CellChurch Magazine

Volume Two - 1993

Volume 2, #3-CellChurch Magazine


A Note from the Publisher-Dr. Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr.

Many years ago, Findley Edge wrote The Greening of the Church. It impacted me greatly. His writings, along with those of Elton Trueblood and Elizabeth O'Conner, were planting doubts about the relevancy of P.B.D. church life in the 1960's. Soon after Edge's book was published, we did a seminar together for a group in the mountains of North Carolina. I asked him, "What are you going to write next?" He shuddered and said, "Nothing! Writing a book is the most draining thing I do." I am not certain, but I believe that was the last major writing he ever did.

I am just completing the long-awaited Arrival Kit. I have thought much of Findley's words during these past days. Some of the double page spreads have taken me eight hours to write. Days and nights have blended into each other as the project imposed itself upon a frightful schedule of other responsibilities. He is right: writing a book is draining. What do these comments have to do with you as you read this magazine on the Cell Church? Simply this: every movement of God in history has been guided by recorded documents. The Bible exists because men profit from written truths. Recorded documents are the pavement walked by pioneers who journey into the future.

I believe the Cell Church movement needs men who have something to say. Touch Outreach Ministries is totally committed to making that happen. We don't care about money and profit from books. I am not committed to writing for profit, but rather writing for the Cell Church movement. It's thrilling to see what God has done to bless this policy. I may be broke, but the Cell Church writings have spread everywhere. I am looking at a newly published Chinese version of The Shepherd's Guidebook, which Ben Wong in Hong Kong has released. Yesterday, I received word that it has been translated into Indonesian. We have published 10,000 copies of it in Russian.

Joey Beckham, the U.S. Director for Touch Outreach Ministries, is prepared to receive any and all manuscripts from those of you who are now pioneering a Cell Church. Whether it is an adaptation of my stuff or purely your own, if it has to do with the Cell Church, we want to help you publish it. While for-profit publishers must necessarily screen their manuscripts with profitability in mind, we are able to evaluate on the basis that something will help pastors and churches get out of the doldrums of P.B.D. life. So, if you have put together materials which are useful in your own Cell Church, quit photocopying them endlessly. If we work with you, you can have it in paperback form for yourself and we will get it into the hands of pastors all over the U.S.

Years ago, the William Carey Library was set up in California to take thesis manuscripts and publish them cheaply to get the Church Growth movement launched. Often the books they published were the actual pages of the documents submitted to faculty members for graduate degrees. This has been a powerful method of sharing information that might not be of interest to a wide audience, but critical to a few in the same field. Let me assure you it's worth the effort you will spend to polish a document and send it to Houston for evaluation. Do you have something to say? If you aren't writing for money but for ministry, join me in believing that the more seed you scatter, the more trees there will be in the forest!


Letters to the Editor

Where have you been all my life? I intercepted a copy of CCM on the way to someone else's mailbox (a minister who, unfortunately is irrevocably sold out to the Program-Based Design) and rabidly devoured every word, sometimes two or three times per article.

I have already phoned your 800 number for the free subscription, but could I also receive a complete listing of churches in the cell church network?

I also removed the Touch Ministries Catalogue from the copy I intercepted before I put it back in the aforementioned pastor's mailbox. You will be receiving an order soon!

T.A., Sierra Vista, AZ

Editor's Note: We are happy to send 'CellNet' to all who are interested, providing they send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope. As far as reading other's mail...we have no comment!

 

Thank you for your challenge to return the church to New Testament principles and practices. Indeed, it is unfortunate that the church has drifted so far away from its design that your teaching should be perceived as radical.

I pastor a 95 year old church here in Brooklyn that is in the process of transitioning to a Cell-based model. Last night I met with 12 leaders whom I challenged with a dream of what our church can look like five years from now.

I have been blessed and challenged by CCM and would like subscriptions sent to our leadership.

J. Davis, Brooklyn, NY

Editor's Note: CCM will offer individual subscriptions beginning in January, 1994. As of this issue, we are offering foreign and group subscriptions. See page 15 for more information.

 

We recently received your latest issue of CCM. What a welcome breath of fresh air! For a long time we have been looking for more than the traditional church can or is willing to offer. We are looking for a group of believers who share the commitment of building a church through Acts 2 and early church principles: prayer, fellowship, accountability, discipleship and evangelism. CCM brought new insights and made us realize that we are not alone in our quest.

S. Thorn, Streetsboro, OH

 

I laughed; I cried; I thanked God and laughed and cried some more the day we received CCM in our mailbox a few weeks ago. We had no idea how we got on the mailing list-but I made sure I called and was put on the subscription list. Then I had to tell somebody; so I was busy on the phone excitedly sharing this wonderful discovery which just appeared in our mailbox! I was too excited to think straight all afternoon!

The cell concept has become part of our vision over the past several years. We had pastored traditionally for so many years and knew that we could not get back into that type of ministry again. So we had been meeting in our home and talking to other frustrated Christians and pastor friends about what we felt was God's direction for the church. We had no idea that the Cell church concept was this wide spread in the United States until somehow we received the magazine.

As we read through the magazine and are reading through the book, [Where Do We Go From Here?] we realize that much of the vision we had for leadership methods and networking of the Cell churches is already being done! So we rejoice and praise the Lord! We are excited to find teaching and training materials available.

R. Adams, Denton, TX

 


A Bird's-Eye View Of The Global Cell Church Movement - by Jim Egli, North Star Strategies

Around the world a new form of church life is emerging-a form marked by vitality, outreach, growth, and power. In all hemispheres of the globe, North and South, East and West, in cultures rich and poor, Western and non-Western, from Beijing to New York to Baghdad, a pattern of church life that is simple, yet profound, is taking shape. This form of church is known as the Small Group or Cell Group Church.

Cell Group Churches are congregations that see small meetings of believers in homes as their primary form of life and ministry. They typically have large worship gatherings on Sunday as well, but their primary focus is on the Cell Groups. These groups are the vehicles for pastoral care, ministry, prayer and outreach.

Growing traditional churches expand primarily by attracting members from other congregations and usually reach a growth ceiling. In contrast, Cell Group Churches demonstrate an amazing ability to reach unreached people in an expanding way. Instead of topping out at 200, 2,000, or 20,000 members, the structure of Cell Group Churches allows them to grow indefinitely.

The Cell Church movement is global with rapidly growing congregations emerging on every continent.

Asia

The Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, with 700,000 members is perhaps the most well-known Small Group Church. Few people realize, however, that it is only one of many Korean Cell Group Churches. Nine of the world's twenty largest churches are Korean Cell Churches.

