House2House Questionaire

19 12 2013
I just received a monthly news-letter from house2house.com written by my friend Paul Byrley. He talks about church “movements” including those who are in the simple, organic, house church movement if either we become like the others who are only good for a start but has a “bad or not so satisfying” ending. He quoted an analogy by an author named Mike Breen saying that “so many movements in the Western church have failed in the past century. They are a car without an engine, it won’t go anywhere.” The same is true with simple churches: if we simply do what we have been doing, even multiply it by hundreds of times; the programs, the meetings, the leadership, the systems in our simple churches, it won’t go anywhere.

I had my share of “honey, I shrunk the church” for 8 years. I have seen the complications of multiplying the system into smaller churches rather than multiply disciples. I had to face myself of questions of which I do not have the answer. I felt so ashamed of myself in the sight of God and friends. I know how to evangelize and do crusades, start churches and to preach, start a band and do concerts at mall, do discipleship ‘classes’ and sunday schools BUT I do not know HOW to make disciples that makes disciples. I decided, with my wife, to kill ourselves: literally stop doing what we are currently doing and wait on God to give us the work and teach us how to do it. A person who wants to obey the King’s command to make disciples has to stop doing what He is currently doing or else he can’t do what the King have ask him to do. So we die so that He might live.

“What are you doing to be the Church?”

“How do you make disciples?”

“How are you caring for the least of these?”

After reading the article and the above questions was challenge by its readers I want to share a bit of our stories. Although many stories of how we live Jesus-Life-Together as a family in our sites and Felicity has written a new one, allow me to write something.

It is important to “treat” each other’s members as part of your extended family. If someone is at fault or there’s a need of correction and rebuking I always ask myself, “What if he is my own brother/sister how should I talk to him/her?” I normally ended up not talking to the person unless I know exactly what to say, when to say, where to say and how to say it. At times, I wish I had a duct tape on my mouth. “He who manage well of his own children can manage the household of God.” This is what Paul says to his “son in the faith” Timothy. Being the church is being family to each other. Now, that’s a lot of relationships in there. We are a body and so the hand could not say to  the foot, “I have no need of you until next Sunday.” Because the way we look at church as a family, we do not have Christian “neighbors” then. We don’t “support” a brother, we “help” him of his need. We serve one another in the community through our gifting and talent that Father has given to each one of us. We start living next door to each other. We started sharing each others possessions. We do not buy from each other and we do not sell to each other. We give and receive, we “accept” one another. Following the apostolic pattern in Acts 2:42-46 and the life of the Thessalonian Saints, yes, we have had our struggles and challenges. Only different than how most Institutional Churches and house churches look like.

We have orphans and widows among us and around us. We helped the widows on their need and fathered and mothered the orphans. We don’t start “orphanages mentality ministries” such as Children’s Feeding Centers or Orphanages or Elderly Homes. We invite them to our families and become families. We encourage families to adopt a parentless child like one of my sisters adopted one orphan who has two children (orphans too right?) and start helping her of her needs. Thus, widows have families to be with and orphans have father-mother figure. I normally say that a child in the orphanage is an orphan but an orphan in the family is a child.

Because it’s a family-based relationships and not just meeting-based relationships, we don’t do meetings we just meet a lot as any normal healthy families do. We don’t “attend” a family, we are family. We live the Life of Jesus Together in the community in a daily basis (Hebrews 3:13) thus meetings is only a by-product of our lives being knit-together. As one of my fathers in the Lord Mike Peters would say, “A family that you “attend” is not a family, it is an orphanage. People in the orphanage may do-things-together, eat together or play together yet it is still an orphanage, not a family.”

This is what we are doing to be the church with each other. How about to be the church to our neighbor? A story might be a good idea at this point:

“Albert, why not read your Bible in the morning with a widow that we just handed a wheelchair?” I encourages him to not waste his time reading his Bible alone every morning and instead do “one more mile” by reading it “aloud” to a widow who cannot read anymore. I don’t know if I was led or not but one night I kept on thinking what can we do to serve the community around us. I woke up in the morning and start roaming around, get in to small foot paths and right inside to small houses. Found several old lonely people, one is even look like she’s inside a cage for years. Then I went to one of the Japanese surplus shop and get a rusty, flat tire broken wheelchair for $50. Tied it with my bike and went home and fix it and took it to one of the old-widow woman in the community. That’s when Albert starts seeing her every morning, brining her food from our common garden, help cook food, fetch water, clean her house and eat together and read the Word of God. And in four days of loving and caring he baptizes her on her toilet room. Some verses I am not good to remember, but somewhere in the Bible it says that “you young man should take good care of your widows”?

