In August, 1996, Pastor Dion Robert scheduled a harvest event in a huge stadium in Bouake, Ivory Coast, Africa, where he has planted a vast array of cells. He exported 6,000 of his best cell leaders from the mother church, Eglise Protestante Baptist Oeuvres et Mission in Abidjan, to handle the counseling and deliverance ministries during the crusade.
Bouake is the second largest city in the Ivory Coast. It is also under the control of a powerful demonic presence: a Rosicrucian cult heavily mixed with witchcraft. These cult leaders sent word to Dion that a curse had been placed on any person coming to sponsor this event. In a previous year, a whole family traveling to the crusade from Abidjan had been killed in an auto accident.
When Dion received news of the curse, he called together his cell leaders going to the crusade and warned them of possible casualties. He gave permission for anyone who was fearful to stay at home. None did so! On the day of departure, scores and scores of buses lined up to create a convoy from Abidjan to the stadium in distant Bouake.
Between the cities of Yamassoukro and Bouake, a lumber truck careened into one of the church buses and stripped the cab from the frame. With 24 people in it, the cab rolled down an embankment. Six people were badly injured, and seventeen dead.
A bus of American cell church pastors and leaders who were visiting Pastor Dions church that summer drove past the scene. The wreckage was so mangled they concluded that it must have been a truck.
Upon arrival at the hotel in Bouake, the American visitors were told by Jim Lassiter, the U.S. representative for Dions ministry, The wreck you saw was not a truck; it was a church vehicle. Seventeen were killed.
The Americans, in shock, asked Jim, How can this crusade go on after a tragedy like that?
Jim replied, Were in a war, and we must expect casualties. You dont run away from a battle if you are an army.
Lassiters reply is important for all of us Americans. We do not see the warfare in the Christian life. We hold a worldview that attributes activities as corporealneither the work of God nor the work of satan. Unlike Christians in the Ivory Coast, Americans see circumstances as occurring in a neutral gray area. There are no neutral areas!
In America, a drunk driver speeds and swerves across a freeway and wipes out a family. We see nothing demonic in it. We dismiss it as simply the result of alcohol consumption. We learn that thousands of citizens are raising marijuana in their basements, making up to $200,000 a year in illegal tax-hidden money. We do not see the demonic at work. It is alleged Timothy McVeigh admitted that he blew up the government building while it was occupied to get a bigger body count. How can we be so blind to the work of satan?
As citizens of the Kingdom of God, every cell member in every nation must recognize the work of satan, the great destroyer, who seeks to devour. Yet, we live in our private domains, burglar alarms turned on, insulated from the evil by our antiseptic church activities. We never realize the need to be Christian soldiers, marching as to war.
In a recent cell group, a member described an inner rage that erupted with overpowering control. This, according to psychology, should be passed off as an emotional problem. However, when the person says, Something happens inside that is not me, we have reason to question if that Christian has a stronghold, conveniently used by satan to take away joy, peace and spiritual power.
Cell leaders cannot serve for very long before they see the need for a boot camp for those entering into spiritual battle. Thats why I have written The Year of Equipping. Its important to develop soldiers, not just cell members.
Tearing Down the State of Weakness - Returning the American Church to Apostolic Standards
Prayer in cells constitute a fearsome weapon in the hands of Christians for the battle against satan and his demons, in which we are engaged. The church which I lead in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa, has focused on the importance of organizing cellssomething several traditional and denominational churches in the United States have discarded.
Cells promote coming together and producing intimate contacts between Christians who can share and bear one anothers hurts and burdens. From this flows the communion and team spirit which guarantees the effectiveness of a Christians spiritual growth and success of evangelistic programs. Cells that respond to the criteria of the apostles of regularity, sanctification and brotherly communion will tear down the fortresses of satan and his demons to the glory of God wherever it is foundeven in the United States of America.
The lack of response to this criteria and the state of weakness in American churches generally comes from three factors: constraints of society, religious traditions and materialism. These elements have hindered and even paralyzed the walk and growth of the church toward its objective: to deliver the world from the hands of satan and to lead it into the power of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:17b-18).
American society, through its institutionalized principles of liberty, has organized unbelief (intentionally or unintentionally) by substituting institutional laws for biblical principles. If the goal of the law is to regulate public life, it must, in its formulation, adapt to the Word of Godthe foundation of all social convention.
Moreover, having reached a stage of technological perfection has reinforced, in the American mindset, the conviction that one has acquired knowledge and wisdom that releases him from submission to God. Holy worship is sacrificed to scientific power. As a result, human relationships are broken down through social conformity which has emptied certain divine concepts of their content. How many American children today recognize their fathers as having authority to which they must submit? How many American wives accept the notion of submission to their husbands?
In addition to social constraints that have bound churches, most Americans seem to rest their faith on inherited religious traditions of their ancestors. In fact, the history of the American church is rich in teaching that America obtained its past and present blessings through their forefathers faith in God. We must also recognize that through their faith many religious denominations were created which new generations affirm as their own today. By keeping these diverse religious groups, Americans, in leaving the true faith, claim the errors of generations before them. Today, they assure their perpetuation through human doctrines such as universalism, extinction of demons, etc., thus forgetting that a local church must be conformed to the church of the times of the apostles (Acts 4:32-33).
