IS SADDLEBACK COMMUNITY CHURCH A CELL CHURCH?
A. The Four Systemic Problems:
( Saddleback has a definite and clear purpose of making disciples at the core of all that they do. They are definitely a Atwo winged@ church, blending traditional, institutional elements with their purpose driven discipleship system. Saddleback is famous for avoiding facility ownership, meeting in 79 different locations for 13 years and not building until they had thousands of members. This resulted in a healthy leadership core group of thousands focused on faithfulness rather than easy access to a campus. They built relational connections within the socially disconnected world of wealthy, suburban Los Angeles.
; Saddleback doesn=t really seem to have a problem with these systemic problems.
B. The Four Priorities of the cell church:
( Jesus is Lord at Saddleback; it=s not about you, after all, it=s about God. Saddleback follows a
Purpose Driven model which very specific goals and strategies; Warren is a fan
of Peter Drucker=s
writings on corporate management. Individuals build relationships where kinship
is present (ASaddleback
Sam@) that grow into church involvement.
The membership covenant lays out the responsibilities of the emotionally
mature. The four classes of the famous baseball diamond are the equipping track
which takes place in the church. The Purpose Driven Life is the
curriculum for an equipping track that takes place in the context of small
groups. The SHAPE process for identifying spiritual gifts, calling and ministry
goals is coupled with Ministry Fairs which involve people in community
; While small groups are essential for membership at Saddleback, I am not aware of a drive toward cell multiplication or a management structure designed to develop leaders to make that happen. The small groups are definitely evangelistic and train their members to be evangelistic; it=s one of the five purposes. The Purpose Driven Life is one of the very few resources on discipleship which emphasizes that evangelism is a personal responsibility for every Christian. Yoido Church, likewise, focuses on evangelism within groups rather than multiplication of groups; groups only multiply when there are sufficient conversions to warrant multiplication. So perhaps this is not a problem.
C. The Five Stages of Spiritual Maturity:
( The four classes of the famous baseball diamond take persons through the stages of growth; small groups prepare persons for the next class in a relational environment, with leaders fulfilling the parental role.
; No problem here.
Conclusion: Saddleback is a cell church.
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.