The Great Acceleration and the Overcoming Church

 Whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River, Maine, with my son (front) – 2001

If you were to describe the times in which we live in just one word, what would it be?  There are a few words that might sum it up quite well, but one that particularly comes to mind for me is the word “acceleration”.  We are living in a time of mind-boggling change in almost every aspect of human life, and this is increasing at an exponential rate.  I believe we are living in an era that may rightly be called “The Great Acceleration.”

One metric of this acceleration has been put forth by R. Buckminster Fuller.  In 1983 he calculated that the totality of human knowledge doubles over time according to an exponential curve.  He estimated that around 1900, knowledge was doubling approximately every century.  By the end of WWII, it was doubling in 25 years, and now it is doubling approximately every 12 months.  It is soon predicted to double every 12 hours.  When that happens, the increase in knowledge during the first half of any given day will be equal to the totality of all of human knowledge prior to that day.  By the end of the second half of that day, that doubled amount of knowledge will in turn double again.  (Double. Double. Repeat.)  That’s enough to give even a supercomputer a migraine! 😦

Another perspective of this dynamic of acceleration predicts that technological advances will increase at such an ever-accelerating pace that they will lead to a “technological singularity” sometime within the next thirty years.  Ray Kurzweil says that technological “paradigm shifts will become increasingly common, leading to technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.”  Even Kurzweil’s predictions as to when we will reach this “Singularity” have recently accelerated, from 2045 to 2029, a mere twelve years from now.  (For a hint of what this may look like, check out the trailer to his docudrama: The Singularity is Near .)  Given the staggering advances in artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing (D-Wave), DNA computing, nanotechnology, genetic engineering (CRISPR), 3D bioprinting, transhumanism,  robotics, global 5G network , the Internet of Things (IoT), the Global Brain, and the like, it is not hard to conceive of such a Singularity being reached within our lifetime.  (Check out some of those links for a “crash course” on significant aspects of the Great Acceleration!)

In addition to all that is accelerating in the natural realm, there is also an acceleration of activity in the spiritual realm.  From Scripture we know that there is a time when Satan, and all of his angels, will be cast out of heaven and will come down to the earth with great fury knowing that their time is short. (Rev. 12)  The sign in the heavens related to this event, from Revelation 12, will astronomically appear in the sky for the first time in human history this year, on Sept. 23, 2017.  This aligns with many other significant prophetic time cycles. (For a brief overview, see here.)  We also know from Scripture that there will be a release of demonic activity from below in the end times with the opening of the Abyss, the bottomless pit (Rev. 9.)  This may very well take place through the nefarious workings of CERN.  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) associated with CERN is built directly above the ancient temple to “Apollo” (“Apollyon” Gk., “Abaddon” Heb. – see Rev. 9:11) which was believed by the ancients to be at the entrance to the “bottomless pit.”  The Director for Research & Scientific Computing at CERN, Sergio Bertolucci, admitted that the experiments being conducted by CERN researchers “could open a doorway to an extra dimension and out of this door might come something.”  Little does he know (or does he?) what that “something” might be!  There is much occultism associated with CERN and it is something we should be awake to as to its profound prophetic significance.

All of this natural and spiritual acceleration will undoubtedly have major impacts on every aspect of human life.  If you think that change has been coming at us hard and fast over the past couple of decades, just wait to see what the next twenty or thirty years will bring, should the Lord tarry!  It is wholly believable that the human experience by even the middle of this century could be all but unrecognizable from what we presently know.  As mind-boggling and even disturbing as that may be, this exponential dynamic of change is the undeniable reality of the age in which we live.

In the face of this runaway acceleration, the question must be asked, how does the Church of Jesus Christ both stand fast and spiritually respond in the midst of this onslaught of change?  Because the Church is called to be in the world, but not of the world, she is faced with an immense challenge to both spiritually adapt to the radical changes in society around her as well as to hold fast to and manifest the unchanging realities of the eternal Kingdom of God.  Consequently, the Church is called to both radical change and radical constancy.  The discerning and balancing of these two conflicting dynamics lie at the heart of the Church’s calling and challenge in this end time.

The call to radical constancy

Of the two, the Church is called, first and foremost, to radical constancy.  The root and foundation of all that she is called to be and do is the immutable nature and purpose of God.  He says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Hab. 3:6)  The radical constancy of the eternal I AM and all that emanates from Him is the bedrock of the radical constancy of the Church.

