I’ve always appreciated the insights of Ralph Neighbour and Bill Beckham, two gurus in the cell church movement, about the dangers of trying to change structures without first changing the values. Many have visited growing cell churches and tried to copy everything from the way the pastor preaches to the exact cell structure. It seems easier to imitate a model, but very few people have successfully reproduced a model. And perhaps the greatest danger is that in the process of copying a model, the church loses its uniqueness.
Christian Shwarz writes in Natural Church Development , â€œThere is nothing wrong with being inspired by a model church. However, if we want to go beyond enthusiasm to the transfer of reproducible elements, we must seek to discover the universal principles that are the basis for every kind of church growth. . . This means more than simply adopting the explanation church leaders often present as the key to successâ€ (p. 17).
Last Friday’s blog I listed thirteen key cell church principles and highlighted four of them as being especially important:
- Dependence on Jesus Christ through prayer
- Senior pastor and leadership team giving strong, visionary leadership to the cell ministry.
- Cell ministry promoted as the backbone of the church.
- Clear definition of a cell group (weekly, outside the church building, evangelistic, pastoral care/discipleship, clear goal of multiplication).
What have you discovered about the importance of following principles rather than copying models?