Originally issued by George and Betty Geftakys in July 1985; revised September 1995. Introduction and notes by Brent T., 2002: "This is an official document from George and Betty's home at the date listed at the top. This reveals a very rigid lifestyle, designed to break down a person's sense of individuality. It is a form of brainwashing, in the most fundamental use of the term. This is not living together in unity, it is living together in conformity, while under authoritarian rule. George and Betty don't lift a finger in their home, their servants have the privilege of serving them. They are trained indeed, by doing this. They are trained to go out and reproduce the negative character traits that were reinforced in them by their masters. B.T." Notice also that all this training is necessary for salvation: "Your benefit is holiness, with the outcome of eternal life." Works salvation was reinforced, not only in the meetings, but in the home in a very powerful and invasive way.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to live together in unity; it is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments: as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” Psalm 133
These notes are given to provide encouragement, direction, and challenge for the grace of life together. The home is an ideal place to see lives formed for eternity and servants trained for the Lord. We have a great privilege and grave responsibility to challenge those living in our homes to the highest and best, in short, to excellence.
We must establish and implement high standards if we want to get excellence. We do not want to do more, but do better. In order to achieve excellence, we must be conscientious, diligent, and exact in practical things. Superficial work is pretense of the worst kind. The Lord calls men and women with the spirit of an Epaphroditus, “a faithful minister of Christ...always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”. (Col.1:7, 4:12) That spirit will be required of us. The life of uttermost service cannot be comfortable. Comfort becomes a master and a tamer.[i]
I. GOALS FOR THE HOME
A. Examples in a Christian community. Is our home causing other homes to want to emulate our example? The house of Stephanas was such a contagious example: “Ye know the house of Stephanas, that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” (1 Cor.16:15) We want to learn, therefore, to exalt Him, to serve Him, and to expect Him in our homes.[ii]
1. Exalt Him: Learn in the home that Jesus is Lord. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor.10:31) “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing...that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col.1:10,18; 3:23)
2. Serve Him: Service is expressed in daily action. If you do it to the least of the brethren you do it to Him. (Matt.25:40) Who is the great man with God? He is the servant. If you want to be the chief, then serve. (Matt.20:26-27) “I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church...for she hath been a succorer of many, and of myself also.” (Rom.16:1-2)[iii]
3. Expect Him: The good and faithful servant is waiting, watching, looking for and serving his Lord. Be men and women of faith. (Rom.4:17-21) Be like Joshua and Caleb, who said, “We can well overcome the giants.” Think of the great possibilities that exist for each other because we have a great God.
B. School for Christian Character. To the true child of God, there is no distinction between sacred and secular. Every part of life is spiritual. Humility is to be expressed in serving one another at home and in the assembly.[iv] We get the strange idea sometimes that we must be faithful in the assembly and in the outreaches, but not in the home. NO. If we are faithful in the work, we are faithful to the Lord at home as well. These things have to do with our character: who we are. (Rom.8:13; 1 Thess.5:23-24; 2 Pet.3:18; Phil.2:13-15; Jer.6:15; John 15:11; John 10:10) He is the fountain of life, and is offering us life, lived to its fullest potential and possibility.
1. Faithfulness in little things in and out of the home, careful and exact in practical, daily behavior. (Luke 16:10; Dan.6:3)
2. Availability in and out of the home. (Phil.2:4, 20-21; 2 Cor.8:3,5,12)
3. Commitment to Him in and out of the home. (1 Pet.2:23; 4:19)
C. Place of Ministry. (Mark 10:43) We are saved by grace, not self-justification. We can’t do it, so we dare not be full of talk and self-justification. Learn to say, “It is all of grace.” It is humbling to have to get before the Lord, and ask Him to teach us. There are seven ways we minister:[v]
1. By control of the tongue. (James 3:2)
2. By being a good listener. (James 1:19) Study to be quiet. Listen to one another. Listen attentively, not half-heartedly. A good way to know we are listening is to restate what the other said.