However, the most remarkable Cell Group movement is not in Korea but in mainland China. An estimated 60 million meet in the underground house churches there.

Further south in Thailand, Dr. Kreingsak Chareonwongsak, a former economics professor, planted the Hope of Bangkok Church using a Cell Group strategy. In a country considered highly resistant to the Gospel, this congregation has grown to 5,000 members while planting another 100 churches.

In Singapore, the Faith Community Baptist Church, pastored by Lawrence Khong and Ralph Neighbour, has grown from 400 to over 4,000 members since its beginning in 1988. This church has over 400 Cell Groups and baptizes more than 800 persons each year. They are also sending teams to assist in the transition of a 700 member church in the former Soviet Union, at Alma Ata, Kazakhistan.

Cell Group Churches are mushrooming into existence across the former Soviet Union. Meanwhile in the Arab world, new Cell Churches are penetrating the Muslim strongholds of Iraq and Kuwait.

Australia

In Australia, the Christian Outreach Center, in Brisbane, has about 4,000 members in 300 cells and has penetrated over 60 other cities across the continent using a Cell model. Meanwhile in Sidney, Les Scarborough has begun a network of Baptist Cell Churches now reaching thousands.

Africa

From Ethiopia, comes another fascinating story. In 1981, the Communist government seized the church buildings of the evangelical Meserete Kristos Church and imprisoned key leaders. Without meeting houses or professional pastors, the church began to meet in small groups of five to seven people. In a period of just 10 years, the church went from 5,000 to over 50,000 members. Now that the Communists are out of power and the buildings and pastors have been returned, the churches are continuing to meet in Cell Groups and phenomenal growth continues. In Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the Cell Church pastored by Dion Robert has grown to 30,000 while planting churches among Francophone Africans as far away as Houston, Texas, and Paris, France.

South America

The grandaddy of all Pentecostal Cell Group Churches in Santiago, Chile, numbers over 50,000. Other Cell Group Churches across South America also number in the tens of thousands (Rio de Janeiro, 30,000; Buenos Aires, 70,000; Santa Fe, 80,000).

North America

A recent Gallup poll revealed that a full 70% of the American population is disillusioned with the traditional church and believe most churches are not effective in helping people find meaning in life. At the same time there is an increasing realization within the church that there must be a better way to do church than our building-bound, clergy-centered, traditional patterns. In this context, Cell Churches are beginning across the U.S. and Canada in a wide variety of settings, from Florida to British Columbia, from cosmopolitan New York to the rural hills of Arkansas.

The Impact Of The Cell Group Church Movement

The Cell Group Church Movement is growing rapidly with increasing momentum. It has begun to impact many denominational families. Whether Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Assembly of God, Mennonite, or non- denominational, the largest and most vital congregations in the world are Cell Churches. Nor is it only a Protestant phenomena, as the Catholic Church around the world is being impacted by Small Groups that they call "Basic Christian Communities."

Evaluating the Cell Group Church Movement

In historical context, we must admit that the Cell Group Church movement is nothing new. The New Testament church also met in homes. As early as the account in Acts chapter two, we see both large and small group contexts. The believers met "in the temple courts" and "in their homes" as "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (2:46-47). Throughout church history a similar pattern emerges-in the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century, the Methodist movement of the 18th century, and in the charismatic movement of our generation, small groups have been the basis for outreach and discipleship. But the magnitude of what is emerging today is astonishing and it is gaining momentum. In a wide variety of cultures and settings, often unbeknownst to each other, Cell Group Churches are emerging with a passion to penetrate the world for Jesus Christ.

As you evaluate this movement, I encourage you to also evaluate yourself. Do you have a sense that God wants to do a greater work in the world than has ever been done before? Are you wondering if there is a way for the church to empower every member for ministry and outreach as part of a supporting community? Are you willing to do whatever God asks to reach this generation with the love of Christ?

Jim Egli is director of North Star Strategies-a Small Group Resource Ministry. North Star is designed to help Program Based Designs transition into Small Group Churches. North Star provides help through monthly newsletters, materials, on-site consultations and conferences. For information about this ministry, contact Jim at 1500 N. Lincoln, Urbana IL 61801, 217/384-3077, fax 217/384-3081.


THE C.I.S.: WHITE FIELDS RIPE FOR CELLS - Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr.

I have made two trips to Russia and one to Kazakestan in the past few months. During these trips, I conducted Cell Church seminars with Pastor Lawrence Khong and other staff members of Singapore's Faith Baptist Church. We have been totally overwhelmed by the openings to plant Cell Churches in that area of the world. We firmly believe this form of church life is the only one which will fill the desperate need that exists. One who has not visited that country recently has no paradigm to absorb the situation. Poverty is unspeakable. The ruble, worth about 68:1 a little more than 15 months ago, is now 700:1. One physician I met was earning 8,000 rubles a month in 1992 and living decently. Today, his monthly pay has the buying power of US$11!

People stand in long lines outside the subway exits in Moscow, selling anything they possess to get a few rubles. One lady stood in the snow trying to peddle 3 small fish; the next woman was offering an old book her family had treasured for a century or more. The aged sit in the subway walkways, too tired to beg, just wanting someone to help them. Prices fluctuate so rapidly that you can only buy two subway tokens at a time-enough for one round trip.
Alcoholism is rampant. I was told, and I believe it must be accurate, that every man, woman, and child in Russia consumes the equivalent of 5 gallons of Vodka a year. Riding the Moscow subway, I counted many men with puffed and blackened faces who had recently been in a fight. Perhaps the word desperation best describes the condition of a population that sees no light at the end of the tunnel.

Nearby Red Square, crowds gather to state their preferences of the old system, waving the old Communist flag. Police on horses create a barrier between them and pro-Yeltsin groups waving the pro-Yeltsin flags. While bronze plaques of Lenin still remain on the sides of buildings, statues have been removed and busts thrown down unused stair wells and abandoned.

As soon as Perestroika opened the gates of Russia to Western ideologies, scores of Christian organizations flooded the country. Publishers, evangelists, denominational workers, and many others rushed to be the first to establish work in the Soviet Union. There were so many of them that huge Moscow hotels were flooded with pastors and parachurch staffers who crowded together on elevators as they went to different hotel auditoriums to conduct meetings or seminars. In Moscow, a new industry quickly sprang up: interpreters for Christian meetings created a fellowship, alerting each other about the demand for instant communication by Americans. While the average Russian pastor lives on a salary of two or three dollars a day, some of the youth in their churches who are bilingual draw as much as $40 a day as translators.