Not for long, the friends we make have become disciples. We know how to make people curious about the Kingdom of God. We just live kingdom life amongst them and then they start asking good questions. Our way of life demands a question: What are you guys? Why are you doing this? Why did you do that? Why you do things differently? Why you see things differently? What is this all about? What is your religion? Any kinds of questions we led them into the kingdom of God by answering back, “Do you really want to know? Are you really seeking the truth? Do you want to know the truth?” And mostly their answer is yes and then we continue, “If so, then I cannot tell you yet what and why. I am gonna have to make you a disciple first.”

As normal in our making disciples conversations one would ask more, “Why?”

“Because spiritually dead people could not understand spiritual things. So, I’m going to make you a disciple first and then later I will explain to you what kind of stuff I am made of and what country I belong.” This is how we bring people into a decision to become Jesus disciples. We don’t give our pearls to pigs and let them trample it. People who ask questions about the way you live are normally ready to enter into the Kingdom of God. Because the kingdom will not be given to people who do not even know how to ask the right question. You have become the “witness” of it, an “ambassador” of your country, the “Kingdom of God.” This is how we start making disciples and within 3-6 minutes “making,” the person is already willing to be baptized immediately without delay.

We don’t negotiate with dead people. We bury them as quick as we can. When Jesus said “go and make disciples AND baptize them” means that it is your prerogative to make baptism happen, not the other guy. But if he himself offered to be baptized during the “making” like the Eunuch with Stephen who shares the Messiah then you’re an expert if making disciples!

“How are you caring with the least of these brethren?”

Here is the architecture of the New Testament Church: 1) They have orphans and widows 2) They have spiritual parents who look after their “children in the Lord” as a family, the one’s that they’ve made into disciples 3) They have kingdom projects that in turn support the 1 & 2 and number four, their “last priority” is they support the poor that is “outside” of them, why? because there is no poor “inside” of them. “No on is poor among them because they own everything.” (Wolfgang Simson)

When it comes to loving one another as disciples of Jesus, we ask a question: How much can we lay down our lives to one another? We’re not that expert yet about it but we have had some wonderful times together obeying Jesus commands to take care the members of our family.





Lunch Time Conversation:

16 10 2013

Lunch Time Conversation:

Lunch time conversation:

“Francisca wants to be baptize,” Albert’s mom shared. She came from the mountain where she lived. “Can we baptize her today?”

“Just what did you do, why it’s easier for you to just ask people to be baptize?” Her daughter inquired.

“Well, they believe in me and whatever I say to them they will believe it also.” She replied.

“Why, what did you just said anyway?” I ask while cooking eggplant for lunch.

“I told her that you must go through baptism so that your sins since while you were youth will be forgiven and you will be cleansed. Imagine how old you are now?”

Francisca is a widow already and over sixty years old.

“And how did Francisca replied?” I ask.

“‘That must be right because when I was a baby and baptized in a Catholic Church I have no idea what’s going on.’ Was Francisca’s reply.”

Catholics in my country has backgrounds of Jesus death on the cross. This makes more easier to let them believe in Jesus when you make them His disciples.

(On the right is Auling, Albert’s mother, whom he makes into a disciple one midnight. On the left is Analyn, Albert’s sister who has made some disciples as well. One who took this photo is Arlen, older sister of Analyn who made a lot of disciples that reach up to the 14th generation. Three of them were sent for two days to make disciples and they made five. Actually, we don’t intentionally sent disciples to make disciples, that happens only when planned out. But normally, as we ‘go along’ our daily routine here and there it just happens. As i always said, if one really knows his real job [make disciples] then other things are just temporary. You just happen to be a carpenter or a doctor or just a person cutting grasses on people’s lawns. You are a disciple-maker and you are aware of that every moment of your day. This is our life-style: makers of finest disciples who makes disciples!)





Discipleship By Life

19 09 2013

“Discipleship” in today’s implications is based solely on ‘teachings.’ Teaching for a purpose of having the ‘right doctrine’ that leads to more mere knowledge about God. Example, on Discipleship Lesson 3: Prayer. But teaching a group about prayer doesn’t lead them to pray. To learn how to pray is to pray. God will give you the work, and the work will teach you how to do it.

“How do you do teaching Molong?” someone ask me. Although, the tune is obvious: if no one is teaching, then the disciples doesn’t grow. But Jesus is the Vine, we are not. How do we do teaching now in a family-community context without ‘going to church’ but being one?

