An Analysis of Church Structures and Function: Yesterday and Today

The Challenge:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20

How have we been doing with the mission Christ gave us?

The Church of Yesterday

The Church of Today

How Is the Church Doing With the Competition?

A membership retention analysis for the past five years gives cause for concern. In 1999 for every 100 members who joined the church, 17 of them were reportedly dropped or missing. In 2000 the figure increased to 20 and for the last four quarters the figure rose to 21.5. Some divisions are reporting 25%, 30%, and even 40%.”
Matthew A. Bediako, Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist

Traditional Church Location Size of Groups Activities Support System Relationships Discipling Primary Task of Leaders Participation
Meets in Church Building Large, Impersonal Groups Weekly Worship Services Problem? See the Pastor Intimacy rare: Little Transparency Training is sparse. Done on a reactiveneed basis. Directing the Program Base Design 15-20% of the Members do all the work. Less than half tithe.

Traditional Church Prayer Life Pastor’s Duty Expectations of Members Key Words Spiritual Gifts Commitment Evaluation Test Source for Staff
Individual Choice; Limited Preach Good Sermons; Visit the Members Attendance, Tithing, Work in the “Programs” “Come Grow With Us”
Usually downplayed, except for a few times per year

To Enlarge the Institution; Uniformity “What You Know” “Trained, Professional Clergy”

Apollo 13

“Houston, We Have a Problem!”

If we don’t do something soon we’ll find that the church will be banished to the moon of cultural irrelevance. So, where do we go from here?

A Return to the New Testament Church

Back to the Future:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. -Acts 2:42-47

Characteristics of a New Testament Community
Upward Inward Outward Forward

The Two-Winged Church

NT Church

Corporate Community

NT Church

Corporate Community

NT Church

Small Group Community

Corporate Community

NT Church

Small Group Community

HSG Based Church

AN UNBALANCED CHURCH
Corporate COMMUNITY

Overbalanced to corporate side

“Traditional Church

Corporate Community

NT Church

Small Group Community

HSG Based Church

AN UNBALANCED CHURCH
Small Group Community

Overbalanced to the small group side HOUSE CHURCH

Difference Between Traditional Church & a Cell Church
• There is a radical difference between traditional church and churches with cells. • The first Incorporates small group into its programs. • The second builds its ecclesiology on New Testament principles.

THE TRADITIONAL CHURCH
• Has a Biblical Theology for all it does, except for the way It functions. • For its function, it draws from its roots in church history. • It seldom examines the way It functions by examining Biblical principles.

In a Traditional Church:

In a Traditional Church:

Group Ministry is only one of many programs.

Basic Premise of A Cell Church Church is composed of A. A Cell
cell groups in which every member belongs, 3-15 members per group.
B. The group is for nurture, edification, support, and ministry to one another. It is a family.

Basic Premise of A CEll
C. The group is also for reaching Church It becomes a missionary venture, bringing unchurched friends, relatives, etc. to Jesus in context of a loving family where they will be supported in their new (or continuing) Christian walk. out to those outside the church.

Basic Premise of A Cell Church
D. The focus of a Church based on HSG is on group life, not congregation or celebration. But groups do meet together for formal worship each week. It becomes a joyous time when all the groups come together as a congregation to praise God. The worship service is also a place to invite unbelieving friends, neighbors etc.

Traditional Church Location Size of Groups Activities Support System Relationships Discipling Primary Task of Leaders Participation
Meets in Church Building Large, Impersonal Groups Weekly Worship Services Problem? See the Pastor Intimacy rare: Little Transparency Training is sparse. Done on a reactiveneed basis. Directing the Program Base Design 15-20% of the Members do all the work. Less than half tithe.

The New Testament Church Moved From House to
House Small, Intimate Daily Fellowship Building Up One Another

Intimate, Encouragement and Accountability Emphasized A Consistent

Equipping Track for Every member Every Believer Equipped To Do the Work of the Ministry 95% of members are actively ministering. 90% are tithing.