Another interesting phenomenon of this rapid change has been the scramble among Bible smuggling organizations to find a new reason to stay in business. Their dangerous work was made obsolete as Scriptures became available to all. Some of these organizations have switched directions entirely, a few have closed their doors, and others have merged into other forms of missionary work in other parts of the world.

Pastors with cameras, drawing large travel budgets from their churches, became targets for unscrupulous American organizations who "booked" them to preach in churches who had suffered persecution for years. I know of one group that presently brings in American teams and pockets as much as US$2,000 profit from each person they sponsor. In spite of this shady side of things, many wonderful stories report the ministry of sincere Christians who fell in love with their Russian counterparts and have blessed them with help and prayer.

Along with these Christian organizations, Cults have flooded into the C.I.S. Moonies and Jehovah Witnesses gained favor with ignorant officials who opened wide the doors of schools for them to teach religion. Evangelical groups, including Campus Crusade, also profited from the same openness. The presence of the cults in Russia today is astonishing to the observer. Their devotion far exceeds that of many of the true Christian workers. At present, gullible mayors and other officials have started to withdraw from those who come offering help. Many doors are now closing as the Russian Orthodox church exerts strong pressure on the governments to cut off all other religious groups.

As the Orthodox church struggles to protect her traditional position, God is doing something new. I have heard the same testimony over and over, from Moscow to Alma Ata, spoken by young people who have attended our Seminars. Each one recounted growing up in an atheistic society which ridiculed the idea that there was a God. When freedom came, nearly every person told me they first visited the Russian Orthodox church. This centuries-old denomination had immediate access to their old buildings, and thus became the first visible sign of religious change. However, in every case the searchers found emptiness in their rituals and kept looking. From one source or another, they confronted the true gospel message and quickly made a decision for Christ. Often their visits to established evangelical churches were disappointments. Filled with older aged believers who had developed a fortress mentality under Communism, the younger believers felt excluded. Thus, they began to cluster together and form brand new "churches" of their own.

Without training or guidance, scores of these groups now meet in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). I met one 24 year old girl who, by virtue of being 212 years old in the Lord, became the senior Christian and now pastors several hundred newer believers. Nina Suslova, senior pastor of the Faith Through Love Church Izevsk, Udmurti, travelled 1,000 miles to attend our Cell Group seminar in Moscow. With 600 members, this four-year-old Christian reported to me that as many as 80 per week come to Christ. She said, "I have no business pastoring this new church. I have no training! Please help us."

In Alma Ata, Kazakestan, Pastor Nikolai shepherds 700 in the newly organized Agape Church. As we explained the principles of Cell Church life in a seminar held in a former Communist spa, his members approached us and said, "Please help Pastor understand this wonderful pattern. It is what we need." This godly man, filled with the Spirit and the compassion of Christ, warmly welcomed us to his humble apartment for a festive meal at the close of the sessions. As Pastor Lawrence Khong shared with him how he could convert his very traditional church, barely three years old, he threw up his hands and said, "It is wonderful, but so different. I cannot do it unless you help me!" Our instant response was, "We will!" A team of seven, including Melvin Mak, our West Zone pastor, has already made one trip to be with them, assisting them in forming their first Cell Groups. At this time, our former West Zone Pastor is now preparing to move to Alma Ata with his wife and baby to help Nikolai structure the ministry. We are also seeking a visa for Nikolai's 19-year-old English speaking son to attend our training school here in Singapore. Our first seminars were set up for us by Lamont Brown, who has formed World Harvest Now as a medium for planting cell churches in the CIS. After reading Where Do We Go From Here?, he made a trip to Houston to talk to us about his vision. He is an excellent contact person for those wanting to help establish Cell Church models in Russia (you can find his address on page 3 of this magazine).

He drew about 300 from churches far and wide for the Moscow seminar, and we were overwhelmed by the positive response. All but two of the delegates were from churches that had recently been formed by new converts. A significant event for me was the theft of a lady's purse during a tea break. Undisturbed by outsiders during that time, it was obvious that one of the delegates had stolen it. I asked the group to pray with me for the thief in our midst, and to show love and compassion for him or her. At the next break, the purse reappeared! When I announced its return, I invited the anonymous person who had stolen it to come to me privately so we could pray together. The one who did so was a young, newly married student who had no means of feeding himself and his bride when the seminar closed. This event drove home the great need for Christian maturity in the C.I.S.

After we shared information about the Cell Church and how to launch it, delegates broke up into church groups for several hours of consultation and prayer. As I moved from group to group, I sensed a dedication to the task of winning their area for Christ that moved me deeply. Since last November, many of these churches have established themselves as pure Cell Churches.

Lamont had set in motion the publishing of the Shepherd's Guidebook and Knocking On Doors, Opening Hearts. We promised to provide those who attended the seminars in Moscow and Alma Ata with copies of each book to help them in their ministries. Little did we know that this project would be delayed for months and months-typical of the way things happen in that land! At this writing, the Shepherd's Guidebook has been printed and 10,000 copies are in the process of being gobbled up by those we have trained. I wonder if the second book will even appear by later this year . . .

Our seminar in Kazakestan was very different from the one in Moscow. Delegates were divided almost equally between those from the "new church" and those from the "traditional church" that had existed for more than a century in that country. The tension between the two groups was instantly sensed. Those who were older and well established deeply resented the explosive growth of these new churches in their area. While the new group sang praise and worship songs, the older group stood sullen and silent. After breaks, the older group simply took over the session and sang what I humorously called "Volga Boat Songs," somber hymns that were filled with minor keys. One of the traditional pastors came to speak with us during a lunch break and coldly suggested that we go back to Singapore and leave Kazakestan to him.

I have checked out this painful experience with several others who are working in Russia, and my conclusions have been verified each time. The older, established churches will have little or nothing to do with the huge harvest of unchurched who have formed new work. Thus, they are waiting for guidance from the West. Established channels between denominations in America and the CIS are oblivious to this great need. These traditional churches desperately need direction from those they respect in their denominations.

The Cell Church movement may be the only option for many of these new flocks. Lamont Brown, who has travelled widely in Eastern Europe for years, can be helpful in guiding those who would like to invest missions time and funds to meet this need.

