February 2006


A month after quitting BRCC, a question keeps coming up… Can’t you continue to attend BRCC while you are planting churches when there aren’t schedule conflicts between the two?


Actually, I left BRCC because I couldn’t in good faith continue with the practices of institutional church (see 12/31/2005 entry). In the last three to four institutional meetings, I had such a roaring objection going on in my head such that I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any good. So my departure from BRCC had more to do with my conscientious objection to the forms, practices, limitations of institutional church than conflicting with my efforts to plant house churches among the unchurched.

While at BRCC, I was on the Missions Committee and the long range planning committee. Both of these efforts involved the propagation of institutional church practices. It had gotten to the point of hypocrisy for me to continue in those roles when I had concluded that that was not the NT church model and certainly not better than the NT church model.

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Missionary Methods – St. Paul’s or Ours? by Roland Allen
 

Roland Allen was a Anglican missionary who worked in North China and retired in Africa. The second edition of this book was printed in 1927. His premise is that the then present-day church could overhaul its missionary methods to align with Paul’s from the first century and produce very similar results as that in the first century. He restricts his observations to Paul’s efforts from approx AD 47 to AD 57 when Paul evangelized the four provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia
 

Part 1 defuses the arguments that Paul’s success was dependent on

  1. the position or character of the places he evangelized (major cities/villages, trade routes, Roman protection)
  2. the special class of people he encountered (Jews/Greeks, scholars/illiterates, poor/rich)
  3. the moral, social or religious condition of his audiences (primarily Jews acquainted with the law and moral code)

but instead making the case that what we find in the typical mission targets of China, India, and Africa are not so much different as to deny the possibility of similar results as what Paul experienced.
 

Part 2 deals with objections based on Paul’s miracles, special finances, and his method of preaching. On each objection he argues that we, many centuries later, are not at a great disadvantage.
 

Part 3 contrasts Paul’s methods of training converts with those of the Anglican church at the beginning of the 20th century. Allen focuses on the teaching provided to converts and to the training of candidates for baptism and ordination. Paul taught at the very beginning that converts cannot trust others to do all their thinking or teaching. “Paul seems to have left his newly –founded churches with a  simple system of Gospel teaching, two sacraments [baptism/Lord’s Supper], a tradition of the main facts of the death and resurrection, and the Old Testament.”
 

In Part 4, Allen calls out Paul’s distinctive approach to authority, discipline and unity. He suggests that Paul avoided high-handed tactics and tried to lead the new Christians to proper conclusions. Paul also avoided administering discipline, but called on the congregations to decide what action to take and to act on the decision. Finally the challenge of keeping Jews and Greeks united is explored.
 

Finally, Allen covers conclusions and applications in Part V. He states the obvious, but overlooked fact that the Holy Ghost at work in Paul’s mission efforts is the same Holy Ghost able to work in the mission efforts we are led to undertake today. He deals with many objections and problems to pulling out of our modern methods and replacing them with Paul’s methods.

 

 

This book was challenging in that it used some outdated language and it was couched in the strange terms, practices, and organization of the Anglican church. Nonetheless, it made a compelling case for doing our mission work differently. Primary applications:

  1. Don’t use foreign money to enrich the locals, build them building, hospitals, schools
  2. Don’t ship natives off to seminaries or preaching schools “back home”
  3. Don’t spend a long time in any one spot
  4. Keep it simple
  5. Don’t export your own traditions, hang-ups, cultural practices
  6. Don’t pay preachers with foreign funds (if they are paid at all)
  7. Teach principles, not rules
  8. Leave the discipline to the locals.

 

 

Favorite/Interesting Passages:
 

Pg 50 – “When I wrote this book I had not observed that in addressing the Elders of Ephesus St. Paul definitely direct them to follow his example and to support themselves (Acts 20.34, 35). The right to support is always referred to wandering evangelists and prophets, not to settled local clergy (see Matt 10.10; Luke 10.7; 1 Cor 9.1-14) with the doubtful exceptions of Gal 6.6 and 1 Tim 5.18, and even if those passages do refer to money gifts, they certainly do not contemplate fixed salaries which were an abomination in the eyes of the early Christians, Euseb. H.E. v.18,2.”
 

Pg 52 – “That one church should depend upon another for the supply of its ordinary expenses as a church, or even for a part of them, would have seemed incredible in the Four Provinces.”
 

Pg 72 – “Faith without baptism and all that baptism involved was consequently no part of St Paul’s teaching.”
 

Pg 103 – “there is no suggestion that St Paul ever ordained [elders] a second time in any church of his foundation.”
 

Pg 124 – “Therefore he succeeded through failure where often fail through succeeding. We exercise discipline and leave the church undisciplined. He disciplined the church; we discipline individuals. He left the church, and it stood, tottering on its feet, but still standing; we leave the church without any power of standing at all.”
 

