Cell Theology-Pt.1


Cell Theology-Pt.2

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Joel Comiskey




A Ph.D. Tutorial

Presented to Dr. Van Engen

In Partial Fulfillment of the

Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Philosophy In Intercultural Studies

The School of World Mission


June  1996



How the Tutorial Fits into the Dissertation



Problem Statement...

Research Questions...


Definition Of A Cell Group..................


The Meaning of the True Church.....

A Biblical Perspective..........

Meaning Of  The Key Words.........

Biblical Imagery.........

Definitions Of The Church Throughout  History.

Cell Groups As They Relate To The True Church.....

Cell Groups And Biblical Imagery

The Body Of Christ

Temple Of The Holy Spirit.

People Of God.........

Family Of God.........

Cell Groups As Part Of The True Church.

Cell Groups As A Key Way To Experience The True Church.........

Cell Groups As An Arm Of The True Church.........




The Evangelistic Emphasis............

Life Style Evangelism......

Aggressive Evangelism......

The Perfecting Emphasis............

The Care Of Converts.........

The Sanctification Process.........

The Fellowship Of Believers.........

The Use Of The Laity In Ministry.........

Social Concern...

The New Testament Pattern Of Social Concern

The Opportunities For Social Concern In Cell Ministry


The Concept Defined....

The Gospel Of The Kingdom..

The Power Of The Gospel.

The Completeness Of This Gospel.

The Church And The Kingdom..

Cell  Groups And The Kingdom Of God.........


The Function Of The House Church In The Early Church.....

The Relationship  Among  The House Churches.

The Emphasis On Cell And Celebration................

New Testament Patterns Utilized Today......

CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION................




In this tutorial,  my hope is to interrelate bedrock theological truth with the methodological  practice of cell-based ministry. This tutorial will not only focus on theory but on application as well.I found that this tutorial was an exercise of ‘picking and choosing’. Among the many theological riches from which to choose, I had to choose which ones were most appropriate for my topic. Due to the theme of my Ph.D. research (cell-based ministry),  I decided on two important Biblical truths, namely, the Church and the Kingdom of God.

With regard to the church,  in this tutorial I will attempt to answer the questions, What is the nature of the true Church of Jesus Christ and what are the  key Biblical functions of the Church? To answer the second question, I will attempt to define the Kingdom of God and explain how that the gospel of the Kingdom must affect our preaching right here and now.  While exploring both of these theological truths, I hope to analyze both  the Biblical perspective as well as  contemporary aspects.

Again, this tutorial will not only focus on  theological issues. Throughout the tutorial, I will be defining the meaning of  ‘cell-based ministry’ as I interact with the considerations of the Church and the Kingdom of God.  My goal is  show how  a’ Theology of the True Church’ and ‘A Theology of the Kingdom of God’ apply to  cell-based ministry today.

How the Tutorial Fits into the Dissertation

            This tutorial is designed to lay the theological foundation for the rest of my study. As mentioned earlier, my Ph.D. research focuses on cell-based ministry in the church. Because I will be studying small groups within the church, it’s essential to begin by studying the Church of Jesus Christ.

How will this tutorial fit into my actual dissertation? This tutorial will  serve as the very first chapter, an introductory chapter . It will set the tone of the rest of the tutorial, by giving direction and substance to that which follows.

It will also  be an important guideline as I  visit my five case study churches and  attempt to understand how their cell-based structure allows them to more fully become the true Church of Jesus Christ and serve the interests of the Kingdom of God.


            The purpose of this dissertation is to lay a theological foundation for cell-based ministry.  It is to show how that cell-based ministry relates not only to the true church of Jesus Christ but also to the Kingdom of God. 

Many people view cell-based ministry in the church as merely a methodological tool for church growth (Hadaway, Wright, & DuBose 1987:34).  Others promote   small groups as an effective tool outside of the Church of Jesus Christ. Support groups today come in all shapes and sizes. There are also various   parachurch organizations which  operate outside the church, yet seek to use small groups to indirectly build the local church through a systematic program of evangelism and discipleship.

In this tutorial,   my purpose is  to show how that a Biblical  cell group ministry should be placed at the very heart of the church. It is to examine  how that cell group ministry can add vital life to the true Church of Jesus Christ and  even lead  a local church to experience of Christ’s presence and fellowship with one another  in a new, exciting way.

