these lost souls, He also cares where they come from. The four living creatures will join the heavenly hosts in singing praise to the Lamb, With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and

240 people and nation (Rev 5:9). In addition, Revelation 7:9 states that John saw a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. God is glorified not simply by the total number who worship him, but also by the fact that this number includes representatives from every tribe, language, people, and nation. This is why the Church must make concerted efforts to release resources to reach ethnic people who have never heard the gospel before. Shortly before missionary Nate Saint and his four friends were killed by the Auca Indians in their attempt to bring them the gospel for the first time, he prophetically asked, As we weigh the future and seek the will of God, does it seem right that we should hazard our lives for just a few savages? Saint went on to answer his own question, We realize it is the simple intimation of the prophetic Word that there shall be some from every tribe in His presence in the last day, and in our hearts we feel that it is pleasing to Him that we should interest ourselves in making an opening into the Auca prison for Christ.493 Some people might tell Nate Saint that we have plenty of spiritual needs in our own country, the USA. Scripturally, however, Paul said otherwise and Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 pictured otherwise. Randy Alcorn, the director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, agrees with Paul and the writings of Revelation. He realized that the gravity of needs of those without access to the gospel is obviously greater than that of those with churches in every community, with a Bible on the shelf, gospel programs on the radio, and Christians

493

Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2003),

238.

241 living next door. He cried out, Why should some hear the gospel many times over when others have never heard it at all?494 Indisputably, why should some people get to hear the gospel over and over again when nearly 1.9 billion people have no access to the gospel whatsoever. When this message gets ingrained in followers of Christ and the need to reach the unreached is realized, the bottleneck in frontier missions expansion is no longer ignorance. The bottleneck instead is disobedience, resulting in the lack of resources for new missions ventures. For example, mission agencies are willing to lead and disciples are willing to go, but the resources to mobilize and sustain them are not readily available. Did God miscalculate the resources needed to accomplish His work, or have those resources been diverted for other uses? God did not miscalculate. Accordingly, Russell Shubin, assistant editor of Missions Frontiers, addressed the need for churches to be more strategic with their resources by diverting more of them to reach the unreached. He said, Mission to unreached peoples is a strategic thing to invest in with ones life, learning and resources. Other causes may very well be strategic, but wise giving towards creating a Christian witness among the unreached is always strategic.495 Creating a Christian witness among the unreached echoes Pauls ambition to preach Christ where He is not known. As shown previously, these unreached peoples typically live in the spiritually darkest areas of the world, the 10/40 Window; and consequently require a good measure of resources, workers and wealth, to ensure they get
494

Randy Alcorn, Giving and the Great Commission, 1.

Russell G. Shubin, Where Your Treasure Is... A Fresh Look at Our Life and Our Resources in Light of the Kingdom, Mission Frontiers (September 2001): 10.

495

242 a chance to hear and understand the gospel. Releasing the Churchs resources and the individual believers time, talent, and treasure toward reaching UPGs will always be strategic, a wise investment into the Kingdom of God. It seems logical, therefore, that the 10/40 Window should be a major focus of the Churchs strategic missions efforts. Dr. David Barrett, possibly the worlds leading missions researcher, has concluded that 10/40 Window nations are spiritually responsive to the Gospel. Christianitys poor representation in the 10/40 Window, he said, stems not from the peoples resistance but simply from their lack of exposure to the Good News.496 He also concluded that that hour for hour (workers) and dollar for dollar (wealth) the harvest coming from the 10/40 Window outstrips that from the West by 100 to 1. For example, if the same workers and wealth spent to win one soul in the West were put to use in the 10/40 Window, the effort would yield 100 souls (i.e., it is 100 times more cost effective to reach the unreached in the 10/40 Window than in the West).497 The logical application according to Barrett is that it is outrageous for Christians to squander their limited evangelistic resources in heavily Christianized countries instead of the area where unreached persons would hear the Good News for the first time. He summarized, If we are to be good stewards of Gods resources, doesnt it make sense to invest where the harvest is most plentiful and where we will see the greatest return for His kingdom?498

496

Pegues and Bush, Resources to Reach the Window, 91. Ibid. Ibid., 94.

497

498

243 The good news, according to Beverly Pegues and Luis Bush, co-authors of The Move of the Holy Spirit in the 10/40 Window, secular businesses have proven that reaching the unreached in the 10/40 Window is possible. They noted that numerous businesses and franchises now stake a claim in the remotest parts of the world including Safeway, Chrysler Corporation, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Coca-Cola, which is available in over 200 countries. 499 They deduced if these companies can penetrate some of the remotest parts of the world, including the 10/40 Window, why not the Church? Certainly, these mega-corporations have a profit motive and a plethora of resources to enable them to reach the hard-to-reach markets of the world. The Church, however, has a Kingdom of God motive and its own plethora of resources to reach the hard-to-reach souls of the world. As shown in Chapter Two, it has the wealth (e.g., evangelicals in the USA collectively had personal disposable income estimated at $850 billion), and it has the workers (e.g., 900 evangelical churches per every UPG, and one evangelical believer per every seven non-believers). In other words, the Church has more than enough resources to finish its GC mandate. The cry that remains to be answered is the cry for a massive redistribution of these resources. Concerning wealth, the church must redistribute much more of its wealth beyond the 0.0015% of income (1 pennies out of every $1000) given to World A where a large majority of the UPGs are found. Concerning workers, as per Table 14, the church must redistribute many more of its workers (e.g., missionaries) to World A (i.e., according to evangelistic need in relation to the current World A, B, C populations):

499

Ibid., 92.

244 Table 14. Missionary Distribution to World A, B, C500 Countries World A World B World C Total Currently Deployed 18,000 68,000 335,000 420,000 As Needed 177,000 242,000 1,000 420,000

Reinforcing the call for worker redistribution, Randy Alcorn discovered that 90% of the worlds Christian workers live in countries that amount to only 10% of the worlds population. He appropriately responded, If you saw ten people trying to lift a huge log and wanted to help them, and nine of the people were lifting at one end and one on the other, which end would you go to?501 Mobilizing workers to go to the 10/40 Window from the USA is not easy. Roger Hedlund, Professor at Mylapore Institute for Indigenous Studies in Chennai, India recognized, Americans are especially vulnerable to an appeal that says, Give us your dollars, but not your sons and daughters. 502 This must change. Just as a military cannot gain victory from the sky alone (i.e., it ultimately advances by taking the ground), the Kingdom of God cannot gain victory through prayer alone, it must advance using workers on the ground to make disciples of all nations. Workers must be mobilized from the USA in increasing measure in order to help further the cause of Christ in unreached

500

Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 80.

Randy Alcorn, Giving and the Great Commission, Eternal Perspectives (Fall 2008): 1 http://epm.org/media-files/newsletter/08fall.pdf (accessed October 24, 2008). Stewardship Quotes, Generous Giving, http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=114&page=289#H (accessed September 30, 2008).
502

501

245 regions. To do so, these workers must have financial and logistical support through a solid network of churches. Assuming that a redistribution of workers and wealth begins to take place at an increased level, it is wise to explore a worthwhile focus for the projected release of resources. For instance, who or what within the 10/40 Window is an effectual recipient for the Kingdom sowing of resources in order to glean the greatest Kingdom return on investment? Whereas there are numerous types of ministries that comprise good soil, John Rowell believes financing pioneer leaders is some of the best soil. According to Rowell, if Americans can see the merit of funding guerilla fighters who promote the cause of democracy around the world militarily, certainly the Church in the USA should be able to see the value of financing Gods warriors who serve the kingdom of God spiritually. Calling them Gods freedom fighters on the hardest battlefronts in the world, he stressed that They face the most resistant religions, the most aggressive governments, the oppressive circumstances, and the most perilous risks in order to be the first to fight for Gods glory in their native lands. They deserve our respect and our support for their courage and their convictions! 503 Gods freedom fighters, those taking the gospel to where its never been, could very well be the laborers that Jesus told His disciples to pray for in Matthew 9:38. The late Bill Bright, founder and leader of Campus Crusade for many decades, stated a goal prior to his death in 2003 to start five million churches and convert one billion people to

503

Rowell, To Give or Not to Give, 108.

246 Christianity in the next 15 years. 504 Whereas this is a noble goal, in order to reach these potential converts, it will take thousands and thousands of workers to be sent to them. Training and mobilizing this large harvest force of Gods freedom fighters will take an enormous amount of resources. As consistently stated, the good news is that the churches in the USA have more than enough resources. The bad news is that the churches in the USA are distributing only a small pittance of these resources to worlds ripest harvest fields, UPGs. Jonathan Goforth, the foremost missionary revivalist in early 20th century China, exclaimed, All the resources of the Godhead are at our disposal!"505 In order to finish the GC, churches must release the resources of the Godhead at their disposal to locations in the world where they are needed most. More specifically, churches in the USA must obey the biblical mandate to rectify the great imbalance between the worlds haves and have nots by redistributing a portion of their great wealth to reach the worlds least and last, primarily UPGs in the 10/40 Window. It will take much deliberate effort to redistribute the Churchs resources and the individual believers time, talent, and treasure. As this project proposes, this deliberate effort will most likely include a reformed Church wineskin. The next section will examine this reformed Church wineskin, the SC, in greater depth by researching the biblical/theological and historical understanding of SC the type of church that was

Vision 2020: World's Top Church Planters set goal for 1 Billion Souls, CrusadeWatch, http://www.crusadewatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=280&Itemid=30 (accessed July 2, 2008). Great Missions Quotes, Triumph of the Crucified, http://triumph-of-thecrucified.blogspot.com/2006/10/great-missions-quotes.html (accessed October 23, 2008).
505

504

247 modeled by Jesus and his disciples and the type of church that released Paul to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.

A Method of using Simple Church Wineskins Biblical/Theological The New Testament Church Patterns, Principles, and Practices Soon after Jesus launched His earthly ministry, He notified John the Baptists disciples that major change was coming to their religious system. Mark 2:22 states, No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins. In other words, Jesus was telling them that a new religious order represented by new wine and new wineskins would soon do away with the old religious order. The Bible Knowledge Commentary expounded on Jesus teaching, It is disastrous to pour new (neon, fresh), not fully fermented wine into old (palaious, worn out by use, with no elasticity, brittle) wineskins. Inevitably, as the new wine ferments (expands), it will burst the skins and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.506 Jesus made it very clear that whereas the new wine and new wineskin He was introducing would build upon the old, it would certainly not mix with it. Warren Wiersbe commented on this, The religious leaders wanted Jesus to compromise and mix His message and ministry with theirs, but He refused to do so. He did not come to patch up the old but to bring in the new.507 Jesus avoided compromise with the old order pharisaical religious leaders in two ways: (1) He would not allow His new wine to be
506

Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 2:114.

W. W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1992), Mk 2:1.

507

248 mixed with their old wine, and (2) He would not pour His new wine into their patched up old wineskins. Interestingly, concerning Mark 2:22, there are two different Greek words for the two different new words in this passage. The Greek word for new as in new wine is neos, meaning recently born, young, youthful. The other Greek word for new as in new wineskin is kainos and it means new as respect to form (recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn) or as respect to substance (of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of).508 In effect, Jesus came to earth to pour recently born, young, and youthful wine into fresh, recently made, unused, unworn, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, and unheard of wineskins. Who or what was the neos wine? Jesus Himself, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). This truth was the foundation stone of a new covenant that would replace the old covenant as described in Hebrews 8. But what about the kainos wineskin that would replace the old palaious wineskin, who or what was it, and why did Jesus emphasize it so strongly? This kainos wineskin, fresh, recently made, unused, unworn, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, and unheard of is the focus of this section. It is an inquiry into what Jesus taught about the new wineskin, and how He, the apostles, and the early church modeled it. The New Testament new wineskin. Jesus walked the earth in the midst of the Old Covenant religious system (old wine and old wineskin). This religious system required three major components to worship God: (1) a temple, (2) a priest, and (3) a sacrifice. The Israelites, following

508

Strong, The exhaustive concordance of the Bible, G3501, G2537.

249 Gods directives, set up this system to provide a fitting place for Him to dwell. It was a place to meet and praise God, while also providing a safe distance between Him and their sin pre-Jesus. Through Jesus perfect sacrifice on the cross, Gods designated dwelling place on earth changed. He no longer required residing in a set-apart temple operated by a setapart priesthood who sacrificed set-apart animals. He would now dwell in the hearts of men. When Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected, He made all things new (i.e., neos wine and kainos wineskin) by becoming the three major components needed to worship God: (1) the living temple, the one in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells, (2) the High Priest, interceding between mankind and the Father, and (3) the forever sacrifice, who paid for mans sin once and for all. The Old Covenant religious wine and wineskin passed away and the New Covenant relationship wine and wineskin was born. Once Jesus Christ became the temple, priest, and sacrifice, those who believe in Him also become those things in Him. Hence, His followers are called God's temple in a corporate sense (1 Cor 3:16), and they are called the temple of the Holy Spirit in an individual sense (1 Cor 6:19). They are called a royal priesthood, charged with proclaiming the praises of God (1 Pet 2:9). And they are to offer their bodies as living sacrifices, as a spiritual act of worship (Rom 12:1). Peter captured all three images in one verse when he wrote that like living stones ... [we are] being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2:5).

250 From Jesus day to our day, there have been many religious systems that continue to use an Old Covenant type wineskin, incorporating a temple (physical building), a priest (professional clergy), and a sacrifice (anything other than the blood of Jesus). Disciples of Jesus Christ, however, are no longer under this Old Covenant system. Therefore, building Gods house is no longer a matter of going to a temple that requires priests and sacrifices to maintain it. Instead, the New Covenant wineskin is now a matter of caring for the spiritual and material needs of Gods people in whom He now dwells and reaching out to those in whom He does not dwell with the New Covenant wine. The kainos wineskin that contains this neos wine is termed ekklesia in the NT. When people are loved into Gods kingdom, they begin to fellowship with one another and grow together as disciples of Jesus Christ. In this process, Jesus weaves His disciples into a local and universal body of believers that Scripture calls ekklesia. The English word church derives from the Greek word ekklesia, which is derived from ek, meaning out of, and kaleo, which means to call. Hence, in its most basic form, the biblical meaning of church is a called out group.509 Ekklesia appears in the NT 114 times and is used in many different contexts.510 It has three broad definitions:

1. Ekklesia was a word used in the era of Jesus to describe a summoned legislative body or assembly, a casual gathering/assembly of people, and people within a shared belief, community, or congregation. 511

509

Kittel, Friedrich, and Bromiley, Theological dictionary of the New Testament, 401.

P. T. OBrian, Church, in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin, 123-131 (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 122. Walter Bauer, ed. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Christian Literature: Third Addition. Revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 303-304.
511

510

251 2. The writers of the NT used the word ekklesia to describe Christians assembling together in houses (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; with 1 Thessalonians and Colossians most likely written to house churches and with Luke likely speaking of house churches in Acts 2:46; 8:3 and 12:1217), the larger city church meeting in one location like Corinth (1 Cor 1:2, 14:23; 2 Cor 1:1; Rom 16:1; Col 4:16;), which at times was a combination of a city church with a house church network (1 Cor 16:19; 1 Thes 1:1; 2 Thes 1:1).512 3. The writers of the NT also used the word ekklesia to describe a global or universal community of Christians (Mt 16:18; Acts 9:31; 1 Cor 6:4; 12:28; Eph 1:22; 3:10,21; 5:23ff, 27, 29, 32; Col 1:18; Phil 3:6), which is described as the church of God (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; Acts 20:28), the church of Christ (Rom 16:16) and the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes 1:1).513 The church in the NT is also known as the body of Christ. In his epic work on Christian faith in community entitled Life Together, Dietrich Bonheoffer referred to the church as the new humanity of Christ, the body of Christ on earth.514 Bonheoffer took this body imagery from Paul who used it throughout four of his epistles. Referring to 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5; Colossians 1:24; 3:15; and Ephesians 4:16, R. Y. K. Fung, M. Phil., discussed Pauls imagery, The church as the body of Christ is a living organic unity composed of multiplicity of members (i.e., individual believers, not individual congregations), each necessary to the other and to the growth of the whole.515 The NT kainos wineskin (i.e., ekklesia, the church, the Body of Christ) is a congregation [on a universal level] or an individual assembly of Christians [on a local
512

Malphurs, Being Leaders: The Nature of Authentic Christian Leadership, 22-26. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Christian Literature, 304.

513

Dietrich Bonheoffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community (New York: HarperOne, 1978), 46. R. Y. K. Fung, Body of Christ, in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin, 76-82 (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 78.
515

514

252 level].516 It is not, however, the place where the assembly met nor was it an edifice as it has come to mean today. To more fully understand Jesus kainos wineskin, it should be seen through the eyes of apostolic traditions, which is considered next. Following Apostolic Traditions. Jesus only spent three years with His apostles. Certainly this was a limited amount of time to teach them all they needed to know. Providentially, He promised the Holy Spirit to remind them of what He taught them. John 14:26 states, But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. In addition, the Holy Spirit would guide and teach the apostles what was yet to come. John 16:13 states, when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. Jesus also made it clear that His disciples, who became His apostles, would receive a measure of His authority. Luke 10:16 states, He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. Accordingly, in the absence of Jesus Christs personal physical presence, it appears that He mandated recognition of the authority of His apostles while adhering to their guidance as led by the Holy Spirit. Steve Atkerson subscribed that listening to apostolic instruction meant that all believers should apply their teachings and practices as fully as possible. He said, Any other ideas or practices that [followers of Christ] may have had, even in light

516

Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains, GGK1711.

253 of perhaps changing local circumstances, were to be always evaluated carefully under the influence of apostolic directives.517 Correspondingly, what Jesus taught his apostles about His church was naturally reflected in the way they set up and organized churches as per the Holy Spirits follow-on guidance. Arthur Wallis, remembered as the architect of the modern day UK house church movement, was a strong advocate for following the influence of apostolic directives concerning the model of church. He claimed that through the apostles, as found in the NT, the first century Church received a complete revelation of the mind of God. Concerning this, Wallis said, The early Church was perfect in constitution, perfect in the revelation on Gods mind, received through His holy apostles and prophets. They had complete light and thus had no need to progress into fuller revelation in the ensuing centuries.518 Paul was one of the apostles who walked in the light of this revelation, becoming a model of Gods intention for His church. He also knew Gods intention for him to pass along this model. He urged the Corinthians, Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Cor 10:31-11:1). The word follow is the Greek word mimatai, the basis for mimic.519 Paul wanted the Corinthian believers to mimic his example as he mimicked the example of Christ. Apparently, the Corinthian church was doing a good job mimicking him since Paul stated in the very next verse, I praise you because you

517

Atkerson, The Authority of Apostolic Tradition in the New Testament Era, 152.

Arthur Wallis, Revival and Recovery, in Another Wave of Revival, ed. Frank Bartleman (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1982), 155-156.
519

518

Strong, The exhaustive concordance of the Bible, G3402.

254 remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you (1 Cor 11:2 NASB). Paul praised the Corinthians for holding firm to the traditions he delivered to them.520 He also praised them for holding firmly to the traditions just as he delivered them. In other words, the Corinthians were to do precisely as 521 Paul told them. Also, since the word traditions is in the plural, Paul apparently had in mind more than just one tradition, but all the traditions he passed on to the churches. NT scholar Gordon Fee analyzed the word tradition used in 1 Corinthians 11:2. He claimed, Although the Greek word for tradition, paradosis, was a technical term in Judaism for oral transmission of religious instruction, in this context it almost certainly does not refer to teaching, but rather to religious traditions regarding worship.522 In other words, Paul, as well as the other apostles, evidently desired for believers to precisely mimic/follow the worship patterns that they had established. 523 Accordingly, first century churches did not develop their own traditions apart from what was handed down to them by the apostles. It appears that they followed

Important to note, instead of the word traditions used by the NASB, the NIV and NLT chose to use the word teachings. Therefore, NIV and NLT readers of 1 Corinthians 11:2 interpret it, I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you. Which interpretation is most accurate? The regular Greek word for teaching is didaskalia (the basis for didactic), but significantly that is not the word used here. Instead the Greed word paradosis (tradition) is used, cf. Strong, The exhaustive concordance of the Bible, G3862.
521

520

Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains, GGK2778.

Gordon Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1987), 499. The same word paradosis used by Paul with the Corinthians was also used by Jesus with the Pharisees, Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition (paradosis)? (Mt 15:3). Whereas Jesus confronted the traditions of the Pharisees (the old wineskin), Paul praised the Corinthians for following the traditions of an apostle (the new wineskin). In summary, Pharisaic traditions broke the command of God, while apostolic traditions kept the commands of Christ.
523

522

255 patterns deliberately set forth as blueprint to be followed by all churches everywhere Jesus kainos wineskin in fact. Steve Atkerson agreed, If the early believers observed that the apostles were pleased when churches followed specific traditions, then they were expected to apply that example to other patterns they saw modeled by the apostles in their establishment of churches.524 A further examination of Pauls writings provides additional evidence of his desire for believers, individually and corporately, to follow his traditions (i.e., patterns, principles, and practices) as he followed Christ: The Thessalonians were instructed to stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us (2 Thes 2:15 NASB). In the context about orderly worship in church meetings, Paul said, For God is not a God of disorder but of peace Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lords command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored (1 Cor 14:33,36-38). A similar attitude toward tradition is expressed elsewhere: keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the traditions which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example (2 Thes 3:6-7a NASB). Concerning the practice of the Lords Supper, Paul wrote, For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread (1 Cor 11:23) and The rest I will set in order when I come: (1 Cor 11:34 KJV). To the Philippians, the promise of peace, if Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4:9). Writing as a father to his spiritual children, Paul wrote, Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of

524

Atkerson, The Authority of Apostolic Tradition in the New Testament Era, 154.

256 life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church (1 Cor 4:16,17). Dealing directly with church practice, Paul wrote to Titus, The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished (Tit 1:5). Peters corroboration that Pauls writings were inspired Scripture (2 Pet 3:15-16) demonstrated the complete unity of the apostles in regards to the patterns, principles, and practices that they taught.

In accordance with this scriptural evidence, it appears that there were normative patterns, principles, and practices for the first century churches. Individual churches were definitely not left to their own devices or wisdom in organizing their communities. Steve Atkerson understood that it was not just apostolic teaching and doctrine to which the first believers adhered; they also adhered to apostolic traditions, patterns, principles, and practices. He stated, As revealed by the letters the apostles sent to the churches, by their verbal instructions, and by their example, these traditions would have included the way the early churches were organized and the way they functioned. 525 God in His infinite wisdom determined a new wine in a new wineskin for a New Covenant. Jesus brought this neos wine (doctrine) and kainos wineskin (traditions) to earth and passed them on to His apostles. With ongoing reminders from the Holy Spirit, the apostles then passed them on to the early believers. Following the apostles as they followed Christ, these doctrines and traditions were then to be passed on throughout church history. Continuing to keep the kainos wineskin as the focus, seven foundational apostolic traditions, patterns, principles, and practices, will be explored next.

525

Ibid., 157.

257 Apostolic Traditions to Follow. Following the apostles doctrine (new wine) and keeping it pure is vital to the church. As proposed, following the apostles traditions (new wineskin) and keeping them pure is also vital to the church. Paul made it very clear that he was a model of Gods intention to pass on revelatory blueprints that were to be future traditions for Jesus church. Early church history scholar, Job Beresford, stated, when we approach the New Testament, we see the apostles starting churches which were both uniform and universal when it comes to structure and practice.526 This being so, it is essential to know what traditions the apostles followed as they followed Christ. Possibly not as clear cut as the new neos wine being defined as Jesus Christ is Lord, there are identifiable features that define the revelatory blueprints of the new kainos wineskin. Correspondingly, at least seven apostolic traditions appear to be biblically foundational to the way the first century Church operated: 1. Meeting in homes/houses the most prominent place. 2. Spiritual Family the experience of community. 3. Hebraic method of education learning through mentorship. 4. Everyone a priest and minister the whole Body functioning. 5. Open-participatory meetings every persons gift valued and developed. 6. Servitude leadership from the bottom up. 7. Outward focused making disciples of neighbors and nations. These seven traditions, and their accompanying descriptions, will be explored next.

Beresford Job, The Early Church Fathers and House Churches: The Subtle Shift Towards Formalism (AD 100-300), in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 173-181 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 173.

526

258 1. Meeting in homes/houses the most prominent place. Juxtaposed to the Old Covenant model of having to assemble at the Tabernacle/Temple, New Covent assemblies held their meetings primarily in private homes/houses. A brief survey of the NT record attests to this fact (cf. Acts 2:46, 5:42, 8:3, 10:1-48, 12:12, 16:14-15,29-34, 18:8, 20:6-8,20; Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:15,19; Col 4:15-16; Phlm 1:2; 2 John 1:10). New Covenant assemblies holding their meetings primarily in private homes/houses has also been documented extensively by biblical scholars.527 Any public places that were utilized such as the Temple, synagogues, lectures halls, or the outdoors were used occasionally or transitionally, either for teaching by an apostolic team visiting town, an evangelistic outreach event, special prayer meetings, or important decision making moments, rather than for the regular church meetings of believers (Acts 1:13-2:4, 2:46, 3:11, 5:12, 5:42, 13:14-16, 14:1-7, 15:6,12,22, 17:1-5, 18:4,24-28, 19:8-12, 20:17-21).528 Del Birkey, author of The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church, made the following observation concerning NT churches meeting in homes, If you had asked another for directions to a church in any important city of the first-century world, you would have been directed to somebodys private home! 529 How accurate is this observation? The following Scriptural account shows how prominent a role that the

Roger Gehring, House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004); Robert Banks, Pauls Idea of Community (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994); Del Birkey, The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1988); and Floyd V. Filson, The Significance of the Early House Churches, (J. Biblical Literature, 58:105-112, 1939). Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, 143.
529 528

527

Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, 49.

259 home/house played in the life and ministry of Jesus, the church in Jerusalem and Judea, and the church to the ends of the earth. Church in the house and Jesus: Jesus modeled much of his ministry (teaching and healing) in houses (cf. Mt 9:10-11,23-25; 12:49-13:1; 13:36,57-58; 17:25; Mark 1:29-31; 2:1,2; 3:20,21; 7:24,25; 9:33,34; Luke 5:18,19; 7:6,36-37,44; 8:51,52; 14:1,2; 19:5. Jesus was given a dinner of honor in a house (John 12:1-3). Jesus defended His Fathers House (Mt 21:13; John 2:16,17). Jesus taught his disciples an outreach strategy that was based on finding a house of peace (Luke 10:5-7). Jesus spent His last meal with His disciples in a house (Mt 26:18). And Jesus met His disciples post-resurrection in a house (John 20:26). Church in the house in Jerusalem and Judea: Pentecost took place in a house (Acts 2:1,2). The first believers fellowshipped together in their homes (Acts 2:46; 5:42). Saul knew exactly where to find the early Church during his purge, going from house to house (Acts 8:3). Then Saul himself was baptized in a house (Acts 9:11). Peter received a vision on the roof of a house to then go minister at Cornelius house (Acts 10:22,23). The earliest example of a prayer meeting was in the house of Mary the mother Mark (Acts 12:12,13).530 Church in the house to the ends of the earth: Philippi The church in Philippi (the first church in Europe) was born in Lydias house (Acts 16:15). Paul and Silas brought salvation to the jailers household in his house (Acts 16:31-34). Paul and Silas then met with the brothers and sisters in Lydias house (Acts 16:40).

