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Saturday, July 30, 2011

2063--preaching as oratory

            For anyone stumbling across this blog for the first time, the original idea of it was to post a group of two minute commentaries about simple worship of Jesus, with most of the commentaries based on the points with regard to this subject made by George Barna and Frank Viola in their book, Pagan Christianity and Wolfgang Simson in his 15 Theses for the Re-Incarnation of Church.  Those appear in a group of blogs I posted in December, 2010.  They were written for radio, but so far, I have not had the money to broadcast them.  Additionally, either one minute or five minutes are time frames more amenable to stations in my area, so I am rewriting some of the major thoughts expressed in the December postings to fit both the smaller and larger time frame.  What is below is part of this project.  The commentary below is written for a five minute time frame, and is a mixture of the commentaries numbered 55 and 63 back in December.

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  According to the National Teaching Laboratories in Bethel, Maine:  we retain 5% of what we hear in a lecture, 10% of what we read, 50% of what we discuss with others, and 90% of what we teach others. I think the exact percentages of that statement would be impossible to prove, but the general idea is clear—the more involved we are, the more we learn.  If that is the case, why do traditional churches rely so heavily on lecture? Particularly, when First Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 11 tells us to edify, or build up, one another, and that’s next to impossible with only one or two persons doing the lion’s share of the communication.

            In the days of the Old Covenant, prophets spoke intermittently.  False prophets also spoke.  The people were involved, and were able to interrupt and ask questions.  In many cases, the people did not accept the true prophets, and accepted the false prophets.  Since the people of Israel was an ethnicity, there was degree to which the king was also a spiritual leader, in addition to the priests and prophets, sometimes for good, more often for ill.  Prophets and priests did not speak from a script, but spoke from the burden of their heart.  Rarely, the prophet acted out his message.  There was no regular preaching in the synagogue that was like the modern sermon.

            When Jesus announced his being the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 61, as recorded in Luke 4, his being allowed to speak was because it was a tradition that all Jewish males were allowed to take a turn at speaking.  When Jesus began his ministry, he also did not speak regularly to the same audience, although he taught in various ways the disciples that were with him those three years, and probably taught, to a lesser degree, the seventy who he sent out in Luke 10.  His teaching took many forms, but what we have recorded is sporatic, spontaneous, informal, and oftentimes in the form of back and forth dialogue, even the trick questions of the religious leaders.  It was consistent with the tradition of the day, except that Jesus allowed women to listen to what he said, which the rabbis did not.  When one looks at the book of Acts, we see teaching that was sporatic, a dialogue, allowing for interruption and feedback, unplanned, without rhetorical structure, and delivered on special occasions to deal with special problems.  Romans 12 and 15, Colossians 3, and First Corinthians 12 and 14 indicate that ministry was by all the church for all the church.  History shows that in that day what Paul and others meant by preaching was dialogue, and monologues, as exemplified by Roman-style oratory, was referred to the Bible by “speaking” or “spoke.”

            After the Roman Emperor’s quote unquote conversion, by the economic power of the Empire, the pagan tradition of speechmaking solidified as a practice in the church.  Many persons, male only, as it was a male dominated society, some with an honest desire to serve God, and probably a few not so much, as the government whether intentionally or not created regular gigs for orators, prompted the tradition. 

Whether one is right or wrong, for many of us it feels good to have others just stop everything and listen to us.  This works even more if they are friendly people, who won’t criticize us in public, or at all, without regard to how off track we get, and we all make mistakes.  Every person needs another person to speak words of correction in one’s life, which we know is doing so for our benefit.  That is what dictators do not do; only God is right all the time.  In our culture, many sermons do not get above new believer level.  Lastly, edifying each other works only when a group is far smaller than our culture’s traditional churches, many of which are so big no one knows everyone’s name, much less actually know all the other people.

