As I put the finishing touches on this issue of the Journal, I realized that it may be the most important issue I’ve worked on in the ten years our ministry has published this periodical.
Burnout affects every level of leadership in a cell church. The senior pastor struggles to pastor two churches; the traditional, program-based form being slowly phased out and the new, cell-based ministry that is growing ever-so-slowly. The staff pastor in charge of cell ministry probably has a number of administrative tasks to perform in addition to cell group support. Coaches and cell leaders often feel guilty that they are not doing enough for their groups with intense job and family responsibilities.
The articles in this issue will bring a healing balm to the burned out. Michael Mack’s article on turbo groups will help you accelerate the leadership development process, relieving stress in overgrown cell groups. The practical tips found in the cover article I’ve written will provide a new way of doing things in cell leadership to get better, less emotionally draining results. Nola Kurber’s practical article on how to support cell members who work with kids during the cell meeting will reduce a great deal of stress for cell leaders and members alike. Last but not least, my dear friend Larry Kreider has brought an encouraging word to the weary. His column is like a breath of fresh air to me every time I read it!
In Galatians 6:9-10, Paul tells us we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up, “especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Work smart in ministry. Raise up others, delegate as often as possible, and let God work in power through you! (end of article)
Just for Pastors - By Michael Mack
Starved for New Leaders? Developing and deploying interns in a turbo group.
As an infant, my son Jordan depended completely on his mom for his food. This morning, he made waffles and cereal for his three younger brothers and sisters.
We are preparing each of our children for adulthood, when they will leave home to form their own households. A turbo group—much like my family—is simply a cell in which every member is an intern.
The goal of a turbo group is to produce spiritual growth. The result of that growth is to step up and lead others (see Hebrews 5:11-6:1). If my kids were to come to me at 30 years of age and say, “Spoon feed me!” I’d think something had gone terribly wrong. Yet I often hear long-time church members say just that. Turbo groups help to solve this problem.
Turbo Group Purpose
1. Discover and experience authentic basic Christian community; what it means to gather in the name of Jesus and experience Him in the midst of the group (Matt. 18:20); and experience how spiritual growth occurs in a cell group environment.
2. Prepare interns spiritually, doctrinally, emotionally, mentally.
3. Equip interns to lead a small group meeting, shepherd people between meetings, reach out to unbelievers through the cell, facilitate intentional spiritual growth in group members, and raise up and prepare new leaders from among group members.
My Turbo Group’s Values
1. This is a real cell group. We will model group life by doing life together. We will show more than teach.
2. We will teach skills through experience versus a classroom.
3. Group members will have opportunities to lead parts of meetings and receive helpful feedback from the group.
4. Members will be asked to make a commitment to the turbo group, including: attendance; to complete any assignments and reading other assigned books or articles; and to fully engage in the life of the group.
5. One intern will prepare to lead the next turbo group, so that we can multiply turbo groups.
12 Steps to success
We have a plan in our family for growing them up and sending them onward. Jesus also had a discipleship plan for developing His followers:
1. Supplicate. As Jesus chose His interns (a.k.a. apostles), He began with prayer (Luke 6:12, 13). Prayer puts this important task in the right hands and allows God to do the actual choosing.
Ask God to reveal those He wants you to disciple. Next, watch and listen attentively for those whom God is calling. Through conversations, group discussions, and perhaps a quiet leading from the Holy Spirit, you’ll know whom to choose.
What do you look for? Jesus based His selection not on outward appearances or skills; the first disciples were a motley crew of fishermen, tax collectors, and other assorted riffraff.
Jesus saw through to their hearts. Here are some of the heart attributes to look for:
• A heart for God. Look for people who love God with all their hearts, putting Him first above all else. A leader is first a disciple. Interns have a growing, dependent relationship with God through Jesus. They have a quiet time with the Lord regularly. They participate weekly in worship, and are consistent in cell attendance.
• A heart for people. Look for people who love others unselfishly. They think more often about other people—believers and unbelievers—than they do themselves.
