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December 28, 2012

From Pastor Buckman

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

The following is taken from an email by Rev. James Buckman, the urban ministry strategist for our New Jersey District:

Someone has said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results”
This is not pleasant to hear, but it is just the truth- most people who describe themselves as Christian, do not want to go into a Sanctuary to worship God.  If you doubt this just compare your church’s baptized membership list with attendance any time other than Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday.
Some have responded to this reality by calling for change in how we reach out; but their goal is still the same– to provide Word and Sacrament ministry inside their Sanctuary.  What was the definition of insanity?….  Ah, yes, “doing the same thing but expecting different results”.
Planting House Churches is a game changer.  This is bringing the Sanctuary beyond the walls of the Church, into the homes, businesses and lives of everyday people.
In Colossians 4:15-16 we read these revealing words:
     “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.  After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.”
     The word for “church” in both verses is the same; in Greek it is “ekklesia”.  From this passage we learn that the Church (the “ekklesia”), gathered in Nympha’s house.
     As Lutherans, we define “Church” in these ways-
                        “the church is the assembly of saints and true believers.”
                              
                        “The holy Christian people are recognized by:
                                    – the holy word of God…
– the holy sacrament of baptism…
– the holy sacrament of the altar…
– the office of the keys (they belong to the people of Christ and are called “the church’s keys”)…
– the fact that it consecrates or calls ministers….
– prayer, public praise, and thanksgiving to God….
– the holy possession  of the sacred cross….
                        “In addition to these seven principal parts there are other outward signs that identify the Christian church, namely, those signs whereby the Holy Spirit sanctifies us(Luther, M. Vol. 41Church and Ministry III ) 
We also see from Colossians 4:16 that “Church” referred to all of the believers in a given area (in this case, Laodicea).
** Application for today- Church historically happened in both houses and larger, corporate gatherings; if we are looking for ways to share the Gospel; maybe we should consider the witness of Christ, the Church and Scripture.
LCMS House Churches are planted through existing LCMS congregations, under the supervision of the regularly called and ordained Pastors serving those congregations.  Our desire is to train men and women as House Church Planters who help their Pastor start new worshipping communities (usually in their homes).  Our desire is also to see our Pastors as overseers of new worshipping communities and we have been blessed by God to see 6 new House Churches planted in New Jersey.
When you are having a game changer, you better have someone with authority speak J  So, it is my pleasure to announce that the First VP of our church body, Rev. Dr. Herb Mueller will be our keynote speaker.
Because we want to make sure people know that this is “ok” in our church body, we are going to have an open dinner invitation on the evening of Feb 23rd.  You are invited to fellowship with Pr. Mueller and share in this exciting discussion about planting new worshipping communities.
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