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What brings you to this article?

 

Most of you have come to this article by reading through the Early Church History research article, or the Sabbatarian Churches of God in Rhode Island historical research paper, or even The Worldwide Church of God article.  You are obviously interested in what this article is proposing, or you wouldn’t be reading this.  Most of you could be coming from two distinctly different parts of the Body of Christ.  You could be Gentile Evangelical Christians who are interested in learning more about the Jewish roots of the Christian Church, or you could be ex-members of the Worldwide Church of God who came through all the doctrinal changes under Joseph Tkach Sr., but left that church shortly after Joe Tkach Jr. took over.  Having read the Early Church History article/research paper you have come to realize that the early Christian Church was predominantly Judeo-Christian, observing the 7th Day Sabbath and Holy Days of Leviticus 23 in a decidedly non-Torah observant manner.  This article puts forth a proposal to both of these groups.  For the ex-WCG members that for whatever reason left the Worldwide Church of God shortly after Joe Tkach Jr. took over, I realize that there are many of you living within the various areas where a Worldwide Church of God congregation met.  That was your church congregation.  You’re still in the general vicinity of where you attended.  What I am getting at, is there is a critical mass of ex-members within the geographical area of that old congregation you attended.  That’s important for what I am proposing.  From talking to some very close exWCG friends who find themselves in this “boat”, you have been burnt by that church, and more specifically by Joe Jr.  So I can fully understand your feelings, and your unwillingness or reticence toward stepping into something new.  But take an honest look at yourself.  You’re going nowhere spiritually, doing nothing with your precious calling from God.  So for now you’ve been hanging out right where you are, not doing much about your calling.  Also, by having been called by God into a Sabbatarian Church of God which has some very distinct beliefs not held by Gentile Sunday observing Christianity, you do not feel comfortable attending one of those Sunday observing churches.  That’s understandable.  I attend a very Holy Spirit inspired Sunday observing church, one whose sermons (by permission) I transcribe and put on this site, but in spite of how wonderful these folk are, I still feel uncomfortable, knowing it’s not my real church-home, knowing I’m sort of a spiritual orphan.  Are you tired of having that feeling?  I know I am.  Are you ready to do something about it?  Well, that’s up to you.  You’ve come far enough to realize that these Sunday observing folks do have the doctrinal right to observe Sunday, and yes, Christmas and Easter (cf. Romans 14:5-6, 22-23).  So you don’t feel comfortable because of some of the doctrinal distinctives you were spiritually “brought up with”, that do not square with what is taught in the Sunday or Gentile Christian churches.  So you sit there, living in the regional area of the old WCG congregation you were spiritually brought up in, sort of licking your wounds, feeling sorry for yourself (whether you admit it or not), and doing absolutely nothing about the precious calling God provided you with.  Hey, you know the God who created the heavens and the earth, you know evolution is false, you know the Holy Spirit gave you the ability to read the Bible and understand what you are reading.  Do you realize, most folks in this world can’t do that?   Isn’t it time to get over the hurt and move on?  You can do something about your situation. So you’re asking now, what can I do about it?  First, and this is the hardest thing, you must be willing to step out in faith and do something about it.  And it’s not like you are living way out in the middle of nowhere, where no one else who is in this same boat lives near you.  Most of you are living right in the region where you attended together with other folks in the same boat as you are in.  So, you’re still asking, ‘What can I do about this situation?’  Keep reading, that’s what, and see what I am proposing.  Take the time after that to mull it over, and most importantly, pray about it.

 

Distinguishing traits of the early churches in Asia Minor

 

Now as for the other group, well, you’re Sunday observing ‘Gentile Christians’ who are very interested in the ‘Jewish roots’ of the true early Christian Church.  You’re asking yourself ‘What would it have been like to attend one of those congregations?’  Well, based upon Scripture, coupled to recent research on early Church history, the Judeo-Christian Churches (of God) in Asia Minor would have had several major distinguishing traits.  1. They were very evangelistic, even under severe persecution.  2. They were a praying Church, and a Bible believing, Bible obeying Church.  3. Their ‘days of worship’ were distinctly 7th Day Sabbath and Old Testament Holy Days of Leviticus 23 (but strictly on a non-Torah observant manner after Acts 15 and Romans 14 were penned,  going from 55AD to 325AD).  For you exWCG members who came through the changes under Joe Tkach Sr., this would have been quite similar to the way the early Judeo-Christians were worshipping up to about 325AD in Asia Minor, under the apostle John, Polycarp and Policrates.  