• A desire to live a life patterned after God’s Word. They look to Scripture for answers to their questions and problems. They are students of God’s Word, spending time in it regularly.
• Growing in their relationship with Christ. They have a hunger to learn. They are humble, willing to listen, model, practice, give and receive evaluation. They accept feedback, even when it involves areas of weakness.
2. Initiate. From the beginning, cast the vision for the group sending out people to start new cells. When Jesus called His disciples, He cast a vision as they cast their nets: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Jesus’ mission involved Him sending these disciples to go and make disciples. I have found that even turbo groups, whose purpose is to develop and deploy new leaders, become satisfied in building community among themselves; they love community itself more than the mission that community is meant to accomplish. Recast the vision often!
3. Designate. Jesus “appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” (Luke 14). The first part of discipleship is to be with Him. The second part is to be sent. The word apostle in the Greek means “one who is sent”, or a messenger. This is what the turbo group is all about! It begins with time spent together in a mentoring relationship and grows to the point where new leaders are sent.
4. Demonstrate. More is caught than taught. Interns learn more from observing you than you might know. They watch and evaluate your demonstration of leadership skills, how you show people you care, how you lead different parts of the meeting, how you deal with negative situations, and a host of other tangible and intangible measures of your leadership. The apostles were always nearby as Jesus ministered to and taught people. They learned more from His actions than His words.
5. Communicate. Talk about turbo meetings together. Ask interns to evaluate you. This will help them watch for the skills of leading. Continually discuss what you’re doing and why, encouraging them to ask questions. Jesus often used questions to begin a discussion so that His disciples could reflect on His words or actions. After washing their feet, Jesus asked, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”
6. Simulate. One tool for training leaders is role-playing, where you and the group act out situations they may encounter, and then evaluate their responses. Another tool is the “what-if” game . . . you throw out situations or conversations and ask them how they would respond. These exercises allow you to train future leaders in an environment where mistakes won’t be magnified but can be corrected. Jesus used parables to simulate real situations the disciples would face. Some of His stories began with the word, “Suppose …” These stories helped the apostles put themselves into situations in a learning environment.
7. Delegate. Next, allow members to begin leading. The first several weeks just ask some to read Scripture; then ask them to lead the prayer time or opening activity; then delegate the study time. Ask them to make calls to other members or to make a prayer visit. In this way you can continue to add responsibility, authority, and opportunity until they can lead an entire meeting. (Notice this is not step one! Some leaders start here and fail miserably.) Of course, Jesus delegated responsibility when He sent out the 12 and the 72 (Luke 9 and 10). This gave them the opportunity to learn in a short-term situation.
8. Evaluate. After each opportunity to lead, speak with your interns individually and provide feedback. Be constructive and give lots of praise where applicable. After the disciples returned from their first short-term mission, Jesus met with them in a solitary place so they could report what they had done (Luke 9:10; 10:17-24).
9. Educate. Be sure to teach turbo group interns some of the important core doctrines and skills that are necessary for them to be a successful leader. Work these into your time together just as Jesus taught His followers.
10. Wait. Remember that discipleship is a process that takes time, patience, work, and love. Follow Jesus’ example as a disciple-maker. When you disciple people, you become actively involved in their lives: their stresses, choices, significant relationships, weaknesses, and strengths. Allow time for the Holy Spirit—the real change agent—to work. It took Jesus’ interns three years and the death of their leader before they were ready. Hopefully, it will not take your own death or three years before your turbo group is ready to be sent! My turbo groups meet together for 4-6 months (I know of other churches who meet for up to two years).
11. Proliferate. When your turbo group of interns is equipped, send them out as missionaries to start new cells. Jesus sent His followers to go and make disciples of all nations. Throughout the Book of Acts we see them continuing to go, spreading Jesus’ Gospel throughout the world. That is our same mission today!
12. Advocate. The relationship does not end when your interns move out to lead their own cells. When Jesus sent His leaders-in-training, He promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He said His Advocate, the Holy Spirit, would share Jesus’ instructions as they stepped out to lead (John 16:5-15). More importantly, coach your new leaders as they begin developing their own interns. They have learned how to develop and deploy new leaders through your work with them. With your support, they will develop others from their groups to become leaders . . . and become leader developers too!
