Where do church buildings fit in?

Jerry Hill, on his perspective on church buildings and what they did in Guatemala:

Where do church buildings fit in? They are not mentioned in the New Testament. With “all creation” as the goal, God’s army moved swiftly over the earth, leaving behind Christ’s church meeting in homes. Financial resources went to preaching and to helping circumstance-stricken people. World evangelism was accomplished. Since then, our systems have not duplicated that all-important feat. Respectfully speaking, church buildings and the struggle to get the gospel to every human are comparable to a pentagonal, permanent structure in Washington and the invasion of Normandy. I think a better question would be, How fast do you want to move? In our preaching in Guatemala, we opted to leave the decision of a meeting place up to the troops.

From his book on the first years of their work in Guatemala, unavailable on the internet or in print form, as far as we could discover.

Unlikely choice

Felipe was an unlikely choice as a pulpit preacher. In a society where vanity says, “I can’t learn anything from him. I know more than he does,” I have always said, “I can learn from anybody who speaks God’s word. Listen!” He was painfully shy and he had difficulty articulating. His conversion dated back almost to the beginning. His faithfulness and participation in activities had helped to bring him through many personal difficulties. He had something to say. The church needs to hear from such men. He was certainly not eloquent, but neither was any other preacher in the New Testament said to be, besides Apollos (Acts 18:24). Would you expect Galilean fishermen to be orators? Or for a tax collector for the Romans to be? Even Paul’s speech was said to be contemptible (2 Corinthians 10:10). But Felipe’s preaching was not often from a pulpit, but, like most Guatemalans, in conversations, in homes, at work. —Jerry Hill

The workers in the Kingdom are most unlikely candidates.

The sum of it

Jerry Hill on conversions around 1967 in Guatemala: “These exciting times helped us conclude: when the gospel is preached, there are going to be conversions; when the gospel is preached more, there are going to be more conversions.”

What’s the lesson for us?

Preach and follow the leads

Jerry Hill, again, in his book about their work in Guatemala, which I’m enjoying:

A chain of events like this begins with someone preaching the gospel. It is predictable that important reactions will occur. It is impossible to know what they will be, whom they will involve or where they may lead. The preacher will be disappointed at times that his plans for certain people in certain places were not realized. But he will be elated many times over when the unpredicted events bring in people, at places, and with results that no one foresaw. I believe this is fundamental to preaching the gospel to all the world in each generation: preach, and follow the leads! p. 44.

Great advice! God will open doors that we never dreamed of.

Preaching in Acts and today

Reading Jerry Hill’s book on their work in Guatemala. He wrote on page 23,

That preaching [in the book of Acts] was not our Sunday morning and evening lecture to believers. We’re prone to interpret biblical activities by our present practices. The word preach is used in Spanish and English versions to relate how Philip communicated the gospel to the eunuch (Acts 8:35) and how it was related from house to house (20:20), at Paul’s prison-house (28:1), as well as situations that involved many hearers (9.20). During my lifetime, it seems to me that preaching is the common verb used to express what happens in a church service and a campaign. We may overlook that those who teach their spouse or neighbor the gospel are preaching in a biblical sense. And aren’t those who do so preachers? We thought we saw in these simple truths that Guatemalan preachers were going to be prepared more quickly than the modern orator that each congregation likes to have and call the preacher nowadays. It seemed, too, that there should be no limit on the number of preachers in a church.

He’s spot on about the way Americans use the words preaching and preacher. It’s a bad reflection on the church. Very bad. Points up some unbiblical practices.

Evangelism bad, evangelist good?

  1. Ironic that many in the church think it’s wrong to do evangelism (that old postmodernist view) while the word “evangelist” has become a popular secular term.

  2. Prayer sites, more than Bible-related sites, are problematic. It’s one thing to filter through denominational language and doctrines while reading, quite another to do it for prayer.

  3. This is not a bad description of God’s jealousy: “God’s passionate commitment to God’s people.”

  4. The Taizé people sing, “God is nothing but love.” God in our own image here? God is love, certainly, says 1 John 4.8, 16, but he is more than love.

  5. Create a Now page. Cool idea.

  6. An original verse: From now till then, from here to there, / With thumbs on a phone glued to your chair.

  7. A Bible verse: “The voice of the Lord is powerful. The voice of the Lord is majestic” Psalm 29.4 GW.

More home Bible studies

A brother posted to two email groups and said,

I want to encourage others, especially our younger preaching brethren, to make more use of home Bible studies.

Right proper encouragement. I wonder what percentage of preachers — young and old — are apt and prepared to teach someone the gospel outside the pulpit.

A brother told me about one preacher who had never converted a soul teaching one-on-one. If that is not unusual, it’s no wonder growth has stagnated in the USA.

Here is where real church growth will happen, when preachers and all saints begin teaching in the homes.

Success in church growth

One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means.

The same can be said for church growth. Many people write about it. Few have done it. Some have produced something that looks like church growth, but which is in fact a swelling of people or a selling of a product. Those who have done it may not be able to explain the true reasons for it. Some write from a biblical standpoint, and it is to scripture that we must go for the causes and contributions to church growth. But even then is it legitimate to write about what one has never done and does not plan to do, by obeying the Lord’s mandate?

How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love – Brain Pickings