January 12, 2007
I found this article on the up and coming Cell/Home Church movement. It is in my hometown newspaper (and written by a guy I went to high school with). My friend Eric Hilliard is also in the initial stages of planting a church that will be a cluster of home church groups. (See Eric's thoughts here, here, and here; he also has an initial website up for the church here.)
I have not read Barna's book so I cannot comment appropriately on what Barna has to say. Eric and I were able to talk about this topic a little bit on this topic while attending a church planting conference together.
The Cell/Home Church movement does meet a need that an organized church cannot. It offers an opportunity for collaborative reflection on the Scripture, there is no political wrangling due to a lack of a hierarchical leadership structure, and there is little overhead (no building, programs, etc). Money given can go directly to a cause our outreach.
As I think about this form of church there are several questions that I have:
1. What about leadership? Should anyone be allowed to lead a church? Without some form of Bible training? As the group grows, how will new leaders be trained, empowered and sent out to build other groups?
2. What about outreach and evangelism? If a church is reaching out to the lost and, expanding the Kingdom of God, people will be saved and will start coming to the group. What plan is there to develop new leadership and to fight the "us-four-no-more" mindset that already influences so many churches?
3. What about accountability? As the leaders develop new groups, how will those groups be kept "on vision" with the intent of the church? How will "rogue" groups be handled? (It is tough enough to handle these in a church as it is.) There is a danger for an "I'll do it my way" without accountability. Not that the traditional church structure has this completely figured out, but how is orthodoxy maintained with so many "voices" having a say?
4. How do these groups relate to the church as a whole? As is the danger in all new forms of church, there is the tendency to look at all other forms of church as "non-biblical" and at the bare minimum as deficient in some ways. For example: Contemporary churches look at Liturgical churches (and vice versa) as deficient and possibly unfaithful to the Gospel because they are doing church in a certain way. When the truth is that each has its place in the Kingdom, can be expanding the Kingdom, and does speak the Gospel to certain people and personality types.
What do you think?