This prayer meeting was apparently not a meeting of the whole Jerusalem church but rather only one of the house churches. F. F. Bruce pointed out, Peter and James apparently did not belong to the same household church. If Peter belonged to the group which met in the home of Mary he knew that James and the brethren (whoever they were) met somewhere else (Acts 12:17). See F. F. Bruce, Lessons from the Early Church, in In Gods Community, ed. D. J. Ellis and W. Ward Gasque (Wheaton, 1978), 154, cited in Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, 51.

530

260

Thessalonica When the jealous Jews tried to hunt down Paul, they tried to find him in a house (Acts 17:5-7). Corinth Paul spoke of Chloes household (1 Cor 1:11). When Paul got tired of the Jews opposition to him in Corinth, he moved into Titius Justus house next door (Acts 18:7-8). Writing to Roman believers from Corinth, Paul sent greetings from the church who meets in Gaius house (Rom 16:23). Paul commended the household of Stephanas in Corinth (1 Cor 16:15). Additionally, there is strong implication that the church in Corinth was meeting in a house while partaking in the Lords Supper by eating an entire meal (1 Cor 11:20-23). Ephesus To the believers in Corinth, Paul sent greetings from his Ephesus ministry partners, Pricilla and Aquila, and the church that meets in their house (1 Cor 16:19). While in Ephesus, Pricilla and Aquila also helped train Apollos in their home (Acts 18:26). In his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders, Paul reminded them of how he taught publicly from house to house (Acts 20:20). Philemon Paul greeted Philemon and the church that met in his home (Phlm 1,2). Colossae Paul greeted Nympha and the congregation who met in her house (Col 4:15). Rome In Pauls friendship list in Romans 16, he greeted the church that met at Priscilla and Aquilas house, those who belong to the household of Aristobulus, and those in the household of Narcissus (Rom 16:3-5, 10-11). And near the end of his life, Paul boldly and without hindrance preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ from his own rented house (Acts 28:30-31).

All told, there are 59 mentions of house/household/home in the above verses. This is a stark reminder of how prominent the first century house/household/home played a role in the function of the early Church. Cambridge scholar, Dr. Colin J. Hemer confirmed this, The earliest Christians had no special buildings, but met in private houses, as mentioned in several places in the New Testament.531 Scripture clearly points
531

Colin J Hemer, A Lion Handbook - The History of Christianity (Oxford: Lion Publishing,

1988), 58.

261 to a NT church that assembled in homes versus specially constructed buildings. It would appear that this was an intentional aspect of Jesus new kainos wineskin, a design that he passed on to His apostles.532 Perhaps, one of the key reasons is that meeting in homes is conducive to living as a spiritual family in community. 2. Spiritual family the experience of community. A born again experience in Christ is the way to being a child of God. 1 John 3:1 states, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! Through Christ Jesus, Paul spoke of the believers newfound household status, Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with Gods people and members of Gods household (Eph 2:19). The impetus for John and Pauls understanding of being children in Gods household came from Jesus teaching. Jesus modeled the concept of a spiritual family based on His ties with followers of Him. He called the 12 disciples to follow Him (Mark 1:17) and then made the startling declaration that their spiritual family ties would be even stronger than their biological family ties (Mark 3:31-35). This is why Paul would later write, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Gal 6:10). Because spiritual community was so important to Jesus, it is essential to a deep understanding of church. I. H. Marshall, Emeritus Professor of New

There are counter-arguments to the premise that the first century church met in homes for reasons other than it being Jesus bonafide intent. These arguments contend that there were prevailing political, economic, and social issues that kept the early Church in homes, such as persecution, poverty, and the lack of progressive thinking. Whereas this line of reasoning would be in alignment with what actually transpired through church history (i.e., the Church did transition in large part to specialized buildings), it doesnt seem to be in alignment with Scripture and early Church history. For a counter to the counterargument, see Appendix G to read Steve Atkersons article, Where Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches?

532

262 Testament Exegesis at the University of Aberdeen, stated, Clearly, to Jesus, the essence of church was first of all the group of people, and second, where and how they met.533 The word that the NT often employs to describe relational spiritual communities is the Greek word oikos. Oikos is in a family of words based on the idea of home or household. It is used to refer to the houses people lived in and the homes that churches met in, as well as the fact that believers all belong to the household of God. The Theological dictionary of the New Testament described an oikos, The NT church structured its congregations in families and houses. The house is both a fellowship and a place of meeting (cf. 1 Cor 1:16; Phlm 2; Acts 11:14; 16:15,31,34; probably Acts 18:8; 2 Tm 1:16). In Acts 2:46 the first believers break bread in their houses (cf. 5:42). Paul addresses house meetings according to Acts 20:20.534 In Acts 10:22-27, Cornelius is instructed by the Lord to gather his household, oikos, together to hear the Gospel. When Peter arrived, it was not just Cornelius immediate family; he entered a large room filled with Cornelius relatives, slaves, associates, and neighbors. Being a spiritual family meeting in homes contributed to the experiential understanding of the churchs essence. Del Birkey, D.Min., explained, Ultimately, as someone has said, every home should be a church, for a church is where Jesus dwells. This goes far to explain why there is so much emphasis in the New Testament on family life and interpersonal relationships. The need for making faith work in daily home life was surely intensified by the dynamic house church structure.535 The church, grounded
533

I. H. Marshall, Church, in Dictionary of Jesus and The Gospels, eds. Joel B. Green and Scot McKnight, 122-125 (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1992), 123.
534

Kittel, Friedrich, and Bromiley, Theological dictionary of the New Testament, 675. Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, 64-65.

535

263 in the apostolic witness of the Scriptures, was truly the household of God. It was a new wineskin for living out communal faith as a spiritual family. It was also an optimal format to continue the Hebraic method of education. 3. Hebraic method of education learning through mentorship. As Scripture depicts, Jesus spent a lot of time in peoples homes. In the midst, He modeled the Hebraic method of education mentorship in the midst of everyday life. Del Birkey attested to this, It must be understood that the New Testament ideas of Christian education are built upon a Hebrew model of the Old Testament, which placed the responsibility in the locus of home life (cf. Deut 6:1-9).536 Certainly, Jesus occasioned the Temple and numerous other places outside the home, but His primary concern was to influence people where they were at, which was most often where they lived. The Hebraic apprenticeship method of discipleship employed the biblical principle that life begets life, and therefore it is hardly possible to separate what is taught from the person who does the teaching.537 Using this method, Jesus was able to influence His disciples (cf. Mark 3:13-15; Luke 9:1-6, 10:1-11) to such an extent that after only three years of being together they were able to perpetuate their Masters teaching for generations to come.538 Not coincidently, the church structure of meeting in homes was

536

Ibid.

In contrast, the Greek method of education/discipleship is known more for the communication of information (as opposed to character formation), which is typically regurgitated during examination week. This Greek method of learning is the basis of the Western education system, including that of the Church. Levi DeCarvalho, Ph.D., described Jesus model of education to include the following steps or elements: (1) A mentor with a godly character, (2) a mentor with a perfect blend of word and deed in the power of the Spirit, (3) a mentor with a mission, (4) a core of disciples, personally chosen by the master, (5) discipleship through common living, (6) participation in the mission of the master, (7) short projects (without the masters presence) in the context of discipleship, (8) subsequent correction by the master, (9) a plan for the future the true mission, and (10) power from on high obedience in the absence of the
538

537

264 simple enough to support a 24/7, Jesus-following way of life where education took place in the locus of peoples everyday life. A key feature of this learning style was that it allowed everyone to participate, which in turn was important because in Jesus new wineskin, everyone was now considered a priest and a minister. 4. Everyone a priest and minister the whole Body functioning. When Jesus introduced the neos wine and kainos wineskin, one of the most shocking changes from the old wine and wineskin must have been the newly established priesthood of all believers. 1 Peter 1:9 states, You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and 1 Peter 2:5 states, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood. In addition, Revelation 1:6 NASB states, He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father. In contrast to the Old Covenant, every disciple of Jesus now had a direct access to the throne room and no longer needed an intermediary specialized priesthood or mediator other than Jesus Christ Himself (1 Tm 2:5). This meant that every member of the Body of Christ was now a priest toward God. It also meant, however, that every member of the Body of Christ was now a minister to one another. The New Bible Dictionary described how Jesus modeled being a minister and how He expected his followers to be a minister also, Christ appears among the disciples as ho diakonn, one who serves (Luke 22:27), following the example of this lowly service, the greatest of Christians should be a minister to the rest (Mt 20:26; Mark 10:43).539

master. Cited in Levi DeCarvalho, Jesus Model of Education, Missions Frontiers (March-April 2003): 14.
539

Wood and Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 768.

265 To enable His followers to operate as ministers, He gave gifts to His people. According to Ephesians 4:11,12 NRSV, The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. All the saints were expected to do the work of ministry. Furthermore, Paul made it clear to the Corinthians that in order for the Body to fully function the way Christ intended it to, no one should be treated any more or less than anyone else. 1 Corinthians 12:21-23 states, The eye cannot say to the hand, I dont need you! And the head cannot say to the feet, I dont need you! On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. Everyone in the Body of Christ was a priest, a minister, and therefore was to be treated as indispensible with special honor. The resultant fruit was a fully functioning church where all believers were released to operate in the fullness of their giftings. John Wesley realized this when he said, Give me 12 men who love Jesus with all their hearts and who do not fear men or devils and I care not one whit whether they be clergy or laity, with these men I will change the world.540 Howard Snyder, Professor Emeritus of History & Theology of Mission at Asbury Theological Seminary summarized, Every believer is a minister, servant and priest of God. Every believer is called to ministry, and all Gods people must be equipped to minister.541 Every believer being equipped to do the work of ministry was a crucial aspect of Jesus new wineskin. Toward this end, one way disciples of Jesus Christ were

540

Cited in Fitts, Saturation House Church Planting, 468. Snyder, Liberating the Church, 17.

541

266 equipped to do the work of ministry was by meeting together using open and participatory dialogue. 5. Open-participatory meetings every persons gift valued and developed. The model for NT church gatherings derives from scriptures such as Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Also 1 Corinthians 14:26, What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. These passages imply church meetings that were participatory, interactive, spontaneous, and Spirit-led. They were meetings that allowed everyones spiritual gifts to be developed. Dr John Drane, adjunct Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, affirmed this. He commented, When Paul describes how a church meeting should proceed he depicts a Spirit-led participation by many, if not all. In the ideal situation, when everyone was inspired by the Holy Spirit, this was the perfect expression of Christian freedom.542 Everyone being encouraged to participate in the church gathering implies that no one should be allowed to dominate to the exclusion of others. Concerning this, Rad Zdero stated unequivocally, Jesus is the Master of Ceremonies who leads each member and directs the meeting. There are no one-man shows or a few active people performing for a crowd of spectators. Everyone can become involved.543 So if everyone was involved in
542

Drane, Introducing the New Testament, 402.

Rad Zdero, What is a House Church?, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 9.

543

267 the meeting, then what did the preacher do (i.e., did preaching have a place in the NT church meeting)? Interestingly, the Greek word for preach is kerusso, which means Announce, in an official capacity; Tell, announce publicly; Preach, proclaim with the goal to persuade, urge, warn to comply.544 In the context of the NT church, kerusso was the primary communication style with unbelievers who needed to be persuaded, urged, and warned to accept the good news that Jesus was the long awaited Christ, the Son of God. It was not, however, the primary communication style with believers. For example, in the all-night gathering in Troas, Paul did not preach to the believers as is commonly assumed. Del Birkey noted that English translations are generally careless with this passage and therefore only add to the confusion. The Jerusalem Bible says Paul preached a sermon (Act 20:7). The earlier edition of the NIV says that Paul preached, but later editions read that Paul simply spoke to them. The Greek text, in fact, says that Paul dialogued with them, dialegomai. Birkey summarized, [Paul] conducted a discussion giving us a clear and vital glimpse into the original and appropriate pattern of communications used in the New Testament house churches of the gathered believers. 545 An open-participatory meeting with open dialogue discussions was the new wineskin for NT church practice. Although church leadership certainly played a role, it would be based wholly on Jesus servitude model. 6. Servitude leadership from the bottom up.

544

Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains, GGK3062. Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, 62.

545

268 In the NT church, it is clear that leadership was important. In fact, Paul tells Timothy that The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor (1 Tm 5:17). It is also clear, however, that leadership Jesus style is servanthood. When the mother of Zebedees sons came to Jesus and asked, Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom (Mt 20:21); Jesus responded, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave (Mt 20:25-27). Hierarchal leadership and lording over from the top down were part of the worldly system where Jesus is not yet the head (to be remedied at His 2nd coming). Jesus debunked this system for His church, however, where He was now the Head. Thusly, He started a new apostolic tradition concerning leadership. From now on it would be servant leadership from the bottom up. He taught it, and then He modeled it to the churchs first leaders with a practical example of how it should look by washing the disciples feet (John 13:1-17). Peter, one of those whose feet Jesus washed, eventually caught it. 1 Peter 5:2,3 states, Be shepherds of Gods flock that is under your care, serving as overseers not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. The Bible Knowledge Commentary described the type of shepherd Peter was trying model as he followed Jesus model, Peter exhorted the elders to be examples (typoi, types or patterns), to serve as models for the people to follow. They were not to

269 drive Gods people, but to lead them by their examples of mature Christian character.546 [See Appendix H for an original language analysis of Hebrews 13:17, Obey your leaders and submit to their authority, which appears to be contradictory to Jesus servant leadership model.] Church leadership with a servitude attitude and shepherd demeanor was the new wineskin modeled by Jesus. Servant leaders are meant to lead the Body into mature Christ-like character. In strong apostolic tradition, they are also supposed to lead the church on a mission, a mission according to the Lausanne Covenant that requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.547 7. Outward focused making disciples of neighbors and nations. Jesus was almost always on the move, proclaiming and demonstrating the reality, love, and power of the Kingdom of God. Luke 4:18,19 states, The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lords favor. In Jesus day, this was not the typical old wineskin approach to ministry. Reggie McNeal, explained, The Pharisees evangelism strategy to sharing God was, Come and get it!... Jesus evangelism strategy directly challenged the Pharisees approach. Instead of Come and get it! it was Go get'em!548

546

Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 2:856.

The Lausanne Covenant, The Lausanne Movement, http://www.lausanne.org/lausanne1974/lausanne-covenant.html (accessed July 21, 2008).
548

547

McNeal, The Present Future, 28.

270 Jesus strategy was to insert Himself into peoples oikos, to go where people were living their lives (e.g., weddings, dinners, parties, and religious feast day celebrations). Jesus modeled this for his 12 disciples and told them to go do the same, Go make disciple of all nations (Mt 28:19), Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15), and As the Father has sent me, I am sending you (John 20:21). Paul also followed Jesus new wineskin model by focusing his ministry outward to the ends of the earth. He would go and establish communities of disciples among cultural groups without any church (Rom 15:20). Following Paul as he followed Jesus new wineskin traditions is certainly conducive to making disciples of all nations. John Driver, Mennonite theologian, explained why. He noted that when everyone followed apostolic patterns and practices such as bringing something to the spiritual table for the benefit of everyone else, while not utilizing attractive worship services, expensive programs, church buildings, or professional clergy, the first century results were spectacular. Driver confirmed, It was this kind of simple, small, grassroots, household pattern that persisted and permeated the Roman Empire to the point that 5% of the entire population had become Christian by the early fourth century.549 God has called His workers to finish the GC. To do so, the NT wine doctrine that Jesus Christ is Lord needs to be declared to all nations. To do this, the NT wineskin traditions of apostolic patterns, principles, and practices need to be followed, as they followed Christ. Whereas the early Church did so with exceptional results as described by Driver, as history testifies next, it didnt take long for the church to lose its kainos wineskin simplicity and become a complex institutional system.
John Driver, Radical Faith: An Alternative History of the Christian Church (Kitchener, ON: Pandora Press, 1999), 42.
549

271 Historical The Instutionalization of the Church It is clear from Scripture that the house church pattern was normative for first century Christians. Jesus kainos wineskin started with choosing 12 to be with him as disciples who would later be sent out as apostles, effectively modeling the type of intimacy, interaction, and involvement only possible in a small discipleship circle. Del Birkey wrote of Jesus legacy, The apostle Peter found himself leading a Jerusalem church numbering in the thousands and meeting almost entirely in private homes soon after Pentecost, and the apostle Paul wrote to groups of disciples throughout the Roman Empire, greeting by name those who hosted Christian gatherings in their homes.550 Since it is clear from Scripture that Jesus kainos wineskin was normative for first century Christians, then why do church traditions today and throughout much of church history look so different? When and how did the Church change to such an extent that the apostolic patterns, principles, and practices as described in the last section are scarcely recognizable in todays institutional churches? This section will examine what caused these changes, and why. The departure from New Testament Church patterns, principles, and practices. It did not take long before the early Church began to break away from apostolic traditions. In fact, it began to break away even during NT times. Paul the apostle warned the leaders of the church in Ephesus that men would arise from among their own ranks who would try to lead believers astray. Acts 20:29,30 states, I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

550

Birkey, The House Church, 55.

272 Not long after this warning, a local elder named Diotrephes attempted to gain personal prominence and power. He refused to work with traveling Christian workers, rejected letters to the church from the apostle John, and even expelled believers who would not abide by his directives (3 John 1:9,10). Rad Zdero commented, Diotrephes, in effect, created a pyramid leadership scheme that placed himself above others in authority as the senior, lead, or ruling elder within his house church and/or the citywide network of house churches.551 Of course, such naked pursuit of power was severely criticized by Jesus, the apostle Paul, and the apostle Peter (cf. Mt 20:25-28, 23:6-12; Acts 20:29,30; 1 Pet 5:3). Years later, Jesus Christ appeared in a vision to John on the island of Patmos. In the midst of discussing the affairs of the seven churches of Revelation, one thing in particular caught Jesus negative attention twice the Nicolatians. Revelation 2:6, written to the church in Pergamum states, Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! And Revelation 2:15, written to the church in Ephesus states, But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Who were the Nicolatians, and what did they teach and practice that incited Jesus hatred? J. H. Allen, in his article, Why does God HATE the practices of the Nicolaitans? taught that the name Nicolaitans is a compound word that is composed of three Greek words, and which, because of being a proper noun, is transferred instead of being translated into English. As thus transferred, it is subject to the laws of Greek

Rad Zdero, Local Leadership in the House Churches, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 99-100.

551

273 construction in regard to ellipsis, contraction and phonetics.552 Allens deconstruction of the Greek Nicolaitans led to his conclusion, The full meaning in its native tongue and in its ecclesiastical setting, is that the bishops and prelates of the Church have gained a triumphal victory or conquest over the laiton the laity until they have been compelled to submit to the arbitrary dominion of men who have become that thing which God hates Lords over Gods heritage. 553 One man lording over another is in complete contradiction to Peters exhortation to the elders. 1 Pet 5:2,3, KJV states, Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage [emphasis added], but being ensamples to the flock. As interpreted by Allen, and reinforced by Peter, it appears that Jesus hated the practice of the Nicolaitans because they began implementing a clergy/laity split in His New Covenant church, His once pure kainos wineskin. Noted biblical expositor William Edwy Vine claimed, The New Testament knows nothing of a sacerdotal (priestly) class in contrast to the laity.554 Subtle shifts,
The Greek words used in its construction are first: Nikos, of which we use the English equivalents instead of the Greek letters, as we shall also see of the other two. Nikos is defined as a conquest; victory; triumph; the conquered; and by implication, dominancy over the defeated. The second term used in the name under consideration is laos, people, another use of which is Nicolas, which is transferred and is composed of Nikoslaos and means one who is victorious over the people. The third and last word entering into the construction of the proper name Nicolaitans (Nicolaitanes) is ton, in which omega, the long o, is contracted into long a, thus making the word tan which is the genitive case plural in all the genders of the definite article the. Therefore, we have, without the legal Greek construction, the English hyphenated word Nickos-laoston, but which, with its lawful elisions and contractions, becomes the English name: Nicolaitans (Nicolaitanes). As cited in J. H. Allen, Why does God HATE the practices of the Nicolaitans? BibleStudy.org, http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/whydoes-god-hate-practices-of-the-nicolaitans.html (accessed July 02, 2008). J. H. Allen, Why does God HATE the practices of the Nicolaitans? BibleStudy.org, http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/why-does-god-hate-practices-of-the-nicolaitans.html (accessed July 02, 2008). W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, 1939; repr. (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1985), under heading for Priest.
554 553 552

274 however, toward a clergy/laity split, where one man began to lord it over another, did begin to creep into the early Church. Consequently, from the close of the book of Revelation forward, the Church continued to propagate this subtle shift away from the NT pattern, principle, and practice of servant leadership. It did so particularly on the topic of a clergy/laity split and the resulting hierarchical leadership structure, which was due in large part to sincere but misguided decisions made by the early Church fathers. The early Church fathers and the instutionalization of the Church. The men collectively known as the early Church fathers were the most influential leaders in the Church from the immediate decades following the death of the apostles to the close of the canon of Scripture. In many ways, they kept the early Church on the path laid out by the original apostles. In many other ways, however, they led the early Church down a completely different path towards institutionalization. Though the early Church fathers were undoubtedly sincere in their faith and in their concern for the Church, the fact is that some of the changes they implemented were a departure from both the mindset and methodology of Jesus and the apostles. According to Rad Zdero, some of these changes included, Development of clergy that were distinct from the ordinary so-called lay Christian, a hierarchical approach to one-man leadership, formality in worship meetings, a pre-baptism probationary period for adults, infant baptism, the observance of special holy days, and the gradual rejection of miracles and spiritual gifts.555 Taken together, these changes shifted the church away from apostolic traditions toward a more centralized institutional version of church. Possibly the most serious
Rad Zdero, Constantines Revolution: The Shift from House Churches to the Cathedral Church, 184.
555

275 departure from apostolic traditions was the development of a clergy-led hierarchal pattern of leadership, which was a far cry from the servant leadership taught and modeled by Jesus. In hindsight, a hierarchal clergy that distinguished themselves from the laity was the foundational error that became the seed-bed from which many other false teachings and practices would propagate. Scripturally, church leaders were variously designated as elders/presbyters, shepherds/pastors, and overseers/bishops. Each of these terms described the differing gifts and functions given by Christ to help lead His Church. In contrast, they were not hierarchical offices with titled positions. According to A. M. Renwick, professor of Church History, the various terms mentioned for leadership referred to the same person, but each presented a different aspect of their work. He taught that The presbuteros and episkopos (elder and bishop) were the same as shown by many facts.556 Dr. J. B. Lightfoot, the late highly respected scholar agreed, It is a fact now generally recognized by theologians of all shades of opinion that in the language of the New Testament the same Officer in the Church is called indifferently bishop, and elder or presbyter.557 To the contrary, it didnt take long for the early Church fathers to instigate a hierarchal distinction between the terms bishop, pastor, and elder, into leadership positions with accompanying titles. This foundational error quickly undermined Jesus non-hierarchical kainos wineskin of servant leadership, which in turn led to the eventual redefining of the very nature of the Church itself. This historical digression of the Church

556

Renwick, The Story of the Church, 20-21.

Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 914.

557

276 is further examined using the writings of four of the early Church fathers: (1) Clement of Rome, (2) Ignatius of Antioch, (3) Tertullian, and (4) Cyprian of Carthage. 1. Clement of Rome (date unknown AD 101) Clement was one of the early leaders of the church in Rome and authored the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians around AD 95. He wrote, The high priest has been given his own special services, the priests have been assigned their own place, and the Levites have their special ministrations enjoined on them. The layman is bound by the ordinances of the laity.558 Possibly at the same time John wrote the book of Revelation, Clement of Rome was suggesting that the OT Levitical priesthood system be applied to the churches! Hence, before the first century ended, the concept of church leadership as a specialized priesthood distinct from the laity was introduced. Early Church history scholar, Beresford Job, remarked that the clergy/laity divide, which has negatively influenced Christianity for the next two millennia, did not originate with either Jesus or his apostles, and has therefore nothing whatsoever to do with the teaching of the NT. He recognized, It rather originated with Clement, who took church leadership as set up by the apostles in the form of a non-hierarchical, plural, co-equal, indigenous group of elders, and put in its place a special priesthood quite separate from the ordinary laity.559 In other words, the hierarchical, special priesthood, Church leadership can of worms was now wide open.

Henry Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasius (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), 32. Job, The Early Church Fathers and House Churches: The Subtle Shift Towards Formalism (AD 100-300), 176-77.
559

558

277 2. Ignatius of Antioch (AD 35 AD 107) Ignatius authored letters to churches in different cities while being escorted to Rome where he was thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. He wrote the following: Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians: Your reverend presbytery is tuned to the Bishop as strings to a lyre.... Let us be careful not to resist the Bishop, that through our submission to the Bishop we may belong to God.... We should regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself. 560 Letter of Ignatius to the Magnesians: I advise you to always act in godly concord with the Bishop, presiding as the counterpart of God, and the presbyters as the counterpart of the council of the Apostles.... As the Lord did nothing without the Father, either by Himself or by means of the Apostles, so you must do nothing without the Bishop and the presbyters.561 Letter of Ignatius to the Trallians: Respect the Bishop as the counterpart of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and the college of the Apostles: without those no church is recognized.562 Letter of Ignatius to the Smyrneans: Let no one do anything that pertains to the church apart from the Bishop ... it is not permitted to baptize or hold a lovefeast independently of the Bishop. But whatever he approves, that is also well pleasing to God.563 Ignatius of Antioch took Clement of Romes clergy versus laity distinction to a new level of separation. The presbytery (from which comes the English word priest) is now referred to as a reverend presbytery. The Bishop is to be regarded as the Lord Himself! The believers were to do nothing without the Bishop and the presbyters, whose authority now controlled the churches to the point of requiring permission to baptize new believers or have a love-feast. 3. Tertullian (AD 160 AD 220)

560

Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers, 40. Ibid., 42,43. Ibid., 44. Ibid., 49.

561

562

563

278 Converted in AD 193, Tertullian lived in Carthage Africa. He was a widely respected but controversial apologist and philosopher who wrote, The supreme priest (that is, the Bishop) has the right of conferring baptism; after him the presbyters and deacons, but only with the Bishops authority. The distinction between the order of clergy and the people has been established by the authority of the Church. 564 Only 100 years after John the Apostle, there is now a full-blown priesthood under the authority of the supreme priest, the area Bishop. Included is a distinct hierarchy: the Bishop, after him the presbyters (priests), and then the deacons. In Tertullians statement that the clergy/laity divide has been established by the authority of the Church, he and other church leaders claimed divine authority to sanction their own religious system. As Beresford Job summarized the era of Tertullian, Church leaders are now, in effect, beyond question or challenge.565 4. Cyprian of Carthage (around AD 200 AD 258) Cyprian, once a pagan rhetorician, became a follower of Christ in AD 246 and was conferred bishop two years later. Concerning the bishops power, he wrote, You should know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church is in the bishop, and that if anyone is not with the bishop he is not in the Church.566 Concerning the Lords Supper, Cyprian wrote, If Christ Jesus our Lord and God is Himself the High Priest of God the Father, and first offered Himself as a sacrifice to the Father, and commanded this to be

564

Ibid., 149,150.