One of the great thrills in life, I’m told, is seeing your own children grow up and start their own families. Through your turbo group, you can become a proud spiritual grandparent. From the perspective of Heaven, that may be the most rewarding and important kind! (end of article)
Michael Mack is Pastor of Small Groups at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, founder of SmallGroups.com, and author of Leading from the Heart.
Cover Article - By Randall Neighbour
Winning the Burnout Battle: How to enjoy your ministry for a lifetime
My wife and I have enjoyed cell group leadership for 14 years. We’ve watched God miraculously change hearts, renew minds and transform people into His likeness. We’ve seen belligerent, hard-core unbelievers soften and ask deep spiritual questions to find meaning in life. We’ve also experienced sorrow as we interacted with those who just didn’t want to grow in the Lord. All things considered, it’s been a positive experience we want to continue for many years.
You would think after all this time that we’d be bored or exhausted, but that’s not the case. To us, long-term cell leadership is like a Stephen Spielberg movie. The story line is always strong and the people in our real-life drama reveal their true character through their words and actions. Before it’s over, unexpected twists and turns take place that make us say, “I never expected that to happen!”
There are a few key things you must do to enjoy your role as a cell leader and not get burned out. I’d like to share them with you so you too can enjoy cell leadership for a lifetime.
CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD
I’ve met a number of cell leaders who do not pray for their cell group, each member and the weekly meetings each day, let alone pray for their own needs. No wonder they’re burned out! Prayer is our power source. If we don’t plug in, we'll operate out of the flesh, which is weak.
In a cell group we led a few years ago, a young woman—whom I’ll call Jennifer—made a racial comment to a long-time friend at a cell group party. A deadly silence followed her loud comment, and everyone in the room felt bad for the guy to whom she was addressing.
On the way home, Etna and I knew we had to say something to her. She often shared biting comments in our weekly cell meetings, but this was a new level of ugliness we had not seen before. Knowing she would put up a fight, drag her husband into it and possibly poison us against the rest of the group, we decided to bathe the whole situation in prayer.
You might think the prayer was detailed and sophisticated, but it went something like “God, we have no idea what to do. Jennifer’s words are often offensive, and we really don’t think we can help her and don’t think she wants to change. Please bring her to a place where she realizes this and wants to do something about it.”
Each day, Etna and I interceded for her with a variation of this prayer. To meet with Jennifer and meet this issue head-on without prayer would be emotionally draining. So we prayed twice a day and when other cell members called to ask what could be done, we enlisted them as well.
The next week, Jennifer abruptly stopped the group as we began to sing our first worship song. She asked us to forgive her for what she said at the meeting. Then she told us she had called the person she offended as well as the other people at the party that night, asking for their forgiveness. She said she realized that the statement was not only inappropriate for a group setting, but that kind of teasing between friends was unhealthy.
A part of the story that has not been told is that we had been praying for Jennifer’s tongue every day for months, petitioning God to help her see it was a problem area and that there were much deeper issues below the surface. God allowed this incident to bring her to a place of openness, and our prayer showed God we would stand in the gap for her.
While a strong prayer life has been discussed repeatedly in most every issue of this publication, it’s always the best place to begin practicing preventative medicine for burnout. If you will pray daily with your spouse or intern/co-leader (provides accountability) concerning the issues surrounding your cell group and your own needs, you’ll see the following personal fruit:
~ A deep unconditional love for others and the One who created them.
~ A true understanding that you do not have what it takes to get the job done without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
~ A self-sacrificing passion to help your cell members grow.
~ A hunger to spend time with your cell members as friends.
~ A clear mind when you’re in the midst of difficult conversations or the need to challenge a cell member.
~ A distinct lack of fear.
~ An elevated level of energy for the future, despite your present circumstances.
Written words in an article cannot describe what prayer has done in my life as a cell leader to keep me fresh and excited about ministry. It is through prayer that God tempers my feelings and helps me see people the way He sees them—full of potential, despite their current problems, challenges or attitudes.
