ESTABLISHING TRAINING CENTERS FOR
HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS
TRAINING FUTURE HOUSE CHURCH PASTORS
Richard B. W. Ing, D.Min., J.D., Ph.M., B.S.
the World Missions
A MANUAL ON
ESTABLISHING HOUSE CHURCHES FOR THE END TIMES
Copyright ©2005, Richard B. W. Ing
All rights reserved.
No portion of this book may be used without permission of the publisher,
with the exception of brief excerpts in magazine articles, reviews, etc. For information, address Richard B. W. Ing, P. O. Box 37451, Honolulu,
All Bible quotations are from the King James Version,
unless otherwise noted.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TRAINING CENTERS FOR
HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS - PART ONE
1.1 THE INITIAL
1.2 RECORDS AND
BOOKS OF ACCOUNT
AND TEACHING OUTLINES
1.4 MATURING THE
1.5 SIZE OF CLASS
1.6 SALARIES AND
1.7 TITHES AND
2. MATURING THE SAINTS
THE SAINTS IS A FEATURE OF HOUSE
2.2 GIFTS OF
2.3 LOVE IS THE
FOUNDATION FOR MATURITY
OF A RELENTLESS ENEMY
3. ENCOURAGING NETWORKING AND RELATIONSHIPS
3.1 NETWORKING IS
NECESSARY DURING TIMES OF PERSECUTION
4. TRAVELING TRAINERS AND MONITORS
4.1 THE NEED
4.2 CHECKS AND
THERE ARE NO REAL APOSTLES TODAY
5. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
5.1 FOR THE
MATURING OF THE SAINTS
5.2 THE GOAL OF
6. CREATING OTHER TRAINING CENTERS
6.1 THE NEED
PERSECUTION AND ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
6.3 EVERY AREA IS
7. OTHER MATTERS
7.2 WATER BAPTISM
7.3 BAPTISM OF THE
8.1 TRADITION IS
NOT NECESSARILY TRUTH
8.2 YOU COULD END
UP IN HELL
9. A PASTOR’S AUTHORITY
9.1 A PASTOR’S
AUTHORITY IS HIGHER THAN YOU
9.2 EACH HAS HIS OWN JOB AND AUTHORITY
TRAINING FUTURE HOUSE CHURCH PASTORS
1. CHOOSING POTENTIAL HOUSE CHURCH
1.5 LOYALTY, OBEDIENCE
1.8 READING THE
BIBLE, PRAYER, ETC.
2. IMPARTING VISION
2.1 FIVE REASONS
MATURE SONS AND DAUGHTERS
THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
2.6 GIVING GOD
BACK HIS CHURCH
THE KINGDOM THROUGH
3. INSTRUCTIONS AND TRAINING
3.2 WHY BOTHER?
PARTICIPATION BY ALL MEMBERS
4. CONDUCTING HOUSE CHURCH MEETINGS
4.1 MORE THAN
4.4 SERVING ONE
4.5 THREE TYPES
OF MEETINGS PROBABLE
4.6 THE IMPORTANCE
5. SIGNS AND WONDERS
OF SIGNS AND WONDERS
6. DEPENDENCE ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
TO DELEGATED AUTHORITY STILL NEEDED
6.3 TO TEACH
7.1 KNOWING AND
TRUSTING THE BRETHREN
7.2 CHECKS AND
8. TITHES AND OFFERINGS, REGISTRATION
GOVERNMENT REQUIRES REGISTRATION
8.2 SUPPORT FOR
THE CENTRAL TRAINING CENTER
9. TWO REVIVALS SIDE BY SIDE
9.1 BIBLE EXAMPLES
ESTABLISHING TRAINING CENTERS
FOR HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS
Existing churches that desire to restore the house church
format that God gave us in the New Testament have few instructional books to
rely on in making the transition.
Although we have models such as the underground churches in China and
elsewhere, they often do not give us enough insight to transition into house
churches outside of mainland China. This manual is a humble attempt at giving a
few suggestions. The final outcome,
however, is in the hands of the Holy Spirit if we allow Him to guide us.
This manual is only a brief handbook to start you
off. It is divided into two parts: (1) Training Centers;
and (2) How to Train Potential House Pastors.
Some of the topics are very important to incorporate and some are
optional. Since every geographical area
has its own unique character, adjustments must be made to suit the
For convenience sake, we will call a house church leader
a “pastor.” You may choose to call
him/her by some other name.
We are addressing the question - how can an existing
traditional church change or transition into a training center/headquarters for
house churches? We also assume that
there is at least one pastor and one to three elders, at the least, and at
least thirty members in an existing church.
This is so that there will be a sufficient number of trainers and
staff. However, adjustments and
exceptions are possible.
Conceptually, the existing church will be the initial
training center for potential house church leaders. Once the house church movement in a
particular area takes off, the initial training center will also oversee groups
of house churches. We start off at a
point where the prospective leaders have already been chosen, although Part Two
of this manual addresses that task
later. Another possibility is to open
the training up to any member who desires to participate in some way. This does not guarantee that any
participating member will end up being a house church pastor. We need to keep in mind, however, that past
revivals such as the Azusa Street Revival, happened so fast that there were not
enough laborers, and people who had been converted as recently as three months
previous were recruited to become teachers to the new ones coming into the
church in large numbers.
1.1 THE INITIAL STAFF
The initial staff will no doubt be comprised of the
existing full-time staff plus any additional person or persons deemed necessary
or convenient to the operation of the training center. People who are long-time Christians and
mature in the Word can also become trainers.
Teachers of the Word are the first requirement. In addition, an administrator (who can also
be one of the teachers) who will keep records and accounting will be necessary
1.2 RECORDS AND BOOKS OF ACCOUNT
It goes without saying that good records should be kept
on: (1) the identity of each house church pastor and assistants; (2) members of
each house church; (3) accurate accounts of all tithes, offerings and donations
received by each house church and also the amounts remitted to the training
center by each house church; and (4) any other information deemed beneficial,
such as location, size, growth rate, etc.
In peace time, these records can be kept on a computer,
although it should be noted that all information on the computer should be
reduced to hard copy periodically and perhaps weekly. If the computer “crashes,” it is possible to
lose all of the information.
In times of persecution, however, use of a computer could
also be dangerous. When this writer was
ministering among house churches in mainland China,
the government would look for computers to confiscate. Despite clever attempts to hide the
information, the government was often able to get around the mandatory
passwords and obtain information that led to the arrest of house group pastors
and other leaders. It is also possible
for computer experts to get into an unsuspecting owner’s computer memory and
extract information. This is already
being done all over the world through internet bugs and viruses.
Another reason for keeping good records during peacetime
is the governmental requirement that all churches be registered with the
government. Since most house churches
will not be registered individually, there must be a subsidiary relationship
with a mother church. Evidence of the
subsidiary relationship between training center and house church is made
possible by the books of account and other records. During persecution, however, all bets are off
and registration is ignored. The
existing examples are found in China,
and the Middle East
where house churches abound.
During peace times, the governmental requirement that all
churches be registered with the proper agency will assure that there not be
renegade house churches operating legally.
The need for identification as a subsidiary of a registered church will
maintain at least a loose bond between the training center and each new house
church created by the training center.
1.3 PUBLICATIONS AND TEACHING OUTLINES
It is a great
advantage to be able to print and publish many teaching outlines and manuals so
that they can be passed down to house church pastors. However, many outlines and manuals need to be
trimmed down to enable a subject to be covered within weeks instead of
months. Teaching materials used in Bible
colleges, for instance, are meant to be taught in modules of three months. Three months may be too long when a revival
is in full force and operation.
It may be wise to spend a longer span of time to teach
the staff and teachers who will become trainers of pastors or itinerant
instructors. The training center should
be a place where pastors and trainers can come to obtain teaching outlines,
manuals, Bibles and other publications.
During times of persecution, these items will become precious and
perhaps scarce. The example is in
where the government shut down all churches and destroyed all Bibles and
Christian literature. The underground
house churches had to laboriously hand-copy the Bible and other writings.
While it is possible, a training center may consider
purchasing a copying machine so it can produce and reproduce these
writings. At the very least, they can
use the services of a print shop.
In anticipation of persecution, it is speculated that all
Christian literature will be confiscated and destroyed and possession of a
Bible and other Christian publications will be outlawed. Therefore, it may be wise to store Bibles and
other items in safe places in anticipation of persecution and the abomination
of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.
Mt. 24:15; Da. 8:11-14; Da. 9:17,26-27; Da. 11:31-33; Da. 12:11..
1.4 MATURING THE STAFF
You can’t pass on
or teach what you don’t have or know. An
immature leader or teacher will produce immature assistants and trainees. Therefore, the staff needs to be comprised of
mature teachers and senior pastors who understand spiritual warfare and who are
born-again, Spirit-filled, tongue-speaking Christians that exhibit all the
fruit and gifts of the Spirit. The
object is not just to restore the house church format, but to produce mature
saints and a perfect church. Before you
start the training, you may want to spend some time praying, fasting and
bonding with your staff. Any gaps in
knowledge should be filled by inviting outside teachers who know spiritual
warfare and other deeper subjects.
Do not proceed until the teaching staff is sufficiently
mature to pass on their knowledge to the trainees. Once you start, there is no turning back and
re-training your staff is difficult, although not impossible. The problem is that the initial house
church pastors that receive incomplete
training will be released into the world and the quality of their house church
members may be affected by their relative immaturity. In such cases, all you can do is pray that
the Holy Spirit will make up the deficiencies.
1.5 SIZE OF CLASS
The size of each class depends on the room available,
teaching materials on hand, number of instructors, available resources, and
other similar factors. In the underground
house church system in mainland China, there were and
are many training centers, perhaps hundreds in a major metropolitan
center. Where the authorities were lax,
training centers were as large as 200 trainees at one time. Where persecution was heavy, five to ten were
the norm. Some larger training centers
were located deep in the mountains where access was difficult and afforded
protection or early warning against governmental interference.
Where possible, teaching centers would schedule several
classes during the day and funnel two or three groups through the training
system at the same time. Obviously, this
required adequate teaching staff and materials.
In peacetime, this was possible, but in times of persecution was made
more difficult because of the possibility of detection. Where handouts are not possible, the students
will have to bring their own writing materials.
1.6 SALARIES AND OTHER COMPENSATIONS
pastors of the first three centuries were ordinary citizens who did not attend
any training center for pastors. They
were evidently people who worked for a living and shepherding a church was a
part-time job in the sense that days were spent earning a living. In Acts 18:3, the apostle Paul mentioned that
Priscilla were tent-makers and he joined them in their livelihood because he
did not want to be a burden to the churches he was ministering to at the
time. The Bible does not mention that
house church pastors were compensated or even that the saints paid tithes and
offerings. However, since tithes played
a big part in the Old Testament, especially as required in Malachi 3:8-12, we
assume that the custom or requirement was continued in the New Testament. After all, God hasn’t changed. “For I am the Lord, I change not;….“ Mal. 3:6.
It is possible that pastors were paid something, but whether it was
enough to allow them to not work is uncertain.
Whatever the case may be, it is reasonable to assume that
a house church pastor continued to work outside the church. Therefore, we conclude that house church
pastors worked and that tithes and offerings merely supplemented their income
whenever needed, if at all.
Although the apostle Paul worked at times, it is not sure
that he worked all the time or at every place he visited. Since the Bible says that the workman is
worthy of his wages, it is assumed that taking care of a visiting pastor or
teacher was proper and probably widespread.
Paul’s tent-making was most likely optional on his part and participated
in where the churches were poor.
It is proper to require house churches to help support a
visiting teacher or five-fold minister.
However, poor churches are not likely to invite visiting ministers if
they are required to fully pay for his expenses. Richer churches should contribute whatever
they can to help brethren that have little.
We will discuss tithes and offerings from house churches
1.7 TITHES AND OFFERINGS
that God’s requirement to pay tithes and offerings did not change with the New
Covenant. God still requires the payment
of tithes. The question is - how do we
handle the collection and distribution of tithes, offerings and donations?
There are several considerations: (1) the training center and its full-time
staff need to be supported; (2) funds are required to purchase materials and
equipment to produce outlines, manuals and other publications; (3) traveling
expenses for itinerant teachers, five-fold ministers and visiting pastors are
needed; and (4) other expenses of running a training center need to be covered.
While we trust the Lord that He will provide, God also
has a church government and system by which such expenses are covered. We suggest that all house churches send
weekly reports on all tithes, offerings and donations collected to the training
center they are under and remit ten percent (10%) to cover the expenses of
running a training center. They are free
to use the remaining 90% for their own activities and expenses. Of course, during times of persecution, this
rule may have to be adjusted.
1.8 CERTIFICATES AND DIPLOMAS
In order to
qualify people to become house church pastors, it may be convenient to issue
certificates or diplomas to graduates of your training program. At the very least, this will indicate the
minimum knowledge and training a person has.
These certificates and diplomas have no intrinsic value other than
encouraging people to submit to training and to bond the graduates
together. A vicarious benefit is the identification
graduates may have in your program. In
training others, they are likely to reproduce the same curriculum, knowledge
and qualities in future house church leaders.
Those future pastors and leaders will identify with your program of
training and consistently return for further training and send others to your
training center. This is not to promote
“empire building” or competition, but rather to encourage unity, minimum
quality, networking and to discourage renegade house groups that have no association
or affiliation. Indeed, teaching
materials and knowledge should be passed on to other training centers in
1.9 ENCOURAGING MEN
One of the problems encountered in the China
house church movement is the over-abundance of women and the
under-representation of men. David
Aikman, the author of Jesus in Beijing, quoted estimates from other
Western observers that 80% of the Christians in house churches were women. They concluded that the men were too busy
earning a living and too involved with the things of the world. In South Korea, David Yonggi Cho’s Yoido
has over 800,000 members and over 24,000 cell groups. The vast majority and perhaps more than 80% of
the cell leaders are women. In churches
all over the world, traditional churches included, it seems that the majority
of members are women. This, of course,
was not so in the early church and although times and cultures have changed
this phenomenon cannot be fully explained by the obsession for the things of
This writer is in a deliverance ministry and has
published books on the subject of spiritual warfare. It is this writer’s opinion that there is a
definite spiritual connection between female dominance and Babylon the Great ruling in the end
times. Revelation 17 describes a
beautiful woman sitting on a beast. She
is called “MYSTERY, BABYLON
THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Verse 5.