The call of the Church to radical constancy includes the following:

  • An unflagging faith in and proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • An unswerving devotion to fulfilling the Great Commission in the discipling of all nations.
  • An undying pursuit of the Kingdom of God and its spiritual manifestation in and through the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • An uncompromising commitment to righteousness and to being salt and light in the midst of an increasingly corrupt and darkening world.
  • An unshakable hope in the return of Jesus Christ and the ultimate restoration of all things.

As the Church is plunged in the coming years into a deluge of scientific, technological, sociological, cultural, religious, spiritual, geo-political, military, medical, environmental, geological, and economic mega-changes, she will be called to stand fast with an indomitable spiritual character and an unshakable Kingdom purpose.  All that is not of God, both within her and around her, will be shaken, while that which is of God will be purified and fortified.  Like a spiritual Gibraltar, stability and strength will increasingly be her character as all around her swirls and swells in increasing tempest and torrent.  Christ within her will be the resilient Rock to which the multitudes will clamor and cling for safety and refuge in the midst of the storm.  Radical constancy will be one of the primary hallmarks of the overcoming church at the end of the age.

The call to radical change

That being said, there will also be a second, seemingly contrary and conflicting, hallmark of the Church at the end of the age: radical change.  Although she is not of the world, she is in the world, and this will necessitate some deep and extensive transformations.  Even as it is wholly believable that the world will be all but unrecognizable in just a few decades, so the Church may very well be, in many respects, all but unrecognizable from what we presently know her to be then as well.

As an analogy of this radical change, consider a broad river that has little change to it.  It has its twists and turns, but generally flows along in a rather predictable and navigable manner.  Now picture that same river flowing into an area where the topography begins to drop off by ever-increasing degrees.  The flow of the current begins to accelerate gently, then moderately, and then, almost without warning, with great severity.  Calm navigable waters turn into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class rapids, and then quickly plunge into 4th and 5th class whitewater.  Only those with the greatest courage, wisdom, and skill are able to navigate these waters.  Eventually, this river rushes out into a grand, wide-open bay with calm blue waters and lush tropical beaches.  Those who successfully navigate it are blessed to enjoy the exquisite beauty of its final destination.

This is a picture in my mind of what the Church will face in the coming Great Acceleration.  Drawing from its features, then, I would like to suggest three categories of radical change that will need to be embraced by the Church in order for her to navigate the increasingly turbulent waters ahead:

  • Vessels: The “vessels” in this analogy are the forms and structures that the body of Christ employ in her corporate expression.  Traditionally, these are institutional in nature and include special buildings, professional clergy, set services, specialized programs, and a generally consumer-based congregation.  These type of vessels come in all shapes and sizes and are very common and abundant in the broad flowing rivers of the Judeo-Christian-based cultures that have prevailed in many parts of the world for centuries and even millennia.  In the great acceleration that is coming, however, those cultures will rapidly change into hostile and dangerous whitewater environments.  We desperately need the prophetic foresight to understand that what we have traditionally known as “church” is going to be terribly unfit for the dramatic changes ahead.  These institutional vessels that we are so accustomed to, and even deem as indispensable, will either end up beached on the shores of yesteryear’s river, and cease going forward in God, or will be utterly dashed to pieces on the rocks of escalating cultural opposition and political and religious persecution.  The time for transition is now to smaller, more agile vessels that will be able to quickly move and adjust within the swirling dynamics of the great acceleration ahead.  It will be imperative for the Church’s survival that she learn to do with much less encumbrance, ballast, rigidity, formality, and external structure.  The way forward will be with smaller, closely knit, intensely committed, organic gatherings of believers, who are governed by the Holy Spirit in all of their actions, associations, and assemblies.  This is how the Church has always survived and thrived in times of tumultuous opposition and persecution.  We must learn from those who have traversed these waters before us and begin to transition now into these lighter-weight, whitewater vessels as the Body of Christ.  It will be incumbent in the very near future that our vessels will have already experienced radical change in this regard if we are ever going to survive the acceleration ahead.
  • Pilots and crew – Most vessels on the upper river are staffed by professional pilots and a mix of salaried and volunteer crew.  Of all of the people on the upper river, these are often the most resistant to radical change.  Many of these are comfortable in their positions for the sense of personal significance they derive from them as well as the feeling of security that their salaries provide.  To contemplate these elemental factors radically changing is repugnant to them.  Not only so, but the contemplation of giving up the comfortable craft of the upper river, with their stately cabins and cozy mate’s quarters, for the dangerous river dories, inflatable rafts, or whitewater kayaks of the lower river holds absolutely no appeal to them.  Even if some were willing to consider such changes, they have an acute awareness of how woefully unprepared they are for both the demands and dangers of life on the raging river below.  Given the choice, most will hold firmly to the status quo of what they have known rather than trade in their craft and lifestyle to join the feisty flotilla of the coming acceleration.  Among these ranks, however, there will be a remnant who will have the foresight, faith, and fortitude to make this radical transition.  Others will rise out of seeming obscurity who have been secretly prepared of the Lord to help lead in the coming day.  This remnant will not wait until the waters begin to rage, but will prepare ahead of time so that they will be sufficiently equipped, experienced, and positioned for the coming torrent.  They will humble themselves and seek the instruction and training of those who have gone before them.  They will pay a deep price for abandoning old concepts, roles, and courses of ministry for those less known, glorious, and certain.  These will develop a whole new mindset and skill set in order to be prepared of the Lord for the dangerous waters ahead.  This is the radical change that will be required of the remnant of the “pilots and crew.”
  • Passengers – In the upper river very little is required of the passengers on board. They enjoy sumptuously prepared meals, an array of entertainments, instructional lectures, activities for the children, and various social engagements.  There is an expected, yet voluntary, fare that is to be regularly offered, but beyond that, their own personal objectives and family interests determine and define their life onboard ship.  On the lower river, however, all of that is gone.  There, all hands are on deck and each person is required to man the oars with all their might to navigate the intense waters of the great acceleration.  Teamwork is what marks the lower river with every person working in harmony with the others and contributing their own special skills, knowledge, and strength to the effort.  No one is passive.  No one is along for the ride.  No one is unneedful.  Even as the pilots and crew must radically change their mindset and skill set, so the passengers must radically change theirs.  No longer is their experience primarily one of receiving, now it is one of giving.  No longer is it one of passivity, now it is one of intense activity.  This change will come with extreme difficulty for those who have only known the sumptuous, secure and sedative nature of life on the upper river.  Here, however, even as among the ranks of the pilots and crew, there will arise an overcoming remnant who will lay aside the malaise of upper river life and prepare themselves for the exhilarating thrill of whitewater venturing.  Only those who make this radical change will be prepared for the years and decades that lie ahead.