The church must not build her faith on those who lived in ignorance of certain biblical truths. The most inaccurate interpretations of the Word of God have begun to set the tone for the rejection of spiritual gifts and attacks against sanctification. It is in following the principles that guided the first apostles that Americans are able to build local churches that are true replicas of the real church, the Body of Jesus Christ. If Americans are compelled to follow social constraints and if their religious traditions are so imperative, it is due to the eruption of materialism in the life of the church.
Corollary to these obstacles to the life of the church, financial riches have played a role for most Americans. It caused them to turn away from God, the source of their material goods. The importance attached to financial resources and the time spent to obtain financial security have led Americans to relegate the Creator of all things to the status of being the least of their concerns, resulting in two regrettable consequences. First, satan makes use of the affection Americans have for material riches, causing wealth to be worshiped and encouraging people to commit despicable acts with Gods gold and silver. As such, the worship due to God is diluted by philosophic teaching which itself is dedicated to mammon. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:24) It is the worship due to God that suffers, for man venerates the creation that is seen (money) rather than the Creator who is not seen.
Second, satan exacerbates the lack of humility in Americans. Even good works done by Christians are marked by the seal of pride. We find the very life of the church itself affected. The Holy Spirit of God does not linger in religious circles but stands before the doors of our hearts, confirming the Word of Christ (Rev. 3:20).
Cells inhibit pride by supporting and prolonging community life already begun in worship services. Americans must realize that God blesses the humble and simple heart (1 Peter 5:5). Remaining in the state of societal constraints, religious traditions and materialism will only break down the unification of the Body of Christ instead of tearing down the domain of satan.
Pastor Dion Robert has led Eglise Protestante Baptist Oeuvres et Mission in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa for over twenty years (Fall 1994 issue). He is a well-respected leader in the cell church movement whose church has grown to 85,000 members. Pastor Robert will be a featured speaker in the Spiritual Victory Conference, April 9-13, in Houston, TX. Please see the advertisement on page 4.
Come Away - A time and place to inquire of the Lord
Leaders who have chosen to follow Gods leading towards a cell church need help in transitioning from their program-based traditions to basic Christian communities. However, our first need is not more methodologies for transitions but what Gene Getz terms supracultural principlesprinciples which transcend cultural dynamics and boundaries.
The following passage holds the truth of a fountainhead of renewal and direction for both Christian individuals and transitioning cell churches worldwidea Scriptural supracultural principle: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lords feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, Lord, dont you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)
In our busy and action-oriented society, it is difficult to understand why Mary was commended for sitting around when there was so much work to be done, but Jesus tells Martha that to be seated at His feet, listening to Him, is the one thing necessary to her life. Mary chose to sit, to come aside from the busyness of serving, just to be with Jesus.
Since Jesus seldom traveled alone, we can speculate that others sat with Mary to hear his teaching. No doubt the group needed food and refreshments. Hospitality played a major part in the Jewish culture of that time. Martha dashed about readying a meal and justifiably needed help in the preparations. She was doing a good thing. Caring for the needs of her guests would, in other contexts, have been applauded, but Jesus surprised her. He did not sympathize with Marthas compulsion to host nor did he compliment her table. Martha probably never expected Jesus to upbraid her for serving; then again, neither do we.
Jesus told Martha that she was worried and upset about many things. He even called her distracted. How often do cell church leaders and members get distracted with the mechanics of transitioning, time tables, goals, projections, cell tracking, sponsor training and leadership development? So little time seems left for the one essential thingto listen and learn of Jesus. Our greatest need is to know the heart of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We must have inquiring minds and learn from Him. We need to be with Him, listening. We benefit from time alone at the feet of Jesus.
Leaders also benefit from praying and interfacing with those who are fighting in the same trenches and scaling the same walls. For several years, my wife, Marcy, and I have ministered to church leaders by providing a time and place for personal renewal and refreshment. We began in their homes during our itinerant ministry. Eventually, we opened our home to many pastors, Christian workers and their families to come for R & R, conversation, ministry and prayer. The refreshment they received awakened the desire in us to minister to church leaders who needed to get aside with the Lord. God led us to develop Come Away weeks providing opportunities for six to eight leaders from different churches to get away together in a cell environment for ministry, refreshment and encouragement for and from one another.
As we worked with these leaders, we discovered supracultural, biblical principles that enhance ministry objectives and return waning strength to fainting servants before they reach burnout. First, every pastor should schedule specific days and times for elders, deacons and staff to come together and inquire of the Chief Shepherd regarding His plan for the local body. This must be done in a place away from the church building, telephones, fax machines, pagers and e-mail accessa space for intentional and informal rest and reflection. The emphasis of this retreat is praying, listening, and sharing what God speaks. Remember, Jesus scheduled times for retreats to the mountains to be alone with the Father and to rest with His disciples, sharing their hearts and experiences.
Second, leaders must share the load with one another and with other servants in the church. One man cannot do or be everything, nor should he try. The Jethro Principle (Ex. 18:12-23) serves as a biblical model for cell churches and leaders. Shared ministry empowers Gods people to fulfill their callings.