Job, The Early Church Fathers and House Churches: The Subtle Shift Towards Formalism (AD 100-300), 179.
566

565

Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers, 266.

279 done in remembrance of Himself, then assuredly the priest acts truly in Christs place when he reproduces what Christ did.567 Within 50 years of Tertullian, not only is the bishop and the Church considered synonymous, but the priesthood developed into a mediating role between God and the people. Beresford Job exclaimed, The supremacy of the bishop over the priesthood soon led to even more layers of priestly hierarchy culminating, of course, in the very bishop of bishops, namely the Pope!568 Little by little, year by year, the early Church fathers made conscious decisions to implement clergy positions and lord their newfound manmade power over the newfound unbiblical laity class of Christians. This hierarchical leadership stood in stark contrast to the teachings of Jesus who taught His disciples a model of servant leadership from the bottom up. The disciples/apostles, under the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit, then made disciples who gathered together in local churches to be led by non-hierarchical, 569 plural, 570 co-equal, home grown elders (cf. Acts 14:23; Tit 1:5). They were elders who

567

Ibid., 272.

Job, The Early Church Fathers and House Churches: The Subtle Shift Towards Formalism (AD 100-300), 179. According to Rad Zdero, church leadership was never meant to be hierarchal. This is because in the NT, elders were referred to synonymously as bishops or overseers, and pastors or shepherds: The New Testament record utilizes several different terms for local leaders, namely presbyter (Greek = presbuteros, meaning elder), bishop (Greek = episkopos, meaning overseer), and pastor (Greek = poimen, meaning shepherd). Significantly, from a cross-comparison of the key Scriptures on local leadership (Acts 14:23, 20:17,28; Eph 4:11; Phil 1:1; 1 Tm 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9; Jas 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-3) it is evident, in effect, that presbyter = elder = bishop = overseer = pastor = shepherd. These terms refer to one and the same person, though each highlights a specific role or duty. Cited in Rad Zdero, Local Leadership in the Early House Churches, 94. Also reference: Gerald Cowen, Who Rules the Church? (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2003), 5-16. Plural as in more than one elder leading the church (cf. Acts 11:30, 14:23, 15:2-6,22, 16:4, 20:17, 21:18; 1 Tm 4:14, 5:17; Jas 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1).
570 569

568

280 simply used their giftings to perform a function for the church without in any way being seen to hold a titled position. Jim Rutz offered a satirist view of the hierarchal leadership structure instituted by the early Church fathers, You don't have to be Columbo [famous TV detective] to get a feel for the relationships in early house churches, we were family. It was years before we started appointing bishops over bishops over bishops, displacing Christ and setting up a hierarchy of titled dignitaries claiming to be the bouncers at the gate of Heaven.571 Dr John Drane, professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, observed that by the middle of the 2nd Century the key to membership of the Church was not found in inspiration by the Spirit, but in acceptance of ecclesiastical dogma and discipline. He maintained, Instead of the community of the Spirit that it had originally been, the Church came to be seen as a vast organization. Instead of relying on the Spirit's direct guidance it was controlled by a hierarchy or ordained men, following strict rules and regulations which covered every conceivable aspect of belief and behavior.572 The early Church fathers departure from the servant leadership model implemented by Jesus shifted the church away from apostolic traditions toward an institutional version based on manmade ecclesiastical dogma. Their teaching on the nature of church leadership and government gave early Christian leaders, in the form of priests and bishops, such authority that no matter what they taught, it was automatically accepted as being from the Lord Himself.

571

Rutz, The Open Church, 144. Drane, Introducing the New Testament, 397.

572

281 Inevitably, this foundational leadership error became the seed-bed from which many other false teachings and practices would infect the Church in a heretical manner. According to Beresford Job, once hierarchical leadership was in place, Not only did the participatory nature of church meetings cease to exist, virtually every other aspect of biblical practice disappeared or was significantly altered. All of this quite naturally paved the way for even more changes that were brought about when Christianity was legalized in the early fourth century by the Roman emperor Constantine.573 Aristotle once said, Little errors in the beginning lead to serious consequences in the end. About 1900 years later, Thomas Aquinas echoed this precept, The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand-fold. As seen next, the little foundational errors instigated by the early Church fathers, primarily concerning hierarchical leadership and a clergy-laity split, consequentially multiplied a thousand-fold into the Constantine era. The Constantine era and the instutionalization of the Church. It is often surmised that Constantines revolution of Christianity in the early AD 300s was the sole reason for the departure from NT apostolic traditions. As presented, however, it was the early Church fathers whose foundational errors set in motion a departure from Jesus kainos wineskin. That said, the vestiges of NT apostolic traditions that survived the early Church fathers were not to survive much longer during the Constantine era. H. A. Drake, professor of history and renowned scholar on Constantine, summarized Constantines impact on Christianity, During the thirty years of his reign, more change took place in the status, structure, and beliefs of the Christian Church than
Job, The Early Church Fathers and House Churches: The Subtle Shift Towards Formalism (AD 100-300), 179-180.
573

282 during any previous period of its history. 574 Professor Drakes historical assertion concerning Constantines impact on Christianity will be explored further using the following four topics: (1) the conversion of Constantine, (2) the mixing of Church and State, (3) the paganization of the Church, and (4) the instutionalization of the Church. The conversion of Constantine. In AD 313, the Roman Empire's official persecution of Christians suddenly stopped. Then news quickly spread abroad that Emperor Constantine claimed to be a Christian. To put his conversion in perspective, one must go back to AD 306 when Constantine became one of the emperors of Rome. It was a period of continuous civil war as several different claimants fought for control of the Roman Empire. As one of these claimants, Constantine knew that his campaign against Maxentius, one of his contenders, would be decisive in determining who would be the sole ruler of the empire. Their two armies met at the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber River near Rome. Legend holds that Constantine was already sympathetic toward Christianity and thus sought divine assistance to win the battle. Bishop Eusebius records that God sent Constantine a vision of a cross of light, bearing the inscription Hoc Signo Victor Eris or by this sign you will conquer.575 Constantine was then told in a subsequent dream to make a sign of the cross and use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies. On October 28, 312, with the reproduction of the cross held high, Constantine was victorious in the Battle of Mulvian Bridge. Afterwards, due to this victory, he began to

H. A. Drake, The Impact of Constantine on Christianity, in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, ed. Noel Lenski (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 111. Robert M. Frakes, The Dynasty of Constantine Down to 363, in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, ed. Noel Lenski (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 104.
575

574

283 highly favor Christianity and as legend has it, he ordered the symbol of Christs name, the intersection of the Greek letters chi and rho, to represent his army. 576 Within a year, Constantine legalized Christianity by means of the Edict of Milan in AD 313. Only two generations later in AD 380, Emperor Theodosius issued his own edit of ecclesiastical affairs which ordered Christianity as the Empires official state religion and prohibited the practice of pagan religions.577 Within two generations, the tide of Christianity turned immensely; it went from being persecuted, to being legal, to being the only accepted religion, to being the persecutor of other religions, to being the persecutor of its own religion!578 Consequently, with its newfound Roman Empire acceptance, Christianity faced problems that the Church had never dealt with before namely the problems of the mixing of Church and State, the paganization of the Church, and the instutionalization of the Church. The mixing of Church and State. Almost immediately after Constantines Edict of Milan, the state of Rome began protecting and supporting the Church. As a result, it didnt take long for the state to use its newfound influence as a license to become involved in the polity of the Church. Constantine became fully involved in the governmental affairs of the Church, including

Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity: Beginnings to 1500 (Volume 1: to AD 1500) rev. ed. (Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1977), 91-92 and Eusebius, Life of Constantine (Clarendon Ancient History Series,) ed. Averil Cameron and Stuart Hall (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1999), 204-11, http://www.amazon.com/gp/sitbv3/reader?asin=0198149247&pageID=S05Y&checkSum=WjwE1Zal/xhH/ Yo1PEmiOnORC10juC%20EmIBT84D2U6g=# (accessed December 31, 2009).
577

576

Latourette, A History of Christianity: Beginnings to 1500, 163. Ibid., 97-98.

578

284 heading up major theological councils. Predictably, his favor toward the Church ended up meaning favor toward those who embraced and supported him politically. Initially, Constantine sought to harmonize the differing doctrinal views in the Church. Calling the different Christian factions together at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 was certainly a noble endeavor; however, it was colored by his coinciding desire to use it to unify his crumbling empire. Siding with Christian leaders who were friendly to his causes, a serious and lasting problem arose in the Church when Constantine dictated that certain theological positions, such as the Nicene Creed, would be the only accepted position of the Church. Constantine used his newfound ecclesiology power to banish any bishop who refused to sign the Nicene Creed or any number of other official theological positions. The door to Christians persecuting other Christians who didnt obey official Church positions was now open.579 In this process, Constantine became the de facto head of the Church. And as the de facto head, he laid the foundation for a mix of Church and the State to such an extent that people were now compelled to become Christians because of the political and other worldly opportunities that it afforded them. Obviously, this had serious ramifications for the purity and spiritual power of the Church. The ties between Church and State (i.e., politically, militarily, economically, and culturally) instituted by Constantine has only served to pollute the purity and dilute the power of the church in carrying out its real mandate of making disciples of Christ,580 according to Rad Zdero.

579

Drake, The Impact of Constantine on Christianity, 123-130. Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 83.

580

285 Great debates throughout history as to the relationship between Church and State are rooted in Constantines initiating influence. To this day, Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Evangelicals alike all grapple with questions concerning the boundaries of the Churchs relationship to civil governments, whether hostile or friendly. Until AD 313 the Church had never enjoyed the friendship of a civil government, much less the union with one. To the contrary, it appears biblically that there was no paradigm for the Church, as the Body of Christ, mixing with State politics. 581 Jesus and the apostles taught the early believers to respect and obey governments unless they violated Gods commands, but as a corporate body there was certainly no biblical precedent to mix with it. In fact, Paul told the church in Corinth to not be yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14). The Church that Jesus started was a spiritual movement that used truth to persuade the hearts of men, not a political movement that coerced/manipulated the souls of men. Moreover, the Churchs ultimate government, the Kingdom of God, is not even of this world (cf. Mt 22:21; John 18:36; Acts 4:19; 17:7; Rom 13:1; 1 Pet 1:1; 2:13,14). Not surprisingly, mixing Church and State, in opposition to biblical directives, has negatively affected Christianity throughout history. These negative effects have come in the form of medieval military crusades, inquisitions, persecutions, and modern conflicts all waged under a religious banner. Zdero summarized the negative historical consequences, These have served to impede, if not completely ruin, Christianitys witness and work among many people groups.582
Of course, this does not preclude individual believers from getting involved in governmental politics and civil affairs as the Lord leads.
582 581

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 83.

286 The paganization of the Church. In addition to gaining entry into the affairs of the Church, Constantine found himself having to contend with invading pagan barbarians who were crumbling his Empire. On a positive note, this presented the now legalized Church the opportunity to reach these pagan barbarians with the gospel; and due to Christianity becoming politically correct, conversions came quickly and on a large scale. On a negative note, the Church could not keep up with training these new converts in the apostles doctrines, which ultimately led in turn to it accepting many of the barbarians patterns, principles, and practices while diluting its own (i.e. apostolic patterns, principles, and practices). Over time, the barbarians convinced the Church to accept many of their pagan traditions. For instance, hero worship led to saint worship, worship of dead ancestors led to churches being constructed over dead saints graves, and worship of visual images led to worship of icons. Additionally, an illiterate pagan people needed an educated priest to teach them, widening the clergy/laity divide even further. As a result, pagan Druids and every other religion that worshipped false gods were both encouraged and allowed to merge with Christianity, which eventually led to a universal Christianity, later to be known as Catholicism. 583 In essence, Constantine and his successors divorced the Church from its biblical foundation and married it to a pagan one. As long as the Church had been willing to be a counter-culture movement that endured sporadic persecution, it moved with great spiritual power and overcame the Roman system from the inside out. However, when the
Pete Prosser, TCDH 540 Church History I lecture notes (Virginia Beach: Regent University School of Divinity, 2000).
583

287 Church compromised by mixing with the State and adopting pagan practices, it soon was overcome by the Roman system from the outside in. Rad Zdero believes that this was one of the most tragic moments in Christian history. He explained, After trying hard to destroy the church by beating it with a stick, Satan now dangled a carrot in front of its eyes. Sadly, this was the moment when the church said yes to the same temptations that Jesus himself said no to in the desert, namely the temptations of power, popularity, and position.584 As a result of saying yes to the temptations of the enemy, the Church lost touch with its biblical roots and apostolic traditions. Disciples of Jesus Christ were taught to not love the world or anything in the world (1 John 2:15), and that friendship with the world is hatred toward God (Jas 4:4). Instead, a paganized form of Christianity, born in the era of Constantine, took root. It was a seditious root throughout Church history that would grow into a religion that was marked by the worship of images, icons, and shrines; pagan rituals, ceremonies, and holidays; and prayer to Mary and the Saints. Consequently, the Church was plunged into a thousand years of ignorance and superstition known as the Dark Ages. The instutionalization of the Church. Soon after the Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in AD 313, the Church and State amalgamated, and the Church diluted its biblical foundation with numerous pagan practices. Continuing its journey away from apostolic patterns, principles, and practices, the Church took a huge leap toward institutionalization by requiring specialized buildings, professional leaders, and a long historical list of man-made traditions.

584

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 61.

288 Pertaining to this, Gene Edwards, a pioneer in the modern USA SC Movement commented, Christianity alone had no institutions, no set rituals, and no temples. That was unprecedented in human history. It is what made Christianity unique Constantine changed all that.585 In fact, during his reign, Constantine ordered the construction of the first nineteen church buildings. Soon after, by AD 380, the influential bishops Theodosius and Gratian not only mandated one state-recognized Church but also outlawed private home meetings altogether! Henceforth, for the most part, Christianity crossed over from being primarily relational to being primarily religious joining all the other religions of the world with its very own religious buildings/temples. The effect of these religious buildings was a religious Christianity drifting further away from NT ekklesia. Biblical ekklesia, or the community of the saints, was the Lords house built of living stones, His people. With the advent of physical Christian buildings, however, the Lords house came to be known as the church. Intriguingly, the modern English word church has no equivalent in the original NT. Instead, according to Gene Edwards, the word church goes back to the Greek word kyriakon, which came to mean people gathering in a particular locale, with the focus on the locale. Consequently, he observed, With the word church, our eyes were turned away from the living ekklesia of the living God to a dead edifice made of dead stones.586 Constantines insistence on constructing church buildings truly had a long-term negative impact on Jesus model of living out ones faith in simple ekklesia. Following the

585

Edwards, Beyond Radical, 19. Ibid., 22.

586

289 introduction of the temple into Christianity, according to Edwards, there came the secret language, the remote priest, the silent followers, the rituals, and the vestal virgins. Edwards articulated the consequences, The loss for all of us has been staggering. These things we acquired have been a curse for the simple faith Jesus the carpenter launched.587 Perpetuating the institutionalization of the Church, Constantine passed a law stating that no one could be a teacher of Christianity without a permit from the government. What this did was establish the imperial, bureaucratic control of schools, which effectively closed the vocation of teaching to any Christian who was not loyal to him. In this way, his view of Christianity was stamped upon the future generation of intellectuals and officials. Additionally, because those who were able to read the Scriptures would easily see the contradictions between the emerging IC and apostolic traditions, the Church soon enforced an official position that only paid professional clergy were allowed to possess the Bible, and even read it. Eventually, the Bible was kept under lock and key by the Roman clergy, and when it was read to the populace it was read in Latin, which few if any of the common people understood. Chillingly, it even became a crime punishable by death for any unauthorized person to be caught with the Bible. Wolfgang Simson described how the historic Orthodox/Catholic Church, following Constantines lead, developed and adopted an institutional religious system based on two elements. The first element was a Christian version of the OT temple, the cathedral. And the second element was a worship pattern styled after Jewish tradition, the

587

Ibid.

290 synagogue. When blended together he termed it the cathegogue religious system. The cathegogue adopted a blueprint for Christian meetings and worship which was neither expressly revealed nor ever endorsed by God in NT times. According to Simson, the impact throughout history has been devastating, Baptized with Greek pagan philosophy, separating the sacred from the secular, the cathegogue system developed into the Black Hole of Christianity swallowing most of its society transforming energies and inducing the church to become absorbed with itself for centuries to come. 588 To help determine how the Church could have adopted the cathegogue system, while drifting far from its NT roots, Jim Rutz dug deep into Church history. He researched the origins of numerous manmade traditions that crept into the Church, and compiled a list of these practices/traditions. For example, Pope Hyginus declares clergy distinct from laity in AD 140, indulgences for the dead in AD 476, prayers directed to Mary, dead saints, and angels in AD 600, celibacy of the priesthood in AD 1074, confession to a priest instead of God in AD 1215, treasury of Merits (credit for good deeds made transferable) in ad 1342, Papal infallibility in AD 1870, and Mary named Queen of Heaven in AD 1954.589 [See Appendix I for Rutzs full list of 56 manmade Church Practices/Traditions.] Eighteen centuries of manmade traditions led to an ecclesiastical shift that took the Church far from its origins. The kainos wineskin that Jesus left with His apostles to contain His neos wine was all but eradicated. Essentially, Christianity had reverted back to an OT system built around a physical temple and a professional priest. Gone was Jesus

588

Simson, Houses that Change the World, xv. Rutz, Megashift, 221-223.

589

291 simple discipleship method based on trusting relationships. Gone were apostolic patterns, principles, and practices that included meeting inexpensively from house to house. Conversions that had once been obtained through the call and power of God were now obtained through economic incentives and governmental power and alignment. The consequences according to Rad Zdero were dire: What followed over the next 1700 years have been state-run and/or denominational churches often organized and managed more like mini political empires, i.e. Christendom, rather than grassroots communities of believers on a mission from God, i.e. Christianity. Special church buildings now replaced the need for Christian hospitality. Paid clergy now replaced the participation of ordinary believers. Programs and rituals now replaced Spirit-led, open, and passionate meetings. A religious organization now replaced the living Body of Christ.590 The foundational errors of the early Church fathers, proliferated throughout the Constantine era, sadly led to the thousand-fold deviation from the truth that Thomas Aquinas warned about in the 13th century. J. C. Ryle, 19th Century English writer and minister, uttered the inevitable cost of these manmade deviations from the truth, Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary. At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished.591 From Clement of Romes teaching in AD 95 through twenty centuries of Church history, multitudes of manmade traditions/idols have found their way into Church history. Sorrowfully, also throughout Church history, multitudes of believers as well as nonbelievers, that didnt bow down to these traditions/idols, were punished, many to the

590

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 61. Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity, xii.

591

292 point of martyrdom.592 As a result, whereas the Church gained wealth and prestige during the Constantine era and beyond, it do so at the expense of losing much of its NT apostolic identity. As seen next, however, even during the Churchs darkest days, there has always been a remnant of NT apostolic tradition thread throughout her history. Reformation and hope for the Church. Frank Bartleman, an eyewitness author of the Azusa Street revival, used historical hindsight to see Gods handiwork in restoring His Church back to apostolic doctrines and traditions. He contended, Ever since the early Church fell from New Testament purity and life, she has been like a backslider, fallen from the summit of apostolic days though destined to return and yet enter into the full blessing of the Fathers house Steadily, relentlessly, the mighty Spirit of God has been moving on, restoring that which was lost.593 Restoration of lost apostolic doctrines and traditions began early in Church history when the first wave of monasticism took to the hills and separated themselves from the increasingly institutionalized Church. After this, the Celts did much to keep Jesus neos wine and the kainos wineskin alive through the early Dark Ages. Next, throughout the Middle Ages, there were always a small groups of dissenters who parted ways with the IC and met in private homes. Church historian Adolph Schmidt wrote about these dissenters, During the twelve centuries that went before the posting of

The combined loss of life perpetrated in the name of Christianity, counting all the crusades, inquisitions, wars, and persecutions is well over 25 million deaths. Cited in Rutz, Megashift, 228.
593

592

Frank Bartleman, Another Wave of Revival (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1982),

135.

293 Luthers thesis, it never lacked for an attempt to do away with the State Church/priest church and to reinstitute the apostolic congregations. 594 Examples of pre-Reformation dissenters included the Donatists, Priscillians, Paulicians, Peter Waldo and the Waldensians, Francis of Assisi and the Little Brothers, John Wycliffe and the Lollards, and the Czech Brethren. All of them were part of renewal movements that either attempted to reform the State Church or separate from it. Characteristically, these groups often identified with the poor and marginalized, promoted common peoples access to the Bible, and advocated for the equality of women. Another common element found in many of these renewal movements according to Rad Zdero was that they met in homes. He said, Whether this [meeting in homes] was due to persecution and poverty or from biblical conviction is sometimes difficult to determine. These radical movements, however, continued to challenge the religious establishment in its thinking and practice.595 Spurred on by these pre-Reformation renewal movements, many postReformation splinter groups followed in their footsteps, challenging the religious institutional establishment in its thinking and practice. These movements included the Anabaptists, Bucerites, Puritans, Quakers, Pietists, Mennonites, Moravians, and Methodists, among others. Whereas these post-reformation groups had Luthers justification by faith as the core of their theology, they still had the desire to see the Church return to its NT apostolic traditions, not only in doctrine but also in pattern, principle, and practice. Georg Witzel (1501-1573), a German theologian, expressed this
Cited in David Bradshaw, The Future Church: Lion in the Pews, (Portal, GA: Open Church Ministries, 1993), 218.
595 594

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 63-64.

294 desire, My wish, my yearning is that the world may go back to a true apostolic church The apostolic church flourished to the time of Constantine. From then on it was perverted, because the Bishops went over to the world.596 Whereas the Protestant Reformation did reestablish the priesthood of all believers unto salvation, it fell far short of fully reclaiming the priesthood of all believers unto ekklesia (i.e., reestablishment of first century apostolic patterns, principles, and practices). For instance, newfound Protestant churches maintained the one-bishop-overall hierarchical leadership system established by the early Church fathers and simply changed the title from priest to pastor. Jim Rutz elucidated, As far as I know, Luther never repudiated his belief in the priesthood of all believers, but he never quite put into practice the ministry of all believers.597 So whereas the Protestant Reformation did reclaim the neos wine that was lost through the institutionalization of the Church, it did not reclaim the kainos wineskin that Jesus patterned and His apostles practiced. This is why Wolfgang Simson called for another reformation: In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the church through a reformation of theology. In the eighteenth century, through movements in the pietistic renewal, there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure. 598

F. H. Littell, The Origins of Sectarian Protestantism (Macmillan, 1964), 77, cited by Peter Bunton, Church Revitalization Movements Using House Churches and Small Groups (AD 1500 - 1800), in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 204.
597

596

Rutz, Megashift, 229. Simson, Houses that Change the World, xvi.

598

295 Previously, Simson described how the Church in the Constantine era developed into a cathegogue system. Alas, the Church has attempted to do everything to the institutional cathegogue system throughout modern history, except really change it structurally. Luther reformed the content of the gospel, but he left the outer forms of' church remarkably untouched, according to Simson. Further, Simson claimed, The Free Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers drycleaned it, the Salvation Army put it in uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the system.599 In line with Simsons reasoning, the time has arrived for the Church to change the cathegogue system structurally. Its time to embrace another Reformation, a reformation of structure, a reformation of wineskin. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees of a coming reformation in His day, He butted up against religious resistance. He knew that religious leaders like them throughout the OT era had multiplied 613 Torah commands into over 5000 oral traditions. This is what led up to His confrontation with them, Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (Mt 15:3). Jesus was speaking to a Pharisaical spirit, a form of religion that was like a rigid old wineskin that wouldnt stretch anymore. He recognized a religious system that would never accept Him as long as He didnt fit into their old wineskin of fabricated rules and regulations based on their manmade traditions/idols. Using both His gracious story-telling manner and His direct confrontational manner, Jesus warned His audience to keep their hearts pliable and open

599

Ibid., xvi.

296 to accepting His new life-changing truths not only His neos wine, but also His kainos wineskin. As discussed previously, the Church has a tremendous challenge facing it regarding releasing resources, workers and wealth, toward the ripest harvest fields on earth, the UPGs. The needs are massive, and at stake is no less than finishing the GC. To do so will require the understanding of E. H. Broadbent, an English preacher who realized that events in the time of the apostles were selected and recorded in the book of Acts in such a way as to provide a permanent pattern for the Church. He deduced, Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the patterns and principles in the Scriptures.600 Winston Churchill once said, The greatest advances in human civilization have come when we recovered what we had lost; when we learned the lessons of history.601 Most likely Churchill was not alluding to the wineskin of the Church when making this comment, as was Broadbent. But nonetheless, it is applicable to where many institutional churches find themselves today. It is time to turn the clock back on history, all the way back to Jesus kainos wineskin and apostolic traditions, in order to recover all that was lost. Along these lines, SC is a modern day attempt to recover Jesus kainos wineskin structure, including the accompanying apostolic patterns, principles, and practices. In doing so, SC holds great promise to help bring about the revival and restoration that
600

Broadbent, The Pilgrim Church, 26.

Historical Quotes, American Destiny, http://www.americandestiny.com/historical_quotes.htm (accessed November 22, 2008).

601

297 Broadbent declared. In like fashion, it holds great promise to help bring about the release of resources required to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, to where it has never been. This will be the focus of the next section.

Current Implications The Simple Church Finishing the Great Commission Early in Jesus ministry, He declared to His disciples, Do you not say, Four months more and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). Jesus then gave His disciples the mission of reaping the harvest as well as the strategy to accomplish the mission. Luke 10:2-3 states, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field. Go! Jesus also modeled a strategy to accomplish His mission by sending the 12 disciples, and later the seventy, as workers into the ripe harvest fields. They returned with a great report, Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name (Luke 10:17). Jesus disciple-making strategy to accomplish His mission was new, unique, and very effective. At the end of His earthly ministry, on the verge of returning to His Father in heaven, Jesus reaffirmed His mission, now the GC, to the disciples. Matthew 28:18-20 commands, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Jesus then modeled His disciple-making strategy by sending out the 12 again, this time for the long haul, into the ripe harvest fields. The result was the entire Roman Empire, as far away as India, was infiltrated with the gospel within 300 years after Jesus death. In fact,

298 in AD 100 there were as few as 25,000 Christians, but by AD 300 there were as many as 20,000,000 Christians!602 Jesus disciples, and later disciples of His disciples, were very effective in discharging the GC when they followed Jesus disciple-making strategy. In view of this history, if Jesus GC strategy was so effective in the first 300 years, why 1700 years later are there still almost 1.9 billion people remaining who are completely unreached with the gospel? The succinct answer is that wherever the Church institutionalized throughout history it drifted away from Jesus effective disciple-making strategy and lost its sense of mission and GC focus. Jrgen Moltmann, a German Protestant theologian, drilled to the core of the problem, It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church.603 In other words, the Church is part of Gods mission to the world and not the entirety of God's work in the world. John Bright, the late professor emeritus at Union Seminary, affirmed this, noting that the history of the NT is a history of missions. He exhorted, The Church is not mistaken when she understands that her task is missionary. Indeed, her only mistake is that she has not understood it strongly enough. She is not to conduct missions as one of her many activities; she has in all her activities a mission; she is a missionary people if she is not that, she is not the Church.604 Until the job is done and the mission is complete, the Church of Jesus Christ, His ekklesia/community of believers, needs to be about the Fathers business and finish the
602

Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 18.

Jurgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology (London: SCM Press, 1977), 64. John Bright, The Kingdom of God: The Biblical Concept and Its Meaning for the Church, rev. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), 257.
604

603

299 GC. Toward this end, without doubt, the best way to finish the GC is to simply obey Jesus command to go and make disciples of all nations by employing His disciplemaking strategy. Justin Kuek, director of New Horizons Ministries, has no doubt that Jesus command and strategy can work in our day. He encouraged, It is the plain SIMPLICITY of the approach that gives me absolute confidence that it will work! In fact, if every true Christian in the world today would just make ONE disciple over the next twelve months and this is repeated each year, the whole world would be saved in less than four years! Does it work? I am absolutely SOLD!605 Following Jesus strategy of making disciples, by baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that He commanded, stands in stark contrast to the complexity of the IC system that history has wrought. Juxtaposed to this complex system, the SC approach of making disciples lends itself to emulating the simplicity of Jesus kainos wineskin. As presented next, the SC wineskin is well-suited to make disciples of Jesus Christ, as well as make disciples of Jesus Christ toward finishing the GC. Simple church is well-suited to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Robert Coleman, in his classic book The Master Plan of Evangelism, revealed the objective of Jesus ministry and His strategy for carrying it out. Jesus objective was for all men to be evangelized and discipled, and His strategy to carry it out was to pour His life into a select few men who in turn would do likewise. Coleman believed that Jesus strategy of giving Himself to a small number of men was deliberate, noting, He actually

Justin Kuek, Church Planting and the Great Commission, Edgenet, http://www.edgenet.org.nz/ideasfromedge/churchplantingandthegreatcommission.htm (accessed November 14, 2008).

605

300 spent more time with His disciples than with everybody else in the world combined. 606 Jesus was also deliberate in ensuring that His disciples comprehended His desire for them go do likewise by commanding them to go make disciples. Jesus command to make disciples is best understood by considering the context of Matthew 28:19-20 in the original Greek. Coleman observed that the words go, baptize, and teach are all participles which derive their force from the one controlling verb make disciples. According to Coleman, this means that the GC is not merely to go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel, or to baptize a lot of converts, or to teach them obey the teachings of Christ. Rather, Jesus said, it is to make disciples to build men like themselves who were so constrained by the commission of Christ that they not only followed, but led others to follow His way. 607 As summarized by Coleman, Jesus deliberate discipleship strategy consisted of using men as His method, requiring their obedience, showing them how to live, and expecting results. 608 Jesus is still expecting results, 2000 years later. His disciplined followers are to be intentional about getting into others lives, teaching them to obey Jesus commands of how to live, and expecting them to bear fruit. First off, however, to make a disciple of Jesus Christ, one must first be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, this is why Jesus spent three solid years discipling the original 12 disciples. So how does one follow Jesus disciple-making strategy by becoming a disciple of Christ in order to subsequently make a disciple of Christ? Doing it Jesus way means
606

Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 1963; repr. (Old Tappan, NJ: Spire Books, 1987), 43.
607

Ibid., 108. Ibid., back cover.

608

301 getting into peoples lives with the intention of building trusting relationships. The more quality time spent with someone, the more trust it built. And the more trust is built, the more a disciplined follower of Christ can pour their life into a less disciplined follower of Christ, or the more two disciplined followers of Christ can mutually pour their lives into each other. Accordingly, disciple-making means sharing life together in everyday life: eating, talking, studying, working, praising, playing, and just hanging out, all toward building trusting relationships for the sake of deliberately pouring out Christ into one another. Essentially, this is what ekklesia was all about in the early Church. The community of believers meeting in the house/home, mentioned 59 times in the NT, provided an environment where trusting relationships could develop for the sake of disciple-making. This included spurring one another on to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24), while living out the one another versus with each other.609 Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church knew that forging deep, authentic, and mutually transforming friendships toward disciple-making could only occur in intimate gatherings. Rad Zdero believed that this may have been one of the key reasons why the practice of the early Christian communities was to use a house church model. 610

Examples: Mt 18:15-20; Rom 12:10, 12:16, 15:7, 15:14, 16:16; 1 Cor 1:10, 12:25, 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; Gal 5:13,26; Eph 4:2, 4:32, 5:21; Phil 4:2; Col 3:9,13, 3:16; 1 Thes 3:12, 4:9,18, 5:11,13,15,25; 2 Thes 1:3; Heb 3:13, 10:24, 13:1; Jas 4:11, 5:9,16; 1 Pet 1:22, 3:8, 4:7-11, 5:5,14; 1 John 1:7, 3:11,23, 4:7,12; 2 John 1:5. Additionally, the apostles also gave directives concerning things not to do to one another such as deceiving, envying, grumbling against, judging, provoking, and slandering (Gal 5:26; Col 3:9; Jas 4:11, 5:9). These items were not meant merely to be part of a litany of ideals to be aspired to and discussed theoretically but, rather, were to characterize interactions between believers on a day-to-day level.
610

609

Zdero, Constantines Revolution: The Shift from House Churches to the Cathedral Church,

78.

302 Floyd Filson, the late professor of biblical theology at McCormick Theological Seminary, drew attention to the failure of contemporary scholarship to understand the household concept of the NT era. He realized, The New Testament church would be better understood if more attention were paid to the actual physical conditions under which the first Christians met and lived. In particular, the importance and function of the house church should be carefully considered.611 Filson would most likely agree with Paul Reed on the reason why the function of the house church should be carefully [re]considered in contemporary scholarship. Reed, in the introduction to The Master Plan of Evangelism wrote, There is much that beckons us to the disciple-winning that works through small groups.612 Don Graves, a SC network leader in Philadelphia, believes that emulating Jesus deliberate discipleship strategy in our day calls for a simple, powerful, relevant, connected, and committed faith community where believers can grow into fully mature followers of Jesus Christ. He also believes that this faith community should not be tied to a building, a program, a professional clergy, or a budget. Rather, Graves proclaimed, We must take the church to the people: in the park, in their homes, at their businesses, under a tree, in a classroom.613 One of the greatest joys in being a follower of Jesus Christ is bringing spiritual transformation to someone else (i.e., making them a disciple or better disciple of Jesus

Filson, The Significance of the Early House Churches: 105106, cited by Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, 49.
612

611

Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 10.

Don Graves, Neil Cole in Philadelphia and Network Gathering, SimpleChurchNetwork.com, http://www.simplechurchnetwork.com/index.php?option=com_acajoom&act=mailing&task=view&mailing id=17&Itemid=99999999 (accessed July 5, 2008).

613

303 Christ). Sadly, much of this joy has been removed from many Church members because of the dire misunderstanding that disciple-making is the job for a select few professional clergy. Churches that operate in this manner, making discipleship a program in which only specially trained people participate, actually holds back the multitudes from stepping into their greatest sense of purpose. Dennis McCallum, pastor of Xenos Christian Fellowship summarized, The clergy-laity distinction removed personal discipleship from the hands of common Christians.614 The discipleship strategy followed by most modern ICs, that of a few professional clergy discipling the masses of laity, begs the question asked by Robert Coleman, If Jesus, the Son of God, found it necessary to stay almost constantly with His few disciples for three years, and even one of them was lost, how can a church expect to do this job on an assembly line basis a few days out of the year?615 Moreover, if Jesus, the Son of God, only discipled 12 men, how can modern IC leaders expect to disciple more than 12 men, let alone hundreds and thousands of them? This substantial departure from Jesus kainos wineskin is truly having a negative impact on modern-day disciple-making, especially in terms of the absence of close relationships, which were so crucial to Jesus discipleship strategy. The following statistics offered by George Barna bear this out: 55% of non-Christian Americans believe it is getting harder and harder to make lasting friendships,

Roger Thoman, Disciplemaking Is For Everyone, SimpleChurch Journal (November 28, 2008) http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2008/11/chapter-6-disciplemaking-is-for-everyone.html (accessed December 9, 2008).
615

614

Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 48.

304 62% of born-again Christians claim it is getting hard to make lasting friendships, 73% of evangelical Christians are finding it difficult to make real friends.616

Attorney and author Charles Crismier surmised these statistics, It seems the stronger the alleged commitment to scriptural authority, the more severe the problem of our relationships. Conclusion: the more RELIGION, the less RELATIONSHIP. Something is desperately wrong!617 With so many Christians having a difficult time making real friends, Barnas next set of statistics should come as no surprise. Posting the results in a chapter entitled How Is the Local Church Doing?, Barna hypothesized that a church should be able to measure its effectiveness by the quality of disciples it is producing. Based on interviews with born-again church-going Christians in the USA, he discovered the following: 80% of all believers say they have not experienced a connection with God during the church service, 50% of all believers say they have not experienced a genuine connection with God during the past year, Only 9% of churched believers have a biblical worldview, and most spend less time reading the Bible than watching television and reading other material, The typical churched believer will die without leading a single person to faith in Christ,

George Barna, Virtual America, 1995, cited on http://www.saveus.org/articles/counterfeit_community.htm (accessed September 18, 2008). Charles Crismier, Counterfeit Community, Save America Ministries, http://www.saveus.org/articles/counterfeit_community.htm (accessed September 18, 2008).
617

616

305 The typical American Christian will give less than 3% of his/her income, will not allocate time to serving others, will not pray with his/her family at home, or train the family to be spiritually mature.618

Furthermore, another statistic from the same Barna poll, which could possibly be at the root of these dismal discipleship statistics, is that less than one out of every six churched believers has a relationship with another believer through which spiritual accountability is provided.619 Mutual spiritual accountability through intentional relationship is the very essence of Jesus discipleship process if you dont have the former (mutual spiritual accountability through intentional relationship), how can you have the latter (discipleship)? It seems that if the Church doesnt follow Jesus discipleship process (e.g., less than one out of six churched believers is living in spiritual accountability with another believer) the resulting fruit will reflect what Barnas statistics bear out. As summarized by Robert Coleman, Methodologies today: well intended ceremonies, programs, organizations, commissions, and crusades of human ingenuity are trying valiantly to do a job that only can be done by man in the power of the Holy Spirit.620 SC is well-suited to make disciples of Jesus Christ because it creates the same type of discipleship environment created by Jesus Himself. By meeting in small groups in informal settings without clergy-laity splits, deepening friendships are born that can lead to trusting relationships, which in turn can lead to mutual spiritual accountability. It is in mutual spiritual accountability that disciples can assertively live out the James 5:16

618

Barna, Revolution , 31-35. Ibid., 34. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 112.

619

620

306 mandate, Confess your sins to each other (exhale the bad), and live out the Ephesians 5:18 mandate to be filled with the Spirit (inhale the good). By doing so, disciplemakers help one another live out the Matthew 5:48 mandate, Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect, which is the essence of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. One historical figure who grasped the need to follow Jesus style of making disciples using small intimate fellowships was John Wesley. Preaching throughout England in the 18th century, he reached thousands of people with the gospel. In fact, the growth was so rapid at one point that it presented a problem for Wesley in terms of personal pastoral care and supervision. How could he personally minister to so many? The answer came when one of Wesleys society members suggested that one mature disciple call on eleven others during the week to initiate a discipling relationship. Wesley agreed to the idea and the Class method was born, a discipleship method which became the centerpiece of Methodism for the next 100 years, until the mid-1800s. The Class consisted of 12 people pursuing Christ together throughout the week. It was in the Class where believers were discipled, examined and instructed, and where they shared mutual fellowship and learned to bear one another's burdens. In Wesleys own words, Many now happily experienced that Christian fellowship of which they had not so much as an idea before. They began to bear one anothers burdens, and naturally to care for each other. As they had daily a more intimate acquaintance with, so they had a more endeared affection for, each other.621

John Wesley and John Emory, The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M. (New York: T. Mason, 1839), 180, http://books.google.com/books?id=g8gOAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA180&lpg=PA180&dq=Many+now+happily+ experienced+that+Christian+fellowship+of+which+they+had+not+so+much+as+an+idea+before&source=

621

307 Does Wesleys method of discipleship using the Class system have any applicability for todays churches? Maurice Smith, a simple church network leader from Spokane, thinks it does. In the context of responding to a harvest of thousands of people coming to the Lord, much like Wesley faced, Smith contrasted a typical modern institutional church response versus Wesleys 1700s solution: The typical and predictable American solution is to build a bigger building to hold them all (or build a satellite campus) where a gifted person can preach to all of them, thereby creating a spiritual river a mile wide, but barely an inch deep. On the other hand, Wesleys solution was to get big by going small. He solved the problem of providing pastoral care and personal discipleship by creating small groups which were essentially simple house churches. 622 Wesleys spiritual success and long-lasting legacy came from of his disciple-making strategy, which should come as no surprise because it emulated Jesus even longer-lasting legacy that came from His disciple-making strategy pouring His life into 12 men in a simple ekklesia format, men who in turn did likewise. What about a larger church meeting beyond small group ekklesia is there a biblical precedent for a larger celebration meeting in the disciple-making process? Concerning a modern institutional church meeting that typically is based around a song and a sermon, certainly some good can come from singing and the proclamation of Gods Word. Yet when it comes to making disciples forged out of deep spiritual trusting relationships, scripturally it appears that there should be much more to a church meeting than singing and a sermon while sitting in pews. In fact, the church meeting described by

web&ots=djlfE_lk8W&sig=zTUuEwLLr_NsHsE1NgykPOvSAYE&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result& (accessed December 2, 2008). Maurice Smith, Bill Hybels, John Wesley And House Church, A Kingdom, A People & A River, entry posted November 7, 2007, http://www.parousianetwork.org/Newsletter_Archive/Parousia_Weekly_E-Letter_For_05_21_08.htm (accessed April 8, 2008).
622

308 Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 was an interactive meeting where everyone had a chance to participate, which is the type of meeting used theoretically by simple churches. In a typical biblically based simple church meeting, everyone who so desires can participate. This allows for all the Spirits various ministry gifts to be exercised and to function together. In fact, not allowing them to be exercised and function can cause gift apathy and even atrophy, just like an inactive muscle. When everyone participates, everyone begins to own the meeting, and hence everyone takes responsibility for what goes on. Learning is increased in participatory dialogue where questions are asked and the teaching and prophecy are judged, even to the point of exposing false doctrines on the spot. Additionally, life application of the Word is reinforced with real life testimonies and illustrations of the living Word in each and every person. Overall, an interactive and participatory meeting, following Pauls model to the Church in Corinth, profoundly affects the disciple-making process in a positive manner. Making disciples in a SC meeting is also positively affected when it comes to prayer. Philip Yancey, well-known evangelical author, noticed that the most meaningful prayer often takes place in homes, in circumstances that closely resemble those of the early church. He shared, I have been in groups where someone takes the vulnerable step of confessing a deep, recurrent failure in life and asking for help in dealing with it. The group quiets down, puts aside all distractions, and pours love and energy into lifting up a friend to the One who cares most.623 As summarized by Steve Atkerson, the simple church interactive participatory meetings are truly a blessing to the disciples maturity,

623

Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make any Difference? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 206.

309 New believers learn how to think biblically and with the mind of Christ as more mature believers are seen reasoning together and interacting with each other. Maturity rates skyrocket.624 Overall, SC is a well-suited wineskin to emulate Jesus discipleship model, both in a meeting and in everyday living. If it was good enough for Jesus 2000 years ago, it is certainly good enough for the Church today. As Robert Coleman affirmed, the best way to make ones life count for eternity is to reproduce oneself into a few chosen men. He said, One must decide where he wants his ministry to count in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of his life in a few chosen men who will carry on his work after he has gone. Really it is a question of which generation we are living for.625 The next section will describe why SC is also well-suited to reproduce ones life into a few chosen men toward finishing the GC. Simple church is well-suited to make disciples of Jesus Christ toward finishing the Great Commission. Jesus not only taught and modeled His discipleship method, He also heralded the ultimate objective, Go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19, emphasis added). Revelation 7:9 pictures the final outcome of Christs ultimate objective, the grand finale of His GC, Before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. Toward achieving this heavenly scene, the Church is called to participate in and finish Christs GC.

624

Atkerson, Ekklesia: To the Roots of Biblical Church Life, 40. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 37.

625

310 Theologian David Bosch views the Church as an instrument of Christs GC. He explained, There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of Gods love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.626 In other words, in terms of world evangelization and discipleship, the Church is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Along this vein, the process of making disciples of all nations needs to start with making disciples. Although this statement appears to be a redundant, it is a clarifying statement to ensure that the disciple-making process starts with making disciples and not with planting churches, which is a modern missions strategy. Jesus methodology was to make disciples who in turn gathered together in ekklesia to make disciples. Hence, the ekklesia/church was a means to an end in His developmental process toward a more mature disciple. This is why Jesus told the 12 that it was their job to make disciples of all nations, and why He told them that it was His job to build my church (Mt 16:18, emphasis added). Neil Cole further explained the emphasis of making disciples versus church planting.627 He said, I found it

626

David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991), 38990.

The concept of church planting has been around for a long time, but it was made popular in modern missions by David Garrisons book in 1999, Church Planting Movements. The debate surrounding church planting, which has become a prolific missions strategy, comes down to the question: does one plant a church to make disciples, or make disciples from which a church gets planted? Whereas this question appears to be fall into the paradoxical which came first, the chicken or the egg argument, a deeper reflection says otherwise. Don Davis, a simple church leader, thinks the focus should always start with making disciples. He explained the ramifications, Making disciples must be the priority because when disciples are being made, then church happens. Subsequently, the forms, leadership, vision and direction emerges for that specific congregation. To the contrary, the traditional method of starting a church with its vision, mission, philosophy, and style before disciples are being made causes the church to never really get to making disciples. Even though this may be their goal, they spend all their time, assets, and budget on serving the structure, institution, or one mans vision rather than making disciples. To erect a church first causes the church to fall into the errors of: sectarianism, being a business rather than a family, and being focused on staff and facility rather than being focused on Jesus and making disciples. Other errors are constant philosophical battles and politics and finally an institution that is not Kingdom of God centered, but the kingdom of that church entity centered. Cited on Starting a Church or Making Disciples -

627

311 perplexing that the Bible never instructs us to start churches. There is not a single command in all of the Bible to initiate churches. The reason is quite clear: we are not to start churches, but instead to make disciples who make disciples. That is actually the way churches are started, at least in the New Testament.628 Paul followed Jesus method of using ekklesia to make disciples of all nations and as a result, he was very successful. In just over ten years, he established disciple-making ekklesia in the four provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia. Roland Allen wrote about this, Before AD 47, there were no churches in these [four] provinces. In AD 57, Paul could speak as if his work there was done, and could plan extensive tours into the far West without anxiety lest the churches that he had founded might perish in his absence for want of his guidance and support.629 While a study of Pauls ministry may reveal several reasons for his success, it is safe to assume that following Jesus discipleship strategy of utilizing an ekklesia had a lot to do with it. More specifically, utilizing an ekklesias oikos had a lot to do with it. A NT oikos cultivated a natural web of discipling relationships and it cultivated a natural sending base to release resources. These two aspects of oikos and how they relate to simple churches making disciples of all nations will be explored next. A simple church oikos cultivates a natural web of discipling relationships. As defined earlier in this chapter, the Greek word oikos is used in the NT to describe the relational aspect of spiritual communities. In the early Church, an oikos was
Which Comes First? Don Daviss Weblog, entry posted June 18, 2008, http://dondavis.wordpress.com/ (accessed June 22, 2008).
628

Cole, Organic Life, 98.

Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Pauls or Ours (London: 1927), 3, cited by F. F. Bruce, Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977), 18.

629

312 the home that a church fellowshipped in, as well as the concept of all believers belonging to the household of God. It can be thought of as a social web of relationships. Hence, taken in the context of the GC, an oikos represents the capacity to share ones faith from relationship to relationship. And since a life transformed by faith is most noticed by those who are around to see it, an oikos is truly the most effective way to spread the gospel. Several examples in the book of Acts show how quickly the Gospel spread from oikos to oikos. In each case, the Gospel infected a whole household/oikos. In Acts 10:2227, the Lord instructed Cornelius to gather his household/oikos together to hear the Gospel. When Peter arrived, it was not just Cornelius immediate family; he entered a large room filled with Cornelius relatives, slaves, associates, and neighbors. This same oikos pattern is followed in the case of Lydia (Acts 16:15), the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31-34), and Crispus, the leader of the Synagogue in Corinth (Acts 18:7-9). In addition, even during Pauls imprisonment in Rome an oikos was used to spread of the Gospel. Philippians 1:12-13 states, Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Amazingly, through the oikos of the palace guard, even some within Neros own oikos became disciples of Jesus Christ (Phil 4:22)! It is clear from NT examples that the household/oikos, the pattern simple churches are based on, was literally the Church of the first century. Not surprisingly, the household/oikos was also Pauls missionary strategy in taking the gospel to the Gentiles. Del Birkey recognized that when Paul began missionary work in a city, his primary objective was to win a household/oikos first. He explained, This then became the

313 nucleus as well as the center for the advancement of the gospel in that area.630 Paul, of course, got this soul-winning/disciple-making strategy from the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who initially taught the use of an oikos as a strategy to further His cause first with His 12 disciples (Luke 9:1-6) and then with His 72 disciples. Luke 10:5-7 tells the story of the 72, When you enter a house [oikos], first say, Peace to this house [oikos]. If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house [oikos], eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house [oikos] to house [oikos]. Neil Cole recognized how this oikos strategy, using a man of peace, leads to a reproducing church. He explained, When the moths are drawn to the light and the person of peace brings several to Christ, a church is born. This is the formation of a people of purpose, born in the harvest, born for the harvest of neighborhoods and nations. A church that starts this way is unique in that it is born out of the harvest, is found among the harvest, and is bent on a mission to continue to reach the lost. This missional element, inherent in each one's life-changing salvation, is the important drive to reach out and reproduce spontaneously. 631 To spread the story of Gods glory and the fame of His name from neighborhoods to nations, it appears that the Lord of the Harvest has directed His Church to utilize an oikos approach. Seeking a man of influence [peace], who subsequently influenced his own oikos is clearly Jesus methodology of spreading the Gospel. Indeed, it was not only His prescribed strategy to reach the world; it was also His own practice. For instance, as noted by Neil Cole, Jesus own cousin, John the Baptist, introduced Him to Andrew, who then brought his brother Peter to Jesus. Peter was instrumental in bringing James and

630

Birkey, A Survey of the New Testament House Churches, 67. Cole, Organic Life, 185.

631

314 John to Christ. All of them became part of Jesus core oikos whom He discipled to start a global movement. Cole summarized, Jesus had the capability to reach masses in events that would put our own efforts to shame, but He always shied away from mass outreach and invested in oikos relationships that could multiply and spread.632 Following Jesus oikos pattern of evangelism/discipleship, first century house churches used an oikos structure to correspond closely with the society around them. As a result, the composition of the early Christian movement was not limited to specific groups in the population but comprised of almost all the different social strata (Col 3:11). Concerning this, Roger Gehring, Ph.D. and adjunct professor at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, noted that Christians using an oikos approach positioned themselves to reach all levels of society with the gospel. He elucidated, The concept of church as the family of God [oikos] became the social model and affected the way Christians related one to another. Christian brotherly love transcended all social barriers, including those separating masters from slaves and Jews from Gentiles.633 The concept of church as the family of God, meeting from house to house, allowed for individuals from extremely different social backgrounds to be united into one new community. Gehring added, Inwardly, early house churches provided Christians with a training ground for practicing brotherly love and had a powerful integrating effect. Outwardly, house churches were display cases illustrating brotherly love to non-

632

Ibid., 166.

Roger W. Gehring, Ecclesiological and Missional Significance of the Early House Churches, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 130-142 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 136.

633

315 Christians, and as such they had a dynamic missional impact.634 The family of God, an oikos practicing brotherly love, indubitably spoke volumes of missional impact to a lost and dying world. A return to Jesus oikos approach of making disciples of all nations, as modeled by Paul and the early Church, is the ethos of simple church. Utilizing a wineskin that cultivates a natural web of discipling relationships, the SC is a well-suited to make disciples of all nations. Whereas modern institutional churches are prone to invest in mass evangelistic events that utilize attractional means to draw people to their buildings, simple church understands that an incarnational Gospel flies best on the wings of relationships. As Cole reminds the Church, The gospel spread throughout the known world in the first century in a single generation; it did so through relationship. 635 As it did so then, and as it did so in China in the 1950s and beyond, it can do so in the USA today. Moreover, due to the SCs relational strengths, it is also a well-suited wineskin to make disciples of all nations because it cultivates a natural sending base to release resources. A simple church oikos cultivates a natural sending base to release resources. Reaching the remaining 1.9 billion unreached people is a monumental task. Whereas television, radio, and literature can be incredibly powerful mediums for communicating the gospel, they will never fully replace the need for workers to be sent into the ripe harvest fields. Where there is no witness for the Gospel in a town, village, or
634

Ibid., 141. Additionally, according to Gehring, the integration of the house church within the oikos had a positive effect not only for the spread of the gospel; it also enabled continuity, duration, and tradition. He said, With the integration into oikos infrastructures, the Christian church became capable of long-term survival and was given the potential to transition from one generation to the next.
635

Cole, Organic Life, 162.

316 tribe, there will always be a worker needed to give testimony of Jesus Christ to a man of peace. Needless to say, sending these workers will require the financial, logistical, and prayer support of a solid network of people. Accordingly, an oikos cultivated out of a simple church/simple church network is well-suited to be a natural sending base from which to supply the required resources to make disciples of all nations, both the workers and the wealth. Out of an oikos of deep relationships comes a shared responsibly for each others lives, including vision and calling. This seems to be the case of Barnabus and Saul when they were sent out on their first mission trip by Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen. Acts 13:2-3 tells the story: While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The Antioch church, the oikos of Barnabus and Saul (Acts 11:22-26), in turn became their missionary-sending base, both on their first missionary trip and on subsequent trips. Likewise today, the commitment of a strong community of relationships with built in mutuality, accountability, and shared responsibility (i.e., the ethos of a simple church oikos), is undoubtedly one of the best ways to send out workers into the ripe harvest fields. In terms of raising required support, it seems as if this biblical model would be preferred by a potential missionary rather than itinerating through an institutional church denominational system, which typically requires years of trying to raise money from thousands of unknown people. Financial and prayer support would

317 certainly be more concentrated, intense, and dedicated coming from a deep relational oikos from which a worker/missionary was sent. Howard Foltz, long-time Professor of Missiology at Regent University, described the Model of a World-Class Sending Church, based on Acts 13:1-3: (1) a sending church sends its own, (2) a sending church trains/prepares the people whom it expects to send overseas, (3) a sending church significantly supports its missionaries, financially and materially, (4) a sending church diligently, passionately prays for its missionaries, and (5) a sending church takes the responsibility of nurturing its missionaries.636 Foltz did not have a simple church oikos in mind when frame-working his description of a model sending church, but not coincidently, its attributes are strikingly similar. Following the Act 13:1-3 model, simple church brothers and sisters in the Lord will know who is called to go to the ripe harvest fields and who is subsequently ready to be set apart. Out of close relationship, a simple church oikos will be able to disciple and prepare the potential sent one, knowing what their spiritual, emotional, and physical needs are. In conjunction, the spiritual friendships garnered from an oikos will encourage responsibility towards passionate pray and nurture for those who are eventually sent out. Concerning physical resources, due to the low overhead of a simple church discussed extensively in Chapter Two, a significant level of support, financially and logistically, should be readily available for the sent worker. In lieu of monetary support

Howard Foltz, MIS 502 Missions & the Local Church lecture notes (Virginia Beach: Regent University School of Divinity, 1999).

