FORWARD!  
BACK TO THE 1st CENTURY!

Divided We Fall!
      God, you alone are worthy of praise ~ Father of Life, Spirit of Promise, Son of Glory.  We fall at your feet unworthy of your
love and your notice.  We are sinners.  Yet you love us still.  

     There was a young lady in high school a long time ago who, despite what she sometimes said about herself, was very likeable.  For
occasionally she would get out her mirror, flick a willowy wisp of hair back, and say to the mirror, "You gorgeous doll, you!  I can hardly
stand myself sometimes, I'm so gorgeous!  Look at what you've done for the world; your beauty is beyond belief!  Oh, you gorgeous, doll!"  

      Well, as long as she didn't do it every day, we thought it was funny.  Funny because she didn't really believe it.  If for a second we
thought she did believe it, we would have walked away from her in disgust.  Besides, although she was attractive, she wasn't knock-out
gorgeous.  If she had been, that would have turned us off too.  

      But isn't that what we have done in the religious world today?  Haven't we, as individual denominations, been flaunting our perfection in
front of each other?  And meaning it?  

      Who is perfect?  Only God is perfect.  How dare we flaunt our perfection in front of God?  How dare we flaunt our perfection in front of
each other and create division in the church!   

      Only one thing can bring unity, and that is to "flaunt" our sinful state in front of each other.  Then together we must all kneel at the cross in
humiliation and beg Jesus to forgive us.  

      Our divisiveness is one of the reasons people have left the church completely.  Our divisiveness is one of the reasons we cannot attract
lost souls.  Our divisiveness does not bless us, but rather curses us.  It gets us sidetracked from the real issue of saving souls.  

      When Jesus' apostles discovered some stranger casting out demons in Christ's name, they said, "we told him to stop, because he was not
one of us."  What did Jesus reply?  

      "Do not stop him!  No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against
us is for us"(Mark 9:38-40). [1]  

      What is also interesting about this is that it came from a spirit of pride.  A few days prior to this event, Jesus found his apostles arguing.  
Why?  They had all taken their turn trying to cast out a demon, but all failed (Mark 9:16, 28f).  Could it be they were arguing over whose fault
it was that their miracle didn't work?  

      Then, on the road away from there they started arguing again.  This time it was over who was going to be greatest when Jesus set up his
new kingdom (Mark 9:33-35).  

      Still not having learned their lesson, even after Jesus told them, "Do not stop them," they began excluding children from coming to Jesus
(Mark 10:13-16).  This self-elevation made Jesus "indignant" at them.    

      And if that weren't enough, James and John returned to him with their mother wanting to be bishop and vice-bishop in the new kingdom
(Mark 10:35-38).  

      They were still thinking in terms of an earthly kingdom and an earthly headquarters (probably in Jerusalem).  If this is what the prospect of
world headquarters on earth did to the closest friends of Jesus himself, what has it done to us today?  

      Every once in awhile someone knocks on my door wishing to tell me about Jesus and his love for me.  Occasionally one of them will ask
me what my denominational affiliation is.  When I answer, "I'm just a Christian," they reply, "But what kind of Christian?".  When I reply, "just
a Christian of the Bible," they say, "Oh, you belong to the Christ of the Bible Church?"  Then I reply something like, "No, I'm just a Christian
who belongs to the church of the New Testament."  They reply, "Oh, you belong to the Church of the New Testament?  I never heard of that
one."  

      Isn't that the way we think today?  In terms of organizational affiliation instead of Christ affiliation?  

      H. G. Wells in his
Outline of History said in 1920, "It is necessary that we should recall the reader's attention to the profound differences
between this fully developed Christianity [of the fourth century] and the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth....It was not priestly, it had no
consecrated temple, and no altar.  It had no rites and ceremonies.  Its sacrifice was 'a broken and a contrite heart.'  Its only organization was
an organization of preachers, and its chief function was the sermon.  

      "....though it preserved as its nucleus the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, was mainly a priestly religion....the centre of its elaborate ritual
was an altar...And it had a rapidly developing organization of deacons, priests, and bishops." [2]  

      Jesus prayed over and over that we may be one (John 17).  He wouldn't have prayed for the impossible.  


                     Perfect Pattern, Imperfect People  

      The basis of Christian unity is found in John 17:11 where Jesus said [caps mine], "Holy Father, protect them by the power of YOUR
NAME ~ the NAME YOU GAVE ME ~ so that THEY MAY BE ONE as we are one."  Whose name do we carry?  Are we hyphenated
Christians?  Do we call ourselves Baptist-Christians, Lutheran-Christians, Presbyterian-Christians, Nazarene-Christians,
Mennonite-Christians?  

      A divided church cannot win the world to Christ.  As long as we delay winning the world to Christ as Jesus commanded just before he
entered heaven, we delay his return.   

      The president of a denominational theological seminary long ago said in an address, "Denominationalism is dead at the roots, but not yet
in the branches.  In time, the branches will wither and denominationalism will be dead.  Denominationalism in the sixteenth century brought us
individual and group liberty.  These we must keep, but there is no excuse now for divisions." [3]  

      Martin Luther said, "I pray you to leave my name alone, and call not yourselves Lutherans, but Christians.  Who is Luther?  My doctrine
is not mine!  I have not been crucified for anyone.  St. Paul (1 Cor. chapters one and three) would not have that any should call themselves of
Paul, nor of Peter, but of Christ.  How, then, does it benefit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to give my name to the children of Christ?  
Cease, my dear friends, to cling to these party names and distinctions; away with them all; and let us call ourselves only Christians after him
from whom our doctrine comes." [4]  

      John Wesley said in the preface of his
Notes on the New Testament,  "Would to God that all party names, and unscriptural phrases and
forms, which have divided the Christian world, were forgot; and that we might agree to sit down together as humble loving disciples, at the
feet of our common Master, to hear His word, to imbibe His Spirit, and to transcribe His life into our own." [5]  

      Jesus emphasized our oneness again just before he left the earth in Matthew 28:19.  "Therefore go, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  What is that name?  

      Philippians 2:9-11 says, "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the
name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father."  

      Well, what about our creed books?  The books that explain what we must do be accepted by our particular denomination?  Do we
actually believe we can clarify God's Word?  Do we actually believe God is not capable of writing something we can all believe in alike?  

      Have you ever read your church's creed?  It may surprise you.  Most creeds cover a few general beliefs, but speak most to a particular
belief that separates that religious body from others.  Examine several creeds for yourself.  You will find that they are divisive, for they
emphasize mostly matters of opinion.  Honest opinion, but still opinion.  

