onsdag 24. september 2008

What anyone could do in the early church

This is my view built on the NT in the bible:

Mini-apostles
It wasn't only the apostles who motivated people to get together as believers in the area around Jerusalem. Others in the church (ordinary Christians) were way ahead of them.

Any believer could baptise
Paul was baptised by a newly converted (a disciple). He wasn't baptised by an ordinated person, for example a priest. There were no professionals.

Meetings in the home
The first congregations met in homes, not in churches.

House-organic love
The apostles didn't administrate the money in the first congregation as many claim to day. They administrated a few gifts that were given to them personally. Food and other gifts were shared within each home congregation.

Home-deacon
The first deacons probably provided their services from their own homes.

A meal with the eucharist / holy communion
The first Christians gathered around a meal. Everyone contributed with a song, a prayer, an encouragement, anything.

God talks to whoever he wants
The Holy Spirit asked a disciple to place his hands on Paul. There were no leaders present when Paul was baptised. God uses everyone. Barnabas and Paul got their mission call together. God can talk to one individual, several people simultaneously or to a whole congregation.

Testing
None of the early Christians could force through their views in the congregation. If someone claimed the Holy Spirit had given them a message that involved the congregation, they had to put it before the congregation for testing. Today we have made hierarchies that hinder messages being tested, or even heard.

Micro-bishopes
A bishop/elder/priest/pastor or whatever you call them, was originally a Christian person who invited to a home meeting. There were no Christian denominations or citybishops in the congregational life of the first Christians. House congregations are therefore more biblical than todays more traditional congregations.

Female elders
Some independent congregations say no to female elders. But Paul called the gathering at Priska's home a congregation. She was therefore an elder.

No membership card
When Philip (who was neither a bishop nor an apostel) baptised the Ethiopian courtier, the courtier was left standing alone without a membership in the lokal congregation. All the courtier got, was his faith and a baptism into the universal organic congregation.

Because fellowship is important we can only guess that the Ethiopian courtier sought together with other Christians when he came home from his long journey. But it was therefore not a condition that Christian growth should occur by a motherchurch that made branchchurches.

You can do the same
If you're a Christian, you can invite to a Christian home gathering and call it a congregation, you can invite to a holy communion, you can baptise and you can evangelise. But though every Christian has «every right» doesn't mean every Christian has to do everything. Different talents/gifts get their natural place in the congregational life.

In addition you can agree on how different ministries should be done. But that doesn't mean these people rule over the others.

It's not a duty either to use your homes as the first Christians did, but there are practical, economical, interpersonal, growth wise and other advantages by using the home. In addition to using the home, it's also nice with other Christian engagements.

Leaders, or servents?
Leadership must be without bad sideeffects that bind the rights of ordinary Christians: The right to preach, to take an initiative, to help others, to baptise or to discuss theology. In Christian organisations such as publishing houses, schools or aid organisations, baptism seldom take place, there can therefore be leaders there. There would not be side effects that limit the individual Christian. Baptism often takes place in churches. It is important that people with spesial tasks in churches does not bind or limit the rights of ordinary belivers. In short: Leaders belong to organisationes. Servents belong to churches.


Sjur Jansen, Norway

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