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Cell Church UK Issue 1 Winter 1998

Your Church Doesn't Need Cells by Joey Beckham

Cells are not the answer for your church. You are probably surprised to read this statement in a magazine devoted to the Cell Church movement, but it is true. Cells are not the great panacea for all your church ills. Cells will not fix al your problems or people, and Cells will not get you over your next church growth hurdle. Cells must be built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. Without Christ and His transforming power changing our lives, Cells are simply another unstable structure.

God showed me the truth of this while sitting in a traffic jam in Bangkok, Thailand watching a huge machine drive pillars down, down into the earth. Much time and money was spent on building these pillars, which would form the foundation of a 25-story building.

It’s this way in the Church as well. The true foundation of any church must be the pillar of Jesus Christ and His values. I am convinced that the only final, authoritative answer for the church’s problems today is a powerful, dynamic, life-changing relationship with the Bridegroom of the Church, Jesus Christ. It must be a relationship where we walk and talk with the Author of the universe, where we are conformed to the image of Christ. In this relationship, the values and mind of Christ are worked out in our lives: Be filled with the Spirit, bear one another’s burdens, speak the truth in love, walk by the Spirit, love one another, forgive each other, serve one another, let all things be done for edification. The Holy Spirit works these values and attributes into our lives, forming the pillars on which the church structure can be built.

Foundation vs. Structure
Before you scream "hypocrite", know that I am passionately committed to the cell structure. I believe that cells are the most natural structure for the new wine. The cell structure that flows in many vibrant, dynamic churches is a natural result of seeking to walk in New Testament values. A major problem, though, is that most who visit these cell churches grasp what they can see with their eyes and miss out on the values that form the foundation for the structure. The hidden, unseen pillars that support the visible structure are totally missed. This is a dangerous mistake, because any structure is only as strong as the foundation on which it is built. You simply cannot build a stable structure, even a cell structure, without a solid foundation (Luke 6:46-49).

New patch, old garment?
Those returning home from visiting dynamic cell models often jump right into constructing the cell structure, without first checking their foundation to see if it solid enough to hold the building. They totally ignore what Jesus said and seek to put a new cell patch on their old garment. In the end, they usually destroy both the patch and the garment. The new patch of the cell structure is designed for the new garment of a church walking in vital relationship with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It will be devastating to try and patch up your old garment with this new cell patch. I have found that most of us (myself included) want to be a part of the new wineskin of the cell church, without the difficult process of being pressed and crushed into new wine. We want to enjoy the freshness of a new wineskin but lack the power to fill up what is only an empty, useless skin by itself. Containers are important, but they are not inherently valuable. They are valuable because of what they contain. Without the new wine, we have a pliable, supple structure, but no substance to quench our thirst and nourish us. On the other hand, without the proper container, we have a wonderful wine, but no receptacle to keep it from spilling all over the ground. Those of us entering into the cell model should see ourselves as managers of wineries. In this management, a good steward will bring the wine and wineskins together at the proper time. Some of us have laboured to make the wine, but must now give attention to preparing the skins to hold this wine. Others have focused on preparing skins and now must pray, "God, bring the wine and fill this skin." Where are you? Spend time with the Master of the Vineyard and find out.

This page was updated on 17 May 2000. Copyright 2000 Cell Church UK Magazine. All rights reserved.
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