Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rousas J Rushdoony

In my view, the most important theologian of the twentieth century was Rousas J Rushdoony (1916-2001). In his Institutes of Biblical Law (Craig Press 1973), he clearly demonstrated that God’s law provides the best standard for an orderly society. He single-handedly set about restoring God’s law to his rightful place. He wrote,

Authority can come from God or the people. If God is the source of authority, his word should prevail. If the latter is true, the will of the people should be done.
Despite his wisdom, Rushdoony missed out on one key point. He did not understand the role of judges in implementing the law. The reason for this blind spot was that he believed that the US constitution was an inspired document. He believed that restoring the principles of the constitution would lead to the implementation of biblical law. His son-in-law Gary North proved in Political Polytheism that the constitution was actually the work of men who were opposed to God, so Rushdoony’s faith in the constitution was unfounded. This error prevented him from seeing that honouring God’s law was not enough. We also need a system of godly judges to apply that law.

Despite this blind spot, his knowledge of God’s law was colossal. Anyone who wants to understand God’s purpose for law and government should read his writings.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ruling with Jesus?

Most Christians believe that Jesus will return to rule the world. A couple of important apostles will set at this left and right hand. We expect to be further away from the throne, but we will be their ruling the world with Jesus. This is the vision of James and John.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."
"What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory" (Mark 10:35-37).
Just as James and John were disappointed, Christians with the same hope will be disappointed.

Jesus kingdom is completely and totally different from the vision of James and John. Jesus made this very clear in his response to the disciples.
those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…" (Mark 10:42-45).
Christians who expect to rule with Jesus in the same manner as the rulers of the Gentiles will be disappointed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Solomon was supposed to teach the nations the wisdom of God.

Look at our great laws. You should try them.
Solomon did not share the law. When the leaders of the nations came to see his wisdom, he took their gods, their daughters, and their idols, but he did not teach them God’s law

Solomon forgot his father's great poem (Psalm 119).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Apostolic Way (6) - New Testament Way

Jesus spelt out a very clear strategy for evangelism and church growth.

  • Go where the Holy Spirit is moving
  • Seek the person of peace
  • Get established in a house
  • Heal the sick
  • Preach the gospel
  • Make disciples
  • Establish a Church
  • Train elders
  • Go out again
Jesus gave us a very clear strategy and promised that it would be effective. Unfortunately, for the last 2000 years, Christians have consistently and deliberately refused to adopt it. In fact, the church has consciously done the opposite of what Jesus said. For a long time the goal has been to get people to come to the church to hear the gospel. The problem with this approach is that in many cultures, most non-Christians will not come into a church service.

Even the house church movement has ignored Jesus strategy. Unbelievers are still expected to come to the homes of the church members, which is the opposite of Jesus approach.

Jesus never said we should get people to come; he always said the church should go to where the people are (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). The advantage of the New Testament way outlined here is that the Church goes to where the people live. They will see real hard-core Christianity being lived out in their living room or in the house next door.

Implementing Jesus strategy will require a radical change in the mindset of the church. Unfortunately, other strategies will not be successful.

Jesus was willing to leave a brilliant worship service in heaven and come and live in this doghouse of an earth. He was the prototype apostle. He needs people who will follow his example.

This series of posts are excerpted from my book Being Church Where We Live.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Apostolic Way (5) - Aim for the End

Apostles will start the new Church with the end in mind. The first priority of the apostolic team will be to get to the stage where they can appoint a team of elders from within the new Church to take over its leadership. Most of their energy will go into those whom they expect to become elders. The apostolic team will intensively disciple them and start to replicate their ministries in them. They will focus on developing a team containing the full range of ministries.

People with influence are important because they are likely to become leaders in the new Church. A person of peace is less likely to have a lot of personal problems that need to be sorted out before they can grow into leadership. A person with both influence and a peaceful spirit should have potential to become an elder.

The ideal is for the apostle to live with the person of peace. This would increase the intensity of their discipleship. They would see everything the apostle does and be able to join in all the apostle’s activities. Having an apostle, and perhaps a prophet, living in their house will also provide a high level of spiritual protection. These benefits will help the person of peace grow very fast.

The apostolic team will not be concerned about gathering a large number of new converts. They will be busy with those who have leadership potential, so they will not have time to disciple a large number of new converts. They will not want a lot of new converts until some of the first batch of local Christians is ready to disciple them.