  To contact me, you can email me at or phone me at 757-735-xxxx.  To read a transcript of what I just said, my blog is, and this appears as the post of July 30, 2011.  For more info about simple worship in this area, visit

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2094--organic church

            For anyone stumbling across this blog for the first time, the original idea of it was to post a group of two minute commentaries about simple worship of Jesus, with most of the commentaries based on the points with regard to this subject made by George Barna and Frank Viola in their book, Pagan Christianity and Wolfgang Simson in his 15 Theses for the Re-Incarnation of Church.  Those appear in a group of blogs I posted in December, 2010.  They were written for radio, but so far, I have not had the money to broadcast them.  Additionally, either one minute or five minutes are time frames more amenable to stations in my area, so I am rewriting some of the major thoughts expressed in the December postings to fit both the smaller and larger time frame.  What is below is part of this project.

2094—organic church

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  What is meant by “organic church”? When we speak of organic gardening, we mean food grown without man-made chemicals or genetic engineering.  Organic healing deals with the use of natural products, as opposed to man-made substances.  Early in the 20th century, former pastor T. Austin-Sparks coined the term “organic expression of church” or “organic church.”  One statement he made on this idea is (and I quote):

            “God’s way and law of fullness is that organic life.  In the Divine order, life produces its own organism, whether it be vegetable, animal, human, or spiritual.  This means that everything comes from the inside.  Function, order, and fruit issue from this law of life within.  It was solely on this principle that what we have in the New Testament came into being.” (unquote)

            The Koine Greek word “ekklesia” that is translated “church” in our English Bibles was a secular word, meaning close to our current word “group” or “town meeting.”  An example of that is that it also was used by Luke in Acts 19 to describe the mob that protested the work of Paul in Ephasus.  There was not only no religious connotation to it, but also no connotation to a formal organization, official human leadership structures, or any ritual as a right way to worship.  We are told the early church of believers in Jesus met daily, went from house to house, and cared for others spontaneously.

            Therefore, organic church speaks of church as it was lived in the days of the writing of the New Testament, as opposed to adding man-made organizations, programs, and methods.  This, so far in history, seems to be most easily done when there is such overt opposition by a government or social group that we believers cannot add organizations, programs, and methods, but that does not necessarily have to be the case.

            We see in the Gospels that some came to believe on Jesus while He walked the earth. After the Holy Spirit came upon the early believers in Acts chapter 2, many others came to faith in Him.  They became groups of people small enough to know each other, and they met regularly to worship Him and build up each other.  By the way they lived their lives to honor Jesus and care for those around them, others came to faith in Jesus. The churches, that is, these informal groups, grew and reproduced into more groups.  Miracles naturally happened. Some believers felt compelled to take the message to other cultures.  Status quo groups such as the government and Judaism opposed the church, but the church grew in spite of it, and possibly even because of it, because standing for truth in the face of overwhelming opposition, without a monetary or political motive will draw attention because of the seeming courage involved.  Due to the opposition, even though the surrounding people respected the believers, only those who truly came to believe on Jesus joined the church.  Jesus, not any human, was necessary to lead the church’s worship,  which was understood to be how one lived one’s life each moment, not just how one interacted to a religious ritual.

With no organization, there was no need to collect money except when there was an evident need, such as the church in Jerusalem, which had an unusually high number of elderly persons because many elderly Jews who lived outside Israel wished to die in the city, and when they came, some heard the message and believed.

            The church grew naturally.  There was no need for a professional class of ritualists, unlike anything the world had seen.  When the opposition to the church drove believers out of cities, such as the Romans did to the population of Jerusalem in 70 and 130 AD, they wound up scattering and spreading the message of Jesus in all directions, like seeds in the wind.  The church being transient was not a problem, but an opportunity.

              You can contact me by email at or by phone at 757-735-xxxx.  To read what I just said, I have it on my blog,, on the blog dated July 28, 2011. You can find out more about simple forms of worship in this area at 

            There is someone working on posting the complete works of T. Austin-Sparks on the internet at

            John Zens makes the observation ekklesia meaning “town meeting” in his book, The Pastor Has No Clothes.
            Historical footnotes to many facts that are behind statements made here can be found in George Barna and Frank Viola, Pagan Christianity.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2004--Measuring the Fruit of Wholeness

My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, I'm reading an exerpt from the blog of pollster George Barna, dated May 8, 2011, on "measuring the fruit of wholeness."