My wife and I pray for our group every morning as we carpool to the office. How often do you pray for your cell group?
WHOSE MINISTRY IS IT ANYWAY?
I never made excellent grades in school. No matter how hard I tried, I could never make my teachers and parents happy with my performance. A few years ago, a thought hit me like a ton of bricks. What would my education have looked like if I had studied unto the Lord” with a life calling in mind instead of trying to please others?
I believe a big chunk of my long-term success with cell leadership is that I’m not motivated by an obligation or to please others. Etna and I lead a cell group because we’re called into it as our ministry to others. The Holy Spirit fuels us every step of the way, and when challenges come, the more expectant we become. God always answers prayer, just not the way we think He’s going to do it!
When you operate out of a calling—versus an obligation to God or a pastor or church—you’ll get a surge of energy and sense of purpose that can’t compare to anything this world has to offer.
It may be that your pastor or a cell leader of a previous cell group challenged you to become a cell leader, which is the typical way faithful cell members move into this role. There’s nothing wrong with accepting the invitation and moving forward in faith. At some point though, you have to be able to look at yourself in a mirror and say “I’m a cell leader. That’s the call of God on my life.”
If you can’t make that bold pronouncement, it's time to go back to my first point above and begin to pray for an indwelling sense of purpose in ministry. Remember, Moses wasn’t sure of himself and felt the task at hand was too great– but God was looking at Moses’ character, and could see the future clearly.
Are you operating out of a calling from God or doing your pastor a favor? The first will give you energy. The second will burn you out.
“I DO EVERYTHING”
The last, dying words of a cell leader abandoning his group are often “If you want it done right, do it yourself.”
If you are facilitating the meeting every week and attempting to minister to all the needs between meetings, you’re guilty as charged. Change your ways or you'll burn out and abandon your group.
Personally, this is the most difficult area of cell leadership for me. Due to my disorganized mindset, I wait until the last minute to do everything. Delegating various ministry tasks and meeting roles becomes an unkind request for unsuspecting cell members in my group. [Note: I’ve found that many of my cell members would like a week’s notice if they’ll be asked to share something as small as an icebreaker! We can’t assume everyone is self-confident and ready at a moment’s notice.]
Of course, I realize I’ve done this when it’s too late to make an immediate change . . . which is usually about fifteen minutes before the meeting begins. I’m stuck with the whole cell meeting agenda and my group is once again showing up to “The Randall Show.” I share the icebreaker. I play the guitar and lead worship. I do the Word portion. And because I’ve gained so much negative momentum during this “I do everything” meeting, I end up doing most of the talking and praying for the voiced needs shared throughout the night.
If you’re thinking “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt” then you know how important it is to give away responsibility and trust others.
The problem lies in the follow-through, not the realization. Here’s a few ideas from my own arsenal of weapons forged to fight disorganization:
Plan your cell meetings a month at a time with your coach. Write out “who will do what” and when you will contact them. Ask your coach to hold you accountable by checking up on you each week.
During ministry time in your weekly meeting, use the “Discover, Delegate and Inspect” process outlined in the sidebar in this article. This will help you involve your intern and members in each other’s lives to provide true edification.
When you assign a task to your intern or a member, use the following four step process:
~ Ask them to watch you do the task and observe.
~ Ask them to commit to repeating the task three or four times.
~ Watch them carefully, and praise them more than you correct them.
~ Release them when they’re doing it well, remembering they may not do it the same way you do it . . . and that’s ok!
~ Keep a journal of the items you delegated, to whom you delegated the task, and what you should do next to help them become a cell member you couldn't live without (the next section on “The Assistant” will help you develop this idea in depth).
It’s no surprise that one of the most common causes of burnout is trying to do everything yourself. If you’re feeling guilty, use this feeling to fuel change, not more guilt!
There’s a neat lady in one of our cell groups who has earned the new role of “cell leader’s assistant.” I’d never heard of this before so I visited with her and her cell leader to learn more.