A work is ‘unfinished” until local elders have been appointed (Tit 1:5). When a local eldership team is in place, it will be easier to bring people into the Church.

Apostles will not be interested in church buildings. Their focus will be on growing to the point where they are able to send out apostles again, so they will not waste time and resources on buildings. Sending out apostles and starting new Churches is more important than a place to meet. The members of the apostolic team will usually rent their houses, as they will want to be free to move on when the time is right.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Apostolic Way (4) - Healing the Sick

Once contact has been established with the person of peace, the apostles should look for opportunities to heal the sick. Jesus said,

When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you' (Luke 10:8,9).
An apostle has authority to heal the sick, so someone should be healed, when the apostolic team moves into the new neighbourhood. The healing will often crack the neighbourhood open.

At Malta, Paul prayed for Publius’s sick father and he was healed (Acts 28:8-10). The whole island came and were healed (many would have been saved). The proconsul in Paphos believed the Gospel, when he saw a sorcerer struck blind by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:8-12).

When people in the neighbourhood hear about the healing, they will be curious. Many others will come wanting to be healed. The apostles will take the opportunity to share the gospel and pray for them.

In most cultures, a crowd will gather. The apostle or the evangelist will preach the gospel and pray for the sick. God will confirm their preaching with signs and wonders (Mark 16:20). Jesus regularly used this method.

The apostolic team will disciple the new Christians, teaching them to live in obedience to Jesus. They will mould them together into a Church, based in the home of the person of peace. The new Church will become a community in which the life of Christ is visibly demonstrated. As households are converted, they will be drawn into this community. Seen from this perspective, becoming a Christian is joining part of a Christian community.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Apostolic Way (3) - Stay in a House

In most cultures, the apostles would go and live in the house of the person of peace. Jesus said,

Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. (Luke 10:7).
Jesus had said the same thing to the twelve when he sent them out.
Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town (Luke 9:4).
Paul and Barnabas went to stay with Lydia. Paul went to stay with Publius. Ideally an apostolic team would accept customary offers of hospitality and stay in the house of the person of peace.

In western cultures, staying with the person of peace or influence might be too intrusive. The apostle should rent or buy a house as close as possible to the person of influence, but they would still have their meetings in the home of the person of peace.

If the rest of the apostolic team are single, they could stay with the apostle in his house. If they are married, they should find houses close by.

The apostolic team will focus their chosen locality. They will build a spiritual stronghold and form a Christian community, in which they share and care for each other. This will be a tremendous witness to the people who live around them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Apostolic Way (2) - Person of Peace

When they move to the chosen location, the apostles should try to establish contact with an influential person or “person of peace” in that place. Jesus commanded the seventy-two to stay in one home and not go from house to house.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them,… When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you (Luke 10:1,2,5-6).
He had said something very similar when he sent out the twelve.
Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you (Matt 10:11-13).
The Holy Spirit will lead the apostles to a “worthy person” or “person of peace”. This is someone who is open to the gospel and who has contact and influence with other people in the area. Sometimes that person might be a Christian with a burden for their neighbourhood. The new Church will usually meet in their house.

Paul often went to the local synagogue to identify the worthy person. This was how he and Barnabas started a Church in the house of Lydia.
One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us (Acts 16:14,15).
Lydia was the person of peace and influence and the first convert in Philippi. Paul and Barnabas established a church in her house.

Sometimes the person of peace or influence will be a town official or key business person. Publius, the chief official of Malta welcomed Paul into his home (Acts 28:7). Lydia was a successful businesswoman. In Paphos, the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God (Acts 13:6,7). Winning a person in authority for Christ will open the whole neighbourhood or village up to the gospel. The Person of Peace will have influence in their neighbourhood and potential to become an elder.

The fact that he person is at peace may be a sign that the forces of evil are not strong in that locality. This will make it an ideal place to establish a spiritual stronghold.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Apostolic Way (1)

Jesus gave very clear instructions about the way that an apostolic team should do its work (Luke 10). When they are sent out into a new area, they should seek God to find the right neighbourhood.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go (Luke 10:1).
Jesus appointed the seventy-two and sent (literally apostled) them out. They went everywhere he was going to go. Now that Jesus has gone and the Holy Spirit has come, apostles should go where the Holy Spirit is about to go. Being in Jerusalem is pointless, if the Holy Spirit is moving in Antioch.