(see, posted under Leadership, with the quote being all of the blog except the last paragraph)

You can find out more info on simple/organic church at  You can reach me via my blog, or at (phone).
This may come across as not being specifically pertinent to the subject of simple/organic church, but the underlying point is--in an institutional church situation the type of caring described, above, is impossible for everyone, as some people will not allow others to know them that well, and the institutional situation inhibits such familiarities' growth, in my opinion.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2014--Felicity Dale 070511

My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Last blip, I read from the blog of Felicity Dale on persons living on church payrolls transitioning to a more scriptural form of caring for the financial needs of their family so as to encourage other believers in organic worship.  In her blog,, on July 5, 2011 she continued.

(blog, in its entirety.   The way her blog is set up, one has to go back the number of months for when you are reading this to July, 2011 to read, and July 5 will be next to last on the page.)

  You can communicate with me at or by phone at 757-735-xxxx.  For more information on simple, organic worship in this area, visit

Just a personal note:  As much as it might seem crazy to some persons, I believe that I am soon to be transitioning to a situation whereby it will be no problem in giving out my personal number, even, as this script implies, on the radio.  I just don’t know whether I’ll have the same number by the time I get these on.  Congruent with these previous two blogs, I have been dealing with the problem of employment ever since sensing the Lord’s direction not to move towards vocational ministry many years ago.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2013--from Felicity Dale 070111


            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute, Today, a reading from Felicity Dale, from her blog,, from July 1, 2011:

(, July 1 entry in its entirety except for the last sentence that is a tie in to the next blog. You will have to scan down to the month of July, 2011 to see article, as it appears that page number within address line changes each month. )

(what I said afterward:)
In the Bible, only those believers who were going to communicate the message of Jesus where it has not been heard were supported.  This isn’t a problem that just began with the New Covenant.  The reason that Paul learned tentmaking was that Old Testament priests at times had a difficult time making ends meet when large amounts of the children of Israel fell away to follow other gods, and then didn’t give the tithes the priests were to live on, so the Pharisees demanded their students to learn a trade, which was why Paul could do tentmaking while on his missionary journeys.  Some of us today know former pastors who struggle today when something happens such that they can’t get a church job. 

That western culture has created a system that is contrary to the example we have in the New Testament has been a problem for our leaders for generations, albeit oftentimes not spoken of within earshot of those of us not on a church corporation’s payroll.   More on this tomorrow.

You can contact me at or by phone at 757-735-xxxx.

A transcript of this is posted at, dated July 23, 2011. 

For more information about simple, being the church in this area, visit 

Friday, July 22, 2011

2003--I Don't Want to Die

            As I have wrote a few days ago, there are some excellent writings of others that would fit my idea of a series of radio commentaries.  I have said that some come from persons who have had experiences that I have not.  The following is one of those--Ross Rohde says some excellent things that I haven't had the experience to know, but I believe that the Spirit has at least given me the experience to recommend this writing to others.

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, I’m reading from Ross Rohde’s blog, dated May 30, 2011, titled “I Don’t Want to Die”.

(I would use all of this blog except the last sentence of the first paragraph, and the first phrase of the second paragraph, the contents of which make sense in a blog, but not appropriate to a reading.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1012--eternal purpose

 My last blog was a five minute version of a commentary on God's eternal purpose.  Back in December, 2010, my blog number 97 was a two minute version.  This is a one minute version.
            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Author Milt Rodriguez, on his blog,, wrote this one sentence description of God’s Eternal Purpose:

            “God’s eternal purpose is that the fullness of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be displayed and expressed visibly through a vessel that would be a Family/House for the Father, a Bride/Body for the Son, and a Temple for the Holy Spirit.”

            This is something bigger than evangelism or doing good, although that purpose includes it, because the purpose was going on before creation and will be going on when this world is no more.  It is not affected by what any of us does, doesn’t do, or does in error.  An excellent book on this subject is Frank Viola’s “From Eternity to Here.”

