In my last editor’s note, I challenged cell leaders around the world to fast with me for a week and seek God’s face. I’m writing this to you on the last day of that fast, and it has been a wonderful week! I received reports of strongholds broken, opportunities to share Jesus with previously unresponsive people and personal direction was given to many. Everyone who responded to my daily encouragement email said they heard God clearly during this time.
This experience reminds me of a preacher I once heard. He said “God is always talking to you. It’s just that most of the time you are distracted! God also answers every prayer request . . . but we have singled out His most often response, “in My time” and claim we cannot hear anything.”
Fasting has made a difference in my life, and it will be powerful for your life if you go without to grasp what God has for you. With this in mind, let me challenge you again! If you have stubborn unbelievers in your life who have heard the Gospel and deny the Truth, fast for their salvation. If you have satanic strongholds that keep you from your ministry, fast for freedom. If your cell is stagnant or simply growing too slowly, fast for growth.
You will find the articles in this issue of the journal to be as impactual as any you have read thus far. Our cover article is written by Joey Beckham, a seasoned cell leader and now a pastor. His last name may look familiar to you. That’s because his dad wrote a great book on the subject of the cell church and it’s reforming power. Joey’s advice concerning multiplying your cell will be invaluable to you. Grab a highlighter and make notes!
The second feature article in this issue deals with God’s process of transformation in our lives and the role we play in making it happen successfully. After reading a booklet by Steve Prokopchak entitled Thinking Right in a World that Thinks Wrong, I contacted him and requested that he share this biblically-based insight with you. Steve’s insight and years in counseling are quite evident from the way he will take you from one understanding to another concerning changes in your life and attitudes. Don’t let the pretty butterflies fool you . . . this is a man’s article, and it has heavy issues to consider.
As always, the columns in this issue are filled with practical ways to make you and your cell grow in each of the areas presented. Beginning with the next issue, Randy Riggins will present a column especially designed for youth cell leaders.
Missions - Go Ye Therefore - by Sam Scaggs
Leaving good footprints: Your mission is to leave the lasting love of Jesus wherever you go.
As I walked through a village in the countryside of Nigeria with a pastor, I thought about the three weeks of intensive ministry we had just experienced. His soft words broke the silence: “We have a saying among our people. When someone has done a good work in our lives, we say ‘they have left good footprints in our hearts and minds.’ Your ministry here was very good and you have left good footprints in our church and community. Thank you.” I was touched and humbled that he would say this, and that the Lord would use me to make an impact among these precious believers during our weeks together.
Over the years, I have never forgotten the words of this pastor. And everywhere I go I ask the Lord to help me do two things. To “leave good footprints” on the hearts and minds of the people that I come into contact with and to “leave good footprints” among those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ even once!
Recently, I had the privilege to take a survey trip to a remote area in the Himalayan Mountains. The basis of my trip was to visit an unreached people group who, until recently, didn’t have access to the Gospel. The team was led by two national pastors who were saved because others had come to tell them about the gospel. Now, they were taking the same message to Tibetan-Buddhists who will never know Christ unless someone goes and tells them.
One early morning before sunrise, we were outside sipping milk-tea and warming ourselves near a coal fire. I asked, “Why are you spending weeks on end without your families in this lonely, dusty place?” Their eyes lit up and their smiles radiated in the darkness. Joyfully they said “We want to imprint the gospel on the hearts of these people so that they too will know Christ and be set free from the bondage of religion as we were!” Their words pierced my heart, and I had an epiphany!
I discovered that my walk in the village with the Nigerian Pastor and my trek with these brothers provided the same message. God wants to use ordinary people to take the gospel to those who haven’t heard yet and he will use our feet to do it!
The Apostle Paul writes: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15).
The message is the same for us today! We are to mobilize our cell groups to go into the entire world with the saving message of Jesus Christ! Begin by taking your cell members on a prayer walk and meet people in your neighborhoods right where you live. Then ask the Lord for your next step. You may walk in the countryside of West Africa, India or Thailand. You may trek in the Himalayan Mountains to reach a Tibetan-Buddhist village and talk with those who have never heard the name of Jesus! Wherever you go and with whomever you share, be sure to take the counsel from the same African Pastor I did. “Leave good footprints on their hearts and minds!”
The best way to do this is to share the hope that is within you and genuinely love them just where they are! God will minister to them through His Holy Spirit and you. They will never be the same! Cell churches all over the world are mobilizing their cell groups to take the gospel to the unreached. Join us as we leave good footprints all over the world! What are you waiting for? (end of article)
Sam Scaggs provides direction for the Cell Church Missions Network, USA and lives in Virginia Beach, VA. Visit his organization’s website at: www.strategicnetwork.org
Intergenerational Cell Groups - By Daphne Kirk
Children and prayer: Praying with the children in your cell benefits everyone.
In 2 Chronicles 20, enemies were coming against the nation of Judah, and Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast for everyone in the land. Did they send the men, the adults or selected few to stand before God? No! It was “all the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones” who stood there before the Lord.
Everyone knew there was a crisis; everyone stood before God; everyone saw the Spirit of God come and everyone saw the victory! What an experience for the children of Judah to recall when they faced other problems.
Throughout Scripture, there is the expectation that children are to be included in prayer. As you involve your children in your corporate prayer times, they too will have experience from which to draw as they grow.
The Father delights in children’s prayers
Prayer is about a relationship with God, who wants to have relationships with His children of any age. He is thrilled when His little ones communicate with Him . . . He is their Father! As a cell leader, you need the heart of the Father to understand how important this is to Him. If you seek God for this, you will surely receive it. Petition the Father for this as you implement the suggestions offered here.
Pray with your children
Jesus asked us to come to Him like little children in Matthew 18:3. He knew that we could lose that simple “mountain-moving” faith if we did not embrace what comes so easily to children. When your children pray with you, they bring you back to the place which so delights our Father.
I took an eight-year-old boy with me when I was traveling to speak in a church. When his mother asked him if he had prayed for me, he said “Oh yes! I prayed for Daphne, but not long prayers like adults. I just prayed and God heard me!” No wonder people were so receptive to the Lord the day I spoke!
Let me challenge you today to not only pray with your own children daily, but include them in your cell’s prayer time and gain God’s heart for the children in your group. This will bring long term results to your faith and belief in the power of God.
Your children MUST pray with you
Prayer is the basis for a child’s discipleship. As you include them in the prayer life of your cell, they will grow just like you!
From my experience, children who pray with intercessors become intercessors. When I saw the spiritual strength and effectiveness of the children in a church I visited in Argentina, I asked how they learned to pray so effectively. “They have not seen any other way,” came the reply. “They learn through modeling and experience with the influential adults in their life, not just their parents.”
Including your children in prayer will cause you to examine yourself and the way you pray. Although it will be a challenge, it’s the healthiest way to grow as a leader of young and old.
How can you pray together?
First, any changes you make must be to benefit everyone. Ultimately, as you include the children in prayer you should see other adults becoming as excited as you and your children.
Here are a few guidelines to get you started and help you become a praying intergenerational cell.
1. If you are praying for a people group or a country, provide visual connections. Photos, newspaper articles, food from the country and local music will create a solid memory for your children.
2. Create variety in the way that you pray with your children in weekly meetings. For example, pray in pairs (one adult, one child), small groups, holding hands, in a small circle, etc.) Varying this each time you meet will give the children a sense of expectation to see how they will pray the next time your group meets together.
