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Material For His Building


Material For His Building
By Andy Zoppelt

Over zealous and over reaction to the various problems that we face in the church in America has lead to many being deceived. Each movement feels they have found the key to restoration and sadly they are the most unlikely to be open for real change that would affect their hearts.

Almost everyone is aware that there is something extremely wrong with the church in America, and everyone knows that we parallel the symptoms of the church of Laodicea. Our lack of power, love, personal ministry, responsibility, accountability and unity are clear signs that we do not represent the bible church in which we believe.

The Charismatic Movement

There have been many movements in the past that have tried to bring about a restoration. The Charismatic movement saw the problem as a lack of power and Holy-Spirit anointing. The Holy Spirit and power was key to the life of the church. Zechariah 4:6, was often quoted, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." The impact of Acts 2 and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit predicted by Joel were also in the forefront for this significant movement. Churches began calling themselves "Full Gospel," a word that obviously suggested and insinuated that those that did not have the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" were simply not a part of the move of the Spirit of these last days. This attitude created much unnecessary conflict, controversy and division. There was infighting with brother against brother; this was dishonoring to the testimony of the Lordship of Christ. It became popular to display your gift in meetings and speak in tongues at every opportunity. It was a kind of badge or sign that you had arrived and were a part of the movement.

We sat around in our arrogance discussing how the others had missed the move of God. Many, in their desire to renounce the "tongues" movement, became over-zealous and spoke out against the biblical significance of the gifts and tongues. The movement went into all the denominations and was seen as a unifying force to bring many from different churches together. Did this movement bring about the expected consequences? It certainly did not. Everyone was hearing from God and everyone was doing their own thing. Fights broke out to who was hearing from God, It would seem that God was schizophrenic by saying two opposing things at the same time. There was no clear direction or clear word, every one felt they were right. The movement was marked by wars outside the camp and inside the camp, pride and arrogance and the sense of being "right" created division of theology and direction. Many would not fellowship with those who disagreed with them. Each church had those who were "hearing" from God. There were prophets who were in opposition to the leadership, others were casting out demons, whole churches were speaking in tongues, people prophesying over one another, men getting directions to start ministries without a confirming word from others, the list goes on and on. A movement that was to bring unity and restoration seemed to bring in more confusion and conflict.

Communal living and the moving to the country

Many began to see the need to live in a communal setting. In Acts we are told that the early church "had all things common." They had fellowship and met as a community. Many left their jobs and sold their homes and moved closer together for a greater expression of love and fellowship. Most communities fell apart after a few years. Personal conflicts and division plagued the movement. I know of only one movement that has been successful in this kind of living. They have farms and communities all over the world. This movement is held together by many mature men that have a real commitment to one another. They have been able to manifest the gifts and work together in a responsible way. They have accountability mixed with humility, an ingredient rarely found. They have set up churches all over the world, they have care groups for those in need. Most of their leaders work for a living and honor one another's gifting.

On the whole, the other movements involved had many built-in snares. Men and women living in the same house created many temptations and problems. The groups turned inward and focused on survival rather than reaching out to the hurting. Fights led to gossip in their ranks, and division and separation resulted.

Discipleship movement

The discipleship movement saw the need for authority. It was believed that once God had authority in the churches, that He would come down and once again demonstrate His power through men of order. The authority issue would solve the everyone-doing-that-which-is right-in-his-own-eyes syndrome. Independence would become interdependence and chaos would become order from men of authority. It, too, looked good and promising. Many involved felt they were on the cutting edge and involved in the movement that would restore the New Testament church. Places like Argentina were demonstrating great success. Watchmen Nee's book on "Spiritual Authority" impacted and influenced many in the movement. Again there was that tendency to look at those not involved as being of Babylon or the Harlot or whatever one might choose. There was a need to restore the five fold ministry of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher. Churches became aligned under apostolic ministries and "streams" were developed. It became a matter of whose stream you were in and who you were under. A kind of pecking order developed. Abuse abounded in men who did not have the sheep in mind; many leaders saw themselves as being miniature popes with a kind of infallibility. Men coveted titles and positions, "Who is going to be the apostle in the next move?" Men tried to align themselves in a position of significance for the next coming move of God. Men at first were reluctant to use the title of apostle as a call on their life, instead they alluded to the adjective of apostolic ministry or calling. Though they both mean primarily the same, it eliminated the presumption on their part and led others to first recognize and later identify them as full apostles. To be an apostle and rubbing shoulders with men like Paul and John was exhilarating. The early apostles had standards and servanthood, and were never seen as fly-by-night apostles.