Babylon represents Satan’s system on
earth and the Book of Revelation clearly states that Babylon the Great will rule the earth in the
end times until she is betrayed by the beast she sits on. Rev. 17:16.
This worldwide power is a spiritual city much as Sodom and Egypt can be spiritual
cities (where our Lord was crucified).
Rev. 11:8. While many Bible
scholars are looking for an earthly and physical Babylon to arise from the desert, it is
already ruling the earth. A study of
reveals a number of characteristics: (1)
infant sacrifice; (2) disdain for marriage; (3) sexual promiscuity; (4)
widespread use of mind-altering drugs; (5) witchcraft and astrology; (6)
violence and murder; and (7) female dominance.
there are over 1.5 million abortions each year, and worldwide the number is
around 28 million. Over 52% of
first-time marriages end up in divorce in America
(even higher among Christians) and divorces are increasing worldwide. Sexual promiscuity is widespread all over the
world as AIDS, pornography and sexually explicit movies and TV show
proliferate. Cocaine was invented by the
Babylonians (“Mesopotamians”) and was widespread. Archaeologists have claimed that traces of
cocaine have been found in every mummy ever tested in Egypt. Witchcraft and astrology are widespread
around the world.
In America, almost every
major newspaper, magazine and even major internet websites contains
horoscopes. Of course, the Chaldean
tribe of Babylon
created astrology. Is. 47:9, 12,
13. Violence, murders and wars cover the
earth today. The United Nations claims
that when the number of wars around the world drops down to 25, it is relative
peace. One of the characteristics of Babylon ruling is female
dominance. The spiritual leaders of Babylon were women. Ashtorah (Ashtoreth, Astart, Astar, etc.) was
the goddess wife of Baal and worship to
her was even more popular than to Baal.
It featured male and female temple prostitutes (young people gave up
their virginity as a sacrifice to the gods and goddesses and spent two years as
temple prostitutes), infant sacrifice, temple sleep (use of drugs), sexual
orgies and promiscuity, and complete female dominance.
There is a demonic spirit called Jezebel (1 Ki. 16:31),
who was the wife of Ahab, king of Israel. Her father was Ethbaal, the king of Zion (1Ki. 16:3), where
Babylonian worship was widespread.
Jezebel was an intelligent and seductive spirit that usurped the
leadership role of Ahab and ruled the kingdom.
That spirit also killed off most of the priests and prophets of
God. 1 Ki. 18:4, 13. She worshipped Babylonian gods and goddess,
was the chief priestess of the cult of Ashtorah, and was addicted to
ruling. In the church today, this evil
spirit will work itself into a position of power and leadership, but where she
rules, spiritual death is the result. In
churches where Jezebel rules, there are many splits and divisions and the women
rule. She is a self-glorifying
person. God is against Jezebel and
pastors who allow Jezebel to rule. Rev.
Mind you, not all women leaders are Jezebels. Some are humble, holy, submissive and
obedient. The difference is that Jezebel
is self-promoting and wants to control and manipulate the church and its
members for her own benefit. Righteous
women will submit to male leadership, while women with the Jezebel spirit will
not unless it benefits them. The
over-whelming presence of women leaders may indicate an invasion of the church
by Babylon the
Great in the form of female dominance.
After all, the house church format is not a complete shield against evil
spirits and will not render us immune from the attacks of Satan.
In order to counter the effects of the Jezebel spirit, it
is recommended that the men be strengthened and encouraged to attend training
sessions and become house church pastors.
There should be a better balance between men and women. While giving women a larger role will fill
the church quicker, we are not after sheer numbers. Rather, we desire
maturity. Although fighting Jezebel is
primarily a spiritual battle, the leadership must be aware of this false
prophetess and take steps to prevent that spirit from controlling the
church. Failure to do so may result in
2. MATURING THE
2.1 MATURING THE SAINTS IS A FEATURE OF HOUSE
One of the main features of the house church format is a
proper environment that can encourage and produce maturity in the saints. The job of house churches and therefore
training centers, is to mature the saints in the Spirit. It is not enough to merely sit back and
fellowship. There must be a strong
intent and purpose to mature the saints.
After all, we are to be conformed unto the image of Jesus Christ. Ro. 8:29.
Maturity lies more in the fruit of the Spirit than in the
gifts. Emphasis should be on love, joy,
peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Gal. 5:22-23.
There should be clear teachings on the fruit of the Spirit, especially
love. - the constant and obvious
character of every true saint.
2.2 GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
We are to desire the gifts of the Spirit in order to
serve the God more effectively. However,
there should be proper emphasis. Gifts
of the Spirit have very little to do with spiritual maturity. They are free. Sadly, many Christians look to gifts and not
to the fruit of the Spirit. God will
always look to the heart of man first, and not to his works. Mt. 7:21-24.
Many gifted televangelists can heal the sick, prophesy
and do wonderful works. At the same
time, they may be filled with pride, covetousness and doctrinal error. Many gifted Christians have compromised and
joined the ecumenical movement of the Roman Catholic Church, for instance. Why is this?
It’s because the gifts of the Spirit are a double edged sword. They can be used to defeat God’s enemies, but
they can also lead to pride and ultimate destruction. Gifts, in and of themselves, will never
change your heart. King Saul had much
power from God to defeat God’s enemies, but it never changed his heart. In fact, it made him proud, covetous,
rebellious and stubborn. In the end, he
died a tragic death.
Gifts of the Spirit are needed in order for us to
effectively spread the gospel to all the world, but if too much emphasis is
placed on the gifts, it can lead us to idolatry. The fruit of the Spirit is what God will look
for in our heart.
In a real sense, in order for the corruption in man’s
heart to be exposed, God has to provide the opportunity. It has often been said that power corrupts
and absolute power absolutely corrupts.
In order to reveal the corruption in man’s hearts, God gives him power. The more power a man has, the more his heart
is tested. Once God puts a calling on a
person’s life and gives him or her gifts of the Spirit, He does not take it
back. Ro. 11:29 (“For the gifts and
calling of God are without repentance.”)
Therefore, do not be deceived by the fact that a person can heal the
sick, cast out devils, raise the dead and do miracles in the name of
Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit and the
gifts of the Spirit are not the same.
2.3 LOVE IS THE FOUNDATION FOR MATURITY
Love or the absence of love will separate the sheep from
the goats. Jesus warned us in Matthew
24:12: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax
cold.” The Lord was talking about the church. Too often, the church has promoted the gifts
of the Spirit and ignored the fruit.
People flock to see Christians who can cast out devils, heal the sick
and so forth, but have no interest in learning how to love God and mankind
more. Yet, Jesus said,
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with
all thy mind. This is the first and
great commandment. And the second is
like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law
and the prophets. Mt. 22:37-40.
1 John 4:8 and 16 say, “God is love.” Therefore, in order to be like the Lord,
one must be love too. God is not love
because He loves; He loves because He is love.
His very nature and persona is love, first and last. The starting point to spiritual maturity in
Jesus Christ is love. The finished
produce is total love.
One who truly loves God will not love himself. There is no space in his heart to love or
promote himself if he loves God with all his heart. Love is the greatest characteristic of a Christian
leader. Any person who promotes himself,
seeks position and puts himself above others is not qualified for leadership.
Jesus spoke of loving one another. Love for the church and for one another is
the one thing that separates the church from the rest of the world. “A new commandment I give unto you, That
ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my
disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Jn. 13:34.35. “This is my
commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a
man lay down his life for his friends.” Jn.
Love is the
foundation upon which we must build house churches. The Book of Acts showed the extreme love the
early saints had for one another. “Neither
was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands
or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold and
laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man
according as he had need.” Ac.
4:34. If you cannot love your brothers
and sisters in the church, how can you love those outside the church? 1 Jn. 4:20,21 says, “If a man say, I love
God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother
whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That
he who loveth God love his brother also.”
We are to love one another.
The true church of Jesus Christ
will be characterized by the love the saints have for God and fellow man.
Out of love come all of the rest of the fruit of the
Spirit, especially humility, submission and obedience. Obedience to his commandments, of course, is
the test of love. Jn. 15:12; Jn. 14:15,
23. But obedience to God Himself is only
one side of the coin. It is easy for
anyone to say that he obeys God, but God rarely speaks directly to His saints. He speaks mostly through His delegated
spiritual authorities. Therefore, obedience
to God’s delegated spiritual authorities is obedience to God, and disobedience
to delegated spiritual authority is disobedience to God.
church is God’s body on earth. He
chooses to manifest Himself to the world through the church. Anyone who is close to God realizes that the
church belongs to God and to love God is to love His church. It doesn’t matter how the others treat the
church and its leaders. You cannot love
God and disregard His chosen vessels on earth.
Love Him and you love His people.
Christ died for the church. Eph.
5:25. “Christ also loved the church,
and gave Himself for it.” The church
is very precious to God. Through the
church, God reaches the world, teaches His people and matures them. He wants mature sons and daughters just like
Him. He is not just interested in
individual saints. He is interested in
the church as a whole.
Eph. S5:26,27 says, “That He might sanctify and
cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to
Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but
that it should be holy and without blemish.”
The saints are perfected through the church. God has chosen to use human teachers to guide
the saints. Eph. 4:11 says, “And He gave some, apostles; and some,
prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the
body of Christ. Till we all come in the
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” These people in the five-fold ministry
were chosen by God to help mature the saints and the church.
2.4 STRONGHOLDS OF A RELENTLESS ENEMY
Satan is relentless and his ultimate goal is to destroy
all Christians and the church and to rule the earth. He already has the world mapped out into
geographical areas of control called principalities. These areas are ruled over by a “prince” or
ruler spirit. In addition, he has a
strategy and a plan to neutralize each Christian. He knows what the Bible says about the
bottomless pit and the lake of fire and he is fighting hard to prevent his
demise as ruler of this earth in this present age.
In truth, his plan for each individual is already in
place and probably working quite well.
In order to neutralize individual Christians, he tries to establish
strongholds in every person. 2
Corinthians 10:3-5 exposes Satan’s plan:
though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of
our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of
strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth
itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought
to the obedience of Christ; ….
Satan attacks us through our
thoughts (mind), our attitudes (heart) and our words (mouth). Through those strongholds, he controls our
personalities, our emotions and our relationships. Few Christians understand that thoughts can
come from three different sources: God, ourselves and the Devil, or if they
understand, they still do nothing about it.
In order to reach maturity in Christ, we are to constantly discern where
our thoughts and attitudes come from and reject the thoughts planted by the
devil‘s workers. Spiritual warfare is
not just binding up spirits or even casting out devils. It includes the pulling down of strongholds.
Hebrews 5:14 says, “But strong meat belonged to them
that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses
exercised to discern both good and evil.”
In other words, mature Christians use their senses to discern where
their thoughts come from and learn how to reject and renounce the thoughts that
come from the devil. When they discern
that God is speaking to them through their thoughts, they are quick to
obey. Discerning the source of our
thoughts and rebuking and renouncing them is an on-going battle, day in and day
out, from one minute to another. Evil
thoughts lead to evil deeds and sins.
Our attitudes are also either good or evil. “Don’t trust people (men, women, etc.” “I don’t have to obey anyone. I just obey God.” “The Bible is only a book written by men who
are not perfect. It is only their
opinions.” “Christians cannot have
demons.” “Divine healing and casting out
of devils is only for a few Christians called by God.” Etc “I don’t want to preach the gospel
because people will reject me.”
Etc. We need to discern where our
attitudes come from. Satan loves to
discourage us through condemnation, rejection and fear. We will never grow up until we learn how to
reject attitudes and thoughts planted in us by the devil. Many a Christian has been neutralized by
Satan through attitudes that do not line up with the Bible.
What comes out of our mouth comes out of our heart. Our words are the issues of our heart. What is in the heart is exposed by the
mouth. Gossip, criticisms, murmuring and
so forth, are not from God. Words of
fear are not from God. Therefore, they
are either our own thoughts or the devils.
In either case, they need to be judged.
Are they good or evil?
Much more can be said about the above three areas, but we
cannot linger too long on this topic.
Suffice to say that spiritual warfare against evil thoughts, attitudes
and words is vital in order for the saints to mature in Christ. We need to daily pull down the strongholds of
the enemy in our minds, hearts and mouths.
NETWORKING AND RELATIONSHIPS
3.1 NETWORKING IS NECESSARY DURING TIMES OF
The training center should encourage networking among
house groups within an area and even outside of their region, and the fostering
of close relationships. In mainland China,
despite widespread persecution, the house churches were able to establish a
broad network of churches that helped one another. When a brother or sister needed a place to
hide from the authorities, he or she had no problem in finding someone to
help. House churches shared Bibles,
tracts and other literature and as much as possible, shared resources. Although security was strict, they still
managed to visit one another secretly and were able to elude the authorities by
the grace of God. News of impending
raids by the government were passed from house church to house church through a
While there is still relative peace and Christianity is
able to work openly and legally, it would be wise to plan and establish a broad
network to prepare for hard times. Some
house churches keep in touch with each other through elaborate communications
using short-wave radios, walkie-talkies, CB radios and the like. There are many ways to do this and we cannot
stop to handle this aspect.
3.2 COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP
There should not be a separation among church
leaders. House church pastors, traveling
instructors, five-fold ministry and other leaders should be in perfect unity
and have singleness of heart. House
church pastors should not feel intimidated but should welcome outside ministry
in the fear of God. Outside ministries
that provide checks and balances are to benefit the pastors and the pastors
should desire that their doctrines and practice are correct and true to the
Word and pleasing to God.
House church pastors should make a concerted effort to
meet and work with other house church pastors and churches. There should be no jealousies and
Every quarter or so, the pastors should assemble with the
training center, the traveling trainees and five-fold ministers (if available),
to discuss matters of concern and to create a camaraderie among all elders of
the church. Even during times of
persecution, there should be an attempt to do so. A few years back, I was visiting the church of Dennis Balcombe in
Hong Kong where I met a young man who had just been released from jail in China
for preaching the gospel. He related to
me that he was returning to Beijing
in two weeks where a meeting of 200 house church leaders was to be held in
secret. He explained that it was
important to maintain contact and he was going to help organize and plant more
TRAINERS AND MONITORS
4.1 THE NEED
There is a need to have trainers and pastors who can travel
around the countryside to attend house church services and meet with various
house church pastors to discuss doctrines, practices and other subjects. In the Bible, the apostle Paul operated out
where he returned after each of his four extended journeys to preach the Word
and to visit churches he had helped established on prior trips. Other apostles such as Peter and James, the
brother of the Lord, operated out of Jerusalem. Both Antioch
served as headquarters for traveling apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors
and teachers that journeyed to train and monitor churches in more remote areas.