            You can find out more about simple, non corporation, forms of worship at  I have more about this at my blog,
The references I have at the end of my July 19 blog, a five minute version, are applicable to this, also.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2012--eternal purpose

A couple of weeks ago, I started making a point of reading blogs of others writing from a simple church point of view, and realized the obvious thing that others have written about some of the subjects I am looking to cover better than I could, sometimes due to their having experience that I do not.  As on this one, a five minute time frame will allow most of this blog entry to be read, I refer to the original posting.
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute. What is God’s purpose in creating us humans and putting us on earth?  The main theme in many traditional evangelical churches is evangelism, but there was time before Genesis 3 when that was irrelevant, and when we reach the future time of Revelation 21, it will be again.  Liberal or progressive churches emphasize doing good, but the same hold true for that goal. Author Milt Rodriguez blogged,

 ( blog of 7/6/2011, with the third and fourth paragraphs edited due to the sentences fitting a blog, but would not fit being read aloud, and outside a blog context)

            A family, a house, a bride, a body, a temple; there’s more meaning in that phrase than I can touch on in a couple of minutes.  These concepts are developed in detail in Frank Viola’s book, From Eternity to Here.
           You can find out more about simple, non-corporation oriented manners of worshipping Jesus at  You can contact me at ________(email) or ______(phone).  You can find a transcript of what I just said at in the blog dated July 19, 2011.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2110--three tithes

One of the odd things about a blog is how everything is from newest to oldest, so I need to repeat some things I've previously written.  Back in December, 2010, I released scripts of 2 minute commentaries written for radio on subjects that some of us believers in Jesus would maintain have not been dealt with properly by the organizational church in our culture.  Currently, I have been making 1 minute and five minute versions of those, as, when I have the cash to run these on radio, those are time frames that fit stations I might deal with.
            My name is Tom.  This is Simple Church Minute.  In the Old Covenant, the children of Israel were commanded to give two tithes for certain, and probably a third, every third year tithe.   The first tithe, spoken of in Leviticus 27 and Numbers 18, was for the support of the Levites, the tribe of Israel who was not given land so that they could be responsible for worship among the people.  The next tithe, the festival tithe, was for celebrating Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, details of which appear in Deuteronomy chapters 12, 14, and 16.  Many, but apparently not all, who are familiar with these details understand there to also be a third, every third year tithe, for the poor and the Levites, which is based on Deuteronomy 14 verses 28 and 29.  When Israel was an ancient nation, the operating budget of the nation also appears to have come from the tithes, so this may not seem so excessive, although when it was subject to another nation, such as they were in the days of Jesus, when Rome collected their taxes additionally, it was certainly more onerous.  These tithes were part of the Old Covenant Law, or Torah, which we believers in Jesus understand to have been fulfilled by Jesus’ death on the cross.

          In Acts 15 verses 1 to 29, when the mainly non-ethnically Jewish believers asked the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, after being visited by persons who were teaching that the Old Testament law about circumcision was still to be obeyed, the apostles and elders, led by James, wrote them to abstain from food offered to idols, animals which were strangled, from drinking blood, and sexual immorality.  There was nothing there about paying tithes.  The New Covenant includes the virtue of being generous.  To this effect, for believers earning a superior income, 10%, 20%, maybe even 50%, may not be generous, and for those who are poor, anything is. First Timothy 6 verses 17 to 19 are appropriate.

          Further, First Timothy 3 verses 3 to 8 and chapter 6 verse 9 teach us that a qualification of elders, deacons, and teachers, which were not organizational appointments, but positions of experience and gifting, was that they were not to be greedy. We, in our culture, have an extremely distorted idea of wealth, as most of us have more material possessions and comforts than the extremely wealthy and royals of all previous generations and many current ones, although our culture’s expenses are greater, also.

          On the opposing side, nowhere in the New Testament have we been directed to spend money on buildings and support of local leadership.  The main example in the New Testament is Paul, who had a skill to support himself during the main part of his missionary journeys.  One liability of the church today in the west is occupational leaders whose only skill is theology, and avoid certain teachings of the Word in concern for their job and family.