Some neighbourhoods and nations are spiritually tougher than others. Jesus said,
When you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near' (Luke 10:10,11).
Apostles should not waste their efforts where they are not welcome. They should move on and find a place where the Holy Spirit is moving. Antioch was a good example of such a place, but apostles initially missed out on the opportunity (Acts 11:20-24).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Always a Mixture

A Christian community will always be a mixture. We must not try to exclude non-Christians from our local communities. We actually want unbelievers living among us so we can bless them, and so they can see the benefits of the Christian life.

We must not force unbelievers to live by Christian standards. Forcing people who have not experienced the love of God to love each other is pointless. However, we can expect the unbelievers among us to live by the standards of the law. If they rob or assault people, we should expect them to make restitution. If they refuse to make restitution, or refuse to give up theft and violence, we might need to ask them to move out of our community.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Changing the World (4) - Political Powers

Christians do not need to worry about the political powers. As the Kingdom of God expands, the political powers will gradually be made redundant.

  • Once kings and presidents have become redundant, God will sweep them away.

  • Christians should not try and bring them down.

  • Prophetic Christians will speak against the political powers to release God’s power against them.

  • The Book of Revelation describes the final collapse of human governments and empires.

God will not remove the human government that pushes down from the top, until the Kingdom is advancing from the bottom up.

Many Christians are hostile to the power of the state. They want to eliminate its intrusion into their lives, but they are quite negative about the Kingdom of God. They would not come and say it, but many believe that God’s method for expanding the Kingdom simply will not work. They are free to hold this line, but they must understand that God will not remove the power of the state until he has been able to build something in its place. If we do not take the challenge of the Kingdom seriously, we will have to put up with the weight of human political bearing upon us for a good long time.

The truth is different. There is no limit on the power of the Holy Spirit, but he cannot do his work on earth without a body of believers do work through so we must never doubt his ability. If we are unwillingly to pursue it seriously, he will not force the Kingdom upon us. We are the only obstacle the Kingdom, so we should not grumble about the lingering weight of the state.

This full article can be found at Jesus Strategy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Changing the World (3) - Locality by Locality

The Holy Spirit also works household by household. When Jesus commissioned his disciples, he sent them to a particular place, and urged them to focus on one household.

When you enter a house…. Stay in that house ... Do not move around from house to house (Luke 10:6,7).
The good news will spread from one household to the next.
When a group of Christians are established in a particular locality their effectiveness will be multiplied. They will form a community where the Kingdom God can be manifested.
  • The stronger will encourage the weak
  • The gifts of the Spirit will flow.
  • Tens and Hundreds will form
  • Justice will be administered
  • Welfare will be provided
  • People will be protected.
  • A different lifestyle will be demonstrated
  • The glory of God will be revealed.
The Kingdom of God will advance locality by locality.
The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough (Matt 13:33).
Each new locality will be a beachhead from which the Kingdom of God can be slowly expanded out into another neighbourhood.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Changing the World (2) - Bottom-up

Jesus changes the world from the bottom up, one person at a time.

God created a perfect world. Things went wrong when sin came into the world. All the problems of the world begin in human hearts. The only really effective way to change the world is to repair the hearts of the people who cause the problem. Jesus death and resurrection make this possible. The gospel is the good news that can change the world.

When a person believes in Jesus, three things are now possible.

  • The Holy Spirit can work in their hearts

  • The influence of evil spirits can be eliminated

  • Emotional hurts can be healed.

  • The mind of Christ can emerge

As human hearts are changed, the world will be improved from the bottom up.
Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the one who rules should be like the one who serves (Luke 22:25-26).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Changing the World (1)

Everybody wants to change the world. The world is not as good as we would like it to be, so we all want to make it better. This is an important question. How should the world be changed?

There are two ways to change the world.

  1. From the top down
  2. From the bottom up.
Top Down Change
Most modern attempts to improve the world use top-down change. Most modern attempts to change the world use political power in its various forms.