 

What follows

 

What follows is a tentative description of what a non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God congregation would be like in a doctrinal sense, which is similar to what the early Judeo-Christian Churches were like in Asia Minor.  1. Evangelism:  The chief way these proposed semi-autonomous congregations would support the major international evangelistic organizations would be by each individual member actively participating on his or her own in the $5.00 a week program outlined on this site’s “Mission Statement”.  This special-purpose denomination will be strongly evangelical on both the international level and on the local and short-term missions level, and it will have a strong vision and battle-plan for helping the whole body of Christ to fulfill the main job Jesus gave the Church to accomplish before he returns.  In other words these congregations would be living examples of the Mission Statement of this website (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm).  This will not be simply a social club for exWCG members, who get together to commiserate over their past.  The Mission Statement has two parts, one outlines a strategy for bringing about the nourishing of the whole Body of Christ, the other outlines a viable strategy for supporting worldwide evangelism.  This special purpose denomination will 1) focus on the spiritual nourishment both of its own members and the whole body of Christ, by providing the most nourishing type and style sermons going (the connective expository preaching method), coupled to a solid focus on prayer and prayer ministries, and 2), it will focus, as each pastor feels appropriate for his local area, on local evangelism, and also the support of short-term missions (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm).  So, you see, if you are a part of this special-purpose denomination, your spiritual walk will be fulfilling and exciting, sometimes challenging.  Are you up to the challenge?  For those of you who came out of the Worldwide Church of God after Joe Tkach Jr. took over, here is your chance to be part of a spiritually vibrant church home that shares most of your doctrinal beliefs and spiritual upbringing.  You won’t be spiritually homeless anymore.  For those evangelical members of the Body of Christ who may be interested, you will find out what it must have been like attending an early Judeo-Christian church congregation in Asia Minor (want to live bit of early Church history?).  The Holy Day links on the next few pages describe the spiritual understanding the early Church attached to these days of worship God gave ancient Israel, the very days they worshipped God on for the first 290 years of the early Church.  Are you up for a spiritual adventure?  Are you tired of sitting around doing nothing about your calling?  What follows is a description of and proposal for the start-up of Internet Churches of God.  Now don’t let the name throw you.  You won’t become part of some weird online church that watches and attends some remote service over your computer screen.  These will be real congregations where believers in Jesus Christ come together in corporate worship, much as the early Church did, and on the days they did, in a totally voluntary manner.  Want to know more?  Then read on, and find out if this is really for you.

 

 

 

 

Non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God Should Have Two Major Distinctives

 

 

1st Distinctive, Prayer:  One thing I’ve noticed about the Torah observant house-Churches of God I’ve attended and gotten to know.  They’re static---stuck in place with only the same core members they have attending in each congregation.  They’re successfully “holding the fort” but not advancing in the first part of the Lord’s commission, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit….”  They do have the second part right, in a Torah observant manner, “….Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you….”  I really don’t think this has anything to do with the fact that they’re Torah observant Sabbatarian (Worldwide was under Mr. Armstrong, and boy did we do the first part).  I do think this has everything to do with the lack of concerted group-prayer within their congregations and services.  They have the Holy Spirit richly evident within their members, and they have a sound biblical understanding.  But the Holy Spirit isn’t drawing new converts into their congregations. They remain as they are, tiny little Sabbatarian house-Churches of God, tiny remnants of the early Churches of God---yet not dynamic, not growing and expanding in new members. 