      H. G. Wells said regarding religion in Europe, "Its priests and bishops were more and more men molded to creeds and dogmas and set
procedures; by the time they became cardinals or popes they were usually oldish men, habituated to a political struggle for immediate ends
and no longer capable of world-wide views.  They no longer wanted to see the Kingdom of God established in the hearts of men ~ they had
forgotten about that; they wanted to see the power of the church, which was their own power, dominating men....  

      "They were intolerant of questions or dissent, not because they were sure of their faith, but because they were not.  They wanted
conformity for reasons of policy....This was a spirit entirely counter to that of Jesus of Nazareth.  We do not hear of his smacking the faces or
wringing the wrists of recalcitrant or unresponsive disciples." [6]  

      If a creed is more than the Bible, it is too much.  If it is less than the Bible, it is too little.  If it is the same as the Bible, why do we need it?  
Instead of swearing on our creed books, instead of signing oaths that we agree with our creed books, why don't we swear on the Bible and
sign oaths that we agree with the Bible?  

      Oh, blessed Jesus.  Forgive our arrogance.  


                      Institutionalizing the Church  

      Years ago a parable went around something like this.  A demon needed advice from a devil on how to discourage the church in his area
because someone had gotten hold of a grain of truth.  If used properly, it could blow up the devil's whole business.  

      The demon was advised by the devil, "Just tempt him to take that grain of truth and organize it.  Make it the basis of some kind of society,
or lodge, or club.  Then he'll spend his time running the club, and he won't have any time to use the truth against us."  

      The last anyone heard, the grain of truth, which was the nucleus of the organization he founded, was left useless in a glass case in the
lobby of the building that the new organization erected.  

      The Pharisees in Jesus' day were institutionalists.  They had added all kinds of traditions to the Law of Moses.  They had added  
hundreds of rules to explain what people must do to keep each of Moses' laws.  

      In the four-volume
Code of Jewish Law  put out by the Hebrew Publishing Company, there are listed twenty-one explicit rules governing
the rite of hand washing before eating.  Here are just some of them:  

      If the food eaten is smaller than an egg, I must wash my hands but I do not have to say the benediction.  No part of my hand up to the
wrist must be untouched, including my finger tips and between each finger.  I must first clean my fingernails so there is no obstruction between
the water and my fingers.  Just in case I accidentally miss a spot, I should do it twice.  Further, as I wet my hands, they must be palm up in
accordance with Psalm 134:2 ("lift up your hands").  If my unclean hand touches my clean one, I must start over. [7]  

      We may think this is ridiculous.  But is it any more ridiculous than the volumes each denomination has written to explain the details of how
we must follow a particular command of Jesus?  

      Jesus said in Mark 7:6-9, "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their
teachings are but rules taught by men.'  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."  

      The Jews needed to go back.  Back before all the volumes of traditional laws had muddied the simplicity of God's Law given to Moses
2000 years before.  They needed to let go.  Can we let go of our creeds and denominationalism?  It is possible?  Are our egos too relentlessly
strong?  

      What would happen if Jesus visited today and told us the same things he told the Jews?  Would Jesus view all our modern church laws a
help?  Or a hindrance?  Could we go back?  Back before all the volumes of church laws that muddy up the simplicity of God's Law and
divide us from each other?  

      Do we have the courage to do what the Jewish leaders could not bring themselves to do?  

      The Pharisees were institutionalists, just as denominationalists are today.  Jesus was an idealist, and short on organization.  Did Jesus
make a mistake?  Jesus disregarded the Pharisees' human authority and all their laws.  So they murdered him rather than let go.  

      The only organization set up for the church was to have elders/bishops (same office) and deacons in every church (congregation) as
explained in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  These scriptures give qualifications, so we know they were official positions in the church.  Nothing was
ever said about one elder/bishop being over the others within the congregation, or one being over other congregations.  Nor was any
arrangement made for a meeting of delegates to vote on beliefs.  

      Actually, it was not until about the time of the apostle John's death around 95 AD that several congregations appointed one elder to be
head over the other elders and be called a bishop.  In 120 AD the bishop of the largest congregation in some metropolitan areas told the other
congregations he was head over them.  A century later these bishops were being called papa/pope/father/patriarch.  In 300 AD, the bishops
of the strongest cities in a province announced they were archbishops.  In 700 AD the strongest bishop among all the provinces in the known
world announced he was head over all the others.  He was called the pope.   

      One seemingly innocent decision was not so innocent after all.  God's command had been tampered with.  The world reeled from it for
centuries to come.  

      As far as councils go, it is great for Christians to get together and talk about their belief in the Bible and to reaffirm each other.  But it is
going beyond the scope of the Bible for representatives of congregations to come together as delegates to do our thinking for us and vote on
what we must believe.   

There was only one council mentioned in the Bible and it was made up of "the apostles and elders" (Acts 15:2 and 6) who "met to
consider....."  Since we have no apostles today, all that is left are elders.  Elders are to have authority over their own congregation as its
council.   

      1 Samuel 10:10-19 tells of the Israelites insisting on having an earthly king.  God said they had rejected him from being their king.  So,
too, today we have appointed head shepherds and rejected Jesus from being our head shepherd.  They wanted a king they could see, not one
they could not see.  Today, we want a shepherd we can see, not one we cannot see.  So we have our denominational bishops and
presidents.  

      Oh, Jesus.  Forgive us for trying to improve on you.  


                        Sidetracking our Purpose  

      "I Am Quitting My Church to Preach" appeared in Sunset Magazine years ago.  In it James L. Gordon wrote, "I find myself more
interested in ideas than in institutions.  An idea always loses force as it becomes institutionalized.  The modern preacher is under pressure to
show results in membership and money.  He is expected to build up the church.  The idea of building up humanity is always a secondary
consideration.  To organize a strong social circle is more to the mind of the churchman than large congregations or inspirational services....  

      "So I want a pulpit unhampered by the machinery of modern ecclesiasticism.  I believe in organization but I also know that when truth is
organized and institutionalized, it loses something of its original force and vitality." [8]  

      Many who have gone into the ministry have come back out of it disillusioned with the politics.  Basically all of them enter the ministry to
serve and save the lost.  But they get caught up in having to answer to the larger organization.  He has to fall in line or jeopardize his job.  

      Organization leads to spiritual pride.  Organization leads to people lording it over the flock.  Organization leads to accusations of being
"non-cooperative."  Organization leads to discharging ministers of the Word because they do not compete well enough with the organization
down the street.  Organization leads to critical fire of newspapers, true seekers, and atheists.  Organization leads to scrambling for place and
position.  