Traditional Church Prayer Life Pastor’s Duty Expectations of Members Key Words Spiritual Gifts Commitment Evaluation Test Source for Staff
Individual Choice; Limited Preach Good Sermons; Visit the Members Attendance, Tithing, Work in the “Programs” “Come Grow With Us”
Usually downplayed, except for a few times per year

Hours Daily; Heavy Emphasis Eph 4:11-12: Leadership Development & Acts 5 Ministering to Others, Total Servanthood “Go and Make Disciples”
Regularly Exercised By All Believers to Build Up Others

The New Testament Church

To Enlarge the Institution; Uniformity “What You Know” “Trained, Professional Clergy”

To Increase the Kingdom, Unity, Body Life “How You Serve” Servant Workers Developed Within

Ellen White Quotes:
“The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One who cannot err. If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members, but for unbelievers. If in one place there are only two or three that know the truth, let them form themselves into a band of workers. Let them keep their bond of union unbroken, pressing together in love and unity, encouraging one another to advance, and gaining courage and strength from the assistance of others...Let them labor in Christlike love for those outside the fold, forgetting self in their endeavor to help others.” Testimonies Vol 7, 21.

“God’s work is to be done in his way and his Spirit. In various places small companies are to consecrate themselves to God, body, soul, and spirit, and laying hold of the throne of God by faith they are to work zealously, keeping their souls in the love of God. The vital current of his love will make itself felt, and will be recognized as from heaven in the good works of his people. Those little companies who know the truth, with one voice should bid their minister go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Each one should seek to do individual work for another. Not one who has tasted the goodness, the mercy, and the love of God, can be excused from working for the souls of others.”
-Advent Review and Sabbth Herald, January 8, 1895

“In New York there should be several small companies established, and workers should be sent out. It does not follow that because a man is not ordained as a preacher he cannot work for God . Let such ones as these be taught how to work, then let them go out to labor. On returning, let them tell what they have done. Let them praise the Lord for His blessing, and then go out again. Encourage them. A few words of encouragement will be an inspiration to them.” -Evangelism, 389.

Christ sought the people where they were and placed before them the great truths in regard to His kingdom. As He went from place to place, He blessed and comforted the suffering and healed the sick. This is our work. Small companies are to go forth to do the work to which Christ appointed His disciples. While laboring as evangelists they can visit the sick, praying with them and, if need be, treating them, not with medicines but with the remedies provided in nature. -Counsels on Health, 501

Places that are unworked might have been entered, and souls might have been reached by the truth. Small companies of workers, under the wise generalship of consecrated teachers, should be going forth into needy fields. Whenever this work is taken up in earnest, careful movements will need to be made. -Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 175.

“How do we put all this together?”

Growing Disciples
202e Spiritual Foundations
2 301e Mentoring Others
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SHAPE
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1 John 2:12 -14 Growing Disciples
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g 0 in k 10102s Freedom in Jesus a M hip s le p ci 101e Jesus Our Savior is

1 103s Jesus our Lord

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402s Leading a Group

Level

Title
Jesus Our Savior

Purpose
Discovering a Relationship with Jesus Discovering Freedom in Jesus Deepening My Relationship With Jesus

Action Step

101

Accepting Jesus

102

Freedom in Jesus

Confession of sin Developing deeper devotional habits.

103

Jesus our Lord

Level

Title
Discovering Your SHAPE

Purpose
Discovering my Spiritual gifts Discovering His Church and His People Developing my Ministry with Others

Action Step
Understanding and Implementing my SHAPE Baptism

201

202

Spiritual Foundations

301

Mentoring Others

Should already have accountability partner

Level

Title
Becoming a Contagious Christian Free Market Group

Purpose
Discovering a Lifestyle of Evangelism Implementing Free Market Groups

Action Step
Share the Gospel

302

401

Implementation

402

Leading a Group

Developing my leadership skills

Leading a group

Initial Cost
Cost Jesus our Savior Freedom in Jesus Jesus our Lord
Spiritual Foundations

1.99 per lesson $99 for kit $99 for kit $99 for kit $1-3 $89 $55

My SHAPE

Mentoring Others Sharing Jesus Leading a group

First Phase of Cell Groups: Prototype
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