The discipleship movement's purpose was to recapture the responsibility of leadership to disciple the saints. Mature men and women were to mentor the new converts and saints were to be involved in the support of each other. No one was left falling through the cracks. No problem went unnoticed. Hurting saints found a brother or sister there to care for them. sin within the body was challenged. we were convinced we were establishing long-term, quality relationships, the kind of relationships not found even in the best of families. Though many of these ideas are biblically based, we did not possess the humble material to produce the quality set forth by the word of God.

The House Church Movement

Let me say first, that all the movements that I have illustrated have taken place at overlapping times. Discipleship and restoration of the five-fold ministry and the need to meet in homes was part and parcel of the same movement; it was only a matter of emphasis. The house church movement is more focused on the house meeting with a wide variety of beliefs dealing with responsibility, government and ministry. There is no single vision or revelation that identifies the house group movement. The only two things that seem to connect them together is the distaste for the institutional church and the need to meet in homes. The house church movement is plagued with many problems also. Everyone is an expert and there is the same sense of being on track for the next move of God. Like all the other preceding movements, those involved feel a sense of being "right" and on the edge of what God is trying to do. Unconsciously it has led to much pointing the finger and judging one another.

If a group of believers numbering at least 100 meet in a home, they are classified as being a miniature institutional church. If a group has a leader to oversee the group, they are fundamentally a one-man show with clergy and laity limitations. If we use folding chairs instead of couches, we are not really a house church. if someone teaches on Sunday, to some, it is not really a house church. To others, if we don't all participate in the sharing in the meeting, we are not a house church. Our thinking has produced just enough scriptural understanding to bias us from the real truth. We hang on to certain verses and interpret others. Ideas and opinions abound like the rest of the movements before it. All the preceding movements had strong biblical foundations and principles

We use examples like the China house church movement and do not know or understand the difference between them and us..

I met a brother from China who was a leader, though he denied titles. he spoke of home meetings attended well in the hundreds. They had joint meetings in the woods and fields where many thousands of men and women came together to worship for hours; some brothers would teach for hours. They experienced two things that we do not experience: God's manifested power (many healings and deliverances) and God's presence (people swept up for hours in worship). I know that many will say we experience those things; but, to be honest, we don't, not on the level they do. Most of them would meet five times a week. They were closely bonded together because they did not cram all their spirituality into one or two comfortable meetings. I am convinced that they are closer to the New Testament model than we are. Why? They have the right material, humble, broken and guileless people. They are not caught up in a method or aspect of the New Testament Church, they love Jesus and one another and God shows His approval by attending their meetings.

The house church movement is having all the same symptoms as the movements that preceded it. You ask "why?" it is because we have the same material…. Self! The heart of the American Christian has not really been touched and thoroughly changed to facilitate God's glory. Love is often mentioned, but its humility and commitment is rarely understood in the light of God's covenant with His body. We keep looking for that one great teaching, that one final movement, that one book, that one method and that one answer that will solve all the problems and usher us into His Glory. "We" will be a part of that final movement of God.


My distaste for the institutional church is seen in the article "The real church." The institutional church has become an influence that is undermining personal responsibility, fellowship, body ministry and an authentic salvation experience based on repentance.


By now you are probably saying to yourself: "who is this guy? who does he think he is? where does he come from?" I have been a part of all the preceding movements and can honestly say that we have not really changed our hearts toward our brothers one iota. We try to be humble, but we live in a limited revelation. I remember something that Charles Simpson once said: "Heresy is making a part the whole." That is what every movement has done.