The prophet Daniel said, “The end will come like a flood.” (Dan.9:26)  Jesus compared the events of the end of the age to “birth pangs” (Matt.24:8) which come with ever-increasing intensity and frequency until the time of delivery.  The changes that lie ahead for all of humanity will, likewise, come with escalating speed and unrelenting force!  It is time for the followers of Jesus Christ to prepare NOW, as individuals, families, and the Body of Christ for a future that will be marked by great acceleration and radical change.  In doing so, we must remain radically constant in those aspects that God has called us to remain radically constant in, and radically change in those respects that God has called us to radically change in.  May God give us the wisdom to discern the difference and the grace to walk in their contrasting dynamics.  Our ability to faithfully maintain the testimony of Jesus in the turbulent days ahead will surely depend on it.  May He find us faithful unto the end!!


Recommended resource: “Principles for the Gathering of Believers Under the Headship of Jesus Christ” by Gospel Fellowships.  A free resource for the Body of Christ to help prepare for “life on the lower river!”

Posted in End-time remnant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Blog update: “Free Audiobooks” section added

Hey folks,

It’s been rather quiet around here for the past couple of months, so I wanted to give you a quick update.  I’ve also added some new content to the blog that I’m excited to share with you!

For the past year I’ve been deeply involved in the settling of my mother’s estate, and, quite frankly, it’s overwhelmed most of life.  It is still in process, and will continue to be so well into this year.  Needless to say, it has considerably affected my ability to blog as I would like to as we have had to pare back to the bare essentials of life during much of this time.

That being said, I do plan to continue blogging throughout the upcoming months as I am able.  Along with occasional regular posts, I also plan to share some excellent material that others have produced that will help to fill in the gaps and will richly compliment the content of the blog.

Which brings me to what I have to share with you today…

One of the most popular sections on the blog is the Resources section.  It’s been my desire for some time to add to this section a selection of classic audiobooks on the Christian life.  For many years I’ve enjoyed the audiobooks produced by Librivox.  They have an extensive library of public domain books, recorded by volunteers, and offered freely and without copyright restrictions.  Scattered throughout their vast selection are a good number of classic Christian works.  So, I’ve recently added a “Free Audiobooks” sub-section to the “Resources” page on the blog and have searched through the Librivox library to pull out a number of choice selections.  To begin with, I have chosen titles that I have personally enjoyed and by authors who have had a significant impact on my life.  Below is the list of the books that I presently have posted, and I plan to add additional ones as I go along.