Third, leaders must be flexible and be willing to make changes to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Avoid getting set in your ways. Some pastors have bought into the party-line that any change comes as a threat. Youre doing a new thing. Allow God to mold you!
Fourth, plan specifically. It is not unspiritual to plan. Many leaders weve ministered to have had either no plan or one so general it was impossible to measure progress. We are commanded in Scripture to imitate the example of the Apostle Paul who planned (Rom. 1:13; 15:24; 2 Cor. 1:15-17). God is a planner as well (Eph. 1:11; Heb. 11:40). Planners are in good company!
Perhaps the greatest single supracultural principle that applies to transitioning cell churches as well as to growth as leaders and Christians is to be teachable and open to learn from the experiences of others. We cease to walk in the Spirit when we walk in our own importance and cannot be easily entreated.
All of these principles are reinforced at our church-leader-specific Come Away retreats. For six years, Marcy and I have conducted such a ministry in the mid-Atlantic states and New England through our parachurch ministry, Frontline Ministries, Inc. Come Aways are informal cell group retreats with time for listening room experiences, healthy food, praise and worship and laughter in an atmosphere of intimacy with God and one another. Servers are served, and the healers healed. Pastors are pastored; shepherds, shepherded. It is a time and place to be mended and inquire of the Lord. A Come Away is a mountaintop in your busy schedule where the Holy Spirit ministers to His ministers. As you serve the Body of Christ, be sure to search out and practice such Scriptural, supracultural principles and enjoy the transition.
For further information, please contact David and Marcy Alves at New Life Fellowship, 17 Green Street, Concord, NH 03301-4020; fax: 603-223-0827 or e-mail: NLFlifegrp@aol.com.
Drive-By Warfare - Ganging Up on satans Turf!
My neighborhood is an eclectic weave of run down rental property, renovated bungalows and new victorian homes located near downtown Houston. Although we live in the shadows of skyscrapers, the tree-lined streets and old architecture are reminiscent of a small town.
Because this area doesnt have the pristine look of a suburb with its deed restrictions and zoning, we are always on the watch when an entrepreneur chooses our area for a business venture. The sale of liquor was banned years ago to preserve the quality of life in this tiny community, yet the outskirts of the neighborhood are lined with many liquor stores and bars.
On my way home from work one night, I spied a foundation for a new building outside our neighborhood boundaries. As I sat at the traffic light, I wondered if it would be a bank or a new restaurant. Week after week, I watched the progress of the construction. The construction phases were fascinating to me, and each weeks progress made me eager with anticipation.
The buildings design and stucco facade told me a great deal of money was being invested into the property. All it lacked was a sign inviting me to become a patron.
A few days passed, and the business opened with signage of gigantic proportions. The owner purchased a billboard which loomed above the building. My anticipation instantly turned to disappointment and alarm when I looked up to see it was a topless nightclub called The Wolf! On opening night, businessmen from downtown Houston covered the parking lot with expensive cars like red carpet rolled out for the grand opening.
I was relieved to discover that I wasnt the only alarmed homeowner, and my neighbors and I had something else in common. We all wanted a nice neighborhood free of adult-oriented businesses and indecent nightclubs. Talking over the fence with them, I blurted out, God will close that business, because Im praying over it every day when I come home from work. Just watch and see. You can imagine the look on their faces! Tongue-in-cheek, they said they hoped I was right and that my prayers were effective. (My neighbors arent Christians yet and nothing of what youd call prayer warriors by any stretch of the imagination.) They suggested a call to the city council, but I knew the nightclub was well within the law. If I was to see any action, I was going straight to the Man Himself!
Just as God brought down a palm reader and a cult shop a block away from my home, I knew He would bring down this stronghold of satans work. When I prayed against the palm reader, Gods power overcame the power of darkness in just 10 days. I expected the same results with this topless bar. As I drove by that business every day, I shouted, satan, you have no place in my neighborhood! Take your demons and this business and leave! By the power given to me by God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, you must leave this area and go where Jesus tells you to gonever to return! I was so focused on my mission that I didnt care what people thought of me as they saw me screaming at a building from my car!
Months of drive-by warfare with no visible results were not easy. I found out that some demons are more stubborn than others, but I remembered an important Old Testament truth. Jericho was a sizeable city, and it took a while for the walls to crumble. Numerous times around the property and an incredible faith on the part of Gods army was necessary.
To be truthful, I was scared of the warfare arena. A friend told me stories of sudden illnesses, injuries and incredible confusion caused by satanic backlash. I knew satan would attack me when he realized what I was doing. I knew I couldnt go into battle without reinforcements. So, I shared my warfare strategy with my cell, and they agreed to pray when they passed the building. They also prayed for protection for my household and my ministry. With the prayer support of my cell, I stood firm knowing that Christ was behind me like a big Brother on the playground after school, ready to overpower the bully if he made one move against me.
Persistence and faith paid off. I watched the business lose its liquor license and make a last ditch effort to remain open by shifting to totally nude dancing. They lowered the cover charge and posted it on a large sign. The welcome mat of new and expensive cars in the parking lot soon changed to a worn out rug of older, less conspicuous cars. God brought them down!
