A Church without a Building


by Jeff Tunnell

We were just talking about this very thing, this week; Could the cell church thrive WITHOUT a building? Very possibly!! And of course it is doing just this in many areas of the world, just as it did in the first century.

Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” The cell church should not be shaped by a building, or the need of one. Any building that supports a cell church when it gathers as one unit, must only serve the life producing results of the cell groups.

These life-giving cell groups should follow the biblical pattern and principles of “breaking bread from house to house”. This includes market place meeting areas like the temple courts (demonstrated by cells that meet in the parking lots of celebration centers just prior to, or after, the gathering of the entire body of cells). I favor park atmospheres for mothers that can operate cells during the daytime hours when husbands are at work. Coffee houses & restaurants are a warm spot for many who are reluctant to enter a home meeting. But overall, homes are the spot for families to live out the koinonia of scripture.

Many cell definitions include the phrase “outside the church building” to help transitioning churches develop the “go” principle and defeat the “come” attitude of the previous program-driven ministry. But what if there were NO building to shape our thoughts and plans?



Korean blog:  http://cafe.naver.com/ncdcell/1284

Portuguese blog: http://www.joelcomiskeygroup.com/portuguese/2011/jeffOct03.html

Spanish blog:

Una Iglesia sin edificio

por Jeff Tunnell

Estábamos hablando de esto mismo, en esta semana, ¿podra la iglesia celular prosperar sin un edificio? ¡Es muy posible! Y, por supuesto, es hacer precisamente eso en muchas áreas del mundo, tal como se hizo en el primer siglo.

Winston Churchill dijo: “Damos forma a nuestros edificios, y luego ellos nos forman.” La iglesia celular no debe ser formada por un edificio, o la necesidad de uno. Cualquier edificio que soporta una iglesia celular cuando se reúne como una sola unidad, sólo debe servir a la vida que le producen los resultados de los grupos celulares.

Estos grupos celulares que dan su vida, deben seguir el modelo bblico y los principios de “partir el pan de casa en casa”. Esto incluye las áreas de mercado como lugar de encuentro, los atrios del templo (demostrado por las células que se reúnen en los estacionamientos de los centros de celebración justo antes o después de la reunión de todo el cuerpo de las células). Estoy a favor de ambientes como el parque para las madres que pueden operar las células durante el da cuando los esposos están en el trabajo. Cafés y restaurantes son un lugar cálido para muchos de los que se resisten a entrar a una reunión en una casa. Pero, en general, los hogares son el lugar para las familias a vivir la koinonia de la escritura.

Muchas definiciones de células incluyen la frase “fuera de la iglesia” para ayudar en el desarrollo en las iglesias en transición el “Vamos” principio y derrotar el “Vengan” la actitud del anterior programa impulsado por el ministerio. Pero ¿qué tal si no hay edificio para dar forma a nuestros pensamientos y planes?



6 thoughts on “A Church without a Building

  • I’m currently experimenting with a cell-based church model that doesn’t require buildings or salaries for that matter. When I have something tangible to share I’ll do just that!

    I firmly believe the most successful churches in the coming days will not own property beyond the member’s homes because it takes too much time, energy, money, and human nature gets in the way: the focus always seems to shift to the activities within that building and the person who most frequently uses a microphone.

  • Saludos y mis respetos a Jeff Tunnell.
    Yo creo que una Iglesia celular podría prosperar sin una edificio, pero no sin la celebración. Si no pregúnteselo a Juan Carlos Ortiz de Argentina, que suprimió la celebración y la Iglesia celular se le dividió en mil cachos. Y como consecuencia los pastores argentinos dejaron e confiar en el sistema celular y implantaron lo que se llama las espigas que es algo parecido pero con la salvedad de que sus reuniones solo se pueden hacer en el edificio de la Iglesia.
    Un abrazo.

  • I would love to think this is possible in the American setting. We have invested a fortune in construction and staffing over the years. And there are lots of people we havent’ reached.

    However, we’ve had two staff pastors leave us over the last few years with a vision of starting a cell-only or organic church in America. Both of them were very sincere and competent ministers. They went to different parts of the USA (one to the Southeast and the other to the Southwest). Neither have been able to successfully get anything going; even a single vibrant cell much less multiplication.

    However, we’ve found celebrations and cells, working in combination, to be a powerful partnership.

  • Gracias a todos! Thanks everyone for your interest in this topic and for giving your comments.

    The Cells must be gathered to celebrate and this can be accomplished in existing buildings in the community; hotels, conference rooms, board rooms, other church buildings and even outdoor venues. Thank you gentlemen for pointing this out!

  • John- Please let me clarify my statement above. I’m not anti-building. If it helps the biblical communities (cells), it’s a great idea to buy property or build a multi-use building in which to celebrate, serve, train, evangelize, support the surrounding community, and so forth. The point I was attempting to make was that it will always be a struggle for the members and leadership of a church, cell or otherwise, to not slowly view that building as the epicenter of ministry due to human nature and the ongoing need for maintenance (cleaning, renovation, decorating, yada yada yada).

    Jim- Don’t give up on those two staffers who went out to plant. Moving to a new city or even back to a familiar one requires a year or more to become trusted with new friends and neighbors. Then, it takes a year or more to see even the first tiny piece of fruit. The non-attractional model of church planting is just about the most difficult and challenging thing I’ve ever attempted, but it’s also stretched me in ways that I never experienced in any conventional cell church which had a building that attracted people who recently moved into the area.

  • To say that having a meeting in a building makes our cells work better undercuts what we are trying to do and to me it is compromise. More than that, we look to the Bible to show that our model for meeting in homes is biblical and then we say you need a building also. Where is that in the Bible? It is a contradiction.
    I see that meeting is a building is practical what with weather changes. We could meet in the park etc when the weather is good but what about winter and for where I live what about summer. But to state it is important is to raise the question, what did those first Christians do when the weather was bad?

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