Whole Bible Christianity

It's a God Thing


Starting a Whole Bible Assembly - Suggestions for Starting Your Own Congregation

Can't Find a Congregation that supports all of the Word? Start Your Own!

Start A Whole Bible Assembly

Suggestions on how to start a whole Bible assembly from The Word of God Ministries. Whole Bible people frequently find themselves between congregations, because we are rejected by both church and synagogue. So here's some help in starting your own assembly. Or just make an assembly with your own family. The Word is the unifying purpose, and we can follow Him anywhere, not just at a church or synagogue. Frequently not even at a church or synagogue.

Maybe just your family

You know, if you can't find other people of like mind who want to join you, just have a study with yourself or your family. Nothing wrong with that. The nice thing about whole Bible Christianity is that the Bible is all you need. Take a day off on Saturday and read or study. When a feast or holiday rolls around, have some of your own traditions. Or make new ones. Read the Bible out loud. Take turns reading. If someone has a song, sing it. If someone has a prophecy, bring it. Use our Manna schedule as a guide for what to read and what to talk about. You can start with a reading, but in our opinion every reading can lead everywhere else in the Book when you've been through it a couple times.

Like minded

We suggest trying to find like minded people. And by like minded we don't mean everyone thinks the same. We just mean that the Bible is the base. If the Word says to do something, try to do it. It is says not to do something, then stop. If it really doesn't say, then maybe we don't need to make a big deal out of it. There is enough in the Word to keep us busy transforming our own lives without worrying about what other people are doing. But you will have to do some guiding and disciplining now and then. Happily you can be the model. Read it and do it yourself, and then other people will find it easier to follow.

When You Find Yourself Between Congregations

Start A Whole Bible Assembly

So you find yourself unable to continue at a church. They don't like the Law, and they think you are a heretic. You tried the synagogue (Messianic) and they’re too wrapped up in Jewish tradition. Now what?

Well, start an assembly yourself.

You say you’re not qualified? You don’t know anybody?

Okay, it’s true that if you trained to be, say, a Baptist minister, the denomination (one of the many) would help you by hiring you at an existing church. Or they’d give you some organizing and monetary help for starting a new one. You would have the backing of money and an established brand to get going. People would attend not so much because of you but because of the brand. In conventional 'churchianity,' if you don't have a logo you don't have anything. If new Calvary Chapels didn't use the name and the dove, they would go out of business overnight (as would all the other denominations). Or never even get started. Branding is important for spreading the denomination, and money begets more money. So it is easier, from that standpoint.

But you’ve got something better. Maybe not bigger, or more recognized, but definitely better. You’ve got the absolute truth of the Word of God, and the genuine intention to follow it in every way. You are reading it every day, and trying to do what you read. It doesn’t need to get more complicated than that. Your logo is the Spirit, and your backer owns the cattle on 10,000 hills.

You don't have to be a PhD or even have a college education to start something. Most of the apostles were everyday Joes, and look what they did. You have Jesus and you have the Word, and you don't need anything else. At the very least your congregation can consist of your family members. If that's all it is, don't be fooled. You are raising up people to be strong in the Lord. If everyone did this we wouldn't need teachers. Maybe you won't have a mega-church (not that you'd want to) but you may be the person training a generation of leaders. After all, Jesus started with 12.

Perfection in every thing you do or have done, or never making mistakes, is not the prerequisite for leadership. The main qualification is humility. A humble leader recognizes his limitations, submits to His God, and follows His instructions as fully as he knows how. He stays open to repentance and repents quickly when confronted with a fault. He governs his own family well, meaning in the same humility as he submits to His Father and Lord. The humble man will repent when he is shown to be in error. He will consider others more important than himself, yet still hold fast to what is right and good. It's tough to be humble and do right, but it helps drastically to know that it is God's Word to which we are trying to conform. This is starting to sound like a guy who isn't around here, but the man who strives to practice humility will get there someday. And if he gets sidetracked or fails, a humble man is more likely to be able to correct himself, and also to correct others in love.

So start a community, even if it's just your family. Don't let pride get in the way - pride doesn't risk failure. What is failure, anyway? Failure in the world's eyes is not having a mega-church or a TV network. Sharing the Word never fails. Pride keeps you from trying to share what you know and live just because you might not be famous, or chased around for interviews on network news shows. Don't be that guy.


