Wednesday, January 12, 2005

New Churches . . . REALLY New.
When Christians in the West began hearing about a huge church in Seoul, Korea pastored by Paul Yongi Cho . . . somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 people, the race was on to discover how to be a cell-based church. Not that brother Cho was after the numbers . . . but that is another matter - contrasting faithfulness and fleshly notions of success. You don't believe me? Would anyone have cared if there were 123 people meeting in Seoul? Those impressed by numbers would never have given Jesus a second look.

If Cho was talking about cell-based churches, what were the rest of us? I think the best way to describe most churches is campus based. Cho's shift was rarely ever truly embraced - a small group ministry is not the same as being thoroughly cell-based, which is about a change in the way one views the identity of church life regarding organization and communal interaction. For Cho the primary organizational unit and fundamental source of nurture is not the Sunday gathering of the greatest number of believers but the house-to-house groupings. The so-called cells were actually seen as where the real church life happens.

Okay, that is a great idea. The emphasis on Sunday meetings tends not to enrich us spiritually but impoverish us since being Christian is tied to a single place and time - where we spend a fraction of our week. Moving from super-assemblies to simple-gatherings is essential for spiritual formation to occur. I am assuming that 'Christ formed in us' is why we exist . . .

Let me suggest another, perhaps more radical change: what if we move from a church identity rooted in any meetings to an identity found in ministry? What if being the church is truly exemplified not in gatherings of believers but in living faithfully and graciously in the world? What are the implications? Let's see . . .

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