By clicking on the title, you will go to a separate page for that book. There you will find multiple listening and downloading options.  In addition to the links from the Librivox website, I’ve also added a WordPress media player with a playlist of the entire book.  By using that, you can listen to the chapters continuously all the way through without having to click on each one separately.  Simply scroll down until you see: ⇓ Continuous playlist ⇓, and use the player below it. 🙂

I encourage you to take advantage of these offerings, for they are rich in content and are quality productions. May you be blessed by these spiritual classics!

A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – by Madam Guyon

Answers to Prayer, from George Müller’s Narratives – by A. E. C. Brooks

Humility : The Beauty of Holiness – by Andrew Murray

Parables of the Cross – by Isabella Lilias Trotter

Spiritual Maxims – by Brother Lawrence

The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life – by Hannah Whitall Smith

The Essentials of Prayer – by E. M. Bounds

The Holiest of All – by Andrew Murray (sample: Hebrews 1-2; 20 files)

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit – by R. A. Torrey

The Practice of the Presence of God – by Brother Lawrence

The Pursuit of God – by A. W. Tozer

The Spiritual Life – by Andrew Murray

The True Vine – by Andrew Murray

Union and Communion – or Thoughts on the Song of Solomon – by J. Hudson Taylor


These titles can also be accessed in the “Resources” section of the blog at any time.

Also, please feel free to leave a comment on any of the books that you have enjoyed.  That would be a blessing!  Thanks and God bless!

– David

Posted in Audiobooks, Blog Updates, Christ-Centered Resources, The Inner Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Do I See?

As a compliment to my previous post, What Did the Angels See?, I wanted to follow up with an expression of my own personal perspective on the birth of Christ.  I’d like to do so by sharing the lyrics of a song the Lord gave me many years ago, called, What Do I See?

At the time I wrote it, my wife and I were rushing around the house getting ready to leave for a family Christmas party.  In a very “untimely” moment and manner, the Lord dropped the first verse of this song into my heart.  My initial reaction was, “Lord, this is not good timing!”  I knew that if I didn’t write it down, though, I would lose it. So I quickly grabbed a piece of paper, asked my wife to please be patient with me, and began writing.  As I did, the second, third, and fourth verses came as well.  Within a very short time the Lord had given a complete song, a gift from Him, and for Him.  (And we were only a little bit late to the party!  🙂 )

When I think of the manner in which this song was given, it seems that it was not merely incidental, but rather poignantly intentional on the Lord’s part.  In my mind, it emphasizes a significant facet of how God often works when He desires to “birth” a new and unique expression of Himself in and through our lives.

When the Father sent His Son into the world, He did so at a very inconvenient time for those most closely involved.  “The fullness of the time” (Gal. 4:4) from His perspective, was right in the middle of all of Judea reshuffling around to the towns of their birth due to the Roman census.  It was a chaotic, tumultuous time.  Mary, at full term, had to journey with Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a some 90-mile trek, which took them four or five days, and was fraught with discomfort and danger.  In addition to that, when they arrived in Bethlehem, appropriate accommodations for a woman about to give birth were nowhere to be found.  They had to settle for a cold and unsanitary stable.  To Mary and Joseph, it must have seemed that God’s provision and timing for this Divinely-ordained birth couldn’t have been more poorly planned and ill-timed.  Behind it all, however, was the sovereign wisdom, love, and power of God orchestrating every detail for the fulfillment of His highest purpose.

The incarnation story did not end with Joseph and Mary, though.  It is going on and on, to this very day, in an untold multitude of called and chosen ones in whom the Father is desiring to bring forth His Son by the power of His Holy Spirit.  As He does, He often does His most fruitful work in the most unconventional ways and in the most inopportune times.  “The fullness of the times” for Him, is often the “no-room-in-the-inn” time for us.  His ways are simply higher than ours.

So, when I look at how this song about His birth was “birthed”, it seems emblematic of His ways.  To me, it is a reminder that His purposes and His workings are most likely not going to fit neatly into my pre-determined schedule and expectations.   In addition to sharing the words of this song, I wanted to also share these thoughts, which add another measure of meaning to this song for me.  I pray that you are encouraged by this creative expression, given by the Spirit in this “untimely” way. 🙂

May you and your family enjoy God’s richest blessings this Christmas season!
Our God is with us!

With love,
David

~ ~ ~

What Do I See?