They provided checks and balances for the church.
Even before a house church pastor graduates from training
at the center, he/she should be introduced to the team of traveling pastors or
other personnel so that they will be able to form warm relationships and be
willing to open their churches to outside ministers. In order to prevent the rise of cults or
wayward groups, it is vital that outside ministry provide checks and balances.
4.2 CHECKS AND BALANCES
Where a pastor is reported to be preaching strange
doctrines or engaging in strange practices, the training center should be
active in either visiting him/her or requesting that he/she come to the
training center for talks.
The Book of Acts indicates that there were at least two
forms of checks and balances. One was
the existence of a “five-fold ministry” that traveled around the known world,
each with his own area of jurisdiction and that dropped in on various churches
and stayed in an area for up to a year or more in order to guide and keep the
doctrines and practices true to the Word.
The second was derived out of the practice of house church members in
visiting and breaking bread daily with saints in other house churches. The constant contact assured that quick word
would get around if a pastor said or did something outside of what was taught
by the early apostles.
Therefore, in addition to resident trainers and teachers,
each training center must develop a team of pastors, teachers, etc. who are
willing to visit the house churches within their area and to meet with house
church pastors to discuss doctrines and practices. Each house church should receive a steady
flow of outside ministers and house church pastors should maintain an attitude
of humility and submission.
4.3 FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY
We believe that God will restore the five-fold ministry
once the true church emerges. At the
present time, there are no apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and
teachers in the mold of the early five-fold ministry as described in the Book
of Acts, especially apostles. There may
be people doing some of the work attributed to “apostles, prophets, etc.”, but
without a true church in existence, there could be no “true” five-fold
ministers. By way of example, I’ve met
at least several saints who claim to be apostles. However, I found that they are either limited
to their denomination or group of churches and not recognized by churches
outside of their denomination or group.
Others do not belong to any denomination and largely minister to
independent groups of churches. There
are no clearly defined “independent” churches as each operates within their own
set of rules or doctrines and are connected to others with the same rules and
doctrines but not other “independent” groups or churches.
Some “apostles” are sanctioned by apostle organizations
that recognize a person as an apostle and give them pseudo-official
status. In a sense, doctor of ministry,
theology, religion, etc. degrees awarded by either denominational religious
educational institutions or even “independent” colleges mean nothing at all
beyond the recognition that some denomination or group has given them that
designation. They are neither recognized
as a leader outside of their own denomination or group of churches, nor
considered qualified to teach outside of their own group of churches. In much the same manner, an “apostle” in one
denomination has no authority outside of his own denomination. Indeed, quite a few are self-appointed
apostles given that lofty status by none other than God Himself, according to
The Bible declares that one is not a leader until the
people acknowledge him as their leader and his detractors and enemies are
silenced, even after God has anointed him as king. Although King Saul was dead and David had
already been anointed by God to be the next king, God instructed David to go to
Hebron in Judah
first. David was made king over Judah by the men
(the southern kingdom). 2 Sa. 2:4. But, Ishbosheth the son of Saul, was made
king over all of Israel (the northern
kingdom). 2 Sa. 2:9. It was not
until Ishbosheth died and after all the tribes of Israel came to David and
asked him to be king that David began to declare himself king over all of
Israel. 2 Sa. 5:1-4. Additionally, there was not until David began
to prevail against his enemies in Israel
that “David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel ….” 2 Sa. 5:12.
Therefore, even though a person
claims that God has appointed him as an apostle, he is not yet an apostle until
the people recognize him as their apostle and submit to his leadership. Additionally, when that person begins to gain
victories in the mold of an apostle, then he has truly gained not only the
title, but the position as well.
In Galatians 1 and 2, we find that
Paul stayed in Arabia for three years before he
went to Jerusalem
to see Peter. He then went back to Arabia and did not return
for fourteen years or a total of seventeen years during which he prepared himself. Only “when they saw that the gospel of the
uncircumcision was committed unto me (Paul), as the gospel of the circumcision
was unto Peter” and when they gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul and
Barnabas and sent the two unto the heathen, did Paul begin to operate as an
apostle. Gal. 2:7-9. No one should be able to declare that he is
an apostle until he is accepted as such by the body of Christ.
4.4 THERE ARE NO REAL APOSTLES TODAY
We realize that there are some
saints who claim to be apostles and they may even do some of the things that an
apostle does. As this juncture, however,
there are no real apostles recognized by the body of Christ as a whole. The apostle Paul said, “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles
last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the
world, and to angels, and to men. We are
fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are
strong; ye are honorable but we are despised.
Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked,
and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labour, working with
our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer for it;
being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the
off scouring of all things unto this day.”
1 Co. 4:9,10.
We have not seen or heard of any that fit the above description,
although it is possible. My apologies to
those who have suffered as Paul did and have manifested signs and wonders in
While some so-called apostles do
some of the work of an apostle such as prophesy, plant an occasional church and
evangelize once in a while, they are still not in the mold of an apostle as
described in the New Testament. For one
thing, the apostles in the Bible wrought many signs and wonders. “And by the hands of the apostles were
many signs and wonders wrought among the people.” Ac. 5:12.
“Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid
them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by
might overshadow some of them.” So,
a mark of an apostle are the signs and wonders wrought among the people by
him. The lack of such signs and wonders
indicates that he is not yet an apostle.
He may be an apprentice, so to speak, but not the finished product.
The sum total of this discussion is
this: God may restore the five-fold ministry, but do not be hasty in declaring
yourself or another as an apostle or other five-fold minister until (a) the
body of Christ accepts you as such; (b) you can demonstrate your office through
signs and wonders consistent with his position; and (c) your walk emulates
Paul’s or is close to it.
Another characteristic of the
five-fold ministry is that they worked as a team and were not renegades. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and
teachers worked together to minister to the body of Christ. Apostles worked with evangelists and prophets
to plant churches. The evangelist
preached the gospel such as Philip did in Samaria. Ac. 8:12.
The apostles and prophets thereafter went to Samaria to baptize Philip’s new converts in
the Holy Spirit and laid the foundation through their teachings and
prophecies. In Acts 8:14-17, the Bible says,
when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the
word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down,
prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was
fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord
Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on
them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
They laid hands
and put pastors and teachers in place and provided checks and balances through
frequent or occasional visits. As of
this time, I know of no teams of five-fold ministers, although there may be
some I have not heard of.
Nevertheless, we need to prepare for
the restoration of the five-fold ministry and pray for it. When the true church emerges, God will restore
the five-fold ministry that is needed to perfect the saints and edify the body
of Christ, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge
of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ.” Eph.
4:11-13. There will be a time when those
God chooses will become apparent by the signs and wonders wrought among the
people by them through the Holy Spirit.
Quite probably, they will come out of the teachers, pastors and
instructors headquartered in training centers all over the land.
IMPORTANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
5.1 FOR THE MATURING OF THE SAINTS
Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot mature the
saints. Without the new birth in the
Holy Spirit, one cannot even enter into the kingdom
of God. Therefore, each saint must be born again of
the Spirit of God. It is fundamental to
Christianity and therefore the true church of Jesus Christ. In John 3:3, Jesus said, “Verily, verily,
I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom
of God.” Again, in John 3:5, Jesus said, “Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Whenever Jesus used the expression,
“Verily, verily,” he was about to say something extremely vital.
Indeed, without the Holy Spirit, one cannot enter the
realm of the Spirit. “The natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto
him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things,
yet he himself is judged of no man.” 1 Co.
2:14-15. Indeed, even when a Christian
receives the Holy Spirit and is born again, he is still carnal - a baby in the
Spirit. He still minds the things of the
flesh. “For they that are after the
flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the
things of the Spirit. For to be carnally
minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” Ro. 8:5-6.
5.2 THE GOAL OF ALL SAINTS
Maturity in the Spirit should be the goal of all
saints. To remain carnal does not please
God. “Because the carnal mind is
enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can
be. So then they that are in the flesh
cannot please God.” Ro. 8:7-8. “For
as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Ro. 8:14.
Make no mistake, one must have the Spirit of God in him in order to
reach maturity in Christ. Those who deny
the ministry of the Holy Spirit and who claim that the Holy Spirit returned to
heaven once He established the early church, do not have the Holy Spirit and
cannot know spiritual things. If the
Holy Spirit already returned to heaven, no one can become mature in Christ
today. If so, that God would be playing
a cruel hoax on His people by dangling a carrot in front of them and asking
them to become overcomers in the end times.
Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3. We
would have no chance at defeating the Devil.
Since faith, love and the fruit of the Spirit can only be attained
through the Holy Spirit, Christians would forever be babes in Christ. That is exactly what Christians who deny the
ministry of the Holy Spirit are today.
Intellectualism can never substitute for the fruit and
gifts of the Holy Spirit. It comes from
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The true church of Jesus Christ
must be led by the Holy Spirit, not man alone.
OTHER TRAINING CENTERS
6.1 THE NEED
As the house churches under your supervision proliferate
geographically outward, the house churches on the fringes may become too remote
for your training center to effectively handle and train. At this juncture, it may be time to open
other training centers closer to the boundaries of your area. These newer training centers may be smaller
or larger than the initial center, depending on opportunity, resources and
other circumstances. For that reason,
there should be an on-going program to train people who will staff the new
centers. Eventually, these new centers
will be virtually autonomous, especially when persecution comes.
Another possibility is to work with churches already
existing in the new areas. It makes
little sense to attempt to establish and maintain a training center in the
outer reaches of your geographical boundaries when there are groups of saints
available to become teachers and staff members residing in the area. One can help train these groups of saints and
then either release them to function on their own, or maintain a working
relationship with them.
6.2 COMING PERSECUTION AND ABOMINATION OF
The Bible is clear that in the end times, Satan’s beast
or one of the horns on the beast is going to war against the saints and prevail
or overcome them. ; Rev. 13:7,8; Da.
7:21, 25. Christianity is going to be
made illegal and the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet
will take place. Mt. 24:15; Da. 8:11,
24; Da. 9:26-27; Da. 11:31.
Therefore, we cannot ignore God’s warnings. In the end, the saints will win, but in all
probability, they will be few. It is
most probable that only the mature in Christ will make it through. All the rest will either fall away from the
faith (2 Th. 2:3), or be martyred.
Already, many are in apostasy and are deceived. Most Christian leaders have joined the Roman
Catholic Church’s Ecumenical Movement to create a One World Religion. Others are deceived into believing that the
Church is going to be “raptured” away to meet Jesus in the clouds before
tribulation and will thus, escape the persecutions and destruction to come. Still others are deceived into believing that
Christians cannot have demons and that Satan and demons are not real.
The first line of defense is to accept only those
doctrines that were taught by the early apostles and not accept another Jesus
or doctrines and practices not taught in the first century A.D. “But though we, or an angel from heaven,
preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let
him be accursed.” Gal. 1:8. Also, 2 Co.
11:3,4; 2 Ti. 4:1; Titus 1:9,10,11,13; Jude 3; 2 Th. 3:6, 14, 15.
The second line of defense is to be mature and strong in
the Lord. We are called to be overcomers
in these end times. “And they
overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb; and by the Word of their
testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Rev. 12:11. Knowing spiritual warfare and deliverance
will be important in the end times.
The third line of defense is to know the Holy
Spirit. He will keep you safe from the
The fourth line of defense is to prepare as best you can
for persecution and the abomination of desolation. That is why house churches are vital for the
end times. In reviewing the house church
movement in China
and the Middle East,
it is clear that the government will seek and destroy all church buildings
first. Bull dozers will come and destroy
any building identified as a church building.
6.3 EVERY AREA IS DIFFERENT
There is a difference between the circumstances
surrounding the house churches in mainland China and other places such as Indonesia and the
Middle East. In these places, the society remained intact
and Christians were a part of a bigger picture.
In the coming persecutions and abomination of desolation spoken of by
Daniel the prophet, there will probably be gigantic social and political
upheavals that will impact the entire community and even country. In China,
the government, economy and social structure remained relatively intact. In the coming holocaust prophesied by the Bible,
entire governments and societies will be impacted
In the event of all-out war between nations or religions,
the community’s political, social and military will be in total upheaval. Therefore, we will not have just the
government to contend with. The economy
may be in shambles. Food and water may
become scarce. Christians will not be
the only victims of disorder and confusion.
Nevertheless, the ultimate purpose of such wars and upheavals will be
the destruction of the church and all Christians.
Restoring house churches is only the beginning. God is looking for a “glorious church not
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and
without blemish.” Eph. 5:27. Therefore, the true church must have its
doctrines and practices true to the Word of God.
One of the doctrines that has been distorted, compromised
and twisted is the doctrine of salvation.
There is no such thing in the Bible as a “sinner’s prayer.” A sinner’s prayer has never produced a true
Christian in and of itself. Biblical
salvation requires three things: (1)
belief in Jesus and repentance; (2) water baptism; and
(3) baptism in the Holy
On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached Jesus to the
on-lookers. They were guilty of
crucifying Jesus, who is both Lord and Christ.
Acts 2:37-38 says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in
their heart and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and
brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter
said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost.” Therefore, three elements
are needed for salvation: REPENTANCE,
WATER BAPTISM and receiving the HOLY GHOST.
7.2 WATER BAPTISM
At this point,
we assume that the reader knows the importance of repentance. Many good books have been written about the
meaning of repentance and we will not spend time in this area. We will move on to the need for water baptism.
In Acts 8:12, the Samaritans believed Philip’s
preaching. “But when they believed
Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom
and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women.” Note, however, that the Samaritans were
only baptized by Philip and had not yet received the baptism of the Holy
Ghost. In verses 14-17, the Bible says,
when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the
word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down,
prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was
fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord
Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on
them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
In Acts 19:1-6,
some of the citizens of Ephesus
had believed and were baptized in water (John’s baptism). They had not even heard of the Holy Ghost
(verse 2). Verse 6 says, “And when
Paul had laid his hands upon them, the
Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” Thus, water baptism came first and then
the baptism of the Holy Ghost in the above situations. But, in other cases baptism in the Holy Ghost
came first and then water baptism.
