Where is the Church going-Part 4
Is there a way ahead?
The undoubted answer is yes. As I said at the beginning, I believe whole heartedly that the “cell church lobby” have heard the heart of God for His church in these last days, but it is the stresses and strains outlined in the previous section that eventually lead to a topping out or rupture in a cell church.
Therefore the question really is, how can we create a church that is flexible but without the rigid structure of the cell churches as we know them?
I believe the answer to be in what I choose to call “organic churches” but are better known as House Churches, Home Churches or Simple Churches. These have a similar starting place as that which motivates the cell churches, of small, inter-personal groups, which grow, multiply, and divide. It is without doubt the cell or individual House Church, which is the gift of God, but it is after this level that things begin to look rather different. As in our bodies, not all cells perform the same function; neither are all cells the same size. Different cells with different functions differ in size and form. It is the same with house churches and their related networks. For example, not all House Churches (Hereafter HCs) will have as their function evangelism, some will act like the body’s defense cells, surrounding and absorbing “problems” and then helping these people to overcome their problems or sins and leave as functioning church members. Other HCs will have particular emphasis like support work (Practical), Youth, or Children. Others may be particularly mission minded. Yet others will be stabilizers or structural, or creative.
The church is not just recognized at HC level but at each higher stage too. Expressing it another way, the church is like DNA, leaving the imprint of the whole at the cellular level. Therefore, in an area we would expect to find Individual HCs-amoebae, networks composed of a few HCs— simple life and networks composed of multiple HCs — complex life. Yet all are part of the Church in that area or town
These churches would inter-react among themselves to form congregations and, in relation with other groups, trans-local celebrations, which will be the true expression of the local church, and where apostolic, prophetic and other ministries could address the church as a whole.
Leaders work locally (perhaps in the context of more than one congregation) ministering in the word and prayer and Ephesians 4:12 equipping. The church life functions at all levels because the DNA imprint exists at all levels and no one is claiming proprietorial rights. That is, no one says “This is mine (Acts 2:4). The church belongs to Jesus. “All to Jesus I surrender”.
Each network, be it a lone HCs, few-HCs or multipl-HCs will have responsible, authoritative leaders (Elders). These would meet with elders of HCs and leaders of other church groups within the area.
I am convinced that the cell church movement has heard from God in its emphasis, but has demonstrated how its “straight-jacketed structure” works against the free flow of the Holy Spirit. As we bow the knee, we allow the Holy Spirit to burn up structure, so that we can move into the creative liberty that the Father gives us, each Cell or House Church forming together the beautiful organism that is the Body of Christ.
In the next part, we will examine how this works
(taken from Organic House Churches and Healing Communities by Keith W. Smith. For a complete copy please contact the author)
© 2000 Prof. Keith W. Smith Reprint by written permission only