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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lyzenga on House church in the USA

The last two blogs featured reposts of Simple Church Minute scripts which were originally posted in 2011, and were based on the work of Steven S. Lyzenga.  Another which would fit here I reposted on December 30, 2013.  After that comes the edition, below.
 2155—Housechurch in the USA

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, I quote from the writings of Steven S. Lyzenga: George Barna has been described as the most widely quoted Christian leader in America because of the credibility and sound methodology behind his polling. In his book Revolution, he outlined survey results showing that the number of American Christians who see a traditionally structured church as the primary means for expressing their faith is declining rapidly. There is a corresponding large increase in the number of people who see their faith as being primarily expressed through, what Barna described as, “alternative forms of faith-based community,” in which he includes simple/house churches, home schooling associations, marketplace ministries.

With this trend so compelling, Barna estimated that by 2025 participation in
traditional local churches, alternative faith-based communities, and media/arts/culture based ministries will be about equal.
            Reggie McNeal, Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, alleged:
A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason.
They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their spiritual development.
Another Barna study found that 9% of American adults, approximately 20 million, attend a house church in any given week, which has grown from 1% in the last decade. The study estimates that more than 70 million adults have at least experimented with house church, and 20% attend at least once per month. Among those who attend church of some type, 5% attend a house church only, and 19% attend both a traditional church and a house church.
Simple church is emerging in the USA to such an extent that Barna has claimed it has now reached “critical mass.” He defined critical mass as when an institution reaches 15% market penetration, and has evidenced a consistent or growing level of affirmation for at least six years, that entity shifts from fad to trend status; and at that point, it becomes a permanent fixture in our society. Along these lines, Barna projected:
We anticipate house church attendance during any given week to double in the coming decade, and a growing proportion of house church attenders to adopt the house church as their primary faith community. That continued growth and public awareness will firmly establish the house church as a significant means of faith experience and expression among Americans.
 …(T)he (simple church) paradigm has existed throughout all Church history, from Jesus’ day to our day. In fact, it is still the prevailing wineskin in many areas of the world. In the USA however, the (simple church) concept is still in its infancy, even though as Barna statistics demonstrate and the other authors substantiate, simple churches are steadily emerging.
Roger Thoman, on his blog SimpleChurch Journal, stressed the importance of
moving past the traditional (institutional church) lens in defining the church, “Our first challenge in grasping what God intends church to be, is to stop looking at it through the lens of our background and through the lens of 2,000 years of ‘church’ as a formal institution.”
He described characteristics of those who participate in simple church as those who:

1. Are loose-knit: not informal membership, just a love-commitment to God

and each other,

2. Are Jesus followers: the basic requirement for membership in the church,

3. Gather together: to build one another up and to worship,

4. Go out: the purpose of believers… to GO with the message,

5. Are moved by the Holy Spirit: the one and only LEADER of the church,

6. Share and demonstrate the gospel: The reason that the church GOES.
DAWN, a worldwide “saturation” church-planting ministry also included the term “organic” in their definition of simple church:

The house church is a structure that reflects the core nature of the church… It is a spiritual, enlarged, organic family… It is inherently participatory and not consumer-provider driven. Its responsibility structure is also very simple and effective: individual house churches are fathered by elders, who in turn are equipped by itinerant servants like those in the fivefold ministry (see Eph. 4:11-13)… The church is the people of God. The church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. 

Wolfgang Simson summarized it distinctly, “I believe that God has blessed the world through the existing church structures, and is still doing countless miracles of transforming people’s lives, and doing good in ways too numerous to mention. But the church should never settle for less than it has been made for.” 
                    You can contact me at or at 757-735-3639.
A transcript of what I said today is on my blog,, as the entry of October 13, 2011*.  For more information on simple, organic church in this area, visit

     Except for the introduction and last paragraph, the text is composed of quotations appearing in Steven S. Lyzenga, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA  REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, p. 79, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 92 where original quotations are footnoted.  That writing can be accessed at .

*Today's repost is updated and better than the original post in written quality.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

on a statement by Miles O'Brien

Facts are inversely proportional to the demand for them.
--Miles O'Brien

Over the weekend, I heard this statement. For those unaware, Miles O'Brien used to be a news anchor at CNN (husband of Soledad O'Brien), and was on CNN because he is an expert on some aspect of avaition, from which the Malaysian Airlines mystery has brought seemingly every person with such a background onto the tv for commentary. It is in that context that O'Brien made that statement.
To my mind, it immediately connected to my thoughts on the problem of communication of the message of Jesus to the culture I live in here in North America. Since I have been out of college, which goes back to the mid-1970's, I rarely run into any non-believer with interest in the things of God, in part because of the overwhelming amount of free “information”--some good, but much that is, unfortunately, empty excitement and hype. Excitement and hype can be fun, as any professionally done entertainment, but it is nothing more than that. Further, sometimes it is labelled as the moving of the Holy Spirit, and I do not know how in words to define how to seperate the two, but if one is there (as opposed to watching or listening to something recorded) one might be able to seperate them in one's spirit, although I am quite certain I have missed on that over time, also.
How does one create demand for what one wishes to communicate? I don't know.  At a gut level, I am averse to the common idea, both in secular and church backgrounds, of just throwing money at it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lyzenga on Jesus' Simple Strategy