In Acts 10 and
11, we read about the godly Gentiles that gathered around Cornelius, a
centurion who believed in God. As
Cornelius was praying one day, the Lord instructed him to send men to Joppa. The result was that they found Peter and
brought him to Cornelius’ house. Acts
10:44 says, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all
them which heard the word.” Verse 46
says that they began to speak with tongues.
Verses 47-48 then says, “Can
any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received
the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he
commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Therefore, here we find that the household of
Cornelius received the baptism of the Holy Ghost first, and then they were
Water baptism is not just an outward symbol of inner
change. A symbol is never as important
as the real thing. But the Bible never
calls water baptism a symbol. It is
spoken of as a circumcision of the heart, a cutting off, a burial into the
death of Christ. Romans 6:3-5 says,
ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized
into His death? Therefore we are buried
with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead
by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life. For if we have been planted
together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His
The physical act of water
baptism does things for us spiritually.
We are baptized into His death and when we come out of the water, we are
raised up from the dead to become members of a new race of people after the
image of Jesus. We are new creatures
who are no longer bound by sin.
act of being fully submerged in water is the act of burying the dead, and the
act of coming out of full submersion brings us out of the grave. Mere sprinkling of water is not the same. There are various meanings of the word
“baptism.” One meaning is to be fully
covered or immersed. Another meaning is to be washed. However, when it refers to a burial, it would
seem that sprinkling is inadequate. Full
immersion is complete burial.
Could it be that failure to participate in complete
immersion in water robs us of our actual death and resurrection with Jesus
Christ; by the Spirit? Other scriptures
indicating both the need to be water-baptized and the need to be fully
submerged in water are as follows: 1
Pet. 3:20-21; Titus 3:5-6; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12; 1 Co. 12:13; Ro. 6:2-11; Mt. 18:19.
7.3 BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
The baptism of the Holy Ghost is not an option. In John 3:3, Jesus says, “Except a man be
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
In John 3:5-6, the Lord says, “Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and
that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Mark 16:17 says, “And these signs shall follow them
that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new
tongues.” While there may be room
for argument regarding whether being born of the Spirit is the same as baptism
of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues, Mark 16:17 leaves no doubt that
those who believe shall speak with new tongues.
There have been some exceptions. This writer asked God to accept a sprinkling
of water on several people on their death bed and two people who were very
elderly and in a wheelchair. Upon
sprinkling of water, the Holy Spirit baptized them and they spoke in
tongues. However, the able-bodied should
obey God and be fully immersed in water.
We realize that the baptism of the Holy Ghost has been
somewhat denigrated by denominations that believe that the Holy Ghost is no
longer ministering on earth. Perhaps the
more important question is whether or not a person has spiritual power. No matter how vociferously one may argue
about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, if one has no actual spiritual power to
cast out devils, heal the sick or raise the dead, he probably does not have the
Holy Ghost working in him. There are
some scriptures that indicate that a person can be saved even though he does
not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
However, the above scriptures clearly indicate that when the apostles
ministered the baptism of the Holy Ghost, it was in conjunction with salvation
and the result was always the speaking in strange tongues. It was not optional. We have chosen the conservative path.
8.1 TRADITION IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUTH
Tradition can deprive us of the truth and can cause us to
live a lie. The Roman Catholic Church
instilled a deadly tradition into its members.
The people were taught that all they had to do was come to mass or
church services once a week, go to confession, pray the rosary and if they
would be a good Catholic and continue with the “One
until death, they would be saved.
Therefore, the people remained unchanged and immature. Infant baptism is not what the Bible requires
and just going to church once a week did nothing to mature the
participants. Since they did not have the
Holy Spirit living in them, they remained blind to spiritual things.
Although Martin Luther came out of the Roman Catholic
Church and the Protestant Movement grew, the tradition was never cast
aside. Even today, people think that
being a good Christian means that one must go to church once a week, pay tithes
and perhaps attend one or two mid-week meetings and when they die they will go
to heaven. They read the apostle Paul’s
exhortations on running the race for the incorruptible crown (1 Co. 9:24-25) and the need
to be free from the bondages of the flesh and world in order to be found in
Him. They read about Paul’s desire to
know the Lord and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being made conformable to His death, that one might attain unto the
resurrection of the dead; but, it means little to most. Phil. 3:4-11.
There is very little pressing “toward the mark for the
prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14-15.
Tradition has overruled the truth.
We need to “think outside of the box.”
Either something is the truth or it is a lie. There is no such thing as “half-truth.” A door is either shut or open. It cannot be half-open or half-shut. Christmas and Easter are either true
doctrines of the Church, or they are un-truths or lies. The problem with these traditions is that
they perpetuate a false picture of what Christianity is. Christianity is not good feelings and
entertainment. It is dying to self and
carrying one’s cross daily. A little
leaven leaveneth the whole bunch. The
ends never justify the means. Many Christians
claim that Christmas and Easter must be okay because it can bring people into
the church and it brings good feelings of love and brotherhood. This is a false idea. What people do you know that were converted
because of Christmas or Easter? Even if
they were, the ends do not justify the means.
Christmas is still the birthday of Tammuz, the sun god of Babylon, whose
signs are green trees cut out of the forest, stood upright in houses and decked
with silver and gold (Jer. 10); and Easter (Ishtar) is still the spring
fertility festival of Ishtar, the goddess of Babylon, whose signs are colored
eggs and hot-cross buns.
8.2 COMPROMISING THE WORD
The truth continues to be the truth no matter who
believes or does not believe it. The
Word of truth continues to be true no matter who compromises it, twists it or
rejects it. Since we only have one shot
at being God’s true church for the end times, we need to be aware of Jesus’
admonition that “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”
Mt. 24:11. “For there shall arise false Christs, and
false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it
were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Mt. 24:24.
There are great pressures to compromise the word to
please men. First, there is a compromise
designed to please Christians so that they will keep coming back to church and
pay tithes and offerings to support the ministry. Instead of giving them what they need,
pastors have a habit of giving them what they want. Repentance is no longer preached because it
is a hard message and people who are upset by it do not come back. One pastor I know of has a large church and
is considered by many to be the most successful in his city and state. He magnanimously offered to teach other
pastors how to grow his church, so he gave a conference/seminar. One of the items on his agenda was the
subject, “How to conduct a survey to find out what the people want.” Once you find out what they want, give it to
them. Needless to say, his congregation
had no idea what sin and repentance were.
Two unmarried couples from his church came to see me to ask advice on
who should have custody of their children born out of wedlock. When I asked them if they understood that
they were living in sin by having children out of wedlock and living together,
they replied that their church had never told them even though they had been
there for ten years. Yet, their church
had the largest congregation in the city.
pastors have been known to compromise the word in order to appear politically
and/or socially correct. Compromise does
not change the truth; it only creates un-truth.
Being a man-pleaser leads to compromise.
That is the foundation of the ecumenical movement of the Roman Catholic
Church. Many prominent Christian leaders
have already endorsed or joined the ecumenical movement because they want to
join the crowd and not be left behind or seem to be contrary to popular
movements. Remaining acceptable to men
is more important than defending the truth, it seems.
8.2 YOU COULD END UP IN HELL
Not long ago, this writer ministered in Fiji
where one of his students related that she and three other teenagers were slain
in the Spirit one night and each was taken to heaven by two angels on each
side. After telling me about what she
saw in heaven, she shared that the angels took her down to hell where she saw
many born-again Christian pastors. She
also saw the ex-Prime Minister who was a born-again Christian who had died a
few years previous. When she asked her
angel why these people were in hell, the angel replied, “Because they
compromised the Word of God.” She
appeared on national television and said that the ex-Prime Minister was in hell
because he attended Hindu services in order to gain votes from the 50% Indian
population in Fiji. The ex-Prime Minister’s family supposedly
contemplated bringing a law suit against the young girl, but thought otherwise
when they found that she was just a peasant girl.
This same girl saw many pastors in hell. When she asked why they were in hell, the
reply was, “Because they compromised the Gospel.”
The Bible clearly indicates that one can lose his
salvation if one does not bear fruit for the kingdom
of God. Mt. 25:14-30; Mt. 3:10; Mt. 7:19; Mt. 13:22;
Lk. 13:6-9; Rev. 3:5. Testimonies have
been given by seven youths from Columbia
that were taken to both heaven and hell.
In hell, they recognized a number of Christians. Jesus explained that these Christians had
known Him, but they had never served Him and never brought forth fruit.
9. A PASTOR’S
9.1 A PASTOR’S AUTHORITY IS HIGHER THAN YOU THINK
A pastor, or shepherd, is a very important person in
God’s government. While some may think
that an apostle, prophet or evangelist is higher in rank, a pastor’s position
as leader of a flock is sacrosanct and God will protect His shepherds’
authority over his flock. Even an
apostle, prophet, evangelist or teacher must follow certain rules and spiritual
laws regarding spiritual authority when it comes to the sheep.
A few years back, a talented, young prophet related the
following story to me:
had been invited to a large church in Vancouver, Canada and
the Holy Spirit’s presence was great as I was able to prophesy clearly and
accurately and many members were healed. The next year, I received an
invitation and a round trip airline ticket to go back to Vancouver.
I arrived on a Saturday morning and checked in at a nearby hotel. By evening, I was bored and so I walked the
two blocks to the church to see if anything was going on. Sure enough, there was a prayer meeting in
progress, and there were about thirty members attending. When I
walked in, they crowded around me and greeted me enthusiastically. About ten of them asked me to pray for them
regarding various ailments. I did and
most of them were healed. I felt good.
the meeting was over, I walked back to the hotel. On the way back, the Holy Spirit suddenly
spoke loud and clear. He said, “Don’t
you ever do that again! Don’t you ever
do that again!” I was shocked and I
said, “Why? What did I do, Lord?” The Lord answered, “You have no right to walk
into a pastor’s flock and minister without his permission. That flock is not yours! It belongs to Pastor ________! No one has a right to lead his sheep without
his consent!” I was stunned.
I got back to my hotel room, I fell on my knees and wept, asking for
forgiveness. At almost exactly eleven
o‘clock, the Holy Spirit suddenly said, “You’re forgiven. But tomorrow morning, before you start
ministering to Pastor ________’s sheep, you must ask for forgiveness!” I said meekly, “Yes, Lord.” Then I fell asleep. The next morning, the moment I opened my
eyes, the Holy Spirit said, “Remember what I told you. Ask for forgiveness.”
was very nervous and apprehensive as I sat down in the front. When I was finally called up to the pulpit, I
went up and knelt down before everybody and explained what happened. I asked for forgiveness. There were tears everywhere and they all
forgave me. The anointing was extra
heavy that morning but I will never forget the lesson God gave me.
9.2 EACH HAS HIS OWN JOB AND AUTHORITY
A pastor has the job of protecting and guiding his
sheep. An apostle has his own job and so
with a prophet, evangelist and teacher.
When discharging their duties, they must be very careful not to
overreach and take away or damage the shepherd’s right to lead and protect his
sheep or to injure his spiritual authority in the eyes of the sheep. An apostle and prophet, for instance, has the
responsibility of planting churches and seeing to it that the proper doctrines
and practices are being taught. However,
there is a difference between confronting and correcting a pastor in private as
compared to doing it in front of his sheep or even addressing his sheep on the
issue. In order to protect a shepherd’s
authority, it should be done with least damage to his authority to guide the
sheep under his command. Certainly,
there may be situations where it cannot be helped. For instance, if a pastor must be removed
because of immorality, etc., his authority is no longer in effect. The job of protecting and guiding the sheep
has shifted to the five-fold ministry and whoever is chosen to be the next
When an apostle, prophet, evangelist and teacher are
acting within the scope of their responsibilities, they are the spiritual
authorities for the moment. However,
once that job is done, his spiritual authority gives way to the pastor’s
authority. An apostle has no business
walking into a church and taking over the service unless it is part of his job
to set the church right. Even then,
there are certain parameters he must follow.
This manual is directed to trainers who will be operating
training centers that will prepare, teach, guide and monitor future house
church pastors. These training centers
are intended to not only train future house church pastors, but to provide a
constant source of materials, guidance, fellowship and unity among house
churches within the jurisdiction of the training center and perhaps elsewhere.
It is important to constantly train potential house
church pastors. When revival/harvest
comes, there will be a great need for already-trained pastors and
teachers. When the Holy Spirit moves, He
will move rapidly and completely. During
the Great Welsh Revival, the Azusa Street Revival and other great movements of
the Holy Spirit, thousands of new converts converged on every church within a
short time. Unless there are trained
pastors who are already in place, there will be a mad scramble to find
qualified people. In most revivals, the
churches that were not prepared missed the blessing and some closed their doors
when members left to join churches that were ready.
Initially, those churches that are already existing and
functioning in the traditional manner will act as the first training centers
for house church pastors. Supposedly,
existing churches have leaders and teachers that have already trained in Bible
college and/or have much experience in pastoring. They are likely well-suited to become the
These training centers (former traditional churches) will
also serve as launching pads for house churches, through their members who are
qualified to start house churches. As
house churches in the area begin to proliferate outwardly, trainers may become
roving teachers and perhaps even five-fold ministers.
We need to retrieve what was lost when the original
church structure and format were altered including: (1) enthusiastic participation during
services by the members; (2) a
leadership known for being filled with the Holy Ghost and endued with much
power from on high; (3) zealousness in evangelism; (4) spiritual maturity and
power in all members; (5) loyalty among the saints and leaders; (6) much love,
bonding and unity; (7) the fear of God;
(8) obedience to God’s will; (9) liberty in the Holy Ghost.
This manual attempts to make training as simple as
possible and covers the subject in a general manner, since conditions differ
from place to place and adjustments must be made. We recognize that there are many ways to
train people. Therefore, this manual is
only a basic guide. The emphasis is on
training many house church pastors in a short time, and hopefully without
sacrificing accuracy, depth and absorption.
1. CHOOSING POTENTIAL
We must be careful in choosing the right people. Although God is the one who ultimately
chooses, He delegates that task to His leaders and gives us guidelines. He also gives us discernment and wisdom to do
so. Choosing the right candidates is
especially important with the first group of trainees. They will set the tone and pace for others to
follow. Failure of initial groups of
trainees will bring discouragement and disappointment.