636

318 going to pay for pastor salaries637 and church buildings,638 it can go instead to send itinerate workers to the worlds ripest harvest fields, to the UPGs in the 10/40 Window. The expansion of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth happens as disciples of Jesus Christ are sent out to follow their calling both around the block and around the world. It happens through a natural web of relationships among ones neighbors, as well as being sent to the man of peace among the nations. Rad Zdero recognized this as an emerging SC reformation that will cause An underground revolution of faith that will transform our cities and blaze across our region, our nation, and the uttermost parts of the earth.639 Like so, the SC oikos, modeled after Jesus kainos wineskin, is well-suited to make disciples of all nations, especially towards finishing the GC.

Summary This Chapter examined and discussed the Churchs: (1) mandate: finishing the GC, (2) must: releasing resouces, and (3) method: using a SC wineskin. It did so from a biblical/theological and historical perspective, while considering the currrent implications for the Church today. Finishing the GC calls for the Church to obey Jesus Christs mandate to make disciples of all nations. Whereas this task seems overwhelming with
On the subject of paid local clergy, Roland Allen said, For generations after the death of the Apostles there were no paid clergy in the ChurchNo question of pay should be raised or considered. St Paul did not raise it: we need not. Cited in Allen, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church , 132, 150. Additionally, for an in-depth teaching on financial support of local leaders versus traveling leaders, see Appendix J. Church growth analyst Donald McGavran says that the first common obstacle to multiplying churches is the cost of building buildings, which never appeared in the early church. He said, The house church overcame the obstacle of introversion by exposing a new section of society in each new house church. The physical fact of the house church should be taken into consideration in any assessment of the causes of the growth of the early church. Cited in McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, 192-193.
639 638 637

Zdero, The Global House Church Movement, 3.

319 nearly 1.9 unreached people remaining, God intends for His Church to finish the task. Today, as never before, the Church has the knowledge of what completion of the task involves and where it requires involvement (i.e., the ripest harvest fields in the earth, primarily UPGs in the 10/40 Window). In worship to God, finishing the GC requires the Church to release resources, workers (i.e., time and talent) and wealth (i.e., treasure), in greater measure to the least and last. From the time it institutionalized, the Church has battled against a gross imbalance of resource release, keeping a large percentage of its income to pay for the upkeep of the bureaucratic institutions. Billions of dollars continues to be rationalized away, even to the extent of evangelical churches worldwide spending only 0.0015% of their total income to preach Christ where He is not known. Scripture mandates a redistribution of resources, workers and wealth, to where they are needed most. Simple churches with their low overhead have great capacity to lead the way in redistributing church resources to UPGs. The SC follows apostolic ekklesia traditions, which in turn imitated Jesus neos wine and kainos wineskin. The NT apostles left behind many patterns, principles, and practices that they expected the early Church to follow. The Church did so until the early Church fathers began to create their own patterns, principles, and practices, primarily related to hierarchical leadership. The Constantine era exasperated this error and broke from many other apostolic traditions toward the outcome of institutionalizing the Church. Providentially, the Lord has been trying to reform and recover His neos wine and kainos wineskin ever since. Whereas the Protestant Reformation reformed the wine, it did not do

320 much over the last five centuries to reform the wineskin; subsequently, it appears that the SC Movement is reforming the wineskin. The SC is well-suited to make disciples, Jesus mandate, due to facilitating an environment of intimate gatherings that aids the forging of authentic and trusting relationships, crucial to the disciple-making process. The SC is also well-suited to make disciple of all nations, Jesus fuller mandate, due to its oikos environment that cultivates a natural web of discipling relationships as well as an effective sending base to release resources. Taking all of this into consideration, Jim Mellon concluded, The book of Acts ends with the Apostle Paul preaching and teaching IN HIS OWN RENTED HOUSE (Acts 28:30-31). Could we now be picking up where the book left off 2000 years ago? 640 Chapters Two and Three supported the rationale for this ministry project as assessing the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC. As such, the three proposed propositions articulated in Chapter One have been supported through an extensive review of the literature. In review, these three proposition statements include: (1) Proposition Statement One (Philosophical Rationale simple churches should follow the biblical mandate to release their God-given resources, (2) Proposition Statement Two without bureaucratic burdens, simple churches have an enormous capacity to release their resources toward finishing the GC, and (3) Proposition Statement Three (Pragmatic Rationale) someone needs to assess if simple churches are releasing their resources toward finishing the GC, and if so, to what extent.
Jim Mellon, The Big Bang (For Your Bucks) Theory, Association of Home Churches (March 27, 2006), http://associationofhomechurches.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=2 (accessed May 3, 2008).
640

321 Having addressed Proposition Statements One and Two in Chapters Two and Three, the focus of Chapters Four and Five will address Proposition Statement Three. The next chapter will describe the ministry project and the survey instrument, the data gathering, and the results in order to assess if simple churches are releasing their resources toward finishing the GC.

CHAPTER FOUR: DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS OF THE MINISTRY PROJECT

Overview The focus of this dissertation was to assess the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC. For this purpose, a custom designed ministry project was utilized. This chapter will describe this ministry project, specifically the researcher-designed survey instrument used to gather data, the subsequent pilot testing, the means of distribution, and the results.

The Ministry Project Description In order to assess the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC, a quantitative approach utilizing an electronic survey was chosen as the methodology. The survey assessed the state of simple churches and the individuals that participate in them both from an attitudinal and behavioral perspective. The researcher-designed survey incorporates foundational questions predicated on the literature review, as well as the biblical/theological and historical views of SC. The survey was custom-designed to garner quantitative response data, pilot-tested within the context of a focus group, distributed, and the results collected. The survey was conducted online utilizing the survey tool Survey Monkey. Described next is the survey instrument used to carry out this ministry project.

322

323 Survey Instrument The survey instructions began with a short introduction assuring anonymity, stated a completion time of no more than 10-15 minutes, and provided six definitions deemed necessary to ensure a common understanding of the key terms included in the survey. Comprised of five sections, the survey utilized a Likert response scale (i.e., Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, Strongly Agree). Section 1 was entitled Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church. Consisting of five questions, it was designated only for those participants with an institutional/traditional church background. These questions compared participants past institutional/traditional church experience with their current simple/house church experience, in terms of giving personal time and money toward completing the Great Commission. Section 2 was entitled Great Commission and consisted of six questions that assessed the participants knowledge of the Great Commission and their perceived need to learn more about it. Section 3 was entitled Time641 and consisted of eight questions that assessed participants personal and simple church giving of time (i.e. praying, doing, and going) toward finishing the GC. Of particular note are the last two questions that assessed the time given to administrating participants simple church using a Likert scale based on numerical percentages. Section 4 was entitled Money 642 and consisted of seven questions that assessed participants personal household giving of

Chapters 1-3 discussed releasing the resource of workers in relation to Jesus command, Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field. Go! (Luke 10:2-3). Time in the survey represents one resource component of worker (i.e., releasing time is one component of releasing a worker, albeit a significant one). Chapters 1-3 discussed releasing the resource of wealth in relation to sending workers into the harvest field. Money in the survey represents one resource component of wealth (i.e., releasing money is one component of releasing wealth, albeit a significant one).
642

641

324 money as well as their simple churchs giving of money toward finishing the GC. Other than the last question on the subject of tithing, this section also used a Likert scale based on numerical percentages. Section 5 was entitled Demographics, consisting of 19 questions ranging from personal demographics to numerous questions about participants simple church. Prior to the survey instrument being adapted into the electronic version, it was pilot-tested as described next.

Pilot-Testing Before pilot-testing the survey instrument, the initial survey design and questions were reviewed by: (1) the authors wife, (2) the authors field mentor, Dr. Felicity Dale, (3) two of the authors friends, Don Davis and Norm Przybylski, specialists in SC development, and (4) the authors chair, Dr. Diane Chandler. After many additions and adjustments, the survey design was then pilot-tested in the context of a face-to-face focus group, which consisted of eight participants in the authors Friday night simple church gathering. The participants in the focus group averaged from 9-12 minutes to complete the survey and offered copious and constructive suggestions, which subsequently led to further survey revisions. The final version of the survey can be found in Appendix K. The survey was then electronically designed using SurveyMonkey, tested to ensure it was transmittable, and then distributed, which is described next.

Survey Distribution The survey distribution goal was to obtain quantitative data from as large a sample as possible, derived from members of simple churches in the USA. Having a prior

325 relationship with key simple church leaders and influencers assisted in this endeavor, especially Felicity Dale, co-founder of House2House Ministries. These key influencers were asked to distribute the survey web link to their respective constituents through ministry newsletters or e-mail, accompanied by a word of encouragement promoting survey participation. 643 Table 15 shows the name of the organizations that participated in the survey, if their distribution base was national or local, and the potential number of participants. Table 15. Survey Distribution Participants Organization House2House.org Lk10.com House2Harvest.org Dallas/Ft Worth SC Network Hampton Roads SC Network Hilton Village SC TOTAL (sampling frame) National / Local National National National Local Local Local Potential Participants 5750 383 103 195 62 22 6515

With the survey web link distributed to a sampling frame of 6515 potential participants644, the data were subsequently collected in SurveyMonkey.com. The next section presents this data and considers the ministry projects results.
643

For example, Tony Dale promoted the survey in his House2House.org e-newsletter as follows: We need your help in a major research project being done by Steve Lyzenga for a doctoral dissertation on the impact of house church on mission. Steve Lyzenga is an advisory board member of House2House and co-founder of House2Harvest.org. He's writing on this subject of simple/house churches in the USA and the Great Commission. I filled out the survey myself and it only takes about 10 minutes. We believe the results will give us a better grasp on the simple/house church movement in the USA, specifically on how it is affecting the Great Commission in our neighborhoods and the nations. Thanks for taking the time (it needs to be completed by March 18, 2009), and please forward the survey link to everyone you know who is participating in a simple/house church in the USA. Most likely there is overlap in the reporting of the sampling frame, as individuals may be included on one or more lists. Therefore, a round number of 6000 potential participants may be a more accurate total.
644

326 The Ministry Project Results At the conclusion of the survey collection, the number of respondents totaled 197. However after culling the data for those who did not respond to all the questions, with the exception of the first section which some skipped if these questions did not apply, the usable sample totaled 159 participants who completed the survey. The demographic data is presented next, followed by survey data from Section 1-4.

Survey Demographics Table 16. Demographic Profile of Participants (N = 159) Demographics Gender Male Female 101 58 63.5 36.5 Number Percent

Ethnicity Asian-American African-American Caucasian Hispanic-American Other Marital Status Single Married Divorced Widowed 11 138 5 5 6.9 86.9 3.1 3.1 2 4 146 2 5 1.3 2.5 91.8 1.3 3.1

327 Demographics Education High School Bible School Certificate Associates Degree Bachelors Degree Masters Degree Doctorate Degree Employment Status Full-time Part-time Self-employed Unemployed Retired Current Employment Business Education Government Health Care Homemaker Parachurch Ministry Missions Other 49 14 9 7 13 17 16 34 30.8 8.8 5.7 4.4 8.2 10.7 10.1 21.3 70 22 42 9 16 44.0 13.8 26.4 5.7 10.1 27 9 19 48 46 10 17.0 5.7 11.9 30.2 28.9 6.3 Number Percent

328 The average participant age was 49 with a range of 23-77. The average number of children under 18 living at home was 1 with a range of 0-9. Concerning simple church demographics, the average number of adolescents and children (under 18) in a simple/house church was 6 with a range of 0-26. The average number of adults (18 or over) in a simple/house church was 13, with a range of 2-50. Regarding the duration in years a simple/house church had been meeting, the average number was 5 with a range of 0.5-40. Table 17 contains questions reflecting simple church participation. Table 17. Simple Church Questions (N = 159) Simple Church Questions Frequency your simple/house church meets? Monthly Bimonthly Weekly Biweekly Daily Day(s) of week your simple/house church meets? Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday 6 10 14 9 16 36 81 3.5 5.8 8.1 5.2 9.4 20.9 47.1 4 14 117 18 6 2.5 8.8 73.5 11.4 3.8 Number Percent

329 Simple Church Questions Does your simple/house church have elders? Yes No 55 104 34.6 65.4 Number Percent

Is your simple/house church part of a larger simple/house church network? Yes No Do not know 55 94 10 34.6 59.1 6.3

I would recommend my simple/house church to a friend? Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree 2 4 15 42 96 1.3 2.5 9.4 26.4 60.4

I would recommend the simple/house church paradigm to a friend? Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree 1 2 6 34 116 0.6 1.3 3.8 21.4 72.9

330 The results presented hereafter are from survey Sections 1-4. The results of all 26 questions from the usable sample data of 159 participants are found in Appendix L. In the next section, the reported results derive from 12 questions deemed especially pertinent to this ministry project.645 Reporting reflects the percentage of responses, followed by the number of respondents in parenthesis (e.g., 81.6%, N = 131).

Survey Section 1 Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church The first survey section explored the comparison between participants institutional/traditional church experience with their simple/house church experience in relation to finishing the Great Commission. As stated in the definition section in this survey, finishing the GC refers to obeying Jesus GC on a local, national, international, and unreached people level. Question 1 (Q 1) asked if the participants simple/house church experience allowed them to release more of their personal time directly to finishing the Great Commission. Results reflected that 81.6% (N = 131) strongly agreed or agreed, whereas 4.4% (N = 7) strongly disagreed or disagreed; 13.2% (N = 21) were neutral. Q 2 asked the same question but addressed personal money instead of personal time. The data demonstrated that 88.1% (N = 140) strongly agreed or agreed, whereas 5.0% (N = 8) strongly disagreed or disagreed; 6.9% (N = 11) were neutral. Refer to Appendix L for the actual response distribution for Q 1 and Q 2, as well as Q 3-26. In comparison to the participants traditional/institutional church experience, Q 3 asked if the participants simple/house church was capable of giving a greater percentage of its time directly to finishing the GC. Results reflected that 81.2% (N = 129) strongly

645

See Appendix M for visual bar charts of the data for the following 12 pertinent questions.

331 agreed or agreed, whereas 5.0% (N = 8) strongly disagreed or disagreed; 13.8% (N = 22) were neutral. Q 4 asked the same question but addressed a greater percentage of the participants simple/house church money instead of time. The data demonstrated that 90.5% (N = 144) strongly agreed or agreed, whereas 4.4% (N = 7) strongly disagreed or disagreed; 5.0% (N = 8) were neutral.

Survey Section 2 Great Commission The second survey section explored the participants assessment of their personal capacity to finish the GC, as well as their perception as to their simple churchs capacity to do the same. Q 10 asked if the participants simple/house church needed help connecting to other simple/house churches related to finishing the GC. Results reflected that 67.9% (N = 108) strongly agreed or agreed, whereas 13.8% (N = 22) strongly disagreed or disagreed; 18.2% (N = 29) were neutral. Q 11 asked the same question concerning sending missionaries. The data demonstrated that 61.7% (N = 98) strongly agreed or agreed, whereas 14.1% (N = 24) strongly disagreed or disagreed; 23.3% (N = 37) were neutral.

Survey Section 3 Time The third survey section explored the participants personal and simple church giving of the resource of time related to releasing it toward finishing the GC. Q 18 asked how much simple church activity time the participant personally gave to help administrate (manage, care for, run) their simple church. Results reflected that 24.5% (N = 39) gave less than 1% of their time, 18.9% (N = 30) gave 2%-5%, 12.6% (N = 20) gave 6%-10%, 14.5% (N = 23) gave 11%-25%, and 18.8% (N = 30) gave greater than 25%;

332 10.7% (N = 17) did not know. Q 19 asked the same question but addressed the participants simple/house church time instead of personal time. The data demonstrated that 22.6% (N = 36) gave less than 1% of their time, 20.1% (N = 32) gave 2%-5%, 20.8% (N = 33) gave 6%-10%, 9.4% (N = 15) gave 11%-25%, and 6.9% (N = 11) gave greater than 25%; 20.1% (N = 32) did not know.

Survey Section 4 Money The fourth survey section explored the participants personal and simple church giving of financial resources related to releasing them toward finishing the GC. Q 20 asked how much money the participants personal household gave to charity work of any sort (i.e., religious and/or non-religious). Results reflected that 2.5% (N = 4) gave less than 1% of their gross annual income, 7.5% (N = 12) gave 2%-5%, 25.8% (N = 41) gave 6%-10%, 51.6% (N = 82) gave 11%-25%, and 7.5% (N = 12) gave greater than 25%; 5.0% (N = 8) did not know. Q 23 asked how much money the participants simple/house church spent on internal administration costs. The data demonstrated that 59.1% (N = 94) spent less than 1% of their total annual proceeds, 15.1% (N = 24) spent 2%-5%, 4.4% (N = 7) spent 6%-10%, 0.6% (N = 1) spent 11%-25%, and 1.9% (N = 3) spent greater than 25%; 18.9% (N = 30) did not know. Q 22 asked how much money the participants personal household gave specifically to reach unreached people. Results reflected that 30.8% (N = 49) gave less than 5% of their total annual charity, 33.9% (N = 54) gave 6%-25%, 11.3% (N = 18) gave 26%-45%, 5.7% (N = 9) gave 46%-85%, and 3.8% (N = 6) gave greater than 85%; 14.5% (N = 23) did not know. Q 25 asked the same question but addressed the participants

333 simple/house church money instead of personal money. The data demonstrated that 21.4% (N = 34) gave less than 5% of its total annual proceeds, 28.3% (N = 45) gave 6%25%, 11.3% (N = 18) gave 26%-45%, 3.1% (N = 5) gave 46%-85%, and 4.4% (N = 7) gave greater than 85%; 32.7% (N = 50) did not know.

Survey Chart Comparisons This section incorporates the results of the 12 questions presented above, deemed especially pertinent to this ministry project, and combines them into the six survey chart comparisons below. Figure 3 compares the participants current simple/house church experience and whether it allows them to release more of their personal time and personal money directly to finishing the GC versus their past traditional/institutional church experience. The data reveal an overwhelmingly 80% of participants either strongly agree or agree that they are capable of releasing more of their personal time and personal money directly to finishing the GC in their current simple/house church experience.

100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

Release More Personal Money Release More Personal Time Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree / / Disagree Agree

Figure 3. Personal time and money releasability

334 Figure 4 compares whether the participants current simple/house church experience allows them to release more of their simple church time and simple church money directly to finishing the GC versus their past traditional/institutional church experience. With almost identical results to Figure 3, the data demonstrate almost 90% of participants either strongly agree or agree that their simple church is capable of releasing more of their simple church time and simple church money directly to finishing the GC in their current simple/house church experience.

100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

Release More SC Money Release More SC Time Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree / Disagree Agree

Figure 4. Simple church time and money releasability

Figure 5 compares the participants personal household charity giving as a percentage of their gross annual income and their simple/house church spending to administrate itself (i.e., manage, care for, run) as a percentage of its total annual proceeds. The data indicate whereas almost 60% of participants give more than 10% of their gross annual income to charity, over 70% of participants say their simple/house church spends less than 5% on administration costs.

335

80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

SC $ to Admin 0% - 5% Personal $ to Charity 6% - %10 > 10%

Figure 5. Personal charity giving and simple church administrative spending

Figure 6 compares the participants personal time given to administrate their simple church and their perception related to their overall simple/house church time given to help administrate itself, both as a percentage of their weekly simple church activity. The data demonstrate that both personal time and perceptions of simple church time given to administrate were almost identical more than 50% of participants said that they give less than 10% of their personal and simple church time to administrate their simple/house church.

80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

SC Time to Admin < 10% 11% - 25% > 25% Personal Time to Admin

Figure 6. Personal and simple church time given to administration

336 Figure 7 compares the participants personal household and simple/house church giving specifically to reach unreached people as a percentage of their total annual giving. The data reveal that more than 50% of participants give over 5% of their personal income to efforts to reach unreached peoples, whereas more than 40% of participants give over 5% of their simple church income to do so.

40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

SC $ to Unreached 0% - 5% Personal $ to Unreached 6% - 25% > 25%

Figure 7. Personal and simple church giving to unreached people

Figure 8 compares the participants simple/house church perceived need for help in connecting with other simple/house churches and in sending missionaries related to finishing the GC. The data show more than 60% of participants acknowledged the need for help in both connecting with other simple/house churches and sending missionaries.

337

80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

Help Sending Missionaries Help Connecting w/ Others

Strongly Disagree / Disagree Strongly Agree / Agree

Figure 8. Need help connecting with others and sending missionaries

Summary In order to assess the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC, a custom designed ministry project was utilized. This chapter described this ministry project, including the researcher-designed online survey instrument used to gather data, the subsequent pilot testing, and the means of distribution. The results were also reported. Chapter Five will discuss the survey results in assessing the state of simple churches in the USA with regard to releasing resources toward finishing the GC.

CHAPTER FIVE: ANALYSIS AND ASSESSMENT OF THE MINISTRY PROJECT

Overview The focus of this dissertation was to assess the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC. For this purpose, a customdesigned ministry project employing an online survey was utilized and the results reported, as described in Chapter Four. This chapter will analyze the results of the survey data, discuss the limitations and recommendations for further research, evaluate the ministry project, and give an overall assessment of the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC.

Analysis of the Ministry Project Survey Section 1 Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church The first survey section explored the comparison between the participants institutional/traditional church experience and their simple/house church experience in relation to releasing resources, workers and wealth, directly toward finishing the Great Commission. There is very little, if any, research data in the academic community that assesses the state of simple churches in relation to releasing resources toward finishing the GC. This ministry project directly addressed this research gap. Consequently, a logical place to start this research was to ask participants to compare their previous institutional/traditional church experience to their current simple/house church experience.

338

339 The results, although somewhat predictable, were still startling in their magnitude. A large percentage of participants confirmed the difference of their resource release capability when comparing their SC and IC experiences, both on a personal and simple church level. Between 80-90% of participants verified that they were capable of giving a greater percentage of their personal and simple church time (i.e., as workers) and money (i.e., wealth) directly to finishing the GC. Whereas this section of questions did not measure the magnitude of the difference of the participants resource release capability, covered in Sections 3 and 4 below, the results did clearly indicate that the SC might have a much greater potential than the IC to release personal and simple church resources, workers and wealth, toward finishing the GC. One plausible explanation for this greater giving capacity might relate directly to the very small overhead needed to operate a simple church. As discussed in Chapter 2, ICs often spend a large percentage of their budgets on administrative costs. Rad Zdero confirmed this, More conventional churches can spend up to 80% of their budget simply in supporting their full-time minister, expensive internal programs, and paying off the mortgage for the church building. 646 Simple churches, on the other hand, typically do not have these expenses. Zdero elaborated on the ramifications, Strictly speaking, a house church cluster with the same number of people as a single traditional church has significantly more financial leverage in supporting overseas missionaries, relief organizations, and local mercy ministries.647

646

Rad Zdero, True Community: Doing Life Together as a House Church, 406. Ibid.

647

340 Whereas Zderos suppositions and previous research from Chapter 2 support the results in this section, it cannot be confirmed that low simple church overhead was the sole reason for the large percentage differential. Since participants were not asked why they were able to give a greater percentage of their personal and simple church time and money (i.e., workers and wealth) directly to finishing the GC, further research could explore causality.

Survey Section 2 Great Commission The second survey section explored the participants personal perceptions and simple church perceptions related to understanding and anticipated help related to finishing the GC. The two questions, Q 10 and Q 11, deemed especially pertinent in this section to this ministry project, concerned the participants perception that their simple/house church needed help connecting to other simple/house churches and needed help sending missionaries, both related to finishing the GC. Over 60% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that they need help connecting and sending missionaries, whereas less than 15% of participants disagreed or strongly disagreed. These results are not surprising due to the sometimes isolated nature of simple churches. Although they dont have the bureaucratic burdens of ICs discussed above, they do lose out on some of the strengths of ICs, such as networking through denominations and missions-sending organizations. The good news, however, is that a majority of SC survey participants perceived a need for help in connecting with other simple churches and sending missionaries (i.e., they are seeking networking opportunities).

341 Having anticipated the need for simple church networking, the author and his partner, Don Davis, initiated a SC networking web site called House2Harvest. The vision statement of House2Harvest is: Serving to network and assist simple churches and house churches to do strategic missions in order to finish the task of reaching all peoples with the gospel.648 The results of the survey confirm the relevance of networking entities such as House2Harvest that are attempting to synergistically network simple churches for the sake of releasing resources toward finishing the GC. Future research might explore the subject of SC and networking, especially in the area of how simple churches can collaborate and work strategically together to engage in missions initiatives (e.g., sending missionaries to UPGs).

Survey Section 3 Time The third survey section explored the participants personal and corporate simple church giving of the resource of time related to releasing it toward finishing the GC. The two questions, Q 18 and Q 19, deemed especially pertinent in this section to this ministry project, concerned the participants giving of their personal time and perceptions of simple church time to administrating (manage, care for, run) their simple church. Both on a personal and simple church basis, approximately 25% of participants said they spent less than 1% of their time on simple church administration. And 50% of participants spent less than 10% of their time on simple church administration. To the contrary, less than 10% of participants spent more than 25% of their time on simple church administration.

648

Home Page, House2Harvst, http://www.house2harvest.org/ (accessed April 11, 2009).

342 These are significant numbers and if they are representative of the entire SC Movement, they reflect well for simple churches in terms of its peoples time being freed up from church administration tasks. Meeting in homes with virtually no administration work to do, it would seem that much more time would be available for simple church participants to be workers who directly do the work of ministry in their community and beyond, perhaps even among UPGs, if they so choose. Since simple church participants were not assessed on how they actually utilize their freed-up time, further study on this subject could explore if simple church participants are dedicating their freed up time to directly engaging in ministry initiatives; and if so, how and where they are allotting it.

Survey Section 4 Money The fourth survey section explored the participants personal and corporate simple church giving relating to the releasing of finances toward finishing the GC. There were four questions deemed especially pertinent in this section to this ministry project. The first one (Q 20) concerned the participants overall personal household charity giving as a percentage of their gross annual income. Startling, almost 60% of participants gave more than 10% of their income to charity and more than 80% gave more than 6%, compared to the typical American Christian who gives less than 3% of his/her income to charity. 649 What makes this statistic related to giving to charity even more profound is combining it with the next survey question (Q 23) result. Upwards of 70% of participants claim their simple/house church spends less than 5% of their total annual proceeds on administration costs. Compare this to the typical institutional church, who spends 85% of

649

Barna, Revolution, 31-35.