      In 1925, a grand effort was made to unite several denominations.  They included the Methodists, some Congregationalists, and part of
the Presbyterians.  But they ended up with another denomination.  Although they called themselves the United Church ~ a worthy name ~ they
immediately formed a hierarchy and headquarters.  They'd gone right back to what they'd separated from.  Why?  Because of
over-organization.  Do people not feel they are religious unless they are organized?  

      We have become organization crazy.  We think organization is power.  We end up talking about "our" denomination, "our" world
interests, "our church."  We have made a test of fellowship out of "our" church.  The only kind of power it engenders is individual power, and
distraction from the power of Jesus and his gospel.   

      When organization grew, its only logical outcome was a human head and headquarters, the papacy.  What became of the Holy Spirit?  
The institutionalized church is the greatest enemy of true Christianity today.  We have come to trust the organization instead of Jesus Christ
and his Word alone.  

      Organization results in jealousies, power plays, politics, wrath, strife, contention.  True, a great organization carries great prestige.  Does
not such prestige come at the expense of the prestige of Jesus Christ?   

      H. G. Wells said in his history of Europe, "The idea of stamping out all controversy and division, stamping out all thought, by imposing
one dogmatic creed upon all believers, is an altogether autocratic idea, it is the idea of the single-handed man who feels that to work at all he
must be free from opposition and criticism.  

      "The history of the Church under [Emperor Constantine's] influence now becomes, therefore, a history of the violent struggles that were
bound to follow....From him the Church acquired the disposition to be authoritative and unquestioned, to develop a centralized organization
and run parallel to the empire." [9]  

      Indeed, today, some denominational hierarchies have developed into an empire.  The work of the living Christ does not depend on any
human organization.   

      The greatest advances in Christianity are made on the local level with local decisions.  But often local outreach programs go unled
because our leaders are busy with the greater organization, the denominational headquarters.  The Organization Spirit is crowding out the Holy
Spirit.  

      Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18).  Not a head organization at some headquarters
somewhere.  Not a head president or bishop or pope somewhere.  The only head over the local congregation is Jesus.  

      Some time ago, Episcopal church members including the chairman of the national commission on evangelism and several bishops wrote
this letter to their headquarters:   

      "The church to-day is incomparably rich in money, organization, influence, power, and yet it failed to produce anything like apostolic
results.  For example, our communion, with its 135 bishops, more than 5000 priests and more than a million communicants, obtained a net
gain last year of only 25,000 members, which means that with all our resources it took 50 persons to add one communicant."[10]   

      That was 65 years ago.  What would the figures be like today?  Dare we say today it takes at least 200 people to save one soul?  Are
we neglecting the salvation of souls so we may build up the organization?  

      Several years ago, a group of major denomination ministers published this plea:  

      "The Men's Church League is alarmed because one-third of all the Presbyterian, Northern Baptists and Methodist Episcopal churches
had no converts last year ~ a total of 11,394 churches...J. Earle Edwards, a Baptist preacher, is reported to have said that the trouble is due
to red tape, sectarian organization, theology, jealousy - in fact, to everything but Jesus Christ and His spirit.  

      "We recommend the abolition of sectarian organization, both in its competitive and monopolistic phases, and the return to the simple
church of Christ according to the New Testament pattern; we recommend the cutting away of red tape and cumbersome machinery in order
that there may be breathing room for the spirit and free use of initiative in going about the Father's business." [11]  

      When the church of the first century was solely congregational with its only ultimate head above the elders being Jesus Christ, it was
unconquerable.  Rivers of early Christians' blood fertilized the fields white unto harvest with the seed, the Word of God.  

      Blessed Jesus, we have forgotten how lost we were in our sins, and we have forgotten the lost around us.  Please forgive us.  


                                   Prejudice  

      Everyone agrees that denominationalism is not preferred over unity.  James 2:9 says we are not to have respect of persons, and yet we
do this with our denominationalism.  If division in the body of Christ is good, we should follow it to its logical conclusion and encourage each
person to build a religion unto self and never assemble with others.  

      Paul told the church at Corinth with all their divisiveness that they were carnal (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:3-4).  Philippians 2:1-5 says we
are to be "one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."  

      The apostle Peter said we were to be all likeminded (1 Peter 3:8).  The brother of Jesus said we who murmur, complain and walk after
our lusts show respect of persons for the sake of gaining the advantage (Jude 16).  

      Galatians 5:19-21 lists 15 sins including sexual immorality and witchcraft; yet over half refer to divisiveness:  Hatred, discord, jealousy, fits
of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy.  

      James, another brother of Jesus, warned in 3:14-16, "But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about
it or deny the truth.  such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil."  

      The great reformers who broke away from the Catholic Church had the right idea and were certainly blessed by God.  But they did not
go far enough.  They eliminated things they disliked about the Catholic Church, and then kept the rest.   

      Luther eliminated paying indulgences and having a separate priesthood, believing in the priesthood of all believers saved by grace.  That
was good.  Calvin eliminated approval of the church for one's salvation, believing it to be a personal experience.  That was good.  Wesley
eliminated formalism in favor of methodism.  That was good.  Knox eliminated papism in favor of presbyterianism.  That was good.  But none
went all the way back.  That was not good.  

      John Godfrey Saxe explained eloquently what each great Reformer accomplished [12]:  

It was six men of Hindustan, to learn much inclined,
Who went to see the elephant, (though all of them were blind)
That each by observation might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and happening to fall
Against is broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl,
"God bless me! But the elephant is very much like a wall!"

The second, feeling of the tusk cried, "Ho, What have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp? To me 'tis very clear
This wonder of an elephant is very like a spear!"

The third approached the animal, and happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up he spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the elephant is very like a snake!"

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee,
"What most this wondrous beast is like is mighty plain," quoth he:
" 'Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree!"

Fifth who chanced to touch the ear, said, "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most; deny the fact who can
This marvel of an elephant is very like a fan!"

The sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope,
Then seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the elephant is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Hindustan disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was party in he right, and all were in the wrong.

So often in theologic wars the disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance of what each other mean,
And prate about an elephant not one of them as seen!


      May the clergy of our land fall to their knees, ask God's forgiveness, then rise to resign from denominational positions in councils, synods
and headquarters, and influence their congregation to function as an independent body led only by the New Testament.  

      Blessed Savior.  You looked at us in our sinfulness and saw some good in us.  Enough that was worth saving.  How unworthy we
still are.  But we're trying.  Help us try.  

                        Making Decisions for Us  

      Indeed, it seems a fairly reliable guess that 90% of all people have no theological idea why they belong to the denomination they do.  So
why do they allow such division?  

      We allow it because regular people do not study the Word of God for themselves.  We - in our laziness - are willing to take the word of
ministers who may or may not be defending their standing in their denominational organization.  And we allow it because we have closed
minds to protect our egos.  We refuse to believe we may believe different from the Bible.  