3. Everyone must take ownership and responsibility in your prayer times. For example, when praying for those in authority, ask a child to bring a list of teachers for the cell to pray over; ask an adult to bring a picture of their employer; ask a family to go together to a police station and ask an officer for a prayer request; ask each child to bring a photo of their parents, etc. Then, pray for five minutes over each person’s name, photo or request. This will help your children understand that everyone has authority figures in their life, regardless of age, and their respect level will remain high for teachers and law enforcement.
When you pray for your missionaries, bring a photo to the meeting and read the most recent update they have sent you. After prayer, give everyone (adults and children) a piece of paper and ask them to spend a few moments writing a letter or drawing a picture to encourage the missionary. Then, send these to the missionary and anticipate a response to be shared with the group. As you do this, your children will take ownership of missions. You’ll see them praying daily for the lost and involved in short-term missions. Hopefully, you’ll produce a number of adult missionaries too!
4. Ensure that you are physically mobile during the prayer time. If you can structure the prayer times so that you can stand, sit, lift hands or prayer walk, your children will not become restless. This summer, use your back yard!
The common elements throughout these guidelines and examples is to make prayer relevant to your children, to involve the adults, and keep it fun. If you maintain these key ingredients, prayer will become a strong focus for your group and you’ll enjoy the results.
Picture a generation growing up knowing that their prayers matter, that they are important and that prayer is a lifestyle. You have the power to birth this in your cell group. It is normal for me to hear children say that they are “off to pray with their cell.” How natural is that for your children? (end of article)
At the time of publication, Daphne Kirk was a staff member of Eli Christian Fellowship in Cambridgeshire, England.
Toolkit – Practical tips written by cell leaders for cell leaders
Beth has attended your cell for six months. Your group enjoys her sense of humor and can clearly see her heart for others when you are together. However, between meetings, she keeps to herself and the needs of her family. She rarely shows concern for others through tangible actions such as making a phone call to pray with someone. While Beth’s relationship with the group members is positive, none of the women in your group would consider her a close friend. Truthfully, Beth is not really a cell member, she’s a cell attendee.
Do you have cell members like Beth? There are steps you can take to help these members move into basic Christian community and out of self-centeredness. Before you take the steps offered here, consider this process to be as difficult and time consuming as introducing an unbeliever to Christ. Prayer is essential, and you may want to fast for a time to see results. Also, like many unbelievers who are warming up to the love and acceptance of Christ, this will take time, and could be a rocky road for you. Beth may have deep hurts and strongholds that will require you to love her through the process of healing. One thing is sure . . . you will be stretched as a leader!
The first step to helping your attendee become a member is to fellowship with them. As much as Beth segregates herself from true relationships, she needs the give and take of deep friendships. Start by spending time with her, exposing her to your life and love for others. Also, get to know how Beth lives between cell meetings and her family. This will give you insight into her segregated life. Through this process, be a true friend and stay the course. You may be rejected or pushed away at first.
Do you need a few ideas to fellowship with Beth? Call her and make a lunch appointment at her office once a month (if you’re a married man, take your wife along and make this a cooperative effort). After you have done this a few times, you can challenge her to brighten another cell member’s day by doing the same thing. Help her determine who would be blessed by a lunch date and hold her accountable by calling to see how the lunch went, what new things she found out about the person, etc. Another way to encourage fellowship between meetings would be to design a series of dinner parties with other members and their lost friends. Invite her and any friends or family she would like to bring, changing the date if she says she is busy that night.
Don’t go on to the second step until a bond has formed between Beth and you, and at least one or two other cell members. If Beth doesn’t respond to fellowship between meetings and begin to show signs of a new lifestyle within a month, challenge her to live a life for Christ that includes others. You have earned the right to confront her in love at this point.
The second step in the growth and change of your attendee is to include her in your servant activities. When you model this lifestyle, she will see an example of what true Christian community should be.
For example, if you know Beth enjoys gardening and there is an opportunity to clean up and plant the gardens at your church’s facilities, invite Beth to help you rally the troops and organize the event. Involvement is the key. You want Beth to get excited about serving others! If you can successfully get Beth to serve along side you a couple of times, you can then challenge her to lead out and use the wonderful gifts with which she has been blessed to build up others in your cell when the time is right.
If Beth joins you for a community project similar to the gardening example above, you can then move her into a deeper servant activity. This may include asking her to care for a sick person in your cell by making meals, cleaning a house, babysitting if she has the gift of helps or mercy, or some other need in your group. For instance, if one of your members needs a ride to cell, you would call Beth mid-week and ask her to call the member and make arrangements to pick them up.
If Beth is now making phone calls, serving others and has become a “member” in your book, don’t consider the job complete.
Challenge Beth to grow in her faith. Help her establish a relationship with another woman in your cell who will mentor her through your discipleship process. This will create daily contact with her mentor and further help Beth understand the joys of living in cell life.
Hopefully, your church’s discipleship process includes evangelism training and you are praying for the lost every time you meet together as a cell. Beth desperately needs this kind of challenge in her life! When she develops a heart for the lost, her selfishness will disappear.
If you’ve faithfully loved Beth the way I’ve described above, she is probably enjoying the shift in lifestyle because she has a strong purpose in life. Praise her for her progress, both privately and during a cell meeting. Tell her how much you have seen her grow, and encourage her to mentor a weaker sister in Christ. This is the best way to keep Beth growing.
—Tiffany Symmank, Toolkit Editor
A Creative way to pray for others
If you’re looking for a different way to pray, whether it be for members of your cell, people who don’t know Christ or your family, you might want to try the S.T.A.R. method.
Specific - First, bring to mind specific, distinct people, not abstract concepts. What is a petition, but a list of names or requests? When you pray through a list of people with specific needs, you are not only being practical, but scriptural as well.
Thankful - Then, begin praying with specific thanksgiving. What good is within them? What has God done in their lives? How have others benefited from their life? Thanksgiving releases positive emotion as well as prophetic insight. I base this principle on questions I recently asked myself. To whom will God trust inside information about another person? Someone who doesn’t care or someone who is filled with thankfulness?
Anxious - Next, pray about the specific trouble in that person’s life. Is he or she saved? Walking in the Spirit? What are his or her circumstances, blind spots and character flaws? Be as honest with God as possible. He won’t be offended or intimidated by the need! And when you pray, don’t be afraid to cry. Jesus wept over his friend’s problems.
Requests - Finally, make your specific requests known to God. If you can’t enunciate them, meditate in the Word and petition God with whatever you have within you! If there are many requests at many levels, pray for each one separately. Don’t be afraid of sounding opinionated or wrong. God will sort it out.
When you are finished, start on the next person on your list and repeat.
— by Dan Smith, Pullman Foursquare Church, Pullman, WA
Serving others as a cell
Once a month in our cell group, we select someone in our church and provide a night of ministering and worship for them.
For example, during the Christmas holidays last year, we picked our pastor and his wife. We made an appointment to meet with them at the church building, requesting that they arrive dressed for dinner. When they arrived, they followed one of our cell members to my home, which we had turned into a five-star restaurant complete with waiters. One of our cell members met them at the door to welcome them and seat them at their “reserved” table. Then, the servers and the chef (that’s the part I played) introduced ourselves.
Before dinner was served in courses, we presented the pastor with a rose to give to his lovely wife. As the candlelight dinner began, each cell member served part of the meal as requested by our pastor, who rang a bell when he decided he and his wife were ready for the next course. This provided privacy during their meal and made the evening special.
When the meal was over, we read their favorite verses from the Bible and sang their favorite songs. Then we presented them with poems and a picture for their home, concluding the evening in prayer. It was a joyous time for us, showing our pastor and his wife how much we love them and appreciate them!
