New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, January 17 2002 Vol 02 : 012
Re: [NTCP] cell groups?
Re: [NTCP] cell groups?
Re: [NTCP] cell groups? - Response to David
Re: [NTCP] cell groups?
Re: [NTCP] cell groups
Re: [NTCP] cell groups - response to Jim
Re: [NTCP] cell groups - response to Jim
Re: [NTCP] cell groups
[NTCP] Touch Not Mine Anointed

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 07:51:35 -0500
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups?

Hi David:

Start with TOUCH ministries

Here are my cell church links. They all have something good to offer. I was
part of a cell church myself, and I conferred with Joel Comiskey who really set
the G12 cell idea a couple of years ago. The largest G12 cell based church in
Canada, and they are using Ralph Neighbour's concept and materials for G12, is
the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF - formerly Toronot Airport

Hope these links help you out.

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Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 19:34:46 -0500
From: David Anderson
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups?

Hi Sam and Dave,

As you suggested there is good material on the sites you mentioned. No doubt.

Does Ralph N still send out a magazine? What's he keen on, lately? Did many big
churches "convert" as he predicted decades ago? Is he warm toward home

These two pages below should give one the idea of of where Ralph Neighbour
wants to take the church. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? pp 264,5

It should go without saying, but unfortunately it likely cannot, that my brief
analysis is NOT an attack upon him nor his followers. There are worthwhile
things in his book and ministry, too. Many house churchers acknowledge an
affinity with some aspects of "cell life."

But IMHO, cell church is just another reincarnation of traditional church. Same
product - different wrapper. New and improved version.

I do like the small groups and large celebration format, for sure.

David Anderson

_____________________________ begin quoted portion.

Scrutiny of cell churches reveals they usually grow quite large before
investing in a Celebration Center. It's inevitable that one will be needed.
Nearly all of them I have visited can't find an auditorium in the city which
will hold all the members. However, by the time they do build or buy a place,
they are large enough that the payment is usually made in cash.

When And Where Are The Offerings Taken?

This varies widely among the cell churches. Personally, I like Dr. Cho's plan.
Each cell group member is given envelopes for the offering. The amount inside
is marked on the envelope. They are turned in during the cell meeting. After
being totaled by two persons, the separate envelopes are placed in a larger
one. This envelope is then brought by the Cell Leader to the next worship
service attended. Under the main auditorium there is a wall with pigeonhole
boxes, where these envelopes are dropped. I have been deeply moved as I have
watched one Cell Leader after another approach their pigeonhole in the wall,
put the envelope to their heart and passionately pray for its use, and then
drop it in a slot.

In addition, offerings are taken at every public service, held. On one occasion
I got in the way of the ushers after they had collected the offering from
25,000 people in the auditorium. They were using containers on wheels to roll
the gifts into the counting room! Churches like this one seldom make special
appeals for funds. When you have nearly 600,000 people serving as servants,
there is no need to beg!

What Does The Budget Of A Cell Church Look Like?

In order to explain this, let's look at an illustration of how the funds must
be utilized. First and foremost, the investment must be in staff workers. There
must be one paid Zone Pastor for every 250 people, representing approximately
25 cells and five divisions of cells conducted by volunteer Zone Shepherds.
Their gifts must also provide for secretaries, office space, rental of
Celebration facilities, the music staff, etc.

(Here is the amazing nine-fold arrangement or ranking and the ratio to the next

Senior Pastor Minister of Cell Groups District Leaders - 1:25 District Pastors
District Pastors - 1:25 Zone Servants Zone Servants Interns Shepherd - 1:15
maximum Shepherd Group Intern Share Group Team - 3 people minimum


This is a model of a cell church with a Senior Pastor. Some cell churches use a
team approach with a Leadership Staff, but there is always a key man who can be
identified as the leader. Staff positions appearing in the shaded areas are
paid positions. All others are volunteers. The number of people supervised is
given as a ratio figure.

_________________________ further comment:

Why did not Jesus and the apostles, who were well versed in military and
corporate structures, impose such an arrangement as this upon the saints??? Are
we really wiser than they?