Zeal is a good thing to have. Therefore, choose those who are likely to
respond and go out to form, handle and grow a house church. One who can teach but has no zeal for evangelism
will not likely succeed in expanding his/her house church. Zeal rubs off on others. Since evangelism is one of the fundamental
requirements of a house church, zeal will play a significant role. It is difficult to put ardor and boldness into
a person who does not already have such characteristics, although anything is
possible with God. It is possible,
however, to form teams that exhibit a good mixture of teaching abilities and
zeal for evangelism. A good teacher can
team up with a zealous evangelist-type of person.
On the other hand, if self-promotion and self-glorification
is the source of a person’s zeal, it is not the right kind. Very often, people who desire recognition,
fame and position will exhibit great zeal, but it is all out of selfishness and
pride. As Andrew Murray says, it’s
difficult to tell between a deceived Christian and a true Christian because the
difference is in the heart. A true
Christian does everything out of a heart of love for God and mankind. A deceived Christian does in expectation of
some benefit for self, be it fame, recognition, acceptance, reward or even
because it validates his personal doctrines and beliefs.
Anyone who is over-ambitious and self-promoting is
dangerous to the Church. It would be
better to choose someone who is not educated but who loves God, is willing to
serve and who is loyal to his/her leaders, than an educated and intelligent
person who wants to glorify himself.
People who have their own agenda are often selfish, proud and rebellious
inwardly. They have no loyalty and will
wander off on their own. They will
likely flee when danger appears. During
severe persecution, self-promoting individuals will likely lead their sheep
astray and even betray them.
Self-promoting individuals are likely to be wolves in
sheep’s clothing. They will steal sheep
from other house churches and cause many other problems arising out of the
desire to be known as the best pastor in the area or as having the biggest
house church. Often, they will be
disloyal and disdain submission and obedience to delegated authority, on the
basis that they take orders from and obey only God. This exposes a heart of
rebellion, arrogance and disrespect for delegated authority. Their competitiveness can destroy any
semblance of unity and bonding. Avoid
In a real sense, house churches help eliminate
competition among pastors because the maximum size of a house church is small
and hardly anything to brag about. This
feature alone counters the covetousness and competition often seen in temple
worship. Nevertheless, selfish and
rebellious persons will somehow find some way to be “better than others,” even
in a house church system. He/She may
even attempt to create and operate his/her own training center.
Jesus said, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles
exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon
them. But it shall not be so among you:
but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever
will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Mt. 20:25-27. Therefore, the one who would be a leader
must be one who is a servant and minister to all. The very character of Jesus is to serve
others. “Even as the Son of man came
not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for
many.” Mt. 20:28.
The desire to serve others is an attitude of the
heart. Those who have the heart of a
servant automatically seek to serve others in any setting. Those who have no such attitude will
automatically sit back and let others serve them.
Favor those who already show a willingness to serve
others for the sake of love. On the
other hand, people can be trained to serve.
Often, a person fails to serve because he/she is shy and does not want
to be in the limelight; therefore, he hides in the shadows. Secondly, some do not aggressively serve
because they are afraid of doing the wrong thing. Each house church member must do his/her
share of work to make the church successful.
At times, it may be necessary to parcel out the duties so that everyone
has a job to do. Don’t leave it to
chance or desire. Delegate
Love for God and fellow men should be the main
characteristic of any leader.
Love is the very nature of
God. God is love. 1 Jn. 4:8,16.
Love can be pretended sometimes, but during times of stress and danger,
love is severely tested. Jesus said, “Greater
love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jn. 15:13.
Laying down one’s life for his friends does not necessarily mean dying
physically. One can lay down his life by
serving others and putting aside his own personal desires for his life. All of God’s true leaders must be mature in
love. The more mature a person is in
Jesus Christ, the more love in his life.
As 1 Corinthians 13 emphasizes, love is the most cherished attribute.
You cannot teach what you don’t possess. Therefore, a pastor must possess large
quantities of love for God and his brothers and sisters in order to pass that
love on to others. In Mat. 24:12, Jesus
says, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax
In the end times, the world will reject the true God and
His people. The Church will forget how
to love. They will be separated from God
even more than ever. Christians will
choose the world and earthly treasures over heaven and heavenly treasures. Sin will grow and love will disappear. Jesus was talking about the Church, not about
just the world. Therefore, it is
important to guard our heart of love and to increase in love. True love for God and neighbors will separate
the sheep from the goats.
Choose people who have demonstrated love in their
walk. An observable quantity can be
found in a person’s family. Where there
is not enough love, a family will be in turmoil and the spouse and children
will be at odds with one another. That
is one of the reasons why the apostle Paul said that a bishop or elder must be “one
that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all
gravity.” 1 Ti. 3:4. Rebellious children are usually those who are
starved for love and who feel rejected by their own parents. Rejected parents produce rejected children.
In a sense, structure and organization are far less
important than love. Love is at the very
root of being a true Christian.
1.5 LOYALTY, OBEDIENCE
A good house church pastor will be loyal to both the
training center, those above him in position, other house churches and his own
members. He will have singleness of heart
and a respect for those above him, those on the same level and those under
him. Loyalty goes both ways. One must be loyal to the sheep too. A disloyal person is rebellious towards God
and the church.
Choose people with a proven record of loyalty to church
and leaders. Those who church-hop are
suspect, although some may have valid reasons.
In a book entitled God’s Armor Bearers, by Terry Nance, the
author points out that God is looking for people who have the heart of an armor
bearer. An armor bearer is one who
stands next to his leader and protects and supports him with all his
might. He is not concerned about his own
position, promotion, fame or life. He is
more concerned about helping his master succeed. He is loyal, obedient and quick to defend his
Elisha was Elijah’s armor bearer (although the Bible does
not call him that) and he received the anointing of his master. Zadok was David’s armor bearer and was loyal
to David until the very end. In Ezekiel
44, God rewarded the “sons of Zadok” by giving them the same reward as their
master David. Jonathan’s armor bearer
went with him wherever Jonathan wanted to go and do. He was willing risk his life even though the
glory went only to Jonathan. 1 Sa. 14:1-23.
David was Saul’s armor bearer at one time. 1 Sa, 16:21.
That’s perhaps the reason why David would not lift his hand against
Saul, whom he had once vowed to protect.
The king’s armor bearer later became the king. An armor bearer’s heart is one of loyalty,
love and undying obedience - the heart of the Lord.
Loyalty is not limited to people who stay at the same
church for a lengthy period of time.
Loyalty is also expressed in the willingness to help promote one’s
leadership and local church and in doing
good things for it without looking for personal reward.
People who are disloyal or rebellious are not likely to
help support their leaders or church.
They are too busy promoting themselves.
Obedience to leadership is another characteristic that
arises out of loyalty. Some people are
disobedient and have many excuses for not praying or fasting when instructed to
do so. They are too independent and
wayward. Those who are loyal and
obedient automatically seek to be loyal and to obey; while those who are
disobedient automatically seek ways to avoid obeying the leader when it does
not suit them. It’s in the heart. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a
corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit.
In the final analysis, obedience is God’s test of
love. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”
Jn. 14:15. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth
them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My
Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” Jn. 14:21. “If a man love Me, he will keep My words …
He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: ….” Jn. 14: 23,24. Obedience to God and His delegated
authorities defines the level of spiritual maturity in a person. Disobedience to God’s delegated authority is
disobedience to God.
How beautiful is humility. It is an offspring of love. God warns us against pride and a haughty
heart. As the teacher is, so will the
students be. Avoid proud people and
appoint only those who have a quiet and humble disposition.
Many can disguise their pride, but sooner or later it
will surface. True, some are good at
hiding pride and can put on false holiness, but God will expose the heart in
Ability alone should not be the measure of whether a
person is qualified to be a house church pastor. In the final analysis, we need to pray and
ask God who He wants.
One of the characteristics of a true Christian leader is
the ability to receive and move in revelation from God. A true teacher, for instance, does not merely
read from teaching outlines and manuals produced by others. He or she is able to receive fresh, daily
revelation from God and every sermon carries the imprint of the Holy
Spirit. He is able to discern what the
Spirit is saying even while teaching or preaching. In the middle of a sermon, a true pastor can
know when the Holy Spirit is using his mouth to impart truth, and can easily
detour from his original message and allow the Holy Spirit to move the way He
Since a pastor or teacher often has to give three or four
sermons a week, direct revelation from God is vital. Otherwise, the individual will suffer because
of his duties and teaching will become a burden. It has been said that it is cruel to appoint
someone who is not qualified, to become a leader, a pastor, teacher, and so
forth. He will go through much
confusion, labor and insecurity to produce fresh messages every meeting.
It is true, on the other hand, that it takes much
training and experience before one can flow freely with the Holy Spirit and
walk in revelation. In training house
church pastors, a course in how to flow in revelation would be very profitable.
1.8 READING THE BIBLE, PRAYER, ETC.
We assume that the trainees will be people already
familiar with the need to read the Bible daily, pray all the time and fast if
necessary. Therefore, we will not spend
time explaining the need to do so.
“. . . (W)here there is no vision, the people
perish.” Pr. 29:18. Without vision, house church leaders will
have no goals, inspirations, aspirations or purpose. When one does not know where he wants or has
to go, he will either go nowhere, end up in the wrong place or fail to attain
the original objectives. Vision includes
the reasons, goals, purposes and final attainments that God has in His heart
for His people and Church.
“Eye hath not see, nor ear heard, neither have entered
into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love
Him.” 1 Co. 2:9.
While we cannot know all that God has prepared for us that love Him, we
can strive to walk in the direction that will take us there.
2.1 FIVE REASONS AND GOALS
The five reasons and goals of all house churches are
broadly stated as follows:
1. To prepare for
a great revival/harvest for the end times (Mt. 24:14; Mt. 13:39; Rev. 14:6);
2. To prepare for
great persecution and the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the
Prophet. Mt. 24:15; Rev. 13:7-8; Da.
7:21,25; Da. 8:11, 24; Da. 9:26-27; Da. 12:31.
3. To produce
mature sons and daughters in the image of Jesus Christ. Ro. 8:29; 2 Co. 3:18; Eph. 4:12-13. “For the perfecting of the saints, for the
work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come
in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect
man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Eph. 4:11-13. “That we henceforth be no more children,
tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
sleight of men, and cunning, craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to
deceive. But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Eph. 4:14. Out of house churches will come the true
church, the army of God and the martyrs.
4. To produce the
Bride of Christ, a Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish or any such
thing. Eph. 5:27; Rev. 21:2,9 (New
Jerusalem are people, not a physical city - Rev. 21:3).
5. To expand the kingdom
by preaching the gospel of salvation to all nations, peoples, tribes and
Our quest is not just to go back to the house church
structure, but to produce mature sons and daughters, perfect the church, and
provide the mechanism through which these things can be facilitated. 2.2 PREPARING FOR REVIVAL
We desire to: (A) provide a church structure that can
accommodate vast numbers of new recruits within a short span of time; and to
(B) make it possible to survive the great persecution that is coming right
after or during revival/harvest. We
cannot forget that when we pray for revival, we are also praying for
persecution. They go hand in hand in the
As often stated, the traditional large church structure
cannot handle revival. Even large
churches will be quickly filled and there will not be enough time to construct
larger buildings or enlarge existing ones.
The lack of funds, especially in Third World Countries will not make it
possible. Even if funds were available,
the time required to purchase, plan, design, obtain proper government permits
and approvals and construct will be too long.
By the time construction is completed, the revival will probably be
over. Besides, the coming persecution
will destroy most large church buildings anyway. Resources provided by God could be put to
higher and better use.
During revivals such as the Great Welsh Revival and the
Azusa Street Revival, there was a great lack of trained teachers of the
Word. Failure to train pastors and
teachers before revival comes will have the same sad result today. Yet, the Welsh Revival involved only 180,000
new converts and about two years in time.
By comparison, we anticipate hundreds of millions of new converts
worldwide within 3-½ years.
We are not talking about ordinary increase through strong
efforts made by the saints, but a supernatural revival/harvest that is fueled
by the sovereign move of the Holy Spirit, where signs and wonders take place
daily, multitudes are convicted of sin without any human coming into contact
with them, and visions and dreams are given to the unsaved to bring them to
Jesus Christ. Signs and wonders will be
wrought by the Holy Spirit as in the Book of Acts.
2.3 PREPARING FOR SURVIVAL
In the process of returning to house churches and in
formulating a vision regarding the house church’s activities and direction, we
must keep an eye on the coming persecution that is prophesied by Jesus (Mt.
24:15-21; Rev. 12:13-17; etc.). As
earlier stated, along with revival will come persecution and the eventual abomination
of desolation. Therefore, a survival network and strategy must be part of the
plan, or at least in the back of one‘s mind.
This includes the formulation of possible escape routes, underground
survival strategies and a great familiarity with other church leaders in the
area - not only the neighborhood, but the entire district, region or even
The modern example is found in mainland China
during the past fifty or sixty years.
Despite incredible efforts to extinguish all religions, the communist
government was not able to stop the amazing growth of the Chinese underground
church. In fact, persecution fueled the
movement and was good for the church, as some Chinese pastors claim. (Pastor Samuel Lamb, for instance.) Despite the cruel imprisonment of many of China’s
Christians, the Church flourished and grew.
It has been reported that the underground churches in Indonesia
are beginning to increase by leaps and bounds at this very moment, despite
The house churches in China and Indonesia
were birthed during persecution. We are
blessed to have peace and liberty at this time.
However, wisdom dictates that we prepare for hard times.
2.4 PRODUCING MATURE SONS AND DAUGHTERS
From the very beginning, God has purposed in His heart of
hearts to have mature sons and daughters in the image of His Son, Jesus
Christ. Ro. 8:29. The traditional large church system is
ill-suited to produce maturity. Most
large churches are focused on paying the rent, mortgage or other expenses and
are tailored to bring people into the four walls for that purpose. They are program-oriented organizations
geared to pleasing the people so that they will keep coming back. Hence, many marginal Christians are
produced. These Christians are
entertained, caressed, made to feel good, emotionally charged up and told that
they will go to heaven no matter what.
They are helped slightly in solving problems with marriage or personal
relationships, earning more money and advancing in the world, but remain
immature spiritually. Jer. 6:14.