Today I sit at that same traffic light and praise God for the for sale sign and the overgrown weeds. I also praise Him that my pre-Christian neighbors witnessed spiritual warfare and the power of God over satan. I thank Jesus that for the first time in a long time, I was not ashamed to look foolish for Him.
The next time satan decides to establish his turf in your neighborhood (and even in your own backyard), remember that your big Brother and mighty God, Jesus Christ, is right behind you with all the authority in Heaven. Feel free to shout, satan, you better think twice before messin with my neighborhood! Jesus and His angels will drive you out! This is His turfnot yours! You may feel stupid at first, but you will see Gods victory in the end!
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Tearing Down the Enemys Defenses and Winning the Spoils of War
The welcome was over. Worship and word times also ended, and it was time for witness. For this particular cell, the witness time recently took on a new method of prayer and a new sense of excitement. Ned Stephens was mentioned again, a successful entrepreneur whose wife, Bettie, has sporadically attended the cell. The second time the cell prayed for Ned, John, a discerning member of the cell and an entrepreneur of sorts himself, felt that God had given him discernment regarding the nature of Neds problem with Christianity. It was busyness (not business but busyness). Ned was held in a stronghold of doing, more doing and planning on more doing! He could not waste his valuable revenue-generating time to go to church or to cell. In fact, Ned counted most everything in his life that did not produce income a waste of time. John discerned that though Ned was driven by desire to get more and more material possessions, his primary problem was being too busy to consider spiritual things. They have been praying for Ned for a month and recently, against Neds stronghold. The cell prayed that Neds chariot wheels would drag, so that he would slow down.
During ski season, Ned wasted his time skiing and injured his left knee on the slopes, to be laid up for a few days. (The cells prayer may not have been directly responsible for this, but God used it!) A member of the cell visited him and left a copy of a 100 year old book called The Greatest Thing in the World. Ned read it, and it got him thinking. He asked his wife about why she went to church and the cell. She answered that it filled a need of love in her life and would his as well.
Now, Ned is speaking in favor of attending the cell, and the cell continues to pray that God will move Neds attention to spiritual things and revise his affections. Bettie is delighted and excited. The whole cell is still engaged in battle for him, but everyone believes that Neds salvation is at hand.
Evangelism is warnothing short of it! To approach evangelism as an informational project is to disregard the central fact of a persons lostness. We must recognize that he or she is a prisoner of the enemy and deceived through a blindness imposed by the powers of darkness. To engage in evangelism is to declare war. To declare war is to expect conflict at every level. The believer has no option in this matter. Though you and I hate war, we declare in the words of FDR when America was savagely attacked at Pearl Harbor, War is inevitable! We would, however, add another vital confession to wars inevitabilitythe spoils of war. These spoils are the priceless souls of people, and thus they are wonderful and worthwhile!
The purpose of the cell is evangelism: To win people to Christ, to teach them of Christ and to train them for Christ. If a person in a cell settles for anything less, any attempts of evangelism will sputter and fail. The cell is the war room where strategy is planned to take away the enemys defenses and win the prizes of this warthe souls of men, women, boys and girls. Do not only look at taking away the devils defenses but also his spoilslost souls. This is cell life. This is war!
I am not satisfied with how I pray for the lost! This challenge came to me a few years ago from a new Christian. I was not prepared for the question. I had previously thought that one should simply pray that the lost would be saved, and that was all. His dilemma soon became mine, and we sought and prayed together, Lord, teach us how to pray for the lost.
Within ten days that new believer walked into my office and dropped a piece of paper on my desk. He told me that he found it lying in the parking lot of a local shopping mall and reminded me of our prayer. I picked up that three-fold tract, with the title How I Learned To Pray For The Lost.* The tract had no attached address nor assigned author. God had my attention!
As memory serves me, the message of the tract centered around the story of one who, after 20 years of fruitless praying, discovered a way to pray for the lost. Until that time backslidden loved ones seemed to have no inclination to return to their faith and the lost expressed no appetite for the promises of the gospel. After a few weeks of this new kind of praying, the folks for whom prayer was offered changed their attitudes toward Christianity. The backslidden returned to their faith, and the lost were saved.
The Scriptural basis of this method of prayer centered on several principles:
1. The backslidden and lost were, in a manner, prisoners of war, and the task of those praying for them was to bind the prison-keeper and rescue them from his prison. In fact, no one can enter a strong mans house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house (Mark 3:27).
2. The backslidden and lost were victimized by strongholds which were to be dismantled by the weapons of our warfare. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
3. That all things were possible with God. Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God(Mark 10:27).
4. That we are always to triumph in Christ and thus can expect victory. But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him(2 Corinthians 2:14).