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Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 20:21:16 -0500
From: AOM Canada
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups? - Response to David

Dear David:

Like you I agree that Neighbour is really no different. In fact if you were
to really get to know TACF, where the G12 groups are really taking off, they
only have 40% of the people involved! So, even though they stress that
everyone should be in a G12, very often they are not. Interestingly enough,
many who are oppossed to G12 see them as little different from the multi-tiered marketing that has infiltrated the church and burned out many Christians! You see each person in a G12 is to recruit 12 other people and run their own G12 in which they are 'leaders'. Also unfortunate is the strong emphasis on mentoring (and no I do not wish to provoke another debate on mentoring versus fathering... I am just making a statement).

I left the cell church model for 2 reasons.

1. The Lord told me to and gave me a revelation of a new wineskin...the church
in the house and a return to NT simplicity.

2. The cell church is no different than the institutional church, in fact it
creates more controlling influences in the lives of those who participate, and
instead of more freedom and body life, we end up with less than we had in the
'pure' institutional church! If you were to check out the cell churches in
the Far East, you would find that their mega churches are patterned after our
North American model, and the natural Far Eastern mindset of status and
position is reinforced by this model, much to the loss of the Body of Christ.
Their churches in a real sense are no different than Toyota plants in
Heroshima, highly structured and controlled, and everyone does their job with
little say in the process. Results and outcomes are the goals. No thanks,
don't want that in the church! My God what did we do when we sent missionaries
to the Far East????

A friend went to Bulgaria when it finally opened up. He thought that this one
time atheist country with no church would be an opportunity to start the NT on
the right foundation... a foundation without institutional religion. He was
there within weeks of the borders opening up... and much to his chagrin large
mission agencies had already gotten in and already the institutional mentality
had set in.

Although there were not church buildings, when he went to church gatherings, he
found rows of all kinds of chairs, a make shift pulpit and makeshift communion
table, and ushers and everything!!! There was no participation or interaction.
There were three songs, no testimonies, some prayer requests where one person
prayed for them all, an offering, the sermon, a closing prayer and it was over!
It did not take long for the institution to set in!

My friend was filled with despair at having seen one opportunity to see the
freshness of the Spirit unleashing NT body life disappear like that.
Ironically, most of these agencies use CELLS to keep the people and disciple
them and control them. No thanks, don't want that and don't need that.

Like some folks said to me lately, "We have cells at our church, but we never
have this kind of intimacy, or fervent pray or interaction. We never see all
the gifts expressed like this, and we certainly don't take time to hang out
together like you do! Why do you think it is not working like this with our
church?" Need I answer the question? It is rather obvious!



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Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 20:41:32 -0700
From: "David Cummings"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups?

Sam and David,

Thanks for all the input. I was trying to get all sides of the coin here.
Structurally i disagree with some cell groups and am encouraged by others. One
group that caught my eye was out of the UK. It put me in
contact with someone here from the UK who is familiar with the house church
concept and might hop on the bandwagon. He seems like an "apostolic" type
character with huge heart. I am trying to interact with some cell groups to
find potential leaders who are very close to the house church structure but
just need a push. Plus the fellowship between house church and cell groups
could spark some "positive witnessing" to the institutional church and show a
few particular groups that they don't need the big buildings any more. And that
they need to focus on pure interaction as we have been handed down through the
remnant channels that so many Christians have lived out since NT times.


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Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 23:49:37 EST
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups

Dear David Cummings and Group,

With no sarcasm intended, I wish you luck on nudging cell churches toward the
house church model.

My ministry (Open Church Ministries) with a staff of six and I spent 7 years
and about 4 million dollars trying to get institutional churches to open up to
full participation. I wrote a book on the subject (The Open Church) which sold
80M copies, plus a booklet version selling another 150M. Huge success, huh?
Those are big number for a book on the church. But the net result was that I
don't know of one single institutional church (for sure) that really opened
up. Take note.

Wherever you find U.S. cells, you will find a pastor whose income depends on
donations, usually collected in the Sunday service. You'll probably also find
a mortgage and other expenses that require a high proportion of the people's
allegiance be to the central church, not the cell. (In the lower strata of
cell churches, the cells are primarily a nifty control mechanism.)

What will fake you out, David, is the constant stream of good-hearted, eager
cell folks (and even pastors) who are excited about the house church. Trouble
is, you can get 90% of the people and 90% of a board in favor of going to a
highly decentralized model, but it doesn't happen. Why? Because of the other
10%, who will pick up their marbles and go play elsewhere if they horse around
with "MY CHURCH." Often, these are the wealthier, older folks, the most set in
tradition. So the matter will get kicked into committee and never get out.
Some steps may be taken, but they'll never snowball into anything worthwhile.