What do I see when I look upon the face
Of the baby born in Bethlehem?
I see the light of the world
Shining in the dark
The glory of God in a Babe

And as the star showed the way
To Bethlehem’s stall
The light of His life shows the way for us all
He’s the Light of the World

What do I see when I look upon the face
Of the baby born in Bethlehem?
I see the Lamb that was born
To bear the sin of man
The innocent One who would be slain

And as shepherd’s and flocks
Came and looked on His face
They beheld the Lamb who would die in their place
He is the Lamb of God

What do I see when I look upon the face
Of the baby born in Bethlehem?
I see the King of a kingdom
That’s not of this world
Born to bring it down to man

As as the kings came to worship
And offer Him gifts
One day every knee shall bow
And every tongue confess
He is the King of kings

What do I see when I look upon the face
Of the baby born in Bethlehem?
I see the Only Begotten Son of God
The Gift of the Father to all men

And for all who make room
In their hearts to receive
The Christ shall be born in all who believe
He is the Son of God

That’s what I see when I look upon the face
Of the baby born in Bethlehem…
What do you see?

~ ~ ~

©1987 David Bolton

_____________________

 You may also enjoy this compilation of poetic musings on the incarnation of Christ written by Evan Bolton, Cheryl McGrath, and me in 2013:
“The Word Became Flesh” – A Collaboration of Poetic Reflection

~ ~ ~

Posted in Creative Expressions, The Incarnation | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Did the Angels See?

This meditation on the birth of Christ I originally wrote in December of 2003 for the newsletter my wife was compiling for our homeschool network.  I am offering it again, now slightly updated, for your consideration and inspiration during this Christmas season. May we all be blessed as we contemplate afresh the glorious mystery of Immanuel, “God with us!”

~ ~ ~

What Did the Angels See?

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.'”
Luke 2:13-14

We have all viewed the birth of Christ from our own varied and unique perspectives.  Our own particular circumstances, experiences, traditions, and spiritual perceptions have shaped our views.  Among those who were most closely connected with the actual event two thousand years ago, there existed a multitude of perspectives, as well.  There was the perspective of Mary.  There was that of Joseph.  There were also those of the innkeeper, the shepherds, Herod, and a host of others in that day.  How these all differed from one another!

There is one perspective, though, that I think we should especially take time to contemplate:  that of the angels.  What did the angels see as they peered down from the heavens on the baby lying in a manger in Bethlehem. What was it that inspired their heavenly song…
“Glory to God in the highest…”?

Let’s consider for a moment what they saw transpiring before their eyes:

The One who created all things, seen and unseen,
was now stepping into His creation.

The One whose being embodies Eternity,
was now confining Himself to the constraints of time.

The One whom even the highest heavens cannot contain,
was now restricted within the womb of a peasant girl.

The One exalted forever as the Most High King of Kings,
was now being born in a lowly stable.

The One who alone is Omnipotent,
was now a frail human baby.

The One who is all Wisdom, Knowledge, and Truth,
was now needing to grow and to learn on His mother’s knee.

The One who is Heir of all things,
was now come to live as the poorest of the poor.

The One resplendent in all Majesty and Glory,
was now taking a form that would have no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him.

The One who alone is Holy,
was now come to be made sin.

The One who is Life,
was now come to die.

~ ~ ~

On that glorious night, so long ago, the Bethlehem skies broke forth with heavenly waves of angelic worship…

“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST…!

~ ~ ~

May we take time to consider their “heavenly song”!
As we do, let us also contemplate this…
that we, who have been redeemed by this Holy Child,
have a song which even the angels cannot sing!
Selah!

~ ~ ~

Posted in Other Writings, The Incarnation | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tradition, Scripture, and the Church by David Bolton (PDF – complete)

My friend, Sándor, has compiled my five-part teaching series, “Tradition, Scripture, and the Church”, into a single PDF booklet, and has uploaded it on his Hungarian/English blog, keskeny út – narrow way.

Of all the series I’ve written, I feel that this is the most substantial, ground-breaking, and potentially “eye-opening” to the true nature of the Church, past, present, and future.  (As one commenter said in response to my original posting, “I was deeply and personally challenged by your words, and maybe for the first time saw things in crystal-clear focus, where previously the image was somewhat blurred – almost like someone who has received new spectacles!”)  That is my hope for all who read this teaching.

Please check out Sándor’s post by clicking keskeny út – narrow way  here or below, and follow the link to the (English) PDF at the bottom of his post.  (The link to the Hungarian PDF is at the top.)