Pg 133 – “St Paul carried them [decrees of Jerusalem council] as far as Galatia, but he carried them no further.”
 

Pg 134 – “it was only by his personal intervention [third visit to Jerusalem] that he could hold the churches of Judea and the Four Provinces together and counteract the machinations of the party which would bind upon the Gentiles the burden of the Jewish law, and so either create a schism or destroy his work.”
 

Pg 146 – “They [new converts] are not so incapable as we suppose.”

All of these things take place in the context of knowing my husband the way that I do – he is slow to act, given to much research and mulling-over, and also a student of Scripture who just wants to know more.  He would never act in such a way as to violate his conscience, and being raised a Christian with godly parents and influences, I know that his desire for something different concerning our worship assemblies and evangelism practices comes from a place of striving to know God and understand better His expectations of our response to His love.  Now, all of that sounds pretty lofty, as if I am blinded by love for Robin, but if you know Robin, you know that his thirst for knowledge of the Bible and his character drive his actions and words. 

So when he tells me he needs something that he doesn’t find in corporate worship, that after reading and studying and praying, he feels as though there are finer points the church today is missing and wants to seek out a fellowship such as those in the first century church, I know that this man has done his homework and would never uproot his or my life for something fleeting and trivial.  I know he feels this down to his core, that he needs to explore what simple church means, and I support his decision wholeheartedly. 

Now, I also I have to say that I am not there yet.  Oh, how I wish there were more specific instructions on how to come together and worship God!  So much of what we cling to is just tradition.  And I am talking strictly about tradition!  But I was raised in a family that attended the church of Christ and was there every time the doors were open.  So to just NOT GO to church every time there is a scheduled meeting, just seems like I am slacking.  And while there are things that I feel hold us back while we are meeting together, that inhibit us from truly letting go and worshipping, I am not ready to abandon that manifestation of “the meeting of the saints.” 

I can admit,  for a while, I have wondered during worship if “that was all there was”;  feeling like I had dutifully come and sat and not feeling too much or being disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm.  But during these past months, with my vocal problems and surgeries, I have come to see such love and concern poured out that I could not imagine NOT having that church family for support and encouragement.  The people there have reached out to me and our family and so many have gone beyond that superficial acquaintance thing that plagues not just churches of Christ, but probably every large group where people just don’t get into each others’ lives.  But I have had the benefit of knowing that I belong, that someone notices when I am not there, and someone cares what happens to me.  And I want to continue being a part of that and I want to do that for someone else. 

So, I guess Robin and I are in different places now concerning “big” church, and I want my kids that have the best of both – Bible class teachers and youth ministers and other Christian adults who care about what they are teaching and modeling, and parents who talk about God’s word and His action in our lives.  I truly miss just sitting together during the services and classes.  Robin’s absence just means that much less time we spend together. 

But, leading up to this decision, we were talking ALL THE TIME about this that anytime he walked toward me I knew we were going to have a DISCUSSION.  I thought my head was going to fall off.  All heady debate, all the time. 

So I guess we shall see where this path is leading us.  I feel like it will be a challenge, but we are heading toward the same goal – to serve God with our lives and bring Him glory.  So instead of separate paths, it’s more like one path that has a speed bump on one side then a crack on the other.  We are still hand in hand. 

If the kids are not in a church youth group as they get to be teenagers, will they be tempted to hang out with worldly kids, get involved with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll?
 

Short answer: Yes.
 

But… Kids will always be tempted to hang out with worldly kids and get into trouble, with or without a church youth group. I’m guessing that all youth ministers would say that parents are the only real protection against getting mixed up with evil companions. Common sense tells us that the more healthy options our children have, the easier it is to keep them out of the unhealthy activities. So it helps to have a vibrant church youth program.
 

This excerpt from Lagard Smith’s Radical Restoration, however, gives perspective on how we have let the church take responsibility for our youth.
 

The role assumed by the church in the past several decades is one that is in loco parentis – i.e., taking the place of parents. (Which is not unlike the role which government has assumed in secular education, juvenile justice, and family law. )  It is yet another instance of a toppled hierarchy and the relinquishment of God-ordained responsibility. Everywhere you look, some one is passing the buck. Parents pass it to the church; the church passes it to the elders; the elders pass it to the youth minIsters. Yet this is only the latest incarnation of a long-standing practice of responsibility avoidance.
Page 232, Radical Restoration, F. Lagard Smith
 

As all of these “kids” questions conclude, it is the parent’s responsibility. Parents must seek out positive environments and opportunities for their kids. They must keep vigil over their kid’s peer choices.


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1 Cor 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
 

Prov 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
 

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
 

New International Version (NIV)
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