House Church Duties

Wayne ODonnell

I love house churches however they're done, and I've never been in a position to influence how they're done, and I've never seen them done like this, but this is a house church discussion list, and so this is my theoretical ideal set of guidelines for sharing responsibilities at gatherings. In addition to having a plurality of elders and decision making by concensus, 1) the person who hosts the meeting at their house will not mc, or be in charge of the teaching, or lead music that week; 2) the person who mc-s will not host, or be in charge of the teaching, or lead music that week, 3) the person who is in charge of the teaching will not host or mc or lead music that week, 4) the person who leads the music will not host, or mc, or be in charge of the teaching that week, and 5) other responsibilities will be distributed as widely as possible and wide participation facilitated and encouraged of course.

Christopher Kirk The only preplanning we do is to set the time and location of our gathering and what food everyone is bringing. Our fellowship is totally open, free and Spirit led. We have awesome interactive conversations and the Spirit teaches us via every member's contributions. We have never been disappointed in our gatherings since 1976. Thanks for sharing Wayne.
Hal Miller So much for "when two or three are gathered in my name," since you have four roles.
Wayne ODonnell Thanks for your comment, Hal. In your view of 'simple church' 1) where do elders (elder, pastor, bishop all the same office that leads, shepherds, feeds) and deacons come in? 1Tim3:1-13, A bishop must be blameless ... likewise must the deacons be grave. Titus1:5-9, For this cause I left thee in Crete ... ordain elders in every city ... a bishop must be blameless. Acts14:23, And when they had ordained elders in every church. 2) Do you think some people had particular gifts and primary roles in the body or was each person a prophet one day and a teacher the next etc. 1Cor12:28, God hath set some in the church: first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracle workers, then those with gifts of healing, helpers, administrators, and those with diversity of tongues. 
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? Eph4:11, He gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.
Bob Leonardy I wonder, Wayne, because the offices and roles are mentioned in NT scripture does that mean that every assembly/church/gathering/fellowship HAS to have those roles to be in line with God's will? I'm thinking that Paul was being more informational to Timothy and the Ephesians rather than laying down a NT church law. Or, possibly, since the "world" was so small in those days maybe there weren't that many asemblies in every town/village as we see today so the structure necessary for those days and times would be different from what we have or need today? I'm still pondering this. smile emoticon
Pat Henshaw Sometimes I think we forget the dynamic of the day in these simple admonitions. Our siblings were turning the world upside down. The Holy Spirit was operating in power. There were a lot of questions on all fronts I imagine, in an environment totally foreign to anything we know today.
Barry Steinman The narrative seems to indicate that Paul circled back around to many churches, came back and "recognized" elders. So.... it seems those churches operated for a long time with no specific leadership. Then when Paul came back, he seems to have merely recognized who were the older experienced believers. Seems pretty simple and organic to me.
May 3 at 6:38pmEditedLike1
Timmy Paleo the thing is, first we need to get our understanding of God and Christ right, before we can get our "church" right. if there should ever be such a thing as a church. or was it a Jesus society?
Debra Gail I'm fairly well convinced that while each city/town/village probably had "a few" elders or deacons, that it was the whole church within the area that had some of each gifting. Perhaps these went "from house to house" as needs arose, and the local house fellowships functioned and fellowshipped with whoever happened to be there at the time?
Debra Gail Wayne ODonnell, I can kind of see your intent, but is it really necessary?? Is there that much fear that someone might have too much influence or control in your group?
Debra Gail Ooops....sorry....missed rhe theoretical part...but still the question remains...lots of fear about control freaks and prima donnas?
Debra Gail Last question for Wayne ODonnell, but also for would your theoretical group handle the "woman" issue...and how do others actually work with/around/ women?
