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Old 10-01-2008, 09:10 PM   #1
Peter Debelak
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I must begin by saying I have no experiential standing to challenge John Meyer's thesis. But I do have experiential standing to question and share my thoughts, which themselves openly welcome critique and correction...

I just re-read chapter 10. And my first thought, after reading the opening, is that the premise seems wrong to me.

He begins by framing the entire chapter with an analogy of an outdated machine. A machine. Companies which relied on that machine went bust. Others, who replaced the machine, survived.

In terms of "church," the "company" is a church and the "machine" is the "purpose" or "project" of that church.

John notes that LSM churches are still trying to use a machine that is obsolete. His response/solution?....

"Post-Movement churches must fill in the purpose blank if they want to survive."

"Churches" who recognize the obsolete nature of LSM approach much find a new "machine" if they wish to survive.

Of course, I know John would not put it that way, or want his analogy to be extended that far. Except its not extending the analogy at all, really.

My first thought, after recognizing that the LSM "machine" has puttered is: "should there be a company, machine or not, at all???

John assumes, as part of his premise, that we should approach the LSM failure as groups. The "LSM group" failed and our "group" got out. So how should we, as a "group" go on. That may be the case, in the reality of the situation. But is that what the Lord wants? I cannot say, but to the extent that the answer is not clear, perhaps we should not presume it is what he wants with prescriptions of how to go on.

John's book is for leaders of groups, not for individuals. That begs the question for me... Because it presumes the individuals in the group will stick with the leader until another leader convinces them not to. That's what we saw recently with the quarantine.

What would happen if the new "project" of the "leader" was simply this: teach each "member" to know their spirit. If successful, all things are possible. If the group is, in fact, in the "flow" of the Lord's leading, such a one will be lead to join and will do so with grace and power. If the group "deviates," such a one will have discernment to call it out, or to leave.

What if the new "project" was not about the "direction of the group" or the "purpose of the congregation," but rather the nurturing of each member to know the Lord's voice in their lives, even when that is inconsistent with the "vision" of the group??? Is it even possible that the Lord would lead individuals to do a work outside the work of the congregation? If so, should "leaders" encourage it? If so, how? Shouldn't it be encouraged, if at all, before its the case - rather than "ratifying" it after the fact? If so, what sort of teaching or method should "leaders" take up to encourage the individaul pursuit of the Lord? And again, if we believe in His operation, simply encouraging believers to follow His leading does not mean we aren't encouraging a "group purpose" - except that it will be one out from the Head, rather than one the leaders decided upon.

All that to say: how about this for a new "machine": "follow the Lord in your spirit within the confines of the Word." We all believe it. But do we actually take it on as the only "project" out from which all other "projects" and "purposes" will flow (if they are of Him)??? I mean this question...

Sorry, long ramble. I suppose I got bold and moved from questions to propositions. I still intend this entire ramble as a questions, open to correction. So..... thoughts?

In Love,

Peter

P.S. Upon re-reading my post, I think I didn't make clear (in addition to my central thought), that I don't have any problem whatsoever (and, in fact, apprecation) the message John is speaking. John is obviously not proposing a way forward as a prescription or anti-dote to LSM. He has an intimate experience with a congregation emerging from a very particular and peculiar experience and is point a way forward for that congregation which is refreshing and, from what i know, successful. I am just using his writing as a springboard to ask pressing questions about our, perhaps, unanalyzed premises for going forward. I'm sure John would welcome the pressing (and would probably put me in my place in the process! )
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Old 10-02-2008, 04:16 AM   #2
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Just be sure to write the new and improved concept of "Universal Church" down because down the line nothing will frustrate the future revolutionaries more than having a certain articulation that they have to either deal with or explain away.

The writings are also useful for detecting future revolutionaries early on before they cause too much trouble.

PS: Could you link me to what you are talking about? I don't know John Meyers or his thesis.
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Old 10-02-2008, 07:29 AM   #3
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Peter,

It's interesting that you just re-read John's chapter, because I did, too. I got more out of it the second time.

(By the way, I think for a lot of people John's writings need to be re-read, because his style and means of expression are so different from Witness Lee's that one might miss the gems he has to offer because one is searching for the "riches," if you catch my meaning.)

Anyway, I don't think John is addressing anything as fundamental as how individuals go on with the Lord in this chapter. The focus of his book is how churches survive and find their footing in the wake of leaving LSM's movement. In this particular chapter, John is focusing on mission, that is, that which a church or group is trying to accomplish. The machine in his analogy represents the methods a church or group is employing to carry out the mission. When these tools become obsolete (gospel marches, love feasts, tracts) then new methods need to be discovered.

Because of WN/WL influence, I used to believe that the mission was to build the church. I've since seen that the mission is, as most Christians believe, to disciple the nations. Churches should result and we should be involved in them. But the building of the church, by and large, is the Lord's work. Our work is to gain, disciple and build up believers. When we focus primarily on building the church, we become inwardly focused and neglect the world around us.

The same thing happens when we make being "transformed" or being spiritual our focus; we are constantly checking our spiritual temperature and have very little room or time to be concerned about others. But when we focus on others, and their need to be brought to the Lord and discipled, things start falling into place. Suddenly our spiritual condition is important for the sake of others, not for our "making the kingdom." Usually the result is we experience real growth.

So the real way to grow is to forget about yourself and start taking care of others. Lo and behold, that's the mission.
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Old 10-02-2008, 01:21 PM   #4
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Because of WN/WL influence, I used to believe that the mission was to build the church. I've since seen that the mission is, as most Christians believe, to disciple the nations. Churches should result and we should be involved in them. But the building of the church, by and large, is the Lord's work. Our work is to gain, disciple and build up believers. When we focus primarily on building the church, we become inwardly focused and neglect the world around us.

The same thing happens when we make being "transformed" or being spiritual our focus; we are constantly checking our spiritual temperature and have very little room or time to be concerned about others. But when we focus on others, and their need to be brought to the Lord and discipled, things start falling into place. Suddenly our spiritual condition is important for the sake of others, not for our "making the kingdom." Usually the result is we experience real growth.

So the real way to grow is to forget about yourself and start taking care of others. Lo and behold, that's the mission.
Thank you, Igzy. You provide some remarkable insight.

I realized years ago that if we focus on truth and life, we only get deader. If we focus on the gospel for adding to the church ("our" church...), we become shallow. However, when we focus on Christ as our center and the saints as our companions, we are refreshed and the Lord begins to have a way with us.
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Old 10-03-2008, 10:59 AM   #5
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What would happen if the new "project" of the "leader" was simply this: teach each "member" to know their spirit. If successful, all things are possible.
Excellent thread starter Peter!

On your first question..teaching people to know their spirit. EXCELLENT proposition.....but let's make sure each of us as leaders know and follow the Voice of God in us..that is the Holy Spirit..in our spirit...before we teach others to know their spirit.

As we read the Word individually and together..and fellowship one with another and have a lot of one on one time with the LORD in our prayer closets so to speak, we will come to know the Spirit indwelling in our spirit and thus we will be able to teach each other.

You brought out some excellent questions to ponder on.
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Old 10-03-2008, 11:24 AM   #6
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The machine in his analogy represents the methods a church or group is employing to carry out the mission. When these tools become obsolete (gospel marches, love feasts, tracts) then new methods need to be discovered.

Because of WN/WL influence, I used to believe that the mission was to build the church. I've since seen that the mission is, as most Christians believe, to disciple the nations. Churches should result and we should be involved in them. But the building of the church, by and large, is the Lord's work. Our work is to gain, disciple and build up believers. When we focus primarily on building the church, we become inwardly focused and neglect the world around us.