5. That we may proceed on the assumption that we are indwelt by the Lord Jesus Christ who is greater than the enemy who dwells in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Truths of this tract worked within days of my first reading it where I once preached a revival. The pastor and I had small group meetings every night after the services to discuss the lost and to pray for them. We prayed for one until God revealed to us the nature of the bondage which kept that person lost. We then prayed against that stronghold, or area of deception, until we felt a release. The results were startling and immediate. There was one man who never rebuffed a witness and always attended every revival. When he was confronted with the need to be saved, he simply stated his intention of getting saved but would put it off until later on. I remembered praying for that man, and we immediately had an impression from the Lord that the mans stronghold was simple procrastination. I wasnt aware that he was at the revival the next night. As I began my message, I heard a sound, wheeeeoooopart whisper and part whistle. It was noticeable as well as a bit disconcerting. The sound occurred about every five minutes. I finished the message and gave the invitation. Suddenly, from the approximate location of that repeated sound, came a man as if he was shot out of a cannon. The crowd responded joyfully at what had happened. When this man was introduced, I realized he was the man we had prayed for the night before with the stronghold of procrastination!
When the stronghold was out of the way, he was ready and eager to trust the Lord. In fact, when presented to the crowd that night, he reported that he woke up that morning under deep conviction and thought the day would never finish so he could get to church. The sound he was making was a sound of impatience wanting the invitation to come!
We do not go to war without a plan. Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. (Proverbs 20:18) The cell, being the war room, must be a place of strategy for waging the war.
1. Obtain copies of the tract,* and study it as a cell. Focus on the Scriptures it contains as well as those I offer in this article.
2. Compile a list of souls of those backslidden and lost who really may be identified as the prizes of war.
3. Study this list with prayer for discernment regarding each individual as to the nature of their detainment as a prisoner of war. God will generally make clear the nature of the stronghold or area of deception which keeps them in their condition.
4. Encourage each member of the cell to detect any stronghold in his or her life which serves to hinder, obstruct or impede his or her walk with God or, in case they are lost, what keeps them from faith. These may include fear, shame, self-consciousness, self-centeredness, prejudices, indifference or another of a plethora of tools the enemy uses to keep believers from the war front or the lost from salvation.
5. Examine the weapons mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10:4. A good warrior knows his or her weapons and how to wield them. Our weapons should be examined until we are thoroughly familiar with them and know how to effectively use them. They include the Name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the Word of God, our own testimony, our fearlessness to fight unto death if necessary and praise (Psalm 149:6-9 and Revelation 12:11). Other weapons may be listed such as forgiveness, unconditional love and others.
Then there are those weapons listed in Ephesians 6: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sandals of preparation in the gospel, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. These are none other than the character of Christ and the power of His Word.
To demonstrate this in a cell meeting, it would be good to use a life-sized cutout of a warrior and his battle regalia. Much should be made of the chief defensive weapon of faith (the shield) and the only offensive weapon (the Word). This could be further clarified by someone vocally confessing the availability and appropriation of these weapons by putting them on. Actual items could be made available such as a helmet, a breastplate, a sword, a shield, a large belt and a warriors sandals. Several cell members could be assigned to present a concise meaning of each specific part of the armor. I have purposefully left an item off the list of weapons: prayer. I consider prayer more than a weapon. I consider prayer as the waging of war.
Prayer is not a weapon of war. Prayer is the war! In the pivotal passage on warfare in Ephesians 6, we see the wardrobe of the warrior: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the girdle of truth, the sandals of preparedness in the gospel, the shield of faith. The warrior holds in his or her hand the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Prayer is not mentioned among the wardrobe or the weapons. It is mentioned in Ephesians 6:18: And pray in the Spirit on all occassions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Thus, prayer is the basic ingredient of the implementation. Pray! Pray! Pray! Then witness and work! Witness and work! Witness and work! Allow the cycle of studying the concept, planning the strategy and engaging in implementation. Continue day after day and week after week. I close with the following suggestions:
1. Allot a period of time in the cell structure for a review of the concept. Since we are prone to forget this, it may need to be done monthly.
2. Keep a master list of target peoplethose being prayed for. Encourage private prayer for them on the part of every member of the cell. Through this they will sense a share in the victories.
3. Report both on the progress and success in the strategy, sharing any revelations any person in the cell might have regarding those who are objects of concern. Each target person will have someone in the cell more closely related in friendship or acquaintance and might have key input as to their status.
4. Never give up praying, even when the person or persons are reached.
5. Engage in praise over every victory but also in the face of increased warfare over souls.
One of the great prayer warriors of an earlier generation was George Mueller. During his lifetime he prayed specifically for about 125 souls who were lost. (Though I am sure he prayed for many more, these were special and constant objects of his prayers of intercession.) When he died, all but two of the 125 had been saved, and it was reported that shortly after his death the other two for whom he was praying trusted Christ.
The cell should be constantly reminded that the salvation of the lost is at the heart of its purpose and God is delighted to act when we strategize in prayer and go out in concern.
Never give up! You are operating under divine mandate and proceeding with divine promises! Though war is a fearful word, there are glorious celebrations over battles won, spoils taken from satan and souls set free. The soul-conscious cell is a place of constant celebration!
Jack Taylor has ministered and preached on strongholds and spiritual warfare for many years. He has also authored many books and articles which you can order from: Dimension Ministries, 995 N Highway A1A, Indialantic, FL 32903.