We have done this for other people we know that need an extra bit of attention. Can you think of a couple or a group of singles that your cell can serve in this way?
—Caroline Gerkin, Garden Oaks Baptist Church, Houston, TX
Our group has been meeting on Wednesday evenings for some time. One week we gathered together as usual, but it was a meeting marked by virtually every possible distraction. The children’s meeting room had no door and little ones were running about. The dog was scratching at the door and whined as the owner kept yelling “shut up!” An overly helpful new member was constantly helping a mother with her baby. All this was taking place in the company of six guests. You can only imagine how distracted we were during our time together.
As my intern closed the meeting, he expressed his feeling that the Lord was not finished and asked if anyone wanted the group to pray for them. After a few moments without a response, another member said she felt that someone wanted prayer, but did not know how to ask for it. Finally, two guests stepped into the circle for prayer. Another one of the guests stepped forward and began to pray with the couple. Then, the blessing that only Jesus can give began flowing freely to the hungry couple. A few moments later another man fell to his knees sobbing and shaking under the power of conviction. What a way to end what many of us would have called an impossible meeting! When you find yourself in a similar situation, remember we serve an awesome God. Through Him, all things are Him-possible!
— Eileen Falkey, Parkway Apostolic Church, Oak Creek, WI
Seeing is believing!
Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing with friends. Although she was scared to death, she went with her group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took a hold on the rope, and started up the face of that rock. Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she was hanging on there, the safety rope snapped against Brenda’s eye and knocked out her contact lens.
With hundreds of feet below her and hundreds of feet above her, Brenda wondered what to do. She looked and looked and looked, hoping it had landed on the ledge, but it just wasn’t there. Here she was, far from home, her sight now blurry. She was desperate and began to get upset, so she prayed to the Lord to help her to find it. When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but there was no contact lens to be found.
Depressed, Brenda sat with the rest of the party and waited for the balance of the group to make it up the face of the cliff. She looked out across range after range of mountains, thinking of that Bible verse that says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.” She thought, “Lord, you can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me.”
After each member of Brenda’s group completed the climb, they walked down the trail to base of the huge rock. At the bottom, there was a new party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, “Hey! Anybody lose a contact lens?” Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across the face of the rock, carrying it!
At the risk of being accused of being fatalistic, I think it would probably do all of us some good to occasionally say “God, I don’t know why you want me to carry this load. I can not see good in it and it’s awfully heavy. But, if you want me to carry it, I will.”
God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called!
—Sent to TOUCH staff. Source Unknown
Cellular Thinking - By Randall Neighbour
It’s just a matter of time: Every cell leader has the privilege of becoming a full-time pastor or missionary!
A number of years ago, a man mentored me for a brief time in my life. He began our relationship by asking me a few important questions such as “Where do you see yourself in five years? How about ten years down the road?”
As a young man in my 20’s, these thoughts had never entered my mind. At that stage in my life, I was happy if I had a plan to pay my car payment for the next few months! I had no solid answer to offer him then, but he birthed within me an understanding of something beyond purpose, which is simply stated as direction. Most Christians have not realized either of these two things fully. Have you?
Your Purpose is Clear
In my last column, I drove home the reality that you have a clear purpose in life as do all believers in Jesus Christ: Be a soul-winner and boldly proclaim the Good News. This is the primary reason God has placed you in this world. Everything you do, plan, and consider should fall within this personal vision statement for your life.
Don’t trust your feelings on this one. Fear and self-doubt will creep into your mind and heart and tell you this isn’t so, but God’s Word is clear. You have the power and the commandment from God to back it up. You now have a really cool purpose in life! No one else has the opportunities to show God’s love to your friends and family like you do. Walk out your purpose and enjoy!
Is your direction clear?
Let me ask you the same question my mentor asked me. Today you are a cell leader. Where do you see yourself in five years? How about ten years from now? Will you still be working on your career, or serving the Master in full-time ministry and building the kingdom?
Most cell leaders have not forged a plan to simplify their life, get out of debt and take a lower paying job on staff of their church as a pastor or in the 10/40 window as a missionary. But that is exactly what God has in mind for many of his sheep and shepherds in the cell movement! Here’s the natural progression of events that may lead you into full-time service for God.
The conditions are right
As you live out your purpose—to reach the lost for Jesus and disciple them into leaders—someone on the staff of your church is going to see your potential to become a coach, or an overseer of cell groups. Hey, it’s no big deal. I lead a cell and coach other cells now and it’s “no hill for a climber.” When you get the call from your pastor, take it and ignore your fears. You’ll be a great coach.
After a year or two of coaching cells, your church is going to see a wonderful growth spurt. New believers and cell leaders will be popping up everywhere. You have just reached critical mass.
I’d like to prepare you now so you can begin to make plans. Something wonderful is going to happen to you. You’ll get another call from your pastor, or God will inform you that you’re called to be in full time ministry! It may be a staff position at your church, or to move into missions, supported by the cells you have so faithfully served. Take this call too! It’s just the next step in God’s direction for your life.
Will you be ready?
In Matthew 25:1-13, the virgins who did not make preparations never met the bridegroom. Would it not be a monumental disappointment if you were to find yourself in the same predicament when God calls you into full-time ministry?
Throw off the debt that keeps you working long hours and out of ministry. Live for your ministry, not your career! God has big plans for your life, and He can’t use you fully if you’re fearful of the ministry or bogged down with the weight of this world. (end of article)
At the time of publication, Randall Neighbour was a cell leader/Coach at Garden Oaks Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.
Cover Article: by Joey Beckham
Mutiplication: A Refresher Course
“I really miss our old group!”
“Why couldn’t we just keep growing until the ‘Spirit’ multiplied the group?”
“Why did we have to multiply?”
“Didn’t we move a little fast on this multiplication thing?”
“Our new group is such a ‘dud!’”
“I knew it wasn’t the right time to split!”
While some cell members who make these comments are simply being critical and petty, many are sincerely confused. They have never grasped the rationale for cell multiplication. In fact, hearing these types of comments is an indication that the cell leader has not grasped the rationale for multiplication either!
If you have heard any of these comments, then you probably need a “refresher course” in cell group multiplication.
Refresher #1: Multiplication does not create a new leader, it simply recognizes someone who is already leading.
In the midst of all the personalities, problems, and details of leading a group, it is very easy to forget “why” we do things. When it comes to cell multiplication, this can be very damaging. Recently, my church had a couple step down as group leaders (they had multiplied out of the group I was leading). Within a month, they left the church to go “chill out” at another church nearby. As I wrestled with the “why” of their departure, I realized that a large part of it was related to my forgetting the “why” of group multiplication.
In my desire to multiply the group I was leading, I failed to listen to that still, small voice inside whispering, “He’s not ready, he’s not ready!” I forgot that having healthy, equipped, God-inspired group leaders is the first prerequisite for group multiplication.
Enthusiasm cannot take the place of ability! In multiplying, I threw this couple out there for satan to pick apart. It has been my experience that satan throws everything (including the kitchen sink) at someone when they step up to group leadership. This couple certainly experienced this. From family sickness, to extended family issues, to disunity in the group, they came under an intense barrage from the adversary.
Despite my efforts to give them “on-the-job” training, I could never make up for the fact that they simply were not ready to lead. It was like trying to give on the job training to someone in the middle of a street brawl, which almost happened during one of their cell meetings!