The same thing happens when we make being "transformed" or being spiritual our focus; we are constantly checking our spiritual temperature and have very little room or time to be concerned about others. But when we focus on others, and their need to be brought to the Lord and discipled, things start falling into place. Suddenly our spiritual condition is important for the sake of others, not for our "making the kingdom." Usually the result is we experience real growth.

So the real way to grow is to forget about yourself and start taking care of others. Lo and behold, that's the mission
.
Great stuff you brought out here Igzy!

First things first..

I liked the old methods used. Maybe I'm just nostalgic or something..whatever...but many of the 'new' methods have not worked so well. I think we could improve on the old methods ..bring them up to date..but that might ruffle some feathers...I don't know.

As for building the church...I still think there is something to it..but again, it needs tweeking...not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

We can't build the church by our own strength..or our own power however. I think that is why so much of the LSM/LC has failed. They stopped letting GOD building the church. It became Lee's machine.

Yes..we are to disciple the nations..but too many people imho, are being brought to Christ and then left by the wayside to fend for themselves. That's where I have a problem with the healing and prosperity gospel.

A lot of emphasis is being placed on physical healing..and being financially prosperous through tithes and offerings. UGH!

I'm ALL FOR physical healings! I'm all for being financially prosperous. I'm often reminded of the scripture in Proverbs that tells us 'The wealth of the wicked is stored up for the RIGHTEOUS!' I think it's way overdue for the struggling saints to get their share of wealth to the GLORY OF GOD!

Back to topic.... I've often thought..so what if we are physically healed and then emotionally and spiritually bankrupt?

What good is our physical healing if we have no friends..no where to go..no one to be built up with in Christ..in fellowship? And if we're going to be financially wealthy...we need to learn to be wise stewards and not flaunt it or squander it!


As for transformation...yeah..we don't need to check ourselves. Don't you guys love it when someone you're talking to about anything will stop and notice there is something 'different' about you? And they're drawn to you because of the LORD beaming out of you? Shining and Glowing?

We don't need to focus on being transformed..all we need to focus is on JESUS being the LORD and KING of our lives. The more we Praise and Worship Him with Thanksgiving, our minds are renewed. We think differently..we become more intelligent..for we are getting the Mind of CHRIST..we have the RESURRECTION LIFE working in us. We can't help wanting to pray for one another..to encourage one another..to lift up one another..to share the GOOD NEWS of CHRIST's Salvation and deliverance by His BLOOD with the lost!

Ok...stepping off the pulpit now.
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Old 10-03-2008, 01:43 PM   #7
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CMW,

Thanks for your reply.

Regarding discipling the nations, to disciple means "to make followers of." So the word implies to convert and to shepherd. It never meant simply to "get saved." If we meet a weak Christian and help him or her back to following the Lord, that's discipling.

As to the "building of the church," I think from our standpoint it mainly means to build up believers. The church really is just the believers.

When a typical LCer stands up in a meeting, waves his fist and proclaims, "We need to build the chuuuuuuurch!" I doubt he is thinking about the believers. I think he has in mind an idealized thing--the "church"--a fuzzy, abstract spiritual entity--that is oddly distinct from the people in the room. Really what his is saying is that he is for an ideal, an idea, not that he is for the people around him.

That's a big, big error, but it's subtle. The church is just the believers. When you say you are building up the church, what you should mean is you are building up Joe and Frank and Mary and Susan and those other Christians you know. There is no church to build up outside of them.

So from our standpoint, building up the church is mainly just building up believers. But it also includes the things we do to make Christian community cohesive. Certainly if we are in a particular church it makes sense to build up that church as a group--to do the things that strengthen the group as a group. However, even that can be taken too far, to where we see the "group" as more important than all the members.

This is the error the LC has made. In their worldview, the church as an idea or ideal is more important than the church itself. Sort of like when Linus told Lucy, "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand."
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Old 10-03-2008, 02:12 PM   #8
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What if the new "project" was not about the "direction of the group" or the "purpose of the congregation," but rather the nurturing of each member to know the Lord's voice in their lives, even when that is inconsistent with the "vision" of the group??? Is it even possible that the Lord would lead individuals to do a work outside the work of the congregation? If so, should "leaders" encourage it? If so, how? Shouldn't it be encouraged, if at all, before its the case - rather than "ratifying" it after the fact? If so, what sort of teaching or method should "leaders" take up to encourage the individaul pursuit of the Lord? And again, if we believe in His operation, simply encouraging believers to follow His leading does not mean we aren't encouraging a "group purpose" - except that it will be one out from the Head, rather than one the leaders decided upon.
I want to address these questions of Peter's.

I think it is absolutely reasonble to expect that a Christian within a group might get a calling from the Lord that takes him in a direction which the group might not be emphasizing. How else is the Lord going to get things started?

The idea that the elders of a church can veto any burden a believer has is something that is not even considered in most typical churches. It only has any meaning in the LC churches because they've gotten it into their heads that their elders have jurisdiction over the whole city. In more typical churches the leaders generally don't think that highly of themselves. So, for example, if you felt called to begin a particular ministry, most would probably give you some advice, but wouldn't presume to tell you "no." How could they when their jurisdiction stops at the edge of their property line?

Of course, if you want to do something that is going to directly change the way their congregation does things, then they can veto that, and should if they think it's a bad idea. Leaders cannot stop you from serving the Lord the way you feel to outside the congregation, but neither are they obligated to give you a platform within the congregation.

The leaders at the church I meet with are always encouraging us to find new ways to serve the Lord and minister. But this doesn't mean they have to endorse every idea that comes along, just that they don't presume to veto anything. They trust the Lord to lead and to bless what is of Him.
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Old 10-03-2008, 03:08 PM   #9
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So from our standpoint, building up the church is mainly just building up believers. But it also includes the things we do to make Christian community cohesive. Certainly if we are in a particular church it makes sense to build up that church as a group--to do the things that strengthen the group as a group. However, even that can be taken too far, to where we see the "group" as more important than all the members.
This is the error the LC has made. In their worldview, the church as an idea or ideal is more important than the church itself. Sort of like when Linus told Lucy, "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand."

You are correct Igzy.

I think many saints in the LC over time became very discouraged because many talked the talk but did not walk the talk.

We were all for the building up of the church..only no one knew how to do it other than meeting at the meeting hall or the home gatherings where we read the life study messages.

Very few people knew how to reach out to one another...to truly BUILD one another in the Faith. When someone was down or troubled we'd tell them...just 'call on the Lord'..oh Lord Jeeeeeesus'. Maybe not everyone behaved that way..but many did.

We read testimony after testimony of the hardships people suffered because they were not one with the ministry.

Don't misunderstand me. Calling on the LORD is awesome. There IS power and Strength and Deliverance in HIS Precious NAME..the Name above all names.

The problem you pointed out with the church..building the group..is very prevailant...not just in the LC but in almost every Christian gathering. I have gone to quite a few Christian fellowship places...some are mega churches.

The pastor is exhaulted to the hilt. That 'church' is like no other. I HATE that mentality!! It is really hard to make good friends in Christ in the church.

Sometimes I get disgusted with the TV preachers or just pastors around here who 'drop names'. At the church I used to attend, there was a wall with pictures of the pastor along side many 'celebrity' pastors.

I often hear pastors/teachers/preachers on TV talk about the other pastors they hang out with.

There is such a spirit of elevation among the hierchy. I don't like it one bit.

I see the 'flock' and they are trying to get close to the 'inner circle' so they can be close to the pastors..and those he/she knows.