In every movement the problems have been the same: superior attitude, a superior sense of being right, excluding others, a feeling of being on the cutting edge, a failure to truly enjoy fellowship with other believers who don't agree with us, an unwillingness to participate in fellowship unless all "our" criteria is met. Many house church people will not fellowship with other believers unless they can go to a meeting with 20 people meeting in a home, on couches, no leader, no teacher and coffee and donuts after the meeting. I've met people who will not listen to a minister unless he has the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Others will not fellowship with someone that doesn't have a covering. Others believe you must use the King James version bible or you are a "New Ager." How absolutely ridiculous!

many think they are better and more right and see themselves as already being a part of God's final restoration…. or whatever you choose to call it. We strain out the gnat (squabble over minor issues and words) and swallow the camel (ignore personal responsibility, love and unity). Many argue that if we are in a restoration, we should not have any leaders or outside ministries. Others argue whether women can minister or crying children can be a part of the meeting. Our being "right" has kept us from joining together as an army to fight the real enemy…Satan! The house church movement has limited itself by the same tunnel vision as all the rest of the movements. Though its concept is right, its heart is wrong. I believe the Charismatics had truth, the discipleship movement had truth, the communal believers had truth, the restoration of the five-fold ministry had truth and the house church movement also has truth… but all fall victim to the same symptoms. I have heard the "exact" same language and attitudes in all the movements: arrogance, judgmental attitude, stereo-typing, bias, categorizing, we-are-the-remnant attitude, isolationism, divisiveness, gossip, back-biting, prejudice and on and on.

We are plagued with a Laodicean heart and mindset. We still have control our lives: our ego's, our ideas, our independence and pride. Whenever we build, we build with more sectarianism than with humility. Division, competition and superiority is woven in our personalities; it is deceiving us from building together and coming together simply as brothers and sisters. We've lost the need for serious prayer and unity. We have lost the simplicity of the gospel and the centrality of the cross and Christ. We don't know what it means to lay down our lives for one another. We keep getting the same "type" of people in these movements, with the same attitudes and with the same plaguing results.

We don't have a movement problem, we have a "material" problem. we lack the essentials of humility, faith and love. Disagreement abounds! "Answers" abound! The church is at war with itself. We are loaded with sin, unbelievers, make-believers, false believers and deceivers. We are too proud to come together and pray for God to make us one. We are caught up, each in his own thinking and way of life; these chains have bound us to a fruitless expression of God's glory. Talk of our sickness abounds, the demons laugh rather than tremble, sickness and fears plague us, God has permitted it all because we are asleep.

"'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." (Rev 3:17-18, NIV)

Did the early believers have some of these problems?

Which group is right? It is often said, "They don't flow with our group and doctrine."

Luke 9:49-50, "And John answered and said, 'Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name; and we forbad him, (Why?) because he follows not with us'. And Jesus said to him, 'Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.'"

Who is the greatest? We hear others say, "We are on the cutting edge, we are the greatest, the remnant!"

Luke 9:46-48. "Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receives me: and whosoever shall receive me receives him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great."

We need a servant's heart. Sad how we look for the personal benefits, "What benefit is in it for me, will I be recognized?"

Luke 22:25-27, "And he said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors (the leaders benefit from the people). But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that serves. For whether is greater, he that sits at meat, or he that serves? is not he that sits at meat? but I am among you as he that serves."

Someone has translated verse 27 this way, "Better the leader be servant than the one who sits at tables. For I have come among you not as one who sits at tables, but as on who serves. And you have grown through my service."

The Real New Testament Church

The early church had no method of power. God was so pleased with their obedience, their worship and unity, that He responded to them as close friends.

Acts 2:42-44, "Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles." NIV

They had leaders who were concerned with the sheep and they who their lives down for the sheep.

1 Peter 5:1-4, "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." NIV

They didn't have a limited house church doctrine.

Acts 5:41-42, "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." NIV

Acts 19:9-12, "But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he (Paul) departed from them (the hardened and disobedient), and separated the disciples, reasoning daily in the school (With the church, disciples) of Tyrannus. And this continued for the space of two years; so that all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord (certainly not from homes), both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: insomuch that unto the sick were carried away from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the evil spirits went out."