      I shared the gospel message with one woman for nearly two years.  She was dying.  She admitted that where she went to church (a large
and powerful denomination) it had always been just a social club with the preacher preaching philosophy.  She didn't even know there was an
Old and New Testament in the Bible.  When I shared the gospel message with her right out of the Bible, she was almost persuaded until she
consulted with her preacher.  He said she didn't have to do any of that.  She reasoned that, since he had a degree in religion, he must be right.  
She went to her grave believing in this man who will himself be judged by God based on the very Bible he denied to her.   

      In
The Dilemmas of Jesus James Black, Minister of the United Free Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, is reported in the book Be One, as
having said this:  

      "So many of us do not trust Jesus for Himself, but we trust in what lesser authorities say about Him....We are cursed with experts and
authorities.  It may be a church, or a book, or a creed, or a man - what does it matter?  It is always the same irreligious thing.  'Authority' is
always irreligious!  

      "....we quote an article in a creed....This is what the creed says, you poor mouse!  ...Or, we quote a church.  Here is the authority of the
saints and fathers, the decrees of the Church....Surely you do not set your little mind up against that!  

      "....It is sheer mental ruin, especially in religion.  'What think ye of Jesus?' - and you for yourself are as able to settle your personal relation
to Him as any scholar that was ever born.  Jesus believed that the simplest soul could accept Him as fully as Lord and Master, and could do
it, - nay, must do it - out of his own heart and mind.  Jesus is His own and only authority." [13]  

      Jesus never died to build any organization.  He died to save individuals who, as a result, gather together in a simply-organized commune
of believers for encouragement.  

      H. G. Wells said, "It is difficult to read the surviving literature of the time without a strong sense of the dogmatism, the spites, rivalries, and
pedantries of the men who tore Christianity to pieces for the sake of these theological refinements." [14]  

       Oh, blessed Jesus.  Forgive us.  


                         Married to our Institution  

  There have been two groups of people within the church who have been most critical of our institutionalism.  The first have been those that
organized religion often identified as "splinter groups," "off-shoots," or even "heretics."  The real intention of these groups are covered in the
last chapter of this book.  

      The other group that has criticized our institutionalism are missionaries in foreign countries, isolated from most any kind of believer in
Christ.  Most denominations would be surprised to know that the missionaries they sent out actually hob-nobbed with missionaries of other
denominations.  

      What breaks down their artificial boundaries?  Their loneliness and craving for other Christian companionship.  These missionaries refuse
to get involved in dogmatic disputes because all they want to do is convert the lost.  They don't talk about it with each other or with the new
converts.  Thoughts of opinionated dogma leave their mind completely for more important business.  

      Furthermore, our denominational headquarters would be surprised to know that these missionaries are converting people, giving them the
Bible, then staying out of their way while the local people launch out to convert still others.  

      Instead, our denominational headquarters tell us we must maintain our particular standard of dogmas at all costs.  They cannot tolerate
untrained and uncontrolled new converts to propagate the gospel.   

       Their attitude of  "cannot allow" and "cannot tolerate" is obviously the attitude of a superior, a supervisor, one who sets himself up as a
parent, a father, a papa, a pope.  The institutionalized church hierarchy has laid claim of lordship over our faith - The Faith - unwilling to
relinquish it to Jesus.        

       Several years ago, missionary Roland Allen wrote
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church for missionaries, but which has
applications for every congregation.  In the chapter on "Fear for the Doctrine" note what Allen says:  

      "On what then do we rely for the exercise of this authority?  Without doubt we rely upon our prestige....When we say we must maintain
our standard, we certainly mean that it is our standard and not their standard [or the Lord's]....  

      "....a standard of doctrine...maintained by an external authority as a code of laws can be enforced by a conquering government upon a
subject people.  How do we attempt to maintain it?  First we make the preparation for baptism long and difficult by insisting upon each
convert learning what is for very many of them difficult verbal lessons [from our creeds].  Multitudes of our converts are totally unfamiliar with
the kind of abstract language....  

      "We train the teachers...in schools and theological colleges, so that they can understand our use of abstract terms and can learn at least
verbally our doctrinal expressions....From amongst these teachers we select the men who repeat best...our point of view...then ordain them
with great confidence that they will teach nothing but what they have learned from us.  And these men we put into positions of greater
authority....  

      "The results...(1) Terrible sterility....We have taught them to depend upon us, rather than upon Christ....(2) The Doctrine has been
maintained by external authority, but it has hampered the thought of the people...begin to feel this dimly and to resent it." [15]  

      From whence do the great heresies of the church arise?  Not from people out in the trenches trying to reach, teach, and convert people to
Christ for their soul's salvation.  Not from the unordained, the officially unrecognized does it come.  Heresies arise from the educated and
philosophical who would boast of their superior minds and superior grasp of things holy and religious.  

      In his chapter on organization Allen says:  "There is a horrible tendency for an organization to grow in importance till it overshadows the
end of its existence, and begins to exist for itself....Our love of organization leads us to rely upon it....  

     " Indeed, we modernists are mesmerized with organization.  We pride ourselves in our developmental and administrative skills.  But when
it comes to spreading the Gospel, our love for organization drowns us.  For we are too preoccupied with material things.  As a result, we
ultimately try to organize spiritual forces.  

      "Our organization immobilizes," Allen goes on.  "Great opportunities, widespread movements towards Christ, must be neglected rather
than that these institutions should lack workers...The whole system of societies, boards, offices, accounts, contracts with [pastors], statistical
returns, reports reeks of it." [16]  

      When church councils were instituted, the fundamental simplicities of proclaiming the gospel to the lost became slighted.   

      Can we comprehend Paul being solemnly appointed archbishop of Europe?  How about Philip serving as parish priest of Macedonia.  Or
perhaps Luke traveling up and down Italy to administer the sacraments.  Imagine the seven churches of Asia Minor being denied the
sacraments because the Apostle John is sidetracked on the Isle Patmos.  Envision Peter sending urgent appeals to Jerusalem for a priest for
Ephesus, or a bishop for Spain.  None of this is even hinted at in the Bible.  Yet we dare to try to improve on the Bible.  

      Can you imagine new converts being told there is a distant church government out there to which they could vote to send a representative
to discuss something which they do not understand.  Can you conceive new converts being informed an ecclesiastic body exists somewhere
out there on which they must rely for their beliefs?  Somewhere out there in church hierarchy "heaven?"  