          You can find out more about simple worship of Jesus locally at, and also at You can contact me at _______.  If you wish I could repeat what I said, a transcript of this with footnotes is at, dated July 17, 2011.

          I used the breakdown of the three tithes from  As New Covenant believers are saved by faith in Jesus, not by obeying the Old Covenant Law/instructions, I used this as a simple explanation of the three tithes, and am in no way even wishing to quibble about whether a given Old Testament scripture refers to one tithe or the other; I brought this up as a matter of history, as it is irrelevant to following Jesus, except for it being a historical precursor, and that in the Middle Ages the term got dragged into faith in Jesus in error.  Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity, in chapter 8, p. 171-185, covers the historical detail on this subject with copious footnotes.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Come and Go With Me to That Land

            For whatever reason, a song I learned when I was involved with a college group of believers crossed my mind, called, “Come and Go With Me to That Land.”  It seemed as if it had an interminable number of verses, which I felt that I couldn’t remember, so I tried looking it up on other places on the net.  That told me that it was an old Southern spiritual, of which versions were used by Peter, Paul, and Mary and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.  Those versions were similar, but didn’t have the distinctly Christian meaning of the verses that I was thinking of.  Therefore, before continuing, I’ll write out how I learned it, to the degree that I can remember it.


Come and go with me to that land,

Come and go with me to that land,

Come and go with me to that land where I’m bou-ou-ound,

Come and go with me to that land,

Come and go with me to that land,

To that land, to that land, where I’m bound.

Gonna be lovin’ in that land,

Gonna be lovin’ in that land,

Gonna be lovin’ in that land where I’m bou-ou-ound,

Gonna be lovin’ in that land,

Gonna be lovin’ in that land,

In that land, in that land where I’m bound.

Milk and honey in that land,

Milk and honey in that land,

Milk and honey in that land where I’m bou-ou-ound,

Milk and honey in that land,

Milk and honey in that land,

In that land, in that land where I’m bound.

Gonna see Jesus in that land,

Gonna see Jesus in that land,

Gonna see Jesus in that land where I’m bou-ou-ound,

Gonna see Jesus in that land,

Gonna see Jesus in that land,

In that land, in that land where I’m bound.

Coke and pizza in that land,

Coke and pizza in that land,

Coke and pizza in that land where I’m bou-ou-ound,

Coke and pizza in that land,

Coke and pizza in that land,

In that land, in that land, where I’m bound.

            I’m see from the net that the artists above didn’t use the verses with overt meaning for believers in Jesus (which, of course, may or may not be correct), and I’m also certain that the last verse didn’t come from the old Southern (don’t we love political correctness!) spiritual.  I am also certain that it came to my mind due to yesterday at church, after our worship, we had pizza and, although there were many choices, I, for one, had Coke.  Part of the reason was that one person there had a birthday, and enjoys pizza (as most of us), so that was featured in the meal.  In other places, I and many others I either have or will link to have pointed out that communion is a synonym for fellowship, and enjoying a meal together is an act that accommodates fellowship, via which the Holy Spirit works, in my experience, far more regularly than any ritual, including theological teaching.  Also, I look back to when I was in college, and one of the campus ministers (as they were called) shelled out to take everyone in the group I was part of over to a local pizza place once a year.  I can now look back and see that, in my spirit and those of my brothers and sisters in Jesus on that campus, that simple act was teaching us something more strongly than if the campus minister tried standing up and saying the point in words (although he would not have described the fellowship as I just did).

As much as that last verse looks at first glance as a throw-in of a creative youth worker, I feel it to be a significant statement about true fellowship, at least in this subculture at this point in history, at least to the point that it was worth a blog post.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's Been a Little Over Six Months

            It’s been a little over six months since I started this blog.  A couple of days ago, I was thinking that it was odd that I had not received one comment positive or negative about what I have written, so, in poking around, think that I have figured out that comments were not operating on this site.  Hopefully, I have that corrected. Since it cannot be seen from the outside, the counter said that I had 186 hits over that period of time.