God graciously introduced us to Jon Vande Reit, who left YWAM a couple of years ago to establish the Moscow Christian Center. He has already spawned a half dozen churches in other cities. We invited him to lecture for us here in Singapore in the Touch Equipping Stations System, and then spent time with him in Moscow. At present, he and his staff have formed five Zones in Moscow and have redeployed themselves to provide leadership to Cell Groups scattered across that vast city. It is the first attempt to form a pure Cell Church in Russia, and we are much in prayer for him and his staff of nearly two dozen from outside Russia who are working with him. Within a year, his Cell Church may become the strongest working model in the CIS, and could serve as a base for a Russian training center. Here in Singapore, we are producing a complete 10-month videotaped course to train Cell Group pastors, and hope to have Russian sound tracks on the lectures before the end of the year. Pray for those mentioned in this article-and seek the Lord for ways you can be personally involved!


A DE-CENTRALIZED STRATEGY FOR AMSTERDAM-BY JUDY GROSSMAN, CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL

When our church planting team arrived in Amsterdam, Holland in 1987, we knew that cell groups would be an important part of our ministry. All of us had come from churches which emphasized the importance of small group ministry and we started out in complete agreement that cell groups were the heart and lifeblood of the growing church. What we didn't realize was that, without a well planned strategy for cell development, it would be easy to get distracted from our goal.

Our target group was English-speaking international ex-patriots in the business and professional community of Amsterdam. We started off right-establishing a cell group meeting in a home. This first group grew rapidly to around thirty people, most of whom were Christian business people or missionaries with a strong desire to see a contemporary, culturally-relevant church planted as soon as possible.

We began to feel pressure to start a Sunday morning celebration at a very early stage in the development of the church. Our single cell group soon became "the church" and our team began the labor-intensive process of putting together a quality, contemporary celebration every week. We were still committed to being a cell group church, but we soon found that none of us had the energy left over to create the necessary infrastructure needed for cell group leadership development.

Two years after we arrived, the Crossroads International Church was at the 200 barrier and holding. We bounced around at the 200 mark for all of 1990. We had an exciting platform ministry of application-oriented teaching, great music, drama and other performing arts presented in a seeker-sensitive style. Our "apple," to use Dr. Linus Morris's analogy, had a highly polished skin or "centralized design." People were coming through our front door in droves-and going out our back door in equal numbers! What we lacked was the healthy inner flesh or "decentralized strategy." We looked good on the surface but, inside, the taste was none too satisfying. We had a few struggling small groups meeting in various locations throughout the city, mostly led by self-motivated people of varying degrees of skill level. Only a small percentage of our people were in groups. The church was now too large for staff to adequately care for the people, but the infrastructure was not in place for effective multiplication of cells, where pastoral care could take place. Dr. Linus Morris, Executive Director of Christian Associates International, who had led the church planting team at the Crossroads, wrote in his book The High Impact Church, "A cell structured church provides the infrastructure for relationships to be formed, gifts to be discovered, needs to be met, hurts to be healed and hope to be kindled. New believers are incorporated, Christians grow and are nurtured, leadership is developed and the Kingdom of God extended through cell groups." His frustration at the weak cell ministry of the Crossroads, motivated Dr. Morris to invite Dr. Ralph Neighbour to come in the spring of 1991 and spend a few days with us, sharing with our leaders. His visit helped us focus on the reality of our situation and clarify our vision for cell groups. The cell ministry had to be moved off the back burner. "The cell group infrastructure facilitates discipleship. It is here that a person best develops as a disciple and becomes committed to Christ, His body and the world. The personal quality of small groups facilitates the development of Godly character, nurture, life transformation and accountability of the believer," wrote Morris. We all agreed this was what we needed, but we realized that we also needed a team of dedicated people who would give oversight and direction to this area. We knew our staff people were already doing all that they could manage. At this point the elders made cell groups a high priority item on their agenda and they began asking "who, what, when, where and how." It became clear that two of our elders had a deep level of passion about the need to provide the type of caring and growth to our people that cell groups can offer. They emerged as the natural leaders to move us ahead. Given the responsibility and authority to research and develop what would become the Crossroads' cell group infrastructure, they and their wives began meeting together to discuss materials, methods for leadership development, and ideas for how to generate excitement and vision for this ministry within the body. Together they looked at what other successful cell group church models had done and were doing. They ran all of their ideas through the grid of our multi-cultural target group with its unique needs and constraints. And ultimately, they presented a plan for a cohesive, apprentice-based system of leadership develop- ment and cell group multiplication.

Once they had chosen their strategy, the next step was to introduce it to existing and potential cell group leaders. A quality evening was planned, including a catered meal and live music, and invitations were sent out to announce the new cell group strategy in the fall of 1992. The theme of the evening was "The Great Adventure" and 60 lay leaders were encouraged to "saddle up your horses" and join together in the quest to get everyone at the Crossroads into a cell group. That event was followed by leadership training, and in January of this year several new groups were formed, while already existing groups were restructured using the new apprenticeship model. We now have fifteen cell groups (about one-third of our adults are now in groups) and we are targeting to have 25 cells by the end of 1993. Having experienced a dip in attendance in November and December 1992.

Sunday morning attendance has been on the rise since we began our cell groups, with about 400 in attendance on Easter Sunday. We have heard testimony after testimony in recent weeks from people whose lives have been changed by their involvement in their cell group. One Dutch woman reported, "In my group, I discovered that all of us, no matter how long we have been Christians, are still students. I didn't have to be ashamed of my lack of knowledge, yet I was encouraged to grow in my understanding of God and His Word... In our group we are really committed to each other and we can be open and accountable to each other." An American woman said, "I almost left the Crossroads because I felt so lonely. I didn't know anyone and nobody knew me. Then I was invited to join a cell group. I have found real, lifelong friends, almost a family, in my group. It's amazing how my feelings have changed! I just feel much more connected to the church now." And a man from South Africa commented, "My wife and I had been at the Crossroads for several months and we still felt like outsiders until we joined our small group. That was a real turning point for us. People were so open and real and we prayed for each other and helped each other through some really tough times. Now I am an apprentice leader and hope to start my own cell group soon."

Clearly the cell group model has tremendous potential for application within the European context. Our experience at CrossroadsAmsterdam has shown that in an increasingly impersonal and isolationist secular society, people here are hungry for the intimacy, sense of belonging, and accountability which cell groups provide.

Judy Grossman is Media Director of Christian Associates International. She and her husband were part of the original church planting team of the Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam.