It wasn't that bad in the LC as in many of the localities, we really knew our Shepherds..and they knew us...some for better..some for worst.

The biggest problem that is leading to the collapse of the LSM/LC is the 'idolization' of the LSM Lee ministry. God HATES Idolatry. And HE WILL bring down the spirit of Deception and the spirit of Idolatry with the Breath of His Nostrils. He is doing it now. Praise You LORD GOD !!

LORD JESUS...You crush that spirit of idoltry, deception and division ...and do it NOW!

Thank You Lord!
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Old 10-04-2008, 06:05 AM   #10
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The biggest problem that is leading to the collapse of the LSM/LC is the 'idolization' of the LSM Lee ministry. God HATES Idolatry. And HE WILL bring down the spirit of Deception and the spirit of Idolatry with the Breath of His Nostrils. He is doing it now. Praise You LORD GOD !!

LORD JESUS...You crush that spirit of idolatry, deception and division ...and do it NOW!
CMW, this conclusion to your lost post is a little ridiculous. Is this your conclusion to Pastors putting their pictures on the church hall walls?

What got you so fired up? These comments seem totally out of character and out of place. I never saw pictures of WL on some hall wall.

This thread was a "premise" related to a book by JM. You have introduced idolatry and unleashed all God's wrath on the LSM. Can I ask what happened to you?
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:26 AM   #11
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CMW, this conclusion to your lost post is a little ridiculous. Is this your conclusion to Pastors putting their pictures on the church hall walls?

What got you so fired up? These comments seem totally out of character and out of place. I never saw pictures of WL on some hall wall.

This thread was a "premise" related to a book by JM. You have introduced idolatry and unleashed all God's wrath on the LSM. Can I ask what happened to you?

HEY !! SOMEONE out there is reading my posts!

Seriously though....I was on a roll yesterday... What got me so fired up??

Oh..probably a culmination of things.

Let's see if I can clear some things up.. Igzy brought up the building up of the church referring to believers...but how the group in some places..in many places becomes more important..takes presidence if you will..over the LORD and over the edification and building up of the saints.

Quoting what he concluded in his last post, Igzy wrote this:

This is the error the LC has made. In their worldview, the church as an idea or ideal is more important than the church itself. Sort of like when Linus told Lucy, "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand."

Having been in the LC and checking out different church 'bodies', I have found that congregations 'exhault' the pastors/preachers. We saw this in the LC no doubt.In the LC, it was Brother Lee's ministry.

In the other 'churches', I have frequented, I have heard statements like this:
We are so blessed to have Pastor so & so because He hears from God and the Word is passed down to us. Many preachers/teachers on TV are 'celebrities'. People are in awe of them.

In the LC, we saw there was no ministry like Lee's ministry. Sure-The LC didn't have pictures of Lee on the wall..but he sure was laid to rest in style!! Wow...not even the Pope (John Paul II had a month long 'wake'!)

In the city where I live, there are some prominent pastors, seen on TV. And yeah..one of them recently celebrated 50 years of ministry. And his picture..with him preaching was PLASTERED on an oversized billboard at the entrance of the building.

The other pastor whose church I used to attend has pictures on a hallway wall with him and a bunch of well known 'celebrity' ministers. This pastor is not well known in our country but is well known in South Africa.

So I lumped everyone together....certainly idolotry is not the theme or topic of this thread...and I am NOT trying to make it part of this thread!!!

Sorry if it came across as I was.

In fact, my spirit has been grieving over the division of the church...the entire, universal CHURCH, the BODY of Christ...
The LORD certainly raises teachers and shepherds. Pastors and ministers is an office...not a title on a piece of paper ! Nee and Lee never did have a title. In fact they went by the 'title' Brothers. But they were teachers too.

(Aside of Lee's shortcomings....and errors, most of us here, embraced the messages on Genesis, Matthew, John, Romans, Hebrews.)

We were...at least I was taught scriptures on the Blood of Jesus. Perhaps the credit should go to the leading brothers in my locality...for they were the ones who taught me the Word of God...who taught me about my spirit.

We were taught to build up the saints..to build up the church...that is one another. Did we follow through? Some of us did...some of us did not. As Igzy wrote, many 'built up the idea..or the ideal'.

Being that I have never experienced the kind of 'building' we had in the LC anywhere else, my experience in the 70's was unique.

The leading brothers in San Diego took the messages that came from Anaheim...from Brother Lee but somehow, I never felt the messages came from Anaheim. To me, personally, the messages came from the LORD speaking through the elders. Yes..they always made sure Lee got the credit..

When I would get up to 'testify' or 'prophesy' as people call it now, I don't ever recall saying 'Praise the Lord for Brother Lee!' I'd get up thanking the LORD for the message that meant something to me...that applied to me.

What a different church 'life' we may have had, had we embraced CHRIST as our LORD, as our TEACHER... truly building up one another in Christ through thick and thin..instead of holding up a person & his ministry.

Marriages would heal..and be restored. We'd be a testimony and a true witness to the world of how GREAT our GOD is !!

Fellowship among the broken relationships would be restored! Imagine the leading brothers and SISTERS who have been wounded and have wounded one another would be HEALED to the GLORY of GOD.

How I pray that one day, the middle wall of partition, the wall of division, the spirit of competition would crumble down & be crushed once and for all giving the LORD all the HONOR and GLORY HE alone deserves!

My thoughts are not strictly on the LSM/LC's problems but in all the 'ministries' around the globe. Many leaders in The 'church', the Universal church have turned it into a 'machine' of sorts.

I know this thread is supposed to be on the premise of the LSM problems but I see it soo universal, I had to throw in the Universal church into the mix.

I don't know if I got off on a rabbit trail here.
If I did, I'm sorry. I got a lot on my heart right now.
Thanks for reading my post Ohio and anyone else who read it.
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Old 10-04-2008, 02:57 PM   #12
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Pastors and ministers is an office...not a title on a piece of paper !
CMW, interesting post -- much of what you say is also stirring within me.

One small caveat, though there may be many ministers (greek: leitourgos) in the New Testament, I cannot find any New Testament reference to the "office" of minister as it is recognized in contemporary Christianity (e.g. "Reverend So-and-So is our minister"). Somehow "minister" has come to mean some sort of spiritual leader.

Nor do I find any scriptural reference to the office of "pastor". There are very few New Testament references to "pastor", most of which refer to the Lord Jesus. It would seem rather that a pastor is a gift to the church, a brother or sister in our midst who is able to shepherd the saints. This pastor wouldn't need to be and elder (though wouldn't that be nice...?), but need only simply to serve and exercise the gift.

Sorry to pick nits, but this has come up in various places. I thought it worth a reply. I don't mean to pour cold water on your otherwise excellent post.
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Old 10-04-2008, 03:55 PM   #13
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CMW, interesting post -- much of what you say is also stirring within me.

One small caveat, though there may be many ministers (greek: leitourgos) in the New Testament, I cannot find any New Testament reference to the "office" of minister as it is recognized in contemporary Christianity (e.g. "Reverend So-and-So is our minister"). Somehow "minister" has come to mean some sort of spiritual leader.

Nor do I find any scriptural reference to the office of "pastor". Sorry to pick nits, but this has come up in various places. I thought it worth a reply. I don't mean to pour cold water on your otherwise excellent post.
You're not picking nits Toledo !

We're on the same page believe it or not! I didn't mean to use the word 'office' in the same context we use it to view say the 'office' of the president...

Perhaps I should have looked up the word before using it.

When Paul discusses pastors, shepherds, teachers, prophets etc...

I think he is referring to their function. Some people have the gift to teach..others have the gift to evangelize.