         

The power of group-prayer

 

Now let’s look at the power of prayer.  Jesus said this to the disciples, giving them a very important principle in prayer.  This is what makes group-prayer so powerful and vital to our congregations.  Group prayer in the name of Jesus, prayed by Holy Spirit indwelt believers in Jesus, can pull down the very power of God from on high to accomplish what we are helpless to accomplish---which includes unlocking the mind of a deceived, blinded person of this world.  Let’s see what Jesus said.  Matthew 18:19-20, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”  In the realm of prayer, that has to be one of the most important passages in the whole Bible.  And yet so few churches, so very few congregations take proper advantage of this prayer-law set in place by Jesus.  Some vital principles of group prayer are explained on this link: http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/prayer-teamessentials.htm.  A whole church congregation in Brooklyn, New York has successfully applied these principles.  It grew from 25 members (who were ready to close the church doors and give up) to over 4,000.  Now while it’s true, God isn’t in the numbers game, quantity without quality, there is no reason why a sound ministry cannot receive the blessings of God and be large.  To read some vital excerpts from Pastor Jim Cymbala’s book FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/congregation.htm , and also buy copies of this book for your congregation, and apply it, along with the knowledge from the previous link.  Make prayer, effective prayer, the 1st distinctive of your non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God, and soon they will be full congregations.  Someone once said “Prayer begets revival, which begets more prayer.”  It must not be overlooked that prayer, the group-prayer within these Internet Churches of God, can also draw believers from other parts of the body of Christ into their congregations---spiritually challenging them by the Holy Spirit to want to help this “spiritual-military” unit within the body of Christ to accomplish its specific goals.

 

2nd Distinctive, Sabbath and Holy Days:  The second distinctive of these Internet Churches of God are the seventh Day Sabbath and Holy Days (of Leviticus 23) which they observe as their “choice” in days of worship.  When understood, the Biblical symbolism of these days, whether it be historic or prophetic, is far more spiritually relevant to the overall plan of salvation God details in his Word than the Gentile days of worship (Sunday/Christmas/Easter).  Just because “days of worship” have been made an optional choice for the Church in general during the Church Age doesn’t make the Old Testament days of worship given by God to Israel more inferior.  As a matter of fact, when properly understood, they are superior, as long as those who are observing them do no develop an attitude of superiority toward those who do not choose them as their days of worship.  The value is in what they teach and represent.  But God hates pride, especially the type of pride that often accompanies obedience.  We believers often look down upon the unsaved of the world, when in fact we ought to pity them and be praying for their salvation.  When those who observe God’s Holy Days and Sabbath look down upon Sunday/Christmas/Easter worshipping Christians, God hates that equally as much.  He hates pride in all its forms, and he hates it especially in his children, because it is bad for them.  So, just because these days of worship apparently have more spiritual content within them when properly understood, don’t get arrogant or prideful in your observance of them. 

          On the other hand, do not feel that you are all alone in your non-Torah observance of Sabbath and Holy Days.  The Lord God has just, within the past 40 years, restored the Messianic Jewish branch of the body of Christ (to upwards of half a million Jewish believers in Jesus).  And they all to the last man, woman and child observe these days, and most of them in a non-Torah observant manner.  That means, they look upon their Sunday/Christmas/Easter observing brothers in Christ as genuine believers in Jesus, and not as “false Christians” (as the Torah observant Churches of God tend to).  The historic and prophetic meaning of the Holy Days is a huge subject, with their various themes running throughout the whole Word of God.  But just to get you started, log onto  these links:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/Holydayshadows.htm  and this link to FALL HOLY DAYS. For the Spring Holy Days click on these two links Exodus from Egypt and Feast of Weeks/Pentecost

[CLICK HERE to go to a copy of the Internet Churches of God Christian Passover.]

Be sensitive to other’s beliefs

 