Hal Miller To get back to Wayne ODonnell's question to me re elders, deacons, etc.: Let's forget, for a moment, what they are called. I suspect that because of the variety of names we see in the NT epistles, there was substantial variety in the NT churches. These are leaders, which as Barry Steinman pointed out above, Paul just "recognized." My own view is that a group cannot not have leaders. They are a fact of social existence. We need to embrace the function of good ones and call out the bad ones.
I'm not so much in favor of arbitrary limitations on leaders (as you seem to propose), including the arbitrary limitation of denying that they exist. I'm in favor of discerning the ones you happen to have and supporting their good traits and discipling out or accepting (it depends) their bad ones.
Cal B. Twitty Sr "Offices" as some form of authority embedded therein — only has a such through a long history from ignored original languages to outright deceit in translations —supporting "The Church" —(man made).
Wayne ODonnell Debi, I've rarely lived in an area where there was a house church nearby, but I've been to many house churches over the years, and except for startups, even though all are welcome to contribute to the conversation, there is still pretty tight control under the hood. But the guidelines I mentioned were not so much directed at the house church in general to make rules to keep their leaders in line, but to the leaders to not put themselves into or accept more than one role (with exceptions as needed). If one of the reasons the leaders want to participate in house churches instead of traditionally structured church meetings is that leadership is more widely distributed in house churches, then why wouldn't the leaders themselves want to limit themselves to one role so someone else is forced to pick up the other roles, assuming there are enough people in the meeting to do them. As house church participants know better than most people, you have to stand back and wait to get other people to take on tasks so they contribute and grow by the exercise and we grow by their unique contribution that would otherwise have been missed. And we also know that as long as we are in mortal bodies we are subject to the temptation to 'lord it over', so why not avoid it when possible.
Bob Leonardy I understand where you're coming from Wayne but it really smacks of "managed spirituality" to me and haven't we learned that we are not responsible for the spiritual growth of the body? Isn't that HIS job??
Debra Gail Replacing traditional church rules with "anti-rules" are still adding man-made rules to things, kinda?
Wayne ODonnell This conversation has been profitable to me to help me to remember my intention to follow these guidelines as an aid towards widely sharing leadership should I ever be in a situation to do so; and if it helps any others to be more aggressive at sharing leadership, great. I personally think we would all be better off if leaders would avoid filling multiple roles in meetings so there's more opportunity for others to minister.
Cal B. Twitty Sr Bob, does "Stop sinning for some have no knowledge of God," sound like any responsibility you share?
Bob Leonardy I don't know how that fits in this discussion Cal. We're talking about house church structure in this thread I think.
Cal B. Twitty Sr And Bob, your input was no one is responsible for anyone else's spiritual growth... thus my question. If you stomped about carelessly in my garden of new growth plants or even mature, I would say you were responsible for the damage - wouldn't you agree?
Bob Leonardy No. It isn't an either/or situation Cal. Not being held responsible does not automatically mean one is "stomping about carelessly". It means we recognize that Father has the responsiblity for another persons growth and maturing... not us. We don't want a spiritual codependence... a very unhealthy thing and is a main dynamic in all control situations. We are responsible solely for responding to His leading and teaching as He makes it known to us as individuals trusting in His divine power and moving in another persons life.
Cal B. Twitty Sr I think I see what you mean about you are not responsible for me - only I am - and there is a layer of truth to that - but there are many versese that suggest a content dissimilar (showing a different layer...: Let not many of you become teachers, for as such you shall incur a stricter judgment - is one. The responsibility of the teacher regarding the outcome of the teaching..