3. By meekness (humility, childlikeness, willingness to believe the best, not having a “jaundiced eye”). “With good will doing service...” (Eph.6:7; Phil.2:3-8; Rom.12:3)
4. By helping in trifling matters. (2 Cor.1:24; Acts 10:38)
5. By bearing, sharing the burden, sustaining (helping to continue). “It is the fellowship of the cross to experience the burden of the other. The Bible expresses the whole work of Christ in this one word. ‘Surely, He hath borne....’” (from Life Together) (Gal.6:3)
6. By sharing, encouraging others, i.e., the ministry of the Word to one another personally and daily. (Heb.3:13; 10:24-25)
7. By being under authority. (1 Pet.5:5-6)[vi]
D. Preparation for the Work. We must be training in our homes. The purpose of the home is to train, to mold and change behavior. Here is what we want to see achieved in the training process:[vii]
1. The exercise and development of the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, meekness, temperance, forbearance, faithfulness. (Gal.5:22-23)
2. Given to hospitality. (Rom.12:13)
3. Willingness to take direction and receive instruction. (James 1:21)
4. Workers. We should always be training a replacement for ourselves, someone else who sees and has learned these things (2 Tim.2:1-2), and is willing to go the second mile.
5. People who walk in faith (trusting the Lord), prayer, and watchfulness (vigilance).
II. THE WAY WE LOOK AT IT
A. To produce great people with God. We want to offer people the opportunity to enter into greatness with God, to choose greatness with God. (Matt.20:20-28) To do so, we must be an example of:[viii]
1. Not lording it over them. Be loving, hospitable, and meek in the exercise of our authority. (1 Pet.5:2-3)
2. Serving. We are here to serve the people in our home. We are not to live selfish lives. (Acts 6:1-4)
3. Giving. We are here to give our lives by spending time with them. These things don’t grow naturally; we must cultivate the garden if we want results. (2 Cor.9:7)
B. To enable people to inherit the Kingdom by “doing it to one of the least of these”. (Matt.25:34-46, with emphasis on verse 34) When we live in community, we are there to help one another. We are there because the love of Christ is constraining us to meet needs. We are not to live like perfect strangers in the house. When we go out to a brother or sister, it is like going out to Christ. Whatever we say to one another, we say to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:1-5) [ix]
1. You gave me to eat--prepared a meal for the family.
2. You gave me to drink--gave a cup of cold water.
3. You invited me in--showed hospitality and provided a home.
4. You clothed me--cared for the poor and needy.
5. You visited me--visited the sick, the isolated.
6. You came to me--befriended the lonely and rejected.
C. To produce people who are faithful in much by teaching them to be faithful in the littlest thing. (Luke 16:10) What are the little things?
1. Be on time for meals, paying bills, devotions, preparations for home activity.
2. Be careful. We’ve got to care to be careful.
3. Admit your mistakes. Don’t ignore or cover up broken things. Let’s not be dishonest. Let’s have clarity and integrity to admit our mistakes. It takes courage to do so. Then when you admit your mistake, do something about it; be responsible for your actions.[x]
4. Contribute of yourself at the table and the house meetings. Have something to say to everyone around the table. Don’t ignore others in every day encounters. Share your morning time encouragement.
D. To learn to trust and believe God to do it. Who then can be saved? With men these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible. )(Mark 10:26-27)
III. WHY SPEND THE ENERGY AND THE TIME (Matt.13:3-23) The house must be changing people’s hearts. We are to make every type of ground “good” in order that it might bring forth fruit. Let’s prepare the ground so that the Word of the Kingdom can produce fruit. Since God has given us a husbandry in our homes, we ought to be looking for the harvest.[xi]
A. Cultivate the well beaten paths so the seed can sink in the ground and take root. (vs.3-4)
1. Make the soil softer by dealing with problems of the heart. We need reality with God in our encounters with each other.
2. that leads to life. The Lord’s way is the only way, the narrow way, the way of the cross. (Matt.7:14) We must be put in hard places so that we will learn to depend on God for grace. “In distress thou hast enlarged me.”
3. Develop understanding of the Lord’s dealing day by day, and not the world’s ways, which are well beaten. Let’s say “Brethren, how do we see the Lord’s dealing in this? What is God’s will?” (2 Tim.2:7) Trust the Lord for today. In much patience we possess our souls. Let patience have her perfect work. Have a daily discipline of doing the Heavenly Ladder and the spiritual journal.[xii]
B. Break up and get rid of the rocky places. (Acts 14:22)
1. Make the soil deeper by learning to take affliction and suffering. Endure afflictions. Choose His way in points of conflict. (Heb.12:5-11)
2. Develop an attitude of what the Lord wants and then be willing to suffer persecutions as a result of it. (Matt.7:21; 13:21) Stand for the Lord though some people may not like it.