Dr. Linus Morris, Executive Director of Christian Associates International and author of The High Impact Church, received his D. Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has planted churches in California, France and the Netherlands. His book is a practical guide to establishing the three essential components of a high impact church: spiritual vitality, mobilized ministry of members and attractive seeker-sensitive events, and will be available through Touch Outreach Ministries by mid October. Morris states that, "Christian Associates International is dedicated to the re-evangelization of Europe through the planting of high impact churches. These churches are based on a strong de-centralized strategy utilizing cell groups, as well as a centralized design that emphasizes seeker- sensitive celebrations and ministry events. We have learned through our experience in Amsterdam that it is vital to the healthy development of the church to start and stabilize first with cell groups. We now recommend that our church planting teams develop at least 5 or 6 cell groups before launching regular weekly celebration events. The pressure is always there to get started with a weekly service prematurely, but that pressure must be resisted. When you have 60 or more people ministering and being ministered to within the context of cell groups, you will have a much stronger foundation on which to build a healthy, vital church." Christian Associates International currently has teams developing cell group churches in Zurich, Switzerland and Barcelona, Spain. Teams will be in place in Paris, France and Stockholm, Sweden in the summer of 1993. Other targeted cities include Berlin, Budapest, Brussels, Lisbon and Dublin. N. American Office: Christian Associates International, 1534 N. Moorpark Rd, Ste 255, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, 818/865-1816, Fax 818/865-0317. European Office: Christian Associates International, P.O. Box 536, 1180 RM Amstelveen, The Netherlands, 011/31-2503-30222, Fax 011/31-2503-24966.

 


Our Trip to Singapore-By Bill Bagby, Zone Pastor, Sojourn Church

"Like modern day Bereans, seven hundred believers from every denominational and nationalistic background imaginable came to Singapore to see if what they were hearing was really from God."

Some had just begun to transition their churches to a cell church format; others had been at it for several years; and still others were in the "seeker stage," but they all had one thing in common. They knew the status quo was not the answer and that the Spirit of God was saying radical changes were needed if the church was to enter into her true destiny. We would like to be able to spend time sharing with you all the exciting sights and sounds we experienced during our 2 weeks in Singapore and Hong Kong but, in a short article like this, about the best we can give you is an overview of what we experienced.

The thing that probably impacted us the most during both the Singapore and the Hong Kong portions of the cell church conference was the dedication the brethren had to the Lord and to each other. They seem to have dealt far more aggressively with the whole issue of the Lordship of Christ in their lives than is typical in the Western church.

Other things that impressed us included: Their intense desire to bring the Kingdom of God into every sphere they can influence; their commitment to doing things joyfully and with excellence; the way the leaders, including the senior pastors, honor their co-laborers; and the quiet confidence each person exhibits as they carry out their ministry assignments.

It was evidence to us that two important things had happened. First, the months spent in leadership training was paying big dividends. Disciples had been developed! People were reproducing after their own kind. Second, these men and women had received a passion for God that translates into a tremendous burden for the lost. Everywhere we went we saw just how serious they were about bringing in the Lord's harvest. These Brothers and Sisters aren't just following the pastor's vision, they own the vision! With such incredible focus and vision we might have expected to find cold and impersonal robots, "super Christians" incapable of relating to us frail human beings. This was certainly not the case in either Singapore or Hong Kong. The cell church members we met in both cities enjoyed life and had a delightful sense of humor. One night as we were walking to a cell group meeting in a highly populated area of Hong Kong, Nan commented on the coiled up snakes on display in the sidewalk meat market. Turning to Joshua, the Chinese brother with us, she said, "Do people really eat those things?" His face lit up with a smile as he answered jokingly, "Yes. We Chinese have an interesting theory. Had Adam and Eve been Cantonese, things could have turned out much differently."

These Brothers and Sisters have also learned to be transparent with each other, and care for each other even though many of them have had to overcome huge cultural and social barriers to do so.

Though both the Singapore and the Hong Kong churches use many of the same materials and methods, they are very different from each other. Besides their many outreaches in Singapore, Faith Community Baptist Church also has a vision to plant 50 cell churches in several nations by the year 2000. Shepherd Community Church in Hong Kong, on the other hand, believes God has shown them that they will help raise up 400 new cell churches in mainland China by that same date.

As I listened to the faith and vision of the leaders in this tiny church in Hong Kong, whose city reverts back to the control of mainland China in 1997, I couldn't help but be reminded of a plaque I had seen some years ago that read, "Would you hire Goliath if you knew David was looking for work?" In the natural, the task seems overwhelming. But I sensed this was a band of Daniel 11:32 believers. "...But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits."

Overall, you can't help but love the "can do" spirit of each church. Rather than sit around and talk about all of the reasons the cell church model can't work, they just wade into it by faith and do it. One of the leaders laughingly said, "When we first heard about the cell church concept we said, 'Well, it may work in Korea and America, but it will never work here.' Now you Americans are saying, 'Well, it may work in Korea and Singapore, but it will never work in America.' It's not a cultural issue, it's a flesh issue." His point being that many Americans and Europeans live with the misconception that the reason the cell church has flourished in Asia is because it just adapts more naturally to the Eastern culture.

We can't speak for any of the other "Bereans," we can only witness to what we saw, heard, and sensed in the Spirit. The challenge to "come and see" only confirmed what the Spirit of the Lord had already spoken to us. A new wine-skin is being prepared to bring forth the glory of His Kingdom in our generation. But, the part of the wineskin analogy that isn't discussed much, is the reality that a new wineskin is the result of a fresh kill. Before we can enter into life in the new wine-skin, some things will have to die, like the traditions of man, pride, and independence. Maybe even something as radical as approaching life from the heart motive of, "What's in it for God?" rather than "What's in it for me?"

"For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Habakkuk 2:3

Bill Bagby is a zone pastor at Sojourn Church, a Cell church outside of Dallas. He and Nan can be reached by at Sojourn Church, 3440 Sojourn #220, Carrollton, TX 75006, 214/248-2912


UPDATE: CENTRAL AMERICA, EL SALVADOR HONDURAS & GUATEMALA

by Joey Beckham, Director, TOUCH Outreach Ministries, Inc.

In the midst of volatile politics and intense civil unrest, God's steady hand has been establishing His Church in Central America. For more than a decade, Central America has been considered one of the most unstable areas in all the world. With Noriega in Panama, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the Contras in Honduras, and civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador, this tiny region, roughly the size of Texas, has seen much devastation and destruction. Despite all this, Cell Churches have developed and flourish in 3 of these nations. These churches are greatly impacting their country, region, and beyond for Jesus Christ.