Understand, many of you who came out of the Torah observant Worldwide Church of God still adhere to the dietary laws of Leviticus 11.  The apostle Paul in explaining the freedoms we have in Christ over choice in days of worship warned believers to be careful about not offending believers who had chosen to keep observing Sabbath/Holy Days and dietary laws of Leviticus 11.  Because any non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God would naturally have some in their fellowship that adhere to the dietary laws, within these churches and congregations, all should adhere to them while they are actively fellowshipping within the congregation.  What you “allow” for yourself in your own home is your own business, as long as it doesn’t offend.  The same goes for putting out all leavened products during the Days of Unleavened Bread.  Most in these fellowships will be doing so.  While being non-Torah observant allows you freedom to not follow these practices, realize you are fellowshipping with and attending a church that does believe in these symbols, and as a group will be adhering to those observances and laws, albeit on a voluntary basis.  Same goes for fasting on the Day of Atonement.  Don’t like it, go to a Sunday observing church.  Be sure to understand the conditions of the freedoms Paul describes in Romans 14 which allow for you to worship as you do, and that this freedom does not include offending others within your congregation.  To learn more on that, and the central biblical foundation non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God are built upon, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm. These days of worship are your distinctive, and although you observe them on a voluntary basis, worship days are to be taken seriously, no matter what day you chose to worship on.  I hope no one who has read this far thinks that if non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God really do form up that this is just some human effort at “playing church.”  Far from it, it is a group of people who believe a certain way, worshipping the Lord on certain days, who are trying to live Christian lives, fully indwelt with the Holy Spirit and trying to help the whole body of Christ to fulfill it’s mission, stated in Matthew 28:18-20.  Their mission is similar to the mission statement of this site.  Should you call yourselves The Internet Churches of God and come under that banner, you should actively follow the $5.00 a week program outlined on this site’s mission statement  (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm.)  So what’s next?  For these non-Torah observant Churches of God, Internet Churches of God, to remain cohesive, even though they will be semi-autonomous, they will need to adhere to a common set of beliefs. 

 

Statement of Beliefs for aspiring “Internet Churches of God”

 

 

 

Primary Doctrines that define the faith:

 

There is one God (Elohim) in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  [persons is an incomplete and inadequate description for the Triune God, but it’s the best we have]  This “one God” is defined in the Old Testament in the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deut. 6:4).  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/john/john1-1-5.html.]   God in Genesis 1 is called Elohim, and in 1:26 God, Elohim said “Let us make man in our image.”  Adam and Eve were created one flesh, and as Paul indicated, it is the spirit in man, their human spirits intertwining in a married couple, that really creates this one flesh.  This is a direct type and picture of the Triune God, pictured between every couple. 

 

God the Father:  See John 6:27b; 1 Cor. 1:3; Gal. 1:1; Rev. 3:5, 21; Jer. 3:4, 19; 31:9; Mal. 1:6; Matt. 6:9, 32; Luke 10:21-22; John 1:14; 4:23; 5:17-26; 6:28-46; Rom. 8:14-15.

 

Jesus Christ:  Jesus Christ [Hebrew: Yeshua haMeshiach] is God the Son.  As John pointed out in John 1:1-14, Jesus was the pre-existent One called the Logos or the Word, who became flesh.  This very Logos was the one called Yahweh in the Old Testament, as Jesus himself admitted to seeing and talking with Abraham, and stating “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58; Exodus 3:13-14).  Jesus was Yahweh dwelling in the tabernacle in the Wilderness with Israel, and in Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus has existed, like God the Father and the Holy Spirit, eternally (Psalm 110:1, cf. Hebrews 1:13;  Isa. 9:6-7).   As John points out in 1st John, those who teach and believe Jesus is just a good person, and not God the Son, come in the flesh, eternally existent, are false Christians.  The Old Testament prophecies prove who Jesus of Nazareth is [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm.]

 