.And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” A metaphor chock full of displaying the need for us to be responsible enough to be interdependant on each other.

Though ultimate responsibility for life in Christ (as opposed to not) from a human perspective rest with each individual - I suggest the seriousness with which we approach life - and our part (responsibility) in it can be greatly enhanced and reality will have been more deeply recognized as we reject the typically Western iindividualistic perspective of "I am responsible for no one but myself." - or something like that.
Bob Leonardy And Debi Elmore Fields Buck.... there's a "woman issue"?? Really... where??? wink emoticon LoL! In the business world I've worked side by side with, for, under, and over women and just don't have a problem with it. Likewise in the spiritual world or "church" world for lack of a better word I personally don't see a difference in whether it's a man or a woman who, for this season, has grace to lead, teach, minister, or participate is whatever manner she's lead to do so. I believe all the same loving requirements for work, play, or life apply whether it's man or woman. Teach if there's grace to do so, instruct if there's grace, serve if there's grace. However, there's never grace to be a bully, bossy, pushy, judgemental, or anything else that's not loving.
Debra Gail I've seen it, trust me. One out of the box fellowship I was in for a short time? Women were only allowed to speak IF they had first run it by one of the men, and then only if a man was standing next to them...true story.
Bob Leonardy I haven't the words to express how sick that is Debi. Oh the harm we men have done to others in the name of God all the while justifying our actions by the use of holy scripture!
Pat Henshaw I'm sure there are participants on this discussion list who hold to just that, Bob.
Thomas M Siegel I have been studying this issue for a while now and initially I was on the egalitarian side, however in there is another side of the coin as there so often is. My goal and yours too I hope is to be pleasing in the sight of God and to lay down my desires and sense of fairness in all things. Wayne Grudem has written several books that deal with the scriptures in depth. One I am studying now is "Countering the claims of Evangelical Feminism".
Pat Henshaw Thomas, I get that word handed to me a lot ... egalitarian. I don't think it has anything to do with who we are in Christ. Scripture agrees with the Holy Spirit in that there is NO male nor female. They aren't equal. In Christ the distinctions just vanish. My advice is stick to the scriptures. Words like feminism and egalitarian are not there.
Wayne ODonnell I hope people don't take this as being unloving, I always *try* to be Biblical, wherever that leads. If "there is neither male nor female," Gal3:28, in every realm then homosexuality is ok. I think Paul was talking about the spiritual realm in that passage, like about salvation "through faith in Christ," Gal3:26. Paul also said that although we are all to be "submitting to one another," Eph5:21, in Christ in the spiritual realm, males and females have unique roles in the physical realm. "As the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church," Eph5:24-25. Both submit to each other but a wife submits by submitting, giving up some decision making; and a husband submits by loving, leading in the direction that is best for his wife instead of what's best for himself. It would be no more appropriate for a husband to submit to his wife by submitting than it would for Christ to be subject to the church. Marriage is an example of one of those authority relationships in the physical realm because "the two shall become one flesh," Eph5:31, not "one spirit." Jesus approves of loving inequality relationships. Though of equal worth with the father, he willingly functions in a subordinate position and role forever, "the head of woman is man and the head of Christ is God," 1Cor11:3. "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all," 1Cor15:28.
Thomas M Siegel While I agree with you that the words feminism and egalitarian are not in the bible, wouldn't you say that feminism as we understand it has had an impact on women's roles in the family and the church body? These are modern terms dealing with real issues. I use them to help define the issue. The writings I referred to by W. Grudem take an exhaustive look at the text viewing it from all sides. All I am saying is it warrants a second look. Your conclusions are of course yours. I am of the opinion that women are of equal value in God and that we are to submit to one another. In the assembly a woman is free to prophesy and to share just like the brothers. However when it comes to teaching this should be the men's duty. This is not because the woman is more easily deceived, men are quite capable of that. We would even entrust the instruction of children and other women into their capable hands. In the end we have to deal with the verses Wayne is writing about in 1 Cor. and Eph. They seem pretty clear cut. Most denominations have found their way around them but I and others don't agree.
Thomas M Siegel I like what Barry Steinman said about Paul coming back around and recognizing people who are functioning in certain gifts, weather they received them through the laying on of hands or acquired them on their own from the Holy Spirit. The structure does grow best organically. I don't like the term office either as it implies ranking. Elders or overseers are for the protection of God's people. The word proistemi translated rule in KJV is translated guard by some now. These brothers should hardly be recognizable as leaders in the assembly.
Christopher Kirk There should be no human hierarchies in a truly relational church. That includes males over females. In Christ we are all equal sibling peers and each and every one of us has gifts to share whenever we gather.
Debra Gail Like I said..."the woman issue" still an issue.
Pat Henshaw See what I mean, Bob? Debi and I must be taught by males, because some really smart males have done an in depth study and wrote a book. 30+ years ago I actually subjected myself to that line of thinking and it had a devastating affect for a short while until He revealed Himself as "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." All others are mediators like a priesthood.
Thomas M Siegel I am sorry you have had a bad experience in a male dominated group. I am in no way suggesting you must be taught by males. As long as men regard the text as "The woman issue" it will be perceived as unloving, oppressive and divisive.
Debra Gail There are places and small groups in my life now where truly there is neither male nor female in Christ, and I am welcomed to bring whatever I have been given to share. In fact, I opened no doors on my own...each time I have been invited somewhere, the Lord has opened the door, with signs confirming, and provided the revelation and the resources to go. Its kind of a fun way to live, lol.
Debra Gail Coincidentally, my next visit to share with a group will be addressing why Bruce Jenner thinks his "soul" is a female. In actual fact, he spoke truth, but just hasn't realized that EVERY ONE'S soul is "female".
Julia Mathias Would love to hear more on that subject Debi.
Debra Gail Julia Mathias, I was shown about this more than 15 years ago, but afterwards, I found this writing confirming it. (There is much more, but it's a good place to start).

Scroll down to the article titled "Men as trees walking".
Philip Henry My dad would tell us when we were kids, that when we recieve c