What Are The Goals of a Whole Bible Assembly?

What would a new assembly look like? How would it be different than the plastic, mile-wide inch-deep assemblies currently available? Why are you going to be different? You’ve got to decide what it is you are trying to accomplish. Where are you going with this? Are you trying to fire people up like a pep rally? Or are you trying to equip yourself and others to handle daily living while reaping the blessings of peace and a whole heart? Are you fostering dependence on leaders (such as yourself), or on the Word? Are you teaching the Word, or teaching the commandments of men, especially your own?

The idea in a whole Bible community is obviously to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)

Anything different is not from the Word. Do you read anything in the above verses about one guy in the front paid to be speaking at all the rest? Is there anything, anything at all in any part of the Word about huge buildings and acres of parking? The assembly doesn't exist to boost egos. It does not exist as a monument to how wonderful the leaders are, or to sell books, or set up more franchises like a burger joint. It exists to build up the body. Everyone should be involved, from the oldest to youngest. Older men teach younger men, and older women teach the younger women. Kids are brought up with a focus on the Word and how to keep it the center of their lives.

Model The Behavior That You Want Copied

A congregation meeting models the behavior that individuals copy when there is no meeting. If the weekly assembly is a big show, with rock bands and motivational speakers and multi-screened visuals, how in the world can anyone copy that at home?

You want others to read the Word? Read it in the meeting. You want them to search the Word for answers to life's difficulties? Then search them in the assembly. Do you want the body to live the Word? Live it in the assembly.

To get closer to God, and gain more of the fruit of the Spirit in the process, we need to read the Word and do it. Daily reading of large chunks is one key, and constant application of it is another. Whole Bible meetings should be places that teach people how to read the Word for themselves, learn to understand it, and apply it to every situation. Meetings are for sharing a little about what's going on in your life the rest of the week, finding solutions to problems if needed, and bearing one another's burdens. You can't do this in the typical church or synagogue service.

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:2-5 ESV)

In our opinion, the assembly should not be all that different than friends coming over to a house to visit, or a family Bible study around the dining room table or in the den. The activities should all be something that can be repeated anytime, in which all can participate, with no special preparation or effort that cannot be duplicated at home or a coffee shop or the miniature golf course.

Teach Self-Sufficiency

We should be teaching self-sufficiency, at least as it applies to pursuing God. Jesus is there to provide the ability, but abilities need to be practiced too. He expects us to exert our whole heart, mind, and soul in exchange for the love He gives. Self-sufficiency does not mean we can reach heaven on our own, but it does mean that we should be able to maintain our own direct relationship with God. We can go straight to the Word, and need to learn how to do that in all things.

One of the main goals of fellowship, especially in an assembly, is to teach everyone how to be self-sufficient with regard to learning and growing with the Word. Each person should know how to feed themselves, just as they do with meals and snacks. We start out having to be fed right after we're born, but pretty soon we want to hold the spoon in our own hand. Imagine someone still spoon feeding you when you are supposed to be all grown up!

Some Scripture that bears on congregation meetings

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, ESV)

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13, ESV)

For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:21, ESV)

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. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:26–35, ESV)

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:6, ESV)

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16–21, ESV)

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25–27, ESV)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11–16, ESV)

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:2-5 ESV)

Membership in a Whole Bible Assembly

Make Sure You Have Like Minded People

It's extremely important to gather together with like minded people. You need to establish with the first few people, outside your family, what kind of belief system will you adhere to in day to day fellowship. And speaking of family, try to avoid the temptation to have mostly your family run the show. Then it looks too much like a dynasty. Or a cult. There needs to be opportunities for people to participate in activities and leadership that are not part of your close circle of family and friends. This is sometimes a difficult balance, because you might be starting with mostly family and friends in the first place. Just keep in mind that everyone has a voice, a talent, and a place in the body. Try to find out what that is rather than reverting to simply the familiar. Technically, everyone will be family and friends after a while, but you know what we mean.

You will be faced with many decisions on who to include and who to exclude. There's no help for it. There are many who pretend to be believers but aren't. Lots of churches have decided that all are welcome, for instance. But because they do not have Scriptural government in place, and no Scriptural leaders, and let's face it they don't follow Scripture very well at all, they get into trouble when problems arise. And problems will arise no matter how much you try to avoid them. No use making things worse by fellowshipping with people who are not like minded - especially in the leadership positions.