But we ALL have the ability to teach, to evangelize, to shepherd..some to a large degree...others in a small degree. By that I mean..some are able to teach large groups of people...others are better suited to teach one on one...like me.

Thanks for your input Toledo!

And after all my ranting and raving...I'm on my way to listen to Sid Roth speak at a local assembly..in fact, he is going to be at the church I used to attend. GULP!!!

I stopped attending that church almost 2 yrs ago !!

P.S. Sid Roth hosts a program called 'It's Supernatural'...or something like that...but he has a BIG heart for the Jews and for Israel.
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Old 10-06-2008, 08:21 AM   #14
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I wrote this post a few days ago in response to Peter's original post so it’s kind of stale…but here goes…

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I must begin by saying I have no experiential standing to challenge John Meyer's thesis.
Au contraire mon frere! Challenge away! Your experience is just as good as anybody else’s, and your thesis is just as good as anybody else’s. Peter, as usual your post was well thought out and provocative. I think, however, you have taken this particular chapter and placed it out context as far as the overall theme of the entire book. Here is what I mean. Let’s take a look at the book cover again:




If the actual picture of the fellow emerging from the suffocating tentacles doesn’t do it for you, then just read the subtitle: “Church life beyond the Local Church Movement”. What part of “beyond” do we all not understand? Seriously though, I have never thought Myer’s message has been even the least bit muddled or hidden from the get-go. The sad truth is that there is no future and there is no hope within the religious system of the Local Church Movement. (arguments about if there ever was are now futile) The only future and the only hope lie outside the confines of the LC meeting halls and outside of the pages of the writings of Witness Lee. This is a very big and very bitter pill for current and exiting members to swallow. In fact, it’s so big and so bitter that most people have to settle for chipping off little pieces one by one so they can swallow them – and this is exactly what Myer is doing with this book, chapter by chapter.

I know that many current members, and even a good number of those no longer under the LSM umbrella, are desperately seeking a way to “recover the recovery”. I know, I found myself in that same category for a number of years. But let’s go back to the cover of the book, shall we? Do you think that fellow (by the way, nice touch with the training badge) would have any way to see that road leading to the sunshine unless he separated himself from the tentacles and stuck his head out? Unless and until this fellow stepped out in faith from the confines of his cozy but isolated little world, he would never even know of the future and hope that exists on the outside. Of course it is much, much easier for a whole church to take this step of faith to the great unknown then it is for an individual. Thank God for people like John Myer and the other leaders there in Columbus for having the courage and spiritual fortitude to lead so many dear ones to a place where they have at least an opportunity to have a future and a hope.

In regards to Peter’s practical observations/criticisms, I believe he missed the “meat” of this particular chapter by focusing on Myer’s opening analogy, so much so that he kind of missed the forest for the trees. Here are a few excerpts which I think point to the crux of the matter of the Local Church’s history of “putting the lamp under the bushel”:


…Volume-wise, probably no group has stressed the topic of eternal purpose more than we have. Yet lofty teachings don’t easily translate into action. For instance, to say that the purpose of a church is to be the organic testimony of Christ, an expression of the triune God is fine as far as ecclesiology goes. But these ideals tend to be statements of being rather than of intent. “Being” identifies what we are. “Intent” relates to mission.

...Eventually to the pragmatic mind, a mission that embraces everything looks like nothing. Jesus understood this. As we will see later, He did not leave it up to us to deduce what the church ought to be doing after He ascended. He left explicit authoritative commands to accomplish certain things.

…Any mission will quickly become an empty, duty-driven exercise without love for God at its kernel. Likewise, the neighbors we are alleging to serve will become depersonalized objects of religious work if love is not the animating force in that service.


Lofty teachings don’t easily translate into action”… “a mission that embraces everything looks like nothing”… “the neighbors will become depersonalized objects of religious work”… So brother John has not left much to our imagination in regards to what he thinks what went wrong with the practical “mission” of Witness Lee and his followers. These are some pretty practical (and telling) criticisms of what we have seen and experienced over the history of the LC Movement over the past 40+ years here in America. I suspect that when the full story is known, we will find that the history of the Local Church in North America is no more then a repeat of the earlier years in Taiwan – In which there was a lot of lofty teachings that did not translate into godly and profitable action, along with a mission and a supposed “vision” that turned people into depersonalized objects of religious work.

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John's book is for leaders of groups, not for individuals.
Actually, the book is for those Local Churchers who “to varying extents have withdrawn”:
Local Church insiders casually refer to their involvement with the group as being “the church life.” Yet my contention is that authentic New Testament church life cannot exist within it to any compelling degree. Over the last few years, many have come to similar conclusions and to varying extents have withdrawn, looking for fresher, saner fields. This book was written for them since they have more than likely heard that upon leaving “the Recovery” (that is, the Living Stream Ministry’s version of it), there is no place left to go except religious Babylon. Happily, the Holy Spirit is not confined by such edicts, which the following chapters will go on to demonstrate.

The bottom line is that it would be a catastrophic mistake for Local Churchers, be it individuals or as a whole church group, to exit the LC Movement, only to imbibe and practice the very same things that doomed Witness Lee and his followers from the very start. We can go round and round the mulberry bush in discussing just who and what created the religious system of the Local Church of Witness Lee (and we will), but in the end this will not supply one single person with a future or a hope. No, in the end the only future and only hope will be supplied by the Holy Spirit Himself, who is not confined by any thing or any person or any religious system. I am reminded of the apostle Peter’s words “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”.(1Peter 1:3) Ah, now there’s the real future and there’s the real hope!
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Old 10-07-2008, 12:02 PM   #15
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Peter, as usual your post was well thought out and provocative. I think, however, you have taken this particular chapter and placed it out context as far as the overall theme of the entire book. Here is what I mean.
...
Seriously though, I have never thought Myer’s message has been even the least bit muddled or hidden from the get-go. The sad truth is that there is no future and there is no hope within the religious system of the Local Church Movement. (arguments about if there ever was are now futile) The only future and the only hope lie outside the confines of the LC meeting halls and outside of the pages of the writings of Witness Lee. This is a very big and very bitter pill for current and exiting members to swallow. In fact, it’s so big and so bitter that most people have to settle for chipping off little pieces one by one so they can swallow them – and this is exactly what Myer is doing with this book, chapter by chapter.
...
In regards to Peter’s practical observations/criticisms, I believe he missed the “meat” of this particular chapter by focusing on Myer’s opening analogy, so much so that he kind of missed the forest for the trees. Here are a few excerpts which I think point to the crux of the matter of the Local Church’s history of “putting the lamp under the bushel”:


…Volume-wise, probably no group has stressed the topic of eternal purpose more than we have. Yet lofty teachings don’t easily translate into action. For instance, to say that the purpose of a church is to be the organic testimony of Christ, an expression of the triune God is fine as far as ecclesiology goes. But these ideals tend to be statements of being rather than of intent. “Being” identifies what we are. “Intent” relates to mission.

...Eventually to the pragmatic mind, a mission that embraces everything looks like nothing. Jesus understood this. As we will see later, He did not leave it up to us to deduce what the church ought to be doing after He ascended. He left explicit authoritative commands to accomplish certain things.

…Any mission will quickly become an empty, duty-driven exercise without love for God at its kernel. Likewise, the neighbors we are alleging to serve will become depersonalized objects of religious work if love is not the animating force in that service.
I have a lot of appreciation for what John is doing in his book and particularly in this chapter. I agree, Unto, that he is - bit by bit - challenging and deconstructing those habits of belief which were ingrained into us over years being under the "LSM-style mission machine" (my phrase, to capture the thought). There are significant habits of belief that need to be tackled, and John does so effectively. He addresses the overly-truth-centered "mission" which focuses on truth at the expense of action. He address the mission that focuses on everything accomplishes nothing... And so one. These are important observations.