  • Starting a new political party
  • Changing the policies of the main political parties
  • Elect a new president
  • Elect better people to parliament
  • Support the Christian Right
  • Legislate better laws
  • Pass more laws
  • Stiffer penalties
  • Three strikes and you are out
  • Establish a new commission
  • Establish a new department of state
  • Develop new government programs
  • Develop institutions for change
  • Join the revolution
  • Shoot the powerful people
  • Overthrow the government
  • Let the people size power
All of these solutions represent change from the top. All have been tried in different place at different times, and all have failed. People do not like be controlled, so they resist change imposed from the top.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (26) - Time of Distress

Ordinary life faces now many new challenges. The world is getting increasingly violent and unstable and individuals and families struggle without the support that used to come from Tens and Hundreds. We may be going into a time of trouble, distress and judgement. Christians should be prepared for troubled times. To cope with the disorderly world that is merging, Christians and their families must get together in Tens to provide support and protection for their communities.

Leaders of Tens will establish relationships with other tens to share in protection and support.

  • Tens in the country will produce food to give to tens in the cities.

  • Tens in the city will distribute surplus food received from the country to people in needs.

  • Tens in the city with surplus wealth will supply Tens in the country with the resources that they need.

  • The Ten at either end of street may agree to watch the entrance to the street to ensure that undesirable people do not enter the street. This may be the best form of protection against theft or looting during a time of disruption.

When society disintegrates, state power will fall apart. Social welfare system will collapse and justice will fail. Christian Tens and Hundreds will be needed to fill the gap. This will be a massive opportunity for the gospel.

This is the end of my posts on this topic. The full series can be found at Tens and Hundreds.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (25) - Neighbourhood

Apart from the family, the lowest and most important unit in society is the neighbourhood. In the modern world, many factors are tearing the neighbourhood apart. The local church would be a unifying factor, if Christians were to form Tens and Fifties in the neighbourhood where they lived. These Tens would return cohesiveness to the neighbourhood.

  • A body corporate might own the street on behalf of the residents. It could take responsibility for garbage and street repairs. It would do these tasks itself, but it would contract the work to specialists.

  • The people living in the neighbourhood could decide what services they want. If they wanted to put in underground power wires, they could go ahead, provide they were willing to pay the cost. They would not have to wait for the City Council bureaucracy to decide to do it in forty years time. They could also decide what level of security they wanted.

  • State-run social welfare imposed from the top does not work. Social welfare works best at the local level. If churches formed Tens and Hundreds in own neighbourhoods, deacons could work through them to those in financial difficulty.

  • State justice is usually bad justice. True justice begins among neighbours and friends. If churches established Tens and Hundreds in the neighbourhood, elders would act as judges and settle disputes between people. If some elders demonstrated real wisdom, they might be called on to act as judges in their broader communities.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (24) - Kingdom Growth

The Kingdom of God grows organically, like yeast spreading through a loaf of bread. The reason is that society must be changed from the bottom up.

  • The Kingdom of God cannot be imposed from the top, but must rise up from the bottom.

  • Replacing one set of rulers with another changes nothing, because the same principalities and powers remain in control. The only way to break free is for political power to be defused.

  • Defeating and evil government by military force will not advance the Kingdom. The use of military power releases a spirit of violence, which undermines the Kingdom of God.

  • Using democratic power to topple political leaders and replace them with others does not advance the kingdom. Democracy raises up human power and authority, which opposes the power of the Spirit.

The Kingdom of God advances slowly, street by street and village by village.
  • Jesus gave his disciples clear instructions to start in a particular place and start with a person of peace (Luke 10:5,6). Some places are easier to work than others.

  • Those who are serious about advancing the Kingdom of God will identify those easy places and build a beachhead, from which the kingdom can gradually spread, Ten by Ten, and Hundred by Hundred

  • As new Tens are established, the spiritual forces of evil will be gradually pushed back and the beachhead of peace will expand.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (23) - Beat Principalities

Tens and Hundreds are the solution to spiritual protection. In the Biblical model, authority is concentrated at the lowest level in the Ten, and that authority remains miniscule, because membership in a Ten is voluntary. A little bit of authority is passed up to the Hundred, but it can be easily withdrawn. During a crisis, some authority may be extended to a Thousand, but this authority is always be taken back, if the leader loses the plot, or when the crisis ends. This diffusion of authority foils the plans of the enemy. Evil spirits can no longer concentrate their attacks on a few powerful people, but have to spread themselves thin. As they disperse to deal with authority that is diffused throughout society, they become fragmented and powerless.

Many Christians have an overinflated view of the enemy’s power. They believe that our struggle is against spiritual forces that are almost as powerful as the Holy Spirit. The truth is that Satan’s power is an illusion. Evil forces have amplified their power by gaining control over political and religious leaders with authority and control over others.