*(This tract, in part, has been published and made available through Back To The Bible Broadcast, Box 82808, Lincoln, NE 68501)
Authors Note: The study of this tract launched a thirty year study of this concept and has yielded riches untold as many have broken strongholds in their lives as believers and others, seemingly hopelessly lost, have dropped like ripe fruit to the hands of gatherers.
Teen Celebration - The freedom of expression and experiencing God
I fell into a bad rut in my first attempts at youth cell ministry, because I believed the small group took precedence over the large group. The fact of the matter is, to have a successful youth cell ministry, we must teach our teenagers to experience His love as His Spirit moves in the context of the larger body as well as the small group setting.
For years I was confronted with liturgical worship that taught people to sit and be quiet observers behind hymns, written prayers and written responses. What kind of emotive response can we have to God when any opportunity to openly and spontaneously speak and sing to God from our hearts is cut off? If teens learn that worship is a place where we hide our feelings in hymn books and recitations, what does that tell them about God?
Teens then go from a worship service where Gods presence is as thick as a piece of paper to a silly, superficial youth group meeting. Most youth pastors have forgotten how to do effective large group ministry, because we were taught to minister through slapstick, silly games and topical issue programs. God did not design us to teach the gospel through silliness but through His power.
Where are these teens meeting God? They usually get an introduction at a camp or retreat two or three times a year. Yet we as youth pastors have the audacity to say their fire from these events only lasts a few weeks. What do we expect? If we take them from the oasis and put them back into the desert, our teens will die of thirst! If we opt for an entertainment style of youth ministry we are doing a great disservice to our teenagers and God Himself. We are not teaching teens to enter into the power of relevant worship, and we are holding back the praise that is due to God Almighty.
For a long time I was more excited about my Texas Aggies and my Houston Rockets than I was about God. When my Aggies were in tight situations I encouraged them through cheerin, hoopin and a lot of hollerin'! When my team would score, I would jump to my feet and give a shout of victory, waving my hands in the air like an idiot. After the game fellow fans and I would put our arms around each other and sing the Aggies fight song, whether we had won or not. I also went nuts over the Houston Rockets! When it came to God, who plucked me from the gates of hell and gave me more that I can ever imagine, I sang praises to Him with as much enthusiasm as having my teeth pulled. Why? I was taught the kind of worship which stifled the Spirit of God. I was not encouraged to abandon myself in worship to God.
When God does business in our lives during a time of worship and ministry, it should not be unusual to witness the full gamut of emotions: laughter, weeping, comforting, falling to the ground as the power of the Holy Spirit comes. Praise and worship are filled with cheers and shouts of joy, hands raised in exaltation, singing songs from the heart of hearts and heavenly tongues lifted to God. We must expect God to supernaturally touch lives and bring healing. We must be more excited about Jesus than about our sports teams.
God does indeed inhabit the praises of His people. Where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is also. This is the power of worship! When we praise God, He shows up. Teenagers dont need another game or slick program; they need Gods presence.
Dont bore them with inhibited and Spirit-quenching worship! I have experienced some of the worst examples of worship. One example is the type of service that resembles the Middle Ages and is typically run by people who thought three-piece suites were the latest fashion trends. These services would come complete with liturgical readings, hymns, written prayers and a pastor from one of the largest churches in the area, adequate for adults but far from the world of a seventh grader.
Another example is where people become extremely motivated with praise choruses but make you sit on your hands, because they dont want any of that charismatic spookiness or emotionalism. They will give the altar call for those who need to come into relationship with the Lord, but leave no time for the Holy Spirit to minister. This is better than the liturgical model of the Middle Ages, but only gets them into the ball park of the 1950s.
To usher teens into Gods presence we must make the context relevant to teensmusic, message, location, time span and freedom of expression and experiencing God. Let God move! I have been in the context of dynamic worship with teens where a thousand teenagers sang to Jesus with the enthusiasm we would see at a rock concert. Thousands got saved. I have been involved in youth services so powerful that the praise caused the demons to cry out in terror. I have seen teens pray for teens where mighty works of healings occurred. I have witnessed teens stand awestruck by the power and the love of God. Now thats a worship service! I get pumped up about being a youth pastor in that type of a context. I get to experience God in that type of context!
Can lost teens relate to this type of praise and worship? Yes! They will see the power of God manifest before them, and they will experience Him. God draws people unto Himself, not us. Our job is to create the environment in which the Holy Spirit can do His mighty works among teens.
Galloway United Methodist Church was one of the biggest churches in a rural areawith 170 people. When I ministered there, God placed a vision on my heart to do a contemporary praise and worship service with teenagers and launch cells from the fruit of that service. At the first service we had 152 teens; at the second, 280. At the third service, we had 340 teenagers, and the numbers increased until we reached near 500 in five months! We had no idea what God had in store for us, but we knew that God had placed the vision in us to help teens worship and experience God through teen-focused worship services and cells. Teens caught the heart of God through this ministry! We began hearing reports from youth ministries all over the area that God was multiplying their ministries. One church went from 10 to 100 in five months and had reached a quarter of the local high school. Unsaved teens began calling their Teen Power peers the God Squad. They were reaching their lost friends. The revival had even reached a church 28 miles away.
