Unit 7.15 Pragmatic Obedience: faith community, discipleship system and healthy core group.


Unit 7: Methodist Historical DNA and Modern Cell Churches: Is There A Match?


We will try to clarify Wesleyan DNA in terms of our basic concepts of faith community, discipleship system and healthy core group. And we will consider what Wesley would have to say today if he had been on our guided tour of the cell church; once the shock wore off, I think he would find the uncompromising commitment of these churches familiar and that he would relish adapting new methods for a new Methodism.

New systems must first overcome systemic resistance to change. People within a system accept or oppose change in a standard curve distribution. A visionary minority of 16% desires change and an 84% pragmatic majority desires for things to fun smoothly and efficiently in comfortable channels. The standard approach to change calls for the visionary minority to proclaim the need for change persuasively and with urgency,  stressing the pain and problems if the change is not implemented immediately. As visionary creativity and careful detailed planning rarely coexist, the proposal to change if often incomplete and risky. If the pragmatic majority question the need for change or ask for details, the visionary minority push for acceptance on faith. The increase in anxiety and the sense of manipulation inevitably create systemic resistance to change among the pragmatic majority. In other words, the standard approach to change encouraged by management literature and church leadership literature is guaranteed to fail.

The emergent church believes that the visionary minority is the hope for the future of the church. A system that is constantly evolving, as they encourage, is very unhealthy; this pacesetting style of leadership is as damaging as controlling, militaristic leadership. One of the most striking elements in common between cell churches and Wesley is a lack of ongoing innovation and experimentation. Once the system is up and running, the focus is not upon improving the system but in implementing the system exactly as directed. Wesley’s instructions are every bit as direct as those in the cell church: don’t mend our rules but keep them. With regard to those who insisted on varying from the rules, Wesley’s response was simple and inviolable: they will either bend or break. Wesley’s strength was the firm, consistent, unvarying implementation of his “discipline” in his discipleship system and within the healthy, leadership core. Neither Wesley or cell church leaders will compromise any factor of their system of making disciples and equipping for leadership. Both stress obedience in every detail. Wesley’s position is to remind us all the origin of the movement at the Foundry, where a few “asked his advices on how to flee from the wrath to come.” Those who did not wish his advice were free to go elsewhere, but those who remained were expected to simply believe.

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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