I am not attempting to "recover the LSM Recovery" from John's arguments. I am pressing the thought to go even further.

John's argument, it seems to me, is based on the root question: "What should we do, as a group, in response to the errors we have perceived in the LSM model of church?" His argument challenges many premises in the LSM model, but I wonder if it goes deep enough.

My question would be this: how does the individual guard themselves from being swept in any kind of mission-machine which may not be the Lord's specific will for them?

Another possible root question: should groups of believers - or churches - have "missions" collectively? Or are the groups simply the collection of believers who each have a calling from the Lord - many of which overlap, but many which may not?

Our experience has taught us that good intentions of leaders, groups, movements etc... don't mean our involvement is pleasing to the Lord. Perhaps the first generation of a "mission" is well-intentioned and the result of much prayer and consecration. But then the next generation comes along is their involvement becomes, over time, a function of the simple fact that they are part of the group. There is no calling from the Lord, per se. Even the contempletive ones evaluate the mission, decide its worthy, and thus determine to give themselves to it. But the central question is never asked: "Lord, what do you want of me?" The answer may very well be: join with your brethren in their serving and discipling under the leadership in the church into which I called you. But it also might be: give yourself to your studies and your peers around you; or spend more time with your estranged father; or volunteer your time with your grandmothers nursing home. When church membership means you are simultaneously signed up for a "mission" - it can (though perhaps not often) have the effect of causing us to miss the Lord's voice when He speaks to us in ways that don't comport with that mission.

What I am saying is not in opposition to John's insightful and helpful word. But I want to press further.

Igzy, you say John is not talking about anything as fundamental as how an individual goes on following the Lord. I say, well then what is he talking about? How an individual goes on following a church? How a "church" goes on following the Lord - with the presumption that its a monolithic entity? In the process of fulfilling the clear commands of mission from our Lord, I just think its important to emphasize and re-emphasize that learning to hear His voice is the MOST important thing. That enables us to dive into the "mission" of the group, when the Lord is pleased, but also to respond to His voice even when it doesn't comport with the community norm. Its the only way, in my view, to guard against future "LSM-models".

Does that make sense?

In Love,

Peter
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:31 AM   #16
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Igzy, you say John is not talking about anything as fundamental as how an individual goes on following the Lord. I say, well then what is he talking about? How an individual goes on following a church? How a "church" goes on following the Lord - with the presumption that its a monolithic entity? In the process of fulfilling the clear commands of mission from our Lord, I just think its important to emphasize and re-emphasize that learning to hear His voice is the MOST important thing. That enables us to dive into the "mission" of the group, when the Lord is pleased, but also to respond to His voice even when it doesn't comport with the community norm. Its the only way, in my view, to guard against future "LSM-models".

Does that make sense?
Peter,

It does make sense. Learning to follow the Lord's voice is the basis for our whole Christian life. The LSM-LC basically said the church's voice is the Lord's voice, sort of like when that Supreme Court justice said, "The Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is." ("Well, la-de-dah" is my reply.)

That said, I doubt that John's thought precludes the fundamental idea that we all have to follow the Lord's voice on our own. But it is possible that because of "Recovery" influence he still sees the church's voice as overarchingly authoritative to all Christians within earshot. I'm not certain, but I doubt that is his thought. Otherwise he never would have advised LSMers to leave the Church in Columbus if they weren't happy, he would have commanded them to shut up.

I believe the simple answer is that his approach to the problem he is addressing is from the standpoint of the group, looking at the group as a group. This doesn't mean he thinks that a group burden always precludes individual burden, just that this is the tack of his book.

But as I've said before, when you really get down it to there is really no escaping following one's own counsel, even in extremely controlling groups, because even in controlling groups at some level the individual has decided that following the dictates of the group is a good thing, even at the expense of other considerations. Think about it. You don't have to follow the group, you just decide you are supposed to. Of course, you may have gotten all kinds of bad advice to do so, but it the end you decided that bad advice was good advice. There is no escaping that.

One question ex-LSM-LCers need to ask themselves is why, oh why, did they believe the ministry/church had the kind of authority over them they thought it did. Really, where did that thought come from?

So, ironically, the group really has no power, except to try to influence your decision-making. Even if it claims "authority" over people, it has none really, because you in your conscience are the one who decides whether or not their claim to authority makes sense. So, in a sense, you grant them authority. You give them the power to control. That's the inescapable reality and the bottom line of our being individuals. Draw from it whatever conclusions are appropriate. I think pretty much all the answers are there.

On the other hand, the fact is you can't have a group without cooperation. And cooperation by definition means sometimes forgoing what you want to do. The LC's error was to teach that it always means forgoing. They made a virtue out of always forgoing. That's an extreme. Like I said, how can the Lord start anything fresh if none of us have the freedom to follow him in the face of group resistance. It makes no sense.

So in some ways we operate individually, and in others we operate as members of a group. As Christians, the basic group is the church, and we are expected to cooperate with that group to some extent. But the control of the group is never absolute. It can't be.

So the LC's error wasn't in teaching to not follow the Lord's voice. They did teach to follow the Lord's voice. Their error was in teaching that the Lord's voice would always magically agree with whatever the church said.
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Old 10-09-2008, 03:40 AM   #17
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So the LC's error wasn't in teaching to not follow the Lord's voice. They did teach to follow the Lord's voice. Their error was in teaching that the Lord's voice would always magically agree with whatever the church said.
Yes, the well-worn saying was that, "the Lord speaks through His body." Which, looking back, sounded true and harmless indeed, but eventually I and others rejected this as simply a form of human manipulation. Over time there was a transition from "I know the Lord personally," to "we know the Lord thru the body." Sounds similar, but the latter is just lifeless religion. Towards the end, we were basically just learning "the program," all the while being indoctrinated with "high peak" theology.

Another point I prefer to stress is important -- it was "LSM's error," and not necessarily the "LC's error." How much each and every LC stressed this falsehood varied place to place and region to region. The source was LSM, however, so they bear the "greater sin."

Knowing the Lord personally brings us our joy, in other words, joy is the fruit of the spirit. Recently, my wife and I were discussing this topic ... again ... and she made the simple observation, "look at their faces after church is over." Quite telling. How many times I left a meeting without a joyful heart. I was not alone. But no one was aware of it, because we all were in the "same boat." One must checkout out other "boats" to find some who are filled with joy.
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:30 AM   #18
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Knowing the Lord personally brings us our joy, in other words, joy is the fruit of the spirit. Recently, my wife and I were discussing this topic ... again ... and she made the simple observation, "look at their faces after church is over." Quite telling. How many times I left a meeting without a joyful heart. I was not alone. But no one was aware of it, because we all were in the "same boat." One must checkout out other "boats" to find some who are filled with joy.
One thing Lee stressed repeatedly was that the long faces do not form the basis of an accurate guage of a "local church." I don't know about that. Perhaps you can't take a temperature on a single day but over a relatively short period of time the reality should become quite clear. (There I go, talking about "realities" again!)

If I started to hate some group's meetings, which they all appeared to hate as well, I'm pretty clear that it would be because Christ wasn't actually present in any very substantial way (i.e. reality). Jesus is a most excellent and enjoyable Person and when He's around, I've found that I can't help but be joyous on some level. Stephen being stoned wasn't moping but rejoicing.