Political and religious power has magnified the authority of spiritual evil. If an evil spirit gains control over one person, he can make that persons life miserable. If the same spirit were to gain control over a king or President, he can make a nation miserable. If that spirit gains influence over a mega church, he can lead a thousand people astray. When political and religious control collapses, demonic power will be greatly diminished. When confined to one-on-one battle, they will be easily defeated.

Tens will provide spiritual protection for their communities by standing together in unity. They will watch over each other and stand together to resist the power of the enemy. When people love Jesus and walk in the Spirit, the enemy will have no grounds for attack.

Other people in the neighbourhood will continue to sin and some may allow evil into their lives. The difference with respect to protection from evil is that none of these people have authority over anyone else in their community (except in the rare situation where one is employed in the business of another). This limits their ability to expose others to the spirits that influence them.

The only people in the street with authority over others are the elders. They are submitted to each other, so their authority is constrained. The elders will be watching over each other, so if one come under attack or falls into sin, the others will deal with the issue to get victory over evil.

Tens and Hundreds provide spiritual protection for each other and the people in their neighbourhood.

  • The only authority in the street will be exercised by the elders of the Tens. They are protected by submitting to each other.

  • The members of the Ten get spiritual protection by submission to other and their leaders.

  • The person of peace will have influence in the street, but being “peaceful”, they should be free from spiritual harassment.

  • The members of the Ten are not submitted to regional and national political powers and the spiritual principalities that cling to them.

A Street has become an authority-lite zone, making it a relatively a demon-free zone.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spiritual Powers and Big Government

Spiritual power and political power go together. The reason is that the leaders of nation have authority to enforce their will on any citizen of their domain. Everyone living in a nation must accept their authority their king or president. The mayor, the council and the council officers have authority to act on behalf of anyone resident in their town or city. This power and authority creates a serious spiritual problem, because these political leaders are vulnerable to spiritual attack, and any attack on them is not just personal, but affects everyone under the their authority.

Spiritual power always follows authority. When a political leader is influenced by demonic powers, the people under his authority are vulnerable to a similar attack. When we submit to political leaders, we open ourselves up to spiritual forces at work in their lives. When demonic forces attach themselves to a king or president, they become “principalities and powers”, because they now have authority over many of the people in that nation (Eph 6:12).

Political leaders will come under immense spiritual pressure, because they hold authority over the people in their city or nation. If the enemy gets control over these leaders, he gains spiritual access to everyone under their control. The enemy concentrates his forces against those with political power, so he can win an easy victory over everyone under the authority of the leaders who fall into his hands. When a powerful leader falls into sin, then everyone in their realm becomes vulnerable to the same spirit.

Centralised political or religious authority is dangerous, because it makes principalities and powers possible. Once the enemy gains control over those with power and authority, he has easier access to all those under that authority. As a political leader accumulates more authority, the principality or power that controls him gains greater power over more people. This is how principalities and powers exercise power (Dan 10:13). (Centralising control of a megachurch in a super pastor has the same effect).

Jesus destroys principalities and powers by removing the centralised political and religious power structures that support their power. Wherever emperors, kings and presidents have seized or been give authority, evil spiritual forces can attach themselves to that authority. When political power evaporates, principalities and powers are reduced to being common evil spirits beaten by the cross. They gain spiritual power by taking advantage of political power, so the collapse of power and authority leaves them with no place to stand.

Many Christians have an overinflated view of the enemy’s power. They believe that our struggle is against spiritual forces that are almost as powerful as the Holy Spirit. The truth is that Satan’s power is an illusion. Evil forces have leveraged their power by gaining control over political and religious leaders with authority over many people.

Political and religious power has magnified the authority of spiritual evil. If an evil spirit gains control over one person, he can make that persons life miserable. If the same spirit were to gain control over a king or President, he can make a nation miserable. If that spirit gains influence over a mega church, he can lead a thousand people astray. When political and religious control collapses, demonic power will be greatly diminished. When confined to one-on-one battle, they will be easily defeated.

When Big Government collapse and Tens and Hundreds rise in their place, a spiritual victory will occur.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (22) - Kingdom View

Authority is the heart of the Kingdom of God. The defining quality of a king is authority, so understanding the nature of authority is essential for understanding the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ prayer defines the Kingdom of God.