Show caution when determining just exactly what it means to be like-minded. The like-mindedness we are speaking of is an adherence to, and determination to follow, the Word of God, including Torah. If they don't want to follow the whole of the Word, then they are not like minded. Later, you can have people who might just be visiting, but to get a foundation for a community we think you need perhaps two or three other families that have identical views of living out Scripture as you do.

Membership Structure

There are probably two types of members. One type is the person fully devoted to what you are doing, and the other type is the one trying to find out if they want to be a part. It seems we should allow for seekers, but treat them a little differently than members. Members would be those who want to be members, and commit to following the Word and the elders. Guests would be those who are just checking things out. You will have to determine when to make the change (or the person will indicate they want to change) and what will apply when.

For instance, we get calls every so often from people who say they are traveling and need financial help to get out of a bind. We don't know who these people are, or whether the circumstances are legitimate. It may be they just travel around looking for handouts and they've just learned to work the 'church system' for soft touches. We simply tell them our funds are already committed to those we know in our own congregation. We figure if we have any money, it should first go to those in our assembly. If an individual in the assembly wants to give money away, that is up to them. As a group, we need to take care of our household first, then others if we can. But how do we allocate (usually limited) funds within our assembly? This is where membership would come in. We think that we should take care of members first, then the guests, unless circumstances warrant otherwise and there is general agreement in the leadership.

Another way members and guests would be treated differently is in the celebration of the feasts. Should a guest be invited to a Passover dinner? What about the admonition that all males be circumcised? Should an uncircumcised person be allowed to partake? And what if it's just that a man hasn't gotten circumcised, but in other ways has proven to be a member? Not easy questions to answer. This is where insight and leadership will come into play. One person might be circumcised, yet act as if they aren't. Another may not be circumcised physically but displays abundant evidence of a circumcised heart (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:29). You will need prayer to figure it out. You can always change your decision if you get new information, or new understanding.

To become a member, a person just has to say they want to be one. Subject to the approval of the elders, they become members. When they want to stop, they just say goodbye and not show up anymore. If a member sins, like with divorce or adultery or something, then they have committed to abide by discipline procedures such as Matthew 18. If a guest sins and is unrepentant, then just tell them they can't attend. If a member is unrepentant, there are more options. Work with everyone if they will allow it, always moving towards the ideal, which is repentance and restoration.

Accountability in a Whole Bible Community

One of the first (generally smug) arguments you will get from people who don't like what you are doing (usually dyed-in-the-wool denominational people) is that you are not "accountable" to anyone. "Accountability" is defined by these people as answering to a bunch of other people who have set themselves up as arbiters of what is right. Being accountable to God or the Word isn't much a part of the accountability process in their system, although of course they are convinced that their denominational leaders are correctly following the Bible. Five minutes of questioning will reveal, however, that their so-called accountability process is nothing more than an adherence to denominational preferences and tradition. It bears little resemblance to anything biblical, except in the use of biblical terms to give the illusion of biblical authority.

Does this sound harsh? Well, unfortunately there is quite a bit more harshness in conventional church orthodoxy. Because that's what happens when 'accountability' means to answer to men. The teachings of men become 'orthodox' and if you don't agree with them you are 'unorthodox.' Orthodox means "of, or pertaining to, or conforming to the approved form of any doctrine, philosophy, ideology, etc." according to Dictionary.com. The denominational thinking becomes orthodox, and anything outside of that is not. Orthodoxy and accountability go hand in hand, so that in conventional churchianity to be accountable is to conform to group thinking that frequently has no basis in Scripture.

We are accountable to God, to His Word, and to each other. This is a little more scary than the imaginary stability of rigid denominational orthodoxy or group-think. If we offend, we ask for forgiveness. If we stray from the Word we repent and return. We eat His body and drink His blood, and account for our actions to our ultimate Judge and Father YHVH.

A lot of accountability issues stem from money. The people who pay want to know that their money is safe and being used for holy purposes. They use the denomination to do their thinking for them, and they know they are either part of the club or not. Accountability becomes a synonym for abdicating responsibility to read and study the Word. If there was real accountability, we wouldn't have the church as we see it today. The only reason it flourishes (if you can call it that) is that the people involved are only accountable to themselves.