Well, I don’t do ‘discipleship’ but I do make disciples. We go out and walk and make friends and make disciples. We don’t stay and sit and soak and sour in a religious box. I don’t do “Bible Study” but we do discuss and study the Bible, we don’t do “prayer meetings” but we do pray a lot. We don’t do “meetings” but we meet a lot because it’s a family. And because it’s a family, there are ‘fathers and mothers in the Lord’ as well as ‘children in the Lord’ and because you don’t raise a son or a daughter by the book but you teach him/her how to cook, how to clean, how to plant, how to read and write, how to weld, how to sew, how to fix the light, how to paint, how to make a table, how to create something, how to invent something, ….. that’s how we do ‘teaching’ here.

All happened in the house, in a family atmosphere where there are “hundreds of mothers, brothers, sisters, houses, possessions, persecutions and even eternal life!”

When a native tribal leader was asked, “What did the missionaries did to you?”

“Well, they taught us about God” was his quick reply. And with a sad face he added, “but they never taught us how to live.”

I would rather teach the person how to cook an egg than teaching him how to do Sunday school on Sunday’s. Christianity is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings.





Apostolic Hub

19 11 2012

APOSTOLIC HUB

taking house/simple/organic church deeper


An apostolic hub is where Christians live together from “house to house.” and begin “sharing everything” that they have with one another. They don’t “buy and sell” from each other or “borrow” resources from each other, but they make everything available to be used up as a “gift” in service to one another. No one owns anything for himself or herself, (except their wives and husbands) everyone shares what they have and therefore own everything. Because they share everything, there is no needy person among them. They are not just “Christian neighbors” who happen to live next door; they are a family!  They don’t ‘support’ a brother; they ‘help’ a brother. 

An apostolic hub is basically, a “spirit” where three things happen: gather, kill and cast. Whenever people follow Jesus, He gathers them to Himself then He kills them, “deny yourself, take up your cross”, let’s go to the cross and crucify you. The life that you knew is over. From now on follow me. In our churches, we gather but we don’t kill. We let each one live as he pleases and fail to teach them to deny their very lives. Then Jesus after killing the person, that’s why we burry (baptize) them, casts them out (in Greek, the word ‘ekballein’ used in Lk 10:2 is the word used in the process of driving out demons) to the field saying, get out and be fruitful; get me some followers to serve me and my family! Today, leaders train other ‘to-be-leaders’ in order to have their own followers. This is not how it is in His Kingdom.

An apostolic hub has four kinds of people with them: 
1. Orphans and widows. In the society, no one takes care of them, God has given them to us (Jas1:27). God adopts us as sons and daughters and as good followers of God we adopt orphans as our own and look after the widows. If not us, then who would do this? Orphanages are not God’s idea, it is a human convenience that replaces adoption.  
2. Spiritual Dad and Mom. They are the “mature spiritual parents in the Lord,” the apostolic dad and the prophetic mom, nourishing, caring, coaching, equipping and releasing their “children in The Lord”. (Ep 4:11-13)
3. Skilled workers with business projects. There are talented and creative people, entrepreneurs who would initiate businesses to advance the Kingdom (Acts 18:1-5) to help the above mentioned to freely do what they are called to do. Especially the spiritual dad and mom to be financially cast out to initiate kingdom movements. Phil 4:15. 
4. Poor people. The last on the list is the unbelieving poor around them. (Mk. 14:7) That is, the poor that is ‘outside’ of them because there is ‘no poor among them.’ Christians take care first those that are in the ‘household of faith’ or else the outside screaming need of injustice and poverty will suck out the entire budget very quickly and we will deprive our own family and miss the purposes of God’s family. We are God-driven; not need-driven.

Remember the kind of church that Jesus said, “a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden”? It is exactly what David also said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brethren DWELL TOGETHER in unity.” The New Testament recognition of ekklesia in a given city is not by religious edifices or numbers. There is one ekklesia in Thessalonica, one in Ephesus and they live like the ‘church in Jerusalem’. It is the first church and it is our model today (Acts 2:42-46) to follow. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for unity is not about doctrinal unity. Leaders of organizational churches are busy trying to create another doctrine that would somehow unites us, while their own churches are in chaos. Some build churches this way and others that way, showing the obvious that we don’t really know what we build. Simply said, it is not our job to build churches. We steal His job of building ekklesia. Imagine, 44,000 different brands (denominations) of Christianity is competing and hindering Church as God wants it. Looks like Jesus cannot marry a beautiful Bride but a harem. 