3. Value the joy of receiving His Word. What did you get from the Lord today? Don’t give it up for something of lesser value. Don’t lose out on eternal values. (Matt.13:20)
C. Deal with thorns by growth of better and more enduring, eternal, and satisfying values. (Matt.13:7)
1. Learn to utilize what you hear to dispel the worries of the world. (Matt.13:22; Mark 4:19) Take hold of what you receive in house meetings, morning times, and assembly meetings. Write it down on a card. Get hold of that seed and let it grow.
2. Don’t make provision for indulging in the pleasures of the world that choke the Word in you. (James 1:27; 1 John 2:15)
3. Learn to live without need for riches and their deceptions. This deals with movies, diet, etc. Find pleasures in the Lord. Music affects the growth of plants; what must it do to our affections? Learn to live moderately and simply, without the need for things. As regards menus, what is good for everyone is good for each one. Eat the same thing. There are to be no private stashes. We should all be able to thank the Lord for the food. Invoke principles; don’t legislate. Make it “our home”. Why should some buy for themselves what others cannot have?
D. Value highly and cultivate each expression out of an honest and sincere heart (sincere = without mixture; not double minded or deceitful). (Matt.13:8,23) The ones who are responding need to be encouraged. Don’t just deal with problems.
1. In daily activity, see how the Word releases life and gives direction. In what practical, precise way did the Word release you today, this week?
2. Learn understanding along with hearing the Word; that is, how it applies to life.
3. Be willing to deny yourself for Him. Encourage those who do so. Join with them in the rejoicing of it. Say, “Praise the Lord, isn’t it great to see the Lord getting that in your life?” Write in your journal, in what way was I willing to deny myself for the Lord today? If not, this is a cause for repentance and contrition.
4. Maintain daily perseverance, steadfastness, continuance, consistency. (Ps.119:133)
E. Know that by these the following are taking place: (Matt.13:11; Mark 4:24-25)
1. It has been granted that you know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven. You begin to sense the phenomenon that you are growing in an appreciation of the divine purpose and plan.
2. Your eyes and ears are blessed. (Matt.13:16) You are taking heed. You begin to notice, respond to things.
3. More will be given to you in abundance because you have these values.
4. Great faith produces results, miracles in your life. (Matt.13:58)
IV. PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED
A. Set standards of excellence and have all in the house agree with them. “Prove the things that are excellent.” (Phil.1:19) We want to do what the Lord wants, which is excellence. It is in the getting of excellence that a faithful person is in the making. Here is how to get started.: Have a house meeting and have each one seek the Lord for what He wants. Submit what you all come up with and combine them. Seek practical ways to implement the goals. Take a week, and let that goal be a part of your conversation at the table and at devotions.
B. Recognize problems when they arise, and get a clear verbalization of what they are.
1. Problems will arise because He is perfecting us. (Gal.6:7-10) “You will reap what you sow.” Many are deceived. We have a genius for escaping problems. We say to ourselves, “If I’m unfaithful, it really doesn’t matter.” If you are unfaithful, you mock God. If you teach your children, for example, how to behave in the meetings, but allow them to cut loose at home, God will not be mocked; you will reap what you sow. In order to help us face reality, we will need to use consequences.[xiii]
2. Remember that problem times are learning times, and so don’t become distraught. (2 Cor.5:14-15) We need to learn that we are not our own. When we fail it is because we are living for ourselves, and not for Him. Learn that we are ambassadors for Christ. (2 Cor.5:20) Our greatest impossibility is the Lord’s greatest opportunity in our lives. Chapters 1 and 2 in Fenelon’s book, Christian Perfection, deal with the attitude that we are to live for Him by faith.
C. Share the solution to the problem of unfaithfulness. Don’t threaten, or go on and on about a problem. Communicate Rom.6:11-13, 19, 22.
1. Acknowledge the fact that we have died to sin. Be alive to Him. You can’t be alive to Him if you are alive to self.
2. “Let not sin reign.” Respond now, with the Selfer’s Prayer.