      In his chapter on "Ecclesiastical Organization" Allen says:  

      "Like Nebuchadnezzar's image, [the church's] head was of gold, its belly of brass, and its feet part of iron and part of clay.  It stood upon
feet of iron and clay, paid lay workers, and congregations which were not churches; its head was high uplifted, one solitary potentate, the
bishop; and between these there was an utterly inadequate number of [clergy], quite unable to provide nourishment for the whole; but strong
and exclusive as brass." [17]

       Spontaneous expansion of a congregation and of the church of Christ must be free; it cannot be under an outsider's control, whether ours
or someone else's.   

      The New Testament never goes into an anxious appeal for Christians to go out and spread the gospel.  Irregardless, the church spread
like wildfire in the first century, and following their ways can create the same thing for us 21 centuries later.  

      Spontaneous growth means creating an irresistible atmosphere to which people are drawn so they, too, may discover the secret of life.  
Spontaneous growth means members telling others of Jesus' love for them as expressed through the Bible itself and loving acts of other
Christians.  Spontaneous growth also means so many members added that other congregations are started, then left to themselves to begin the
divine cycle anew.  

      Allen explains, "I know not how it may appear to others, but to me this unexhorted, unorganized, spontaneous expansion has a charm far
beyond that of our modern highly organized [denominations].  I delight to think that a Christian travelling on his business could preach
Christ....  

      "I suspect...I am not alone in this strange preference, and that many others read their Bibles and find there with relief a welcome escape
from our material appeals for funds and our methods of moving heaven and earth to make a proselyte.  

      "But men say that such relief can only be for dreamers....I must...admit that...it is true...if it is really better that paid [clergy] be sent out by
an elaborately organized office, and be supported by a department, and directed by a headquarters staff; if it is really true that our elaborate
machinery is a great improvement on ancient practice; and that to carry the knowledge of Christ throughout the world it is in fact more efficient
than the simpler methods of the apostolic age....  

       "But if we [ministers], toiling under the burden of our organizations, sigh for that spontaneous freedom of expanding life, it is because we
see in it something divine, something in its very nature profoundly efficient, something which we would gladly recover, something which the
elaboration of our modern machinery obscures and deadens and kills." [18]  

      What is it that causes the church to grow spontaneously?  It's in the power of the secret.  There is something exciting and wonderful and
magical in sharing a secret.  The hearer is flattered at the trust shown.  After all, a secret could be betrayed.  What is the secret?  

      "I did some terrible things.  I was going to be punished for them, but this stranger came along and offered to take my punishment for me."  

      "What stranger?"  

       "Jesus."  

      The human spirit automatically wants to share such a marvelous secret, but the Christian spirit wants more.  The Christian spirit wants to
spread the good news that this Jesus will take their place for their punishment too.  Then all those new Christians in turn want to spread the
word.  

      Such a person cannot relieve his own mind until he has told it and told it and told it.  And yet, the institutionalized church says, "Now wait
a minute.  You're too new of a Christian.  You need to be grounded in the faith."  

      So the leaders ground them in the faith so far, that they never get up, as Jack Exum says..  Why do Christian leaders run from it?  Allen
explains that it is because of their need to control.    

      "We fear it because we feel that it is something that we cannot control....'The wind bloweth where it listeth,' said Christ, and spontaneous
activity is a movement of the Spirit in the individual and in the Church, and we cannot control the Spirit....For if we cannot control it, it is
because it is too great, not because it is too small for us.  The great things of God are beyond our control....  

      "There is always something terrifying in the feeling that we are letting loose a force which we cannot control....Whether we consider our
doctrine, or our civilization, or our morals, or our organization, in relation to a spontaneous expansion of the Church, we are seized with terror,
terror lest spontaneous expansion should lead to disorder." [19]  

      Allen goes on to explain the disastrous results in the trenches of life among lost souls.  

      "Spontaneous expansion begins with individual expression, it proceeds to corporate expression, and if the corporate expression is
checked there is again a danger of disorder.  The denial of...self-government, seems at the moment to be a great security for order...it
represses the instinct for self-propagation....  

      "The momentary security is thus gained at a serious cost....The instinct for expression is so strong that it cannot long be restrained.  Then
must be repeated...the struggle...Here, too, it is not the desire for expression which produces the disorder, it is the desire breaking out against
order because it cannot express itself within the order which it knows.  That, too, is grievous; it means the rending of the body; and that is a
sore evil and a source of evil to the whole body." [20]  

      When the church first multiplied, Satan tried to induce the apostles to control the new Gentile Christians by binding much of the Law of
Moses on them.  The apostles resisted and refused to fall into the control trap.  

      This is Satan's greatest weapon in the church.  If he can build a hedge of creeds and regulations around an organization, it can choke out
the primary purpose of the church's existence, and in the process choke out the church.  

      Eighty years ago in Africa, there was discovered a simple New Testament church of some 100 Christians.  One of the village members
had obtained a New Testament and learned to read it.  He taught his own friends and the good news spread.  They even built a little church
building.  They met every morning before going to work on their farms and after they got home in the evening to learn more about what was in
this New Testament.  

      Some years later in Tauran, Borneo, a congregation was discovered of over 40 Christians.  They had come from China.  One of their
number had been converted to Christianity back in China.  He taught them what he knew and they built a little church building.  They came in
contact with no other Christians for ten years; all they had was the New Testament.  

      The spontaneous expansion of the church requires no elaborate organization, no large finances, no great numbers of clergy and paid laity.  
It begins with the work of one person sharing the secret.  

      Allen concludes thusly:  "The missionaries who spread the Gospel and established the Church throughout the lands round the
Mediterranean are not known to us as men of great learning or ability.  Most of them are not known by name at all....What is needed is the
kind of faith which, uniting a man to Christ, sets him on fire.  Such a man can believe that others finding Christ will be set on fire also." [21]  

       Oh, God.  This is such a new concept I am learning.  We thought all this organizing was for the betterment of the church.  
Could we have been wrong?


                           Power of the Individual  

      The American Bible Society has reported instances of people coming to simple first-century Christianity with just the use of their Bible
back in the late 1800s and early 1900s when missionary work was at its height.  The book
Be One gives this account:  

      "When a Chinese man was visiting several hundred miles away from home, a missionary gave him a New Testament.  He knew nothing of
Christianity, but he read the Book.  He became interested in the Christ and called in his friends and neighbors and read to them.  They came
to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that salvation from all sin is to be found through Him.     

    "They repented of their evil lives, and seeing in the Book where penitent believers were baptized, the man had someone bury him in
baptism, and he baptized the other believers.  They elected such officers as they read of in the New Testament....  

