“There are counterfeits that intend to deceive you, presented as a new wineskin, a paradigm shift by change agent pastors, promising to bring you back to Biblical models, but beware! That is what deception is all about! It will be good, and it will fool everyone except those that have learned to follow His voice. Those you love the most will try and draw you away. But you don’t have to be completely alone.
There is some truth in what the cell church advocates say. We do need other Christians. We can’t stand alone, so ask the Lord to bring you to those of a like mind. As we will see in the next chapter, and as we discussed in the last chapter, Jesus talks about us being a vine, not a tree. Each Christian is directly connected to the Vine. The toe takes orders from the head, not the foot. There is no hierarchy of authority under the New Covenant. Each member in the body must function. These are not elective offices or positions but life functions. One member is not better or higher than another. They are not connected because they belong to the same organization but because they share a common life and that life should be expressed by EVERY member.
In contrast to the guided discussions by “cell group” leaders, we should learn to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We should focus on the Lord, who He is and what He is doing in our lives. What do you have to be thankful for? What has He showed you lately from His Word? What has He been dealing with you about? In other words, what real, current, fresh experiences do you have in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ? If you don’t have any, you had better go back to the drawing board. What is His body if it isn’t people sharing what He is doing in their lives because he is alive in His saints? I would rather hear what the Lord did this week in “Molly Homemaker’s” (not to be derogatory) life and how the Lord is dealing with her. God is (or should be) always dealing with us every day – being in us what we can’t be ourselves. But if He isn’t active in your life, you may as well go be entertained by some worship group and pastor. Go get your ears tickled and sit with the masses while you are fed milk and pabulum from the pulpit. When you start to listen to Him speak, and let Him reveal Himself to you, and deal with you, you will be ripe for a meeting with other Christians who have similar experiences.
The true “church life” depends on the various parts of the body being connected and living. If each member is “alive” and experiencing the Lord daily, something wonderful will happen when you get together with other Christians. However, if you are all “dead”, you may as well go warm a pew some where. It is not a matter of finding the right way to meet. It is not a matter of how or what you do. It is not a matter of having “prepared for the lesson”. It is a matter of whether you are dead or alive. The church is full of dead men and good actors. If we have a vibrant relationship with the Lord, we will have plenty to share and will build one another up. If we don’t have a fresh relationship with Him, we will feel guilty, empty, critical of others and angry if we aren’t fed and taken care of. There is no magic bullet, no system of organization, form of meeting. The true “church life” is spontaneous and Spirit led – not scripted, not following a form or pattern of worship. You may sing. You may not. You may just share experiences. You may pray spontaneously or read the Word, or share what the Lord did in your life or showed you. You will find that, as all enter in, the Holy Spirit will lead you and most of your meetings will usually follow a theme (selected by Him). You will be amazed that everyone had similar experiences. The thing about the “church life”, “body life” or whatever you want to call it, is that you can’t fake it. If the Lord has worked in your life during the week, you have something to share, something to praise Him for, to be thankful for, to share how He used you, etc. If you are a phony, you will know it and so will others. The church is simply where two or three gather together. Its fun to have 20 to 30, but the issue isn’t numbers. The issue is “life”. If you share “war stories” about how God dealt with you 20 years ago, or something from the latest book you read, that doesn’t work. That’s someone else’s revelation. You need to get manna fresh every day or it rots. Experience the Lord every day. You can’t rely on what the Lord did in your life 10 years ago if you are barely holding on today.
Meetings don’t depend on a leader guiding you through a series of questions designed to draw you in and brainwash you. Meetings depend on your ability to sense the leading of the Holy Spirit and follow it. One time He may lead you to just praise and thank Him, or to just pray. Another time, there is open sharing about what the Lord is doing in your life. Focus on what is fresh, living and real – not something you have read or heard from other people. You may have a musical person and are led to sing. Fine! There is no form, no right or wrong. Imagine being crammed into a small living room with a dirt floor and little light with other early Christians in this great description of the early “church meeting:”
“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, the Father and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20)
Early Christians may have been persecuted, but they sang, shared, gave thanks, etc. If we spent less time complaining and talking about other people and more time giving thanks, and focusing on the Lord and what He is doing in our lives, our meetings will be rich. The other thing I would like to briefly point out is that people didn’t submit to a leader, to a professional “pastor” but to one another. We think in terms of hierarchy and position. The Bible speaks of attitude, spirit and mutual respect and need of all the members of His body. In Romans Paul speaks of the Church in these terms:
“For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another, and since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:3-8)
Paul doesn’t talk about offices or positions, but functions. We are members of the same body but have different functions, and to have a healthy body, every member should function. You don’t need to go to Bible School and Seminary. We shouldn’t think so much of ourselves and we should recognize the measure of every member. You just need to function with the gifts and life God has given you. There is no hierarchy, just different functions. No member is more important. No one “lords” it over the others. There are no programs, no “order of worship”, no choreographed “worship groups”, no systems, no set agenda, no organization, just living saints flowing life and love to one another.”
(Read the whole article here: source)