        I originally posted this on October 3, 2011, but just noticed that this didn't come out well on the blog.  This is more readable.
2151—Jesus’ Simple Strategy
            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, I quote from the writings of Steven S. Lyzenga:

In the midst of His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ declared to His disciples, “Do
you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest(John 4:35).
Jesus then gave His disciples the mission of reaping the harvest as well as the strategy to accomplish the mission, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field. Go!” (Luke 10:2-3). Jesus then modeled His strategy by sending the 12disciples, and later the seventy, as workers into the ripe harvest field. They returned with a great report, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17).
 It was a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission.
At the end of His earthly ministry, on the brink of returning to His Father in
heaven, Jesus restated His mission to the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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” (Mt 28:18-20).
Jesus then modeled His strategy again by sending out the 12, followed by Paul and many other workers into the ripe harvest fields. This time, the entire Roman Empire, and as far away as India, was infiltrated with the gospel within 300 years after Jesus’ death.In fact, in AD 100 there were as few as 25,000 Christians, but by AD 300 there were up to 20,000,000 Christians!Jesus modeled a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission again.
Why was Jesus’ strategy to accomplish His mission so wonderfully effective?
Jesus used a very simple disciple making process. He gathered His followers together in simple venues (often houses), equipped them, and sent them out as
workers into ripe harvest fields. Paul the apostle followed Jesus’ lead, making disciples by gathering Jesus’ followers together in simple venues (often houses),
 equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields. Likewise, biblically and historically, it appears the early Church made disciples by gathering Jesus’ followers together in simple venues (often houses), equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields.
Somewhere between the first 300 years of discipleship history and now, however,
Jesus’ disciple-making process got off track and became much more complicated. The original model of gathering His followers together in simple venues,         equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields started to drift off track, all the while, losing its simplicity and effective and efficient reproducibility.
Historically, the line between simple and complicated models of disciple-making
was drawn during the Constantine era of the Roman Empire. Throughout this era,
disciple-making became the job for a new hierarchical class of professional clergy who began receiving money to manage the newly formed institutionalized version of Church. Another major paradigm shift during this new found institutionalized Church era was believers having to gather together in newly built cathedrals,
a huge shift in comparison to the simple house-to-house venues that
early century believers were used to. From this point forward, disciple-making became a very complicated institutionalized effort much more complex than the simple approach modeled by Jesus, Paul, and the early Church.

Close on the heels of the Constantine era was the spiritual “Dark Ages.” During this 1000 year era, the institutional Church seemed to have lost a
vision for the Great Commission (GC) and did not emphasize the ripe harvest fields as Jesus taught and modeled in John 4 and Luke 10. Therefore, disciple-
making “to the ends of the earth” as mandated in Matthew 28 was all but extinguished. It’s as if the enemy himself infiltrated Jesus’ simple disciple-
making method and complicated the process, of gathering His
followers in simple venues to equip them as ripe harvest workers,by institutionalizing the church.
When one compares the Constantine “Rome” model of Church to the New
Testament (NT) Antioch” model of Church, it is far different. And it is
apparent that the modern Western model of Church favors the former. This Church shift towards an institutional model, taking place over many centuries, was
not without consequences. With its strong inward focus, institutional forms of church have left a bleak mark on “ripe harvest field” history. So much so, 20
centuries after Jesus walked the earth and 17 centuries after this tragic shift in Church history, there remain 1.9 billion people (28% of the world’s population) that have yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ even once!

       You can contact me at or at 757-735-3639.  The entire writing which I quoted today is on the web.  You can find out more about organic church in this area at

            This was an exact quote of from pages 1 to 4 of Steven S. Lyzenga’s dissertation, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, which can be seen at
This passage has numerous footnotes, as one might expect in a thesis, which appear in the original.

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 foundational traditions of the 1st century church

Today, I am reposting my blog of October 2, 2011, which is the transcript of an episode of "Simple Church Minute" that was never broadcast.  It is about what Steven S. Lyzenga wrote in his doctoral thesis, which, as a writing, can be read for free.  Its an overview of the variety of writings about non-organizational church in the West up to the point of that thesis.  If one isn't into digging through a thesis, this and the next three posts are an overview of points I found to be important.