Without a leader who is clearly prepared and called to lead, multiplication is simply division. Division ultimately hinders the growth of any church. As I prayed through this, I realized that the foundational reason for multiplying a group is to give room for someone to operate in the pastoral gifting that they are already evidencing in the group they are in. This definition of multiplication ties very closely with the G12 model. As people are nurtured and developed in a group, they will naturally develop a band of folks to whom they are ministering. This band will form the nucleus of the new group, led by this cell leader (who officially hasn’t been recognized as a cell leader).
Leadership multiplication is releasing someone into a position in which they are already filling. When we multiply, we are recognizing a current lifestyle. Multiplication can never create that lifestyle! Knowing this compels me to be much more proactive in equipping cell members and interns before they get out on their own as cell leaders. It forces me to take seriously my responsibility to nurture and equip people for cell leadership.
Refresher #2: People must be prepared for multiplication the way we prepare our children to leave a theme park.
As a parent, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is to prepare my child for sudden, drastic changes. Rather than walking up to them after a fun day at Disney and saying, “OK, here we go, we are out of here!” I have learned to prepare them for our departure. Within 15 or 20 minutes of our walk out the gate to find our car I prepare them by saying, “Get ready, we are leaving in 10 minutes” or “All right kids, you better find one more ride. We’ll be leaving soon!” This preparation gives them time to adjust their mental reality before actually experiencing the adjustment.
In cell life, there are several ways to do this:
1) Insure to provide an outward focus every time you meet. This outward look is usually built into the cell agenda (or outline) that is provided to you. Many churches call this the Works time. Essentially, this is a weekly time to emphasize that our goal and vision as a group is to grow beyond ourselves and birth another group. If you skip this time (or just don’t quite get there because ministry is so good), you will probably pay for it at multiplication time.
2) Include as many members as possible in cell leadership activities. One of the most difficult transitions for people going into new groups is feeling abandoned by, or separated from you as the leader. As quickly as your intern is ready, get them involved in leading the present group. As the group grows and progresses you need to plan some unexpected absences from the group so that group members learn that they can survive without you. These times without you give you an opportunity to teach that Jesus is the key to the success of the group, not one individual.
3) Sit down and talk through the vision for multiplication with certain people. As you look to multiply, some people will likely have some serious reservations or concerns. Rather than brushing these off, face it head on. Take the time to help them understand and buy into what is happening. You might include your coach, supervisor or pastor in these conversations.
Ultimately, you must help every member of your group understand that multiplication is the vision of the church, not just some crazy idea you came up with. Once they understand that it is the church vision, then you must help them enter into that vision. Just because they listen attentively doesn’t mean they are buying it! Take responsibility to help your cell members catch a passion and vision for multiplication.
Refresher #3: Multiply around already identified lines of relationship.
As the group grows, you will see people connecting in caring relationships. This often occurs as you establish accountability partners or mentoring relationships. Keep these relationships intact when you multiply if at all possible. When a group grows to 15, there is no way everyone can be in deep, intimate relationship with every other person in the group. This is expected and gives you a great clue to the makeup of the new groups. The folks who are connecting and ministering to one another should be in a group together.
This is especially critical as it relates to the new group leader. If he or she is not in relationship with the members of the new group before you multiply, will a relationship grow after you multiply? Probably not! At its core, cell leadership is about pastoring people, and pastoring requires relationship (shepherds smell like sheep). If your intern doesn’t have caring relationships with these people, how will he lead them?
Refresher #4: Look for tell-tale “we aren’t ready to multiply” warning signs.
1. The group is consistently filling the house, but with a different set of folks every week. This is a clear indication that people are not catching the lifestyle of group. They simply see group as something they do when it is convenient. You cannot build one group, let alone two, on this mindset. Before multiplying, walk these people through the process of living out group life on a weekly basis.
2. You have a “gut” check about the potential leader or key members of the nucleus of the new group. At the least, this should cause you to spend a little more time in prayer and fasting before you multiply. Often, that gut check is you picking up on something in your Spirit that hasn’t made it to your head yet. Seek input and advice regarding this concern from those who are mentoring you as a cell leader.
3. The future leader has not been instrumental in bringing anyone into the present group. It will be very difficult for the future leader to lead people who see you as their leader. If this future leader cannot bring people to a group, how will they bring people into a new group when they have the primary burden of cell leadership? Why would someone suddenly change their actions simply because they have a new title?
4. You are multiplying for the wrong reason. If you are planning a multiplication for any purpose other than to release someone into a calling and responsibility they are already living out, it will backfire on you. Here are a few classic reasons that cell leaders use to multiply their cells without strong emerging leadership:
a) The group has outgrown the houses we meet in.
b) 13 people cannot keep taking care of 25 kids each week!
c) I (cell leader) have not multiplied a group yet and we have been together for a long time. I’m starting to look bad!
d) The drive to group meetings has become a pain.
While these are all difficult issues, multiplication will not solve these problems. You will simply multiply the problems! Multiplication is recognizing the life someone is living, not an expedient way to deal with logistical problems. I have come to the point that I would rather let my cell group grow to 20 or 30 people than multiply with a leader who is not prepared and called to lead!
Refresher #5: Once you multiply, there are ways to make the transition a smooth one.
1) Soon after multiplying (within three weeks), plan a party together. At your last official meeting together set the date and be sure it is a great time of fun, fellowship, and ministry. Periodically plan times together when people can renew old friendships.
2) Remind folks that multiplying doesn’t mean you will never see each other again. Encourage group members to get with folks from the other group as often as they like.
3) Commit to pray for one another at every meeting for the first couple of months.
4) Every once in a while, visit the new group and invite the former intern to lead a portion of your group meeting. This will keep those relationship lines open and give both of you a nice break from the routine of cell leadership.
5) Continue to stay in a mentoring relationship with your former intern. Remember though, the ultimate goal in mentoring is to grow someone to your current level. There is always opportunity for the mentor to become the protégé!
6) Make an effort to be absent from your recently multiplied cell one time in the third or fourth month after multiplication. This will give your new intern a chance to lead without you looking over his or her shoulder.
It has been argued that the most vulnerable time in a battle is when you are repositioning your troops. There is a level of confusion and disorganization that naturally occurs as people are moved from here to there. As you multiply review these refreshing refreshers for multiplication. I pray these help you take your city for Christ as you avoid some of the mistakes I have made in the past! (end of article)
Feature Article - By Steve Prokopchak
The Environment for Change: We serve a God who, by His grace, desires to completely transform us. Transformation means to completely alter the appearance of something.
“No, I don’t!” “Yes, you do!” “No, I don’t!” “Yes, you do!”
While this godly, middle-aged, disgruntled couple sat across from me having a disagreement, I couldn’t help but think, “I wonder who will win? And if there is a winner, is there a loser? Is this really the way we try to provoke change in our relationships with one another?”
“I can’t believe you could say that!”
“How could you say that?”
“Ooh, sometimes . . . I mean really . . . get a life . . . you know it’s not that way!”
Did Dave know what he just accused his wife, Sandra, of doing? For a moment I was on her side. Could he really expect that much change in her in just three short years of a rocky marriage? After all, he was nowhere near being the perfect husband. And yet, in Dave’s mind there was a complete and rational explanation for his expectations. However, Dave’s method of conveying his desire seemed rather demanding. Perhaps it wasn’t so much the requests he was making of his wife, but the attitude with which he delivered his message. Then again, Sandra did seem quite immature, being at least seven years older than Dave. Suddenly, I found myself on Dave’s side. I thought: where does she come off trying to make excuses for not putting forth the effort? It takes two, you know!