       "Of what denomination where they?  They were not Catholic.  They had never heard of the pope, and certainly did not acknowledge his
authority in any slightest particular.  They were not Protestants.  They had nothing against which to protest." [22]  

      Through the centuries the church of the New Testament has survived in remote corners away from the bombardment of the institutional
church.  Just look up some of these movements.  Outsiders named them after their leader, though they wanted to just be called Christians.  
Encyclopedias of general knowledge and encyclopedias of religion often call these groups "heretics" because they did not fall in line with
"organized religion."  

      But that did not stop them.  They continued to grow.  They grew like wildfire.  Their leaders went around to the denominations asking
people to put away their denominational allegiance and align themselves only with Jesus Christ and him crucified.  These groups are
represented in the last chapter.  

      They exist even today.  They are everywhere.  We do not always know about them because they are not represented by a world
headquarters.  But Jesus knows who they are, because he has them registered in his headquarters, heaven.  

      The church began and thrived with individuals.  It can do so again.  

      The truly great work of the church has always been accomplished with the least amount of organization.  Peter and his group of
unorganized friends created the church.  Paul was not accountable to a great organization; he only reported in to his home congregation who
had encouraged him to go out and preach.  

      Martin Luther did not have a great organization behind him.  He started out alone.  Like Jesus, he was at war with the powerful
organization of his day, the Catholic Church that now ruled most of christendom.  

      David Livingstone, the most famous missionary to Africa, refused to come under the supervision of any organization.  Alexander
Campbell, Barton Stone and other restorationists of first-century Christianity followed the Word of God so exclusively that the organized
religions of their day withdrew from them.  

      Great restorationists, people who believe in restoring the church of the first century, call themselves out of denominationalism and
separate themselves from the power of the political machinery that runs them all.  

      Great restorationists ~ the mechanics, the computer operators, the financial analysts, the waiters, the sales people, the engineers, the cab
drivers, the day care workers, the contractors ~ all the great restorationists call themselves out of denominationalism, out of institutionalism,
and into the light of simple New Testament Christianity.  

      Barton W. Stone and his congregation drew up a
last will and testament of their presbytery in Kentucky nearly two centuries ago.  
This is how it read:  

      "We will that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the body of Christ at large; for there is but one body and one Spirit,
even as we are called in one hope of our calling....We will that our power of making laws for the government of the church and executing them
by delegated authority forever cease; that the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus."
[23]  

      
But God, this requires so much courage.  What if I cannot find anyone else who agrees with me?  Help me.


                           That They May Be One  

      The Christian world is so divided, we exist in a trap, trying to win people to the institutionalized church instead of to Jesus Christ.  Our
institutionalization has become the source of our power instead of the Spirit-breathed gospel of salvation.  

      The other cause of our divisiveness is our arguments over things that are either unprovable (when Christ will return) or issues which the
scriptures show different points of view that we have not yet learned to balance (whether God chooses us or we choose God).  Amazing as it
may seem, none of us is perfect in understanding.  Now all that is left is for us to admit it.  Can we?  Every one of us?  

      Sometimes, when congregations go through change, they go through "holy wars."  Most any change will create the loss of some members
who decide to go to church where they still do things the old way.  That is their right.  They are just not ready to give up prided opinions yet.  
They are just not ready to give up the traditional and predictable yet.  Let us not allow them to discourage us.  Let us be their example.  

      There is so much more than we in the Christian world can unite on.  There is so much more that everyone in christendom agrees with.  It
is the simple parts of the scripture.  So simple.  So dynamic.  Things that we all agree on.  

1.         EVERYONE AGREES the name "Christian" is scriptural.   

2.         EVERYONE AGREES that we must hear the gospel that Jesus died in our place with our sins on the cross, then conquered death
three days later.   

3.         EVERYONE AGREES that we must believe it to be saved.   

4.         EVERYONE AGREES we must be willing to tell other people that we believe it.   

5.         EVERYONE AGREES we must ask God to forgive us for our sins.  

6.         EVERYONE AGREES that baptism is in the Bible, Jesus himself was baptized, and he commanded it of others.  

7.         EVERYONE AGREES we must sing and pray and read the Bible.  

8.         EVERYONE AGREES we must partake of the Lord's Supper.  

      And there it is.  The basics of Christianity.  Actually, when we stop to think about it, we agree on many more things than we disagree on.  
As the song from World War II days said, why not eliminate the negative?  Why not accentuate the positive?  

      The apostle Paul wrote a strong letter to the church in Corinth for their spiritual immaturity and carnality.  Shortly after, he sent them
another letter.  In it he said, "'Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord" (6:17).  

      Do we dare make Jesus Christ the only head outside of our congregation, and heaven our only headquarters?  Do we have the courage?  
The following chapters tell how church institutionalism built up through the centuries, and those who dared stand up against it.   

      The record of their tortures and deaths by the thousands stands as a vivid testimony to people's determination to be Christians only, and
to simply belong to the church headquartered only in heaven.  They believed it was worth dying for.  Do we believe it is worth living for?  


                 Neither Catholic, Protestant, Nor Jew  

      While we're arguing and nitpicking and tearing each other down, more and more people are growing more and more lonely.  While we're
spatting and ripping each other apart, more and more people are dying in their sins.  In all our arguing, perhaps we, too, have been left alone
by Jesus.  Alone, and we don't even know it.  

      Division is a sin.  Leave it behind.  Let us all begin with a blank sheet of paper.  Let each member read through the Bible and list as s/he
goes what is commanded for Christians to do, and refuse to go beyond it.  Throw the rest away.  Throw away all creeds.  Disband all
organizations outside the congregation.  Decry all names but the name of Jesus Christ.  

      Division is a sin.  Would to God we could unite and call ourselves simply Christians, and identify the place where we meet simply as "the
church on _________ street in ________ town."  

      If an entire congregation decides to do so, they can sign a document deeding their property to the newly formed non-denominational
congregation.  Or they may decide not to even have a building if such is a stumbling block in their community, and meet in a school or civil
auditorium instead.  

        In the book
Be One by Norris Jacob Reasner, he suggests that congregations affiliated with national and world denominations draw up
a document dissolving itself into union with the church of Christ headquartered only in heaven.  

      "WHEREAS it is the supreme purpose of this church to exalt Christ in all things, by complete surrender to His will, that 'In all things He
may have the pre-eminence;'  

      "AND WHEREAS He prayed for believers upon Him, of all ages of the world's history, 'That they may all be one;' [24]  

      "AND WHEREAS there are ________________________ [state the number] of organized churches in this community, where He
would have but one body of believers;  

      "NOW THEREFORE be it resolved by the _____________________ church in regular, congregation assembled, that we stand ready
to dissolve our organization, and as individuals, unite with the individuals of any and each church that will take like action, to form a new
congregation of believers upon Christ,  

      "The said new congregation agreeing to recognize no authority between that of the local congregation and the Lord Jesus Christ, but
recognizing His unlimited authority in all things.  

