Against a time to come...

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

I Cor 14:26

ESV

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

Acts 2:2

ESV

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

Col 4:15

ESV

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

Matt 18:20

NASB

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:42

ESV

And every day, in the [Jewish] temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 5:42

ESV

And Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house

Phil 1:2

ESV

The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.

I Cor 16:19

ESV

How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house

Acts 20:20

ESV

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house.

Rom 16:3-5

ESV

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...

Rom 12:4-6

ESV

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...

Rom 12:4-8

ESV

DESCRIPTION: I had “divine dissatisfaction” with church–all churches–as they were all the same, all claiming to be different. I was seeking the genuine, the balanced, the triumphant faith I felt was out there but I lacked….

TRANSCRIPT: hey everybody john fenn here church without walls international and i want to just say right off the the bat here before i get going that uh i’m offering the pdf of my book return of the first church to anybody who wants to email me at cwowi @ aol.com and saying this up front because we’re a house church network and what i want to share today is just a little bit of what i went through the book return of the first church is my journey from the auditorium church to relationship-based faith expressed by meeting with others in homes and and so i just wanted to share that right up front that if you email me i’ll be happy to to email you the the pdf cw owi at aol dot com excuse me now my brief story is that for the first 25 years of my faith i was in the auditorium church and that means i did everything from as a teenager uh talking to my peers helping them through situations and and uh and problems in life through the years i was an associate pastor a pastor i traveled in teaching just different capacities like that always in ministry campus ministry at a university uh and you know and and things of that nature and uh pastor of of a church associate pastor like i said all the way through it was very practical very very much about this is how we live our faith i was as an associate pastor helping you know a single mom with her two teenage kids that were just really really a handful uh you know all the way to helping a a woman whose husband became caught up in in his particular church denomination that gradually got control of the husband telling him that you know things like he couldn’t have a a magazine in his house or tv in his house because he might lust after another woman to finally he couldn’t go swimming uh with his wife at the local gym or or his pool because he might lust after other women and it just got so controlling and he ended up leaving her so that he could be involved with the church i mean stuff like a very practical area that’s where our faith lives but the more i went along professionally the more elevated if you will i became in in that auditorium eventually became a leader in a mega church director of a bible school and after that consulted and traveled around north america helping churches and bible schools and they always ask the same three things how do i pay for my church how do i grow my church how do i keep people from leaving my church and that was a true of churches bible schools etc all over the world and uh and a real unrest developed in me uh i saw i had a fairly well-known evangelist tell me you know we’re entertainers and he said you know any of us have a basic six or seven messages any talk about evangelism six or seven messages that we that we preach and that’s it and and then he would brag about the amounts of the offering that he received that uh that weekend and and it was it was just horrible it was more of a show and uh in his his idea that you know we’re performers or something like that and then i i started seeing it more um along the lines of a self-insulated society that when i’ll give you for instance and i mentioned in in my book return of the first church when the pastor’s wife got up and talked about how the devil showed up at her door and she hit him with the bible and i just happened to be in the congregation that night sitting behind a couple who’d come in and they were they had obviously been playing tennis or something because they still had their athletic gear on they just came to an informal wednesday night service because i was on staff i’d have a coat and tie and everything at that time and uh when she said something about the devil came to her door and she hit him with the word of god he turned to her and said what what is she talking about did somebody show up at her door and she she threw the bible at him you know and i just overheard their conversation and i realized that so much of the church was was self-insulated and becoming a subculture it had its own language it had its own own dress its own its own culture and all the while once you went into the church you would think that we were world changers you know were taking the world for jesus and ye ra yippee kaye you know and and none of that was happening instead all around me i saw society just just dropping through the pits you know going down in in flames in terms of the morals and the ethics and attacks on on people of faith and and things of that nature and i began searching the lord saying you know where are you moving next what are you doing and and fortunately i had in my capacity at that point after i’d left the the mega church and traveled on my own and and worked with another ministry i traveled all over to where revival centers had been tacf toronto airport christian fellowship down to brownsville uh texas which somehow may or may not be of that generation to know of the outpourings that went on there and and different things of that nature and and i was just seeking the lord where are you moving next and i just happened to be in uh toronto uh actually mississauga ministering at a church on a sunday morning and during the worship service uh my eyes were open to the lord’s realm and the lord you know was six or seven steps away from me on the platform and he told me this he said see what i see people running to and fro to this meeting and that looking for the spectacular thinking that is supernatural while they miss the supernatural work in their midst even in their own hearts or the process of discipleship is supernatural and he said a few more things and then he drew to a close and he said this he said as it was in the beginning so it must be now i’m moving in relationships and then he disappeared that was february 5th i believe uh or fourth of 2001 and that set me on a course of study to see how did paul do church how did the early church do it how did they go from 120 people at pentecost to turning the roman world upside down in under 300 years you know how how did they do that and i started realizing that that the whole of the new testament from matthew through the book of revelation was done by apostles were written by eight by about eight apostles who were doing church in the home they the only way they knew for the saints to gather was church in the home and they did that because the synagogue system had been had begun a couple hundred years earlier which was a means of discipleship in judaism and where they would gather 10 families or 10 adult males that is any boy 13 years and up was considered an adult male and so as long as there were 10 adult males 13 and up uh but