In the words of Aristides, when sent by the Emperor Hadrian to spy those strange creatures known as ‘Christians’, having seen them in action, he returned with a mixed report. But his immortal words to the Emperor have echoed down through history: “Behold! How they love one another.” This is one of the profound comments made regarding the early church life (Church Swindol). Wolfgang Simson has a suspicion that the early church “although hate one another, yet still love one another.” Mike Peters along with other 300 saints who live ‘from house to house’ had this experience with one another saying, “we love each other because we hate each other.” 

Ron Mc Kenzie, in his book “Being Church Where We Live”, believes that the early church way of living ‘from house to house’ is not a principle to follow but only a ‘default system’ that when someone wants to be part of the Kingdom people, “a city that is set on a hill” then he knows what to do. The reason behind is because they want to ‘obey everything that Jesus commanded’ including the 58 one-anothering. They change their priorities and literally decide to be of ‘one mind, one heart and one accord ‘ and live next door to each other obeying the King – their Head, together as His one body. 

That’s why Wolfgang Simson says that a hub is a ‘spirit,’ not much of a location. If it were a location then any human initiation with money, land and resources, without the Spirit of the living God will be able to do it as well. 

The word ‘fellowship’ in Greek is ‘koinonia’ that is connected to the word ‘dwell together’ meaning ‘they are of one mind and one heart, one common life, one common joy and pain, one common purse.’ In his book, Revolution Without Dancing, Mike Peters describes it as, ‘if one buys a ship then everybody owns it.’ That’s what exactly the early church did. “No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had – so there was no needy person among them.” Acts 2:45.

Christians in a city or town, living far from each other and meet once a week for ‘listen-things-together’ and not ‘do-things-together’ like in a house/organic church life-style, cannot simply comply the one-anothering alone how much more the ‘koinonia?’ 

The apostle Paul, in his apostolic journey ‘didn’t stop here and there to preach from house to house’ (Acts 20:20). He stayed in those locations as one of them, as a spiritual parent giving birth to spiritual children, nourishing, imparting, bringing gifts and encouragement to the saints. 1Thes. 2:8, Rom 1:11-12. Whenever Paul traveled, he stayed ‘from house to house’ not ‘from hotel to hotel.’ He stayed where he can do things together with other saints, not do a seminar or conference to them and at the end sell his letters for a $24.99 each. 

Imagine a life of ekklesia in our own city like this! 

I don’t know about you, but in the end, not only God longs to look at the fruit you bear, but also me. I want to see it with my own eyes and enjoy His favor. 





Part Two: BUTUAN TRIP

16 08 2012

Another late at night table conversations again with just Ronie, Jomie and I. This time his struggles of catching up people that needed to be baptized immediately has been delayed. And there are already some of them who are backing out.

“Why, you cannot baptize them directly?” I ask Ronnie.

“They are still on their working time,” he spoke in a soft voice, “these people are bakeshop workers.”

“Well, since the owner allowed you to hold Bible studies to her workers why not ask for a couple of minutes to take them to a nearby sea or pool or let her buy a big water drum to use it for baptism just at the back of her shop?”

“I already ask her permission but it was too late. Probably next time we could do it.” Ronnie is very excited about making disciples, he is sure now that he knows how to make people disciples of Jesus. It is however a normal struggles for beginners. Especially when you are used to preaching to the crowds or just sharing the Good News to someone hoping to let them do a “sinner’s prayer” and gave them ‘new’ life without burying the ‘old.’

We had the same experience here in Cebu when I made Albert a disciple, not until Albert made Jomie a disciple that both of them were baptized together. But I only baptizes Albert, and let Jomie help me out. And after I baptized Albert I let him baptized Jomie and I help him out. Passing the baton of not just making disciples to the next generation but also doing baptisms is important for multiplication. I suspect, in Acts 2, after Peter’s preaching to the crowd, there are those who was ‘cut to the heart’ and ask, “What shall we do to be saved then?” Three thousand souls were added to the church that day. How did they do baptisms then? In Jerusalem there are pools around to use for taking baths. More than 30 of them scattered in the city. So, they divided the crowds among the 120 disciples with Peter and baptizes them all in one day. Probably baptizing each other too.