When teens experience the Holy Spirit in worship, it becomes exciting to them! The anticipation of Gods presence is much greater than the anticipation of a gang or gag. Can we expect God to show up every time? Why do anything if Gods not going to be there?
The Celebration time is a time of vision castingvision for loving and worshipping God, for pleasing God and for evangelism. God even worked in the lives of our adult leaders, casting vision into their lives. We had a young mom who caught the vision for intercessory ministry during teen celebration services. She gathered twenty other moms who sat in another room, and they prayed down the heavens upon us every month.
We had adult cell leaders experience for the first time what it meant to live out the priesthood of all believers. Pastors became pumped up about their relationships with God as they saw God bring revival to their area, crossing denominational barriers. This was God casting the vision directly to His people as He showed up during worship. We worship an exciting God who created us for a relationship with Him! He desires to love and communicate with His children. All we have to do is get out of the way and let Him speak!
Jeff Anderle has worked in youth and cell-based ministries for approximately ten years. He and his family currently reside in Houston, TX.
Cell Warfare - The central Arena in Spiritual Battle
Ask people to explain the essence of a cell, and some may immediately focus on the intimacy theyve experienced with God and fellow cell members. Others may describe the discipling and accountability which enabled their growth in Christ. While all these are central to cell life, the cell is also the central arena of warfare against the powers of darkness. The Lords commission to Paul applies to us as well: I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17b-18)
Cells engage in warfare in numerous ways: prayer for the penetration of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3) and the resultant rescuing of lost and backslidden souls from the dominion of the enemy. This initially involves salvation or deliverance from the bondage and baggage acquired during the individuals life while he or she was in the darkness (2 Timothy 2:24-26; Ephesians 4:27). As a Christian grows in Christ, satan attempts to thwart our growth through condemnation, deception, traps, schemes, temptations and harassment. Whether we realize it or not, a Christians life is warfare.
The best way to describe cell warfare on a practical level is to illustrate cell warfare through the experiences of my own cell group. For example, penetrating communities with the Gospel through cells is warfare. In our church, we regularly engage in warfare on location through prayer walks. Our prayer walks give us insights into the nature of the battle in a specific community. It enables us to pray more directly and specifically. Our hearts are knit to the people and places where we are praying and even provides opportunities to build relationships. As our cells engage in warfare prayer, we must pray for opportunities to share the Gospel (Colossians 4:2-3). We pray for those men and women of peace the Holy Spirit has prepared for us to enter into a new oikos relationship (Luke 10:1-20). As we observe people, we look for clues to the ways the enemy is at work and then ask God to destroy those specific works of the enemy (1 John 3:8).
Leading people to Christ is warfare. Because of my physical disabilities, it is difficult for me to interact with people in their homes, during evenings or in any public arena. This severely limits personal evangelism. Over a year ago, I once again desired to interact with unbelievers and lead them to Christ. I prayed and asked God to either heal me or bring the lost to me. I pleaded with Him to provide the opportunities to share my faith and rescue souls. He answered those prayers within two weeks through an opportunity to help one of my wifes friends. In ministering to her, I discovered she was an unchurched believer who had backslidden. Through her oikos, I helped lead three people to Christ. I prayed the same prayer a few months ago. It led to another wonderful experience of seeing an unbeliever come into my home and enter into the family of God. Many people dont realize that praying to God for opportunities for evangelism is a crucial form of warfare. God moves against satan through our prayers and availability.
The ministry of discipleship also involves warfare against satan. One of our cell members led a woman to the Lord at his workplace. He brought her and her husband to our cell meeting, but it was obvious that she was uncomfortable. Afterwards she indicated that she would never come back. Your cell members talk openly about things that I wouldnt even talk about in my family, she commented. Its too intimate. I cant handle it.
A month later, the couple returned. They were on the verge of getting a divorce, and life for them was almost unbearable. We ministered to them as a cell and tried to begin the discipling process. Her husband agreed to meet with me for a session to break the bondage of the enemy in his life; she refused.
Our cell occasionally spiritually cleanses the homes of cell members and dedicate their homes to God. After doing this for that couple, she called several pastors of traditional churches in our area and asked them what they thought about spiritually cleansing homes. Totally unaware of spiritual warfare, they told her we must be a cult. She called me to tell of her phone inquiries and that we wouldnt be seeing them again. I continued to pray against the powers of darkness at work in their lives. Soon, they were back in the cell meetings and began to open their hearts about their problems. She shared that her previous husband died of cancer at an early age, and she cried out to God to save his life. When her first husband died, she blamed God. She declared how she hated a God who could allow such a thing to happen and who wasnt there when she needed Him. We did our best to minister intensely, but she seemed unreachable. She left again.
Then during a cell meeting, we identified the ways by which satan was working in this womans life. We agreed to pray every day against the specific demonic spirits at work. We also prayed that God would reveal to her the presence of the enemy in her life and that she would be willing to receive assistance in breaking herself free. Two weeks later, she called me and confessed that she had demons working in her life from which she wanted deliverance. The next day, she was freed from the bondage of satan, the guilt of certain sins and healing from several traumatic experiences. Although this was an important step for her, it was no panacea.
