IS GINGHAMSBURG UNITED METHODIST CHURCH A CELL CHURCH?
A. The Four Systemic Problems:
( Ginghamsburg has a definite and clear purpose of making disciples at the core of all that they do. The theology and teaching of their church is as inspiring and direct as any cell church. They have high standards for membership and set a very high example of creative ministries to the community.
; The focus of evangelism is to bring people into the church building for worship, and then onto a learning class, a relational small group followed by ministry service in the church and/or community. Ginghamsburg is therefore a Acome structure,@ a traditional church revised to be an attractive environment to the unchurched. While they do not Ago@ to make disciples, they do Ago@ to perform acts of service to the needy in the community; these are organized as programs of the church rather than relational acts by small groups working together in their own neighborhoods.
B. The Four Priorities of the cell church:
( Jesus is certainly Lord at Ginghamsburg and extreme obedience to Christ as Lord is consistently emphasized and practiced. There is very little room for hypocrisy in this church. The equipping track begins with a 12 week membership course and expectations are very clear; believers participate in Acell, celebration and call,@ the latter referring to discovering and obeying the call of God upon their life. Ginghamsburg strongly supports the concept of the priesthood of all believers. The congregation reads scripture together through an online ALife Transformation Journal.@
; The equipping track prepares leaders for task oriented ministries rather than spiritual parenting through cell groups. Ginghamsburg prefers to serve through events and programs rather than primarily through cells. Persons are not really taught to personally make disciples or personally mature them in small groups; that occurs during worship and conferences. There is no intent to multiply small groups but rather to build accountable fellowship through years of relational intimacy. This is intentional and consistent with the metachurch model and Wesley=s class meetings. There is no cell type linking management structure but the needs of group leaders are well cared for by the direct ministry of the small groups pastor and by the availability of optional monthly gatherings for training.
C. The Five Stages of Spiritual Maturity:
( Ginghamsburg effectively moves people through stages of maturity to the teen level of understanding one=s personal call to a ministry. The emphasis is upon obeying Jesus Christ as Lord. There is no hypocrisy here as people literally practice what Ginghamsburg preaches. While small groups do not function as cells, Ginghamsburg is starting house churches with many of the features of cell groups; these house churches are closely monitored and supported by their small groups pastor.
; The end result of the equipping track at Ginghamsburg is a spiritual adult in ministry, participating in a small group and personally ministering to the poor and oppressed. Evangelism is contagiously inviting friends to worship; the goal is to place lost persons upon the conveyor belt of weekend worship and the institutional church will take over responsibility for their spiritual growth from that involvement forward. This is very far from the cell church concept of every individual being taught to personally go and make disciples and then assume a personal, parental responsibility for those converted. The Great Commission calls for disciples to be made by another disciple (not an institution) who will then teach them to Aobey all that Jesus has commanded@ including the Great Commission itself. Ginghamsburg is very good at explicitly, literally obeying Jesus Christ in all things; the rare exception is the literal fulfillment of the cycle of disciples making disciples making disciples called for in the Great Commission.
Conclusion: Ginghamsburg is Acellish@
but not a cell church.
Life Transformation Journal: A One Year Journey Through The Bible, http://ginghamsburg.org/tjtour05/.
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.