Many scholars believe the Kingdom of God motif is the central thread of both the Old and the New Testaments. Because this concept is so central in the Bible, I will seek to apply it to cell-based ministry today. I will also  critique the  small group movement from this theological concept.  


              My goals in this tutorial are:

1.     To clearly  define the theological meaning of the true Church of Jesus Christ

2.     To  analyze how small groups fit into the overall structure of the church

3.     To show  how cell-based ministry can add vital life to the true Church of Jesus Christ.

4.     To define the theological meaning of the Kingdom of God

5.     To show  how the Biblical truth of the Kingdom of God  can both critique as well as give vision to the cell movement today.


Problem Statement

  The central research issue of this dissertation is an analysis of the contribution of cell-based ministry as a positive factor  for church growth in selected growing churches in Latin America.  

Research Questions


1.     What have been  the patterns of church growth that these churches have experienced before and after the implementation of a cell-based ministry?

2.     How have  these churches utilized  their  cell-based methodology  as a tool for church growth?

3.     What have been  the patterns that characterize effective cell leadership in these churches?

4.     How have the cultural distinctives of these churches affected their cell-based               ministry?




There are at least two major delimitations to this tutorial:

1.     Scope of the theological topics

I know that there are other theological topics that could  be considered. For example, it would be helpful to study specific aspects of God’s nature or perhaps the study of man. These topics would  lead toward a better understanding of small group ministry.  Basically, I have made a ‘judgment call’ by focusing in on  two particular theological truths. Because of my many years of experience in small group ministry (both leading small groups and small group ministry), I believe that these  two truth are at the very heart of my research theme.

2.     Depth of the theological topics that are covered

            Volumes have been written both about the church and the kingdom of God. It is not the purpose of this tutorial to add  new knowledge to the extensive literature that is already available. Neither will this tutorial try to extensively cover these two theological truths in great detail. In fact, I will only  give  introductory coverage of    these two foundational truths. My aim is to arrive at a better understanding of cell-based ministry as I interact with the nature of the Church and the Kingdom.


Definition Of A Cell Group

              What does the term  ‘cell group’ actually mean?  The communists have their form of cell groups. Liberation Theology promotes their brand of cell groups.  Across the land, various types of cell  groups are forming to help heal physical disorders, chemical dependency, marital problems, and the list continues.

In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 80 million out of the estimated 200 million adults are in a small group (Wuthnow 1994:370).  One out of six of those 80 million people are new members of the small group movement, thus disclosing, that at least in the U.S., the small group movement is alive and growing (Wuthnow 1994:371). After listing twenty new innovations in the modern U.S. church scene Schaller says, “…perhaps most important of all, the decision by tens of millions of teenagers and adults to place a high personal priority on weekly participation in serious, in-depth, lay-led, and continuing Bible study and prayer groups” (1995:14).  William Beckham wrote the book The Second Reformation to express forcefully his conviction that the church is the midst of a new small group revolution (1995:66,67).

Yet, how does one define a small group or a cell group?  The reader will become aware that I often interchange  the term cell group with  small group. I do that because in one sense,  cell groups are small groups. However,  I believe that there is also a  danger in equating the two because  my definition of cell groups really refers to a particular type of small group. In a nutshell, the small group that I’m defining in this tutorial is one that is squarely based within the  church.  Here’s a sample definition: Cell groups, as they are used in this paper, are small  groups of people (between 5-15) which are intimately linked to the life of the church (Acts 2:46). These groups meet for the purpose of spiritual edification which overflows in the form of   evangelistic outreach. Those in the cell groups are committed to participate in the functions of the local church and when new people outside the church are added to the group, they too are  encouraged to become responsible, baptized  members of  Christ’s body. The cell group is never seen as an isolated gathering of believers who have replaced the role of the local church.

My definition makes it clear that I’m referring to  church based small groups. They are not isolated units.  Rather, they are intimately linked to the life of the church. Those who attend the cell groups are expected to attend the church. Those who attend the church are expected to attend the cell groups. This is precisely the model that is used in Korea. In referring to Cho’s model, Hadaway states,

   “Members of Cho’s home cell groups are also expected to attend the meetings on a regular basis. Attendance is not taken lightly, and when a member is unexpectantly absent from a cell group meeting, the house church leader contacts the absentee person the following day to learn why” (1987:99).

