Unit 4.4 Classifying Cell Church Models


Unit 3: The Second Wave: South American Innovations

Lecture: Classifying Cell Church Models

The Two Winged Church System:  Let=s review our developing understanding of the Atwo winged@ church system introduced in the lecture on Bill Beckham. 

The right wing is the worship system of the church, which is undergirded and supported by task oriented administrative subsystems. These task oriented subsystems provide for all of the needs of the institutional church: buildings, property, finance, personnel, leadership development, governance and management. The end result of a functioning worship system is literally a temple where worship takes place; all of the elements of a traditional and institutional church will fit into this wing. Worship systems cycle without much change; they are primarily interested in the ongoing, smooth function of current homeostasis, repeating the familiar and comfortable events and programs over and over again. The focus is on comforting people rather than challenging them. Worship systems do evangelism as a Acome structure@ by inviting people to facilities and events that are attractive to outsiders. The traditional church for centuries has emphasized this wing to the point that it is hard to imagine church in any other way.

The left wing is the discipleship system sometimes supported by two relationalsubsystems: a management structure and an equipping track. The left wing is a teleological process – it changes people – and has the goal of maturing the faithful through stages of prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace. A healthy discipleship system is relational, focused on individuals, and moves people through graduated steps from spiritual infancy (Eddies), learning the biblical faith, on to gift-oriented missional service and finally into disciple making. An equipping track is identified by prerequisites and graduation; people finish one task and move on to the next; they outgrow one level, become bored and move on to the next. The two most common equipping tracks in the United States are the 13 year sequence of public school (culminating in High School graduation) and boy scouting (culminating in Eagle scouting).[1] In a public school, a management structure made up of a hierarchy of principals and department heads supports teachers in each class room (small group).

There is always a discipleship system present in a traditional church; it is a part of the system. Often it is so weak as to be barely recognizable. The operation of sanctifying grace is usually little more than the relational encouragement to grow in faith and be holy.  The operation of prevenient grace is usually little more than the inviting outsiders to come to the church building for events. The closest thing to an equipping track is a pastor=s membership class which must be completed prior to membership. The traditional church tries to accomplish all the tasks of ministry through the right wing of worship and the administrative subsystems. The Acommunity@ of the faith community is in the fellowship of the worship service. The healthy core group operates the programs and works in the administration of the church.

[1]The equipping track suggested in Seminar Three: Decision at www.disciplewalk.com/resources is based on the familiar American model of Eagle scouting.

NOTE (my response)



The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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