343 all church activity and funds directly toward the internal operations of the congregation, such as staff salaries, building payments, utility and operating expenses. 650 Distinctively, not only are simple church participants giving much more personal money to charity than the typical American Christian, they are also giving much less money to simple church administrative costs than the typical institutional church. The third and fourth questions (Q 22 and 25) deemed especially pertinent in this section concerned the participants giving of their personal and simple church money specifically to reach unreached people. Although a majority of participants give less than 25% of their personal and simple church total annual giving to unreached people, the data reveal at least an awareness of unreached peoples to the extent of 50% of participants giving over 5% of their total annual giving to unreached peoples. Whereas this seems like a small amount, it is actually a huge percentage increase over the 0.07% giving to World A, where a large majority of the UPGs live, by the typical evangelical Christian ($250 million given annually to World A651 $370 billion given annually to all Christian causes652). Overall, concerning the participants personal and corporate simple church financial giving (i.e., the resource of wealth), it appears that they are giving to charities generously, spending only a minute amount on church administration, and giving specifically and strategically to unreached people, well above the evangelical norm. That said, this data only scratches the surface on the vast subject of releasing wealth from

650

Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving through 2000, 13. Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 55. Barrett, Johnson, and Crossing, Missiometrics, 8.

651

652

344 simple churches toward finishing the GC. Further research along these lines is a wide open door.

Limitations of the Ministry Project There are a number of limitations in this ministry project. First, this ministry project did not measure causality. Rather, it assessed the state of simple churches and the individuals that participate in them both from an attitudinal and behavioral perspective. Second, the survey questions were researcher-designed in an area not previously assessed through survey research. As such, the survey was not a validated research instrument, yet offered a first attempt in exploring the SC phenomenon. Third, although there were 159 participants, this number pales in comparison to Barnas projected 5 million simple church adherents nationwide.653 A much larger and more representative sample would be desired for further research. Fourth, there was room for misunderstanding the survey questions that involved the term administration. Although it was defined as manage, care for, run a simple church, this might have been too broad of a definition, leading to potential confusion when responding. Further survey work that investigates the issue of simple church administration might consider a more specific definition, inclusive of salaries. Fifth, there was no distinction in the survey between leaders and non-leaders. Although the emphasis on church leadership is much less in simple church compared to institutional church, it is still a valid biblical distinction, properly defined, and should be pursued in further survey work. Sixth, due to the novelty of the SC Movement and having virtually no data to build

653

Barna, 49.

345 on, the ministry projects survey was very broad, spread out over four different and mostly unique sections. Of course, this presents a gateway for further and more specific research, which is discussed next.

Recommendations for Future Research Due to the broad swath of this ministry projects survey, it is easy to envision each survey section lending itself to a full research project in and of itself. First, in the comparison of simple church to institutional church section, further research could explore the causality of why simple church participants overwhelming expressed that they are capable of releasing more of their personal and simple church time and money toward finishing the GC. Second, in the GC section, future research might look more indepth into the subject of the SC and networking, especially in the area of how simple churches can collaboratively work together to engage in missions initiatives, primarily among UPGs. Third, in the time section, further research could consider how simple church participants, with a very light administrative load, are utilizing their time. For example, is their freed-up time being applied directly to do the work of ministry? Or is their time being spent elsewhere; and if so, where is their time being spent? Fourth, related to financial giving, future research might explore why simple church participants give a larger percentage to charity than their institutional church counterparts. Additionally, future research might explore the financial venues related to where simple church participants are giving generally (e.g., missions, benevolence, ones community) and also giving specifically to reach unreached peoples. Which unreached people they are giving

346 to and how are they giving to reach them (i.e., on their own or through networks) are pertinent points of inquiry. Further research in these areas, and other areas not yet considered, is recommended in order to explore ongoing SC trends and resource potential. Hopefully those with a similar vision to see simple churches in the USA better release resources toward finishing the GC will be able to gather and utilize future data, built upon this ministry project, for the sake of moving forward in fulfilling the GC.

Evaluation of the Ministry Project As mentioned in Chapter 1, in addition to the actual survey data and results analysis, an evaluation of the ministry project was to be based on the following four criteria (see p. 33). 1. Were the data useful in addressing the stated problem related to number of participants and a demographic cross-section of participants? 2. Was the methodology useful enough to address the stated problem (e.g., was the design appropriate, the collection of data suitable, and analysis of the data accurate)? 3. Were the data useful to lend itself to potential solutions to the stated problem (e.g., did enough ideas and suggestions come forth to build the foundation for a prototype House2Harvest)? 4. Were the data useful to lead others to seek answers to the stated problem (e.g., did the survey spark a healthy level of interest in exploring further research related to the problem)? First, were the data useful in addressing the stated problem (i.e., assessing the state of simple churches in the USA regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC) related to number of participants and a demographic cross-section of participants?

347 The answer is yes. The 159 participants who completed the survey represented a crosssection of demographics and led to very useful sample in addressing the stated problem. Second, was the methodology useful enough to address the stated problem (e.g., was the design appropriate, the collection of data suitable, and analysis of the data accurate)? The electronic survey methodology, incorporating a survey web link distributed by e-mail and newsletter and utilizing SurveyMonkey, was effective and very efficient. In terms of the survey design, overall it was an appropriate initial survey in light of lack of research on the SC Movement. In reviewing the survey, a few survey questions may have been ambiguous, such as Q 6-8 and Q 12-17. One limitation of the survey related to one inadvertent feature of its design, namely that participants could skip questions. Because a total of 40 participants did not complete several survey questions, their data were not included in the final usable sample of 159 participants. That said, reporting the results and analyzing the data was straightforward and specific due to the Likert scale design. Third, will the data be useful in addressing potential solutions to the stated problem (e.g., did enough ideas and suggestions come forth to build a solid foundation for a prototype House2Harvest)? As a result of the ministry project, the once conceptual House2Harvest web-based mobilization ministry is currently off the drawing board and in the prototype stage. The data confirmed the need for this type of ministry. An overwhelming number of participants indicated that they desired help in connecting with other simple churches and in sending out missionaries. Both of these affirming responses/results are key attributes of House2Harvest and will be paramount if simple

348 churches are to release resources to their potential capacity for the sake of finishing the GC. Fourth, will the data be useful to lead others to seek answers to the stated problem (e.g., did the survey spark a healthy level of interest in exploring further research related to the problem)? Although the full ramifications of this ministry project have yet to be realized, numerous simple church members have expressed a desire to see the results of the data once published. Furthermore, a board member of House2House has expressed interest in presenting the survey results to hundreds of people at the 2009 national House2House Labor Day conference. This is certain to spark some level of interest in exploring further research initiatives related to the topic of simple churches releasing resources toward finishing the GC.

Summary Simple churches, which are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the West, utilize a non-bureaucratic structure that potentially can release an immense amount of resources, workers and wealth, to make disciples of all nations in fulfillment of Jesus Christs long-standing Matthew 28:18-20 command. With simple churches being such a recent phenomenon in the USA, however, it appears no one really knows the current resource release and future capacity of simple churches towards finishing the GC. In fact, no one has previously confirmed until now if simple churches have an outward vision for fulfilling the GC, focusing on the earths ripe harvest fields. Since a lack of research exists on this highly relevant topic, this ministry project, utilizing a survey to collect quantitative data, has at least partially addressed this research void.

349 The analyzed survey data have very encouraging implications for the SC Movement. The results bear witness to this ministry projects premise that simple churches have a vast potential to redistribute resources, workers and wealth, strategically to where they are needed most in the world, World A and UPGs. Although there is much more research needed on the subject of simple churches releasing resources, the current data show that this sample of simple church participants are not only GC aware, but they are also aware of their capacity to release more of their resources toward finishing the GC, especially in comparison to their previous institutional church experience. In the authors assessment, if the SC Movement becomes mainstream in the USA as Barna forecasts (30-35% by 2025)654, it bodes well for the future of the Church in the USA, especially regarding releasing resources toward finishing the GC.

654

Ibid.

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Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1984. Ronsvalle, John and Sylvia. The State of Church Giving through 2004, 16th ed. Champaign, IL: Empty Tomb, 2006. ________. The State of Church Giving through 2000. Champaign, IL: Empty Tomb, 2002. Rowell, John. Magnify Your Vision for the Small Church. Atlanta, GA: Northside Community Church, 1998. ________. To Give or Not to Give, Rethinking Dependency, Restoring Generosity and Redefining Sustainability. Waynesboro, GA: Authentic Media, 2006. Rutz, James H. Megashift. Colorado Springs, CO: Empowerment Press, 2006. ________. The Open Church. Portal, GA: Open Church Ministries, 1993. Sachs, Jeffery D. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. New York: Penguin Books, 2005. Schwartz, Christian A. Natural Church Development. Saint Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996. Shenk, David W. God's Call To Mission. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994. Shubin, Russell G. Where Your Treasure Is... A fresh look at our life and our resources in light of the Kingdom. Mission Frontiers (September 2001). Sider, RonaId J. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study, 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1984. ________. The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. Dartmouth, MA: Baker Books, 2005. Sine, Tom. The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time. Nottingham, UK: IVP Books, 2008. Simson, Wolfgang. Houses that Change the World: The Return of House Churches. Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Publishing, 1999. Smith, Maurice. You Wanna Do What in Your House?!! Spokane, WA: The Parousia Network, 2008.

359 Strong, J. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order (electronic ed.). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996. Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 1997. Snyder, Graydon. Church Life Before Constantine. Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1991. Snyder, Howard A. Liberating the Church: The Ecology of Church and Kingdom. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1983. ________. The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in Technological Age. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1975. The Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984. The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989. Thoman, Roger. Simple/House Church Revolution (Nipomo, CA: Appleseed Publications, 2008), Electronic Format. ________. SimpleChurch Journal. http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/. Umidi, Joseph. Confirming the Pastoral Call. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2000. Vaus, Will, and Douglas Gresham. Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004. Vine, W.E. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words. 1939. Reprint. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1985. Viola, Frank and George Barna. Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. Carol Stream, IL: BarnaBooks, 2008. Viola, Frank. Pagan Christianity: The Origins of Our Modern Church Practices. Gainesville, FL: Present Testimony Ministry, 2003. ________. Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008. ________. Who Is Your Covering A fresh Look at Leadership, Authority and Accountability. Gainesville, FL: Present Testimony Ministry, 2001.

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________. How to Start a House Church, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 385-393. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007. ________. How to Have Participatory House Church Meetings, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 394-400. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007. Walvoord, J. F., R.B. Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible knowledge commentary: An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983c1985. Webber, Robert. The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002. Winter, Ralph D., and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1999. ________, and Bruce A. Koch, Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge, Missions Frontiers (June 2000) http://www.missionfrontiers.org/2000/03/200003.htm. Wood, D. R. W., & I. H. Marshall. New Bible Dictionary. Includes index. (electronic ed. of 3rd ed.). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996, c1982, c1962. Wright, Christopher. Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament. 3rd ed. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1995. Yancey, Philip. Prayer: Does It Make any Difference? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006. Zdero, Rad, ed. Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007. ________. The Nature and Function of the Early House Churches, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 70-83. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007. ________. Constantines Revolution: The Shift from House Churches to the Cathedral Church, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 182-193. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007. ________. True Community: Doing Life Together as a House Church, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 401-407. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007.

361 ________. The Financial Support of House Church Leaders, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 447-456. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007. ________. The Global House Church Movement. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2004.

362 APPENDIX A

Missional Definition of a People Group

Derived from the word ethnos, the New Testament Greek word for nations, a people group is a group of individuals who share ethnic, linguistic, or cultural traits. For missional purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the gospel can spread along natural lines without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance due to culture, language, and geography. Using an illustration to explain further, consider the following example of someone living in the United States: 1. Language barrier First, your language is English. Who are the people with whom you have been communicating naturally in English? Which ones do not speak the language? Let us draw a boundary that represents language. 2. Ethnic barrier Do you live among different ethnic groups? Which one is yours? Hispanic? Middle-Eastern? White? Black? Asian? The boundary is reduced because of your ethnic group. 3. Regional barrier You live in the South. For many people, where they live and the people they live close to determine who they consider to be part of their group. Again, in our illustration your group is becoming better defined by country or region. 4. Social barrier Being black, do you relate to some people better than others? Do you think of yourself as belonging to a particular class or caste? Perhaps you think of yourself as belonging to a specific occupation or profession. Your parents came to America from Libya, North Africa. You relate best with other North Africans. Another boundary goes up because of social relationships. 5. Religious barrier What kind of people do you worship with? In other words, what is your religion? For many people, religion is one of the primary ways they identify themselves with a group. You happen to be Muslim like your parents. A boundary of religion is formed. All these boundaries are both inclusive and exclusive. They define a particular people group, and they exclude those people who are not part of the people group. Every country is filled with people groups. At first glance we may believe that all the people in our country are just like us. But closer examination will show a vast mosaic of differences.

363 APPENDIX B Pagan Christianity - Summary of Origins655

The following summary is neither complete nor detailed. Note that all of the practices covered are post-biblical, post-apostolic, and mostly influenced by pagan culture. Chapter 2: The Church Building (pp. 271) The Church Building - First constructed under Constantine around AD 327. The earliest church buildings were patterned after the Roman basilicas, which were modeled after Greek temples. The Sacred Space - Christians borrowed this idea from the pagans in the second and third centuries. The burial places of the martyrs were regarded as "sacred." In the fourth century, church buildings were erected on these burial places, thus creating "sacred" buildings. The Pastor's Chair - Derived from the cathedra, which was the bishop's chair or throne. This chair replaced the seat of the judge in the Roman basilica. Tax-Exempt Status for Churches and Christian Clergy - Emperor Constantine gave churches tax-exempt status in AD 323. He made clergy exempt from paying taxes in AD 313, a privilege that pagan priests enjoyed. Stained-Glass Windows - First introduced by Gregory of Tours and brought to perfection by Suger (1081-1151), Abbot of St. Denis. Gothic Cathedrals - Twelfth century. These edifices were built according to the pagan philosophy of Plato. The Steeple - Rooted in ancient Babylonian and Egyptian architecture and philosophy, the steeple was a medieval invention that was popularized and modernized by Sir Christopher Wren in London around 1666. The Pulpit - Used in the Christian church as early as AD 250. It came from the Greek ambo, which was a pulpit used by both Greeks and Jews for delivering monologues. The Pew - Evolved from the thirteenth through the eighteenth centuries in England. Chapter 3: The Order of Worship (pp. 272-3) The Sunday Morning Order of Worship - Evolved from Gregory's Mass in the sixth century and the revisions made by Luther, Calvin, the Puritans, the Free Church tradition, the Methodists, the Frontier-Revivalists, and the Pentecostals. The Centrality of the Pulpit in the Order of Worship - Martin Luther in 1523. Two Candles Placed On Top of the "Communion Table" and Incense Burning Candles were used in the ceremonial court of Roman emperors in the fourth

655

Viola and Barna. Pagan Christianity, 271-275.

364 century. The Communion table was introduced by Ulrich Zwingli in the sixteenth century. Taking the Lord's Supper Quarterly - Ulrich Zwingli in the sixteenth century. The Congregation Standing and Singing When the Clergy Enters - Borrowed from the ceremonial court of Roman emperors in the fourth century. Brought into the Protestant liturgy by John Calvin. Coming to Church with a Somber/Reverent Attitude - Based on the medieval view of piety. Brought into the Protestant service by John Calvin and Martin Bucer. Condemnation and Guilt over Missing a Sunday Service-Seventeenthcentury New England Puritans. The Long "Pastoral Prayer" Preceding the Sermon - Seventeenth-century Puritans. The Pastoral Prayer Uttered in Elizabethan English - Eighteenth-century Methodists. The Goal of All Preaching to Win Individual Souls-Eighteenthcentury Frontier Revivalists. The Altar Call - Instituted by seventeenth-century Methodists and popularized by Charles Finney. The Church Bulletin (written liturgy) - Originated in 1884 with Albert Blake Dick's stencil duplicating machine. The "Solo" Salvation Hymn, Door-to-Door Witnessing, and Evangelistic Advertising/Campaigning - D. L. Moody. The Decision Card - Invented by Absalom B. Earle (1812-1895) and popularized by D. L. Moody. Bowing Heads with Eyes Closed and Raising the Hand in Response to a Salvation Message - Billy Graham in the twentieth century. The Evangelization of the World in One Generation Slogan - John Mott around 1888. Solo or Choral Music Played during the Offering - Twentieth-century Pentecostals.

Chapter 4: The Sermon (pp. 273) The Contemporary Sermon - Borrowed from the Greek sophists, who were masters at oratory and rhetoric. John Chrysostom and Augustine popularized the Greco-Roman homily (sermon) and made it a central part of the Christian faith. The One-Hour Sermon, Sermon Crib Notes, and the Four-Part Sermon Outline Seventeenth-century Puritans. Chapter 5: The Pastor (pp. 273) The Single Bishop (predecessor of the contemporary pastor) - Ignatius of Antioch in early second century. Ignatius's model of one-bishop rule did not prevail in the churches until the third century. The Covering Doctrine - Cyprian of Carthage, a former pagan orator. Revived under Juan Carlos Ortiz from Argentina and the "Fort Lauderdale Five" from the United States, creating the so-called "Shepherding-Discipleship Movement" in the 1970s.

365 Hierarchical Leadership - Brought into the church by Constantine in the fourth century. This was the leadership style of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Clergy and Laity-The word laity first appears in the writings of Clement of Rome (d. 100). Clergy first appears in Tertullian. By the third century, Christian leaders were universally called clergy. Contemporary Ordination - Evolved from the second century to the fourth. It was taken from the Roman custom of appointing men to civil office. The idea of the ordained minister as the holy man of God can be traced to Augustine, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Chrysostom. The Title Pastor - Catholic priests who became Protestant ministers were not universally called pastors until the eighteenth century under the influence of Lutheran Pietists.

Chapter 6: Sunday Morning Costumes (pp. 273-4) Christians Wearing Their "Sunday Best" for Church - Began in the late-eighteenth century with the Industrial Revolution and became widespread in the midnineteenth century. The practice is rooted in the emerging middle-class effort to become like their wealthy aristocrat contemporaries. Clergy Attire - Began in AD 330 when Christian clergy started wearing the garb of Roman officials. By the twelfth century, the clergy began wearing everyday street clothes that distinguished them from the people. The Evangelical Pastor's Suit - A descendant of the black scholar's gown worn by Reformation ministers, the black lounge suit of the twentieth century became the typical costume of the contemporary pastor. The Clerical (Backwards) Collar - Invented by Rev. Dr. Donald McLeod of Glasgow in 1865. Chapter 7: Minister of Music (pp. 274) The Choir - Provoked by Constantine's desire to mimic the professional music used in Roman imperial ceremonies. In the fourth century, the Christians borrowed the choir idea from the choirs used in Greek dramas and Greek temples. The Boys Choir - Began in the fourth century, borrowed from the boys choirs used by the pagans. Funeral Processions and Orations - Borrowed from Greco-Roman paganism in the third century. The Worship Team - Calvary Chapel in 1965, patterned after the secular rock concert. Chapter 8: Tithing and Clergy Salaries (pp. 274) Tithing - Did not become a widespread Christian practice until the eighth century. The tithe was taken from the 10 percent rent charge used in the Roman Empire and later justified using the Old Testament. Clergy Salaries - Instituted by Constantine in the fourth century. The Collection Plate - The alms dish appeared in the fourteenth century. Passing a collection plate began in 1662.

366 The Usher - Began with Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). The predecessor of the usher is the church porter, a position that can be traced back to the third century.

Chapter 9: Baptism and the Lords Supper (pp. 274-5) Infant Baptism - Rooted in the superstitious beliefs that pervaded the GrecoRoman culture, it was brought into the Christian faith in the late second century. By the fifth century, it replaced adult baptism. Sprinkling Replacing Immersion - Began in the late Middle Ages in the Western churches. Baptism Separated from Conversion - Began in the early second century as a result of the legalistic view that baptism was the only medium for the forgiveness of sins. The Sinner's Prayer - Originated with D. L. Moody and made popular in the 1950s through Billy Graham's Peace with God tract and later with Campus Crusade for Christ's Four Spiritual Laws. Use of the Term Personal Savior - Spawned in the mid-1800s by the FrontierRevivalist influence and popularized by Charles Fuller (1887-1968). The Lord's Supper Condensed from a Full "Agape" Meal to Only the Cup and the Bread - The late second century as a result of pagan ritual influences. Chapter 10: Christian Education (pp. 275) The Catholic Seminary - The first seminary began as a result of the Council of Trent (1545-1563). The curriculum was based on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, which was a blending of Aristotle's philosophy, Neoplatonic philosophy, and Christian doctrine. The Protestant Seminary - Began in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1808. Its curriculum, too, was built on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas. The Bible College - Influenced by the revivalism of D. L. Moody, the first two Bible colleges were the Missionary Training Institute (Nyack College, New York) in 1882 and Moody Bible Institute (Chicago) in 1886. The Sunday School - Created by Robert Raikes from Britain in 1780. Raikes did not found the Sunday school for the purpose of religious instruction. He founded it to teach poor children the basics of education. The Youth Pastor - Developed in urban churches in the late 1930s and 1940s as a result of seeking to meet the needs of a new sociological class called "teenagers." Chapter 11: Reproaching the New Testament (pp. 275) Paul's Letters Combined into a Canon and Arranged according to Descending Length - Early second century. Chapter Numbers Placed in the New Testament - University of Paris professor Stephen Langton in 1227. Verses Added to New Testament Chapters - Printer Robert Stephanus in 1551.

367 APPENDIX C 15 Theses towards a Re-Incarnation of Church656

1. Christianity is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings (pp. xv) Before they were called Christians, followers of Christ were called The Way. One of the reasons was that they had literally found the way to live. The nature of church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings led by professional clergy in holy places specially reserved to experience Jesus. Rather, it is the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritual extended families, as a vivid answer to the questions that society asks, and in the place where it counts most - in their homes. 2. Time to change the cathegogue system (pp. xv-xvi) The historic Orthodox and Catholic Church after Constantine in the fourth century developed and adopted a religious system based on two elements: a Christian version of the Old Testament temple -the cathedral- and a worship pattern styled after the Jewish synagogue. They thus adopted, as the foundational pattern for the times to follow, a blueprint for Christian meetings and worship which was neither expressly revealed nor ever endorsed by God in New Testament times: the cathegogue, linking the house of God mentality and the synagogue. Baptized with Greek pagan philosophy, separating the sacred from the secular, the cathegogue system developed into the Black Hole of Christianity swallowing most of its society transforming energies and inducing the church to become absorbed with itself for centuries to come. The Roman Catholic Church went on to canonize the system. Luther reformed the content of the gospel, but left the outer forms of' church' remarkably untouched. The Free Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, the Salvation Army put it in uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the system. The time to do that has now arrived. 3. The third Reformation (pp. xvi) In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the church through a reformation of theology. In the eighteenth century, through movements in the pietistic renewal, there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure. 4. From church houses to house churches (pp. xvi-xvii) From the time of the New Testament there has been no such thing as 'a house of God'. At the cost of his life, Stephen reminded us: God does not live in temples made by human hands. The church is the people of God. The church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. There the people of God share their lives
656

Simson, Houses that Change the World, xv-xxv.

368 in the power of the Holy Spirit, have meatings, i.e. they eat when they meet; they often do not even hesitate to sell private property and share material and spiritual blessings; they teach each other in real-life situations how to obey God's word -and not with professorial lectures but dynamically, with dialogue and questions and answers. There they pray and prophesy with each other, and baptize one another. There they can let their masks drop and confess their sins, regaining a new corporate identity through love, acceptance and forgiveness. 5. The church has to become small in order to grow large (pp. xvii-xviii) Most churches of today are simply too big to provide real fellowship. They have too often become fellowships without fellowship. The New Testament church was made up of small groups, typically between 10 and 15 people. It grew not by forming big congregations of 300 people to fill cathedrals and lose fellowship. Instead, it multiplied sideways, dividing like organic cells, once these groups reached around 15 to 20 people. This then made it possible for all the Christians to get together into city-wide celebrations, as in Solomons Temple court in Jerusalem. The traditional congregational church as we know it is, by comparison a sad compromise: neither big nor beautiful, an overgrown house church and an under grown celebration often missing the dynamics of both. 6. No church is led by a pastor alone (pp. xviii) The local church is not led by a pastor but fathered by an elder, a man of wisdom and engaged with reality. The local house churches are then networked into a movement by the combination of elders and members of the so-called fivefold ministries (apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers) circulating from house to house, like the circulation of the blood. Here there is a special foundational role to play for the apostolic and prophetic ministries (Eph. 2:20; 4:11:12). A pastor (shepherd) is an important member of the whole team, but he cannot fulfill more than a part of the whole task of equipping the saints for the ministry, and he has to be complemented synergistically by the other four ministries in order to function properly. 7. The right pieces -fitted together in the wrong way (pp. xviii-xix) To do a jigsaw puzzle, we have to put the pieces together according to the original pattern, otherwise the final product, the whole picture, turns out wrong and the individual pieces do not make any sense. In the Christian world we have all the right pieces, but we have fitted them together in the wrong way, because of fear, tradition, religious jealousy and a power-and-control mentality. Just as water is found in three forms ice, water and steam so too the five ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11,12, the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists are found today, but not always in the right forms and in the right places. They are often frozen to ice in the rigid system of institutionalized Christianity; they sometimes exist as clear water; or they have vanished like steam into the thin air of free-flying ministries and independent churches, accountable to no one. Just as it is best to water flowers with the fluid version of water, these five equipping ministries will have to be transformed back into new and at the same time age-old forms, so that the whole spiritual organism can flourish and the individual ministers can

369 find their proper role and place in the whole. That is one more reason why we need to return to the Makers original blueprint for the Church. 8. Out of the hands of bureaucratic clergy and on towards the priesthood of all believers (pp. xix-xx) No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one professional holy man doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding some relatively passive, religious consumers, Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan religions, or at best from the Old Testament. The heavy professionalization of the church since Constantine has been a pervasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God artificially into an infantilized laity and a professional clergy, and developing powerbased mentalities and pyramid structures. According to the New Testament (1 Tim 2:5), there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. God simply does not bless religious professionals to force themselves in between Himself and His people. The veil is torn, and God is allowing people to access Himself directly through Jesus Christ, the only Way. To enable the priesthood of all believers, the present system will have to change completely. Bureaucracy is the most dubious of all administrative systems, because it basically asks only two questions: yes or no. There is no room for spontaneity and humanity, no room for real life. This may be all right in politics and business, but not the church. God seems to be in the business of delivering His church from a Babylonian captivity of religious bureaucrats and controlling spirits into the public domain, putting it into the hands of ordinary people whom God has made extra ordinary and who, as in the old days, may still smell of fish, perfume or revolution. 9. Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity (pp. xx-xxi) The Body of Christ is a vivid description of an organic being, not an organized mechanism. Church consists, at the local level, of a multitude of extended spiritual families, which are organically related to each other as a network. The way these communities function together is an integral part of the message of the whole. What has become a maximum of organization with a minimum of organism, has to be changed into a minimum of organization to allow a maximum of organism. Too much organization has, like a straitjacket; often choked the organism for fear that something might go wrong. Fear is the opposite of faith, and not exactly a Christian virtue. Fear wants to control; faith can trust. Control, therefore, may be good, but trust is better. The body of Christ is entrusted by God into the hands of steward-minded people with a special charismatic gift to believe that God is still in control, even if they are not. Today we need to develop regional and national networks based on trust, not a new arrangement of political ecumenism, for organic forms of Christianity to reemerge. 10. From worshipping our worship to worshipping God (pp. xxi) The image of much contemporary Christianity could be summarized as holy people coming regularly to a holy place on a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual led by a holy man dressed in holy clothes for a holy fee. Since this regular performance-oriented enterprise called worship service requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy, formalized and institutionalized patterns

370 developed quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional one- or two-hour worship service is very resource-hungry but produces very little fruit in terms of discipling people, i.e. in changing their lives. Economically, it is a high input, low out put structure. Traditionally, the desire to worship 'in the right way' has led to much denominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. This not only ignores the fact that Christians are called to worship in spirit and in truth, rather than in cathedrals holding songbooks. It also ignores the fact that most of life is informal, and so too is Christianity as the Way of Life. Do we need to change from being powerful actors and start acting powerfully? 11. Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing the church to the people (pp. xxi-xxii) The church is changing back from being a Come-structure to being a Gostructure. As a result, the church needs to stop trying to bring people to church, and start bringing the church to the people. The mission of the church will never be accomplished just by adding to the existing structure. It will take nothing less than a mushrooming of the church through spontaneous multiplication into areas of the world where Christ is not yet known. 12. Rediscovering the Lord's Supper as a real supper with real food (pp. xxii) Church tradition has managed to celebrate the Lord's Supper in a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the Lord's Supper was actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting. 13. From denominations to city-wide celebrations (pp. xxii-xxiii) Jesus called a universal movement, and what came was a series of religious corporations with global chains marketing their special brands of Christianity and competing with each other. Through this branding of Christianity most of Protestantism has lost its voice in the world and become politically insignificant, more concerned with traditional distinctives and religious infighting than with developing a collective testimony before the world. Jesus simply never asked people to organize themselves into factions and denominations, and Paul spoke of it as worldly, a sign of baby Christians. In the early days of the church, Christians had a dual identity: they were truly His church and vertically converted to God, and they then organized themselves according to geography, that is, converting also horizontally to each other on earth. This means not only Christian neighbors organizing themselves into neighborhood or house churches, where they share their lives locally, but Christians coming together as a collective identity as much as they can for city-wide or regional celebrations expressing the corporateness of the church of the city or region. Authenticity in the neighborhoods connected with a regional or city-wide corporate identity will make the church not only politically significant and spiritually convincing, but will allow a return to the biblical model of the city church, the sum total of all born-again Christians of a city or an area.