From Albert, whom I made and baptized, he is the first person that I make a disciple of Jesus two and half years ago. And on his wing alone, he made 42 disciples up to the 12th generation. Actually, its Jomie and him partnering together. Several times, both of them made two, each take on each one and within just 5-6 minutes they baptizes the person already. Many stories after stories from their sites www.albertpacquiao.wordpress.com and www.pation.wordpress.com

Read the rest of this entry »





The Early Church Security System

17 05 2012
The early church was so set up that it gets its security system in their Lord and the saints, the church. “No one is poor among them for they owned everything.” Such ‘koinonina’ is so attractive to the world that though they were forbidden to speak the Name of Jesus but their benevolence, their love towards each other have reach to the ears to those that are outside of them. One of the most profound comments made regarding the early church came from the lips of a man named Aristides, sent by the Emperor Hadrian to spy out those strange creatures known as “Christians.” Having seen them in action, Aristides returned with a mixed report. But his immortal words to the emperor have echoed down through history: “Behold! how they love one another.” (Chuck Swindol)The early church is obviously a part of a secret kingdom: The Kingdom of God. In Whose King gathered those who are His own, redeemed them, make them a people, the ‘ecclesia’ who has His domain and by and through them starts building His own Kingdom. Such loyalty have formed them into ‘one heart and one mind’ that because of their King and one another and that they are able to look and watch another’s back, literally they transferred their residence next door to each other. It is the pattern that is called “from house to house.”

Such desire came from above Who is Divine but chose to be clothed with human dirt and live in our neighborhood (Jn 1:14). If we really love those people whom we serve then we must be willing to live among them where we can ‘encourage and exhort DAILY so that no one will be entangled by sin.’ We have to be awaken to the truth that when a sinner becomes a saint then he becomes our brother and so a part of our family. So what could be the point of ‘going’ without living ‘with’ them? Jesus says, “Go, eat with them, stay with them and model My Kingdom that is in you there. Tell them that the Kingdom of God has come upon you, through you.” He didn’t say, “Visit for two hours, heal the sick, cast out demons, invite them to your church, ophs, don’t forget to put on some lotion against mosquitos and alcohol for germ-free, and after you’re done with your two hour visit, go back to your hotel and bath for four hours.”

Where could be the visible ‘scene in action’ of loving one another for the world to see the Kingdom of God abode amongst His people? The modern church building with its weekly meetings, grafted with some cell stuff movement and borrowed methods, foreign to the early church is the only one we’ve got. If one questions me if we really have to follow the early church way, my answer is why not? What patterns do you follow except what is early enough that you and i were not even born yet? The modern church which has not only has fragmented meetings but also fragmented lives in the community they live in. This is impossible for almost sixty ‘one-anothering’ commands to fulfill. The early church model of ‘house to house’ is so designed not for individualities isolation and interest but to corporately follow it’s Lord’s Head as we are His body. It is important for us to align ourselves for growth purposes: its “whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph.4:16)

Growth doesn’t come by just simply having endless meetings.  Yes, the early church ‘meet daily’ and that is possible because they live ‘from house to house.’ They don’t do ‘daily-meetings,’ they do ‘daily-livings.’ When we meet weekly, that means we talk what we ‘daily do’s’ because we know nothing of each others lives on a daily basis.
See, the psalmist David, the king of Israel understand the blessing of living together. He said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to DWELL TOGETHER in unity! …For there the Lord commanded the blessing – Life Forevermore.” (Psalm 33:1-3) I don’t know about how you read this. But it didn’t say, “meet together” in a weekly basis. The “meetings” we have is only a by-product of our daily-life-together.
Where and who do you live your daily life with?

May you have a rich relationship with Christ,

Molong




A Letter to a friend who wants to start a housechurch

31 01 2012

Thoughts I shared with my Filipino partner in Canada who is starting a church.

Let others get what really a church in the Bible is. Because how we understand “Church” is how we express it.

1. it is not a building nor the meeting, it is the people and their relationship. many church has people but lack relationships.

2. church is you and me, church is where HE lives, not where we meet. this is important, because most house church thought that the ‘house’ became a church now.

3. Mostly, Church is a family. Any healthy family can easily understand this. “He who manage well of his own household can manage the household of God.” But being ‘good fathers and mothers’ are not just able to do take good care of their children but they also teach the REAL Jesus. 🙂

4. Don’t start with having a ‘meeting’ but being a family. Have food, and have fun with everybody including kids. Any healthy family would not do meetings but they already met a lot because they have relationships. At least you could start that. Any Filipino’s know that if we start something at first not only we ourselves who initiate it has having a hard time ‘stopping’ it but also they are expecting you to do the same thing again next week. Example: A house church may study the Bible but it is not CALLED a ‘Bible Study Meeting’ or program. They may pray but it is NOT called a ‘Prayer Meeting.’ Nothing wrong with studying and praying but if that’s what we do every time we meet it will soon become a tradition. We don’t do them, but we discuss more of the Word and pray anytime we wanted to. Simpy because we are a family, we care for each other. It is not a lifetime of meetings but a lifetime of relationships.