The Holy Spirit:  The Holy Spirit (Hebrew: Ruach HaKodesh) is first introduced in Genesis 1:2b, where Elohim describes the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God moving upon the waters.  The Holy Spirit indwelt Old Testament individuals and leaders such as righteous Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, king David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and all the holy Prophets.  In the New Testament the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus as the “Comforter”, which he gave to his disciples after his resurrection in John 20, and to all believers afterward, from Acts 2 onward.  He empowers us (Acts 1:8), seals us for eternal life (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).  If we have not the Spirit, we are none of his (Rom. 8:9).  He leads us and teaches us (Rom. 8:14-17).  Acts 2:38 says “Repent, be immersed [baptized], and receive the Holy Spirit.”  God used the Holy Spirit to create the heavens and the earth, and the creation described in Genesis 1 was done through Christ by the Holy Spirit.  The actual doctrine titled “the Trinity” was not initially taught in the early Church, but was teased out of the Scriptures over the first 300 years, and basically at first was a doctrine promoted by the church that became the Roman Catholic Church under Constantine.  It was used to help identify the Judeo-Christian Churches in Asia Minor, so they could be extinguished.  That is why Torah-observant Sabbatarian Churches of God, genuine remnants of these early Judeo-Christians, do not accept the Trinity doctrine, but call the Holy Spirit “the power of God”.  John nowhere identifies true believers from false by acceptance of the Holy Spirit as the third person of the God-head, and God has seen fit to bless all these Torah-observant Sabbatarian Churches of God with the indwelling Holy Spirit, regardless, so they as well, are genuine believers in Jesus Christ.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/TheHolySpirit.htm.]   The Holy Spirit alone makes the work of Christ effective to individual sinners, enabling them to turn to God from their sin and to trust in Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit lives in all those he has regenerated.  He makes them increasingly Christ-like [Messiah-like] in character and behavior, and gives them power for witness in the world.  The Holy Spirit is apparently omnipresent throughout the entire universe, holding physical matter together at the atomic level.  This is what makes “God”  omnipresent, and in ultimate control of the entire physical universe.

 

The Word of God:  We believe that the written Word of God (the Bible) is the true revelation of God to mankind (as written in its original Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew texts), and as such is infallible.  

 

Second Coming of Jesus Christ:  We believe in the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ to establish the physical Kingdom and government of God on earth, headquartered in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:9).  As such the “Church” is to be a “John the Baptist” type work, heralding the gospel of salvation, which includes a message of his 2nd coming to establish his Kingdom and government on earth. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm.] As such we believe in and teach a pre-millennial view of Bible prophecy, based on a more or less literal interpretation of both Old Testament and New Testament prophecy.

 

Secondary beliefs specific to our denomination: The secondary nature of many of the doctrines we held, and many of us still believe to be true, are not fundamental to the core beliefs of the Christian faith.  Nonetheless, most of us tend to believe these are true, and they form a major distinctive of our fellowship.  Most of these beliefs are to be found in the Jewish and Messianic Jewish prophetic interpretations of what the Holy Days of Leviticus 23 mean. We cannot be an effective link between the Jewish and Gentile sides of the body of Christ without believing these (with exception to our beliefs about hell). [see  http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/Holydayshadows.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/destiny/DestinyOfMankind1.htm.]

 

 

Hell: [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm ]

 

British Israelism: The individual is free to believe or disbelieve in this doctrine, but it is not officially taught by this fellowship.  If any elements of this doctrine are true, this will become evident as the final phases of the 2nd coming unfold.

 

Days of Worship:  Our days of worship are the voluntary observance of the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Holy Days of Leviticus 23.  The dietary laws of Leviticus 11 will be adhered to while members meet in group settings, as well as unleavened bread during the Days of Unleavened Bread, again in group settings. 

 

SPECIAL PURPOSE OF THIS “DENOMINATION”:  To promote unity through spiritual nourishment to the entire body of Christ so that it can more effectively promote the Gospel to the world in preparation for the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20), and to promote actual unity between the Jewish and Gentile sides of the body of Christ [see the final part of this document].  This website, UNITYINCHRIST.COM, is one of the major evangelistic and online functional tools for promoting this dual purpose of the Internet Churches of God.  We will directly contribute to the overall evangelistic unity of the body of Christ by support of the major international non-denominational evangelistic and care-giving organizations via the $5 a week program. This $5 a week should be deducted from each member’s tithe and sent individually by that member to these major organizations with the word’s “member Internet Church of God” written in the memo section of each donation check sent. [for details see http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm.] 

 

USE OF THE NAME “Internet Churches of God”:  Those individual groups of believers who wish to form up into congregations using the name “Internet Churches of God” should as groups believe and hold to this statement of beliefs as congregational units.  Freedom to believe what one wishes in the secondary areas exists within these congregations.  But if disagreement is sufficient to cause problems, those disagreeing individuals should find a true Christian fellowship that better suits their beliefs, and will be encouraged to do so by the congregational leader.  Not everything on this website that is of secondary nature must be believed by members of this fellowship.  For instance, there is much disagreement as to whether Global Warming is true or not.  It just seems to fit prophecy, and the facts point in this direction.  But it is not “gospel” truth.  The same is true with current events, some of which, when viewed down the road, may actually be elements of prophecy being fulfilled, while others may not be that are considered to be right now.   Use wisdom and keep an open mind in forming your own set of secondary beliefs, and respect the right of others within the body of Christ for their right to believe as they do.