God bless you! -David

keskeny út - narrow way

A hagyomány, a Szentírás és a Gyülekezet – David Bolton

“With anticipation, and not a little trepidation, I am wading into a subject that I believe cannot be over-emphasized as to its significance regarding the Church, past, present and future. I would venture to say that the two most influential forces ever at work in her long history, and those largely responsible for who she is today, are Scripture and Tradition.

If only the marriage of these two were a match fully made in heaven, what an incomparable force they would be for God in the earth!  The reality is, however, that they are a heaven-and-earth mixture, an unholy union of divine and human ways, a complex matrix of good, bad and ugly.  If ever a love/hate relationship existed, it is here between these two obstinate “soul mates”.  Theirs is a marriage marked by the sweetest of affections and the…

View original post 283 more words

Posted in Christ-Centered Restoration, Church History/Development, End-time remnant, Reblogs, The Ekklesia, The Eternal Purpose of God | 2 Comments

Rebels, Refugees, and a Returning Remnant by David Bolton (PDF – complete)

Thank you, Sándor, for compiling this series into a single post and sharing it with your Hungarian and English-speaking audiences. (Having it in PDF form is also a blessing.) May God use it afresh for His purpose! All blessings in Him!

keskeny út - narrow way

Lázadók, menekültek és egy visszatérő maradék – David Bolton

You are able to reach in PDF form here

There is a monumental shift taking place in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ worldwide.  Multitudes of sincere, faith-filled Christians are leaving the institutional church in search of a simpler, more relational, and interactive experience of church life. According to George Barna’s research more than ten years ago, the numbers then exceeded twenty million [Revolution (2005) pg.13].  According to the nature of this growing trend, these numbers have increased exponentially since that time.

For the most part, these believers are not leaving because they have lost their faith, but because they desire to see their faith grow and find a fuller, even more Biblical, expression.  Those who are a part of this world-wide “exodus” are often found gathering under the banners of “organic…, “simple…, “house…, “missional…, and “emergent… church”…

View original post 6,498 more words

Posted in Christ-Centered Restoration, Reblogs, The Ekklesia, The Eternal Purpose of God, Translations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Experiences of House Church – by Sándor Abonyi

As a follow up to the series “On Church Leadership” (an email exchange with Sándor Abonyi of Hungary), I wanted to share a post that Sándor wrote for his Hungarian/English blog keskeny út – narrow way“.  In it he describes some of his first-hand experiences of living in an organic, “house-to-house” expression of the church in Hungary.  For those who are not familiar with this form of church life, this post will give you a well-rounded insider’s view.  For those of you who are familiar, and are pursuing this form of the ekklesia, I believe this will be very confirming and helpful.  I pray that all of you are blessed by this rich sharing which Sándor has allowed me to post here in full on this site. Please also see the link at the bottom of the post to the English section of  Sándor’s blog for further spiritual help in following “keskeny út”,  the “narrow way.”

~ ~ ~

Experiences of House Church
by Sándor Abonyi

“gathering from house to house”
(Acts 5.42; 20.20; Col. 4.15; 1 Cor. 16.19; Phil. 1.1-2, etc.)

After coming out of a “traditional charismatic church” we started on a new way; gathering
from house to house.  Earlier we had experienced “house groups” in a limited way while
still belonging to our local church, but now we wanted to live a total paradigm change of
Christian community using family homes.  I contacted many people in the USA, Canada
and New Zealand, who started this way earlier, to know their experiences.  During one year living the community life in a natural way we have learned many things and have reached some level of understanding.  We are aware that we do not yet have a full understanding but are in a continuous purifying process, and desire the Lord’s presence among us.  We are now seeking a way of multiplication and are making efforts to build a new system of relationships in our region, in Hungary, and even with people in foreign countries as well.  We have already formed some of these relationships.

To summarize, we can say the following: We don’t have a predetermined timetable for our meetings, nor do we make a program or order of service.  Events occur in an organic way
and, therefore, each meeting is totally unique and different. Our fellowship times consist of worship, prophecy, and teaching. Here are some characteristics of our current practices:

1. Teaching – Adhering to a hour-long teaching or sermon, as we did earlier in the
traditional church, would not be practical here because now we are an “interactive
community” not an “audience.”  Gathering from house to house we still have the three
men who served as teachers in the earlier local church, but they now teach in an interactive way.  We assign “home work” (writings, books, CDs or DVDs) to individuals or the whole community prior to meeting together.  We sometimes look at a teaching together and then have discussion.  Very often people bring prophetic words that they’ve received to the meeting to be read and discussed.  People ask questions, and we try to answer them according to the Scriptures.  It is very important that everyone learns to use Scripture to answer their practical questions of life.  We practice this together so that every one develops this skill.  We have not had visiting teachers, as we did earlier, but we are open and have invited people to come and share in this fellowship.  People have indicated they would come, but these are not from traditional churches.  If any visitor comes, it will be with the concept of interaction with the people, not merely to inform them.