Your Kingdom come
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven. Matt 6:10
The Kingdom of God comes when God's will is done. God's kingdom comes into being as his authority is widely accepted and obeyed.

Authority, not geography, defines the boundaries of a kingdom. A kingdom extends as far as the authority of the King is accepted. The Kingdom of God is defined in terms of attitudes to the authority of God. It extends wherever his authority is accepted. Every person living under the authority of God is part of the Kingdom of God. Every aspect of life that is submitted to the authority of God is part of the Kingdom of God. Tens and Hundreds turn authority upside down and bring the Kingdom of God into being.

If the Ten serves really effectively, the local people will participate in some of their activities, especially those that advance justice, protection from crime, welfare and defence. When the non-Christians in the neighbourhood participate in the activities of the Ten or Hundred, they will have to compromise with their standards of behaviour:
  • People will be treated with respect.
  • No one, not even elders or leaders, can force another person to do things they do not want to do.
  • The truth will be spoken love.
  • Forgiveness is the best solution to hurts and misunderstanding.
To participate in activities organised of the Ten, others will have to fit with their lifestyle. They will compromise their behaviour gladly, because they will see the benefits the Tens provide in their neighbourhood. However, they will not feel forced to change, because they remain free to opt out at any time.

Something interesting has happened in A Street.
  • If they serve effectively, the Tens will be the most influential group in their community.

  • Non-Christians living in the locality will submit to God’s authority some of the time, so they can benefit from the activities of the Tens.

  • The members of the Ten will have submitted voluntarily to the authority of the elders, to each other, and to God.

  • The elders will have submitted to God, and to each other. This makes the Kingdom of God a reality in their midst.

  • Then Tens, Fifties and Hundreds could keep society functioning effectively, even if all national and city authority has collapsed.

Taken together, this means that most people in the neighbourhood will be submitted to God, so in a sense the Kingdom of God has come to A Street.

This full series can be found at Tens and Hundreds.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (21) - Service and Kingdom

The Tens living in A Street will serve everyone in their street.

  • Welfare — Christian deacons will provide support to anyone in the street who needs help, whether or not they are Christians. They will be glad to help those who have not received the gospel. Kind unbelievers might give money to the deacons, because they will appreciate the work that that they are doing for people they know.

  • Justice — Christian leaders will be active in helping non-believers to achieve justice if they are robbed or hurt. They will be quite happy to bless free riders.

  • Defence — If the community is attacked, the Christians will provide protection for everyone. They will provide protection to non-Christians, even if they are unwilling to make a contribution to the defence efforts. Some of them will be glad to follow the directions of Christian leaders, because they will recognise that they are prepared and know what they are doing. Christian leaders would seek to bring everyone into unity as they seek to protect their community.

Christian leaders will not control Christians in their care, but will see to serve them. They will also seek to serve the other people in their street. Most people living in the street will respect their leadership because they will have observed their kindness and love. Anyone who does not like their leadership will ignore it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (20)

An effective church has started in A Street, but something else that is important has happened. Five Tens have formed. The members of each Ten know each other and trust each other. They will also have established good relationships with the people in the white houses that live around them. Each Ten has at least one person with some leadership skills that are available for service in the wider community.

Together these Tens make up a Fifty. This Fifty has strong leadership. Everyone in the neighbour would look to them and respect if a tough situation. If the growth process described above was repeated, the Fifty would grow into a Hundred.

Something else important happens in this neighbourhood.

  • Welfare — The three Ds are people who have become deacons. They will provide social assistance to anyone in the neighbourhood who faces poverty. One couple in the Orange group chose to follow Jesus after they received help during a period of unemployment. If the neighbourhood was wealthy, the deacons might channel resources to other neighbourhoods where people are poor.

  • Justice — J is a person with real wisdom. People in the neighbourhood call on him to settle disputes. He gradually becomes a judge, skilled in applying God’s law. His wisdom is well known, so people in white houses also take disputes to him.

  • Defence — If society were to collapse into chaos, W would have an important role. He could monitor people coming into A street and call for help to deal with undesirables. If the situation got really bad, some of the people might move in with friends in A Street for a while to obtain shelter and protection.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (19) - The Wider Church View

Looking from the church perspective, we have something like the following diagram. Five groups of Christians are each overseen by a Christian elder (A, R, P, E. B).

