by Jeff Tunnell
A small circle of Christian leaders, of which I am a part, once posed the question to itself, â€œIf we all arrived simultaneously in this community with the biblical mandate to make disciples of Jesus and then discovered that we were the only believers here, how would we approach the task of evangelism and establishing the new believers after leading them to Christ?â€ Build buildings? Hold meetings? What?
The conversation that followed ran the course of examining each pre-determined and well-practiced method of which we were aware. Finding most to be ineffective in our condition, we moved toward cooperation and relational approaches. Then we adopted Augustineâ€™s comments: in the essentials-unity, in the non-essentials-liberty, in all things-charity. Eventually we decided to band together, rather than keep to ourselves and our denominations or affiliations, while moving into the community with relational evangelism. Once new converts were made, we would meet in simple, life-giving groups to continue the spiritual formation processes. This was becoming promising and exciting.
Then the impasse arrived and stood directly in front of us. We left the meeting disappointed because each one knew they could not ignore the dictates of their denomination to stay aloof from others. We had been confronted with the Bible, its history and the report of a vibrant growing body of believers and then left to compare our structures to what we really wanted to do.
But I left the meeting with hope! I saw that the cell system would accomplish what we had concluded upon. Buildings can arrive much later (if needed) because homes exist everywhere we need to gather. Spiritual formation could be achieved in small relational structures (cells). Accountability and support were easily provided to each small group. The church would be built from cell-to-cell, as the basic unit of the Body of Christ was formed over and over again. Simpleâ€¦â€¦profound!
Letâ€™s decide today: this is no â€œadd-onâ€ ministry, rather it is the very foundation and life of the church that will expand HIS kingdom in all the earth.