The Cell Church Model - Alpha Course Lite?
I have been holding off on writing anything about the "cell group" model out of Singapore that so many churches are using till I could (1) observe it up close and (2) do more research into it. I have done both. What I have seen has little to do with the house churches of the first century and much more to do with softening people up to "jump in the river" of the Third Wave.
Before I go any further, however, I must clarify something. I am not against small groups or house churches. I am specifically talking about the cell church model out of Singapore and its materials as well as the Alpha Course. I am talking about any materials or system devised by people who are promoting, openly or secretly, the false doctrines of the Third Wave such as the transferable anointing; downplaying the authority of Scripture in favor of personal subjective revelation; making God into a cosmic waiter at our beck and call for miracles, signs and wonders; teaching people to empty their minds and stop praying so they can experience the "Spirit" more fully; and basically giving credence to and supporting the Third Wave false teachers, false prophets, unbiblical doctrines and false anointings.
The Singapore FCBC model "cell group" I attended had no Bible study at all, and I am told they don't do that. The time is spent on a formatted schedule singing some innocuous songs, playing certain types of games to get people to loosen up, sharing time which may or may not include a shallow discussion of the pastor's sermon on Sunday, prayer in a circle holding hands, food, etc. The question asked in the sharing time I attended was "What is your spiritual gift(s)?" We were supposed to tell what our spiritual gift(s) were as we went around in a circle. I didn't like this because I believe that we need to "do" our spiritual gift rather than brag about it. Second, we should have been talking about the fact that God gives us the "grace" gifts and that everything comes from Him and He gets all the glory. I pointed this out to a rather cool response. I was apparently not with the "flow", I was not contributing to the corporate "mind" or something.
I saw what was being done as very similar, if not exactly the same, to what the Alpha Course teaches and their methods. But I had been led to believe by a number of people that this was the model out of Singapore, a different thing altogether. I got a hold of their manual. It is very much like Alpha, just not quite as blatantly Third Wave.
If you want more info on the Alpha Course and how it is simply a way to try to manipulate Christians into a passive state where they all capitulate to new revelation, new ideas, a corporate universal mindset, a corporate "experience". You can read these articles on Alpha Course and it will basically fill you in on what I read in the cell church materials out of Singapore:
The Dangers Of The Alpha Course by Deception
In The Church, 1998
"The Alpha Course, though teaching some truth, also lays truth alongside error. The wooing of people using the gospel message, only to later enslave them in ritualism, works salvation, and occult manifestations is one of the great deceptions of our time. One of the cleverest ploys of the enemy in our day is to allow "unprincipled" men to use the salvation message as an enticement to unsuspecting and untrained people, while they secretly introduce false doctrine, thereby giving "the devil a foothold" for fleshly manifestations and temptations in their lives. The men who designed this course are laying error alongside truth, introducing error secretly ("pareisaxousinin" in Greek) the result of which will ruin the faith of the believer in the end. The Bible says of this process: "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves." (2 Pet. 2:1) Beware of the Alpha Course!" Read this article also by Chris Hand.
The Alpha Course - Final
Answer Or Fatal Attraction? by G. Richard Fisher, 1999
"When the April 27, 1998, edition of Christianity Today magazine ran a full-page advertisement promoting a new line of resources by the respected Christian publisher, David C. Cook Communications, how could one doubt the trustworthiness of such materials? If along with that, they were endorsed in that same promotion by J.I. Packer, Alister McGrath, Luis Palau and Leighton Ford, how could one hesitate even for a moment — how could one resist? Surely this is a bandwagon worthy of a ride.The Alpha program sounds like a great idea. After all, with such heavyweights backing it and a program to facilitate an introduction to the Christian faith (with weekend retreats and group discussions) it has to be good — or does it? If nothing else, one must admit that Alpha is packaged impressively for maximum sales. Popularity does not mean that something is true. If it did, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny would be real entities. Popularity does not automatically equal truth nor can it create truth."
The Alpha Course by Neil Richardson in Vanguard Magazine,
"My purpose is that you may see what Nicky Gumbel stands for (in my view one of the four most influential figures on the British religious scene, the others being George Carey [CoE], Basil Hume [Catholic] and Clive Calver [EA]), and that you may welcome his Biblical ideas, and question those which could be of human origin."
"A Tale Of Two Cities" Part 1 - Rome
http://www.powerup.com.au/~shaneph/the_alpha_course_part_i.htm (no longer
"A Tale Of Two Cities" Part 2 - Toronto http://www.powerup.com.au/~shaneph/the_alpha_course_part_ii.htm (no longer online)
Nicky Gumble Unmasked - Part 1 by Neil Richardson
Nicky Gumble Unmasked - Part 2 by Neil Richardson
Praxis And The Alpha Course by Wendy Howard...Editor of Despatch
"Alpha is being used as a weapon against Christianity, yet the people of Christendom, at the end of this millennium, are overwhelmingly deceived by this cunning program! Where will you stand reader, with Godÿs Word and its fearless proclamation, or with those who walk in darkness? [I John 1: 5-7]."
Alpha Course - Friend Or Foe? by Wendy Howard...Editor of Despatch
Article on "Information gathered from “The Alpha Conference” held at St. Matthews, Sherwood Anglican Church Brisbane, Q’ld., Australia. 1998."
I believe these articles will help you understand just how dangerous the Alpha Course is and just how similar the "cell church" materials are out of Singapore. I will prove to you that the Singapore group has just as strong ties with the rest of the Third Wave, New Age, New Apostolic Reformation, "river", whatever they are calling it today.
