Many traditional churches have a 'come and see' emphasis on all that they do, with programmes and members efforts that focus on attracting people into the building. At Kensington Temple London City Church we have a 'go and show' approach, equipping our members to live out the Gospel message in every area of their life
With our members working in schools, hospitals, offices, building sites and private homes right across the city they are ideally placed to be to be salt and light in the world. That is, to penetrate society with the healthy influence of our salt-like presence, and to illuminate society's thinking with the light of gospel values.
When Jesus prayed for his disciples in John chapter 17 he said, "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." It is clear that he did not want us to withdraw from the world as if we were not living in it, and nor should we allow the world to remain in us, neutralising our saltiness and dimming our capacity to shine.
One of the values of the cell vision is to make disciples who are equipped to influence the world. They are part of the 'go and show' thrust of the church. Cells have the capacity to penetrate every part of society and to exercise influence for Christ in the heart of the agora, or market place of today. That is where the church is needed most. Christianity is a lifestyle and we are called to be good news right where we are - in our homes, our places of work, our centres of education and in every other part of society. Many times I have quoted our dictum to our members who spend most of their life in the market place of our society: your occupation is the location for your true vocation.
When Christ sent the first generation of his disciples into the world to preach, to heal, to deliver and to demonstrate his love through the gospel, he shows that his intention is not for us simply to get involved by working in the church. His purpose was to put the church to work in the world. The cells seek to fulfil Jesus' Great Commission, not just in the church building, but through the members at the point of their greatest influence. Cells reach people where they are.
We equip our members to 'take the giants' for God. This uses imagery from Numbers chapter 13 when Moses sent out the twelve spies. These spies reported that they saw giants in the land. Only Joshua and Caleb had the faith to say, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."
The giants of our society are the great institutions and professions which exercise the most influence over our lives.
We hold regular 'giants forums' in which cell members from each of the major professional or occupational groupings can get together to encourage one another and to find ways of influencing their environment. That way we are facilitating cells in every major profession and section in society.
As believers become active witnesses to the kingdom of God in these areas, people are won to Christ, discipled, and begin to exercise a godly influence over these giants. It is not just about having Christians working in these sectors, but disciples influencing their environment for Christ. We are aiming for the total transformation of our society. That is exactly what the body of Christ is called to do.
A Cell church is a church without walls. Teaching and ministry is not limited to one building and on a Sunday, people are reached right where they are. Christian witness happens in the market place and not just in the meeting place. Barriers between us as believers and the lost are broken down and removed. The cells build bridges for the community to see Christ in action. Cultures are penetrated through the informality and accessibility of cell ministry. Discipleship happens through relationships formed within the heart of the non-Christian community and not merely through church programmes which appear to those outside to be irrelevant and mere religious institutions.
This is the church as it is meant to be - not a closed book, but "living letters, known and read by the world". This is the vision of Christ, the very heart of God expressed in the living, breathing body of Christ on the earth. The plan has not changed. God is still working out his purposes on the earth through his church. Every believer in Christ is a part of it, and cell church enables the vision to become a reality.
The goal is for the cells to penetrate every level of society with active Christian witness and to bring transformation through the gospel. The cells equip people to be good news in their place of work and in their community. The presence of these tiny Christian communities influences the spiritual environment, right where they are.
The workplace is a fruitful harvest field. When people begin to look at their daily occupation as God's opportunity to win people to Christ, the cell vision suddenly begins to make sense. It equips people for where they spend much of their lives - their place of work or study. This is how we can engage with today's world and bring real transformation in our society.
As we have seen, we stress that daily life in the community is the place of mission. The daily occupation of cell members is the location of their true vocation. Cell groups can penetrate and see kingdom transformation come about in every layer and setting in society. That's why we train our members to become cell leaders and to reach people for Christ, right where they are.
The author and teacher John Maxwell's definition of leadership as influence is helpful. Every believer is called to influence their non-Christian family, friends and colleagues by their witness as a disciple of Christ. Discipleship implies leadership. My own understanding of leadership has to do with accepting responsibility. We are all called to accept responsibility for the Great Commission and the growth of the church. The true ministry of Christ is accomplished through his body.
Society today is trying to sell us the lie that religion is a private affair and has no place in the public sphere. We are encouraged not to 'force' our beliefs on others but to accept that everyone has their own concept of right and wrong. Society tells us in which areas in life it is acceptable to show our beliefs and which are out of bounds. Generally, this means that we can express our faith as much as we want in a church building but once outside we should put it aside.
Living out the gospel in every sphere of society is ingrained throughout church history. In the UK the church was providing education, health care and provision for the poor well before the Government began to make these services available to all irrespective of class or wealth. And history is littered with Christian individuals who, because of their Christian faith, wanted to change society for the better. William Wilberforce is known as the Christian MP who fought for the abolition of the slave trade but he also championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone and the foundation of the Church Mission Society. Others you may not know so well are:
Wellesley Bailey the Founder of the Leprosy Mission
Oliver Cromwell, a constitutional reformer who brought political stability after the civil war
Helen Keller who changed the way of life for the blind and the deaf George Muller who provided homes and education to over 120,000 children Florence Nightingale the world-famous nurse
Robert Jermain Thomas the Protestant missionary martyr who changed the nation of Korea.
These are just a few of those who looked at the society around them and saw an opportunity to be salt and light. So let us take heart from how God has used Christians throughout the centuries and cry out that he will take us and use us for his glory right where we are.