Underneath or opposing all the enthusiasm for the house church model lurk four
demons most foul: the spirits of RELIGION, CONTROL, PRIDE, and
FEAR/INSECURITY. I estimate that the first three of these have been with the
church for over 1900 years. The fourth settled in in the second century.

These days, when institutional church people rattle my cage, I'll give them a
sincere three-minute pep talk, but I won't spend real time on them. I'm not
sour, I've just learned to recognize a complete waste of time when I see it.

It's a control issue, David, and it won't go away. It's built into the system.

As Wolfgang Simson has said, the open church (house church) movement is going
to be way bigger than the Reformation. Adjust to that reality, work on
building house church networks, and save yourself a lot of pain.

Cordially in Christ,

Jim Rutz Colorado Springs jim(--AT--)

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Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 06:01:47 -0500
From: AOM Canada
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups - response to Jim

Dear Jim!

Blessings upon you! You have made my day! Amen and Amen and Amen! I have
spent so much energy defending, promoting, witnessing to the power of God in
the house church that it has exhausted my spirit, my body, and my pocketbook,
and the only tangible return I could identify was frustration and hurt. People
are people and they will not "get it" when it comes to the whole house church
networks thing. My wife said it best to me after an exhausting time with some
friends, or so I thought that they were friends, turned on me and really
rejected me and all that I had to say.

She said, "Honey, unless they get house church as a personal revelation from
the Lord, and it stirs in their spirit, and it sticks in their gut and won't go
away, and at every moment God brings continued revelation through articles,
books, pamphlets and other friends who give evidence to the same thing, and
finally their inner man declares 'Yes and Amen' to it...It will never happen!
You will continue to get frustrated, become discouraged and lose money! Don't
waste your time. Tell them, show them, then let the Lord work on them and get
out of the way. It will keep you healthier in the long term!"

Thanks Jim for sharing from your heart and from your experience!



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Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 07:02:55 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups - response to Jim

Dear Sam,

Thanks again. "Save The Lord build the house..." God made us for fellowship,
relationship, koinonia. Jesus isnot only Lord of all, but He is Lord of
relationship and structure. Your wife is so right, and so is Jim. It is a
matter of control. We don't get to pick who or what we belong to. Where blood
relationships are concerned, even the old creation can teach us that much.

Yours in Christ,


AOM Canada wrote:

>Dear Jim!
>Blessings upon you! You have made my day! Amen and Amen and Amen! I have
>spent so much energy defending, promoting, witnessing to the power of God in
>the house church that it has exhausted my spirit, my body, and my pocketbook,
>and the only tangible return I could identify was frustration and hurt.
>People are people and they will not "get it" when it comes to the whole house
>church networks thing. My wife said it best to me after an exhausting time
>with some friends, or so I thought that they were friends, turned on me and
>really rejected me and all that I had to say.
>She said, "Honey, unless they get house church as a personal revelation from
>the Lord, and it stirs in their spirit, and it sticks in their gut and won't
>go away, and at every moment God brings continued revelation through articles,
>books, pamphlets and other friends who give evidence to the same thing, and
>finally their inner man declares 'Yes and Amen' to it...It will never happen!
>You will continue to get frustrated, become discouraged and lose money! Don't
>waste your time. Tell them, show them, then let the Lord work on them and get
>out of the way. It will keep you healthier in the long term!"
>Thanks Jim for sharing from your heart and from your experience!

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Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 07:22:30 -0500
From: "Michael Gastin"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups


Thanks so much for sharing.

I can give a personal account that supports your comments, in that I was rather
close with the pastor of the church we eventually left to start our house
church. He and I would meet once a week for prayer in the morning and I saw
your book on his desk. As we meet, I would notice his bookmark making its way
toward the back of the book - he was reading it.

He liked to talk about how cells were important, how the church would grow in
numbers and in depth if we used cells and how he was committed in theory to
having cells. But, in a year's time there were no cells. It was just talk.

Regardless, the Lord was moving on my wife and I to leave and begin worshiping
in our home. When I sat down to explain to this pastor friend the what, why,
where and how of our decision he just did not get it. He had no clue about the
priesthood of the believer, the house to house of Acts or why we thought we
could encourage and exhort one another without a pastor overseeing us.

It was sad to see a man who for 30+ years of his life had studied the word and
preached it every Sunday without fail but could not see the simple truth of the
Body as exemplified in the New Testament.