basically 10 families you know would get together and then they would rotate homes they’d rotate who would lead they would they would have a gathering on the sabbath and then and then the leaders would make copies of the the torah and and they would uh talk about the word of god and have food and everything else so when the book of acts happened they just continued in that acts 2 42 said they were continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship and food and prayer and that was the jewish culture of the day and it just continued to meet in homes throughout the roman empire there were no such things as church buildings for several hundred years and and so when i realized that the the whole new testament was written by apostles doing church in the home and they were writing to people who were doing church in the home i was horrified that for 25 years i had pulled the new testament out of the context of the home and put it in an auditorium no wonder the christian bookstores were full of books about how to do church because none of it made sense unless you put it back in the context in which it was written and so i i began seeking the lord and i began then began realizing that i don’t want to in fact i told my wife in october of that year i don’t want to do pastor of church again but if i did it would be out of my living room the way paul did it and um and then in november the first week of november first sunday of november i was up in edmonton alberta canada uh again ministering in my capacity then as as director of canada for ministry and um and again that sunday night and let me say this the church was in a rundown area of edmonton and the ministry the heart of the pastor was actually for for people who had been you know drug addicts and sex workers and and people who’d just been on the street and i mean and the church showed it was in a little rougher area of town but when the lord appeared to me he came walking over and he said i love these kinds of people and i realized he loved the transparency he loved the they just say this is my heart this is what i’ve done by god’s grace i am what i am he’s changed me and and when the lord came walking over he said that he said i love these kinds of people this time the power was turned up the pastor next to me just fell flat on his face he just couldn’t even stand up three bible school students that we had with us later said did you know the lord was here he walked right by us for me uh the power was up and i just fell to my knees which i do anyway when i see the lord usually and and he told me he said you’ve been doing the work of an apostle but now i’m laying hands on you as an apostle for this task i want you to start a house church in a house church network and i want you to structure it in such a way to facilitate the development of house churches around the world and when i asked him why he wanted it done why he wanted to do that now keep in mind this is this is uh november of 2001. so when i asked him why he said this he said it’s against a time to come be a resource for them for it’s against a time to come well folks i said all that and share all that and offered my book at the beginning because this we are approaching that time to come we are very nearly in that time when uh with we’ve got a few years left but with economic difficulty and persecution like i said we’ve got a little bit but before it’s unleashed uh next half a dozen years or so fully um you know you need to be in a relationship-based faith that is it perhaps you are stirring around too where where you want the genuine you’re tired of the show and and and looking like the world and everything else and you just want genuine people of faith i encourage you to seek them out i encourage you to look for friends who who maybe have been floating haven’t been attending any one church in particular maybe with the pandemic they’ve been used to you know online church and meetings and everything seek them out get together with them have have coffee tea invite them for a meal start meeting uh people of the same page because because in the times ahead it we need to be each other’s resources and so anyway like i said i’m not going to go on with this and everything it’s just really on my heart you want to know what we’re all about and and what we’re doing and why you know the balanced teaching and everything it’s balanced because because you know what i’ve said many times i’ve said for 20 years is that that anybody can say they’re a christian anybody can say they’re born again but but god has designed it so that our righteousness is proven within a framework of relationships that’s wisdom that anybody can say they’re a christian but it’s it’s the proof is is manifest through the network of relationships that we have so anyway i encourage you um just to consider about who you have in your in your life i go back also to peter who in acts chapter 12 was supernaturally released from prison in the middle of the night and he knew exactly whose house to go to where john mark’s mom’s house mary in acts 12 12 says that they were praying for him and peter knew who to go to and let me ask you this if your world fell apart if you had need of bill of bills being paid if you if you needed a friend if you were sick if you had somebody that you needed food and water and clothing and being visited or taken in do you know who you would go to uh most people’s experiences they can’t go to their auditorium church to help with the rent or anything else they can’t go to a friend in the church for emotional need because they don’t know them uh you know so so what i’m saying is get serious about your faith get serious about their relationships we are each other’s resources and uh and anyway that’s the context of the new testament and that alone ought to shake you that if you have taken the new testament out of context and put it in the auditorium and tried to make it work you should be horrified and realize that there was written by apostles doing church in the home writing two people doing church in the home so put the new testament back in context and within the framework of relationships and you will find an amazing uh new chapter of your faith all right god bless c-w-o-w-i dot org is our website and if you want the book return of the first church the pdf of it I’ll be happy to send it to you just email me at cwowi @ aol.com bye
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Church Without Walls International - CWOWI

An international house church network founded by John and Barbara Fenn in 2001, which focuses on practicing Christianity based on the model found throughout the New Testament.

John and Barb
CWOWI logo with the roof of a house to represent a church without walls

Who We Are
“Not that we would have dominion over your faith, but rather are helpers of your joy, for by your own faith you stand (II Cor 1:24) We believe the practice of home based churches as depicted in the book of Acts and Paul’s letters is normal Christianity. These churches revolve around friends, neighbors, and co-workers meeting regularly for the purpose of growing in Christ and letting the Lord’s will be done in their midst.”

What We Do
“Our goal is to help build Godly relationships by helping Christians establish new house churches. CWOWI encourages Christians who do not currently attend “church” to build relationships with the believers around them. CWOWI then uses technology to connect those singular house churches to hundreds worldwide. All affiliated home churches are affiliated under a biblically sound statement of faith. CWOWI also serves as a resource for the church through the ministry of John Fenn and network leaders.”

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