 

Why UNITYINCHRIST.COM?  Why Create Internet Churches of God?

 

I came to see that the body of Christ is divided into many different denominations that are sometimes antagonistic to each other, yet many are genuine parts of the body of Christ.  This antagonism and rivalry often prevents the whole body of Christ from fulfilling it’s assigned mission (cf. Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20).  Also I discovered that the Lord had very recently revived the Jewish branch of the body of Christ.  Yet most of the Gentile side of the body of Christ ignored this huge miracle of God which he brought about through his Holy Spirit working amongst the Jews. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm].  Something needed to be done in the area of unity, something to help bring spiritual unity, as well as unity of actions and efforts amongst the various denominations.  That was the motive for founding UNITYINCHRIST.COM.  But I discovered the task was far too great for a mere Christian website.  That is where this vision led me, to see it’s ultimate fulfillment lay in the formation of a “special-task” denomination, a denomination of “spiritual paratroopers”.  Now it’s in God’s hands.  It’s one thing for me to lay all this out to you, the readers.  It’s something far, far beyond my ability to form all on my own.  As a matter of fact, the formation of this “denomination” is strictly in God’s hands now, as he inspires you the reader to either move on this idea, or sit pat where you are now in the body of Christ.  Some of you reading this may be ex-Worldwide Church of God members who were squeezed out of that fellowship as they went to Sunday/Christmas/Easter worship, while most of you will be those of Evangelical Christianity from wherever.  I know there’s interest in this area, as 7 thousand Evangelical Christians observed Sukkot in Jerusalem this past year. [see http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1191257216407&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter   ]  God is moving the two branches of the body of Christ together---Gentile and Messianic Jewish---regardless of what the denominations want or believe.    Do you want to be a part of what God is doing?  Then read on, and take action.

 

For those who desire to form up as Internet Churches of God, and desire tapes, but do not wish your request for tapes or your contact information to be revealed, when you enter your request on the Guestbook, write “PLEASE DO NOT POST” in the text body of your request.  All Guestbook entries come to my personal email address, and I can prevent their posting, and respond to your request anonymously, so your posting will never go online. 

 

Next, you may be asking, ‘Well, OK, this sounds like something I’d be interested in pursuing, I’m game, count me in.’  What follows are some start-up tips.

 

Small-group congregation start-up tips

 

The first priority of every church or small-group congregation is the steady week in, week out spiritual nourishment of that group.  Without it, the group or congregation, Bible study, whatever, will wither and die. A small-group congregation will not grow spiritually, and thus later numerically, with insufficient or poor spiritual nourishment.  I’ve seen it happen too often.  Also this spiritual  nourishment and fellowshipping must be on a steady weekly basis to be totally effective.  I have been a part of two house-church fellowships within the past year, and noticed one common denominator within both, and that was the great difficulty or strain placed on the person or family hosting the house-church or small group.    In one small-group this strain prevents them from having services, on average, no more frequently than once a month.  Even if they were providing the best possible spiritual sermon nourishment, it is way too infrequent to promote spiritual growth in anyone within the group.  Thus the small-group remains static in both size and spiritual health.  This brings us to an important point, the first point I wish to make to help enable your small-group to provide maximum nourishment and growth potential.  This point, if followed, will enable your group to meet every week.  This point brings up a touchy subject, but realize the health of the small-group depends on this. 