 I reiterate this point  because of the  growing ‘house church  movement’ that is expanding  rapidly throughout the world and especially in such places as China, England, and Australia.  Dr. Ralph Neighbour’s makes a helpful distinction here, 

    “There is a distinct difference between the house church and the cell group movements. House Churches tend to collect a community of 15-25 people who meet together on a weekly basis. Usually, each House Church stands alone. While they may be in touch with nearby House Churches, they usually do not recognize any further structure beyond themselves (Neighbour 1990:193).

I’m also making a clear distinction between small groups in general and those which are based in the church. For example, many  Christian authors, seeing the positive potential of small groups for Christian growth and discipleship, have produced a multitude of literature which extols the virtues of small groups in general.   Two  Christian  organizations,  Serendipity and Navigators, are known for their numerous books and study guides on small group ministry.    Kunz  (1974),  Johnson (1985), and Price and Springle (1991) are examples of a more general type of small group  literature. However, most of this type of  literature apples  both the sodality as well as the modality structure of church life, and therefore will not be as uniquely  specific to my research.

Even within the church, there are a number of ways of defining small groups. Hadaway, Wright and DuBose refer to the home Bible study, the home fellowship group, base-satellite units, the house church, and finally the home cell group. It is this latter definition that is more in accord with my overall thrust in this paper. They say,

   “Home cell groups are…controlled and organized by the host church. This is the model coming out of Korea where a congregation is divided into small groups which meet in the home during he week for prayer, singing, sharing, Bible study, and other activities” (1987:13).

Their definition places the focal point on the church and not on the cell.  The other types of small groups, according to these authors, are viewed as connected to the church, but in a more independent way (1987: 11-14). 

There is another aspect of my definition which I must emphasize. For the most part (there will be exceptions to this generalization), I will be investigating  ‘open cell groups’ as opposed to ‘closed cell groups’.  For example, there are some churches that use cell groups exclusively for discipleship. It’s a system of closed cell groups (Price & Springle 1992: 46,47).  The goal of these groups is spiritual growth with little reference to evangelistic outreach (Hull 1988: 225-250).  It is my opinion,  that churches which primarily use cell groups  in this closed manner do not grow numerically and often stagnate.   

The cell group ministry is certainly an important tool  in the hands of God to help the church grow rapidly in number without losing the quality care of each member. However, it is my conviction that the cell groups by themselves should not be the principal focus. The growth of the church must be the priority.  If the cell groups do not contribute to the growth of the church,  it is often better not to use them because of the resulting ‘cliques’ that develop.  

Therefore,  for the most part, the  small groups that I will be studying  will be  comprised of  not only  believers, but also unbelievers, since the group must be constantly evangelizing. This point is made very clear by Carl F. George when he states,

  “Show me a nurturing group not regularly open to new life, and I will guarantee that it’s dying. If cells are units of redemption, then no one can button up the lifeboats and hang out a sign, ‘You can’t come in here.’ The notion of group members shutting themselves off in order to accomplish discipleship is a scourge that will destroy any church’s missionary mandate (George 1991:99).


             Although ‘outreach’ will be one important distinguishing feature of the cell groups that I will be studying, the edification of believers is the central concern. Since these cell groups are church based, it’s expected that believers will comprise a  majority of the cell group. In the cell-based churches that I will be studying for my actual dissertation research, sixty percent or more of those who attend the church, also regularly attend a cell group.

  What is then the relationship between Christian edification and effective outreach. Perhaps it can be summed up in the prayer  of Jesus in John 17:21, “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  We have found that the open sharing of believers in spiritual communion is often the most effective evangelistic tool.  The main  objective, then, of the cell group is that each cell group member experience true koinonia fellowship (Neighbour 1992: 60-65) which results in the evangelization of those who don’t know Jesus Christ.