            When looking at any blog, you see what has been written last.  Therefore, I wish to point out that, over in the archives, I have 100 posts in December, 2010.  These are scripts for 100 two minute commentaries written for Christian radio, with the 15 to 29 demographic in mind.  Most cover the major ideas in George Barna and Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity and Wolfgang Simson’s Houses That Change the World.  I have them recorded on MP3, but have yet to have them aired due to my not having the cash.  In the proceeding months, I have a few of the ideas of these commentaries either shortened to one minute, or expanded to five minutes, due to my research indicating, that for local stations, they need to go back to one or up to five.  The reason for doing this is that, as far as I can see, most believers in my geographical area are unaware that the that these ideas exist, and that many believers I know, unlike myself, are not persons who will wade through a book of serious theological writing, even if written in simple English, and, unfortunately, many believers who are collecting a paycheck in some way connected to their faith are extremely unlikely to promote a thought that threatens that paycheck, even if it makes more sense than whatever their explanation of the same point is. 

            Therefore, if you haven’t read the two books I mentioned above, I would encourage reading what I wrote in December, 2010.  They don’t need to be read in order; each is a stand alone thought, unless the title has Part 1 or Part 2 as part of it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

On compassion and 300house

            Tomorrow, I get to go to work for a full eight hours for the first time in a couple of months.  Further, two Mondays down line, I get to start a full time job that is not a temporary project.  With the exception of a weird job I did for three months (weird because there was nearly nothing to do, the head person wrote me a cryptic warning letter, wouldn’t explain it, and then fired me for something out of my control), I haven’t had a full time, permanent job in two and a half years, and that last one was my own business, i.e. full time work, no money.  A couple of weeks ago, I read a statistic that says the average person with a bachelor’s degree or more is making $51,000+ (plus because remembering the small numbers really isn’t relevant), and the person with a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s is making $32,000.  I’ve never made more than $25,000.  I’m not anticipating making than even next year, but just being able to make more than $35 a week will be nice.

            My worry is what the job will entail.  It’s a company that is a subcontractor for a major international company.  Over the years, it seems employers I have had on full time jobs have gotten more and more unethical.  At best, the bottom level position has been honest, but the first promotion up was mass production lying.  (Note that I have not said which company/companies I am speaking of)  I would really like to be able to do an honest day’s work.  Having day after day of either not having work or one or two hours per day reminds me of a Larry Norman song (I think the song was called “UFO”) with the lyrics, “And you promise to make my life/A little less like jail,/ If I promise to make tapes and slides/And send them through the mail.”

            Now, I’ve made a point of not just jabbering about my life on this blog, so I have a reason for all this above.  Last Sunday, I was having a conversation with a brother in Jesus, and he made the comment that in all religions, there is a place for compassion.  Now, one idea that I have heard is that there is no concept that is common to ALL beliefs; Confucianism does not have a place for the concept of God/a god.  To that idea, I suggested that the worship of money does not have a place for compassion.  Now, I recognize that to some there is not a worship of money, but, coming from a Christian perspective, I must recognize that Jesus said that you cannot serve both God and money (Lk. 6:13), and, therefore, making greed the priority in one’s life, is a belief.  I had thought of writing something witty about comparing TBN to CNBC, but I haven’t gotten around to it, yet.

            Strangely, I ran into a TV blip on CNN about, which I may, at least for the moment, contradict my conclusion.  Assuredly, many corporate CEO’s care minimally about people and mainly about the proverbial bottom line, but is a thing that shows there is a little compassion within the worship of money.  For an overly short background, a Harvard design student wrote a blog about the idea of solving the problem of housing for the poor of the world by a competition for designing a house for $300.  Within the field of design, the idea took off to spawn an organization that put up prize money for such a design, designers working on the idea, discussion about factors that would go into the answer, and, recently, awarding a number of designs.  I imagine that when something gets somewhat close to practical, this idea will cross from Ivy League architect types to charities, both secular and Christian.

            Since I know I have friends who are foreign missionaries, I figured that I would mention this today just in case someone who hasn’t heard of this but can use the info might stumble across these ideas, if they are of use.