3. Don’t go on yielding your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.
4. Yield (present) yourself to God as alive from the dead. This is a response (an attitude) of loving obedience.
5. Know that lawlessness produces more lawlessness. (Rom.6:19) As you give place to sin, it produces more of the same. Present your members as slaves to righteousness, and it will result in sanctification (a new disposition and inclination). Your benefit is holiness, with the outcome of eternal life.
6. Commit yourself to Him. (1 Pet.2:20-23) What credit do you have if you endure with patience what you’ve done wrong? There is no glory in rebellion. But if you keep trusting yourself to Him, He will do it. Say, “Lord, I’m trusting you. I can’t do it, but I trust you.” Your trying is not good enough. (2 Tim.4:18; Rom.8:15) God is not bringing you into these things to lead you into slavery and fear, but to life and liberty in Christ Jesus. (Rom.8:27) He is interceding for you according to the will of God. (Rom8:28) Do you believe that all things work together for good?
1. Consequences are clearly taught in the Word of God. It tells us in Gal.6:7-8 that we are not to be deceived about consequences, but to be realists. “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”[xiv]
2. Again in Col.3:24-25 we read, “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” We like to hear about reward consequences, but let’s not overlook the consequences for wrongdoing.
3. Because we have died to sin, we are now free to choose either to live in the Spirit or in the flesh. Rom.6:18-23 tells us if we choose to continue in sin, we will reap the consequence: death. If we choose to trust and obey God, we will reap the consequence: eternal life. Verse 23 is true for sinner and saint alike.
4. Everything in life has to do with consequences. Better to learn God’s way now through the discipline of short-term consequences than to wait for the Lord to deal with that behavior, liability, or lack of integrity at the judgment seat of Christ, where the consequence will be unalterable and final. See Heb.12:17.
5. Consequences are not given to make a person feel bad enough so they won’t do it again. We can’t harangue, or be upset ourselves. This will only paralyze people. We must build them up, edify them by exhortation and warning (Col.1:28; 3:16), not guilt. Observe how the Lord trains us in Heb.12:5-11. We say, “It is too big a bother for me, too costly in time and energy, so why be bothered?” Gal.6:10 says we have an opportunity to do good to these precious souls.
6. Here are some practical suggestions in the correct use of consequences:
a) For house stewardships, give a month of “how to” before you give out consequences. Have the person write out in detail everything involved in that stewardship. The time of four weeks allows for things to be added to the stewardship description. Work hard to be fair. Be clear on what you expect from him and what he can expect from you. This includes agreeing ahead of time what the consequences will be for not doing the stewardship. The consequence list should be contributions that serve others in the home (but not anyone’s stewardships).
b) Once the person knows what is to be done, don’t make any allowances for excuses, because people need to learn how to plan ahead. Don’t take an excuse, even a good, logical one, but say, “Yes, but you had time beforehand, time to plan.” Always be sure to relate every accounting of a stewardship to the eternal reality of learning faithfulness in little things. This is communicating vision.
c) Give the consequence. Don’t strive or harangue, but be gentle. (2 Tim.2:24-26) The gentlest thing to do for wrongdoing is to quietly bring home the reality of the wrong choice by the doing of a consequence. This removes the need for you to get upset. There will be problems with certain people. Some will get many consequences, but don’t worry about that; they will learn a lot through them.[xv]
d) When giving a consequence, get a written agreement from them. Some people will need this; it will give them a boost in doing the consequence.
(1) Why the consequence?
(2) What is the consequence?
(3) When will it be done?
(4) What is the consequence for not completing the consequence as agreed?
e) Help the person to succeed. Don’t get mechanical about giving out consequences. If you see the person is having a hard time, find out what the root of the problem is and work with the person to come up with a plan that will help him succeed.
(1) Focus on his contribution, not on what he is not doing. (2 Tim.4:11) What is his value to your home?
(2) Build on his strengths. There are character strengths and weaknesses. (1 Cor.12:22) Don’t have favorites.
(3) Maximize your opportunities. For the little things make a difference; make a big deal of it. (John 6:9) People should not want to leave your home.
(4) If a way you are working with someone is not working, abandon it for another plan. (James 4:14-15) See what the Lord’s will is.
(5) Concentrate your resources. Work on one thing at a time. Get him to accomplish one task well. (Luke 10:42)
(6) Have an open door policy. Go out to others. They should not have to come to you. Go to them.