I decided to look into the organization behind the "cell group" model that so many churches are using these days. Here is what is going on now. FCBC International just held their 8th Annual Conference in Singapore. Here is the ad off their web site at:
http://www.fcbccells.org/announce.html (no longer online)
8th Annual International Conference on Cell Group Churches (ICCGC) 1999
English - March 11-16 Chinese - March 5-10
Come catch the vision and see what the Lord has done and is doing through the cell church system—Pastor Lawrence Khong of FCBC will challenge, encourage and help equip you to carry forth the Great Commission through the Cell Church today! Not only will you be equipped through great teaching throughout the conference, but you will also have an opportunity to visit an actual FCBC cell group meeting.
The Lord is building His kingdom in a mighty way through the Cell
Church today – people are being saved
and their lives forever changed. Conference guest speaker and a true visionary with a heart for the lost, Reverend Ed Silvoso, will challenge you and equip you to win your city for Christ!
For more information, please contact:
The Conference Manager TOUCH Ministries
International 1 Marine Parade Central #04.02 Parkway
Builders Centre Singapore 449408 Tel: (65) 346-9020
Fax: (65) 345-6415 E-mail: email@example.com
For U.S. inquiries, contact FCBC International, Denton,
TX Tel: 1-888-404-FCBC (toll free),E-mail: FCBC@fcbccells.org
Ed Silvoso was the guest speaker at this event. Have you checked out where Ed Silvoso stands recently? He has been closely associated for a long time with C. Peter Wagner who has somehow decided that God has called him to orchestrate a "New Apostolic Reformation", as he calls it, and has been bringing together false teachers from every corner of the globe for that purpose. Here is part of an interview where Silvoso talked about the Toronto "Blessing" at:
Noel: How do you link with Toronto-style manifestations?
Ed: Well, we find the Toronto blessing in every city we go to. I believe that it is a blessing indeed. Having said that, I must say that every blessing is also subject to alteration by human flesh! My input is this: It is given not for the church but is given to the church for the lost. If the Toronto leaders miss that point, they will abort the blessing. If all we want is to be refreshed and renewed, there is a better way to receive that! Drop dead and go to heaven and you will get it there! I turn people to Acts 2, when in verse 1 there is the picture of perfect order. They are sitting down. In four verses they have a noise, a wind, tongues of fire, babbling nonsense and the appearance of drunkenness - looks like the Toronto blessing, doesn't it! But because Peter stood up and preached and persuaded the people to receive the Lord too, the focal point was not the manifestations but the salvation of 3,000 people.
Ed: So that's why the Toronto blessing has to be kicked out of the
church - kicked out of the church into the world! If in each neighbourhood
prayerhouse, there is a manifestation of Jesus, which I believe in its
purest form that's what the
Toronto blessing is, then the entire neighbourhood will flock to that house. The most dangerous thing coming out of Toronto is not the barking and the clucking and the roaring, but the statement that this is not for evangelism, it's for renewal. Because it's like trying to separate lovemaking from procreation! And you can't do that unless you are being selfish!
A lot to chew on here from old Ed.
First of all, Ed thinks that the Toronto "Blessing" is a blessing, but that it isn't for the church but for the lost. Does he really think that the lost are truly interested in lying on the floor "barking" and "clucking" and "roaring"? Give them some credit. Most non believers want NOTHING to do with the Toronto "thing" because they are scared by it. And rightly so! In my experience the Third Wave is geared toward Christians. All their efforts are aimed at taking people out of their churches and starting new ones, or invading established churches and taking over like what happened at Brownsville. It has never been about evangelism to the lost. Even the Rodney Howard-Browne "crusade" in New York was filled with his followers every night who obediently came forward and were counted as new converts. It is interesting to see how people who call themselves followers of Jesus have lost discernment to the point where a non believer has more than they do!
Ed is right about the lost needing to be reached. But please don't try to reach them with the occult techniques of the Toronto "thing". They don't need to escape from darkness into deeper darkness.
Secondly, Peter and the disciples were NOT babbling or drunk, and Peter answered that question directly on the scene. Why can't people like Ed see that? What is preventing these people from understanding simple facts? The Toronto "Blessing" looks nothing like what happened at Pentecost, and I can say with confidence that the Disciples, if they were to come to TACF, would begin by casting demons out of the people rolling on the floors.
Thirdly, how can a church that has lost all discernment, does not teach the Word in context and tells people to leave their minds at the door even BEGIN to preach the gospel. They have demostrated over and over again that they don't know what it is. What they do know about is occultic techniques, invoking "spirits" in the name of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, chanting mantras in the form of songs with Christian words over and over again till they go into trance states, and doing Christian sorcery. They are well versed in these things, having spent all their time learning and reinforcing themselves in these techniques instead of Scripture.
And what a great illustration Ed gives on the connection between evangelism and renewal. I guess I just never thought of these two concepts in such sexual terms before.
Question: Would you have Ed Silvoso (former associate of Luis Palau or not) come speak at your church, let alone be the main speaker for a conference where churches from all over the world are receiving instructions on how to properly run a "cell church" on the basis of the above statements? (If you are in the Third Wave don't answer this question, we already know your answer).
Conclusion: The cell group model out of Singapore is Alpha Course Lite! It is simply another front for the Third Wave to seduce Christian leaders and to subtly introduce heresy into churches who are looking for a more personal approach, to be more like the house churches of the first century. But remember the M.O. of false teachers:
2 Pet. 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Why not let Jesus Christ build His church in your local community, through the preaching of the gospel, the study of His Word, prayer, fellowship, and spiritual gifts without the aid of some model from Singapore!