She faithfully attends leadership meetings and training events with her cell leader and the intern in the group. She leads out in the meeting and more importantly, between meetings, serving the leader by doing administrative tasks. The assistant is in regular contact with the leader, and has taken full ownership of the group, much like an intern– but she does not aspire to be a leader right now.
The cell leader of this cell group told me that “every group should have at least one member who wants to assist the leader to get things done and insure everyone is receiving ministry.”
Wouldn’t it be great to have an assistant or two in your group? They could help you with all sorts of administrative things and even check up on members during the week.
In the past, I would have told you this person was fulfilling the role of an intern, who is on the fast track to cell leadership. This is different. This is the kind of person who just wants to be an active participant and assist . . . which can be very easily translated into “burnout eliminator!”
Put on your thinking cap. Which cell members would enjoy the role of “assistant” and find the title empowering? Can you include them in your next praying and planning meeting with your intern? What are their strengths and what responsibilities could you give them that would make cell leadership more fun and less of a chore for you?
Etna and I have trained up numerous new cell leaders though the years. While training another person may seem time-consuming and stressful, if it’s done right it can eliminate burnout. That’s right, eliminate burnout. That’s why I’ve strategically put this information at the end of this article. If you don’t remember anything else you read here, remember what I’m about to share with you.
In many churches I visit, the interns are not given enough responsibility in their existing group. It stems from one or more of the following:
The cell leader is unwilling to give away responsibility. While this goes back to the “I do everything” section of the article, it begs to be restated due to its importance. Meet with your intern every week to prayerfully make a plan together. As you move through the first months of cell life together, give your intern an increasing amount of responsibility and room to lead. Within 6-9 months, step back completely and consult him or her when asked. It is vital that you do this to prepare them properly and allow your group to trust them as a leader. This also gives you time to relax!
The intern doesn’t grab the reigns. Often, internship has been explained as an assistant's role, not that of a person who is a new cell leader in the midst of an internship process. Ask your intern to describe their role. If he or she tells you that it’s to assist you in leading the group, offer gentle correction and share your desire to give them an increasing level of responsibility and enter into co-leadership as soon as they are ready.
The training and mentoring relationship between the intern and the coach is weak or non-existent. As the cell leader, you may think you have little control over this issue. Not true! Invite your intern to join you when you meet with your coach. Ask your coach to begin spending time with your intern one-on-one. Your coach is there to support your group and help you train your intern.
There are a number of ways to prevent and eliminate burnout as a cell leader. Everything you do must be based on relationships and trust. Your relationship with the Lord and a clear understanding of your calling as a cell leader is the foundation. Giving away responsibility to interns and assistants shows you respect and trust others enough to let them learn by trial and error.
Discover, Delegate & Inspect
As I prayed about my upcoming cell meeting, I reflected on previous meetings and decided something had to change. Our group has some hurting people in it, and we seem to focus on them in many of our meetings. Between the meetings, these hurting folks seem to get twice as much prayer covering from my wife and me and double the phone calls and visits. It’s enough to wear out Billy Graham!
So I asked God for a solution, and He gave me one that's been working well. During our next cell meeting, a lady asked for prayer for a work-related issue with which she had struggled
for weeks. I asked the cell to gather around her and pray. But this time, I asked the group to be silent for a moment and listen to the Holy Spirit. I challenged each member to ask God for a sense of His words for her, not the same, trite prayers so often voiced during our times of ministry to each other.
After about a minute of silence, I asked the group if anyone heard from the Lord in such a way that they felt an urgency to pray aloud for our sister in Christ. Two members spoke up, and I asked them to pray for her. Then, I asked the lady being prayed for to pray. I challenged her to ask God for an answer in faith, remembering she’d asked for prayer in the past, but never prayed herself.
This was different for my group. Everyone didn’t take a turn praying for her, making it a 30 minute investment into one person. It was more like a discovery time, finding a need, then asking God for His wisdom and clarity.