      Since I will primarily be exploring the theological foundations for cell-based ministry,  I will seek to analyze four  important essential theological issues:

1.     The Meaning Of The True Church Of Jesus Christ

2.     The Functions Of The True  Church Of Jesus Christ

3.     The Kingdom Of God And Cell Groups

4.     The Role Of Cell Groups In The Early Church

The objective  in this first  chapter will be  to discern how  cell ministry relates to Christ’s church and whether or not it should be an integral part of Her life.


The Meaning of the True Church

      What is the true church of Jesus Christ?  In Ecuador, where I’ve served as a missionary for the past four years, the Catholic Church claims to be the sole representative of Christ. There are other groups and sects  which make similar statements. How does the Bible define the true church of Jesus Christ?

A Biblical Perspective

        Although the size of this paper limits a detailed study of all that the Bible says about the  church,  the effort will be made to explore  basic Biblical truths about the church and then  to determine how the cell groups relate to those concepts.

Meaning Of  The Key Words

        To understand the N.T. church we must first examine the Hebrew background. There are two significant Hebrew words which are helpful: qahal & edah. The word edah is regularly used to refer to the gathered congregation of Israel as a whole (Coenen 1975: 294-295). However, it is the word qahal which serves as the basis for the  N.T. concept of the church.   The  word qahal  refers to a summons to an assembly and the act of assembling. Millard Erickson helps clarify this  meaning when he says,  

 “It is not so much a specification of the members of the assembly as a designation of the occurrence of assembling. A religious significance sometimes attaches to the word (e.g., Deut. 9:10; 10:4; 23:1-3).  The term can also denote a more general assembly of the people ((e.g., I Kings 12:3). Women (Jer. 44:15)  and even children (Ezra 10:1; Neh. 8:2) are included. The term is also used of the gathering of troops, and in Ezekiel it refers to nations other than Israel (1984:1031).

            The key concept, then, is that of the  assembly. However, there is a distinct difference between the assembly that is represented by edah and the assembly represented by qahal.  According to Coenen, unlike the word edah, which is the common  term for the assembly of the ceremonial community as a whole,  the word qahal is the expression of the assembly which results from the covenant (1975: 295). This can be seen by how the Septuagint translates these two  Hebrew words. The word  ecclesia, which is the common word for church in the N.T.,  is only used to translate qahal and not edah.

             It is this concept of the assembled, covenant people of God  that  qahal  represents in the O.T. It is this meaning which serves as the basis for the word ecclesia in the  New Testament. David Watson provides  additional background information into the implications of the word ecclesia in the N.T.  by emphasizing that it was a ‘called out’ community (holiness), a ‘called for’ community (God´s purpose), a ‘called together’ community (unity), and  a ‘called to’ community (future inheritance) (1978: 67-74).

            The assembled, covenant people  in the N.T. , which is represented by  ecclesia, is referred to in a  variety of circumstances. For example, Paul, John, and Luke  use the term to refer to the assembled believers  in a specific city (I Cor. 1:2; Rev. 1-3; Acts 5:11).  The word is also  commonly used to refer to all believers in a given city (Acts 8:1;13:1). More pointedly touching the bounds of this paper,  the word is  used to designate churches which  met in particular homes (Rom. 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15).  

Biblical Imagery

        Before we touch on how cell groups in particular relate to the Biblical perspective of the church, we must first examine a variety of  imagery that the Bible uses to describe the church. 

People of God

One such example involves the church as the People of God (2 Cor. 6:16) . The church is made up of people who have been specifically  chosen by God. This N.T. concept had deep O.T. roots.  Israel, God’s chosen instrument, was often depicted as the people of God (Erickson 1984:1033).      

  With the O.T. background in mind,  Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica,    “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and believe in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13-14).

Ladd´s contribution helps us understand this  Biblical concept,   “The term ‘people’ in biblical thought often has a technical sense designating those who stand in a special relationship to God. This usage is by no means unique to Paul but appears frequently in the New Testament” (1974: 537).   

 The church as the people of God stands in direct contrast to the view of many that the church is primarily an institution. Rather, the Bible paints a different picture. It is seen as a living, spiritual household of God´s people.  Snyder punctuates this point by saying,  “The power of seeing the church as the community of God’s people has been challenging and undermining entrenched models of the church as a religious institution dedicated to a kind of technical spiritual work...” (1983:15).  Banks points out that although the New Testament world had a general understanding of community life,  Paul vastly enriches this idea and brings it to a higher level (Banks 1994:14). 