El Salvador-Mission Elim

Mission Elim began in 1977 when Pastor Sergio Solorzano was called from Guatemala to begin a work in San Salvador with 9 other brothers and sisters. Within 7 years the church had grown to 3000 members, in 22 daughter, affiliated churches with 120 or so per church. Each church worked under the supervision of Pastor Solorzano and a coordinating body of elders. There was no Cell structure in this church at that time.

In 1985 a friend told Pastor Solorzano about Dr. Yonggi Cho in Korea. That year, Pastor Solorzano attended the Church Growth Conference in Seoul. In 1986, despite his obvious "success" at church planting, Pastor Solorzano began to discuss transitioning into cells with his congregational leaders. Over the next year, the leadership began to change antiquated programs and structures of their churches. At this point they drew everyone back into one main body, so they could build the cell model from a point of unity. In 1987, the senior pastor and elders of the church began 9 cell groups. The pastor began to preach about the need for cells, and group members began to invite friends and family to the cells. These cells grew rapidly, and proved to other church leaders that cells actually work.

Structured For Ministry

The church currently has 42 pastors on staff and 6 non-staff elders. Elim has 7 districts in San Salvador and their leadership structure is as follows:

Leader = "pastor" for 10-20 members
Supervisor = over 5 leaders
Zone Pastor = over 10 Supervisors
District Pastor = over 5 or 6 zone pastors

The church has 34 zone pastors, 500-550 zone supervisors and 2750-3000 leaders. They have 25,000 - 30,000 adults in their San Salvador church, with another 25,000-30,000 children (under 14 years old)! They have 6 services each Sunday with 9,000 attending per service. Elim has begun the following mission churches: 4 in the USA with about 2700 adult members (LA, SF, NY), 1 in Australia with 150 adults, 3 in Canada with about 2,000 adults, 1 in Honduras with about 600 adults, and 1 in Guatemala with 175 adults. They also have 25 other Elim churches in El Salvador, with 25,000 adults involved in those churches across the country. Overall, they have about 30,000 adults involved in mission churches across the Americas!

Hector Malign, District 6 Pastor, has been with the church for 8 years and was formerly the pastor of one of the original affiliated churches. This district began with 300 groups in January of 1993 (his is one of the newer districts) and now has 475 groups. He averages 17 adults in each group and about the same number of children. He oversees the work of 5 Zone Pastors.

On Sunday, Elim has 6 services with one District meeting per service (the 7th district is a new district). Monday through Thursday the districts provide training sessions at the main church facility. These training sessions are for all members and most attend 2 nights out of the 4 (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday).

The Key To Discipleship Is Committment

Mision Elim has a 2 tiered Cell meeting, one for planning during the week and one for evangelism on Saturday. The meetings are at the same house each week (but they do rotate weekly from house to house). The weekly meeting is for planning what they will do on Saturday and is only for Christians. Here they learn how to minister to God, their neighbors, and each other. The Saturday meeting is for evangelism, but is called a study meeting. All the groups study the same lesson and invite friends to study with them (lost friends preferably). The goal is to multiply Cells each year (100% growth per year, 25% per 3 months).

Youth (14 +) are integrated into the Cell structure and many are leaders. Male leadership of groups with men is the norm, but there are exceptions. Each Cell has a Children's teacher who works with the children during the family group meeting.

Pastors teach doctrine in a classroom setting every 3 months, but much teaching is done through hands on experience. Faithful people are moved up into positions of greater responsibility, and sometimes even new Christians are allowed to be interns in groups.

This District Pastor shared that it is sometimes necessary to violate leadership principles to keep up with the growth, but they try not to do this if possible. Pastor Malign also shared that the church has all night prayer services on Friday and that everyone is encouraged to fast one day per week.

New Believers are taught about God, water baptism, and Spirit baptism. Interns are developed as they live in close relationship to leaders over them. The training process (classroom and hands on) could last about 3 months. Pastors and leaders are constantly doing seminars on various topics to provide training for leaders. Qualifications for being a Cell leader would be Acts 6 (Deacon) and 6 months as a member of the Church.

The leadership of this church seeks to provide whatever is necessary to assist their members in growing as disciples. Although they provide many meetings for Cells members (they have 5 meetings per week for each member), their motivation is not to overwork their people, but to provide opportunities for growth. Pastor Malign stated that it is not most important that members attend the 5 meetings, but that they are not absent because of any lack of ministry in their lives or direction from the leadership. The leader is responsible for motivating his group to be at the meetings and most importantly to minister to their needs. The radio ministry has helped fill the gap, because it ministers to those who cannot come to all the meetings. The church is called to give the gospel, as it cares for Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

According to Pastor Solorzano, anointed preaching and pastoral vision is critical to the life of the Cell church. Pastor Solorzano himself is very dynamic, animated, and an exciting person to be around. His goal for the church is to double by the end of the year. He says that the key to growing a Cell church is very simple: clear vision of each Cell leader for reaching his or her neighborhood, family and friends, with the necessary support, ministry and encouragement from those in leadership over them.

Honduras-Amor Viviente

Amor Viviente (Living Love) began in 1974 in the home of Mennonite missionary Edward and Gloria King. As the church grew, they had home meetings and a large group meeting that was held in a local elementary school. In one instance, the school administration suspended the availability of the elementary school. The church decided that they would continue meeting in homes. When they were able to meet together again in a large group, they were surprised to find that the church had actually grown, despite their inability to meet together for celebration. This really spoke to the leadership, as they tasted the productivity of the Cell model!

In the early 80's Edward King felt that it was time to turn the church over to the nationals, so he left the church in the hands of Rene Penalba and the other Honduran leaders of the church. God spoke to Pastor Rene more directly regarding Cell groups. At this time, they had 12 groups and about 300 people. By 1985 they had 30 groups.

Cells Are The "Backbone" Of The Church

At this point the leadership established 2 key principles for the church:

Cell groups have 3 emphases:

All the Cells meet on Wednesday night from 7-9 PM. The structure of their Cell meetings is spontaneous, not rigid, with people sharing about their lives and how they are growing. They generally have a praise and worship time during the Cell meeting, with a Bible study and possibly preaching, as well.

Amor Viviente has 11 zones (20-25 groups per zone) with 2 Zone Pastors for each zone. Zone Pastors are volunteers who work 10-15 hours per week. They are evaluated against the following qualifications: their calling to serve, love for the unbeliever, time for the responsibility, experience, disposition, and knowledge of the strategy. The church focuses on raising up leaders from within the church body, so most Zone Pastors have previously served as Cell leaders. They do not have the Zone Supervisor level of leadership (a zone supervisor gives oversight to 3-5 Cell groups) and leadership training of Zone Pastors is facilitated through a 3 year training program. Each Cell group has an intern who works closely with the leader.