The couple began to grow in the Lord, but the battle was not over. A few months later, I was flying back from a conference, and the Lord kept bringing them to my mind. Assuming they were under attack again, I prayed vigorously for them. As soon as I got home, the word came to me that they were leaving our church. We continued to work with them and prayed continually against the work of the enemy in their lives. They are now back in our cell, growing more in the Lord, and God has answered some important prayers in their lives.
Cell life is warfare. If your cell is sitting comfortably waiting for something to happen, then you are sitting on the sidelines. Enter into warfare through prayer! Ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to do and where He wants you to go. Ask Him to open doors and use you to rescue souls. Pray and fast until there is a breakthrough. As God begins to move, satan and his demons will engage you in battle to sidetrack you, to keep you from praying, to discourage you or to scare you. Put on Gods armor (Ephesians 6:12-20)! Pray fervently (John 15:16)! Use the authority Jesus has given to you, and the gates of hell will not prevail against you (Matthew 16:18-19)!
David Finnell is an international conference speaker on cell church, prayer and spiritual warfare. He also teaches at Columbia International University in Columbia, SC and has authored Life in His body and several other books. He and his wife, Linda, currently reside in Lexington, SC where they are planting a cell church.
Wanted: Spiritual Parents - Looking For a Few Good Young Men and Women
I will never forget the experience of being a father for the first time. My wife, LaVerne, and I had never been down that road before. I faithfully attended prenatal classes where I learned how to coach. When the contractions started, reality hit me, and I hit the panic button. We were going to have a baby! (Well, okay, LaVerne was, but I was on the team.) I wasnt ready! I was too young! I wasnt experienced! I wanted to tell LaVerne, Couldnt you just put it on hold for a few months until we are ready for this? That was not an option. It was time, and she gave birth to a baby girl.
Twenty-two years later, I walked down the aisle with this baby girl at my side and gave her away to a young man to be his wife. We raised her to give her away. Now she will have the opportunity to be a parent and prepare the next generation.
Just as we raise our natural children, we must train everyone in our church and cells to become spiritual parents. That is what cell ministry is all about: preparing and training future spiritual fathers and mothers. The Bible mentions three different types of people in our churches: spiritual children, young men and fathers. I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:12-13).
There are many spiritual babies in the church today who are new Christians or Christians who lack spiritual maturity. Many of them have few spiritual fathers and mothers available to disciple them. Many spiritual babies never grown up. They may be 20, 30, 40 or 50 years of age and Christians for years but have never grown and matured.
Spiritual young men and women have the Word of God abiding in them and have learned to feed on the Word to overcome the wicked one. Though they have attained a certain level of spiritual maturity, they have not yet become spiritual parents.
One of the greatest catalysts to maturity as a Christian is to become a spiritual parent. It challenges and even changes our perspectives. We overcome spiritual pride and are stretched in all directions of growth. The only way for a young man or woman to become a spiritual parent is to have children, either by adoption (fathering someone who is really a believer but needs to be discipled) or by natural birth (fathering someone we have personally led to Christ). In this role, young men and women commit themselves to helping these babies grow. The cell becomes the spiritual family, and when multiplication occurs, new parents start a new spiritual family.
In 1 Corinthians 4:15-17, Paul wrote: Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. More than twenty years ago, we began to develop Paul-Timothy relationships with new Christians. I met with a few young men each week for Bible study, prayer and sharing about life. My wife LaVerne did the same with young women.
My friend Lester, who served as a pastor in our church for the past ten years, was tremendously impacted by a spiritual father. When he came to Christ in his mid twenties, a 77 year old man placed his arms around him and discipled him.
Jesus took twelve men and became a spiritual father to them for three and half years. He knew that Kingdom values were caught more than taught. Though He ministered to the multitudes, He spent most of His time with disciples, who changed the world. The Lord expects us to do the same.
Maybe you never had a spiritual father or mother. You can give someone else something you never had by being their spiritual parent. You dont need to be perfect, just faithful and obedient. If we wait until we think we are ready to be the perfect parent, it will never happen. Perhaps you feel you already tried but messed it up. Trust God for grace to start again. Someone once asked Mother Teresa what she does when she gets discouraged. I dont get discouraged, she said. God has called me to be faithful, not successful.
There is a tremendous need for spiritual parents. Joshua had Moses; Elisha had Elijah; Timothy had Paul. To whom are you being a spiritual parent? Do you expect everyone in your church and cell group to become a spiritual father or mother? If not, you must change your paradigm. Each of us must place our arms around someone who is younger in the Lord and help them in their journey with Christ. As Elisha experienced a double potion of the Lords Spirit after being fathered by Elijah, may we expect our spiritual children to go far ahead of us spiritually. Remember, we train them to give them away!
Larry Kreider is the International Director of DOVE Christian Fellowship International and has also authored several books, including House To House. He and LaVerne have four children. Their oldest baby girl, Katrina, was just recently wed. Congratulations!
End of issue.
|Volume One - 1992||Volume Two - 1993|
|Volume Three - 1994||Volume Four - 1995|
|Volume Five - 1996||Volume Six - 1997|
|Volume Seven - 1998||Volume Eight - 1999|
Contents © Copyright 1999 by TOUCH Outreach Ministries, Inc.