In Mark 16:17, Jesus says, “And these signs shall
follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils, they shall
speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents and if they drink any
deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and
they shall recover.” This is the
basic requirement for all Christians. Do
not believe the lame excuse given by those who cannot do these things - that
the Holy Spirit returned to heaven once the early church was established! The Holy Spirit is still on earth convicting
people of their sins and there are millions of Christians who continue casting
out devils, speaking with new tongues and healing the sick through the laying
on of hands, even today. Besides, why
would the Holy Spirit go back to heaven and leave a bunch of sick, weak and
immature Christians? How can one mature
without the Holy Spirit?
2.5 PRODUCING THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
God’s second purpose in creation is to have a church
without spot, wrinkle or blemish. This
perfect church will be the bride of Christ when He returns. There is no way that the present, traditional
church is anywhere near perfect. It is a
compromising, fornicating, immature and deceived church that has become
entertainment-oriented and focused on being socially and politically
correct. Most have wrong doctrines and
have joined the Roman Catholic Church’s ecumenical movement to create a
one-world religion and government. The
body of Christ is largely deceived today, especially in America.
The house church format does not guarantee that its
doctrines will be true. Since the Holy
Spirit is also the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 16:13), we can assume that un-true
doctrines is evidence that the church no longer seeks the counsel of the Holy
Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. As Jesus
says, “… if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Mt. 24:24.
Satan attacks the very doctrines of the church and its testimony in
order to produce a false church. He is
too clever to fight religion; so he produces a false religion instead.
Faith in something that is false is no faith at all. Doctrines such as pre-tribulation rapture sap
the church’s resolve to be prepared to fight a fierce war against the kingdom
of darkness. Dispensationalism leads to
the pre-tribulation rapture theory.
Dominion, Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God and similar doctrines,
falsely declare that we are already little Jesus’ running around the earth and
at the end of the age, the church will dominate the world. The Bible says that most Christians will fall
away from the faith and there will be widespread apostasy at the end. The Church will be devastated and only a remnant
of overcomers will prevail and be standing when Jesus returns. The false belief that Satan was once an
archangel second only to God in power saps us of our willingness to confront
and destroy the demonic kingdom and only brings fear. We need to start cleaning house by getting
rid of false doctrines and practices.
Secondly, we need to become the militant army of God that
Jesus came to establish. “For this
purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the
devil.“ 1 Jn. 3:8. Jesus showed that there is a demonic kingdom
that is vying for the souls of men and women.
Satan’s kingdom resists every attempt to take back souls and rescue
people from hell. The early apostles
battled against demonic forces and recognized that: “… we wrestle not
against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high
places.” Eph. 6:12.
Philip went down to the city of Samaria,
and preached Christ unto them. And the
people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing
and seeing the miracles which he did.
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were
possessed with them; and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were
healed. Ac. 8:5-7.
The apostles understood that
the people needed to be made free from demons.
That war has never stopped and will increase in the future and continue
until the final battle is won by God’s true church.
In truth, the Bible indicates that Jesus will sit at the
right hand of the Father in heaven until all of his enemies are put under His
feet. In other words, He will not return
to earth until His enemies, the demonic kingdom included, are destroyed. 1 Co.
15:25-26; Heb. 10:13; Ac. 2:32-34. The
Church must be a militant army of God.
2.6 GIVING GOD BACK HIS CHURCH
In going back to the house church format, we are giving
God back His Church, as He has commanded.
Therefore, we are obeying God.
However, going back to the house church structure alone does not
automatically bring the above results.
Lots of hard work, wisdom, training and preparation are necessary. Nevertheless, the structure and other
features of a house church make it more possible and probable to produce mature
sons and daughters and a perfect church.
The traditional large church structure makes it almost impossible.
House churches are God’s solution and answer to meet the
high demands of both revival and survival from ultimate persecution
(abomination of desolation and tribulation) prophesied in the Bible.
2.7 ADVANCING THE KINGDOM THROUGH EVANGELISM
One of the fundamental features of the house church
format is rapid proliferation. House churches are designed to reach out to
surrounding neighborhoods and bring the gospel of salvation to the
unsaved. Unlike the traditional church
that is inwardly focused, the house church structure reaches out to the world
like concentric circles produced in a pond by a falling stone. A traditional church is stationary and must
draw people to it, even from relatively distant areas. A house church continually reaches out to
where the lost are and establishes itself among the unsaved.
Heavy emphasis must be placed on evangelism. Multiplication is a vital feature of a
dynamic house church. True, in a Holy
Spirit revival, the Holy Spirit will move and convict many. But, we are in partnership with God and need
to learn how to move in concert with the Holy Spirit.
2.8 IMPORTANCE OF VISION
It is important to instill the above vision and
objectives in each trainee, with the result being singleness of mind and heart,
at least in the area of vision and mission.
There is a time constraint that we must be aware of. Already, one-world government, one-world
religion and a computer chip small enough to be inserted under the skin with no
visible detection are here. Satan plans
to rule the world and destroy the church and all Christians and he is ready to
spring his trap. There is a sense of
God wants revival/harvest even more than we do. However, He will not start the last and
greatest revival of all time until the saints and the Church are ready. He is a God of order and His eternal purposes
must be accomplished or made possible before the end comes. While we are not made perfect and
incorruptible until He returns, we must be brought to a point of maturity that
will allow us to be perfected in Christ at that time. Perfection will likely come to those who are
seeking it, rather than by accident.
There are two
major aspects to training house church pastors or leaders:
(1) classroom teaching; and
(2) practical applications.
3.1 CLASSROOM TEACHING
It is recommended that classroom instruction cover the
following subjects at least:
warfare (including prayer to bind ruler spirits, casting out of devils and
doctrines and practices;
3. How to train
assistants to become future house church pastors;
4. Survey of both
Old and New Testaments;
5. The Normal Christian Life or
Authority or submission, humility and obedience;
prayer and other appropriate subjects.
These are core subjects and
teaching outlines and manuals have already been produced by Light of the World
Missions - Philippines
in conjunction with New Covenant International Seminary and Bible
College. In addition, many outlines and teaching
materials have already been produced by various churches and training
institutions. These subjects should be
carefully taught and instilled in the heart of each trainee. Item
#2 (Proper doctrines and practices) may cause concern and resistance. The instructor himself/herself should be
convinced of the proper doctrines and practices and be able to defend
them. A true church will have true
doctrines and practices. There can be no
compromise. Either we’re the true church
or we’re not. In the book of Acts, the
apostles and elders of the church came
together to decide the true doctrines of the church. After much prayer, thoughtful contemplation
and discussion, they came to their decisions.
Ac. 15:1-22. We too, must come
together if need be, to decide what are the true doctrines and pillars of
Christianity as presented by the early apostles.
3.2 WHY BOTHER? Often, the body of Christ ignores spiritual
and doctrinal differences for the sake of social and political unity that is
fragile at best. 1 Co. 1:10 says, “Now
I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all
speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (Underlining added) That is to
say, we should have the same doctrines and therefore, the same mind. We are to have the same judgment or doctrines
and practices. We are not to have
differences in mind and judgment or conclusions that lead to different
doctrines and beliefs.
Proper doctrines and practices will differentiate between
God’s true church and those that are not true to His Word. We must discriminate between the two in order
to produce as true and perfect a Church as possible. A church that has false and un-true doctrines
cannot be pure and perfect by the very nature of the substance. God’s true
church will guard its doctrines and practices and not allow pagan practices and
beliefs to enter. A little compromise or
leaven will leaveneth the whole bunch.
Do not believe the Ecumenical Movement’s motto that love
and unity are more important than doctrines or beliefs. God is still a jealous God.
3.3 DENOMINATIONAL ERRORS
Every denomination and perhaps many independent churches
have their own favorite doctrines and beliefs that they cling to. Baptists emphasize water baptism and “once
saved, always saved;” Seventh Day Adventists promote Saturday as being the only
Sabbath Day; Methodists cling to methods; Assembly of God churches claim that
Christians cannot have demons in them, and so forth.
In order for any denomination to sustain itself, it has
to hang on to its pet doctrines that distinguish them from other denominations
and churches, and at the same time reject many Bible truths; otherwise, it has
to admit to being wrong. Since any
admission of error will shake the very foundations of a denomination, they have
a vested interest in being wrong. For
instance, most evangelicals (largely denominations that were created over 150
years ago and after Martin Luther‘s reformation) do not believe in the ministry
of the Holy Ghost. They claim that the
Holy Spirit went back to heaven once the early church was formed and any so-called
miracles on earth today such as divine healing, casting out of devils, raising
the dead, and speaking in new tongues, are the work of the Devil. (Note that the Pharisees accused Jesus of
casting out devils through Beelzebub).
Yet, millions of Christians around the world experience divine healing,
casting out of devils, raising the dead and speaking in new tongues. Therefore, in order to maintain their
denomination, they are forced to reject large portions of the Bible relating to
deliverance and spiritual warfare and so forth and to declare that any
supernatural miracle must come from the Devil.
Even some Pentecostal, born-again denominations, deny the
existence of the Devil or that Christians can have demons living in them. In addition, most of the Pentecostal
denominations continue to celebrate Christmas, Easter and other pagan holidays
and many believe in pre-tribulation rapture, while others reject the same
practices and doctrines. What are the
correct doctrines and practices? It is
vital that we get it right this time around.
3.4 SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Spiritual warfare is one of the most important subjects
introduced here. It includes prayer to
bind ruler spirits in the mid-heavens, deliverance (casting out of devils) and
inner healing. Inner healing is also a
part of deliverance and speaks of how the devil and his cohorts are able to
enter into a person during times of trauma and to plant lies that affect our attitudes. Many Pentecostal and independent churches
have no training or not enough training in these areas. In keeping with our belief that we are in a
spiritual war against the kingdom of darkness and that Satan is going to war
against the saints and As some well-know deliverance ministers have remarked,
no military has ever lost a war because it knew too much about the enemy.
Additionally, we need to become soldiers in God’s army (2
Ti. 2:3-4), sharp in fighting against Satan’s hordes with the power of the
blood, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
That’s biblical. Revelation 12:11
says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of
their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” A war against the powers of darkness is
clearly prophesied. Learning how to
battle against Satan’s kingdom is one of the greatest needs in the body of
In order to have power to cast out devils, one must be
baptized in the Holy Ghost. That fact
alone eliminates most evangelical denominations since these groups deny the
existence of the Holy Spirit’s ministry on earth today. However, many born-again churches also deny
that Christians can have demons living in them.
In the event that the training center is short on
teachings and experience on this level, it should seek help from outside. It is vital that God’s true church also be an
army. There can be no mature saints
without spiritual ranking or depth (anointing and position with God) and no one
can become mature without contending with Satan’s kingdom. The very strategy of the kingdom of darkness
is to prevent the saints from growing up.
Satan is not afraid of milk Christians.
The true Church of Jesus Christ is a mature and militant church.
1 Co. 15:24-26 says, “Then cometh the end, when He
shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have
put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under His feet.” Hebrews 10:12-13 says, “But this man,
after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right
hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His
footstool.” Also, Ac. 2:34. Jesus is not coming back until all His
enemies are defeated or defeat is imminent.
Evangelism is one of the pillars of the house
church. In a real sense, spiritual
maturity and sharing the gospel go hand in hand. One who is spiritually mature will have
strong compassion for the unsaved and a desire to bring people into the kingdom
of God. That is not to say that a zeal for and skill
in evangelizing proves that a person is mature in Christ. However, it goes without saying that a person
who is mature in Christ will be skillful in evangelizing and zealous in heart.
It should be emphasized that a house church must divide
(multiply) into two parts within six months, or be disbanded and its members
reassigned to other house churches. Of
course, there are exceptions and this is not a fast and hard rule. If each member brings another member into the
church every month, a group that starts off with four members will be eight
within one month, sixteen within two, thirty-two within three, sixty-four
within four, one hundred twenty four within five and two hundred forty-eight
within six months. Therefore, it is not
unreasonable to expect the original four to reach around twenty within six
months, assuming that the living room can accommodate a maximum of twenty
Each trainee must be given training in evangelism,
depending on his/her level of development.
Many pastors feel that it is not their responsibility to go out and get
new members. Actually, all members have
the obligation to preach the gospel, including the pastor. Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15. In some areas of the world, pastors feel that
it is not their responsibility. They
claim their myriad administrative duties prevent them from evangelizing. However, in a house church setting, there is
not such restrictions in terms of duties.
Members mimic their pastor and if he/she is not a soul-winner, they will
not likely be soul-winners too. As the
teacher is, so will the student be.
Therefore, much teaching should be provided on evangelism. Some saints are soul-winners no matter where
they are and no matter what the conditions.
Others are not. All pastors
should be willing to evangelize and pursue it with all their heart.
There will be a great need to resist going back to our
comfort zones. Christians all over the
world are worthless to the kingdom of God
because they have never brought anyone into the kingdom. Ray Comfort, in his book entitled Hell’s
Best-Kept Secret, points out that Satan is not concerned about Christians
who do not evangelize. He is worried
about those who rescue souls that are destined for hell. The rest are mere bumps on a log.
Evangelizing may take various forms: person-to-person, passing out tracks by going
house-to-house or at places where people congregate, street preaching and
crusade meetings. The most effective
method is person-to-person, especially where the other forms are outlawed, such
as in Muslim countries where evangelizing is illegal and sometimes made
punishable by death. The least effective
are tract ministries and post card or letter evangelism.
Most of the time, continual effort and experience are the
best teachers. Even when one has
experience, it doesn’t mean that he will continue to use the abilities he has
learned. Therefore, continued effort is
necessary. Where a person has limited
experience, continual effort will eventually provide needed experience and
abilities. There is no substitute for
The Holy Spirit will tell you what to say and will
convict the other person. However, the
Holy Spirit cannot do anything unless a person is willing to obey and go out to
preach the gospel. There are many books
on how to evangelize person-to-person and we will not attempt to detail the
various techniques here. Remember, we
are not commanded to go out and save people; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. We are commanded to preach the gospel.
Street evangelism and house-to-house preaching are less
used and less successful, but nevertheless viable. Both cases, however, are geared to merely
giving you opportunity to speak one-on-one with someone who comes forward. You still need to talk to individuals. We need to remember that during a Holy Spirit
revival, all forms of evangelism will likely bring great success. Therefore, every method should be explored.
Crusades are often successful in bringing fairly large
numbers of individuals to the Lord.