Format of a Whole Bible Meeting

Based on the Scripture readings above (Deuteronomy 6:4–9; 1 Timothy 4:13; Acts 15:21; 1 Corinthians 14:26–35; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Luke 24:25–27; Luke 4:16–21; Ephesians 4:11-16) it seems that we can develop some ideas of a congregational meeting format.

  1.  The public reading of Scripture was a main part.
  2.  The Scripture reading was regular and seems to have covered at least the Torah (Moses).
  3.  Believers are to speak of His commands everywhere.
  4.  Everyone participates.
  5.  All things should be done for building up (the faith) of everyone.
  6.  Women generally keep silent.
  7.  Believers are not to go "beyond what is written" that none should be "puffed up."
  8.  Add to these things standard Christian behavior such as love, "bearing one another's burdens," the fact that we are related to one another closer than physical or legal relationships (in the Spirit), and the fruit of the Spirit (especially humility).

Church formats, where one guy speaks or teaches and everyone else listens do not appear to be in the Word. They are common in modern times, and if a group likes that format there are plenty of places to go. A congregation meeting models the behavior that individuals copy when there is no meeting. If the weekly assembly is a big show, with rock bands and motivational speakers and multi-screened visuals, how in the world can anyone copy that at home?

Do we want others to read the Word? Read it in the meeting. Do we want them to search the Word for answers to life's difficulties? Then search them in the assembly. Do we want the body to live the Word? Live it in the assembly.

Our suggestion is to read large sections of the Word publicly. All can participate in the public reading. It should cover at least the Law or Moses' writings. Then everyone talks about what they learned as they read that week. You can also talk about how to implement God’s living oracles. It sounds simple, which is true. The plan is simple. The execution, however, is something else. For one, it’s not quite as exciting or ear-tickling as the flavor-of-the-week preaching you’ll get at the local church. For another, God’s Word confronts us daily with ourselves. And our failures. On the other hand, there is much to be gained from admitting our failures (confessing). If we confess, we admit we could do better. We gain control. It might not be easy to change (repent) but it is much more satisfying, healthy, peaceful, and, well, all the fruit of the Spirit really.

One problem with many households is that the Word is just not read that often at home. People tend to think His Book is beyond their comprehension. We need to show that the Word is plain, easy to understand, and all parts are easily applicable to all daily living. Children will learn by hearing and reading and will hopefully go on to keep regular reading a part of their lives. We should model behavior that we want others to copy.

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13 ESV)

So a public reading program is ideal. Setting up a system of reading is going to help establish habits that will be continued daily all week long. Exhort people to follow their own reading program too. Teach them to read that week's Parasha before they get to the meeting, so they are prepared with questions and comments. It's not as exciting as that paid cheerleader who speaks down to you every week. It's not flashy, and won't get you points from Oprah. So what. The problem is not the Word, but in ourselves. We want the cheerleader, because we don't have to do anything ourselves. We like the kudos from talk show hosts, because that's easier than looking God in the eye and confessing that we don't measure up. We don't like to obey. It's the original four letter word.

If everyone should participate, how would having one paid guy at the front talking all the time encourage that participation? Obviously, it wouldn't and doesn't. That's one of the side effects of one paid guy. If, however, you have a meeting starting out with group reading of the Parasha (at least), and allow discussion along with songs and prayer or other sharing, then Scripture will be fulfilled.

26 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. (1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV)

A reading schedule helps make sure we regularly and evenly cover all of the Torah. Absent members can stay connected. We can read beforehand and be prepared with teachings or questions. But the schedule should not be the only reading done at home. We should encourage reading through the whole of the Word on a regular, at least annual, basis. Then we will be able to see the unity and continuity of the Bible and be better able to explain it to others (such as the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8).

We've got some tools for you that will help. There's the Manna booklet on the Parasha page, Study Helps, and our forum (the blog at wholebible.com). There's also Bruce's book Whole Bible Christianity, which gives a framework for whole Bible concepts and Scriptural backup.