Change. We often talk about it. We certainly believe that it’s an on going process as we walk out our lives on this earth. But, have you ever stopped to analyze change? How does it occur? How fast should it occur? By what biblical process does change happen? Can a cell leader help to promote change in his or her cell members?
Sometimes I think we expect new Christians to be where mature Christians are in a very short period of time. We forget that a mature Christian is often ten or twenty years old in their walk with Christ. There’s a tendency in church life to expect new Christians to chew on the meat and spit out the bones as if they had achieved instant maturity with conversion.
If you are a parent and have had the privilege of training a child to walk, you know that falling down is part of the experience. We wouldn’t think of giving up on the idea that our child could walk after their first fall, or second, or fiftieth. Do not expect new Christians to go from crawling to running hurdles for the kingdom. It just won’t happen. What follows are some easy to use and practical counseling helps for you as a cell leader.
Do We Do the Word for Doing’s Sake?
People often ask me if I think change is possible even after 20 years of practicing a bad habit. My reply is usually, “If I didn’t think change was possible, I wouldn’t be in this ministry.” It definitely takes faith, but faith must be put into action as well.
Let’s look at James 1:22-25:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.”
Does it sound like James is trying to tell us that we are to do what the Word of God says to do? If we merely listen and think, “Well, that was a good word,” and don’t put it into practice, not only will we not change, but the Bible states we “deceive ourselves.” We walk in deception by only hearing. I’ve often sat under the teaching of the Word and left in deception. Why? “Because I did not apply it to my life” or “I felt it was for brother or sister so and so.”
enial keeps change from occurring. Hearing the Word or thinking the Word only reveals that the Word is inside our souls. How do we know when the Word is changing us?
Buying a Drink
If you place a quarter in a soda machine, do you have a drink? No, normally it takes two quarters or more. You place your second quarter in the machine. Do you have a drink? No, now a light comes on that suggests you select a drink, but you still do not possess one. You make your selection, the machine releases your choice and you hear the can drop to the bottom of the machine. Do you have a drink? Not yet. You pull the can from the machine and tuck it into your back pocket. Now, the drink is in your possession, but it is not part of you. You could walk around all day long claiming to have a drink. But drinks are meant to be consumed to quench your thirst. Finally, you open the can and drink. This is when the liquid refreshment becomes part of you.
So it is with the Word. We could walk around all day long with a Bible in our back pocket, claiming possession of the Word. When we consume the Word, it goes inside. When we release the Word in prayer, in teaching, in preaching, and in sharing, the Word becomes personalized. We must be responsible to walk our talk and when we do, change will be the natural outgrowth . . . not just hearing the Word, but doing it as well.
Three Parts of Man
To further comprehend how change takes place, we need to understand that there are three parts to each man. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 reveals, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NIV).
Man is spirit. He has a soul (the will, emotions, and intellect) and he lives in a body (the flesh).
Let’s say Kim is a college graduate and loves to read, challenging growth in her soul. She seems to have the appetite of her flesh in line. Her spirit, however, is starving because she is not a Christian.
Kim feeds her body three nutritional meals a day. She enjoys reading and studying to build up her soul. But her spirit is starving to death. It’s important to feed the flesh with physical food and to feed the soul with intellectual food. But Kim, being a pre-Christian, has no or little interest in spiritual things and therefore is starving in the spiritual realm.
As children of the light, we must be concerned about feeding the spirit-man as well as the flesh and the soul. What is the proper balance?
We feed the flesh three or more meals and snacks a day, all the while the flesh is deteriorating. It’s going back to the dust of the earth. It has no eternal value and yet we spend plenty of time caring for it.
The psyche, where we get our word psychology (which simply means the study of the mind), gets plenty of food also. We provide thirteen years of education or more. We read books and take classes. Is it good to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally? Yes, absolutely.
Often, even as Christians, we avoid the spiritual realm. It takes time to study the Word. It’s uncomfortable praying. In Matthew 26:40, Jesus asked His disciples, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” How can we change or grow as Christians if we do not spend some time at the spiritual table?
Paul said, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor. 15:50).
Today, satan has many of us focus on the earthly and “correct body images.” Paul shared with Timothy that “ . . . bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things” (1 Timothy 4:8 KJV). Bodily exercise does profit, but spiritual exercise is profitable in all things.
What does all of this mean? What does it have to do with change? To grow in the spiritual realm is fundamental to change. If I am feeding my spirit or prioritizing it above my soul and my flesh, it will be my spirit-man that is in charge. Carnal Christians are individuals that have their flesh or their soulish appetite fed before their spiritual appetite. You can help cell members by encouraging them to feed their spirit. As a cell leader, be an example of prioritizing the spirit in your life.
The Law of Constant Use
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).
The key words in this verse are “accustomed to.” Accustomed means that you are familiar with the practice or the habit. It is the normal characteristic for you. If you are accustomed to writing with your right hand, it is difficult to begin writing with your left hand.
I once knew a man who was accustomed to speeding when he drove his car. Believe me, he had his share of tickets and fines. His most recent threat was to lose his driver’s license. He was beginning to realize that what he was accustomed to needed to change. The next verse, as we walk through this law of constant use, is Proverbs 14:23: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Have you ever known someone who only “talks” about change? They’re going to get a new job, a car, clean up the back yard, or move to another area of the country. You think to yourself, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” You know they’re not serious. It’s work” to change. It’s hard work to stop smoking or to begin a regular devotional time. But, hard work brings a profit.
Lastly, let’s go to Hebrews, chapter five. The writer of Hebrews tells us that milk is for the young and solid food is for the mature. Infants must have milk. They cannot digest solid food. Verse 14 is our key: “But solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Did you catch that? Solid food is for the mature who by constantly making use of this spiritual food (the Word of God) have trained or better yet retrained themselves to be able to distinguish good from bad. Is that not the pattern of growth and change? Do you still do the bad you once did when you were first saved? I hope not.
Through the constant use of the Word of God and the teachings of faith, that which you were accustomed to doing becomes challenged by truth. It was hard work, but by the grace of God it brought a profit and steady change has come about.
Paul’s mind was renewed. His brains were being washed by the scriptures, so to speak, and it was he that penned the words to the church at Rome, recorded in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
What is mind renewal? And what does it have to do with change?
All of us are constantly thinking thoughts. We may be praying, singing, imagining, remembering, or just rambling in our thoughts. Even while you read these words, you can catch yourself thinking thoughts about other topics. The Lord created our minds in such a wondrous fashion.
Our thoughts stem from our beliefs. For example, if we believe that it is right to stop at stop signs, then when we see a stop sign we will think, “Stop before proceeding.” Hopefully, what follows the thought will be our action. In this case, we stop the car before going through the intersection.
So far our process looks like this: Beliefs . . . Thoughts . . . Actions.
It would be great if this were always the process. The one factor we’re leaving out is feelings. Sometimes we filter our thoughts through our emotions before acting. At other times we think, do, and then feel. Now our process looks like this: Beliefs . . . Thoughts . . . Feelings . . . Actions.
Feeling and actions are interchangeable. For example, if we believe that we should not be lied to, then when we are told a lie, our tendency may be to think less of the one lying to us or to feel angry towards the one lying. Our beliefs about honesty provoke thoughts like this one, “My son should not lie to me when I ask him a question.” If he does lie, my reaction, feelings or action will flow out of my core belief.