371 14. Developing a persecution-proof spirit (pp. xxiii-xxiv) They crucified Jesus, the leader of all the Christians. Today, His followers are often more into titles, medals and social respectability, or, worst of all, they remain silent and are not worth being noticed at all. Blessed are you when you are persecuted, says Jesus. Biblical Christianity is a healthy threat to pagan godlessness and sinfulness, a world overcome by greed, materialism, jealousy and any amount of demonic standards of ethics, sex, money and power. Contemporary Christianity in many countries is simply too harmless and polite to be worth persecuting. But as Christians again live out New Testament standards of life and, for example, call sin as sin, the natural reaction of the world will be, as it always has been, conversion or persecution. Instead of nesting comfortably in temporary zones of religious liberty, Christians will have to prepare to be again discovered as the main culprits standing in the way of global humanism, the modem slavery of having to have fun and the outright worship of Self, the wrong centre of the universe. That is why Christians will and must feel the repressive tolerance of a world which has lost its absolutes and therefore refuses to recognize and obey its creator God with His absolute standards. Coupled with the growing ideologization, privatization and spiritualization of politics and economics, Christians will sooner than most think have their chance to stand happily accused in the company of Jesus. They need to prepare now for the future by developing a persecution-proof spirit and an even more persecution-proof structure. 15. The Church comes home (pp. xxiv-xxv) Where is the easiest place for a person to be spiritual? Is it, perhaps, hiding behind a big pulpit, dressed up in holy robes, preaching holy words to a faceless crowd, and then disappearing into an office? And what is the most difficult and therefore most meaningful place for someone to be spiritual? At home, in the presence of their spouse and children, where everything they do and say is automatically put through a spiritual litmus test against reality, where hypocrisy can be effectively weeded out and authenticity can grow. Much of Christianity has fled the family, often as a place of its own spiritual defeat, and then has organized artificial performances in sacred buildings far from the atmosphere of real life. As God is in the business of recapturing the homes, the church turns back to its roots back to where it came from. It literally comes home, completing the circle of church history at the end of world history organize themselves into neighborhood house churches and meet in regional or city celebrations. You are invited to become part of this movement and make your own contribution. Maybe your home, too, will become a house that changes the world!

372 APPENDIX D Dallas/Fort Worth Simple Church Network Values657

The Kingdom of God 1) Our emphasis as Christian is on building the kingdom, not a church, or even The Church. 2) New churches are planted and outreaches are planned in an endeavor to building the Kingdom of God, not necessarily a church or an organization. 3) Allegiance within our groups and networks is to the King, not to the leadership within those groups and networks. Ministry 4) Ministry is allowed to flow naturally, both during gatherings and everyday life. It is not viewed as an event that must be scheduled, but one that occurs as directed by the Holy Spirit. 5) Ministry is the right and function of all believers, not a select class or group and certainly not the exclusive function of the leadership. Leadership and Accountability 6) Leadership within each group of believers and across the wider networks is recognized and based on character, function and service rather than a title or office. 7) The primary purpose of leadership to promote the spiritual growth of each believer so that their ministry to others can be stronger and more effective. 8) Leadership is fluid, overlapping and never exclusive. 9) Accountability, pasturing, teaching and encouraging is expected to happen naturally as a result of the relationships between believers, not because of a specific job description of those with the proper ministry credentials. Structure 10) Structure, organization and hierarchy is limited to however much is needed to accomplish a specific task or mission and dissolved afterwards. 11) Central and authoritarian leadership is avoided in favor of leadership teams, flatter structures, and the empowerment and releasing of each believer into his/her place and function within the Body. 12) Teaching is usually facilitated in the context of discussion and dialogue. Dissent and disagreement is allowed. 13) Programs are de-emphasized and replaced with a dependency on the behind the scenes working of the Holy Spirit through obedient believers. 14) Programs that exist are usually temporary for single or special events.
Values of Organic Christianity, The DFW Organic Church Connection, http://dallashousechurch.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/dfwocc_0003_2008-05-06.pdf (accessed August 26, 2008).
657

373 15) Quality rather than quantity is used a determination of success. 16) Gatherings can be (and often are) pre-empted in favor of activities that satisfy Christian responsibilities to the poor and needy, both domestically and globally. Finances and Giving 17) Expenses of single-purpose buildings for use by the church are foregone in favor of simpler gathering spots, such as homes, offices, restaurants or any places not requiring regular rent payments. 18) Expenses to support staff for the purpose of ministry are minimized in favor of volunteers and/or simpler programs. 19) Believers are encouraged to give of their time and monetary resources, both collectively and individually, to those activities advocated by Christ, such as meeting the needs of poor and persecuted believers and the weaker, needier members of society. 20) Often tithing is foregone in favor of sacrificial giving. Corporate Worship 21) The style, flavor and liturgy is determined by each individual group and grounded in their particular culture. 22) A particular order of worship is often pre-empted by the workings of the Holy Spirit, and spontaneous expressions of worship are encouraged. 23) Communion is usually observed within the context of a full meal and viewed as a metaphorical expression of the deep and authentic relationships enjoyed with each other as a result of Christs death and resurrection. 24) Children and teenagers are viewed as functioning members of the Body of Christ and are encouraged to participate in the worship and ministry during gathering times. Segregation is sometimes viewed as necessary due to shorter attention spans but is generally discouraged. Dissolution of Denominational Distinctives 25) Being a member of partaker of one group does not preclude one from partaking anywhere at the Christian smorgasbord. 26) Unity is viewed as belief in, obedience to and relationship with Christ, not in mental conformity to a particular set of doctrinal statements. Agreement and conformity are not prerequisites for acceptance into a group or networks of believers, but rather a confession of belief in Christ as the Son of God. Evangelism and Our Relationship with Non-Believers 27) Non-believers are welcomed into the friendship and fellowship of other believers as they are led to Christ rather than be separated from them. 28) Believers purposefully engage the lost in their world and culture as a means to affect some. 29) The importance of living in such a way that non-believers receive a taste of what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God is valued as important a means of evangelism as simply disseminating information.

374 APPENDIX E Why Simple Things are Better?658

The Power of Simplicity There is something special about the power of simplicity. Many of the most profound things in life are indeed simple. Simple, however, does not mean simplistic. We tend to overlook simple things thinking that anything of value and substance will be complex, require professional oversight and will be very expensive. A valuable lesson that we have integrated into all we do as a church multiplication movement is that less is more. Simplicity is a step beyond complexity. It takes great skill and effort to make something simple. It is easy to create something that is complex. But, to design something that is simple and yet profound, however, is a creative challenge. It takes great skill to know what is absolutely essential and what can be discarded. Jesus said, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light (Mt 11:28-30 NASB). For most, discipleship has become so complicated that it is no longer an easy burden and a light load. But Jesus intends for the Christian life to be easy and light and to bring rest to our souls. Fulfillment of the Great Commission is meant to be restful, not stressful! Simple Things Last, while Complex Things Breaks Down When we approach disciple makingwanting to pass the baton on to succeeding generationswe must refine the process so that it is simple and transferable. Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will breakdown early in the transference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the process, the more available it is to the broader Christian populace. Perhaps the reason that we do not see multiplication of disciples more often is that we are trying to do too much too soon in the process. We fail to grasp the fact that discipleshipfollowing Christ in simple obedienceis a life-long pursuit. We, unfortunately, attempt to teach our disciples so much in the first year that we unintentionally sabotage the rest of the years by intimidating them into thinking it is way too hard for common people to do. We tend to overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in three years.

Cole, Multiplying and Networking House Churches that Saturate Neighborhoods and Nations, 415-418.

658

375 Simple Things are Sticky and Transferable to Others In the bestselling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell stated that any epidemic type of expansion requires a stickiness factor.659 In other words, the pattern must stick with people in such a way that it is unforgettable and easily passed on to others. It is not enough that it is easy, but it also must capture the imagination and affection of those who will pass it on. Paul passed on to Timothy truths that were so profound that he would not forget them. They gripped his life and never left him. At the same time, however, the things Paul passed on were simple enough that Timothy could in turn pass them on to others who could then pass them on to others (2 Tm 2:2). The gospel itself is the most profound truth mankind has ever received, yet it is simple enough for a child to understand and pass on to others! It is not enough that people can pass it on, it is necessary that they will want to pass it on. The gospel is good news, and like a profound secret, it should be something that we all want to tell others. What we need are systems that are practical and profound. They must be both simple and significant! A system that is significant enough to tap into the Christians internal motivation, yet simple enough that it can be easily passed on from disciple to disciple, such a system will strengthen the church and produce growth that is qualitative and quantitative. Our criteria to evaluate the ways we function as a movement in order to see multiplication to the ends of the earth are: Received personally. It has a profound implication. It must be internalized and must transform the soul of the follower. Repeated easily. It has a simple application. It must be able to be passed on after only a brief encounter. Reproduced strategically. It has universal communication. It must pass on globally by being translated into a variety of cultural contexts and languages. Simple Things Keep the Focus on What is Important Another reason why simple methods are better is that they do not take away the glory from Christ himself. There are many times, unfortunately, that methods can be so impressive that people cease to notice Christ. Yet, Christ chooses to put his glory in weak vessels so that all the glory is retained by him. If people are so impressed with our wineskins (i.e. systems and strategies) that they stop noticing the wine (i.e. the message and person of Christ), then there is a big problem. Simple strategies keep it focused on Christ, not the plans or the people dreaming up the plans. Jesus spoke of wine and wineskins (Luke 5:36-39). Wineskins are important because they carry the wine, but without the wine, the skins are useless. It is good to give some thought to ministry systems, but the systems should not be the main thing. In fact, if done right, they should hardly be noticed at all because the living water has captivated our attention and affection. Simple systems are more likely to allow for this.

Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things can Make a Big Difference (Boston: Back Bay, 2002), 24-25.

659

376 Simple Things Can Reproduce Easily One final reason why simple methods are important is that multiplication becomes much more feasible. Reproduction comes from a natural desire and ability inherent in all healthy living things. Similarly, reproduction of churches should not be hard. It should be natural and even pleasurable. The fact that reproduction is thought to be so hard and painful for churches is evidence of how far removed we are from being healthy and natural. Reproduction is the product of intimacy, and we are created to enjoy intimacy. Even among churches, reproduction is the product of intimacy with Christ, his mission, his spiritual family, and the lost world. All reproduction begins at the molecular level and develops from the micro to the macro, from the simple to the complex. It is the same in the kingdom of God. We each began life as a zygote. A zygote is a cell formed by the union of a male seed and a female egg. Life multiplies from there. The moment that conception occurs, all the DNA necessary for the formation, growth, and development of a mature person is intact. The DNA never changesit just leads the multiplication process within every tiny cell into forming the complete body. The same can be said for the Body of Christ.

377 APPENDIX F

Association of House Churches in Killeen Texas Missions and Benevolence Ministries660

A Life Saved: With our benevolence account we can quickly deploy our funds to helping people both inside and outside our church. Recently, we became aware of a single mother who couldnt pay her rent and was behind on her car payments. She was a day away from eviction. After going to a number of churches (including her own) and agencies without finding help, we received a call from a friend of hers. After hearing the story we sent a check for her rent and the friend took it to her, along with a pizza. After eating together and visiting, the friend reported that she went into her bedroom and brought out a suicide note. We thank God and are humbled that He used us like this. Dans Biker Bar: One of the local ministries we support on a monthly basis is the Mission Soup Kitchen. We recently found out that the only other regular monthly support they receive is from Dans Biker Bar. The Association of Home Churches and Dans Biker Bar are working together to feed the poor and homeless. Who would have thought! When we started in 1992, the few people who learned of us wondered if we were scriptural, legal, maybe even a cult. Today, the Association of Home Churches is known and respected in our community, mainly because of our consistent giving. Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, Let them see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. Should We Pay Our Pastors or Not?: The scriptures clearly teach that the workman is worthy of his hire. We also see in scripture that the Apostle Paul modeled tentmaker ministry. Imagine, the leader of the Christian Revolution said, We worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this not because we dont have a right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow (2 Thes 3:7-9). In our network we have decided not to take a salary so we could be a model. We have talked to many pastors transitioning out of fulltime ministry and it is a hard thing. God will provide if he has called you to take this work. The % Method: Even as home churches with no building payments or salaries, we found ourselves not being able to meet our pledges some months. We had made commitments to a number of different ministries and missions and on a slow-giving month we were unable to meet them. One of the brothers in one of the churches said, Instead of a dollar amount lets give a percentage of what comes in to each ministry we support. What a blessing that idea turned out to be in that now there is always enough. We notified each ministry and let them know that it would be changing from a dollar commitment to a percentage commitment. Now these ministries pray that God

660

Jim Mellon, The Big Bang (For Your Bucks) Theory.

378 gives us an increase because the more we take in the more they get! The chart below is our current breakdown for the Association of Home Churches: Outreaches Hope for India Home & Hope Shelter Killeen Hope Pregnancy Center John Vrooman-Haiti Mission Mission Soup Kitchen Soldiers Hospitality House House2House True Deliverance Ministries Funds Youth Benevolence Emergency Reserve Family Activities Operating Expenses Missions TOTAL PERCENTAGES Expenses Secretarial Salary

15% 5% 15% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5%

5% 15% 8% 5% 3% 5% 100%

$350.00

As you can see by the chart, we have percentages going to funds that help send our youth to camp, funds that help some families go to conferences, and funds for shortterm mission trips. We have an emergency reserve fund in case someone in the church finds themselves unemployed or has some other emergency. Around December 1st we take the excess money in the funds and distribute it to families in the church that may not be doing as well as others. This way there is a nice holiday season for all.

379 APPENDIX G

Where Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches?661

The early church continued the practice of home meetings for hundreds of years, long after the New Testament writings were completed. Graydon Snyder observed that the New Testament church started as a house church movement and remained so up until about the year AD 300.662 Furthermore, there is no evidence that any home during that period was ever converted into a special building devoted solely to religious services for Christians.663 Why were house churches the norm for so long? Persecution? The most common suggestion given for the existence of early house churches was the continual pressure of persecution by governmental or religious authorities. However, this does not fit the evidence that is available. Firstly, persecution was not always a factor. It is often overlooked, for example, that the followers of Jesus sometimes met in homes while simultaneously enjoying the favor of all the people (Acts 2:46-47, emphasis added) as they did in Jerusalem. Also, in the first few years after Pentecost as the church spread, the Scripture reports that the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase (Acts 9:31NASB, emphasis added). Moreover, the situation in Samaria when Philip the evangelist preached the gospel was such that the multitudes with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performingand there was much rejoicing in that city (Acts 8:6,8 NASB, emphasis added). Secondly, Paul the apostle gives instructions regarding non-Christians visiting the house churches, saying that, if the whole church comes together andsome unbelievers come in (1 Cor 14:23), then they were to make some adjustments to the flow and content of the meeting. It is possible, therefore, that unbelievers also attended church meetings from time to time, suggesting that where they met was not always a secret to outsiders. This would have been an unlikely practice if believers were continually in the throes of persecution. Thirdly, it is simply not true that all the early believers were always persecuted everywhere and all the time. Persecution prior to around AD 250 was localized (e.g. in a given city), 664 often the result of mob hostility (e.g., the stoning of Stephen or the attacks
Atkerson, Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches, 143-47.
662 661

Snyder, Church Life Before Constantine, 166. Ibid., 167.

663

See Acts 18:2 and Suetonius (Life of Claudius, 25.4) for persecution under Claudius in 49 AD; see Tacitus (Annals, 15.44) for persecution under Nero in 64 AD; see Rev 1:9 and Will Durant, Caesar and

664

380 on Paul, cf. Acts 7:54-60, 19:23-41), and/or directed at specific Christians that would venture to preach and heal publicly (e.g. Peter, John, Stephen, Paul, cf. Acts 4:13-23, 5:18, 6:87:60, 12:1-18, 19:23-41), rather than because of the empire-wide decree of a Roman ruler. Interestingly, Roman officials are often presented in a somewhat favorable light by the New Testament writers, since they intervened to protect Christians from unlawful local harassment by unbelieving Judaism (cf. Acts 16:35, 17:6-9, 18:12-16, 19:37-38, 23:29, 25:18-20, 25:24-27, 26:31-32). Prior to AD 250, Christianity was illegal, but generally tolerated. The simple fact is that widespread and systematic persecution did not occur until emperor Decius in AD 250, followed by Gallus (AD 251 253), then Valerian (AD 257259), and finally Diocletian (AD 303311).665 Someone, somewhere, could have constructed a special church building in the 200 years prior to Decius, but significantly, no one ever did. Fourthly, when persecution did erupt, meeting in homes did not keep Saul, for example, from knowing exactly where to go to arrest Christians. We are told that Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison (Acts 8:3 NASB, emphasis added). Nonetheless, the presence of persecution would not necessarily rule out a deeper, more purposeful preference for smaller, house-sized congregations. Poverty? Another common idea is that poverty was a deciding factor in explaining the total absence of church buildings during New Testament times. Again, the evidence speaks to the contrary. The construction of special buildings for meetings or worship was a common feature of first century Mediterranean religion. The Jews had the Temple in the city of Jerusalem, as well as synagogues in many towns and cities. In Capernaum, for example, in Jesus day, the Jews pleaded with Jesus to heal a Roman centurions servant, saying, He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation, and it was he who built us our synagogue (Luke 7:4-5 NASB). The Gentiles, similarly, had various temples dedicated to the worship of gods and goddesses that acted as patrons for a specific group or for an entire city, as they did for the goddess Artemis in the city of Ephesus (Acts 19:27-28). Thus, as Christian converts from Judaism and paganism, many would certainly have been able to afford the construction of places for the church to gather if they had desired. However, all this was a feature curiously absent among the first Christians. Furthermore, there were some anonymous rich people among Gods elect, as made clear from the scriptural record. For example, the advice that Timothy received was to instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to
Christ-The Story of Civilization: Part III (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944), 292,592-593,647 for persecution under Domitian in the 90s AD.
665

Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribners Sons,

1970), 43.

381 share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed (1 Tm 6:17-18 NASB). Moreover, Paul rebukes the rich in Corinth for slighting the poor by refusing to eat the Lords Supper along with them: Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you (1 Cor 11:22 NASB). Also, James warned against showing favoritism toward those who came to the church gathering wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, (Jas 2:1-4, 5:1-6) indicating such persons were indeed involved with the church. There were also other anonymous believers of some influence and position mentioned elsewhere (Acts 17:4, 1 Tm 6:17). Additionally, there were, in fact, Christians of some societal position and/or wealth that are specifically named in the New Testament, like the Ethiopian royal official, Cornelius the Roman officer, Lydia the merchant, Erastus the city treasurer, Zenas the lawyer, possibly some relatives or associates of Romes emperor himself, and Philemon the slave owner (cf. Acts 8:26-39, 10:1-2, 16:14; Rom 16:23; Phil 4:22; Phlm 1:16; Tit 3:13). Certainly, there were many churches and individuals who suffered from material need in the first century, due to famine, widowhood, or other circumstances (Acts 2:4345, 4:32-35, Acts 11:27-30 (cf. Rom 15:25-28, 1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 9:1-15; Gal 2:1,9-10); 1 Tim 5:3,9,16). However, as we have seen, there were also a number of believers that were of some means. Therefore, poverty alone, clearly, was not a deciding factor in the lack of church buildings and the predominant use of house-based congregations during the first century. Progression? Some think that God intended for the practice of meeting in homes to be a legitimate phase of the churchs early development, an initial but transitory step toward later maturity. Thus, house churches were characteristic of the church in its infancy, but not in its maturity. It was right and natural, they argue, for the church to grow beyond these early practices and develop ways that are far different than, but in the spirit of, the practices of the apostles as recorded in Scripture. Thus, centuries later, the erection of special church buildings is seen as a good and positive development in the history of Christianity. 666 Yet, the apostles intended for churches to adhere to the specific patterns that they originally established, either through their direct command or their repeated practice (1 Cor 11:2). For instance, the Corinthians were praised for holding to the apostles traditions for church practice. Sweeping appeals for holding to various church practices were made based on the universal practices of all the other churches (1 Cor 11:6, 14:33b34). The Thessalonians were directly commanded to hold to the traditions of the apostles (2 Thess 2:15). The early church understood that the apostles were handpicked and personally trained by the Lord. If anyone ever understood the purpose of the church, it was these men. The practices that they established for the churchs corporate activities were certainly in keeping with their understanding about the purpose of the church.
Along with special church buildings, the rise of one bishop presiding over all churches in a city, the development of a hierarchical leadership system, and even the eventual merger of church and state after Constantine (4th century) are often also seen as either positive or at least natural occurrences.
666

382 Respect for the Spirit by whom they were led, persuaded the first century believers to prefer apostolic modes of organization to any alternative that any of their own creative thinking might otherwise suggest. Also telling is the total absence of any instruction in the New Testament regarding the construction of special buildings for worship. This is in contrast to Old Testament legislation, which contained very specific blueprints regarding the tabernacle and, later, the temple in Jerusalem. When the New Testament writers did touch upon this subject, they pointed out that believers themselves were the temple of the Holy Spirit, living stones that come together to make up a spiritual house with Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19; Eph 2:19-22, 1 Pet 2:4-5). Even the Lord Jesus, in conversation with a Samaritan woman, said, Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the FatherGod is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:21,24). Therefore, the early church understood that an attachment to special places and sacred spaces was no longer the norm for Christian believers.

383 APPENDIX H Hebrews 13:17 Whom Should One Obey?667

Rather than asking who has authority in the NT, we should ask the opposite question, Whom should one obey? The answer here is interesting. If you examine the usage of hupakouo, which is the Greek equivalent of obey, you will find that we ought to obey God, the gospel (Rom 10:16), and the teaching of the apostles (Phil 2:12; 2 Thes 3:14). Children are to obey their parents and servants their masters (Eph 6:1,5). But are believers to obey church leaders? If they are, the NT writers studiously avoid saying so. But what about Heb 13:17 which says obey your leaders? This text is interesting because it can give us an insight into the positive side of the NT understanding of leadership. Up to now I have emphasized the negative that they [church leaders] do not have authority in our usual sense, and believers are not told to obey them. In spite of all this, the NT insists that there are leaders in a local body, that they are recognizable as such, and that their existence and ministry are important to the health of the body. What is the positive side of this understanding of leadership? There is a clue in Hebrews 13:17. If you examine the verb translated obey in this text, you will find it to be a form of the word peitho which means persuade. In the form used here it means something like let yourself be persuaded by or have confidence in. Thats helpful. Believers are to let themselves be persuaded by their leaders. Leaders in the church are accorded a certain respect which lends their words more weight than they have in and of themselves. And the rest of the church should be biased in favor of listening to what they say. We are to allow ourselves to be persuaded by our leaders, not obeying them mindlessly but entering into discussion with them and being open to what they are saying. (By the way, now it should be clear why it was so significant that Pauls statements in 2 Corinthians were in a context of persuasion. He was trying to persuade them to let themselves be persuaded by him.) The other verb used in Hebrews 13:17 reinforces this conclusion. When the text goes on to urge people to submit to leaders, it does not use the garden-variety Greek word for submit. The normal word is hupotassomai, which connotes something like placing oneself in an organization under another person. Thus we are sometimes told to submit to governments (Rom 13:1; Tit 3:1), to the social roles in which we find ourselves (Col 3:18; 1 Pet 2:18), and to the powers that be of our society (l Pet 2:13). The word here, however, is different. It is hupeiko, and it occurs only here in the NT. It connotes not a structure to which one submits, but a battle after which one yields. The image is one of a serious discussion, and interchange after which one party gives way. This meshes nicely with the notion that we are to let ourselves be persuaded by leaders in the church, rather than simply submitting to them as we might to the existing powers and structures of life.

Hal Miller, The Pastoral Authority, in Atkerson, ed., Ekklesia: To the Roots of Biblical Church Life, 65-67.

667

384 All this makes sense of the criteria for elders or overseers in the pastoral epistles. In these writings, character, not charisma or administrative ability, is the most important thing about leaders. They should be respectable. If they are supposed to be persuaders, it makes sense that they ought preeminently to be respectable because this is the kind of person whose words we are inclined to take very seriously. The kind of respectability outlined there lends credibility to the words of leaders, and hence gives us confidence in opening ourselves to being persuaded by them. But there is more. The persuasiveness of such leaders depends on truth. Presumably, if leaders are wrong in their judgment and yet are seriously concerned to serve, they would not be happy with someone following them in their error. A leader who has the charisma to persuade people of something untrue, and does so, is virtually demonic. To be persuaded of a lie is the worst form of bondage. Leaders in the church are bound to the truth and serve it above all in their service of others. This necessity of serving the truth, by the way, is the reason why the NT emphasizes obeying the gospel or the apostles teaching, rather than leaders. The trust engendered by service is dangerous if it is not coordinated with a common obedience to the truth of the gospel. If the desire for truth is not at the basis of leadership in the body, the trust which can be created by service is just another, more subtle form of power the power we call manipulation. Persuasion presupposes dialogue; and dialogue requires the active participation of the whole body. Our common understanding of authority isolates leaders and puts them over those who are under authority. The leadership of genuine service, however, has a natural basis in the dialogue which undergirds it. Leaders in the church have need for neither the pious rhetoric of the kings of the Gentiles nor the force which lies behind it. Rather, because they are persuaders, they can rely on dialogue as the arena and channel of their service. So, genuine leadership in the church is based on service, truth, and trust, not authority. Leaders in the church are called by the truth to lives which are worthy of imitation, and thus respectable, and to lives of service. Such a life engenders the trust of others. Yet leaders, as well as the rest of the members of the body, are always in common subjection to the truth which is in Christ.