These elders have strong relationships. They draw all their people together in one body to be a church. Many of these people new each other well already. They elders work together to strengthen these relationships, so it ooks like this.
The relationships between these people are as important as the people. They look something like this.
For more on this topic see Church and Ministry.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (18) - Moving Out

P grew to maturity quickly, so A was soon able to leave him to look after the blue houses. A moved to a house in D Street and next door to a Christian who was already a part of the blue group. This person believed that many of his neighbours were interested in the gospel, so A came to give him a hand in getting things started.

E stayed in the same house, but left B to exercise oversight over the Christians in the green houses. They were all doing well and did not need much help anyway. E switched his attention to some people at the other end of the street and started building relationships with a group of believers connected to the person in the green house in D Street. Before much time passed, people living in the orange houses were seeking to follow Jesus and E was helping them get connected to each other.

For more on how this works, see the Apostolic Way.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (17) - Neighbourhood View

Christian elder A moved into A Street. He knew that P was a person of influence, so he rented the house next door to him. When P’s crippled daughter was healed, he and all his family decided to follow Jesus. Everyone in A Street saw the dramatic change in both P and his daughter. When they asked what had happened, he blurted out the entire story with the gospel sprinkled in between. Those living in the blue houses chose to become Christians. Elder A watched over them to ensure that none got side tracked. He also worked hard on building relationships between them. Their activities centred on P’s house.

This is only part of the story. When A moved into A Street, he did not come alone. His friends R and E had moved at about the same time. They had served together in the church that they came from and knew each other well.

The faith stirred up following the healing of P’s daughter led to the healing of a couple of other seriously ill people at the end of the street. E shared the gospel to many others living in the street and some came to believe. He took responsibility for those living in the houses shaded in green and built relationships between them. R focussed on those living on his side of the street.

For more see Evangelist.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (16) - Church View

From the church perspective, the first group started will look like this.

The letter A indicates an elder with a pastoral gifting. At the beginning, this would be the person who came into the neighbourhood. When the original elder moves on, the elder will be someone from within the group, possible the person of influence.

The elder has a strong relationship with each person and would help build strong relationships all the members of the group they watch over. These relationships are represented by the lines.

See radical leadership

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (15) - Gospel Model

The New Testament provides a method for spreading the gospel, which will also restore Tens and Hundreds to our community. Luke 10 describes how church and gospel spread in five important steps.

  • A pair of Christians move to a new neighbourhood.

    After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place (Luke 10:1).
    Finding an appropriate neighbourhood was really important. Christians should make their home in the new location.

  • The Christians should seek a “person of peace” or “person of influence”. This is someone who is open to the gospel and who has contact and influence with other people in the area. Sometimes that person might be a Christian with a burden for their neighbourhood. The new Church will usually meet in their house. In a traditional culture, they would live with the Person of Peace.
    Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave (Matt 10:11).
    Staying with the Person of Peace would not be possible in a Western culture, so the Christian pair would buy or rent a house as close as possible to that person.

  • Once contact has been established with the person of peace, the Christians will look for opportunities to heal the sick. Jesus said,
    When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you' (Luke 10:8,9).
    A healing will usually crack open the neighbourhood. When Paul prayed for Publius’ sick father and he was healed (Acts 28:8-10). All the people on Malta came and were healed (many would believe).

  • The pair will disciple the new Christians and build relationships between them. They will mould them into a church in the home of the Person of Peace. Others in the community will be drawn in by their love.

  • The original Christians will replicate their ministry in the Person of Peace or a neighbour. This will free them to move into a new location and repeat the process. They will leave behind a group of people living in the same location who trust each other. This is the essence of a Ten.

See the Apostolic Way for more detail

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (14) - by Church

Following Jesus example, the church should have an important role in restoring Tens and Hundreds in the places where we live. Every church should be attached to a particular locality. Ideally, there should be one Church at each location and each location should have one Church.

In my book, Being Church Where We Live, I described how a church should function as a local community. Each church should be led by four or five elders, each with a different gifting, submitting to each other to produce unity. Each elder would provide oversight for about five or six families. If all the families overseen by one elder lived close to each other in a local community, they would become a Ten. This group of connected families would be able to fulfil all the functions of Tens, as described above.