If one has questions or comments, either on the Scripture or what another says (as in weighing what the prophets said or similar), space to speak should also be allowed. Women do not necessarily have to be completely silent, but should be mindful of their place as teachers of what God has said, including submission to their husbands. Husbands must also be mindful of leading, making sure to follow God in all things so that their example will be followed by others. Even if they are not going anywhere, God has set it up so that husbands are leaders.

Music has a place, and as with public reading all are welcome to participate also. We should aim to help musicians learn how to play with others and be comfortable with public leading of songs. Children should be encouraged to jump in. Dancing is fine; taught and led by those so moved.

Our personal opinions also include making a format such that it can be duplicated anywhere with any group of people, at home or more formally at a central location. In other words, we don't need professionals doing things that can only be done in a professional setting. Studying God's Word in a group situation should not be different than when we are home alone. We want a format that encourages interaction with each other, helps with our personal studies, and teaches children.


Whole Bible Congregation Government

Form of Government

Should you have one guy in charge, or a group of elders? The biblical model seems to be a group of elders. Some we might call deacons, and some overseers, but all are elders. This calls for wisdom on your part, but again, the task is made easier by the Word. Select elders to help you as you find them and need them. Use the criteria in Exodus 18, 1 Timothy 3; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; Titus; and James 2 for selection, as well as judging whether they truly want to follow the whole of the Word.

Yes, I said judging. An elder is a judge, and the judgment is whether someone is following the Word or not. Some things will be clear and some won’t. Some solutions will be clear and some won't. This is why an elder has to be full of the Word, or at least willing to check it and consult with other leaders for everything. The clear things include the obvious such as adultery or murder. The not-so-clear things include head coverings and what to bring for pot lucks.

Should you get paid? Well, it seems that elders are worth of double honor, we should share all good things (Gal. 6:6), and we shouldn’t muzzle the ox that treads out the grain. But Paul also didn’t collect a paycheck in order to avoid impeding the Word. We do not think that someone should get paid full time. The problem is, however well intended, paying someone full time leads to unbalanced application of the Word. We tend to think ‘the minister’ does our ministering for us. It does not encourage us to learn to spoon our own food. It is also a form of control, in that the people paying want to control what the guy they are paying is saying. Say that ten times fast. In fact, we should all be ministers. We suggest sharing, with each elder receiving a stipend for books or computers and supplies. Time in preparation for public teaching is also a consideration, as well as time for private teaching. Do what you think is best for your group, but watch out for the pitfalls of only one full-time paid elder.


Matthew 18:15-20 has some basic instructions for discipline. So does Paul in such places as 1 Corinthians 5. But how does this work out in daily living today?

Each type of person (member or guest) will have a range of dedication and understanding. One job of the elders is trying to figure out which behavior needs discipline, and how much discipline to apply. For instance, you have a doctor or medical person who cannot cease work on Saturdays. Is this a behavior that requires removal of the doctor from your number? On the one hand Sabbath is serious. On the other it takes time for people to adjust. One medical person might think he is “doing good on the Sabbath” (though he is getting paid) and another might overhaul his life so that he can rest when he needs to rest. It’s not for nothing that doctors have a high suicide rate and shorter life span than average. But you can’t force a change. All you can do in this instance is point the way and hope they learn.

A learning person who happens to work in the medical field is different, however, from a person who does not intend to practice Sabbath in any event. If the attitude is thus, then again you cannot force them to obey. All you can do is prevent their assembling with you. If the person confesses that they know they should obey the Sabbath command and just can’t figure out how at the moment, that is one issue. If another person says, “I don’t gotta,” then perhaps that person, after a while of him or her being around, should find a different assembly.

In the case of adultery or divorce there are at least four parties to consider in addition to the effects on the community – the husband, wife, other man or woman, and families. Justice is served by enforcing what is right. However, there is also the time before the problem to consider. Is the marriage operating according to godly principles? Have others in the community (like close friends) noticed problems and didn’t speak up? If we are going to enforce the Word, we need to enforce it all the time, not just when something blows up in our faces. Love is practiced everyday in every way. To love is to help people stay in God’s Word. If we don’t say anything, when we can see a divorce coming a mile away, is that really love? Are we afraid of offending someone, or just chicken? Perhaps we think we cannot judge because we did the same thing?