Over the past couple of months, I have been attempting to read a variety of writers on subjects that simple/organic/house church speaks to.  One that I had been hesitating to start was Steven S. Lyzenga’s “Accessing the State of Simple Churches in the USA Regarding Releasing Resources Toward Finishing the Great Commission” due to its length, 425 pdf file pages.  I finally got around to it about a week ago.  This is not a book, but a doctoral dissertation.  One nice thing about that is that anyone with internet access can read it at . To address the subject of the title, he first needed to explain just about every subject that simple/organic church speaks as a counterpoint to, in regard to what has become traditional in western culture, and mention every relevant writer, whether consciously involved with this flavor of the Christian palate or not.  At the time I am writing this preface, I have had 38 five minute commentaries prepared.  Not all appear in this blog, as I have a few which are fully quotations of others.  Steve has so many appropriate thoughts that fit into the concept of these commentaries, it has presented a new challenge for me to wrap up this first grouping.  Today, I begin to highlight some of the ideas he presented in his writing.
Note:  In the previous paragraph, I used the word “flavor” instead of denomination, movement, strand, or any other word that might describe the various trains of thought within Christian life, past or present.  I first heard this word used in this manner by Duane VanderKlok of Resurrection Life Church, Grandville, MI.  I believe that it describes the variety of trains of thought simply, and in a way most will implicitly understand, better than any other way of phrasing that I have heard so far.

2150—7 traditions

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  One basic statement of  Christian faith is that one believes God has communicated to us supernaturally through the Bible, and not the Bible plus something else, which usually refers to the traditions that came about after the apostles from which the Reformation stood against, or, other writings held by a heretical group to be the equivalent of or a superceding to Scripture.  In Steven S. Lyzenga’s writing, titled “Accessing the State of Simple Churches in the USA Regarding Releasing Resources Toward Finishing the Great Commission”, he states that there are at least seven traditions implicit in the writings from Acts to Revelation that we, the believers in Jesus were to follow, as Jesus taught the disciples, who, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and His sending of the Holy Spirit, the apostles taught the early church to do.  Certain leaders within the fledgling church, beginning one generation later, started leading the followers away from these traditions, from which we in the west have never returned to, to any significant degree.   There are some believers, of which some are persons learned in the history of our faith and loyal to Jesus, who would maintain that following these traditions are in scripture, and that we should return to them, as opposed to following practices developed later.

            In Mark chapter 2 verse 22, Jesus states, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”  It is pointed out that, in the original Greek, the word “new” in front of “wine” is a different word than the “new” in front of “wineskins.” The Greek word for “new” as in “new wine” is neos, meaning “recently born, young, youthful.” The other Greek word for “new” as in

“new wineskin” is kainos and it means “new as respect to form (recently made, fresh,

recent, unused, unworn) or as respect to substance (of a new kind, unprecedented, novel,

uncommon, unheard of).”  In effect, Jesus came to earth to pour “recently born, young,

and youthful” wine into “fresh, recently made, unused, unworn, unprecedented, novel,

uncommon, and unheard of” wineskins.

Jesus Himself was the new wine.  As for the wineskins, they are new practices that Jesus would introduce.  The Old Covenant old wineskins were a physical temple, physical priests, and physical sacrifices, of which Jesus’ death, in fulfilling that Old Covenant, would make Him the living temple of which the fullness of God dwells, the forever High Priest interceding between God and man, and the final, perfect sacrifice.  As Jesus taught, he was introducing to the disciples the new wineskins, the new practices for groups of believers that would be a chosen people by the Spirit.  Once Jesus became those things, we became those things in Him, as indicated in First Peter chapter 2 verse 5. 

Correspondingly, at least seven apostolic traditions appear to be biblically foundational to the way the first century Church operated:

1. Meeting in homes/houses – the most prominent place for a family, and, by faith, God was going to build a temple from “living stones”, which is those of us who believe.

2. Spiritual Family – the experience of community.  A properly functioning family doesn’t see each other once a week.

3. Hebraic method of education – learning through mentorship, the polar opposite of a lecture.

4. Everyone a priest and minister – the whole Body functioning, which is the expression of the wisdom of God.

5. Open-participatory meetings – every person’s gift valued and developed in an atmosphere of every person caring for each other so as to glorify Jesus.

6. Servitude leadership – from the bottom up.  Jesus said whomever would be great must be a servant, the polar opposite of being on a pedestal with a special title.  First John chapter 3 verse 16 says “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”

7. Outward focused – making disciples of neighbors and nations, as every person on earth is equally valued by God, without regard to the world’s feelings about gender, ethnicity, slavery, caste, language or any other prejudicial category.

