Jumat, 08 Juli 2016

NTRF Our Practice

Our Practice

Our hope is that you will find our web site enjoyable reading and that it will help you to gain a better understanding of the church as it was originally set up by the Apostles. We believe that the basics of New Testament church life are generally relevant to any culture, any time, with few exceptions.
We believe that the basics of New Testament church life are generally relevant to any culture, any time, with few exceptions. Some of the basics, as we see them, are:
  • The Agapé. The Lord's Supper was originally celebrated each Lord's Day as an actual meal. This Holy Meal was the main reason for the weekly church meeting, as it should be today. It is a sacred, covenant meal that is like rehearsal dinner for the marriage banquet of the Lamb! Communion should be a wonderful time of blessing, fellowship and encouragement for God's people.
  • Participatory Worship. Lord's Day church meetings are to be participatory, with spontaneous sharing and worship per 1 Corinthians 14, rather than merely performances by professionals. Any brother should be free to contribute to the meeting (via a teaching, a song, a testimony, a prayer, Scripture reading, etc.). The prime directive for anything said or sung is that it must be calculated to build up, to edify, to encourage the church. However, such free participation does not preclude prior individual preparation. The things that occur in the meeting depend on how the Holy Spirit has sovereignly led various brothers to prepare during the week. Elders participate as well, but part of their ministry is to be sure everything is edifying and in alignment with historic Christian orthodoxy and ethics.
  • Preach The Word! Special times each week should be devoted to the in-depth exposition of God's Word. These ministry meetings are not to be confused with participatory church worship. In a ministry meeting, typically one gifted person (such as an elder) exercises his gift in service to the body of Christ at large. Each Lord's Day gathering could thus have three phases: the participatory worship of all the brothers, the ministry of the Word taught by an elder and the Holy Meal celebrated by the whole assembly. We at NTRF advocate historic Christian orthodoxy poured into the wineskin of New Testament church practice. Our favorite statement of faith is the 1st London (Baptist) Confession of 1646.
  • A Family Atmosphere. Church is to function more like a family rather than a corporation. It is to be relationship based. Foremost is each believer's relationship with our Triune God, then with each other. In the essentials there is to be unity, in the nonessentials liberty, and in all things love. Small congregations help foster community, accountability and intimacy among the members of the body. Further, churches are to be family-friendly. The church and the family are to be integrated, not segregated. Age-graded Sunday School and Children's Church too often only serve to further divide families. Children belong in church meetings and Bible studies with their parents.
  • Small Congregations. Since the early church gathered mostly in private homes, the typical New Testament church necessarily had to be smaller rather than larger. Every letter in the New Testament was written to a church where everyone knew everyone else. Excavated first-century Roman homes that were known to host church meetings could hold 65-70 people. We believe that Christ's church functions best in this smaller setting. The ideal design is for each congregation to contain scores of people, not hundreds and certainly not thousands. Since many homes today will not hold as many people as a Roman villa, we should be open to creative alternatives (modified homes, renting homes big enough to host the church, small home-like church buildings, etc.). The Romans also did not have to worry with where to park all the cars that it takes to bring 70 people to church!
  • Elder-led Congregational Consensus. Major church decisions are to be made under the headship of Christ by the consensus of all the brothers, but with elders given special consideration in the consensus process. Though elders are very important to the functioning of the church, important decisions are to be made by the church corporately, not by its elders in isolation.
  • Treasuring Timeless Traditions. We are committed to follow apostolic patterns (traditions) for church practice. These are practices that are derived directly from the New Testament, not church history. There are really only two choices for church practice: whatever it is that you want to do versus the ways of the apostles. The churches represented by the folks associated with NTRF have all made a conscious effort to seek to follow the traditions of the Twelve in their church practice. In short, we believe that the patterns for church life evident in the New Testament are not merely descriptive, but are actually prescriptive (2Th 2:15, 1Co 11:2). Thus, even though we are quite "traditional" in the New Testament sense, what we advocate is rather nontraditional by contemporary standards.
This type of church is largely decentralized, simple, easy to reproduce, intimate, personal, inexpensive and quite literally down-home. It is also the biblical pattern. Indeed, how can we improve on God's design?

Such a church in an Asian or Latino country would certainly look different in outward style than one in a posh suburb of London. The food, music, language and homes would be unique to each culture, but the internal basics would still be the same.

In stating the above convictions, we do not intend to imply factiousness, elitism, spiritual superiority, nor arrogance. We love and appreciate all those who belong to Christ, regardless of how they live out their church life (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.). Yet these are deeply held convictions with us, and we humbly present them to the church at large in hopes of persuading our brothers and sisters to enjoy the benefits of New Testament church practice along with us!
Our desire is to provide resources and training in how the early church met together in community. To this end, we have posted many Articles on our web site, offer live streaming Audio messages, and there are ready to print PDF files for teachers. Our Publications Page details the various books, tapes, and manuals we produce. We also conduct Weekend Workshops on our Lord’s design for His church.
To Jesus alone be all the glory, power, and honor!

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