On the other hand, I also remain unable to appreciate the Christian flotilla.
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:56 AM   #19
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On the other hand, I also remain unable to appreciate the Christian flotilla.
You have to be thankful they are at least "floating."
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Old 10-09-2008, 05:15 AM   #20
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On the other hand, the fact is you can't have a group without cooperation. And cooperation by definition means sometimes forgoing what you want to do. The LC's error was to teach that it always means forgoing. They made a virtue out of always forgoing.
Yup, and they called it "taking the cross". Eventually it meant taking a loss...
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Old 10-09-2008, 05:26 AM   #21
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...when you really get down it to there is really no escaping following one's own counsel, even in extremely controlling groups, because even in controlling groups at some level the individual has decided that following the dictates of the group is a good thing, even at the expense of other considerations.

... You don't have to follow the group, you just decide you are supposed to. Of course, you may have gotten all kinds of bad advice to do so, but it the end you decided that bad advice was good advice. There is no escaping that.

One question ex-LSM-LCers need to ask themselves is why, oh why, did they believe the ministry/church had the kind of authority over them they thought it did. Really, where did that thought come from?

So, ironically, the group really has no power, except to try to influence your decision-making. Even if it claims "authority" over people, it has none really, because you in your conscience are the one who decides whether or not their claim to authority makes sense. So, in a sense, you grant them authority. You give them the power to control. That's the inescapable reality and the bottom line of our being individuals.Draw from it whatever conclusions are appropriate. I think pretty much all the answers are there.
That was a nice piece of writing, Igzy. It always helps me when I see someone articulate what I have long felt within, but haven't seen expressed so clearly. Thanks for taking the time & effort to make these points.

It seems to me, when we consider the scenes at the judgment seat, that the context is often within the sphere of a group or collective -- did you give a drink of cold water to the one next to you? Did you feed them or did you beat them? -- but the responsibility is always on the individual, not the collective.

As far as the way to go on, that seems to me to be clearly an individual choice. The group is the aggregate of individal decisions.

I myself don't see such a danger from "each man did what was right in his own eyes" and "each man went to his own tent" as I see the danger from "each man did exactly what Headquarters told them to". I think that if you seek God, eventually you have to confront this man Jesus, and if you recognize Jesus as the shining Christ of God's good pleasure, and follow Him, you will perforce be led into fellowship with other ones also seeking reality.

I don't see danger in scattered sheep so much as I see danger of one of the sheep saying "I'm in charge here." God's purpose for us all will be revealed if we look to him, in the context of being assembled together. If we cede responsibility to one of our own among the assembly of redeemed sinners, I cannot see that as anything but a prescription for disaster.
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:09 AM   #22
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"The Lord speaks through the Body." Ah yes, another half-truth.

Actually, the Lord often speaks through the members of the Body. And if many of these members are speaking the same thing, that may register as a confirmation that the Lord is emphasizing something.

But the LSM-LC error is to conclude that the "Lord speaking through the Body" means that whenever a mouthpiece spoke (ministry/eldership/LSM-agreeing-mob) that was ipso facto the Lord speaking. The upshot of such a belief is that the Lord himself submits to "the Body." What nonsense!

Since I've left the LSM-LC, I've seen that generally speaking cooperation with the church is a good starting place. After all, if you don't feel like you can usually cooperate with a congregation, what in the world are you doing making it your church home?!

But even in the best groups, if something that is being done really bothers you, you are obligated to take that to the Lord and seek a resolution to it. I don't think the Lord expects us to continually offend our conscience for the sake of the group. I mean, what is our conscience for anyway?

I tend to be a little skeptical by nature. As a computer guy, I tend to look for potential "bugs," and the Lord has had to train me to not be such a perfectionist when it comes to church activities. At the same time, my skepticism has sometimes served me well in not just going along with the program.

aron: Good stuff there.
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Old 10-09-2008, 11:23 AM   #23
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You have to be thankful they are at least "floating."
Didn't the Inquisition have a theory involving buoyancy?
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Old 10-10-2008, 11:37 AM   #24
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I have followed this thread with great interest, especially enamored with Peter’s thoughts about emphasis on hearing the Lord’s voice FIRST as individuals, prior to submitting (if ever) to group think. Igzy and CMW then followed up with some thoughtful posts concerning whose job it is to build the church, anyway -- ours or the Lord’s, (I think scripture is very clear that it is Christ who will build His church), and what our primary role should be (discipling others long after “getting them saved”). (Forgive me for oversimplifying some great, deep thoughts and intelligent posts and other great posts by Ohio, Toledo, and Unto). Then, YP adds , Jesus is a most excellent and enjoyable Person and when He's around, I've found that I can't help but be joyous on some level. Stephen being stoned wasn't moping but rejoicing. GREAT WORDS!!! So….I’m happily tracking with all of you! Then, POW: On the other hand, I also remain unable to appreciate the Christian flotilla.

I actually looked up “flotilla” to make sure I understood what YP was referring to, and it seems to be “Christianity” and the small groups within Christianity…and I’m assuming that means…local congregations. Or, maybe YP meant denominational battleships, I don’t know. (I'm sure he'll clarify, right YP? )

Try as I might, I just don’t get all of this angst and opposition towards “groupings of Christians”… within “Christianity.” Why the beef with those who are busy about their lives doing just this: meeting together with others who love the Lord (in their homes, in their “Baptist” or “Methodist” buildings, or, in their local, independent community church building, or, who rent a room at a school building on Sundays, or who meet on their lunch hour at their workplaces) to carry out what Jesus himself has asked us to do: “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." We are told to not forsake the assembling of one another, to minister to one another, love one another, use our spiritual gifts to build up one another (and thus, the church), and we are given the examples of group meetings starting in the book of Acts, all the way through the New Testament. OK, I admit, I’m not a Bible scholar, but I have to disagree with an initial premise often thrown about here: “Christianity (system)” = BAD, divisive, not pleasing to God, etc. I just don’t think that if it is Christ’s job to “build His Church” that his Church (the flotilla, per se) is bad and that He “needs” US to “fix it,” or, staying true to this forum, “recover it.” Back to Peter's and Igzy's exchange…I believe we are individual Christians first and foremost, but should not fear joining forces with others Christ-followers, to accomplish all that God has cut out for us to do (and to do in Him and through Him and by His supernatural empowerment). A "testimony" to those “outside” of Christianity, from one who lives “inside:" Jesus Christ is alive and well “in here.” I know, I’m there…I see Him, talk to Him, worship Him…and so do those with whom I meet and “group.” If I love the Lord, follow Him and His word, and He lives in me...I think that qualifies me as a "solid little ship" and not an against or outside of other believers in Christ. We truly are "one"...in HIM! And, I believe that a flotilla, made up of solid little ships, can certainly make more of an impact on the world that one lone ship in the vast ocean who may bump into another ship of the same color now and then, by chance. Anyone want to tie onto my boat before the canons start firing?
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Old 10-10-2008, 02:48 PM   #25
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I don't feel the need to clarify.

I've had that conversation on this forum before and won't engage it again.

I just remain skeptical that the answer to Local Churchism was general Christianity all along.

Grace to you!
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Old 10-10-2008, 05:48 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by YP0534 View Post
I don't feel the need to clarify.

I've had that conversation on this forum before and won't engage it again.

I just remain skeptical that the answer to Local Churchism was general Christianity all along.