Body of Christ

The church is also described as the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:27). Christ is seen as head of His  body (Cor. 1:18; 2:9-10). He has chosen the members of His body and every part is of equal importance (I Cor. 12:12-26).  Just as  in the human body there are many different parts with various functions,  so also in the body of Christ.  However,  the differences do not affect the fact that there is a fundamental unity (Morris 1958: 173). In fact, some believe that the main emphasis of  the body of Christ  metaphor is the unity of the all believers (Ladd 1974: 545).  In other places we find that the members of the body of Christ need to bear each others burdens (Gal. 6:2), have genuine fellowship with one another (I Cor. 12:26), and be instruments for the extension of Christ´s kingdom (Mat. 28:18).  

Temple of the Holy Spirit

Finally, it must be added that the church is the Temple of God or the Temple of the Holy Spirit.   This metaphor first of all reminds us that the Church is not a human work. Jesus said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18). The Church is God’s  work from beginning to end, and He is the One who dwell within it.  This can be seen as well by several other metaphors used to describe the church. The church is also seen as:  God’s building, His planting, His vineyard, His temple, His household, His olive tree, His city, and His people (Robinson 1983: 124).  He established the N.T. church through the coming of the Holy Spirit  at Pentecost (Acts 2) and new members are added  only as they are baptized into His body by  the Spirit of God (I Cor. 12:13).

The church, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, has a threefold emphasis. First, the individual believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit because God dwells in him (I Cor. 6:19). Secondly,  the entire congregation is indwelt with the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 3:17). Finally, Paul applies this metaphor to the universal church (Eph. 2:19-22). With this in mind, Ladd reminds us that,

   “The fact that Paul uses the metaphor of the temple to designate both the local and the universal church reinforces a fact already evident in the use of ecclesia, namely, the unity of the church in its diversity. The local congregation is not part of the church; the universal church is not thought of as the sum and total of its parts; rather, the local congregation is the church in its local expression” (1974:541).

Definitions Of The Church Throughout  History


            The church has traditionally been defined since earliest times as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. During the Reformation, the Reformers added yet another mark to that  of the true church (while not discounting the four credal marks) by underscoring  the place of the ‘Word’. Through the preaching of the  Word , the Reformers hope to  bring the church back to Her true purpose” (Van Engen  1981: 91).

            In their  significant work  Contemporary Theologies of Mission, Donald McGavran and Arthur Glasser summarize several key definitions that the church has held down through the ages, 

              “Evangelicals also hold a high doctrine of the church. They will, however, not limit the church to the Church of Rome. For example, the Dordrecht Confession of Faith  says the church consists of those who ‘have truly repented, and rightly believed; who are rightly baptized, united with God in heaven, and incorporated into the communion of the saints on earth.”

              “The Westminster Confession holds that the ‘visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel...consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”  

             Speaking of the centrality of the church, McGavran and Glasser make this comment,  “Evangelicals believe that outside the church ‘there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.’ They also hold, therefore, that the proper expansion of the church is of the highest priority if we are to meet the deepest need of the human race” (1983:186,187).

            Snyder shows his  agreement with the Westminster Confession by asserting,

  “The truth is that no one can be joined to Christ the head without being joined to Christ’s body. And the error is to think, first, that a person can become a Christian without being born into God’s family in a visible way and, second, that evangelism can be authentic while ignoring this dynamic relationship of head and body. We need to recover the classical doctrine that ‘outside the church there is no salvation” (1983:149).  

These authors  are writing against the notion of  an ‘individualistic salvation’ that finds meaning  apart from the body of Christ. They are not trying to set up a competing religious institution to the Roman Catholic Church that demands outward membership in order to be saved. Rather,  they are referring to a very natural,  Holy Spirit guided process that involves  at the same time, both regeneration and inclusion into the body of Christ.