Next, I asked the group to take another moment to listen to the Holy Spirit and ask Him if they should meet with the lady outside of the meeting to work through the issue to the best of their ability. Three of my members jumped at the opportunity. I asked them to get together after the meeting and schedule the time and place and let me know so I could be praying for them. Ministry was delegated to those who really wanted to serve and minister.
The next week during worship, I inspected my new “discover and delegate ministry.” I asked the lady who requested ministry to share about her week. She testified that she felt as if she now had real family who loved her, and a couple of the members who ministered to her also had praise reports to share.
Try this in your cell group next week! You’ll find that you can discover many needs in your group and delegate the ministry to your members. Remember that delegation should never be separated from inspection. When you give ministry away, always follow-up to insure the meeting took place and help your members discern the next steps. (end of article)
Randall G. Neighbour is the president of TOUCH® Outreach, The Cell Group People™ and editor of CellGroup Journal. If you found this article helpful, you’ll enjoy his book, “Answers to Your Cell Group Questions.”
Editorial - By Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr.
Will we ever get it right? The church is not the building!
The shifting of our concept of ecclesia from centuries of distortions to a pure biblical model is painfully slow! All the way from Constantine until now, the clergy/laity curse, mixed with the belief that one had to enter a special building to meet with God, has crippled the spread of the Gospel.
One major missions movement is pushing for church planters to reproduce the little building with a steeple in every remote village of the world. Planting more of what we do not need will not increase the Kingdom!
I recently took a boat trip up the Black River, over 1,000 miles from the mouth of the Amazon, and viewed little church shacks in every settlement of 6 to 15 families. Each of these little buildings proudly displays the names of denominations that want the credit for building them. In the most absurd ways, we continue to erect buildings called “churches” in the most remote parts of the world.
I recall a young Chinese lad in Singapore some years ago who asked, “Why do we Singaporean Chinese see names like Lutheran, Baptist, or Methodist, on the Christian buildings here?” I gulped and tried to explain how it all began in Europe in 1517 when the Protestants broke away from Catholicism . . . how they developed different ways of interpreting scripture and defensively blocked out other theological systems. The lad shook his head and asked, “Why did you have to bring that to us?” Why, indeed?
The fact is that the work of Christ on earth has required Him to incarnate two separate forms. The first was the entry of the Son of God into a baby immaculately formed in Mary’s womb. In that incarnation He revealed the signs of the Kingdom of God by healing the sick, raising the dead, etc. He also became the Lamb who took upon Himself the sins of the world and became our Redeemer.
But there was a third task that required a new incarnation. His mission was to go to every village and hamlet in all the earth in every generation and declare God’s redemption had come to draw all men into the Kingdom. This He would do by calling out (ecclesia) small groups of His incarnated followers to form a Basic Community. The message had to be transmitted not by individuals, but by a Christ-empowered small group. In it people would look not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your cell group is that Body. It does not need a shack with the word of a denomination on it. It needs lives who are experiencing the Indwelling Christ and manifest Him through prophesying (1 Cor. 14:24-25).
Even within the cell church movement we still carry the abuse of the word “church.” A popular motto I am seeing is “Every house a church, every member a minister.” While this sounds like a great slogan at first sight, it simply continues to define “church” as a building! The Greek word ecclesia does not mean a structure, whether it be a house or an edifice with a steeple. It means “called out people.” Biblically, the ecclesia met in houses. The house was only a dwelling for the ecclesia.
Some may think I am pushing too hard for a proper definition of the word “church” in English. But only when we cleanse our minds and our hearts from the distortion that “church” refers to a physical space will we grasp a Kingdom truth. The reign of Christ is over in-dwelled people, not special buildings. (end of article)
Ralph W. Neighbour Jr. is an author and local church planter in the Houston area.
Intergenerational Cell Groups - By Nola Kurber
Kid’s Slot “tubs” to the rescue! Supply your cell groups with what they need to succeed.
Alaskans are known to be tough, independent and full of pluck. Alaskans—Fairbanks residents in particular—are also prolific producers of children. Our average family size is 5, and often in our churches we see many families with 2 adults and 4 or 5 kids.