385 APPENDIX I Church Practice/Tradition668

Date 140 150 200 200 200 211 250 250 258 270 320 320 375 375 378 380 394 402 405 420 431 476 500 526 590 600 709 787 819 858 858 869
668

Church Practice/Tradition Pope Hyginus declares clergy distinct from laity Sprinkling instead of immersion for baptism Clergy called priests Origen brings in Greek syllogistic theology, starting with Plato Former pagan orators bring sermons into the church Prayers for the dead mentioned by Tertullian The perpetual virginity of Mary Infant baptism started, becomes dogma in 416 Holy water mentioned by Cyprian Monasticism Wax candles and incense as part of worship rituals Pastors salaried by the state Veneration of angels and dead saints Use of images and icons Damascus I becomes Pontifex Maximus. In 451, Leo I takes the title of pope and confers it on all previous bishops of Rome posthumously. In 606, Boniface III becomes Universal Bishop. Christianity compulsory The mass Innocent I calls himself Ruler of the Church of God List of forbidden books (the most formal list published in 1559) Purgatory proposed Exaltation of Mary as the Mother of God Indulgences for the dead Priestly dress Extreme unction (anointing of the sick by the priest only) Purgatory confirmed Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints, and angels Kiss my foot! becomes more than an insult, as people begin kissing the popes foot Veneration/worship of images and relics authorized Feast of the assumption of Mary Wearing of papal crown by Nicolas I Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals (forged documents used to establish papal claims to temporal powers-biggest forgery in history) Western and Eastern churches (Rome and Constantinople) mutually
Rutz, Megashift, 221-223.

386 excommunicate each other Dead saints canonized Gregory VI elected pope after paying Pope Benedict IX to resign Celibacy of the priesthood Reading of the Bible in a common language first forbidden (other actions: 1199, 1229, 1233, 1408, 1564, 1816, etc.) The Inquisition begins, eventually killing many millions Indulgences sold (forgiveness of Sins) The Rosary-praying with beads Transubstantiation (wafer and wine changed into body and blood of Christ by priestly incantation) Confession to a priest instead of God Adoration of the wafer (host) Limbo invented for dead, unbaptized infants Stained glass becomes popular Treasury of Merits (credit for good deeds made transferable) The cup forbidden to the people at communion Innocent VIII (those guys knew how to pick names) orders extermination of the Waldenses Council of Trent affirms Latin as language of the mass, decrees absolute power of the pope over the whole earth, gives tradition equal authority with the Scriptures, proposes seminaries Rejection of justification by faith alone Immorality in southern Europe deemed to be caused by nude statues, so orders issued to retrofit fig leaves everywhere Solemn mass celebrated for the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 60,000 Huguenots Immaculate Conception (Mary born sinless) Papal infallibility Mary named mediatrix (gives favors not granted by God and faster than Jesus!) Assumption of Mary to heaven Mary named Queen of Heaven

995 1045 1074 1080 1184 1190 1208 1215 1215 1220 1245 1300 1342 1414 1484 1546 1547 1564 1572 1854 1870 1931 1950 1954

387 APPENDIX J The Financial Support of House Church Leaders669

A main emphasis of the world house church movement is on a return to the simplicity and strategy of apostolic patterns as found in the New Testament. A significant aspect of this restoration concerns the nature and function of leadership. The apostolic strategy was to implement two types of leadership, namely local and traveling leaders. In order to fully implement this two pronged approach effectively, issues of role, responsibility, organization, training, accountability, and financial support were addressed by the apostles either expressly in words and/or implicitly in their actions. Presently, our inquiry will focus on the question of financial support for the two primary types of house churches leaders today, mainly from a practical standpoint. Local Leaders Let us start by describing the scope of responsibility and ministry of the typical local house church leader active in the world today. Todays house church leaders are known in the New Testament by various interchangeable names, namely presbyters = elders = pastors = shepherds = bishops = overseers. They have both the character and competence to manage the affairs of the Body of Christ that meets in their home or the host home. Their responsibilities are both long-term and local. They function as the primary shepherds and strategists for their house church. They have been trained either by traveling church planters, missionaries, and leaders, or by a previous generation of local house church leaders. Their goal is to help other members of the house churches discover, sharpen, and use their spiritual gifts, capacities, and resources to accomplish Gods purposes in the church and in the world. They work as part of a small team of leaders as equals to either facilitate a house church or network of house churches in a city or region. They themselves are fathers and mothers, couples and singles, who can relate to the everyday trials and triumphs of others. They are typically carrying out their ministry on a volunteer, unpaid basis. In contrast to their counterparts in traditional churches, they are typically not professionals who have received formal seminary training, nor are they imported from an outside context to be the leaders of a local house church network. They are truly home grown leaders. Consequently, local house church leaders are encouraged to continue their work for the Lord on a volunteer unpaid basis. Unless the Lord very specifically and clearly asks a local house church leader to receive financial support for a season, they should accomplish their ministries freely, rather than as paid professionals. The following reasons are proposed:

Rad Zdero, The Financial Support of House Church Leaders, in Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, ed. Rad Zdero, 447-456 (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007), 447451.

669

388 (1) The New Testament Encourages Local Volunteerism. The New Testament counsels local house church leaders to carry out their ministries as unpaid volunteers. Paul the apostle explicitly encourages this approach to a group of local leaders. He states: I have coveted no ones silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:33-35 (NASB)). Note that Paul goes so far as to say that local leaders are to give financial support to those in their spiritual care, rather than receiving from them. It is sometimes suggested that 1 Tim 5:17-18 allows for full financial support of local leaders. However, based on linguistic and historical factors, it is more likely that the phrase double honor in this passage refers simply to the respect that a local leader garnered from the members of their Christian community. (2) House Churches Are Small and Simple. There is no practical need for house church leaders today to receive financial support. The usual scope of ministry in a single house church usually involves at most 20 or 30 people. Moreover, the focus of house churches on genuine community, unadorned meetings, and relational evangelism, does not require a high degree of organizational maintenance on the part of local leaders. Thus, a small team of three or four leaders can easily facilitate such a group without requiring any kind of funding for themselves. (3) Everyone Should Minister. It is desirable to create a real sense of group ownership for the house church or the house church network. It is also advantageous to encourage the practical application of the priesthood of all believers. To do so, all believers should be given the opportunity to minister to both believers and non-believers locally. Conversely, funding local leaders creates a dependence on them to achieve goals, accomplish tasks, and do the work of the ministry. This is a challenge being faced by traditional churches and their paid pastors that we would do well to avoid in the house church movement. (4) Leaders Should Do Life Together With Others. House church leaders must be able to effectively carry out their responsibilities before the Lord. They must be able to mobilize their house church to care for itself and reach out to non-believers. To do so, they should be able to empathize with the losses and victories, the drudgery and the excitement, that characterizes the daily lives of those around them. This means experiencing the challenges and responsibilities of maintaining a regular job like everyone else in the church. In this way, local leaders will do life together with others in the house church. (5) Local Resources May Be Limited. In many contexts around the world characterized either by poverty or persecution, the financial resources of local house churches will be extremely limited. Members are hard pressed to provide any kind of funding for local leaders even if they desired to do so. Requiring these folks to establish a funding stream that flows in support of local leaders becomes an unnecessary burden and may create more problems than it solves. (6) Outside Funding Creates Dependence. Those intent on seeing local house church leaders receive some sort of funding, may appeal to sources outside the vicinity or even the country if local resources are lacking. However, this can hinder the possibility of a genuinely indigenous and reproducible house church movement that feeds only on local

389 resources. Moreover, a stable outside funding source always leads to setting up a system that requires bureaucracy, negotiation, dependence, and waiting. Traveling Leaders Let us now move on to describing the typical scope of responsibility and ministry of traveling house church leaders active on the scene today. In the New Testament they are called apostles (Greek = apostolos, meaning sent one, envoy, ambassador, or messenger), but they may also have an additional gifting as a prophet, evangelist, teacher, or shepherd. Today, they are commonly called church planters, missionaries, strategy coordinators, regional directors, or circuit riders, but many are increasingly being recognized as having some sort of apostolic function and are being called apostles. Their mandate is temporary and universal. The job of these itinerants is to go to unreached regions to evangelize the populace, baptize new converts, organize new believers into house churches, and train leaders. They circulate from group-to-group and city-to-city to provide ongoing personal teaching, coaching, and problem solving. They are a mixed group in that some have received a seminary education or other formal training, whereas others have not but clearly evidence calling and competence to function as traveling apostles. In contrast to local house church leaders, they are outsiders who have come to start or visit a local house church network. Because they cannot be tied down to local jobs, they often require some sort of ongoing financial support for their ministry. In most cases, they gladly receive such financial assistance, whereas in other cases they are financially independent because of the transportable nature of their trade. In this light, it is suggested that todays emerging house church movement attempt to provide financial support where possible to traveling leaders. This is to be reserved for those whose ministry involves extensive travel in visiting regional house church networks or those making a geographic move to begin new house church networks in unreached areas or among unreached peoples. The following ideas are offered in support of this practice: (1) The Lord Jesus Christ Received Material Support While Traveling. Before the Lord Jesus began his public traveling ministry, he lived a local existence. He would have carried on with the domestic responsibilities of work, family, and friends. Along with his peers, his material sustenance came from farming or a trade. However, when he was in the midst of his traveling ministry, he received financial and material help from a group of faithful women supporters (Mt 27:55-56; John 12:4-6, 13:29). He also frequently received lodging and food from people who opened their homes to him (Mt 8:14-15, 9:9-10; Luke 7:36, 10:38-42, 19:2-6.6). Moreover, in training his disciples, he encouraged them to find a house of peace who would offer them hospitality, as they traveled from village to village preaching the kingdom of God (Luke 10:1-11). (2) The Apostle Paul Encouraged Funding for Traveling Leaders. The apostle Paul counsels traveling house church leaders like apostles to carry out their ministries with the financial support of the churches. He argues for this when writing to the Corinthian church, a community that he was personally involved in raising up. He states: If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use

390 the milk of the flock?....If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you (1 Cor 9:2,7,11 (NASB))? (3) Traveling Leaders Cannot Maintain Local Jobs. Because of the temporary and broad nature of apostolic ministry, it becomes nearly impossible for those called to this ministry to maintain a regular job. This would require them to be in a certain place at a certain time for a certain duration, all of which would limit their ability to fulfill their mission. If these folks also have families and younger children that need attention during free time, then it becomes doubly difficult to function as an apostle. There are some exceptions though. Some apostolic people, even while maintaining full-time employment with a regular job, have chosen to maximize their ministries on evenings, weekends, and holidays. Others have gainful employment through freelance work, mobile trades, or as small business owners, which may give them greater flexibility with their time. In these cases, specific ministry funding for them may not be required. (4) Starting New House Church Networks Takes Time and Energy. Any start-up venture, whether it is a business, organization, or club, takes time and energy. Starting up a house church network is no different. Traveling apostolic teams that station themselves in a geographic region or among a certain people group to start a new fellowship, may find it beneficial to be financially free in order to be totally committed to that ministrys foundation laying. However, once a church has been established and its leaders identified, the apostolic team should move on to another area to repeat the process. If they decide to settle in that area permanently, they should seek to sever their financial support and seek regular employment, since they are by definition becoming home grown local leaders of the church. As local leaders, they would be encouraged to consider the earlier arguments presented seriously. (5) Identify Funding Sources. Financial or material support for traveling apostles or apostolic teams may come in several forms. Regular salaries may be provided by a denomination, mission agency, or network of house churches either periodically or on a long-term basis. Occasional material gifts of money, food, shelter, and travel expenses may be provided by the Christian community that sends or hosts the team.

391 APPENDIX K

SIMPLE/HOUSE CHURCH SURVEY

My name is Steve Lyzenga, and I am conducting a survey to explore the attitudes and practices of those in simple/house church contexts in the USA. The survey will take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete. By responding to all of the survey questions, you will greatly assist me in this strategic research. Your answers will be completely anonymous and treated with the utmost confidentiality. Thank you for taking a few minutes to fill out this survey, Steve Lyzenga, in fulfillment of a doctoral dissertation project Dr. Felicity Dale, co-founder of House2House and dissertation field mentor Survey definitions: Simple church a community of disciples of Jesus Christ who gather together to encourage each other to grow spiritually and to share and demonstrate their faith; in doing so, this community attempts to closely follow the principles, practices, patterns, and precedents of New Testament ekklesia (i.e. assembly of believers) as modeled by Jesus and the early apostles. House church a simple church that meets in a home. Institutional/traditional church a church that meets in specialized church buildings and uses a hierarchical authority structure (i.e., professional priesthood/pastorate) to administrate it and compulsory money and manpower to operate it. Most institutional/traditional churches in the USA are IRS non-profit 501C(3) organizations. Great Commission (GC) This is the command of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Mt 28:19,20). The Christian church derives its call to world evangelization, discipleship, and transformation on individual, cultural, and societal levels to this mandate. Finishing the GC obeying Jesus Christs GC toward the goal of completing the GC on a local (where you live), national (in the USA), international (outside the USA), and unreached people level. Unreached people people who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor have any access to this gospel (e.g., no Bible, church, radio broadcast, books, or Jesus Video in their language). They live in the darkest spiritual areas of the world.

If you previously attended a traditional/institutional church, please continue with SECTION 1, otherwise, please move on to SECTION 2

392 __________________________________________________________________ SECTION 1 - Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church Q 1 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church experience allows me to release more of my personal time directly to finishing the Great Commission (as stated in the definitions, finishing the GC will always refer to obeying Jesus GC on a local, national, international, and unreached people level in this survey). Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 2 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church experience allows me to release more of my personal money directly to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 3 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church corporately is capable of giving a greater percentage of its time directly to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 4 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church corporately is capable of giving a greater percentage of its money directly to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 5 I continue to attend a traditional/institutional church in addition to participating in my simple/house church. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

__________________________________________________________________ SECTION 2 - Great Commission Q 6 Finishing the GC is tied closely to reaching unreached people. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 7 I personally know what my calling/role is related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

393 Q 8 I personally need teaching and training to increase my knowledge and participation related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 9 I personally would like teaching/training in the following areas related to finishing the GC (please choose your top three): Prayer ___ Giving $ ___ Using Gifts/Talents ___ Short-term missions ___ Cross-cultural outreach ___ Sending Missionaries ___ Networking ___ Q 10 I believe my simple/house church needs help connecting to other simple/house churches related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 11 I believe my simple/house church needs help in sending missionaries from our simple/house church related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

__________________________________________________________________ SECTION 3 - Time Please respond to each question based on your average giving of time (i.e. praying, doing, and going) over the past 12 months. Q 12 I give personal time toward finishing the GC locally. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 13 I give personal time toward finishing the GC internationally. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 14 I give personal time toward finishing the GC among unreached people. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 15 My simple/house church gives time to finishing the GC locally. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 16 My simple/house church gives time to finishing the GC internationally.

394 Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 17 My simple/house church gives time to finishing the GC among unreached people. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Q 18 I personally give the following percentage of my weekly simple church activity time to help administrate (manage, care for, run) my simple church. Less than 1% 2%-5% 6%-10% 11%-25% Greater than 25% I do not know

Q 19 My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total weekly activity time to administrate (manage, care for, run) itself. Less than 1% 2%-5% 6%-10% 11%-25% Greater than 25% I do not know

__________________________________________________________________ SECTION 4 - Money Please respond to each question based on your average annual giving of money over the past 12 months. Q 20 My personal household gives the following percentage of its gross annual income to charity work of any sort (i.e., religious and/or non-religious). Less than 1% 2%-5% 6%-10% 11%-25% Greater than 25% I do not know

Q 21 My personal household gives the following percentage of its total annual charity giving to my simple/house church. Less than 5% 6%-25% 26%-45% 46%-85% Greater than 85% I do not know

Q 22 My personal household gives the following percentage of its total annual charity giving specifically to reach unreached people. Less than 5% 6%-25% 26%-45% 46%-85% Greater than 85% I do not know

Q 23 My simple/house church spends the following percentage of its total annual proceeds on internal administration costs. Less than 1% 2%-5% 6%-10% 11%-25% Greater than 25% I do not know

Q 24 My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total annual proceeds to finishing the GC (on all levels: local, national, international, and unreached people).

395 Less than 5% 6%-25% 26%-45% 46%-85% Greater than 85% I do not know

Q 25 My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total annual proceeds specifically to reach unreached people. Less than 5% 6%-25% 26%-45% 46%-85% Greater than 85% I do not know

Q 26 Tithing, a principle of giving 10% of ones resources for Gods work, is an Old Testament teaching/practice and does not apply to the New Testament church. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

__________________________________________________________________ Demographics Gender Male Female Ethnicity Asian American Black/African-American Caucasian Hispanic American Other: Please specify__________ Age _____ Marital Status Single Married Divorced Separated Widowed # of children under 18 living at home _____ Employment status Full-time Part-time Temporarily

396 Self-employed Unemployed Retired Current Employment Business Education Government Health Care Homemaker Parachurch Ministry Missions Other: Please specify_________ Highest degree earned High school Bible School Certificate Associates Degree Bachelors Degree Masters Degree Doctorate Your home zip code __________ # of adults (18 or over) in your simple church _____ # of adolescents and children (under 18) in your simple church _____ Duration in years your simple church has been meeting _____ Frequency your simple church meets Monthly Weekly Biweekly Other: Please specify_________ Day(s) of week your simple church meets __________ Does your simple church have elders Yes No If so, how many _____

397

Is your simple/house church part of a larger simple/house church network Yes No Do not know If so, how many simple churches are in this network _____ I would recommend my simple church to a friend Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

I would recommend the simple/house church paradigm to a friend Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Any written comments on simple/house church and giving toward finishing the GC (optional)

__________________________________________________________________ Finished Thank you for completing our survey! After the results are tabulated and compiled, I will issue a report at ww.house2house.com and www.house2harvest.com.

398 APPENDIX L

SIMPLE/HOUSE CHURCH SURVEY DATA __________________________________________________________________ SECTION 1 - Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church Q 1 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church experience allows me to release more of my personal time directly to finishing the Great Commission (as stated in the definitions, finishing the GC will always refer to obeying Jesus GC on a local, national, international, and unreached people level in this survey). Strongly Disagree 0.6% (1) Disagree 3.8% (6) Neutral 13.2% (21) Agree 40.9% (65) Strongly Agree 41.5% (66)

Q 2 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church experience allows me to release more of my personal money directly to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree 0.6% (1) Disagree 4.4% (7) Neutral 6.9% (11) Agree 27.7% (44) Strongly Agree 60.4% (96)

Q 3 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church corporately is capable of giving a greater percentage of its time directly to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree 0.6% (1) Disagree 4.4% (7) Neutral 13.8% (22) Agree 40.2% (64) Strongly Agree 40.1% (65)

Q 4 In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church corporately is capable of giving a greater percentage of its money directly to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

399

0.6% (1)

3.8% (6)

5.0% (8)

35.2% (56)

55.3% (88)

Q 5 I continue to attend a traditional/institutional church in addition to participating in my simple/house church. Strongly Disagree 42.1% (67) Disagree 21.4% (34) Neutral 11.3% (18) Agree 22.0% (35) Strongly Agree 3.1% (5)

__________________________________________________________________ SECTION 2 - Great Commission

Q 6 Finishing the GC is tied closely to reaching unreached people. Strongly Disagree 0.6% (1) Disagree 4.4% (7) Neutral 6.3% (10) Agree 37.7% (60) Strongly Agree 50.9% (81)

Q 7 I personally know what my calling/role is related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree 0% (0) Disagree 4.4% (7) Neutral 11.3% (18) Agree 39.0% (62) Strongly Agree 45.3% (72)

Q 8 I personally need teaching and training to increase my knowledge and participation related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree 5.0% (8) Disagree 22.6% (36) Neutral 31.4% (50) Agree 35.2% (56) Strongly Agree 5.7% (9)

Q 9 I personally would like teaching/training in the following areas related to finishing the GC (please choose your top three):

400 Shortterm missions 27.5% (42) Crosscultural outreach 56.9% (87)

Prayer 27.5% (42)

Using Giving $ Gifts/Talents 14.4% (22) 37.3% (57)

Sending Networking Missionaries 33.3% (51) 72.5% (111)

Q 10 I believe my simple/house church needs help connecting to other simple/house churches related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree 3.1% (5) Disagree 10.7% (17) Neutral 18.2% (29) Agree 42.1% (67) Strongly Agree 25.8% (41)

Q 11 I believe my simple/house church needs help in sending missionaries from our simple/house church related to finishing the GC. Strongly Disagree 3.8% (6) Disagree 11.9% (19) Neutral 23.3% (37) Agree 40.2% (64) Strongly Agree 21.4% (34)

__________________________________________________________________ SECTION 3 - Time Please respond to each question based on your average giving of time (i.e. praying, doing, and going) over the past 12 months.

Q 12 I give personal time toward finishing the GC locally. Strongly Disagree 0.6% (1) Disagree 8.2% (13) Neutral 4.4% (7) Agree 52.8% (84) Strongly Agree 33.9% (54)

Q 13 I give personal time toward finishing the GC internationally. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

401

1.9% (3)

13.8% (2)

16.4% (26)

40.3% (64)

27.7% (44)

Q 14 I give personal time toward finishing the GC among unreached people. Strongly Disagree 1.9% (3) Disagree 17.6% (28) Neutral 18.2% (29) Agree 39.6% (63) Strongly Agree 22.6% (36)

Q 15 My simple/house church gives time to finishing the GC locally. Strongly Disagree 1.2% (2) Disagree 10.7% (17) Neutral 15.1% (24) Agree 42.1% (67) Strongly Agree 30.8% (49)

Q 16 My simple/house church gives time to finishing the GC internationally. Strongly Disagree 1.2% (2) Disagree 16.4% (26) Neutral 21.4% (34) Agree 40.3% (64) Strongly Agree 20.1% (32)

Q 17 My simple/house church gives time to finishing the GC among unreached people. Strongly Disagree 0.6% (1) Disagree 20.8% (33) Neutral 23.9% (38) Agree 37.1% (59) Strongly Agree 17.6% (28)

Q 18 I personally give the following percentage of my weekly simple church activity time to help administrate (manage, care for, run) my simple church. Less than 1% 24.5% (39) 2%-5% 18.9% (30) 6%-10% 12.6% (20) 11%-25% 14.5% (23) Greater than 25% 18.9% (30) I do not know 10.7% (17)

402 Q 19 My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total weekly activity time to administrate (manage, care for, run) itself. Less than 1% 22.6% (36) 2%-5% 20.1% (32) 6%-10% 20.8% (33) 11%-25% 9.4% (15) Greater than 25% 6.9% (11) I do not know 20.1% (32)

__________________________________________________________________ SECTION 4 - Money Please respond to each question based on your average annual giving of money over the past 12 months.

Q 20 My personal household gives the following percentage of its gross annual income to charity work of any sort (i.e., religious and/or non-religious). Less than 1% 2.5% (4) 2%-5% 7.5% (12) 6%-10% 25.8% (41) 11%-25% 51.6% (82) Greater than 25% 7.5% (12) I do not know 5.0% (8)

Q 21 My personal household gives the following percentage of its total annual charity giving to my simple/house church. Less than 5% 39.6% (63) 6%-25% 28.9% (46) 26%-45% 6.9% (11) 46%-85% 6.9% (11) Greater than 85% 6.3% (10) I do not know 11.3% (18)

Q 22 My personal household gives the following percentage of its total annual charity giving specifically to reach unreached people. Less than 5% 30.8% (49) 6%-25% 33.9% (54) 26%-45% 11.3% (18) 46%-85% 5.7% (9) Greater than 85% 3.8% (6) I do not know 14.5% (23)

Q 23 My simple/house church spends the following percentage of its total annual proceeds on internal administration costs.

403 Less than 1% 59.1% (94) Greater than 25% 1.9% (3) I do not know 18.9% (30)

2%-5% 15.1% (24)

6%-10% 4.4% (7)

11%-25% 0.6% (1)

Q 24 My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total annual proceeds to finishing the GC (on all levels: local, national, international, and unreached people). Less than 5% 14.5% (23) 6%-25% 20.8% (33) 26%-45% 10.1% (16) 46%-85% 9.4% (15) Greater than 85% 13.8% (22) I do not know 31.4% (50)

Q 25 My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total annual proceeds specifically to reach unreached people. Less than 5% 21.4% (34) 6%-25% 28.3% (45) 26%-45% 11.3% (18) 46%-85% 3.1% (5) Greater than 85% 4.4% (7) I do not know 31.4% (50)

Q 26 Tithing, a principle of giving 10% of ones resources for Gods work, is an Old Testament teaching/practice and does not apply to the New Testament church. Strongly Disagree 12.6% (20) Disagree 15.7% (25) Neutral 16.4% (26) Agree 15.7% (25) Strongly Agree 39.6% (63)

404 APPENDIX M

SURVEY SECTION 1-4 PERTINANT QUESTIONS BAR CHARTS

Survey Section 1 Institutional/traditional church & Simple/house church


50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Figure 9. Q 1: In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church experience allows me to release more of my personal time directly to finishing the Great Commission.
80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Figure 10. Q 2: In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church experience allows me to release more of my personal money directly to finishing the GC.
50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Figure 11. Q 3: In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church corporately is capable of giving a greater percentage of its time directly to finishing the GC.

405
60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Figure 12. Q 4: In comparison to my traditional/institutional church experience, my simple/house church corporately is capable of giving a greater percentage of its money directly to finishing the GC.

Survey Section 2 Great Commission


50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Figure 13. Q 10: I believe my simple/house church needs help connecting to other simple/house churches related to finishing the GC.

50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Figure 14. Q 11: I believe my simple/house church needs help in sending missionaries from our simple/house church related to finishing the GC.

406 Survey Section 3 Time


30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

< 1%

2% - 5%

6% - 10% 11% - 25%

> 25%

Do Not Know

Figure 15. Q 18: I personally give the following percentage of my weekly simple church activity time to help administrate (manage, care for, run) my simple church.

25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

< 1%

2% - 5%

6% - 10% 11% - 25%

> 25%

Do Not Know

Figure 16. Q 19: My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total weekly activity time to administrate (manage, care for, run) itself.

Survey Section 4 Money


60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

< 1%

2% - 5%

6% - 10% 11% - 25%

> 25%

Do Not Know

Figure 17. Q 20: My personal household gives the following percentage of its gross annual income to charity work of any sort (i.e., religious and/or non-religious).

407
70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

< 1%

2% - 5%

6% - 10% 11% - 25%

> 25%

Do Not Know

Figure 18. Q 23: My simple/house church spends the following percentage of its total annual proceeds on internal administration costs.

40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

< 5%

6% - 25% 26% - 45% 46% - 85%

> 85%

Do Not Know

Figure 19. Q 22: My personal household gives the following percentage of its total annual charity giving specifically to reach unreached people.

35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

< 5%

6% - 25% 26% - 45% 46% - 85%

> 85%

Do Not Know

Figure 20. Q 25: My simple/house church gives the following percentage of its total annual proceeds specifically to reach unreached people.