Misbeliefs are a fact of life. They come from our past, our former way of thinking or believing. Thankfully, the Lord is willing to work with us. Can you imagine God saving us and then saying, “Now, I’ve saved you. When you get your act together, let Me know, and I’ll let you serve in My kingdom.” If that were how God operated, we would never serve in His kingdom because there is no way that we can change on our own. The Christian walk is an ongoing change process: cell ministry is a great way to use God’s Word as a basis for truth, a basis for belief.
Transformation Means Change
We serve a God who, by His grace, desires to completely transform us. Transformation means to completely alter the appearance of something. “And benot conformed to this world, but be transformed . . .” (Romans 12:2).
Transformation is scary. A friend often reminds me that one thing consistent about the Christian walk is change. That thought rocks our security. We feel most secure when things are under control, when all is going well and there are no bumps in the road. However, life is a series of bumps.
We receive bumps from our families, our jobs, and anything else that we hold on to for security. When a cell goes through the multiplication process, we may feel a few relationship bumps.
When Jesus confronted the invalid at the pool of Bethesda in John chapter five, He asked the man an interesting question. Verse six states, “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time [38 years], he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
Can you see the picture with me? A man who is at the pool where all of the disabled — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed — were hanging out. They were most likely discussing the usual stuff one morning. One of them was discussing if they’d have barley soup for supper again. Another was complaining about how few times the angel shows up to “stir” the water.
The paralytic of 38 years was just commenting about how tough it is to find someone to help him to the water and if he does find someone, it’s always too late . . . another needy one reached the pool before him.
Life was rough around that pool; however, none of them had to work. Perhaps they were guaranteed several hot meals a day. They had their friends. There was a certain amount of security being a part of this disabled bunch. They had a lot in common.
Then the Savior comes along and asks that controversial question. Maybe to the invalid he was really asking, “Do you want to change?” Consider the ramifications: he would have to leave his home of 38 years (perhaps he was somewhat of a peer leader); he would need to become productive and provide for himself; he would no longer have excuses to not make change. The implications were powerful and far-reaching. Change can actually be a threat to our security.
Obedience: The Proof of a Heart to Change
“I know the Bible says . . . but . . . ” “I realize the scriptures tell us not to . . . but God . . .”
Have you ever heard statements like these coming from the mouth of a cell member? There is no appropriate fear of God in these statements. These expressions are void of a conviction, leading to holiness. The inconsistencies found in these words are like a man in a three-piece suit rummaging through refuse at the back of a garbage truck!
To be obedient is to be willing to follow the Lord’s commands. “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Jesus did not say He’ll love you if you obey. That’s a given. He said, “I’ll know you love me by how much you’re willing to obey me” (my paraphrase). Do you love Jesus enough to obey Him? A question that our cell members must ask themselves is, “Do I love Jesus enough to obey Him and not make excuses for my sin?”
What Change Is Not
First, as Christians, we do not make change just for the sake of change. Somehow, we come to the conclusion that we no longer like the way we are and make a decision that change is in order. That decision may follow someone making fun of us, embarrassing us, or rejecting us. If we are to make change, it must be Holy Spirit led.
Secondly, change is not pretending that things are better than they actually are. At times we protect others and ourselves from the truth. If we stop pretending, we must admit that some things are wrong and need to be changed. Admitting this need means facing what the Pharisees had to face when Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:25-26).
Change in appearance or behavior only is not change at all!
Helping your cell members make change means taking the time to listen, incorporating some of the scriptural principles of change listed here, and praying daily for them. Don’t give up; someone believed that it was possible for you to change too! (end of article)
Steve Prokopchak is a Christian family and marriage counselor and directs the Counseling Resource Department of DOVE Christian Fellowship International (DCFI).
Evangelism - Making Him Known - By Karen Hurston
Paving the road to salvation: Five guidelines to effective prayer evangelism in your cell.
In 1998, Bethany World Prayer Center established a new kind of cell group called “prayer cells.” One objective of these 60 prayer cells was to provide a prayer covering to other cells as they ministered to the lost. According to Prayer Cell Coordinator Shelly Hollins, over 1,000 people were saved or received prayer during three months when teams of cell believers went into the streets and homes across their area in a “F-A-I-T-H Outreach” campaign. Even now, Bethany averages 40 salvations a month in their 600 cell groups and 300 salvations a month in their church services. “Prayer cells,” declares Hollins, “are key to evangelism in our church.”
While you rejoice over the evangelism in Bethany’s cells, you might be thinking, “That’s great, but what about me? We don’t have a prayer cell praying for us. Can I still see God’s hand move in my cell group as I pray for the lost?”
Take heart! God wants to answer your prayer for the lost. Consider these five basic guidelines as you reach your world for Jesus.
1. PREPARE YOUR HEART AND MIND
Forgive and ask forgiveness. Before you can pray effectively, you must both forgive (Matt. 6:14-15; Mk. 11:25) and ask forgiveness (Matt. 5:23).
Kyongboon Shin of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Korea understands this vital lesson. After Kyongboon learned in her cell meeting that Christ had forgiven her and she was to forgive others, she called her father. Kyongboon hated her father for his long-term addiction to gambling and its effect on her family. She told him about her decision to forgive and release the past and he accepted her forgiveness. The next Sunday, Kyongboon’s father accompanied her to church and accepted Christ.
“I had prayed for him before, but nothing happened,” Kyongboon commented. “Forgiveness for my hatred paved the road to my father’s salvation.”
Bring your motives to God. James explained that we sometimes do not receive what we request in prayer because we ask with “wrong motives” (James 4:3). Are you praying for this person’s salvation because it would make life easier for you or because it is your religious duty?
Deal with unbelief and disappointment. In the past, you might have prayed for someone to be born again, and saw no results. If so, there could be a residue of disappointment in your heart that makes it difficult for you to have faith for this person’s salvation. If that is the case, reject unbelief. Ask God to transform your disappointment into bold faith and confidence.
2. PRAY BIBLICALLY
I met several cell members who prayed that God would give them a scripture of promise for each lost person targeted. When God did, they proclaimed that Bible passage and prayed fervently. Other cell members would simply search the Bible to find the best scriptural way to pray for the lost. (For ideas of biblical ways to pray, refer to the center sidebar on page 28.)
3. PRAY SPECIFICALLY
For current events and changes . . . Pray that God would use any changes in that lost person’s life . . . as minor as going on a vacation, as major as the birth of a child or death of a parent. Pray he will realize his limitations, and adopt a new openness to receiving Christ.
For significant relatives or friends . . . Pray that God would block the influence of ungodly people in his life, and strengthen believers to respond in ways that increase his hunger for God.
Needs . . . If appropriate, when your friend mentions a need, ask if you can pray for him. Let your friend know that Jesus is concerned with his daily needs.
Interests . . . Each person has an area of interest; a hobby, a favorite type of book to read, an activity, participating in or viewing a favorite sport. Imagine my delight when God used a church softball league as part of a process to bring my athletic cousin Rachel to salvation!
4. COORDINATE YOUR PRAYER EFFORTS WITH YOUR CELL AND YOUR CHURCH
Remember Bethany? Coordination of prayer efforts in cells and their local church yeilded dynamic evangelism results. Bill Henning in Glen Burnie, Maryland and Susanne Kuttruff in Zurich, Switzerland, recently e-mailed me with similar results. Even though they were from different sides of the globe, both staff pastors told how unbelievers targeted by praying cell groups finally came to the Lord through a coordinated prayer or harvest event at their churches.
If your church organizes regular half-nights of prayer for your cell groups, be sure your group participates. If your church holds a special prayer or harvest event, make sure you put “feet” on your prayers and invite your target friend to come with you.
