NINE NECESSARY FREEDOMS
To see a
wide-spread movement for Christ, congregations must
enjoy these freedoms from religious traditions
You may use this document as a guide to present these
nine freedoms to a workshop of those who want to see their congregations and
cells reproduce and multiply.
While one of you presents the nine ideas, another of
you can play the role of Mr. Tradition. Mr. Tradition can wear a special hat
or carry a sign with his name written in big words, “MR. TRADITION”. Mr. Tradition’s
role is to object to every main idea that you will present. You can then
answer his objections while others listen, or, better, you can ask the others
to reply to Mr. Tradition. As you introduce Mr. Tradition to the workshop,
you would say something like this, “Mr. Tradition probably attends your
congregation. He is just about everywhere! Maybe, you are Mr. Tradition.”
Mister Tradition has a reason for denying every one of a church’s God-given
Freedom for young
congregations to start newer congregations as soon as the Lord makes it
models who exercised this freedom include Barnabas and Epaphras.
biblical apostles went, new congregations started and multiplied.
apostles kept new congregation work free from the required use of buildings
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “Our
congregation policies require that for a congregation to start another
congregation, it must first apply to our regional headquarters for approval,
have a certain number of members and years of maturity, and a substantial
Freedom to obey the commands
of Christ and his apostles above and before all man-made religious rules and
and the other apostles in Acts 2 taught the members of the first New
Testament congregation to obey Christ from the beginning.
commanded many things, which we can summarize in the seven basic commands
that we see the 3,000 new believers in the first congregation obeying in Acts
2. They repented and received the Holy Spirit, confirmed their faith with
baptism, celebrated the Lord’s Supper, loved one another (seen in their
fellowship), prayed, gave and made disciples.
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “We must
all follow the same policies — those that I approve. Conformity ensures
Freedom to visit homes of
unconverted seekers and new believers to evangelize, make disciples and
worship within their own cultures and families. Teachings:
models include Peter with Cornelius and Jesus when he sent out the seventy.
someone believed, they immediately went to their families and friends, as in
the case of Levi, Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer and Crispus.
kept new believers in a loving relationship with their kin and social network
as much as possible.
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “Separate
new believers immediately from the bad influence of friends, relatives and
Freedom to baptize new
believers without delay and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper wherever they
models include Christ and the Jerusalem congregation in Acts 2:38-47.
Mr. Tradition argues something like this:
“Baptism and the Lord’s supper are performed only by ordained clergy.
Baptismal candidates must first walk on water.”
Freedom to serve one
another in the Body of Christ as intimate, loving congregations and cells, using
all the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to them. (1 Corinthians
models include the Corinthians.
Holy Spirit gives to all new believers certain spiritual gifts, so that they
can serve one another.
clergyman or deacon has all the spiritual gifts necessary to build up
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “Do all
things in decency and order. And the order is what I say it is! Only educated
clergy should lead public meetings.”
Freedom to provide pastoral
leadership by those who meet the NT qualifications of elders, with or without
models include Paul and Titus.
non-biblical qualifications include theological education, financial
strength, social position, ethnicity, and language. What are some
non-biblical criteria in your tradition?
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “Our congregation’s by-laws require pastors to be
ordained. Our by-laws list 750 requirements that they must meet first. They
must have the specified academic degrees and receive the salary of a
Freedom to apply any New
Testament method of preaching and teaching God’s Word according to each
group’s size and its leaders’ maturity. Teaching:
models include the New Testament ‘one another commands’ and Jesus’
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “God
has ordained oratorical preaching of the Word for this age. We need top
quality and excellence in the pulpit.”
Freedom for those who
train shepherds to respond to immediate needs of new congregations and
requires a curriculum with a menu that offers options so that new leaders and
mentors can select studies and activities that correspond to each new
congregation’s current needs.
taught in response to current situations and immediate needs. Paul told Titus
to deal with what was lacking in the new congregations of Crete.
congregations all have different needs.
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “My training program has a standard curriculum and
every student studies the same thing, starting in the same place and
following the same path. What they learn is for some future application.”
Freedom to provide
regional coordinators who supervise new and congregations and trainers of shepherds,
as Paul instructed Titus (Titus 1:5). Teaching:
is no biblical example of an independent local congregation.
frequent cause of new congregations that fail, is that their leader neither
sought nor received oversight and counsel from a more experienced leader.
Mr. Tradition argues something like this: “We do not want any godless hierarchy or bishops
dictating to the congregations what to believe and do. We hold to the
autonomy of the local church.” Or: “I’m the Bishop named as supervisor of this area, and I
do not want any new coordinators exercising authority in my area of
jurisdiction. Nor have I time to coordinate any new programs! So we shall
continue doing as we do.”