      "The new church so formed is to take the New Testament as its sole written authority, and before permitting, requiring, or prohibiting any
practice as a Christian practice of the congregation, to find where it was authorized by commandment, or approved in the practice of, or
prohibited by, inspired men as recorded in the New Testament.  

      "The new church is to have no official affiliation with any other organization, but all individuals are to be asked to designate the agency
they desire to have handle their every offerings for 'others.'  

      "It is also understood that no minister shall be employed by the new church organization who does not heartily endorse to these
sentiments." [25]  

      There may be individuals reading this book with no denominational affiliation or no support for complete restoration from within their
congregation.  Individuals wishing to unite with others who wish to be just New Testament Christians ~ no more and no less ~ may not know
where to find others with this same desire.   

      Place a sizeable ad in the newspaper.  It may take a year to save enough to pay for an ad large enough to attract attention.  But do it.  
There are others out there searching for you, just as you are searching for them.  

      Contact ministers in your community.  Ask them if they desire non-denominationalism.  If so, spend time with them.  Ask them to talk to
their congregations to see if others feel the same way.  

      Do not give a name to the new congregation other than "the church."  Do not identify yourself as anything other than "Christians."  If
people try to pigeon hole you, tell them in no uncertain terms that you reject any name they may call you other than Christ's name.  

      But beware!  Once out, we must be careful not to develop another denomination.  

      Two hundred years ago when a great restoration movement occurred in the U.S., these ministers went from city to city preaching in every
denomination they could find ~ Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Unitarian, Episcopal.  They were even accepted by the atheists.  The first to
come over to the new movement in many of these places were the clergy who knew first-hand the evils of organization beyond the
congregational level.   

      These men preached unity in all kinds of denominations, and did so unless they were told not to come back.  But never did these
restorationists turn them away.  All they had to do is abide by one rule:  Where the Bible speaks, we speak.  Where the Bible is silent, be
silent.  

      Let go of all these burdens.  They are wasting our energy.  Let us from how on determine to concentrate only on our own congregation
and our own neighborhood and our own sphere of influence.  Let us from now on determine to concentrate on ways to show God's love to a
lost and wandering world.  Then we won't have time for the opinions.  

      Opinions must be lost in the sea of oblivion.  Floating atop that sea is a ship of victory.  Jesus is there in that ship.  He is the captain.  He
cries out to all of us, "PEACE!      BE STILL!"  

      Can we allow the storms with in our souls to have peace?  Can we allow the storms within our souls to be still?  Only then can we show
the lost how to have peace and how to "be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) of their lives now and forever.  

      Tears will flow.  Tears of sadness and tears of joy.  Sadness for all the divisiveness that separated us for so very long.  Joy for those with
which we unite for the express purpose of leading the world to Christ.  

      Is "coming out from among them" easy?  Absolutely not.  It is not as difficult for people who have given up going to church altogether out
of frustration.  But for congregations breaking away from a denomination, or individuals breaking away from institutionalized churches, it could
be the hardest thing you ever did.  

      Well meaning friends who either do not want you to make them look bad, or who have not read enough Scriptures to understand what
you are doing will pressure you to return.  You will be gossiped about, receive phone calls of friends who will thereafter be afraid to be seen
associating with you, receive letters of warning, perhaps disfellowshipped from the congregation you are leaving, and maybe even written up in
some kind of church paper.  

      On the other hand, look at what the paid "clergy" would go through to dissolve their denomination.  They would be voting themselves out
of a job.  Some can do it, as is shown below, but most cannot without our support.   

      Just look at the ecumenical movement.  In 1910 the first World Missionary Conference in Scotland met because missionaries did not
want to explain denominational differences to converts in other countries.  But it was never considered an official conference by the
denominations.  

      In 1921 the International Missionary Council met, but all it accomplished was to form more councils in Asia and Africa.   

      In 1924 the Conference on Politics, Economics and Citizenship met in England, but it had nothing to do with doctrinal differences.  In
1925, the Universal Conference on Life and Work met in Sweden, but it was similar.  

      In 1927 the World Conference on Faith and Order met, but all they accomplished was help each other understand their denomination's
unique beliefs better.  

      Finally in 1948, the World Council of Churches was formed, combining the Faith and Order and the Politics and Economics councils,
and in 1961 it absorbed the International Missionary Council.  But the paid hierarchy of each church maintains its paid position.  No one is
going to vote their denomination out of existence and in the process vote themselves out of a job.  

      Years ago when Lee Iacocca took over Chrysler to save it from bankruptcy, he gave orders to all division heads to reorganize and cut
frivolous costs.  They didn't.  So he ordered it again.  They still didn't.  So he ordered it again.  Still no action.  

      What was wrong?  They were protecting their turf.  They wanted their personal kingdoms to be as large as possible to make them look
as important as possible.  What did Iacocca do about it?  He fired everyone of them.  

      In the winter of 1998, Boris Yeltsen, President of Russia, fired his entire cabinet.  Why?  He'd given them years and years and years to
down size their personal communistic kingdoms.  They refused.  He replaced them with younger, more free-enterprise-oriented people.  

      Expecting an organization to self-destruct from the top down will not happen.  

      However, over the years, some individual ministers have actually done just that.  They have broken away from their denominational
affiliations.  Here's the story of a few of them as reported in "Restoration Leadership Quarterly:"  

      A minister named Scott Crenshaw broke away from his denomination to become simply a New Testament Christian.  These are his
words:  "October 5, 1984 marked both a beginning and an end.  It ended a year of serious soul-searching and many sleepless nights which
stemmed from an intense, disturbing study of the Bible.   

      "It ended a three-year pastorate in the _________________ church which was judged by all to be a highly successful one.  It began on
the other hand, a new life in Christ and a new ministry, this time in the Church of our Lord.  And it began a set of circumstances which some
would label problems, but others opportunities.  

      "Worth it, it was, and will ever be.  But the costs were more dear than I had even anticipated.  First, of course, this decision cost me my
job, which was my total livelihood, my only visible means of support in a tough financial time.  Second, my convictions compelled me to leave
a congregation which I dearly loved.  Also my union with the church of Christ brought fierce opposition which in turn would cause me to
endure much persecution.  But was not the only one who had to suffer, as my family and friends were persecuted as well as a result of my
move.  It costs to do what is right.  

      "But it must be noted here that God did not desert me.  As stated earlier, I had a peace of mind which I had never had before.  But god
blessed me in other practical ways.  First, he took care of my material needs, and upon doing so, he lifted a great burden from my heart, in
that my financial responsibility was great.   