The thing is, what is right is always right, even if we didn’t do the right thing ourselves in the past. We know what the right thing is, even if we still feel guilty that we broke a command before. At least we are trying to get it right now. Of course, if we say anything to others after we have practiced the same behavior ourselves in the past, we are open to the charge of hypocrisy or “don’t preach to me.” We need to acknowledge the charge, yet point to the Word as the only way to fix things. A previous failing, or failings in other areas, does not preclude us from rendering judgment as leaders of a community. We point to the Word as the standard, not our own behavior. Of course, this means we have to submit to that Standard also.

Sometimes people make it easier for you. I remember one time as an elder of a church that we asked a piano player to stop playing for a few weeks. We had noticed (and our wives had informed us) that there was more than a little going on between her (who was married and had already gone through an adultery charge with the pastor) and the drummer. She got mad, her family got mad, the drummer got mad, and all of them left the church. Later, she ended up divorcing her husband and marrying the drummer! Did they ever repent? No. It just goes to show that not everyone who wears the Name is genuine. It also shows that it's not easy to effect discipline in a congregation.

The Word needs to be the most important thing. This assumes a Spirit-filled loving application. The Law is love, and love is a law. We don’t get to pick and choose what we will do and what we won’t. We are constrained by our love for Jesus and His dad. God has laid down life and health for us. It doesn’t make any sense to say we only want to live a little. We want to live fully and abundantly, overflowing with blessings pressed down and running out our ears!

Sending someone out of the congregation is love. We use this last resort hoping to get the attention of the person who has strayed. If we can levy a penalty, creating godly sorrow leading to repentance, then we have saved a brother or sister.

Growing Whole Bible Communities

Sooner or later you'll be faced with a growth problem. How big should your assembly get? It depends on what you want. There are no hard and fast rules. But the larger you get the less intimacy you have.

Some suggest that groups much larger than about 100 lose ability to really know one another. The larger you get the harder it gets to stay connected. Elders have a harder time keeping track of what's going on with the people they shepherd.

Speaking of shepherding, we're not advocating the twisted doctrine of shepherding. Shepherding is an errant teaching where elders are supposed to be so intimately involved in every detail of every life that they micro-manage those lives. We don't make decisions in that way for people. We teach the Word, hope it takes root and produces fruit, and discipline if it doesn't (limited to advice or expulsion for the purpose of repentance). But there is a balance between too much and too little involvement. Elders need to know enough about circumstances to make good judgments if needed, or provide help if needed. We need to know each other so that we can help bear burdens, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. The goal is to build the body, not lord our position over anyone.

When you reach a point that another congregation needs to be established, consider splitting. This means that you will need to train up elders who might be able to lead the new congregation. There will be a period of adjustment, but the two groups (and more later hopefully) can still get together for feasts and other celebrations as often as desired. If you have eight or ten elders, as you should by the time you reach 100, then you can split them roughly between the two congregations and still have solid leadership.

We suggest splitting along geographic lines, to make it easier for people to travel, if they do. Ideally people won't have to travel, but in our modern culture it seems we do. So try to make it as easy as possible.

Money Issues in a Whole Bible Assembly

This is a touchy issue for a lot of people. We want to help others, but how? As always, the Scriptures have the answers.

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10 ESV)

We only have so much money and time. Scriptures tell us to do good to everyone, but obviously we can't help all people. There's not enough from one person to go around. So this must be a group effort, and our first effort should be to take care of those in our own family or congregation. Our parents come first (this is one of the things that 'honor your parents' means), then siblings, then neighbors. A neighbor would first be the ones we know in our congregations, then the guy across the street you might not know very well. If you are taking care of elderly parents, and you don't have any money left to give to others, you are doing what God says to do. We don't have to feel guilty because we can't throw some change to the guy with the sign on the street corner. Chances are, there are organizations who would help that one if he really wanted help.

Money and time donated to a congregation should first go to help people within the congregation. We should share some with elders who labor in the Word, and with those who might be having a hard time making their rent.

An interesting idea we've heard from a friend is to think about helping people start their own businesses. You set them up with financing, and when they get going they will pay it back in spades. Then you can use that money to help other people start their own businesses. This is not a new idea, because many synagogues have been doing things like this since ancient history. But the idea does have appeal for permanently helping people become productive members.

There are many other ideas for helping. Share them with us when you find them, and we will share them with others too.