The Church encourages members to learn within the Cell context for the first year of membership, learning by doing and observing. After the first year they are allowed to enter the discipleship program. Cell leaders must be in the Cell structure for one year and registered in the discipleship program before they can lead a Cell group. This year they have 250 members beginning their first year of study in the training program, with 700 in the entire program.

Amor Viviente is totally self supporting. In the capitol city they have a beautiful worship center, classrooms, office space, print shop, and a radio production area. Their long range goal is to buy 1 and 1/2 hectares around the facility to expand the auditorium, children's facility, and training center space. They have 2 radio stations on which they broadcast Christian music and teachings.

Alberto Solorzano (coordinator of the Cell ministry) shared several keys to growing a Cell church: focus on God, prayer, fasting, unity/teamwork, loyalty, and vision. Each year they have a special time for prayer and fasting, to hear God's voice. During this time God has blessed with vision and strength. They fast the last week of January, and have communion at the end of the fast.

Amor Viviente has missions in Costa Rica, New Orleans, Miami, New York, as well as 17 other mission churches in Honduras. They began sending out missionaries in the late 70's, and have about 7,000 members in these various churches.

Guatemala-Verbo Church

After the earthquake of 1976, Carlos Ramirez (a Colombian who was educated in the U.S.) felt called by God to move to Guatemala City to begin a church and help rebuild the city. 25 people (adults and children) moved to Guatemala with Carlos. When they arrived they worked to rebuild the city and met many businessmen who were impressed with their servants hearts. One such man was Francisco Bianchi (currently the Coordinating Pastor in Guatemala). Bianchi was not a Christian at the time, and remembers liking the group because they were loving, and not religious.

MULTIPLYING THROUGH CELLS

Pastor Ramirez began a Bible study in his home that quickly grew and multiplied into 2 groups (they had about 60 people in 1976). Next they multiplied into 3 homes, and the 3 elders each took a group, choosing an assistant to work with them. Brother Bianchi was one of these assistants. Their Sunday service was conducted in the original community on the outskirts of town, but by 1977 they decided to move the Sunday celebration into the city. They rented a home with room for 200, and within 2 months they had 150 people meeting together on Sundays for celebration.

By 1978 Verbo had 8-10 Cell groups and had moved into a new facility to hold the 350 people now involved in the ministry. As they filled this facility the Lord provided them with open land and a Church member who helped them set up a tent with a capacity for 800 people. By 1982 they were filling this tent and had 35-40 Cell groups. This year they divided the church into 3 main groups. They called these "zones." The leadership reorganized around zones to facilitate the development of another level of leadership (Zone elders), thereby providing better supervision of the Cells. Each zone had the vision to plant another group in another zone. At this point all the zones still met together for celebration on Sunday. In 1985 they sent out 11 groups and 200 people to start a new congregation in another part of the city. By the end of 1985 they had 1000 people and 50 groups. In 1988 they began their 4th congregation and had 75 home groups with approximately 2000 persons in the church. At this time, a church merged with Verbo and soon after they were able to begin their 5th congregation. This successful merger, helped Verbo establish policies for working and merging with other ministries. This merging is done after an engagement period and entails a total restructuring of the incoming church, generally including trading leadership, so that members can recognize that there is a new identity for the church. Maranatha Ministries merged with Verbo in 1991. This merger brought the number of members to 5,000 and the number of home churches to 200. By 1993 Verbo had grown to 8 congregations, 7-8,000 members, and 300 home churches. They have 4 schools across the city, 2 for high school age, 1 for elementary through high school, and 1 for grades 1-6.

The church has a strong emphasis on missions, with mission churches in Rio De Janeiro, Ecuador, Columbia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, New Orleans, West Palm Beach, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Mexico. There are also 22 other congregations spread across the Guatemalan countryside. Approximately 80% of these congregations have been started by Verbo, the other 20% represent churches who have merged with Verbo.

The church is structured with 5 presiding elders on an Apostolic team (5 fold ministry). These men oversee all the congregations. Each congregation has 5 elders, with elders overseeing 2 of the Zone Supervisors. Zone Supervisor give direction to 5 coordinators (Cell leaders). Each Cell leader has an assistant whom they are responsible for training.

There is a weekly meeting for all the presiding elders of the various congregations in the area. The Apostolic team visits the congregations outside of Guatemala City on a regular basis. Every 2 months there is a retreat for all the elders of all the congregations in Guatemala. There is also a quarterly gathering in Guatemala City for all the elders of the various congregations in Guatemala. The leaders outside of the city are invited to preach at the services in the city, when they are in Guatemala City. Sharing the pulpit is one way the elders illustrate unity among the leadership. To help people follow God and not men, about 15-20 leaders share the preaching in the 8 congregations in Guatemala City. On Thursday, all deacons and elders from across the city get together for a time of fellowship and ministry. On Wednesday morning all the presiding elders (1 for each congregation) meet together for ministry, prayer, and fellowship.

Pastor Bianchi shared that they do not allow women to lead groups that have men in them, but they do allow couples to lead groups and women to lead groups with other women.

There are 2 primary methods for training Coordinators (Cell leaders). On Tuesday nights they have a meeting of all elders, supervisors, and coordinators in each congregation. They also have a Monday meeting of all Zone Supervisors with their coordinators. Verbo strongly emphasizes leadership through relationship and individual accountability. Each Home church has a work team of 5 or so mature Christians who assist in the ministry of the group.

Cell meetings typically run from 7:30 - 9:30 and consists of praise/worship, prayer/edification/gifts, a share time (not preaching, but discussion), and a snack time. The share time typically lasts no longer than 40 minutes. Their goal is to multiply Cells at 15, but obviously this is not the norm (given the number of groups compared with the number of members). Their groups tend towards 20-25 adults per group, but their goal is to get this ratio down to 15 or so.

Once a month each group has an outreach activity (dinner, concert, bonfire). Everyone is encouraged to bring someone to this meeting. They also have special events that are open to the public. These events are usually well attended by the lost. They also do some door to door evangelism at the congregational level.

Cell leaders are evaluated on the following criteria:

The church is set up under a plurality of leadership-there are no individual decisionmakers. There is a strong emphasis on team leadership and the 5 fold ministry. Long range goals are to have a church in every city of Guatemala, and to develop the triple vision in each Christian's life. This triple vision is based on Matthew 28:19-20, John 17:21, and Romans 8:29 (emphasizing unity, conformity to the image of Christ, and the making of disciples).