Jim, I think your book is important. I think the effects it has and will have
are not dependant on church leadership. I can tell you that even now, people
reading your book are being primed for worship in the home and to grow into
their place in the Body of Christ.

Mike Gastin

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Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 11:26:33 -0500
From: forwarded
Subject: [NTCP] Touch Not Mine Anointed

From: Link Hudson [Mailed from alternate address.]

I think the reason that the 'touch not Mine anointed verse' is so misused is
that the Charismatic movement has a DIFFERENT DEFINITION of anointing than what
is used in the Bible.

I don't think the Charismatic movement came up with the definition. They
probably got it and modified it from the Pentecostals. I don't know if the
Holiness follks were throwing the word 'anointing' around or not. I think some
Southern Baptists talk about 'anointing' in this extra-Biblical way as well,
but not like Charismatics.

What is anointing? If we get our understanding of it from hearing preachers
talk we might think 'anointing' is:

1. Having a lot of Charisma. 2. Something that makes preaching really flow when
the preacher gets worked up, and leaves when he gets out of the pulpit. 3. That
exciting feeling you get when the preacher starts talking loud, gets excited
and screams about "Holy Ghost revival" or some other wonderful thing, while the
audience claps. 4. The spiritual quality a preacher has that makes people fall
down when he touches them on the forehead. 5. Something that makes you feel
goose bumps in a church service. 6. The presence of the Holy Spirit. 7.
Empowerment for Christian service.

Let us examine some of these ideas. Definitions 1 through 4 are pretty shallow
definitions for 'the anointing' but it seems like a lot of people think these
things are the anointing.

In some circles, if a preacher talks really exciting, screams loud, and talks a
lot about the right Charismatic or Pentecostal catch phrases that draw applause
from the audience, people will say that he is really 'anointed.' It seems like
there are some preachers who drop subtle hints about themselves, or blatantly
brag about themselves in order to make others think they are someone great-to
put themselves up on a pedestal. They present themselves a spiritually special
person. They cause other people to think that they are spiritual supermen, a
cut above the 'lay people' in the church. If a preacher can convince his
audience that he is someone special, a special intermediary between the church
and God, then he can use the 'touch not Mine anointed' verse in an attempt to
control people. There are some preachers who do these things without even
realizing that it is wrong.

Other preachers use the term 'anointing' to refer to temporary empowerment for
preaching or teaching that comes when they are ministering, and helps them
focus. I am very thankful to God that He gives such grace to people who are
ministering. But, Biblically, I don't see any reason to call this type of thing
'anointing.' Does anointing go away when we get done ministering, and come back
when we need it again? Are we 'under the anointing' at one time, and not 'under
the anointing' at another?' Is this a Biblical use of the term 'anointing.' I
don't think so. I think this is just another modern use of the term. If we take
our new definition and read it back into the Bible, then we will end up with

Can you lose the anointing?

I've heard some people say that Saul lost the anointing. But is that what the
Bible says? Saul had already lost the Lord's favor. He had disobeyed God, been
overtaken by an evil spirit, and had consulted with a witch. Yet, from Saul's
glorious days till the time that he died, David still considered him to be the
Lord's anointed. Even after Saul died, David said that he was the Lord's
anointed. So Saul did not cease to be an anointed one even when He lost God's
favor, fell into sin, and was tormented by an evil spirit! God had rejected him
as king, and yet he was still the Lord's anointed. What a shocking idea to so
many Charismatics! Maybe if Charismatics understood what 'anointing' means,
they would not be so surprised.

What is anointing?

To understand anointing, we have to understand it's most basic literal meaning.
The Hebrew word for anointing is used to refer to rubbing oil on someone. In a
very basic sense, probably every Israelite who lived a few months past birth
was literally 'anointed.' The Hebrews used oil on their skin. The Psalms say
that god gave oil to make men's faces shine. The Hebrews would put oil on their
heads. They used it as a type of lotion perhaps. Maybe they used it for brill
cream. Much of Israel has a very dry climate. Jerusalem is very dry.

Jesus told His disciples not to disfigure their faces when they fasted, but to
anoint their head and wash their face. Some hypocrites liked to go around
looking unkept when they fasted, so that others would recognize that they were
fasting and would respect their piety. Jesus wanted the disciples to groom
themselves, so as not to appear unto men to fast. Anointing one's head with oil
was part of personal grooming in their culture.