Grace to you!
Ah, so the flotilla comment was not really meant to be a conversation engaging mechanism, but just a passing "friendly" little comment. As all I've ever known is the "Christian Flotilla," the post piqued my interest. I do appreciate the fleet that Christ built the past 2000 years, even though some of the ships are showing their age, springing a few leaks, and can use some repairs. I trust the Admiral to keep his fleet in shape, making repairs where necessary, in His time. I'll do my part by taking my "orders" from Him directly, and the from the manual He, Himself, has written. And, I am thankful for the bond and camaraderie I have with those sailors who serve Him, too, whether on my ship, or on another in His fleet...I just want to say, Aye Aye, Captain, when He calls...

But, grace to you, YP, as well...we'll both just keep sailing along and maybe we'll bump into one another out on the open sea.
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:57 PM   #27
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Default Re: Shiny Happy People

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Originally Posted by Only by Grace View Post
Try as I might, I just don’t get all of this angst and opposition towards “groupings of Christians”… within “Christianity.” Why the beef with those who are busy about their lives doing just this: meeting together with others who love the Lord (in their homes, in their “Baptist” or “Methodist” buildings, or, in their local, independent community church building, or, who rent a room at a school building on Sundays, or who meet on their lunch hour at their workplaces) to carry out what Jesus himself has asked us to do: “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." We are told to not forsake the assembling of one another, to minister to one another, love one another, use our spiritual gifts to build up one another (and thus, the church), and we are given the examples of group meetings starting in the book of Acts, all the way through the New Testament. OK, I admit, I’m not a Bible scholar, but I have to disagree with an initial premise often thrown about here: “Christianity (system)” = BAD, divisive, not pleasing to God, etc. I just don’t think that if it is Christ’s job to “build His Church” that his Church (the flotilla, per se) is bad and that He “needs” US to “fix it,” or, staying true to this forum, “recover it.” Back to Peter's and Igzy's exchange…I believe we are individual Christians first and foremost, but should not fear joining forces with others Christ-followers, to accomplish all that God has cut out for us to do (and to do in Him and through Him and by His supernatural empowerment). A "testimony" to those “outside” of Christianity, from one who lives “inside:" Jesus Christ is alive and well “in here.” I know, I’m there…I see Him, talk to Him, worship Him…and so do those with whom I meet and “group.” If I love the Lord, follow Him and His word, and He lives in me...I think that qualifies me as a "solid little ship" and not an against or outside of other believers in Christ. We truly are "one"...in HIM! And, I believe that a flotilla, made up of solid little ships, can certainly make more of an impact on the world that one lone ship in the vast ocean who may bump into another ship of the same color now and then, by chance. Anyone want to tie onto my boat before the canons start firing?
Dear Only By Grace

There is actually not “beef” with “groupings” of Christians (from me at least). Not in the least. My thrust here is not so much with manifestations as much as it is with motivations. You can meet a Lutheran who is a Lutheran because that’s how they were raised, because of community, because of music etc… Or you could meet a Luthern like my great-uncle – a great theologian – who readily admits the unbiblical (or at least non-prescribed) insistences of the Lutheran Church but who says, in response to questions about why he remains (despite his qualms with it), responds:

“God wants me here.”

Is any further apologetics needed? That's not a rhetorical question.

My point is that approaching things in terms of groups misses the point, I think. That does not mean there won’t be groups. That does not mean you won’t be lead into them. That does not mean you won’t submit and even obey a Spirit-convicting authority over you. It does not mean you won’t join a church band or gospel mission.

It’s not about the THINGS and STRUCTURES of the Christian life. As soon as it is, I think we’ve closed ourselves off from the Lord’s multifarious wisdom and His varied grace.

I am not advocating individualistic Christians. I’d point folks who are questioning and seeing to John Meyer’s book before I offered my own thoughts as authoritative…

But, I think its important that we recognize the particular “structures” or “missions” of our “groups” as manifestations of leadings, rather than “missions” that, if we are part of a group, are commands to be followed so long as we wish to be “profitable” members of the group (not that this is what Meyer is saying, by any means).

I think that our traditional notions of “church” are normal manifestations of what our Lord wishes to lead us into. But if our focus is the “group” and its “projects,” we may not hear his voice in that occasion when His leading has a different scope………..

Enough ramble.

In Love,

Peter
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:48 AM   #28
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Default I'm not criticizing YOUR church.

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I think that our traditional notions of “church” are normal manifestations of what our Lord wishes to lead us into.
Huh.

And, see, I'm just so completely seeing things the other way around that this even sounds strange to me.

Peter, would you feel comfortable to explain this comment further, specifically as to why those traditional notions are not actually abnormal manifestations?

Because I observe the lifeless organizations as simply being substitutes for the living Body, rather than a part of it. I've felt that very clearly since the day I got saved, before I ever knew what the Local Church was or even heard of Witness Lee. I had abandoned all of Christendom long BEFORE the Local Church doctrines came along and, in fact, those doctrines actually re-wed me to at least part of what I had formerly rejected.

I recognize that I'm in a distinct minority on this point, for some reason, but I really wish you could help me at least see this majority view.

Thanks!

(PS: When I say "lifeless organizations" I am *NOT* attacking YOUR church. I'm talking about the church up the street from yours which is OBVIOUSLY the kind of "boat" that Ohio would tell me to get out of and try a different one. )
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:58 AM   #29
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Default Re: I'm not criticizing YOUR church.

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PS: When I say "lifeless organizations" I am *NOT* attacking YOUR church. I'm talking about the church up the street from yours which is OBVIOUSLY the kind of "boat" that Ohio would tell me to get out of and try a different one.
YP, part of what we face is the mindset of "absoluteness," for lack of a better word. I grew up Catholic, 12 yrs in their schools, high school was a "boys only" prep school. We had classroom discussions about whether "any Lutherans could go to heaven," and even we had to conclude that a select few Lutherans could make it past the apostle Peter at the gate -- ones like PeterD's great uncle. I'm not being facetious here, that is the mindset I had when I left high school.

Four years later when I entered the LC, I got educated with the same "absolute" mindset with regard to "poor, poor Christianity." We often would take the best of the LC's and compare it with the worst of Christianity, and hold them up for all to choose. "I choose life," one would say. Another, "Hallelujah for Christ and the church." I think you get the point.

The "real world," or should I say, "the family of God," is not so "black and white." Granted, I have become quite sarcastic at times, having lived and witnessed far too much of this "absoluteness" for one lifetime, but I am learning that these stereotypical generalizations are neither fair nor helpful to us personally. Yes, no church is perfect. And, yes, the Lord is real in many churches. Usually it is only a matter of degree.

And yes, YP, I would encourage you, by the Lord's grace, to "get out and try a different one."
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:21 AM   #30
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Default Re: Shiny Happy People

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Originally Posted by Peter Debelak View Post

It’s not about the THINGS and STRUCTURES of the Christian life. As soon as it is, I think we’ve closed ourselves off from the Lord’s multifarious wisdom and His varied grace.

I am not advocating individualistic Christians. I’d point folks who are questioning and seeing to John Meyer’s book before I offered my own thoughts as authoritative…

But, I think its important that we recognize the particular “structures” or “missions” of our “groups” as manifestations of leadings, rather than “missions” that, if we are part of a group, are commands to be followed so long as we wish to be “profitable” members of the group (not that this is what Meyer is saying, by any means).

I think that our traditional notions of “church” are normal manifestations of what our Lord wishes to lead us into. But if our focus is the “group” and its “projects,” we may not hear his voice in that occasion when His leading has a different scope………..