2. Worship – We don’t have a worship team, and it is not our goal to have one.  There
are three who play guitar and lead worship.  We make an effort to live the Word which
says, “everyone has a psalm, revelation, word . . . “ and encourage the people to be ready;
to come bringing “everyone something.”  According to these Scriptural principles, worship
is not prepared by one person and is created as we go along with additional people introducing songs that we all sing.  If someone gets a song by the Holy Spirit at any time during the meeting, we join in singing that also.

3. Prayer, Revelation, Prophecy – Mixed in during worship are prayers to the Lord to receive from Him.  The people regularly get revelations, prophecies, thoughts, and pictures.  These are shared after each prayer.  On every occasion two or three receive visions. (See for example the translated, Vision of the Broad and Narrow Ways.)

4. Service to Each Other – It is very important to encourage, comfort and share joy.  This part usually takes one to one and a half hours, and after that we help solve problems,
praying to get revelation and advice to give.  Everyone participates in this, an activity that
the people totally missed earlier.  Because of this sharing, we commonly need four or five
hours for each meeting.

5. Spiritual Leading – We don’t have a separate leadership group.  The “elders” are among us (1 Peter 5:1), praying and discussing with all the others who together make decisions.  The elders have continuously received revelations and prophecies about the direction of moving ahead and what the next steps should be.

6. Support of Each Other/Sharing – This is an area that has changed dramatically from the earlier situation of traditional church.  According to the Word we are God’s family, and we have declared that we will live our lives as a true family.  Now that we meet from house to house, we know the home situation of each member; that is, the living conditions and needs.  I personally have installed electricity, others have bought essential food for those in need, others have purchased fire wood for the winter.  Our cars are similarly used as in a family to help each other.  We have made a common decision not to own a building to use for meetings, only to rent space as it is needed.  In the summer we can use the gardens of our houses where more people are able to gather.  Therefore, the congregation doesn’t have pay for building rent, honorariums to visiting ministers, or big, high-cost programs.  Therefore, all of our money is available to spend on meeting needs.  Needs can be met by sharing cars, as well as paying for petrol or maintenance costs.

7. Tithes – We decided not to collect tithes (a tenth) but everyone used available funds to serve and support others according to their needs. In this way not everyone pays a tithe, but the richer members often contribute more than a tenth, and the poor who have need are supported by the richer.  We support the poor to help them out of bad situations and get them on the road to self-sufficiency.  We had money saved that we used to stay in a guest house for two nights to build unity among the community.  On another occasion we went on a day excursion together. [All left-over monies are used for those who have needs.]

8. Meals in Common/The Lord’s Supper – These two things are very close.  We share
food in common at the end of every meeting.  Sometimes it’s only pizza, or sandwiches, or
cold dishes, or bread and drippings with onion, but at other times we have a real dinner party with the whole community eating together.

Fitting the traditional Lord’s Supper (small piece of bread and little cup of wine) into our
sharing of regular food proved problematic, therefore, we quickly abandoned this practice
and began to follow the practice of the first churches.  We researched Scripture and the
practices of other house churches.  Presently we do the following:

– We looked at the Lord’s Supper as a possible way of meeting the needs of others,
using the context of a shared dinner.  Paul spoke of this aspect of the Lord’s Supper to
the Corinthian church.  Looked at this way, needy people are able to have enough to
eat on a regular basis.

– Not every supper is the Lord’s Supper.  At a normal meal we only give thanks at the
beginning of the meal.  If we decide to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, then the host
(usually a man) pours wine or grape juice into everyone’s glass.  Before eating
someone gives thanks, remembering the crucifixion of Jesus – His broken body and
shed blood.  Then we break the bread.  At the end of the supper we take our glasses and
someone (usually another person led by the Holy Spirit) prays and remembers the
communion and unity we have with Jesus and with each other by Jesus’ blood.  After
this we drink the wine.

– With the breaking of bread and drinking of wine during the meal, we remember the
crucifixion of Jesus and reaffirm our unity.  This is the difference between a normal
supper and the Lord’s Supper according to our present practice.  It looks like many
people today are seeking the original meaning of the Lord’s Supper.