The true church of Jesus Christ is not only in the business of ‘receiving members’ Rather, it is actively  engaged in reaching  non-Christians.  Dr. Van Engen  has helped us understand the true nature of the church of Jesus Christ as a missionary church. The thesis that he develops is that the  church of Jesus Christ only enters into the fullness of Her calling  as a  missionary church (1991:17). The church is not a static entity but one of action and engagement (Van Engen 1991:66). He  states,

   “…when a local congregation understands that it is, by its nature, a constellation of mission activities, and it intentionally lives its life as a missionary body, then it begins to emerge toward becoming the authentic Church of Jesus Christ” (1991:70).  

 Jurgen Moltman  is also clear on this point as well, “…the mission of Christ creates its own  church. Mission does not come from the church; it is from mission and in the light of mission that the church has to be understood” (1993:10).

            Recognizing  that too often the church becomes a fortress instead of an outreaching body, Jim Peterson in his book Church Without Walls  offers this definition,   “…the ecclesia of the New Testament describes God’s people, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who are being transformed and gifted for service among their brothers and sisters and the unbelieving world” (1992:13).  

Cell Groups As They Relate To The True Church  

            In this chapter, though in a limited way, I have tried to describe the meaning of the true church. However, the  purpose of this tutorial is not primarily  to study the nature  of the true church. Rather, I hope to relate this key foundational teaching to  the concept of cell-based ministry.  I will attempt to do this primarily by looking at the Biblical imagery of the church and how that relates to cell ministry.  

Cell Groups And Biblical Imagery  

            It is my  contention  that much of the imagery used to describe the church can best be grasped and experienced in a cell based model of church ministry.  The key word here is experienced.  Small group ministry has the unique advantage of  bringing the church into such a close proximity that they experience the true meaning of the body of Christ.  

The Body Of Christ  

In all three of the major passages (Eph. 4; Rom. 12; I Cor. 12-14) in which Paul talks about the body of Christ, he defines each member’s part by their corresponding gifts. In fact, when Paul talks about the church as the body of Christ,  the implication is that the believers were able to participate in the exercise of their spiritual gifts. They had the opportunity to interact among  themselves.  Banks reminds us, “Paul’s communities were instead theocratic in structure. Because God gave to each individual within the community some contribution for its welfare, there is a strong democratic tendency. Everyone participates authoritatively in its activities” (1994:148).

How did everyone participate? Along with the united celebration (Acts 2:46a), we read that they also broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts (2:46b).  Paul taught the people,  not only publicly,  but also from house to house (Acts 20:20).  It is with this intimate atmosphere in mind that Paul could say, “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction...” (I Cor. 14:26).

It is my contention that there is no better atmosphere for the exercise of one’s giftedness than in a cell group. As we will  study more thoroughly later on in this tutorial, the primary atmosphere  of the early church was the intimate character  of the home. This atmosphere of participation is being rediscovered in a fresh way through the cell group movement.  Churches are realizing that as they grow bigger, they must also grow smaller.  Only in the intimacy of a small, closely knit  group will many Christians ever be able to exercise their spiritual gift.  George reminds us that,  “Because of the intimate, accountability-inviting context of an affinity-based group, participants will readily accept the call of God that accompanies the discovery of their gifts” (1993: 136). Following the same  line of thought, Dr. Ralph Neighbour asserts,

  “All are to exercise spiritual gifts to edify others. The early church did exactly that! Recognizing there cannot be total participation by every member when the gatherings are only made up of large, impersonal groups, the people of God moved from house to house in small groups. By moving among their residences, they became intimately acquainted with each person’s surroundings (Neighbour,  1990:41).

The body of Christ motif also demands that we not only exercise our gifts, but that we also recognize other parts of the body, and that we are sensitive to meet  their  needs. It is this intimate sense of community in the body of Christ which the cell movement today  has recaptured (Snyder 1975:143-148).

In so many churches today, those who attend are consumers and not participants. There is the tendency to  go to a building on a special day of the week,  in order to  receive some type of ministry , at a price—the offering . The church at large has become an audience of consumers (Beckham 1995:43-45). Yet, the Scripture is filled with passages about our responsibility to minister to one another (e.g., I Thess. 5:10; 5:18). Yet, is so many large churches the ministry one to another is sadly neglected. Malphurs writes,    “How do we implement these commands and ‘each other’ passages in the church? Most people note them mentally and attempt to apply them when possible. Small group meetings and ministries provide an ideal community in which these may be implemented” (1992:216)













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