 

1.      The small-group needs to have the members that are regularly employed tithe to the group on the net of their incomes.  Chose out two members that serve the group the most (members who would more than likely be chosen later on as deacons), and have them set up a joint checking account for the small-group/congregation.  Now what will this do for the small-group/congregation?  With only five tithe-contributing members (say making $15 an hour, so their tithe on their net incomes would be about $45 a week), the small-group would collect sufficient funds weekly to be able to afford hall/building rental for weekly services.  The stress and strain would no longer be on a host-family to provide their home for services.  Any extra tithe money collected could go for a sound system that could play tapes of quality sermons, and other expenses as they arise, maybe like buying chairs.  As the group grows in size due to steady feeding on the Word of God, fellowshipping and prayer-meetings, eventually sufficient monies would be available for the salary of a pastor, and other needs of the congregation.  It must be realized that the first priority of the tithe money is to provide for the spiritual feeding and growth of that small-group’s members.  This tithe money is really God’s and he wants it used primarily to spiritually nourish the members donating it.  It’s sort of a sacred trust.  Many small groups stumble and fail due to the fact that they don’t understand this essential principle for growth. [to study further on the principles of gifts and tithing log onto  http://www.unityinchrist.com/gifts.htm.]

2.      Since these small-group/congregations we’re talking about are going to be semi-autonomous non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God, most if not all the funds donated and collected will stay within that local congregation.  Since you will be using connective expository sermon tapes provided by this site, after you grow sufficiently large (50 members or more), a small percentage should be sent to UNITYINCHRIST.COM (10%) to help defray those costs and help the site grow, to keep the nourishing flow of sermon transcripts growing, as well as pay for online advertising for this site. Don’t forget, some of your future members may come from people who are reading this article, so it’s a way of supporting some of your own growth. 

3.      As tithe funds start to build up, this money should also be used for rental of halls that can provide actual meals for the Holy Days, which are a specific distinctive of these non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God.  Don’t forget, the seven major Holy Days are days used for extra teaching in God’s Word, where “meat in due season” is provided.  Each set of Holy Days represents key elements of God’s overall plan of salvation for mankind.  Time is needed to teach the related Scripture passages that deal with these days and what they symbolize.  So much beautiful fellowshipping occurs while eating meals inbetween double Holy Day services, which helps make these days special, “iron sharpening iron.”

 

Next essential point, having an effective sermon format

 

So you can see, a member’s tithe is primarily used to help enable the spiritual nourishment of the small-group congregation.  After sufficient growth in numbers of members, the congregation can use a percentage of their collected tithes to support evangelistic outreaches, local, national and international, whatever you decide on.  Now the second major point, finding the most effective spiritual nourishment.  Remember, I said that if a small-group cannot get together on a weekly basis, but only every three to four weeks, no matter how good the sermon content is, it will not grow because it’s members do not receive sufficient spiritual nourishment on a steady basis.  Now I have also witnessed another problem with one of these small groups.  It bounces around from one preaching format to another, never settling down to an effective one.   They are not growing spiritually or numerically, but remain static.  That is why the selection of the best form of sermon format is essential to the growth of your small-group congregation.  The sermons I became familiar with when the Worldwide Church of God was going through all the changes and coming into the New Covenant understanding was the “connective expository sermon” given by Calvary Chapels.  Worldwide was floundering in effective preaching styles right after the changes, and so I was in search of the most effective and growth oriented method of preaching the Word.  The very sermon transcripts on this site are “connective expository” sermon transcripts, taken by permission from various Calvary Chapels.  I have personally witnessed their effectiveness in both nurturing the local members of the Calvary Chapel near me, and I have also witnessed the meteoric growth of this Calvary Chapel, from 12 members attending a Sunday morning Bible study, to 2.5 years later having 125 members in their congregation, to four years after that having 400+ members in a thriving church.  So take the offer below seriously, especially if you’re trying to start an Internet Church of God congregation. To learn of their powerful impact and what this type of preaching is all about, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm.   

 

 

4.      Don’t forget, this website offers “connective expository sermon” tapes and/or CDs for any sermon transcribed on this site.  I highly recommend starting out with the 1st John 1-5, 2nd John and 3rd John and the Gospel of John series.  These series are highly spiritual growth oriented.  This offer is open for any non-Torah observant Sabbatarian Church of God small group desiring to start up.  Just contact me via the Guestbook on this site, and I’ll get back to you to make mailing arrangements for the brick of tapes.  This offer is free of charge, a service of UNITYINCHRIST.COM.

 

5.     Leadership: As I stated before, when a congregation gets large enough, a pastor should be chosen from the membership, someone who is serving the congregation all the time, one who wants to take on the challenge of learning how to give “connective expository sermons” going through the Word of God.  A small-group desiring to become a congregation must have a pastor, leading and teaching from the top down to avoid a discussion type free-for-all Bible study that robs the congregation-to-be of vision.  Every one promoting his or her own opinions on how things should be done, what type of lessons should be taught, what sermon format, or how this or that passage of Scripture should be interpreted only spells disaster.  It also robs the small-group/congregation of quality steady feeding going through the Word of God.  A free-for-all Bible discussion group where no one holds authority or responsibility for what is taught is what you want to avoid at all costs---it’s a growth-stopper.  The person sponsoring the Sabbath Bible study small-group should initially take on the responsibility of small-group leader. At first, prospective pastors should hone their skills in learning how to give a connective expository sermon by giving Wednesday night Bible studies going through the Old Testament using the connective expository method of preaching, and relying on expository sermon tapes going through the New Testament (provided by this site) for Sabbath services, until you feel comfortable giving connective expository sermons.  Make a habit of going through the Old Testament expositorily on your Wednesday night Bible studies, and the New Testament during Sabbath services.

 

 

You could be a seed-crystal, a church-of-one:  If you want to be part of an Internet Church of God and find there is none in your area, then be sure to read these 8 points.  If you find you are willing to give this a try, let me know by signing the Guestbook as instructed after point 8 and I will get back to you. 

 

1.  You do not have to be a pastor, only a host (until the group gets large enough to rent a hall for services).

 

2.  You should fully agree with the “Statement of Beliefs” which preceded these 8 points.

 

3.  You should save your own tithe-offerings in a bank account for future hall rental when the group/congregation grows.

 

4.  You should agree with the Mission Statement of this website (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm ), and follow the $5.00 a week plan (which does not include giving to this site).

 

5.  You should order a brick of tapes from me (via the Guestbook, with the words “Do Not Post” in the body of the text as well).  Then I will send you the sermon tapes for 1st John 1-5 and/or the Gospel of John as far as I have transcribed.  (You can print up transcripts of these sermons off this site.)  Then play one tape a week, on Saturday.  Again, the tapes are free for anyone starting up such a group.

 

6.  Invite your Christian friends whenever you feel comfortable, to see if they like this Saturday “Bible study”.  Explain what it’s all about after they start attending regularly.

 

7.  Prayer:  Allocate a period of time for prayer.  At first this will be yourself only.  Pray that the group gets larger, that the Lord adds to the group.  Pray for your needs and the needs of others.  When the group grows, this should be an integral part of the “service”.  A church should be a house of prayer, so get used to the idea.

 

8.  If you want your email address to be listed in a section on this site as contact information for your Internet Church of God (so those in your area reading this but don’t know you personally can have an opportunity to contact you and start attending), tell me to add it to the list.  It will be posted with the others some time in the future.  This will act also as a data-base of active Internet Church of God congregations, and allow you to contact the various hosts of the other congregations. 

 

 

Should any of you desire to form up into an Internet Church of God small group , and want cassettes tapes of the connective expository sermons going through the New Testament, be sure to sign the Guestbook and say so, and I’ll get back to you to set up cassette and/or CD mailing arrangements.  The Guestbook link is:  http://guestbooks.christiansunite.com/sign.cgi?unityin.

 

         

 

[Copyright © 2008, UNITYINCHRIST.COM]

The Internet Churches of God

 

 

                  

                 

         

 

What follows next gives a little perspective into the spiritual warfare I’ve noticed and been through, as well as noticed in the strugglings of other tiny ministries that try to promote unity between the Jewish and Gentile side of the body of Christ.  This little story I wrote may sound a bit hokey, but spiritually I’ve experienced this in no uncertain ways.  It’s too much warfare for one guy, or any tiny ministry.  What’s needed is a special spiritual army.  Any of you history buffs or WWII history buffs?  Remember Band of Brothers? 

 

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content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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