Jesus told His disciples the parable of the persistent widow “to show them that they should pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1b, NIV). In our world of instant gratification, God asks that we not give up our persistent prayer for the lost.
Is there a lost person you sense God would have you target in prayer? There’s no better time to start than now. Begin by preparing your heart and mind, then pray biblically and specifically for that lost person. Coordinate your prayer efforts with your cell and your local church and above all, persist! God delights in answering persistent prayer as you pave the road to salvation for your lost friend! (end of article)
Scriptural Ways to Pray
* Pray that God would lift the blindness brought by the enemy, and open his mind to see the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
* Pray for the Holy Spirit — as He did at creation and with Mary — to hover over him, creating in him a hunger for the Gospel (Gen. 1:2; Lk. 1:35).
* Pray for godly people to be in his pathway every day (Matt. 9:37-38).
* Pray for God to bind all wicked thoughts and lies the enemy would try to place in his mind (2 Cor.10:5; Jn. 8:44; Mat. 16:19; 2 Cor. 11:3).
* Pray for God to place His armor on him, to protect him from the attack of the enemy (Eph. 6:10-18).
Karen Hurston is an international consultant to cell churches based in Gulf Breeze, FL. Visit her website at: www.hurstonministries.org
Cell Leadership - By Billy Hornsby
Do you offer more than a handshake?
You need a clearly defined plan to follow up on visitors and new members.
Marion Slaton recently moved to Baton Rouge after experiencing the tragedy of a bitter divorce and the breakup of her family. Now on her own, she was faced with starting life all over again. When she wasn’t working, Marion spent most of her time sitting at home, reading novels and watching television. She “beat up” herself emotionally and then “licked her wounds” in self-pity. This was an endless cycle that had drawn her deep into a life of isolation and despair. However, God knew her dilemma and was about to change her life.
A few days after visiting Bethany World Prayer Center (and filling out a visitor’s card), Marion heard a knock at her door. There stood a cell leader couple from Bethany who had stopped by to meet Marion and to give her a loaf of French bread. They invited her to attend a cell meeting, but Marion was reluctant to do so. Nevertheless, the caring cell leaders continued to visit her, pray for her, and call her. Finally, she agreed to attend the meeting.
On the night of the meeting, the cell leaders picked Marion up and brought her to the cell meeting. There she shared her situation, and the group members gathered around her to pray. One lady reached out and gave Marion a great big hug. The love of Jesus was present!
That simple act of caring changed Marion’s life and opened her up to the healing she desperately needed. Marion later said, “It was like going home and being with old friends. There was life and joy there, and they prayed for me.” Healing from her hurtful past began that night. In time, Marion began leadership training and eventually became a cell leader.
Without the loving concern that these cell leaders showed Marion, she would have remained wounded and in seclusion for a much longer period of time. However, a clearly defined plan for follow-up of new believers and visitors provided her the opportunity to be assimilated into the life of the church (the cell groups). Below you will find what I believe are the four most important facts in effectively following up and assimilating visitors and new converts into your church.
1. Gather information
To be effective in assimilation, you must have a specific plan of action to obtain personal information on every visitor to your church. Without badgering, you can give people an opportunity to make themselves known by having them fill out some sort of a visitor’s card. If your congregation is small enough, you may find it relatively easy to identify the new people. Nevertheless, you still must have a specific way to reach out to them and offer them fellowship. Your plan could be as simple as extending a sincere, personal welcome to each visitor, or you might decide to have a time of refreshments and fellowship immediately following the service. If your church doesn’t have an information gathering system in place, help them create one.
2. Cover with prayer
Prayer and personal contact with every visitor is essential if you are going to bring him or her into relationship with others in the church. You cannot expect new people to seek you out. You must take the initiative and make the connection. When you can truthfully say, “Ever since I saw your name on the visitor’s card, I have prayed for you and looked forward to seeing you” you will have the boldness to approach that person.
3. Focus on expressed needs
Visitors and new converts will often express a need on the visitor’s card or during a phone conversation. Always follow up on those needs with a caring telephone call, personal visit or a letter. If you make a commitment to help or to contact them at a later date, follow through. You must fulfill your commitments to them and carry out your promises to help if you want people to know that you really do care about them.
Your contact should focus on the person’s need, not your interest in getting him or her into your group. Once you meet the need, membership will be a natural result. In Marion’s case, she needed friends and people who would support her with prayer and fellowship. She received what she needed from a group that focused on her needs.
4. Follow up quickly
Recent studies on new convert follow-up show the first phase must occur within twenty-four hours of the salvation decision. After that time, positive results from follow-up diminish rapidly. It’s interesting to note that visitors and new converts are especially impressed by a “rapid response team” making contact with them within hours of their visit. (People often remark that Bethany is the only church that has bothered to get in touch with them). Keep in mind that if someone has spent months (or even years) praying for a loved one or a friend to come to a church service, the least that you can do is to follow up with a visit or phone call.
The offer of eternal life is the greatest offer in the history of mankind. The second most important offer you can make is a caring friendship and discipleship. Marion Slaton’s life was changed by a local church’s response to her visit at a Sunday morning service. The cell leaders from the church gathered information on her, prayed for her and focused on her needs. Then they moved quickly to offer friendship. As a result of the love and care offered her, Marion went on to lead a cell group of her own. Now she is making a difference in the lives of hurting souls who come across her path . . . even if they do so just by filling out a visitor’s card! (end of article)
Just for Pastors - by Ralph W. Neighbour,Jr.
How to preach in a cell church: Seven facts surrounding your pulpit ministry.
What kind of preaching is appropriate for the cell church? What are the issues to keep in mind when deciding whether planned sermons are relevant? Let’s consider these important facts:
PROCLAMATION MUST SCRATCH WHERE PEOPLE ITCH.
Ray Stedman had a classic phrase he used to criticize traditional preachers. He said it was criminal for a man to stand behind the pulpit with the attitude that said, “Let no dog bark while Sir Oracle speaketh!” I well remember an unchurched man who explained to me why he had not attended church for years. He said, “The sermons were so dull I used to hold up the church bulletin to the light to find out if the paper had a watermark on it. I swore that I would not torture myself again by sitting through drivel, and I gave up going to church for Lent!”
The Bible scholar who thinks he is doing his congregation a favor by preaching “through the Bible” is in reality turning them into bible worms rather than into ministers. Every single part of the Bible is relevant to life, to be sure, but to mechanically exegete verse and chapter week after week belongs in a classroom, not a pulpit. People face real needs and they need to be addressed by relevant messages.
Dion Robert in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, gave me a great idea back in the 1980’s when I visited him. He asks all of his cell leaders to add to their report forms an answer to this question: “What biblical teaching does your cell group need to hear when I preach?” The weekly survey was tabulated and caused him to prepare messages that taught into the current issues being faced in the cells. For example, it was through this he discovered that a series on adultery was desperately needed. For six weeks he extended that theme in his sermons and included a testimony each week from a cell member who shared their own experiences in being delivered from this sin. A wave of repentance flooded through the cell groups as hidden sins were confessed and purity was stressed.
Preaching where people itch is very important, but often there are felt needs that are best dealt with by the pastor speaking to real needs that are not recognized. My pastor friend in Singapore, Lawrence Khong, once appeared on the platform wearing a black T-shirt with a white patch pinned to his sleeve . . . a custom among the Chinese that a person has lost a loved one. The audience saw their pastor and whispered to each other, “Has his mother died?” When he stood to preach, he explained that his grief and mourning was not over one of his blood relatives; rather, he was mourning over the lethargy of the cell groups who were in danger of becoming “navel-gazing” clusters of selfish Christians. There was deep repentance as he launched a six week series of messages on the importance of every cell becoming a harvest point. As a result, that dear church erected a “Hearts Opened” board in the office and created a “Book of Life” for cell members to report converts they were making day by day. For months, there were five new professions of faith written in that notebook every single day.