      "Second, although I left a congregation I dearly loved and still love, I went to a congregation which really took me in and loved me, which
meant a great deal.   

      "Third, in light of the persecution, God gave me great opportunities to return good for evil, thus not only silencing much of the idle
conversation, but also opening many doors to study the Bible with people outside of Christ as they viewed my sincerity.  God takes care of
those who take a stand for the Truth.  

      "So, what things caused these changes in my life?  This has been difficult for some to understand, as I now believe in the same Lord Jesus
Christ which I always have.  I believe in the same infallible and inerrant Bible that I always have.  I have always believed in the virgin birth, the
reality of Heaven and Hell, and the preceding judgment.  And I have always seen the church as a local, autonomous body.  Much of my
thinking has not changed.  

      "The changes did not come about because of incidentals or a matter of expedience.  I did not leave my former faith and fellowship
because I ceased to love my former brethren - we have the best of relationships, speaking of the people I worked directly with as their
pastor.  I did not leave it because I became miffed at some sentiment of the ________________________ convention, though I disagreed
with many of the _______________ practices.... Instead, my change was due strictly to conviction of what the Word of God teaches....  

      "I must wear the name of my Lord.  And I can't in good conscience give coequal billing to any man-made religious name in relation to the
name of Jesus Christ....I hurt inside when I think of all those I have taught wrongly....Tearing down presuppositions in order to see clearly
God's Truth is a difficult task at best, but can be done with humble, honest and sincere hearts." [26]  

      So, encourage your pastor or minister or preacher or whatever title he goes by.  Pulling out of denominationalism may mean him losing a
well-respected position in the hierarchy of that denomination.  The persecution he may face will be much greater than what ordinary members
do.  Encourage him and let him know he will not lose his job and the members of his congregation will stand by him.  


                               Newness of Life  

      Re-read the discussion about change in chapter four.  Discuss it as a congregation.  Then pray, pray, pray.  Pray together.  Have chain
prayers.  Have prayer groups.  Pray each hour of a 24-hour day.  Watch your tolerance for each other grow.  Watch your differences melt
into insignificance in the shadow of the cross.  

      If you want a reliable sign on how to change, contact some neighbors to your church building and offer to provide breakfast some
Saturday morning in exchange for them candidly telling you what they think of church in general and yours in specific.  This is called a focus
group.  Ask for permission to record their comments for the entire congregation.  Then write them up and talk about them as a congregation.  

      Finally, give it a try.  Set aside one Sunday where you will follow only what the New Testament specifically says for the church, not what
it infers or you wish it had said.  If the Bible is silent about something, omit it.  

      At this first service, hand out a bulletin to everyone explaining what will happen so no one is caught by surprise.  Then read an
appropriate scripture before each activity such as before the singing, before the praying, before the Lord's Supper, etc.  This way everyone
will understand it is specifically represented in the God's Word.  And include these scripture in your bulletin where it lists each separate activity
so everyone can go home and look it up and study it in private.  

      Then invite friends to come.   

      Remember when you first turned your life over to God?  Remember your excitement?  Maybe it's been hard to get that excited since
then.  But now, using the exciting first-century pattern, the New Testament pattern, you will have a new excitement.  For now, your Sunday
morning services will reflect God's love for everyone through you.  

      This is the time to invite friends.  While you're still excited.  "We tried something new in church last Sunday.  It was unbelievable!  I felt so
warm and so wanted.  I know it's going to change my life for the better.  Go with me next Sunday!"  

      Many people will say no at first.  That is just because they need time to think.  The first no never really means no.  Give them time to
think, then ask them again.  Tell, tell, tell.  Ask, ask, ask.  Your heart will overflow so much when you enter into worship the way Jesus
intended it.  

      Worship that is simple, but dynamic in its simplicity.   

      Help us, God.  We want to worship you.  We want to be pleasing to you.  Help us do this!  

      Oh Jesus.  We get set in our ways.  We think we're already in heaven, and forget to constantly re-examine ourselves.  Forgive us
for setting ourselves before others.  Forgive us for holding back from being the example you want us be.   

      Forgive our selfishness in the way we worship you, regardless of the lost outsiders and even the lost among us who want to
know you too.  

      Forgive our fears.  Help us understand that we cannot be "more than conquerors through you" unless we have something to
conquer.  Take us in our weakness, and be our strength.  

      You are our help and strength.  You are our rock of salvation.  You are the path we trod, the light that shines it, and our ultimate
destination.  We fall at your feet unworthy.  We fall at your feet whispering "Thank you."    






                               ENDNOTES

[1].  The Holy Bible:  New International Version, International Bible Society, 1988.  [All Bible references from NIV unless otherwise
noted.]   
[2].  Wells, H. G.,
The Outline of History:  The Whole Story of Man, Vol. I, Book VI, Ch. 28, Garden City Books, Garden City, NY, Pg.
438-439.  

[3].  Reasoner,
Be One, pg. 264-265.  

[4].  Luther, Martin  

[5].  Wesley, John,
Notes on the New Testament  

[6].  Wells, H. G. The Outline of History Vol I, Book VI, Part XXXI, Pg. 544-545.  

[7].  Goldin, Hyman E., translator,
Code of Jewish Law, Hebrew Publishing Co., N.Y., Vol. I, pg. 125-129.  

[8].  Reasoner, N. J.,
Be One, N. D. Elliott, Printer, Salem, OR, 1928, (Restoration Reprint Library, College Press, Joplin, MO. December
1926,) pg. 252-253.  

[9].  Wells, H. G.,
The Outline of History Book VI, Ch. 28, pg.438-439.  

[10].  Reasoner,
Be One, pg. 233.  

[11]. Reasoner,
Be One, pg. 233 and 236.  

[12].  George, David L.,
The Family Book of Best Loved Poems, Hanover House, Garden City, NY, 1952, pg. 400-401  

[13].  Reasoner,
Be One, pg. 280.  

[14]. Wells, H. G.,
The Outline of History, Book VI, Ch. 28, pg. 432.  

[15].  Allen, Roland,
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1962, pg. 43-48.  

[16]. Allen,
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, pg. 98 and 106.  

[17].  Allen,
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, pg. 124.

[18].  Allen,
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, pg. 7-8.  

[19].  Allen,
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, pg. 12-13.  

[20].  Allen,
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, pg. 15-16.  

[21].  Allen,
The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, pg. 156-157.  

[22].  Reasoner,
Be One, pg 269.  

[23].  Reasoner,
Be One, pg. 248.  

[25].  Reasoner,
Be One, pg. 257.  

[26].  
Restoration Leadership Quarterly, "The Spotlight," Winter 1985, pg. 3.