However, you need to prepare for it and it often costs money to rent a
place and transport musical instruments and chairs. Crusades also require large numbers of people
to assist. A number of house churches
can come together for this purpose. The
crucial phase in a crusade is getting the new converts to come to church. Since the Bible indicates that a person must
be baptized in order to be saved, it is important to inform the new converts of
this requirement and provide a method to get them water-baptized and baptized
in the Holy Spirit.
3.6 PRACTICAL TRAINING
It is advisable to give trainees some practical training
in house-to-house evangelism and passing out of tracts. For this purpose, one must publish or
purchase many tracts. Simple salvation
messages can be published on a single sheet of paper. One can form teams to go house to house or to
pass out tracts in market places or other areas that are legal.
Street preaching is also helpful in giving trainees field
experience. One can pass out tracts and
preach at certain market places, intersections and sidewalk areas. Street preaching is not particularly
successful unless the Holy Spirit moves and draws many to the speaker. It has happened before.
Neighborhood crusade meetings are also useful. Experience will drive out the shyness and
embarrassment often latent in a person who has never done these things
before. Do not neglect this area.
3.7 PARTICIPATION BY ALL MEMBERS IS IMPORTANT
A member had a vision in which he saw a triangle on its
base. In the next scene, he saw a
triangle upside down with its apex holding up the entire triangle. The broad base was on the top. Suddenly, the entire triangle fell
apart. Where the responsibilities are
all resting on the shoulders of the pastor alone, the church will crumble. The pastor alone cannot continue to hold
everybody up and the members need to share the responsibilities, especially
evangelism. If the members do not
respond, the church will eventually die.
It is often said that we should not make a good evangelist into a pastor
or give him additional duties that would take away from his time so that he
cannot bring as many people into the Kingdom as he could before.
When weeks go by and no new members are added (assuming
there is no intense persecution and closing of churches), the church has
reached stagnation and is in danger of spiritual death. We can never defeat the kingdom of darkness
by letting souls fall into hell without a struggle. God is looking for an army of saints, not
just individual soldiers here and there.
A vibrant church fervently expands the kingdom
and rescues the unsaved from hell.
While there may be some saints
who continue to be passive, the goal is to have all members of a house church
evangelize while there is yet day light.
CONDUCTING HOUSE CHURCH MEETINGS
4.1 MORE THAN PREACHING
Watchman Nee claims that Sunday pulpit sermonizing is not
biblical. What is more probable (yet
still not “set in stone”) is that there were four principal types of meetings
the early church observed: (a) preaching
of the gospel to the yet unconverted; (b) fellowship gatherings during which
the saints would meet and discuss doctrine, practices and needs, and also to
minister to one another; (c) prayer meetings in which time was devoted to
praying for various needs; and (d) breaking bread meetings. Aside from the Bible, there are very few
descriptions of early church practices.
Writers such as Eusebius wrote about church history in 275 A.D. But, that’s like us writing about what the
pioneers did before the American Revolution.
Tertullian wrote in 150 A.D. Obviously,
they did much speculating and so with us.
In addition to meetings in houses, it was obvious that
the apostles would attract huge gatherings during which they both preached the
gospel and followed it with demonstrations of signs and wonders. It was probable that members that recognized
new converts as neighbors or friends could direct them to the nearest house
church in their neighborhood.
4.2 SUNDAY MEETINGS
Watchman Nee claims that the Sunday meeting was a time
when the saints would come together with those they had convinced to attend a
meeting, with the intention that someone with the ability to speak would preach
the gospel of salvation and perhaps heal people and cast out devils; thereby
convincing them of the deity of Jesus Christ.
Bringing interested persons to a gospel meeting is
somewhat logical when you consider the fact that many were illiterate in those
days and there was no New Testament written yet. It was years before Paul and other apostles
committed the doctrines of Christianity to writing. Therefore, the recent converts would be able
to bring family, friends and others to listen to someone who knew the
gospel. They themselves were often not
equipped to preach to others yet.
Initially, only the 120 who remained faithful to Jesus, including the
original disciples, were qualified to speak out of their firsthand experiences
with the Lord. Later, however, others
quickly learned and entered into the ever-increasing pool of preachers.
At the very beginning, the saints would assemble outside
the temple, in a place called Solomon’s porch.
Ac. 5:12. That was because they
wanted to convert their own people, the Jews.
Failing that and because of the ensuing persecution by temple personnel,
the early Christians were forced to abandon such meetings. Solomon’s porch was a large area adjacent to
the temple where people could gather. There were seats and a place where people
could address an audience. But, as the
church grew in size and spread outwards geographically, especially outside Jerusalem, most gatherings
were held away from the temple. Ac.
19:10 says that within two years, all of Asia
had heard the gospel. Obviously, the
gospel was preached by far more people than just the 120 and the gospel spread
far beyond Jerusalem.
On the surface, at least, it would seem that Sundays were
reserved for the preaching of the gospel of salvation, although the leading of
the Holy Spirit was unlimited in scope.
All the saints gathered in designated places suitable for such meetings,
in order to have the gospel preached to their friends, family and interested
persons. Even today, new converts should
be able to bring friends and family to a meeting designed to preach the gospel
to unbelievers, since new converts do not yet possess enough knowledge and
understanding to do it themselves. Even saints
who have been Christians for some length of time often do not have the ability
or confidence to preach the gospel by themselves. Of course, salvation meetings don’t have to
take place on Sundays only.
We are not bound to convert the Sunday services into a
gospel preaching event. We can choose
another day or evening in the week.
Initially, the Jewish Sabbath day was Saturday. It was a day when all work ceased; therefore,
Saturday was probably the day when the gospel of salvation was preached. In China,
Sunday had become the day of worship (as well as most of the world) and so
Sunday was the day the gospel of salvation was preached. The important thing is to get the saints to
start bringing people in. At the early
stages, the members are probably not ready to bring new converts in on Sunday
mornings. I believe that the elders must
lead the way.
Likewise, getting the members to share testimonies,
prophecies, revelations, songs and the like must start with the eldership. I suggest that each elder or potential leader
pray during the week and be prepared to participate at Sunday and other
services by sharing, teaching or giving a praise report. This alone should spark the membership into
becoming more involved. Since pulpit
preaching is not exactly biblical in the sense that nothing is said about it in
the Bible, the meetings were probably more “open” than what we are used
to. That is, all the members shared
about their experiences with the Lord, His goodness in their life and personal revelations
that God gave them. Praise reports and
other personal testimonies help get each member to participate in a semi-public
forum and prepare them for future service as pastors, teachers and the like.
Personal experience shows that the elders or leaders of a
local church must “break the ice” and once they share, the other members become
more bold and willing to share. In all
meetings, the Holy Spirit should be sought and allowed to guide. There have been many meetings where the
author has participated and the Holy Spirit “broke the mold” and moved the
meeting into deliverance, healing or some other activity. Often, the Holy Spirit would speak at the
last moment and direct the author to preach on an entirely different subject
from that originally intended.
4.3 BREAKING BREAD
On the day after Pentecost, three thousand souls were
converted. Ac. 2:41. A short time later, five thousand were
added. Ac. 4:4. At the same time, it is clear that the church
was not yet fully formed in terms of fixed structure and administration. Peter and John still went to the temple. Ac. 3:1.
As previously noted, eventually, persecutions made it wise that they not
gather at the temple. The saints began
to sell their possessions of lands or houses and give the money to the apostles
for the common good. Ac. 2:44-45;
4:35-37. This shows great faith, unity
and a deep desire that others come to the Lord.
There was complete trust in the leaders that the money would be used to
further the kingdom of God.
Although there were over eight thousand new converts,
they apparently did not gather en masse for meals together but did so on a
limited scale in the beginning. In Acts
6:3, the apostles requested that the saints appoint seven men of honest report,
full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom to serve tables. Seven men could not possibly serve more than
one or two hundred people at one time.
Therefore, either there were only a few hundred that gathered to break
bread, or there were dinner meetings at various places at the same time. Since the apostles were all gathered at one
place, there was probably only one location where the saints gathered to eat in
the beginning and only a few hundred at most, would gather for that purpose at
any one time. This also indicates that eating together en masse was not a daily
activity and not all saints participated at such gatherings. Otherwise, the seven deacons would have been
However, Acts 2:46 does indicate that there was such a
thing as a breaking bread meeting and also eating together in fellowship by
going house to house. It is probable
that the saints were so spread out that only those in the immediate vicinity of
the places where the apostles and deacons gathered for meals could participate. Later, of course, the apostles and other Christians
were driven out of Jerusalem
because of persecution.
Assembling outside of the temple was probably a week-day
activity, given the fact that there were over eight thousand converts within a
short period of time, and that it was a very temporary thing. It was highly unlikely that the temple would
allow large and noisy gatherings at Solomon’s Porch on the Sabbath Day that
would disturb the solemn ceremonies going on inside the temple itself.
The Bible says that the saints continued “daily with
one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their
meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”
Ac. 2:46. Therefore, two
things are apparent: first, not all the eating was done in large groups;
second, the saints began earnestly to greet and feed one another and to bond
together with gladness and singleness of heart in their separate houses. They were united in purpose and zealous in
all that they did for the church.
We speculate also that breaking bread always or usually
included Holy Communion on an informal level.
After all, the Lord said that we should remember him as oft as we drink
of the wine and eat the bread. 1 Co. 11:24-25. Ordained clergy are not required to conduct
Holy Communion. An ordinary layman can
also conduct the ceremony.
4.4 SERVING ONE ANOTHER
An emphasis on serving one another is an important
feature of the house church. It is not
the sole responsibility of the owner of the house to prepare and get the place
ready for meetings, purchase, prepare the food and refreshments for the
meeting, and clean up when the meeting is over.
Unlike some traditional churches where the pastor and his wife do all
the preparations and most of the cleaning up, every member should contribute
somehow. Some should help to prepare and
set up the meeting place and to clean up after the meetings are over. Every one should bring food for all to
eat. Members can take turns in providing
food or services.
All should help one another in their personal lives. Each one should be concerned about the
welfare of every other member. We are
not promoting getting unduly involved in someone else’s private affairs, but we
are encouraging concern and care for one another. All should be done with joy and love. This should be one of the main aims or
objectives of each house church and is an important part of the maturing of the
saints. Caring for others should be a
main feature of house churches and should be taught, encouraged and fostered.
4.5 THREE TYPES OF MEETINGS PROBABLE AND POSSIBLE
At least to this point, we find that there were three
types of gatherings besides salvation meetings:
(1) assembling to discuss doctrine and similar matters (as in Solomon’s
porch); (2) prayer meetings (as when Peter and John were detained by the
priests and Sadducees. Ac. 4:1; and (3)
eating together. In Ac. 5:40, the
apostles were beaten by the high priest and captain of the temple. Therefore, the persecution of the Church
drove the early church away from Solomon’s porch. In Acts 2:46, we saw that the saints began to
visit one another in their homes for the purpose of eating together. Not only does this indicate a strong bonding
of saints and a true “brotherhood,” it indicates that a home was a natural
meeting place among saints aside from sites set aside for assembling of the
saints on a bigger scale. My speculation
is that there were both kinds of meetings.
Fellowship Meetings. On Sundays, all the saints in the immediate area
gathered together and during the week groups of saints met at homes to break
bread. This is reasonable since Jerusalem is a large city and many converts lived outside
of Jerusalem. Supposedly, people came to Jerusalem from the surrounding countryside to
trade or for whatever reason and returned home after concluding their business
there. These would find it difficult to
return to Jerusalem
during the week and on Sundays just for the purpose of assembling, although a
few would. Of course, persecution
eventually forced the Christians to meet secretly in houses, much the same as
is being experienced today in China,
the Middle East, Indonesia and other
countries that persecute Christians.
It is certain that praying together was a chief activity of the early
church. In all probability, they didn’t
just pray whenever there was an emergency.
It was a regular thing. When they
came together to pray for Peter and John who were detained by the priests, “the
place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled
with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Ac. 4:31. The saints “lifted up their
voice to God with one accord….“ Ac.
4:24. Therefore, prayer meetings were
established away from the temple, at least during times of need and the people
prayed in one accord loudly to God.
When they prayed, God answered.
At one point of time soon after the church was
established, there were probably many house churches. In Acts 13, James, the brother of John had
been killed by Herod and since it pleased the Jews, Herod sought to kill
Peter. But, the angel of God opened the
prison doors for Peter to escape. “And
when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary, the other of
John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” Ac. 13:12.
We know, therefore, that the early church had many saints who would
gather in houses to pray together.
4.6 THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER
The importance of prayer cannot be
overstated. Praying is not something only gifted intercessors and
prayer warriors do. Praying is for everyone and every saint must not only learn
how to pray, but must spend time in his or her private life communing with
God. As far as I know, there has never
been a champion of God that did not spend copious amounts of time in
prayer. Without much prayer, one cannot
mature in Christ. Prayer is fellowship
and communing with God. It is through
prayer that we mature in Christ. It is
possible to get into the very throne room of God and we can come boldly into
the holiest by the blood of Jesus. He
torn down the veil that separates us from the Father and we now have a high
priest that intercedes for us day and night.
have been divided into separate categories - from supplication, praise and
worship, etc., to praying in tongues and thirdly, to intercessory prayer that
includes crying, groaning and travailing.
No matter, the main thing is to instill the habit of praying without
As the Book of Acts indicates, the entire church came
together to pray during emergencies and whenever there was a need. But prayer went on without ceasing.
5. SIGNS AND
At the same time, God began to wrought (perform) miracles
at the hands of the apostles. Ac. 4:33;
Ac. 5:12. This is another sign of the
true church of Jesus Christ. Where there is singleness of heart, power
flows to the leaders and then down to the least of the saints. Ps. 133.
Agreement or unity is the source of power.
5.1 RESTORATION OF SIGNS AND WONDERS
God is going to do a new thing this time around. We cannot limit God with our archaic ideas
about revival. He is going to restore
the true church and through the true church bring back the same zeal and
oneness exhibited by the early saints.
Signs and wonders will be restored as the five-fold ministry
emerges. The true church will be a
militant church that will confront the kingdom of darkness and gain the victory
at the very end. A fresh wind of the
Holy Spirit will bring boldness to all saints and everyone will preach the
gospel. This new-found boldness and unity will bring forth revival/harvest.
This coming revival will be the last hurrah for the true church and bring glory
to God, and then the end will come.
This idea is bolstered by Revelation 12 where His true
church travails, pained to be delivered.