If the church had five elders, each providing loose oversight of a Ten, the entire church would be a Fifty. If specific needs arose, a couple of local churches could link through their leaders to become a Hundred. The leaders of the Hundred would ensure that the justice, protection and welfare are provided to everyone living in their community.

If Christians moved back to a more biblical model of church, Tens and Hundreds would be restored back to our communities. However, we would have to get out of their cars and auditoriums and move closer together.

This full series can be found at Tens and Hundreds.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (13) - Restored by Jesus

Jesus first step when he began his ministry was to form a Ten.

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him. These are the twelve he appointed (Mark 3:13-16).
By the time of Pentecost, the new church had become a Hundred.
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) (Acts 1:14-15)
When the church expanded quickly, they continued to share in tends and hundreds.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts (Acts 2:46).
The early church undertook many of the roles that were undertaken by Tens and Hundred in Moses’ time.

1. Welfare – the church provided support to people who fell into poverty.
  • The Christians who met together in their homes also shared their financial resources.
    Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need (Acts 2:45).

  • Deacons developed new methods for caring for the poor (Acts 6:1-7).

2. Defence – the church provided protection for their community.
  • The religious and political leaders in Jerusalem were extremely hostile to the new church that was emerging. The Christians protected themselves by sticking together.
    All the believers were together (Acts 2:44)
    While they were together, the authorities could not touch them.

  • When Peter was arrested, the believers went into bat for him.
    So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him (Acts 12:5).
    They used spiritual weapons and an angel released Peter. He returned to house of Mary the mother of Mark.

3. Justice – the new church implemented in biblical justice.
  • The Book of Acts records the effects.

    There were no needy persons among them (Acts 4:34).
    The Greek word translated as “needy” is “endees”. It is not the usual word for “poverty” and is only used once in the New Testament. It is a compound of the word “bind”. Luke seems to be saying that no one bound by injustice was among them.

  • These early Christians were not in a position to not deal with individual injustices that had left some people destitute and others wealthy. They resolved these problems with overwhelming generosity.

  • Many of the new Christian sold property and gave it away.
    All who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold (Acts 4:34).
    The word “possessor” is interesting. Luke used a noun formed from the Greek word “ktamomai”, which means acquire, or procure. In Luke 18:12 this word was used to describe the wealth the tax collector had acquired.

    Luke also used the word “ktema” which comes from the same root (Acts 2:45; 6:3). This is the word used to describe the property of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:22).

    Luke did not use the normal word for “inheritance”. The early Christians were not giving away their inheritance, they were giving away property that they had received by other means. Some may have been gained fairly, while some would have been acquired by injustice. Some of those giving their property away will take this action because they believed that it was acquired unjustly.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (12) - Modern Society

Tens and Hundreds formed naturally in tribal societies through family connections. Industrialisation and urbanisation have eliminated these links from modern society, so that individuals and families live in isolation from each other.

The collapse of community is greatest in modern cities, where migration and urbanisation have broken down traditional community relationships. Social mobility prevents stable relationships from developing and family life is breaking down. People feel like cogs in a machine and life is characterised by loneliness and personal insecurity.

Modern suburban culture creates barriers to communication and encourages individualism. As communities are breaking down and fear is rising, high fences are going up between houses isolating people from each other. This isolation means that most people do not belong to the community where they live.

This isolation and dislocation of urban society has been accompanied by the aggregation and accumulation of political power to the modern state. We now face the bizarre situation where needs are concentrated in individuals, but power and money is concentrated in the national state. This leaves families and individuals powerless before a faceless government. Justice, defence and welfare come from the top, whereas they are best provided at the bottom.

To restore the cohesion of our societies, Tens and Hundreds must be restored to our communities, but it is not clear how this will happen. Politicians have an inbuilt tendency to push power and money to the top, so they will always weaken society at its lowest level.

The church should be strengthening the foundations of society, but this is not happening in the modern world. Western society has been shaped by the automobile and the church has gone along for the ride. The car has brought great freedom, but we have paid a huge price in loss of fellowship. Church has become something that we drive to, not something that shapes the community where we live. This severely weakens the relationships between Christians, so most modern churches are almost as socially fragmented as the rest of society.

Unfortunately, most people do not see the modern church as an answer to their heart’s cry. It is seen as another institution that meets personal needs with programmes run by professionals. The megachurch model does not develop community, because it just replicates the national state model of concentrating power and delivering services from the top to the bottom.