            How do we put this into action?  Author Milt Rodriguez has stated that one key is our having an all-inclusive, open spirit to all God’s people.  If you know the Lord, you are my brother.  Denomination, minor issues, personality problems, or feeling that one has grasped a special truth are not scriptural reasons for division between believers.  That is sectarianism.

            You can email me at, or can call me at 757-735-3639.  You can see a transcript of what I just said, with footnotes, at my blog,, for the posting of October 2, 2011.  You can find out more about simple churches in this area at


            In the writing mentioned in the article, of which there is the link in my opening comments, one will find what I am referring to near page 247-257, pdf file page 265-275, and appropriate footnotes to where he found this information.
            The Rodriguez reference is from a speech he gave in Rapid City, SD, which is posted at, titled, “The 7 Essentials"

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Another segment of my quotation collection

I have said before, I decided to collect quotations because it didn't cost anything monetarily to do so.  This segment shows that I have watched a lot of financial news, international news, and sports.  Some is humorous, some profound, some ironic, some ridiculous.  I do not claim to agree with all the sentiments expressed, but I found them all, in some way, entertaining.


Q: Why is the San Francisco Giants' ballpark the coldest in the major leagues?
A: There's a Giant fan in every seat.

Q: What did the one flag say to the other?
A: Nothing—it just waved.

Natural beauty is nature's way of showing the that the other person doesn't have too many intestinal parasites.
--Ben Bernanke

We are all fans of humans.
--Jayson Stark, 7/30/2013

Don't forget the Rachael Maddow motto: When in doubt, chicken out.
--Rachael Maddow, 2/12/2014

I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.
--Isaac Newton

All alliteration always annoying.
--John Anderson, ESPN

Wolves do not fret over the opinions of sheep.
--basketball coach Greg Marshall (a misquote of a classical phrase)

It's the Westminster Dog Show for the NFL.
--Mike Golic (describing the NFL combine and pro days)

It's what you say, it's how you say it, it's how much you say it, it's how loud you say it.
--Frank Sesno, former news reporter, now George Washington U. Media prof on reporting vs. Over-reporting a story, in the context of the MH370 disappearance

It's God's job to judge, the Spirit's job to convict, and our jjob to love. And we dare not mix those up.
--Billy Graham

When actions don't match the words—that's Journalism 101.
--Sal Paolantonio

Ideas matter...Passion matters.
--Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO.

Cereal Christians: flakes, fruits, and nuts.

I love debating. I either prove how smart I am, or I learn something.
--attributed to Max Kellerman (somehow, I think someone said it before)

Going out to hear live music brings everyone back to life.
--Jeff Kashiwa, jazz musician

When there is an illusion of purity, the situation is ripe for corruption, as the illusion of purity inhibits investigation.... The illusion not only hides corruption, but makes it possible.
--from an episode of “Freakonomics” on corruption in Sumo wrestling (which is inextricably tied to Shinto)

The word “gospel” in the Bible is, literally, “good news”. In the Roman Empire at that time, it meant “there is a new emperor”, and, corrolarily, “there will be justice”. The good news of Jesus is, therefore, bad news to the gods of money, power, sex, and war.
Frank Viola, about 85 minutes into the speech

According to CNBC, reported on 3/14/2014:
The average car loan in Q4 of 2013 was over $27,000. 19% of the loans were 72-84 months in term. The average trade period on cars is 3 1/2 years. At that point, many cars will still be under water (amount owed is greater than their value). Therefore, there will be a car reposession crisis somewhere in 2017 to 2019.

...I'm still trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts well.
--author Rachael Held Evans

Where there are the most doctors, there are the most sick people, but that does not prove that doctors are unproductive.
--Larry Summers

After seeing the FedEx commercial, I've got a new title too: Drive to the FedEx Drop Off Center Person. Also, like the “my own boss” in the commercial, I can't give myself a raise, either.

From CNBC:
Q: This state is a) home to the world's largest catcus plantation, b) home to the world's largest shrimp (in a museum), and c) the last state to register a Tesla. Who is it?
A: Mississippi

I always tell believers that if they are not getting on each others' nerves and offending one another, then they are not yet close enough to one another! Love and forgiveness will need to be applied constantly. It will get very bloody at times, but if you go to the cross and let your own desires and agendas die, then his life will begin to be displayed. . . So what does it look like? At times it will look like an awful mess! At other times, it will look an awful lot like Jesus Christ Himself! But I will tell you that there is nothing else on this planet that even comes close to beholding Christ through the members of his Body!
--Lindy Combs, partially quoting Milt Rodriguez

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