Unit 3.7 The Two Winged or Ambidextrous Church 


In my thinking we can expand this simple twofold model to be a complete system describing the local church. One wing is the discipleship system, which is a teleological process of change with the goal of maturing the faithful. A healthy discipleship system begins with God=s work with the lost in prevenient grace, moves a person through the landmark experience of justifying grace, and forward in God=s work to mature the faithful in sanctifying grace. As a process, a healthy discipleship system consists of clear, precise steps toward a clear, precise goal. The progress of individuals through each of the steps in the process can be measured. In a discipleship system, God utilizes people to help other people grow in faith, move through maturation stages and then make their own disciples just as a adults in nature form partnerships to produce children and raise them to become parents. In a discipleship system, converts learn behavior obedient to the commands of Christ, ultimately including the command to make disciples.[1] Discipleship systems are relational, ephemeral, and usually involve linking people together in small groups and/or networks, often undergirded by training subsystems known in cell churches as equipping tracks. They are reinforcing processes of change.

The other wing is the worship system of the church, which is undergirded and supported by administrative subsystems. These subsystems provide for 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 Aone wing.@ Worship systems cycle without much change; they are primarily interested in the ongoing, smooth function of current homeostasis. The Worship system is a balancing process that preserves stability, comfort and reduces anxiety.[2]

It is rare for the worship system and the discipleship system to be in balance. Normally one will gain a priority and the other will be neglected. When worship has a priority over the discipleship system, then proclamation or preaching will be perceived as the primary means of evangelism. The role of proclamation has been prioritized over the discipleship system in the Church in the centuries since Constantine. Conditions on the American frontier allowed for a great evangelical success through proclamation with minimal investment in a quality discipleship system; those conditions no longer exist.[3] Modern conditions require a balance between worship and discipleship systems.

In the traditional church, the community is centralized and located in the large group of people gathered for worship; in the cell church, the community decentralized and is found in each cell.  Like cells in a body, each cell is differentiated, all cooperate together to function as the Abody of Christ.@

 Beckham=s two winged church becomes the widespread model known in the cell church world as the Acell/celebration.@ The celebration is for the worship of God; the cell is for community. The administrative functions of program and governance are often left unaddressed in the cell/celebration terminology.

[1]More information on this definition of the church as a two fold system can be found in Chapter Two: Discipleship Systems at www.disciplewalk.com/resources.

[2]For an illustration, see the visual parable at http://www.disciplewalk.com/parable_shell_3.html.

[3]More information on how traditional church systems resist change can be found in Chapter One: Systemic Problems at www.disciplewalk.com/resources.

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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