(7) In counseling, listen with your ears and eyes.
(a) Ask open ended questions, i.e., questions that require more than a yes/no response.
(b) Accept them.
(c) Restate what you thought you heard them say.
(d) Utilize silence. Get them to answer their own questions.
E. Rejoice at the results.
1. Rom.8:37: In all these things we are more than conquerors. He loves me. He doesn’t have it in for me. Get them to admit what the behavior is that caused the problem. It is a release when you can be honest.
2. Gal.4:19: “Until Christ be fully formed in you.” The steward is like a travailing mother bringing someone to birth.
3. Eph.4:13-15. The end is the stature and fullness of Christ. Speak the truth in love.
4. 2 Tim.2:2-7. We are entrusting what we have heard to faithful men. Suffer hardship. It is not easy on you or me. The Lord will give you understanding in all things.
F. Training. Seeing the steps in the training process will help you realize the need for personal involvement.
1. See the good. Communicate the values you’re wanting to get, and repeat them until they are gotten hold of. Setting a good example on your part is of utmost importance.
2. Do the good. Show him what to do, and how to get started. Have him do it while you watch. Let him carry the behavior. Practice and repetition are essential.
3. Choose the good. This is where the person internalizes the values you have been teaching. If the values you are teaching are not willingly chosen from the heart, then when the person leaves the home, he will not pursue those values. Willingly choosing for new values comes by praying for and with the person. The Lord must create in the heart a willingness to do His will.
G. Functions of a Head Steward
1. Maintains unity and vision in the home. Unity is very important. The basis for unity is that we all want what God wants.
2. Keeps lines of communication open in the home. Listens as well as talks with others. Listens to others not only when they are talking to him, but listens to what kind of conversations are going on in the home.
3. Encourages faithfulness in the whole of life.
4. Helps others to make a contribution, to help, to be available.
5. Upholds standards of excellence, as the trumpet caller for the others.
Stands for and utilizes
in functioning all the values and good direction of the head of the
[i] Here it is clearly stated that we don’t achieve excellence with the grace of God, but only with hard, dedicated work. Anything else is a pretense of the worse kind. So God really is interested in our filthy rags after all. The Holy Spirit is not enough, but the spirit of Epaphroditus is!
[ii] These homes are examples in the Christian community all right. The question is, what kind of example?
[iii] How many times do you think the master of this house served the people who lived there? I maintain that the ones who paid rent served the master, not the other way round.
[v] We can’t do it, but we must do it. Grace saves us, but we must work hard! This is so contradictory and confusing, no wonder people are discouraged.
[vi] This is a big one. [Editors' note: This may be the biggest one. Here in the communal living situation is where the authoritarian system of the Assembly becomes totalistic--involving every detailed aspect of a person's life. The impression given here is that in the home we minister Christ to one another. The reality is that in the home we are practical servants to those in charge, thus freeing them of the inconveniences of daily life so they are available to do whatever "Brother George" may require in "The Work."]
[vii] On Sunday, a person living in this home may very well have heard a message on how “God changes us from the inside out.” Then, Monday through Saturday, they live in a house that is bent on molding and changing behavior. Again, totally contradictory and confusing.
[viii] We can offer people an opportunity to achieve greatness with God!?
[ix] Without mentioning how many times they violate each one of these ideals, did you notice how a training home is needed to, “enable people to inherit the Kingdom?”
[x] When was the last time George, David, Betty, etc. admitted a mistake. Especially a big one like spousal abuse, drunkenness, violence and the like?
[xi] God’s word needs our help in order to bring about fruit.
[xii] Really, there is too much here. We need a daily discipline? Works saves us? No! Our daily discipline should be out of a willing heart, not a need to achieve godliness.
[xiii] Consequences, as we will see, are necessary for “reality.” This is nothing more than coercive persuasion and milieu control.
[xv] Oh my. What about mercy? Isn’t that the weightier matter that the Pharisees neglected?
This document really needs to be studied. After leaving the group, when a person’s mind begins to clear, they are often shocked at what they accepted as “life together.” This document, perhaps more than anything else I have come across, demonstrates the means that George and Betty have implemented in order to control people. What fools we were to have allowed this kind of control over our lives and our children’s lives. “You will know them by their fruit.”