9. Meetings – The number of believers has doubled in the past year.  Today we have about 20 people who gather in six family homes on a rotating basis.  We meet on Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays at three different places from 4 to 9 p.m.  The Wednesday gatherings consist of three smaller groups, but there is overlapping with group attendance.  There is not sufficient room in any one home for the whole group to get together on Saturdays, only in the summer where there is more room outside in people’s gardens.  Sometimes only three or four will come together, such as a men’s meeting.  The four men elders meet regularly to pray, share visions, and discuss them.  The elders prepare suggestions for the house churches, and the whole fellowship later acts on these suggestions.  (In our earlier church there was a separate elder board which made unilateral decisions.)

10. New Believers – We baptized more born-again people last year.  One young lady
baptized another young lady, and one older lady an older lady.  On another occasion after
a tour together, the whole community baptized a young man totally spontaneously.  We
have been baptizing in a bath tub, but we are open to other possibilities as well.  Two
people joined us from other traditional charismatic churches.  We expect others in our
fellowship to become totally committed to Christ and receive baptism in obedience to
Scripture.  Our target is not to enlarge the size of our congregation, but to see a deep level
of real Christianity (quality, not quantity).  We wait upon the Lord to enlarge the church
with people born anew, and we are witnessing in our lives that He works this way.  So our
community has doubled in one year.  Other reports from house churches document that
this kind of duplication is normal.

We first try to reach unsaved family members in the homes where we regularly gather.
We use the natural environment and activities – such as teaching guitar playing, helping
with wedding preparations, praying for people who ask – to build relationships and
manifest the church as the Body of Christ.  In this way single believers become part of the
family life of the church, who is Christ.

11. Spiritual Warfare – This way is not without its problems.  During the past year we
have experienced spiritual attacks, feelings of heaviness from time to time. For two or
three months after coming out from traditional charismatic church, we had very strong
spiritual attacks.  Everyone in our city and region was against us for leaving the organized
church.  They thought our different way of being a church threatened their traditions.
Even when we tried to explain, they didn’t understand and they didn’t want to have any
contact with us.

The first six months when we were forced to be alone proved to be very useful.  We had
time to seek the Lord’s will, and to lay the groundwork for community living and working
in a totally new system.  We sought out other small groups walking in similar ways.  We
had to forget many of our earlier practices in organized church and seek after new ways.
Even our earlier ways of thinking were a hindrance, and we had to put them aside.  This
was not easy for most believers.  After two or three months, we were able to stabilized the
community and lay foundations.

Also during this period we were visited by other Christians who caused disorder and
disturbances.  Some of these people where unknown to us.  However, one highly visible
and committed believer, who had not been affiliated with any church for some years, tried
to destroy our new community from the start.  I had to send him away.

From the beginning we saw it was practical to divide the community into two different
groups.  One of the two groups was comprised of older believers.  They were the “seed”,
in that they received visions and they laid the foundation for the new way.  They gave
stability to the community.  The other group was made up of young believers who needed
to order their lives and overcome their problems.  After one year both groups now live
together in a good community life without disturbances.

At this time we are trying to find a way of multiplication in order to live our beliefs in
more small groups, geographically separate but connected within a network.  This will be
our way to enlarge.  And we have experienced many more spiritual attacks because of it.
Satan tries to cause disturbances among believers that we can’t understand, therefore, our
only defense is to fight it in a spiritual way, and the Lord is giving us victory.  We have
organized a three day’s meeting in the mountains in order to reinforce our relationships
with each other so we can go forward in this “natural” way.

Praise the Lord!

Sándor Abonyi
Jászberény, HU
08-03-2012

~ ~ ~

I greatly appreciate what Sándor has written here.  There is a strong working of the Holy Spirit around the world to call God’s people back to the simplicity, purity, and power of the early church and to assemble in organic, house-to-house expressions of the ekklesia similar to what Sándor has described.  For further encouragement along this line, and on other spiritual matters, please visit Sándor’s blog.  The English section begins with the following sub-heading page: keskeny út – narrow way/English teachings.

May God bless you,
David and Sándor

______________________________

Related posts and pages:

The Church Gathering Simply in the Name of Christ and Under His Headship – A Historical Account by C.H. Mackintosh

PRINCIPLES Book (Complete – PDF, mp3 and more)

The Essential Character of the New Covenant – Part 3: Its Organic Nature

Audio Series: “Rebels, Refugees and a Returning Remnant” (Four parts – complete)

Posted in Christ-Centered Gatherings, Christ-Centered Restoration, The Ekklesia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments