The Return of the First Church
by John Fenn,
Selected Quotes & Comments
I first heard about John Fenn and the book he wrote through Sid Roth's national radio program. This occurred during a four-year period where I only turned on a radio about once every six months. But on that day the Lord prompted me turn it on, and within seconds of doing so I heard Sid Roth speak about a man to whom Jesus appeared to tell him to start an organization of House Churches. And that man is John Fenn.
This was during a time in my walk with the Lord where I had long ago stopped turning on the TV, but now even "Christian" radio was not speaking to me where I was in my relationship with the Lord, and so I had stopped turning it on, but on that day as I was driving, the Spirit prompted me to turn it on ... and just then I heard Sid Roth talk about a man to whom Jesus appeared and spoke with, so I listened to the rest of the program: where I heard John describe two instances where Jesus walked through a wall and woke him up and spoke with him: the first time about starting an organization of house churches, and on another occasion where the Lord gave more details about what was going on in the micro-managed, Sunday plus One or Two (nights a week) "church" world, versus where He would be doing most of His work in the coming days before His return.
So I ordered ten copies of John's book, one for me and the others to pass out.
This was during my own growing frustration with church (attendance) and church-based relationships that fostered few friendships that went beyond "church" sponsored or related activities And even many, if not most of the friendships that occurred were with Christians with whom I worked and/or lived with. It was also just after going through a 5.5 year "high conflict" divorce and custody "battle fight," where I attempted to just remain in my daughter's life, and during which time I was repeatedly slandered and lied about and in which the court's own officials were active participants, who covered up what was going on while stuffing their pockets with (untraceable) Cash, checks, and Credit Card payments: none of which was reported to the IRS. In this case they only made off with $120,000 (not counting child support); however I have met a number of other parents and former parents who forked over between $200,000 to $500,000 -- in court-related fees -- just to be their kids mom or dad: not counting child support.
I mention this here and now because it slowly dawned on me that in over 28 years of attending church and 20 years of listening to Christian radio, not ONE pastor, radio preacher, Christian-book author or Christian radio program warned me what I could expect from America's so-called "Family Courts." In other words, the shepherds themselves are either asleep to what is going on, apathetic, negligent, or ignorant. Not even Focus on the Family has bothered to interview a Former Dad like me, nor to interview any of the the top three psychologists and professors who have written books on divorce and Family Court: in over 30 years of (almost daily) radio programs on family-related issues. In fact, to this day the only Christian leader in America who has attempted to "Blow the Whistle" on our corrupt "Family Courts" is Phyllis Schlaffly of Eagle forum.
In this regard, I also should state that I twice attended all 12 Divorce Care classes that were sponsored by local churches, and watched all 12 of the 45 minute videos on divorce. And even these barely even mention former fathers like myself, who are becoming the norm in America's Divorce child custody operation that is ran by the legal profession: for Profit. And when I tried to "Blow the Whistle" on what was going on, I was also basically told to keep quiet and not to talk about the courts and mom cheated me out of being a Dad to my own child.
Selected Quotes from the Return of the First Church by John Fenn.
“ … Christianity is … growing at about 8 % per year … and … this growth (is) almost exclusively in house based churches … (where) … People (are) leaving the church to become the church.” P. 9
“Once I started to see traditional church … (as) a rather recent invention, … I realized (that) my mind was programmed by this design of man. As a result … I worked to remove all assumptions about what church was, … comparing each of my beliefs with what scripture actually said on the subject of how church was to be conducted, and even the very definition of church.” P. 23
“Peter’s statement that God was pouring out his Spirit on ALL flesh meant the temple and the temple priests were no longer THE place to find God’s presence, but that each individual had God in him or her by believing on and receiving Jesus as Lord.” P. 24
“By moving out of the temple and into individuals who wanted him living inside them, God had made for Himself a kingdom of priests … Rev. 1:6 and 5:10 … ” P. 26
God had given them a transition time of about a year or maybe two between Pentecost and (the) persecution (described in Acts 8), allowing them time to digest the astounding revelation that they were now temples individually and didn’t have to rely on God’s presence in a building … p. 36
I see this … transition time in the lives of many who are thinking about house church today, just as I was in the midst of transition … even while working and ministering within the traditional structure … shifting my focus away from the structure of how to do church and more onto God’s people. P. 36
This was a positive transition; I wasn’t backing away from something, I was running towards something much more wonderful … (and) finding God outside the four walls of the church. I was seeing Him move in people from all walks of life in many different structures …” P. 36
“Some, like the early church, are forced out ‘of town’ so to speak, de-churched by a hierarchy that doesn’t understand, but most come out on their own, over time.” P. 37
“ … I began to understand anew the reality of having Christ living in me … the God who spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai … (and) to Moses face to face … (and) who traveled around as a pillar over the tabernacle, now lived in them … (all because of) the work of Jesus’ final blood sacrifice on the cross … (which) removed sin as an obstacle between God and man, tearing the veil, (and) revealing that any who would, could not only enter the holy place, but … become a holy place themselves!” P. 39- 40
“I began to understand … that truly … ‘where two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of them.’ Up until this point I knew that mentally, and I accepted that two friends could meet in someone’s home and have a time of worship and bible study – but that wasn’t church. Or like my wife and I, when we were teenagers meeting with a group on Saturday nights for a time of worship and someone’s house – but that wasn’t church. Or was it?” P. 40
My definition of church was changing, no longer connecting the gathering of disciples to a building as being church; I started looking at any meeting of purpose in which believers conducted the business of the kingdom as being church.” P. 40
“The nature of the pyramid produces a mindset of ‘either you’re for us or against us’ in the minds of those who love that particular church or ministry. Often it manifests as a matter of loyalty seen in church attendance, paying … tithes, and saying ‘yes’ to whatever the pastor says.” P. 63
“In Acts … the question about what to do in the feeding program came up and the apostles replied ... :
“Therefore select out from among yourselves, brethren, seven men of good and attested character and repute, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may assign to look after this business and duty. But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:3-4
“The apostles really didn’t want to run a food program, but notice the people selected ( … ) those gifted for such a task. While the pyramid promotes micromanagement, the Building of God allows for empowerment and freedom to act independently.”
“ … if the apostles ran a pyramid they would have given direct orders about how they wanted the food program run, and then watched over it very carefully lest something be done differently than how they would have done it.” Pp. 120-121
In addition, since it was the Greeks who brought this complaint, it is significant to note that the names of all those who were appointed to oversee the food distribution were Greek names. This means that Jewish apostles specifically chose Greeks speaking Jews.
In this regard, Fenn points out that the apostles did so because “ … they wanted to remain free to be among the people they served.” P. 121
“As everyone has received the gift (grace), even so minister the same to one another, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” I Pet. 4:10 KJV
“The example of Jesus teaching, preaching, and healing while living with his disciples in a sense of community is the pattern for today. The Jethro (pyramid) method … (of) relationships (is) built around (church) work, and then everyone goes home … (while the example of Jesus) … is relationships walking through life together, perceiving the grace in each other and ministering (serving) the same to each other.” P. 144
This cannot happen in a pyramid shaped organization because its structure is about empowering the main man and keeping everyone else silent. In the flat structure portrayed by Jesus and … (the apostles), each person is free to operate as God created them, (and to operate) in their own gifts, while submitting to one another in love.” P. 144
The pyramid (church) is built (so) that the top man might be in the spotlight and other staff members are just players on the stage. That is 180 degrees from what Jesus said the church should look like … (and) a testimony to God’s grace that He can flow through it at all …” P. 144
“When a structure is built to empower the one at the top instead of the people, the people become anemic and their spiritual gifts and muscles become atrophied … and Sunday morning becomes a ritual of entertainment and manipulation instead of empowerment and discipleship.” P. 144
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