She births a man-child who is taken up to the throne of God. We believe the man-child is the army of
God. Then, there will be martyrs who
willingly give up their lives for the sake of the gospel. Verse 17.
This “woman in the wilderness” will not be a bunch of wandering and
jobless samurai. They will be united and
have singleness of heart like the early saints.
There will be no renegade apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and
teachers in God’s true church. There will also be no renegade sheep. God will do tremendous signs and wonders
through the apostles. We will have a
revival patterned after the first few years of the church, brought about by all
saints and the Holy Ghost.
In past revivals, God has used a few men and women and
has wrought signs and wonders through His sovereign grace, there being no true
church and hence, no true apostles through whom He could do great
miracles. Charles Finney, Evan Roberts
and other famous revivalists were not miracle-doers in the mold of the early
apostles. Yes, there were miracles, but
not according to the pattern of the early church. This time around, however, the revival will
be complete. God is going to revive the
early church and people will come into the kingdom
in much the same manner as during the first century and especially the first
two years after Jesus returned to heaven. The five-fold ministry will be
restored. That is why the Lord is
putting it in our hearts to go back to the structure and practices of the early
church, at least to the extent that the spiritual purposes behind them are met.
House church gatherings should include praying for the
sick, deliverance, inner healing and other demonstrations of power. The preaching should be confirmed through
signs and wonders following. Faith and
the ability to be used by God to “wrought signs and wonders” normally does not
come all at once but grows stepwise.
Those with a little power should make every attempt to be used even more
by God and to do even greater miracles.
After all, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that
believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than
these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” Jn. 14:12.
Pray for the restoration of the power and prepare for it.
5.2 GOSPEL MEETINGS
If, as Watchman Nee says, Sunday meetings should be
gospel meetings where all the saints bring people into the church to hear the
message of salvation, there are several things that are absolutely necessary to
make it work: (1) all the members must
agree to bring people on Sundays to hear a gospel message; (2) agreement must
be translated into zeal and actual performance (no use agree and not do it);
(3) all saints must be prepared to preach the gospel, although at the outset,
the elders will preach; (4) there must be adequate follow-up and water baptism;
(5) new converts must be encouraged to join the body by attending meetings,
studying the Bible and participating.
When the Holy Spirit moves sovereignly to convict hearts, many will come
to meetings without having to persuade them.
ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
One of the most important features of house churches is
the leading of the Holy Spirit. Although
God delegates His authority to humans, it is the Holy Spirit that leads the
church. Every pastor must be able to
seek the Lord for direction and to hear from the Holy Spirit. A sign of spiritual authority and leadership
is revelation from God. Without the Holy
Spirit, we are vulnerable to the wiles of the Devil.
6.1 DURING PERSECUTION
In times of persecution, house churches may be separated
from one another and communications cut off.
There must be complete trust and reliance upon the Holy Spirit at such
times. When persecution comes, some
house churches will be forced to be autonomous.
They will be cut off from all the other house churches and will have
total dependence on their pastor and the Holy Spirit. Trust and reliance or dependence on God must
be learned long before that. For that
reason, one must choose people who can hear from the Holy Spirit and who are
sufficiently mature to guide and teach others.
6.2 SUBMISSION TO DELEGATED AUTHORITY STILL
Dependence on the Holy Spirit does not mean that
submission to God’s delegated authorities is unnecessary. In fact, submission and obedience will be
more important than ever. There is safety
in numbers and God always gives different gifts and anointing to various saints
so that we are forced to rely on each other.
Every saint is fitly joined to the others so that we all need one
another. Thus, we are forced to bond
with one another in love and peace.
In Joel 2:7-8, we find that the saints in the Army of
God, “… shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks. Neither shall one thrust another; they shall
walk every one in his path: ….” There
will be no disobedience and everyone will walk in his own path given by
6.3 TO TEACH
In mainland China,
the Holy Spirit was allowed to work mightily.
Many house church leaders had minimum training and there were no
available Bibles in the beginning. Watchman
Nee often said that he was surprised when he went to preach in remote mountain
villages. He initially felt that the
people would not know the word because they were largely illiterate. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find
that the illiterate housewives knew the Bible better than well-educated
Christians because they were taught by the Holy Ghost.
6.4 TRUSTING GOD
In a sense, giving God back His church involves trust and
faith that God will care for and lead His true church and saints. The training center or initial sponsoring
church should resist over-controlling the house churches and should limit its
activities to training, monitoring, providing checks and balances and
supervising the house churches under their jurisdiction without unduly
hindering the Holy Spirit’s work.
There is a difference between cell groups and a true
house church. Most large churches
tightly control their cell groups and make all decisions and determinations for
each cell group - what to teach, what activities to engage in, etc. A true house church system is not tightly
controlled by a mother church. It is led
by the Holy Spirit.
All house church pastors must agree and learn how to
network with other house churches. Acts
2:46 says, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and
breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and
singleness of heart.” This passage
indicates that the Christians met daily.
First, they met in the temple because they were zealous in converting
the Jews. But when the Jews began
persecuting them, they met at other places.
7.1 KNOWING AND TRUSTING THE BRETHREN
Meeting daily indicates that people lived near one
another and perhaps in the same neighborhood.
That’s why it is important that the members come from the immediate
area. If a new recruit comes from
another area, he or she should be encouraged to attend a house church near his
or her house.
During times of persecution, members who live too far
from the house church will likely be cut off and unable to communicate with the
other members. This would leave them
vulnerable to the authorities and the wiles of the Devil. During peaceful times, daily contact would
help bond the members together, encourage them to study the Bible and pray
together any day of the week.
The fact that the saints went from house to house to
break bread with gladness and singleness
of heart shows that the early Christians enjoyed each other’s company and
desired to meet other Christians. The
people who owned the homes were not over-burdened with cleaning their houses
and providing food. Each Christian
brought food, helped clean up and served one another with gladness. Surely, if no one brought food, failed to
help set up and clean up, no wife would tolerate it for long. Learning to become servants or slaves to one
another is an important part of growing up in the Lord.
Knowing and trusting each other is a vital part of
networking. It is highly
probable that the saints not
only knew others in the same neighborhood, but brothers and sisters in far off
places as well. Brethren from far places
were welcomed with enthusiasm as the hunger for news abroad was keen. When this writer was ministering in
underground churches in mainland China,
people from house churches as far away as two-hours’ ride by train attended his
meetings. They knew all the people in
the local house church.
During times of persecution, this familiarity and networking
will be vital. When this writer was in China,
all eleven leaders of the house churches within a certain area were in hiding
from the authorities and were not able to attend the meetings. However, the house groups continued on. These
leaders and their families were gladly hidden and fed by other house groups
outside their area. This went on for
months at a time. Since we know that
persecution is coming, we need to prepare by establishing networking as soon as
7.2 CHECKS AND BALANCES
Another reason why networking is vital is the need for
checks and balances. House churches that
isolate themselves by choice are apt to fall into deception. There is a need for all house churches to
receive constant ministry from outside.
Outside ministry can come from roving ministers such as the five-fold
ministry (This writer believes that God will eventually restore the five-fold
ministry once His true church is restored).
These itinerant ministers should all be part of the central training
headquarters and not be independent, renegade individuals. God does not use such people.
Even in the absence of five-fold ministers, the training
center for the area should send representatives in the form of pastors and
teachers to provide continuing training in the Word and also checks and
balances. For that reason, all house
church pastors should be willing to invite and welcome valid outside
ministries. In the absence of five-fold
ministers or even pastors from the training center, other house church pastors
from within or outside of the immediate area should provide checks and balances
on a continual basis.
In a way, the free-flow of members from other house
churches breaking bread from house to house with members of other groups allows
news to travel fast and any strange doctrine or practice is quickly exposed,
examined and judged by the saints. Every
house church pastor should gladly submit to a system of correction and
coordination and should himself occasionally visit other house churches and
provide checks and balances.
The training center for the area should be in constant
contact with each house group and help provide supplies, reading materials,
news from outside and various assistance to allow the training center to act as
a central governing point. In the early
church, Jerusalem served as the central
government for the Jews while Antioch
served as the central point for the Gentiles.
In addition, there were probably many other training centers.
In mainland China, it is reported that a large
city such as Shanghai
contains hundreds of training centers, with some handling only ten to twenty
students and others handling over two hundred at a time. Some more tolerant areas of the country allow
training centers to be out in the open while more strict areas force training
centers to be small and operate secretly underground.
7.3 THE ELDERSHIP
In the Book of Acts, the eldership consisted of all
pastors (house church
pastors) and the five-fold
ministry (especially apostles). When
important issues arose that required spiritual input, all the elders and
apostles came together to pray and decide the matter.
God has a government and everyone is subject to the
higher powers. Even the apostles recognized
spiritual authority in other apostles.
Ac. 15:6. The apostles also
submitted to the decisions reached by the body of elders when they gathered to
solve questions or problems affecting or involving the entire body of Christ.
7.4 WORKING PASTORS
Since most house church pastors will not be ordained
pastors who have spent many years in Bible college, it is assumed that they
will be people who have outside employment.
They will be ordinary saints who work for a living. The Bible indicates that house group leaders
had secular jobs. Aquilla and Priscilla
were tent makers and the apostle Paul participated in tent making when he
stayed with them. Ac. 18:3. Of course, Aquilla and Priscilla were house
The paid leaders will be mostly trainers and the
five-fold ministry who work out of training centers full time; i.e., minister
to the body of Christ on a daily basis as their primary activity.
8. TITHES AND
8.1 WHERE GOVERNMENT REQUIRES REGISTRATION
In the Philippines,
as well as in other countries, churches are required to register with the
government. In America, formal
registration is not required to operate a church; however, only a church
recognized by the federal government as a non-profit organization [IRC, Section
501(c)(3)] can certify tithes, offerings and donations for tax deduction
purposes. A group that is not certified
could be required by the government to report tithes and offerings as ordinary
income for tax purposes.
Where registration is required and house churches are not
illegal, each house church must be “sponsored” by a registered church as a
subsidiary, affiliate or other similar organization. Affiliates, subsidiaries and associated churches
may qualify as being under the “umbrella” of a registered church. However, the government may demand proof of
affiliation or other relationship. One
of the obvious proofs is the handling of tithes, offerings and donations. These items should go through the books of
account of the central training center.
Of course, pure underground churches such as found in China
and elsewhere are illegal and although registration is required by the
government, the underground churches merely ignore this requirement. In times of persecution and the coming
abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, legal registration
would be unnecessary and possibly ill-advised.
8.2 SUPPORT FOR THE CENTRAL
In some areas, the house churches report their weekly
tithes, offerings and donations to the sponsoring church (that is registered
with the government) and also remit ten percent (10%) to the central training
center for its expenses. In other areas,
all the house churches remit 100% of their tithes and offerings to the central
training center and the central training center is given the responsibility of
re-distributing the funds according to need in their sole discretion.
9. TWO REVIVALS
SIDE BY SIDE
9.1 BIBLE EXAMPLES
In the Book of Jeremiah, we find that a great revival
took place during the reign of King Josiah.
King Josiah did right in the sight of the Lord and he tore down the
pagan temples and groves and destroyed the pagan priesthood. 2 Ki. 22-23.
The temples were filled and the prophets and priests were prophesying,
“Peace! Peace!” when there was war! Jer.
6:14. “The prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and
what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jer.
5:31. In other words, the priests did
their own thing and the people loved it.
The prophets and priests were covetous and competed against one
another. Jer. 9:10. There was a “revival” going on, but there was
no true worship.
We see the same thing today. The pastors do their own thing and some draw
many into their church by using modern public relations, enticing words and
great entertainment. They are not
interested in growing the people into spiritual maturity and true worship. They are only interested in bigger buildings
and more money and people to fill the treasury and pay the expenses.
9.2 DENOMINATIONAL REVIVAL
In all probability, some denominations and even the Roman
Catholic Church will copy the house church movement and bring many new converts
into their denomination or church. They
will not give up their pet doctrines and practices. Therefore, there will be two revivals moving
side by side, but only one true church - two house church movements but only
one true movement. In the end, only
God’s true church will make it through.
Great persecution will weed out the tares. It is likely that the un-true churches will
actually be part of the One-World Religion that will persecute God’s true
church. Those who are not spiritually
mature will not be able to withstand the incredible pressures of
When Satan’s beast requires every man, woman and child to
receive the mark or the name of the Beast (Revelation 13:15-18), immature
Christians will renounce the faith and take the mark to avoid death. In that day, the whole world will know who
sits on the throne in their heart (the body is the temple
- the first Adam, who is the Self, or the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. The first Adam, of course, is the man of sin,
the son of perdition spoken of in 2 Th. 2:3.
It is axiomatic that those caught up in the false revival
will be members of the many denominations and cults. They will remain spiritually immature and
will not escape the great wrath of God.
9.3 COMING DESTRUCTION
“Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the
fierceness of His great wrath.” 2
Ki. 23:26. In the end, God allowed the
Babylonians to completely destroy Judah
and God’s temple. Most of God’s people
were killed and only a remnant remained.
Notwithstanding the coming great revival, God will allow Babylon the Great to
destroy His people in the end times.
Rev. 17:5; Rev. 13:7,8. Much of
the great revival will involve false worshipers and the un-true church. As in the days of Jeremiah the prophet, the
prophets and the priests will have no inkling that what they are doing angers
God and will lead to destruction. In
fact, all the people, prophets and priests, wanted to kill Jeremiah for
speaking truth. Jer. 26:8, 9, 11.
Do not assume that you will not encounter resistance from
other churches, denominations and even members of your own church. In Jeremiah’s day, the true worshipers were
hated and resisted by the majority of God’s chosen people.
Christianity exists in many different countries,
environments and situations. There are
also varied resources available to help train good house church pastors and
leaders. Therefore, we have not
attempted to detail any specific method of instruction or outline any exact or
precise lesson plan or training strategy.
Rather, we have chosen to provide a broad overview of basic subject
Many prophets have declared that God is waiting for His
church to get ready for revival and survival.
Jesus is delaying His return until the saints are in proper position for
what is coming in the end times. It is
therefore, incumbent upon all Christians and the Church itself to get
ready. In our present condition, we are
ill-prepared for the end times. We pray
that this manual will help bring about world-wide revival and also prepare the
saints for persecutions to come.
Manuals and church structures alone do not bring about
change. It will take vision,
determination, diligence and much faith.
God bless you!