Pastor Bianchi shared several keys to growing a Cell church:

The church provides several social ministries to the public, but their goal is to "teach people how to fish, rather than giving them a fish." They have a clinic, Christian Hospital, and often provide medical campaigns to those in the area. The church runs an orphanage and several secondary schools. Verbo provides counseling to the public, and seeks to minister through various men's and women's groups.

The theme for Verbo Church is summed up by Acts 3:19-21: "Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send Jesus the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." Verbo is truly a church seeking the restoration of all things.

For more information on these exciting ministries, contact them directly at:

Mision Cristiana Elim De El Salvador
Pastor Juan Antonio Najarro S.
Final Colonia Santa Lucia
Calle El Matazano No. 1
San Salvador, El Salvador, C.A.
Phone (503) 77-1314
Fax (503) 27-1565

Iglesia Amor Viviente
Pastor Alberto Solorzano Salomon
Apartado 978
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, C.A.
Phone (504) 34-3838
Fax (504) 33-9022

Iglesia Cristiana Verbo Pastor Francisco Bianchi
Via 3, 1-01 Zona 4, Guatemala Ciudad
Apartado Postal 2621-01901
Guatemala, C.A.
Phone (502) 234-4385 ext. 87
Fax (502) 231-3235

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THESE MODELS?

Around the world, God is raising up Cell Churches with distinct personalities, but very similar values. These biblical values are evident in the 3 models mentioned in this article, and are central to the development of a Cell Church. Listed below are several of these key values. This is not an exhaustive listing, but it is a good place to start as you seek to understand why these churches are flourishing.

 


Do Cells Work In the United States?-by Joey Beckham

This issue has primarily focused on Cell churches outside the United States. If this is your first look at Cell Church Magazine, you might be sitting at your desk saying to yourself, "Sure! It works overseas, but something like this could never work here!" Friend, we can sum it up in one word --Not!

Touch Outreach Ministries has been contacted by hundreds of churches across the United States who are either transitioning from traditional models to the Cell model or starting Cell churches from scratch. We predict that within the next 5-7 years, there will be 2,000 member Cell churches in most of the major cities across this country.

In this short article, we would like to answer some of the obvious questions you have about the Cell model in the United States. Please bear with us as we seek to answer difficult questions in 100 words or less. Our goal in all this is to stimulate thought, not necessarily to give the final answer on these questions. If we miss something (or you just want to talk some of this over), you can contact us directly at (713) 497-7901.

ARE CELLS WORKING ANYWHERE IN THE U.S. RIGHT NOW?

Here in the United States there are several Cell models that are functioning at various stages of growth and development. We strongly encourage you to contact these churches directly to evaluate for yourself what these churches are doing and the impact they are having on their community. You can also look through past issues of this magazine to read about some of these models. Obviously, this is the short list, and primarily includes larger models. If you need to know about others that may be in your area, please send us a self addressed stamped envelope and we will be glad to send you a list of churches from your zip code area. These churches should also be able to help you network with other Cell Churches.

WHY AREN'T THERE MORE MODELS IN THE UNITED STATES?

Across this land, there is a "holy frustration" in the hearts of many church leaders and members. We believe this frustration is the beginning birth pangs for the new wine and wineskin of the Cell Church. We encourage you to prayerfully explore the possibility that it will work here in the United States, as you consider the following issues.

Very often Satan brings a counterfeit prior to God's genuine article. This often happens when we run ahead of God, moving beyond his voice and direction (just read about Israel's choice of King Saul to get a new perspective on this concept). Many in the U.S. have tried to implement what they considered to be Cell groups. When these groups failed, the baby was thrown out with the bath water. Cells were wrongly written off as a cultural phenomenon, a structure that only works in another culture. In the final analysis, cultural receptivity is not the best criteria for evaluating a Biblical model. Jesus was certainly not very well received by his culture. In fact, we feel safe in saying that no culture on this planet will be receptive to the Church that God has in mind unless God, by His power, draws them.

The cell model is totally dependent on the work of God. It is His church and He is the one who builds it. Many of the churches in this magazine are what could easily be called "sovereign acts" of God. For some reason, God has chosen not to raise one of these up in the United States. Yet. On the average day, pastors from all over the U.S. call our offices and say basically the same thing - "The Lord gave me a vision for the Cell-based structure some time ago. I tried to implement small groups without much success. I just received this magazine in the mail, and what an answer to prayer! I didn't know anyone else understood my vision." The Holy Spirit is touching the hearts and minds of men and women from every corner of this country. From Episcopaleans to Baptists to Pentecostals to Messianic Jews, God is up to something new in the United States!

Another hindrance to the Cell model is the fact that many church leaders in this country have been focusing on maintaining church models of the past. They have spent much time, money and effort in fine tuning outdated models. This is much like the man who spends all his time working on his model "T," while his brand new Mustang GT collects dust in the garage! While we have been furiously working to perfect and sustain our old paradigm, God has been quietly developing Cell models in other countries, once again using the seemingly foolish to confound the wise.

WHAT SHOULD I KEEP IN MIND AS I PRAY ABOUT MOVING INTO THIS MODEL?

As in all our decisions, it is critical that we hear from God. We must learn to clearly distinguish between God's voice, our voice, and the Adversary's voice. Satan is constantly seeking to move us down the wrong road, or move us too fast down the right road. It is important that we learn to only move at God's command! For many of us, the process of moving into the Cell model has been a long journey, down a very winding road with many forks and turns. Often God has not given a complete picture of where we are going. This has forced us to walk by faith, and not by sight. We hope you realize that Touch Outreach Ministries is not here to destroy what God has done in the past or what he may be doing through traditional models today. If God has called you to the traditional model, it would be wrong for us to question that or look down upon you for being where God wants you to be! Be very careful not to move from where you are, unless God tells you to move. Many also fall into the trap of running ahead of God, walking where he may lead, but not necessarily in his timing. As we have studied various Cell models, we have found that it is a 5-7 year process to transition or plant a working Cell model. In this process of moving into Cells, it is very important that you walk at God's pace, not your own.

Finally, we strongly encourage you to count the cost of moving into this model. "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?" Before we can move into this model we must be willing to lay down all our safety nets and preconceived ideas of how God's church is structured and how it operates. Only then will God be able to hand us the keys to his kingdom!

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Contents Copyright 1999 by TOUCH Outreach Ministries, Inc.