This is marvelous! You can build a large church or cell very quickly with so many offspring. As the children’s pastor, it’s job security!
When Door of Hope Church transitioned to cells, there was a panic as to what to do with all of the children. In my first cell experience, my husband and I had 11 adults and 22 children. The textbook cell model was nice . . . a couple of children talk quietly, write in journals, pray together in another room and then join the adults for refreshments. Our problem was that our Alaskan children were rowdy, full of energy, a hodge-podge of ages and certainly not quiet! Our cell leaders felt totally inadequate at leading a kid’s slot, which is the time period after worship when the kids head off to another room to have their own activities and prayer time while the adults share. They had no ideas, no materials and no volunteer members to do the job. Door of Hope Church needed inspiration in this area and fast!
“Kid’s slot in a box”
Our church administrator, A.J. Woods, was looking at some children’s curriculum and got an idea. A.J. used cell-friendly children’s curriculum to create kid’s slot lessons (meaning the lessons were non-complicated, containing short, meaningful activities for use with multiple ages).
Then, we put the lessons in large plastic containers with heavy duty lids. The “tubs” as we call them contained all the supplies required for a super kid’s slot time.
We made these tubs available to all interested cell groups, refilling them each time they were returned to us.
Refining the tub contents
This idea got us off to a great start. After some experimentation, we decided each tub would contain 4 lessons . . . one month’s worth of cell meetings. We divided the lessons into themes such as Easter, Fruits of the Spirit, and Thankfulness. We put all the materials required by the curriculum in the tub including containers of scissors, crayons, markers and pencils. We labeled the tubs and then advertised and demonstrated them at our cell leader’s meetings. Cell leaders were encouraged to check the tubs out (library style) for a month at a time. There were enough tubs to keep kids busy for a very long time!
Revisiting the Plan
The tubs have been very helpful. The supplies enable our cell groups to have everything provided for them (minus the actual adult worker) to achieve a successful kid’s slot. The tubs have gone a long way toward eliminating feelings of inability to minister adequately to children within our cells. But, it was time to overhaul the idea.
It has been 4 years since we started using our kid’s slot tubs. (Can you believe it has been that long and we have never named them anything more classy than “Kid’s Tubs”?) About 6 months ago, I pulled all the tubs off the shelf and re-evaluated their purpose, value, strengths and weaknesses. It was time to make them more effective and user friendly for our cell groups.
As I dug through each tub, I discovered they contained a lot of stuff— marvelous, necessary stuff—but the containers had to be very large to hold all of these materials. We have used large (24 gallon) “Action Packer” Rubbermaid® brand containers. These are the black plastic, indestructible “will-last-forever” type with heavy duty lids. These tubs have no wheels, and when fully outfitted, they are very heavy (surprise, surprise!).
The big tubs were so unwieldy that we needed to make the containers smaller and more portable. We now put 2 lessons in a smaller tub with wheels.
Each container now has fewer materials. It is a wonderful idea to have the basic supplies in every container, such as pencils, paper, scissors, glue and crayons. But this time, if the lesson calls for an iron to press leaves or paper plates to make a tambourine, the cell leader will supply these objects. We will still have the theme of each container boldly listed on the front. This gives the kid’s slot volunteer and the cell leader a plan to coordinate adult cell time and kid’s slot time to compliment one another.
Lastly, we’ve added worship tools for cell time. The little shakers and bells, small streamers and tambourines involve the children in the worship and make it fun.
When you make up your own tubs, be sure to keep an open mind and revisit the concept regularly to refine it as we did.
Ministering to our kids
Alaskans—like the rest of the world—are coming to understand that our children are a veritable gold mine of inspiration, wisdom and anointing. We want to do everything we can to create an atmosphere in our cells that encourages the Lord’s gifts to be made manifest. Kid’s Tubs can be one way to accomplish this. Whatever you do, enjoy the process! (end of article)
The kid’s slot “Tub”
To make tubs for your church, find small or medium insulated coolers with wheels. Put the following inside:
• Two weeks of lesson plans.
• Instructions for each kid’s slot lesson and helpful tips.