The early church met publicly and in homes. They had fellowship, unity, love, obedience; they prayed, they met daily, they had power and they had His presence. They had small groups, large groups, but all were one. They had direction and leadership. They encouraged one another, they manifested the gifts in their meeting, they had teaching, giving , supporting and exhorting.

We have tried to cram all of those Spiritual goods into a once-a-week or twice-a-week meeting in a house. The sad thing that we constantly hear from people is "I never heard of your meetings." not so with the early church, they came out of the walls and joined together to meet.

The prisons should know us. the nursing homes should know us. The poor should know us. The hungry should know us. Our communities should hear our voice and see our helping hands. Jesus made it clear that His kingdom was not some thing done in a corner. He stated that we should be as a light shinning throughout the world.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16, NAS)

The church needs the ministry of the evangelist to preach in our cities. We need the apostles to shake the world and the church. We need teachers to challenge us to walk in truth. We need pastors (elders) to lead and oversee the local church in the city. We need prophets that are hearing from God. God is wanting to express His life and love through a full demonstration of His glorious church. He wants to turn the world right side up. The church was never intended to be a spiritual bless-me club. We need a full awakening in these last days. "Lord give us the vessels that we have not seen in past movements."

I have not covered the institutional church, simply because it fails from salvation to discipleship, from structure to power; it has all the qualities of a harlot. It has no true biblical foundations or movement that can account for its existence. It is falsely beautiful, it is entertaining rather than challenging, it remains indifferent and unrelational. But for those who desire to go on in the Lord, it is going to cost them everything. They must be willing to come together to seriously pray and weep for God to move. If God does not build the house, those who labor, labor in vain.

You may have to sit on folding chairs, meet with a hundred people stuffed into homes, gather in large public meeting places like parks and schools. You might have to give up your leisure and quit complaining and minister to your brothers and show some responsibility. You might have to pray that God will give us men to lead us and challenge the existing church and the world. Give us men of power and anointing. Unity, love, obedience, humility, fellowship…. give us all of it and in balance! Give us the material to build with!


As a further footnote, there have been many aspects of the New Testament church that many have attempted to restore in order to bring in reformation, recovery or whatever you choose to call it, but there are others aspects of the church that we have not recovered. The church in America is blindly cursed with a Laodicean heart, there are many things we will not attempt to recover nor experience, these areas are as follows: meeting daily, having all things common, having great power, being of one heart, and last but not least, they sold their possessions and distributed to those in need. The Laodicean church idolizes independence and personal possessions. Many say the giving up of ones possessions was not normative, I give you the scriptures of why I disagree.

Jesus commanded it as a response of His giving us the kingdom.

Luke 12:32-33, " Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms." NKJV

To the rich young ruler, Jesus replied:

Matt 19:21, "Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor..'" NKJV

It was one of the first expression of the church.

Acts 2:43-45, "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need." NKJV

Acts 4:32-35, "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need." NKJV

To the churches in Macedonia.

2 Cor 8:1-6, "That in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality (in their giving). For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift (money)and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints (poor in Jerusalem). And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God."

It is a natural response of the Holy Spirit's residence in an individual.

1 John 3:17-18, "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" NKJV

I am not suggesting that we do any of the above, I am only suggesting that we all have a long way to go. Let us not be high minded in the aspect of restoration that we find ourselves, the final recovery will come from God to men of brokenness and humility. It will contain all the fullness of the expression of His church in great power, bearing witness to Jesus' resurrection.

Let us not be so quick to judge, we all have a long way to go. God has not put His approval of His power and presence on any movement at this point. Let us stop fighting and start laboring in the field where God has called us. We have not seen the final move yet. I pray that we will not get so settled in the move we are in and miss the final one yet to come. It has been a known fact, those that have participated in the previous move have always persecuted those in the present move.

Are you of the spiritual materiel that God can build with? Does your life demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, a holy life, a life laid down for Christ sake and for His church?

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." 2 Chron 16:9


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