I'm tracking just fine with you and I think we are on the same general page...thanks for the futher thoughts! I think the individual's relationship to the Lord is paramount, first and foremost, and our own discernment in the Lord needs to be keenly sharpened. WE need to hear the Shephard's voice and can and should. Scripture lays out plenty of "mission" for us as individuals and how we can impact others "in our group" (and in the body in general) with the giftings he has bestowed upon us to build up others and to bring Him glory. Programs and projects and "missions" will rise and fall, but the LORD himself remains constant, and because he has designed us for individual relationship, we shall continue to hear His voice -- through his Word, through others, through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. And to borrow from TJ, for that I am thankful!
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:29 AM   #31
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Default Re: Premise

Just as a general sort of rambling response (to a general sort of rambling thread...), it occurs to me that we as believers share a number of general characteristics.

We like to read the bible.
We like to pray.
We like to sing.
We like to talk about Jesus.
We like to hear about Jesus.
We like to preach the gospel.
We like to see people saved.
We like to see people baptized.
We like to spend time with other believers.
We like to meet together.

We seem to be a very social bunch, enjoying our times together, enjoying other saints, talking and listening and singing together. It seems to me that it's very normal for us to want to come together as a "group". It is the individualistic Christians -- the hermits living in caves -- who are unusual. The first question most Christians ask is "where do you go to church?", because it is fundamentally assumed that a believer would want to meet together with other believers.

The difficulty would seem to be that we then conduct our meetings by Roberts Rules of Order, or some other manifestation of our fallen man. A good translation of ekklesia would be "congress", and all too often our meetings begin to function like congress.

What I liked (and still like) about the local churches was the understanding that all the believers are to be one, and we are not to divide ourselves off from other believers according to which meetings we choose to attend. What I didn't like (among many other things) about the local churches in general (and LSM in particular) is that the local churches also tend to divide themselves off from other believers according to which meetings we choose to attend.
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:57 AM   #32
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Default Re: Premise

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Originally Posted by Toledo View Post
Just as a general sort of rambling response (to a general sort of rambling thread...), it occurs to me that we as believers share a number of general characteristics.
YP:

When I said "I think our traditional notions of church are normal manifestations of what I Lord wishes to lead us into," I meant pretty much what Toledo is saying here. Gathering with other believes is a natural consequence of following the Lord.

My general point is this: we often get the cart before the horse, or try to carrying the cart beside the horse...

That is, we make "church" or the "group thing" its own independant "mission" from "following the Lord" (at least in practice, if not in teaching) or we think of "church" as a corrollary to the "following Christ as individuals" thing.

Instead, my view is that if one has a healthy individual relationship with the Lord, there will be a very natural desire to meet with other believers. Which I why I find it funny when folks respond to an "just follow the Lord individually" with "well, what about the church?!?!" My response is: what do you think the Lord is after? He desires to build His church, no? So, if I give myself to follow His will, caring for others and enjoying other believers will/should be a natural outflow of that. That is, genuinely following the Lord entails "doing church" - but in an organic way. On the other hand, a focus on the "group" as such could and has lead folks to forget to do the whole follow the Lord's leading thing and usurping His place in building His church.

When the natural desire to be with other believers - as Toledo describes - is missing, that is simply a red flag that I am not being honest in my following of the Lord. Its a barometer of sorts, I think.

Peter
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:51 PM   #33
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Default Re: Premise

This is neither very general or very rambling.

It is very much on point, I think, and a well-turned phrasing as well.

And I also quite agree.
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:56 PM   #34
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Default Re: Premise

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When the natural desire to be with other believers - as Toledo describes - is missing, that is simply a red flag that I am not being honest in my following of the Lord. Its a barometer of sorts, I think.
I follow you now.

Thank you.


When I first got saved, I was instantly addicted to meeting.

No one had to tell me a thing.

The ones who preached to me had to scrape me off.


Still pretty much feel that way but I accept now that others don't.
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Old 10-12-2008, 03:05 AM   #35
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Default Re: Premise

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That is, we make "church" or the "group thing" its own independent "mission" from "following the Lord" (at least in practice, if not in teaching) or we think of "church" as a corollary to the "following Christ as individuals" thing.
Without extended elaboration, the dynamics here are every bit the responsibility of the leaders as it is the "followers." Many of us, upon arriving in the LC's, found a living Christ like we had never known, or perhaps for the first time. This was the normal result of environment with the leaders pursuing and serving Christ. The leaders thus had received from us much "capital" which, over a period of time, they have squandered in their own personal persuits. The resulting "group thing" is often a "leader thing" which for the followers can become an "empty shell" which long ago should have been discarded.
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Old 10-12-2008, 03:40 AM   #36
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Right, Ohio, and the thing is, the "followers" are most certainly NOT an "empty shell" at all but rather they are the precious and genuine members of the Body and should not be and cannot be merely "discarded." Congregations of all shapes and sizes run into this wall repeatedly for some reason. I think Witness Lee also struggled with this problem in the later years.
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Old 10-12-2008, 06:59 PM   #37
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I agree, Unto, that he is - bit by bit - challenging and deconstructing those habits of belief which were ingrained into us over years being under the "LSM-style mission machine" (my phrase, to capture the thought)
I think what Myer is doing is much more then simply challenging and deconstructing "habits of belief" He is (trying to) challenging and deconstructing is an entire religious system of error. It's not as if the Local Church was a solidly biblical and healthy group, with properly educated and experienced leadership from the start, then suddenly things went a little wrong. Major things went wrong from the very beginning, not the least of which was the establishment of an entire sect/movement based mostly on the questionable habits of belief and practices of Witness Lee.

Quote:
I am not attempting to "recover the LSM Recovery" from John's arguments. I am pressing the thought to go even further. John's argument, it seems to me, is based on the root question: "What should we do, as a group, in response to the errors we have perceived in the LSM model of church?" His argument challenges many premises in the LSM model, but I wonder if it goes deep enough.
My question would be, when you say "go even further", further towards what or where? I think the brothers there in Columbus have made a firm decision to take their precious little fellowship further AWAY from the teachings and practices established by Witness Lee and his followers, and I think this is absolutely the most prudent direction for the time being. So their response, as a group, is to go in almost the opposite direction of the LSM model of the church. They are doing this by observing the various church models around them, then attempting to take from them what is biblical, good and profitable, while discarding or ignoring what might not be so biblical or profitable for their situation. In short, I think they are going as far and as deep as they can, given the inherent restraints of leading a whole group of people away from a very unhealthy situation.
Quote:
My question would be this: how does the individual guard themselves from being swept in any kind of mission-machine which may not be the Lord's specific will for them? Another possible root question: should groups of believers - or churches - have "missions" collectively? Or are the groups simply the collection of believers who each have a calling from the Lord - many of which overlap, but many which may not?
These are questions and problems that many in “Christianity” have been grappling with for years. Looking back, much of the problems we faced in the Local Church happened because Witness Lee refused to let his followers even ask these kinds of questions, much less find the answers to them. “Individual” was not in the LC vocabulary. To even mention “the Lord’s specific will for them” was anathema! Our individual mission and calling was to be fully tied up in our supposed mission of building the church. These are the kinds of ingrained notions and concepts that Myer and his fellowship are having to purge from their systems as fast and as best as they can. On the other hand, I don’t think Myer et al there in Columbus are looking at CCA as simply “the collection of believers who each have a calling from the Lord”, they are aiming for something much deeper and much further then that as far as I can see. It is going to take time, and they will stumble along the way. May the Lord strengthen and bless them along the way.

As far as the question “should groups of believers or churches have missions collectively?”, I think the answer is clearly found in the "Great Commission":

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’. (Matt 28:19,20) The Great Commission IS the mission of the church and it IS the mission of all disciples. In there very essence, all the writings of the apostles simply expound and expand upon this great commission. Other missions the we may embark upon as individuals or as the church can never be considered as great as this commission.
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