• String, crayons, scissors, construction paper—or anything you know the group will need for the lessons that they won’t have around the house.
• Worship instruments for the kids to use during big group time, such as a tambourine, shakers, bells & streamers.
(end of article)
Nola Kurber is the children’s pastor at Door of Hope Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. She has a degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Theology. Nola believes and teaches that a personal relationship with Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Spirit is essential for everyone—no age limits. She and her husband Keith have four children. They have lived in Fairbanks for almost 10 years. Both Nola and Keith are ordained ministers and are on staff at DOH. For more info on curriculum for your kid slot times, visit: www.karynhenley.com
Nucleus - By Larry Kreider
By perseverance, the snail finally reached the ark!
Charles Spurgeon once said, “By perseverance the snail finally reached the ark.” Many start out in their Christian lives and in leadership filled with the Lord’s vision burning in their hearts, but a few years later find themselves shipwrecked, failing to persevere and complete their destinies in God.
God’s destiny for our lives will only be fulfilled if we persevere, and His destiny includes our leaving a godly legacy for the next generation: the legacy of an obedient life, the legacy of a spiritual parent, and the legacy of one who refused to quit in the midst of the battle.
The legacy of an obedient life
Joseph was a young man immersed in dreams and visions (Genesis 37). Yet when they were tested, he remained obedient and refused discouragement. When his brothers sold him into slavery, it seemed all his dreams had ended. Still, he did not allow bitterness to spring up because of unmet expectations of his life. His perseverance and obedience eventually landed him the top job in Egypt next to Pharaoh.
Are you feeling tired or defeated?
Regardless of what you have experienced, you can still fulfill your destiny in God.
Twelve years ago, I nearly quit. Our cell-based church had grown from 25 people to over 2,000 within ten years. Things appeared to be great on the surface, but I was tired and weary. I felt misunderstood as a leader. I told my wife LaVerne one day, “If I get kicked in the head one more time (figuratively speaking), I don’t think I can go on.” But we knew we could not abort the original call of God on our lives. So we chose to be obedient and press on.
The Lord gave us grace to continue and we faced our fears. Faithful friends encouraged us, and the Lord cleansed me and gave me fresh faith. Today, I am eternally grateful I did not quit during this season of testing. We are now experiencing victory and great fulfillment. He is faithful, even when we are faithless! Obedience always pays off.
The legacy of spiritual children
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when God gave him the promise that he would be the “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4). This covenant also promised that his descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the sky” (Genesis 26:4). Galatians 3:29 tells those who belong to Christ they are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Therefore, as believers, God wants us to have “spiritual children” who come to know God and grow in God through our influence. They will be our spiritual lineage—our posterity in God’s kingdom.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” His spiritual children were his glory and joy—his inheritance!
God has placed us here on earth because He has called us to become spiritual fathers and mothers in our generation. Our inheritance will be the spiritual children that we can some day present to Jesus Christ. Those you are mentoring in your cell group are your spiritual children. Whether you are a homemaker, a student, a worker in a factory, or the head of a large corporation—you have the divine opportunity and responsibility to disciple spiritual children, who will produce spiritual grandchildren and great grandchildren. This is your spiritual inheritance.
The legacy of not quitting
Paul was shipwrecked, in prison and beaten (2 Corinthians 6), but he refused to quit. In the garden of Gethsemane, the devil wanted Jesus to give up. Praise God He did not quit! Recently, I was talking to a cell group leader who had been discouraged, but refused to quit. Then later he shared with me that three people came to Christ in his cell group during the past two weeks! Praise God he persevered!
Refusing to quit may be one of the greatest acts of spiritual warfare that you will ever experience! Let’s purpose in our hearts, by the grace of God, to persevere and leave a godly legacy: the legacy of an obedient life, the legacy of spiritual children, and the legacy of one who refused to quit. (end of article)
Larry Kreider is director of DOVE Christian Fellowship Int’l, a world-wide network of cell churches. If you enjoyed his article, check out DOVE’s website to see his books, visit www.dcfi.org
(end of issue)