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 History of the

 New Testament Church Model

    The birth of the Christian church is recorded in the Bible book of Acts.  Acts chapter two tells the story of the apostles preaching in Jerusalem before a huge group of people who were in town for a religious celebration called Pentecost.  Thousands of people accepted Christ on that day and then returned to their hometowns and planted churches.  Acts 2:42-47 describes exactly where those churches met and what they did:

“And they [the church members] continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer.  And awe came upon every person, and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.  And everyone who believed was together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to others to meet their needs.  And they continued daily in one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.  They ate their meat in gladness and with a single focus.  They praised God and found favor with all people.  And the Lord added to the church daily those who were saved.”  Acts 2:42-47

    These verses describe what are now called Cell Groups.  Early Christians ministered to one another in love.  They took care of one another and reached out to others, leading them to Christ.

    As we look at church history, we find that these “cell churches” were actually the common structure of Christian congregations.  For 300 years the Body of Christ exploded into the world as every Christian considered it a privilege to witness as a “minister” about Jesus Christ. 

    Meeting in secret caves, homes, and catacombs those Christians were PARTICIPANTS in open worship, sharing, and ministry.  There were no professional clergy and very few, if any, dedicated church buildings.

    Even though these early Christians were persecuted and many were put to death, the Gospel continued to spread across the world like wildfire.

Why did the gospel spread so rapidly?

    Because EVERY MEMBER of the church was a minister who personally spread the Gospel to their family, friends, and neighbors.  They did it one-on-one, and at small group meetings throughout the week.  This biblical teaching is commonly referred to as “Every Member a Minister” and “The Priesthood of All Believers.”

 

In A.D. 313 the church permitted one of her biggest blunders in history.  Emperor Constantine was persuaded to issue the Edict of Milan, officially ending the persecution of Christians.  As a result:

·         Christ’s Body began to meet in LARGE GROUPS, degenerating into an AUDIENCE 

·         Evangelism slowed to a crawl

·         Politicians were given Church ministerial positions

·         Huge church structures began to be built

·         People began to refer to a building as “the church” rather than people

·         The clergy—Professional Christian “Priests”—was born.

·         Non-priests were termed “laymen” (a word not found in the Bible)

·         The Bible was taken out of “laymen’s” hands

·         The central truth of the Gospel—righteousness by faith—was turned into a confessional routine

 

 

The Institutional Paradigm

Is sustained by a clergy system

Seeks to energize the laity

Renders the bulk of its congregants passive-in-their-pews

Associates church with a building or a denomination that one "joins"

Is rooted in unifying those who share a special set of customs or doctrines

Thrusts "ordinary" Christians out of the holy of holies and chains them to a pew

Places its priority on religious programs and keeps its congregants at arms-length, insulating them from one another

Spends most of its resources on building expenditures and pastor-staff salaries

Operates on the basis that the pastor/priest is the functional head (while Christ is the nominal head)

Enshrines and protects the clergy-dominated, program-centered system that serves as the driving machine of the organized church

Builds programs to fuel the church; views people as cogs in the machine

Encourages believers to participate institutionally and hierarchically

Separates church (ecclesiology) from personal salvation (soteriology); views the former as a mere appendage to the latter

 

The Biblical Paradigm

Knows nothing of a clergy system

Doesn't recognize a separate class called laity

Makes all members functioning priests

Affirms that people do not go to church nor join the church . . . affirms that they are the church

Is rooted in unreserved fellowship with all Christians based on Christ alone

Liberates all believers to serve as ministers in the context of a non-clerical, decentralized form of church leadership

Places its priority on face-to-face, shared-life relationships, mutual submission, openness, freedom, mutual service, and spiritual reality-the very elements that were built into the fabric of the NT church

Spends most of its resources on "the poor among you" and apostolic workers

Operates on the basis that Christ is the functional Head through the invisible guidance of the Holy Spirit through the believing community

Shows a revulsion for the clergy system because it quenches the sovereign exercise of the Holy Spirit (yet lovingly embraces every Christian within that system)

Builds people together with Christ to provide the momentum for the church

Invites believers to participate relationally and spiritually

Forges no link between personal salvation and the church; sees the two as inextricably intertwined. (Scripture has it that when people were saved, they simultaneously became part of the church and immediately met together.)
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Issue

Church of Today

 New Testament Church

Location

Church Buildings

House to House and Temple Courts

Relationships

Intimacy Rare, little transparency

Intimate Relationship; encouragement and accountability emphasized

 Discliping

Classes, Notebooks, lectures, modeling 

Personal Mentoring and Modeling 

 Spiritual Gifts

Typically ignored, downplayed to limited to a select group of people 

Used by all believers to build up the Body of Christ 

 Evangelism

 Come and Grow with us!

Go and make disciples! 

Primary Commitment 

Enlarge the "Institution" 

Each of us make Disciples, increase the Kingdom, foster Christian Community 

Primary Leadership Task 

Building and directing program 

Model the life of a disciple via relationship and active personal ministry 

Primary Pastoral Task 

Preach good sermons, work good with a crowd 

 Equip and disciple for ministry via relationship and active personal ministry 

 Leadership Test

What you know, and many times who you know 

Character, heart for service; fruit 

 Prayer Life

 Individual choice, limited

Heavy Emphasis, individual 

Focus 

Congregational (large groups of 50 to 5,000)

Group meeting at a variety of locations typically homes (up to 15 people)

 Teaching

 Apply scriptures to basic needs and relationships

 Subscribe to the distinctive of the church

 Support System

 Pastor and/or Church Staff

 Small group of believers

Frequency of Fellowship

Weekly, before and after services

Daily, as an investment of life together for the Kingdom

 

 

For the Love of His Name,
Jose L Bosque
Jose' L. Bosque
 an apostle of Jesus Christ & servant to all

Jacksonville, Florida
32225 USA
ForRevival@aol.com & Avivamiento@aol.com
RevivalPartners.net & FathersHouseCC.org
Cell (904) 434-0144


2 Chron 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.