More Specialized Uses of 'Anointing.'

Putting oil on one's face for health and grooming reasons doesn't sound too
spiritual. But there was also a more spiritual use of anointing in the OT. The
High Priest was to be anointed with a special mixture of oil and fragrant

Kings of Israel would also be anointed. The prophet Samuel anointed Saul
according to the Lord's instructions, and alter anointed David.

A king that had been anointed, under the direction of God, could be referred to
as the Lord's anointed. That does not mean that the king was necessarily
walking in God's favor or in the power of God.

Saul was "the Lord's anointed" because in his past, Samuel had poured oil on
him under the instructions of God. This signified that God had chosen him as
king. The 'anointing' here does not refer to empowerment from God that comes
and goes, waxes and wanes. The Spirit of the Lord came on Saul and he did great
things. But the Bible does not teach that 'the anointing' came on Saul. His
'anointing' was being rubbed with oil. Whether he was walking in the power of
God, or without it, he was still 'the Lord's anointed' because God had caused
him to be anointed as King.

The fact that Saul was anointed did not mean that he could throw his
'anointing' down and make people fall down. His anointing wasn't

'Messiah' comes from a Hebrew word that means 'the anointed One.' 'Christ'
comes from the Greek translation of 'Messiah.' Jesus is the Messiah, the chosen
King. The Bible tells that God anointed Him with the oil of gladness. On earth,
Jesus was anointed at Bethany. Jesus is God's anointed Messiah.

Some of the Psalms about the Messiah, appear also to have a short-term
application to the life of David. Jesus is the Son of David. David was anointed
by Samuel, under God's direction, to rule Israel.

Anointing in the New Testament

Many of the uses of the term 'anointing' in the Old Testament seem to be used
rather literally to refer to the action of rubbing oil on someone. But I John
2:27 uses the word 'anointing' in a very spiritual sense.

"But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do
not need that anyone should teach you' but the same anointing teaches you
concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught
you, you will abide in Him." (NKJV.)

Notice that this anointing abides in the believer. It does not come and go all
the time. This anointing abides in 'you,' plural, not just in one person. The
passages doesn't say that the anointing abides in 'thee' as an individual, but
in 'you' plural. The verse does not teach that the anointing only abides in
certain, charismatic, powerful preachers who 'pay the price' to be more
anointed than everyone else.

Touch not Mine Anointed

So when the Psalms say, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm,
how should we interpret the passage?

In Old Testament times, the king was, in many cases, anointed. The High Priest
would also be anointed.

In the New Testament, believers have an anointing that teaches them all things.
Christ is the Anointed One, the Messiah, that we follow. The Bible does not
teach that there are certain believers in Christ who are 'more anointed'
because of their spiritual gifts, talents, ability to garner a national
following, or the ability to preach loudly while excreting a lot of

The command to 'touch not Mine anointed' is often used by preachers who come
under criticism for their teachings or behavior. We do need to respect our
leaders, honor gifted believers ministering among us, and honor all authority
that God has established. We also need to treat brethren with love and not to
destroy their reputations with gossip. If 'touch not mine anointed' can be used
to warn against doing such things against a spiritual leader, can't the verse
also be equally applicable to 'touching' any believer in Christ who has the
indwelling anointing?

The 'touch not mine anointed' verse does not make leaders exempt from
accountability to the body of Christ. Peter preached the Gospel to Gentiles in
Cornelius' house. Even though he was right to do so, when the circumcision
group questioned him, how did he respond? Did he say, "How dare you question
the Lord's anointed?" No, as a brother in mutual submission, he gave an answer
for his actions. He didn't try to intimidate those who questioned him by
warning of impending judgement for touching the Lord's anointed, or other
similar intimidation techniques. 'For one is your Master, even Christ," Jesus
said, "and all ye are brethren.

Throughout the New Testament, we see that the local elders were men involved in
overseeing and pastoring the local churches. In I Timothy 5:19, we see that
charges could be brought against an elder with two or three witnesses. Even
elders of the church are subject to correction when they sin, just as any
believer. The teachings of Matthew 18 apply to elders as well as other


'Anointing' has come to be used in ways in the Charismatic movement which are
not consistent with the use of the term in scripture. We must be careful not to read our own cultural understanding of the term back into the Bible.

The verse which says, "Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm" must not be used as an excuse to exempt church leaders from accountability.

End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #12

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