Cellular Church

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Movement/idea/P2P-inspired organisational format, put forward by Rich Warren and discussed by Malcolm Gladwell and Dave Pollard, at http://howtosavetheworld.ca/2006/02/24/taking-things-into-our-own-hands/


"Rick Warren's 'Cellular Church', a religious and now social action network based on 'cells', political units even smaller than communities, handfuls of people with shared values and ideals working, each in their own way, on self-organized actions inspired but not directed by Warren's 'anti-hierarchy'. The power in the cellular church is all on the front lines. Warren is substantially just a facilitator, suggesting principles to guide the cells in deciding what to do, but not directing or coordinating those actions. He eschews the 'power' of hierarchy not out of altruism or humility, but because he knows that people will act more passionately, more persistently, more substantially, if the ideas are theirs than if they are 'instructions from above'.

Warren writes:

If I go to church with 500 members, in a magnificent cathedral, why should I volunteer or donate any substantial share of my money? What kind of peer pressure is there in a congregation that large? If the barriers to entry become too low -- and the ties among members increasingly tenuous -- then the church as it grows bigger becomes weaker. One solution to the problem is simply not to grow, and, historically, churches have sacrificed size for community. But there is another approach: to create a church out of a lot of little church cells. The small group as an instrument of community is initially how Communism spread, and in the post-war years AA and its 12-step progeny perfected the small-group technique. Members sat in a circle. The focus was on interaction -- not one person teaching [or preaching] and the others listening -- and the remarkable thing about these groups is their power. [Churches and others soon found] the small group was an extraordinary vehicle of commitment. It was personal and flexible. It cost nothing. It was convenient, and every [member] was able to find a small group that precisely matched his or her interests.

Suppose we were to try to create a complete, new social and political 'system', all over the planet, based entirely on personal responsibility and action at the cellular, microcommunity level, assuming the existing social and political systems can and will do nothing for us and have outlived their usefulness." (Dave Pollard's How to Save the World blog at http://howtosavetheworld.ca/2006/02/24/taking-things-into-our-own-hands/ )