PROCLAMATION MUST EFFECTIVELY PREPARE CELL MEMBERS TO EDIFY ONE ANOTHER.
Many new cell church plants or transitions confuse the purpose of a cell church by making it a home “Sunday School Class” where a teacher leads a Bible study for the greater portion of the meeting. Emphatically, I insist that a true cell group should never become a Bible study group. Cell members should hear together the proclamation in the Sunday Celebration services, given by the pastor/teachers of the Body. Notes should be taken and then processed daily in what I call the “Listening Rooms” of the cell members (a place and time set aside to listen to the Master). Meditating on the taught scriptures each day, reflecting not only on the importance of the teaching for the individual but also for the cell group, will cause the gathering of the cell members to be pregnant with edification thoughts. It should be carefully explained in your new member orientation or Spiritual Formation weekend that the messages from the Sunday Celebration are to be personally processed in preparation for edification in the cell meetings. Many actually “journal” their thoughts as they reflect daily on the teaching in preparation for the cell group sessions.
Thus, you should prayerfully examine what is going to be taught and ask, “Have I fulfilled my responsibility in teaching what will lead to truths useful in building up not only the cell member, but the cell itself? Can this teaching help one cell member to discover truths to share with the other cell members or to help one person in the cell who is struggling with a problem?”
The best way to discover if the messages are relevant is to survey your cell leaders and ask them what happened during the edification times. The ability to make biblical teaching appropriate for your cell members and their weekly meeting is a skill you must develop.
PROCLAMATION MUST EQUIP THE MINISTERS FOR MINISTRY.
I will never forget the time when I was pastoring my first cell church in Houston and the women in our cells ran head on into a wave of Edgar Cayce cult groups that formed in their areas of the city. It was truly a demonic manifestation, and suddenly all the bridge clubs and women’s groups were filled with his books and his lies. Prominent was the belief that incarnation was a truth, and even some scriptures had been used to prove the Hindu heresy taught by Cayce.
The women in our cells were totally unprepared for the onslaught. I realized it was important to ground them in truths about life after death, not only dealing with reincarnation but also “soul sleep” and other related issues. That series of sermon-teachings was a turning point in our body life as many previously ignored scriptures were received by cell members. They returned to their cell meetings with biblical knowledge great enough to minister truth to those who believed Cayce’s teachings.
On another occasion, we had six teenagers who were killed as one of the youth drove into a concrete barrier. The high school near our building was flooded with grief as all six were buried in one funeral. It was a time to talk about grief and death and how to deal with it. That series was secured on audio tape for months after it was delivered.
PROCLAMATION REQUIRES TEACHING TO BE IN AN EXTENDED SERIES, NOT SINGLE SERMONS.
When conducting seminars for pastors and their spouses, I have often asked their wives to tell us the topic and a few of the thoughts from the sermons their own husbands preached two Sundays ago. It is always fun to see them blush! Invariably, they cannot remember his sermon text from fourteen days before!
In the affective domain, our values are not even impacted until we have been exposed to six significant experiences in a row. In the cognitive domain, little is retained until it has been presented six separate times. That is why in all my cell member equipping materials, I assiduously repeat key concepts a half dozen times in the daily growth guides (e.g., the meaning of pais in the scriptures).
It is a terrible waste for a pastor to deal with a subject less than six times. Sermon series are mandatory for a cell church teacher. I am frequently asked by pastors to become a consultant to them in their transition from traditional to a cell base. One of the first things I do before deciding to accept their invitation is to see if their preaching is appropriate for leading a cell church.
PROCLAMATION MUST COMBINE VISION CASTING WITH VALUE CLARIFICATION.
Vision casting should be woven into every message, every time. The references to one or more parts of the vision of your emerging or existing cell church should be inserted into the context of scripture. I agonized in one church situation a couple of years ago when a pastor asked me to help him build cells into his traditional church model. I went to hear him from time to time and writhed in agony as he missed opportunity after opportunity to apply a truth to the value of his members becoming members of a cell group. His unwillingness to carry the cell vision to his pulpit was, more than anything else, the reason the church never transitioned. His unwillingness to climb aboard the white horse and cry, “Charge!” killed all the work the zone pastors assigned to develop cell groups in the church were trying to do.
Values are only scratched by sermons. They are primarily impacted by experiences. The cognitive content which builds those important experiences must be woven into the messages of the preacher.
PROCLAMATION MUST IMPACT BOTH THE RIGHT AND THE LEFT BRAIN.
Browse through the gospels and carefully examine the life of Jesus. He spent most of his time facilitating his disciples, living and traveling with them. When He did teach, note how He got His truths across to the listeners. He told stories! Story telling caused both sides of the brain to retain imagery and facts that would remain for a long time. The woman who swept her house to find that which was lost . . . the prodigal son . . . parable after parable . . . people never forgot what He said because it related to normal life activities. Telling stories is a great skill, not mastered by all who speak to audiences. Effective proclamation will be a string of stories, including reports of what Christ is doing in the world today.
PROCLAMATION MUST BE PRESERVED FOR FUTURE USE.
Finally, if a sermon series is worth preaching once, it is worth preserving for the newer cell members who need answers already clearly presented by the pastor. I once did a series entitled, Is It Fair? that dealt with questions like “How can God condemn people who have never heard of Him?” and “Why do the Godly suffer?” That series was repeatedly checked out of our cassette library and copied over and over. Many people are not bookworms . . . they are “tapeworms.” Saving the messages and making them available in a lending library, allowing them to be freely duplicated without charge, is a valuable way to extend the ministry of the messages presented.
What a sacred honor it is to be assigned by the Master to be a teacher! Always remember that “Rabbi” in the New Testament defined a mentor who did not just lecture at the “disciples.” He lived with them, modeling by his own lifestyle all he taught. “Go thou and do likewise!” (end of article)
Worship - By Gerrit Gustafson
Increasing participation: What percentage of those you lead are more passive than active in worship?
In a great performance, the audience looks on and applauds the skills of the performers. But worship is not meant to be like that. Good worship is measured by how well the people — not the worship leaders — worship. As my friend, Don Moen says, “It’s not the guy playing the guitar; it’s the truck driver who just came in from a long trip. What’s happening with him?”
So, worship leaders, let’s talk about ways to increase participation among those you lead.
The Passivity Detector
There is a common misconception that worship leaders are to look up to God and not out to the people. But if people are not entering in, the worship leader is not leading. When you lead worship in your group, you need to look up and out to your fellow cell members. It’s vital to your group’s growth to determine the current level of participation and deepen it.
Every good worship leader needs a “passivity detector” (a little internal alarm that goes off when you’re leading worship and you notice there are more blank stares than bright faces). An occasional beep from the “detector” is tolerable, but if it’s beeping regularly, it’s time for action!
Passivity in worship is the opposite of participation. If you have a number of passive worshipers, treat it like the plague and work hard to solve this problem.
Ask yourself: “What percentage of those I lead are more passive than active in worship? 25%? 50%? 75%?” Before you become too irritated by your answer, ask yourself: “Who is most responsible for this condition?” More often than not, it’s a leadership responsibility. The good news is that you can do something about it!
Antidotes for Passivity
Exhort. It may be time for a gentle reminder of why we worship. Encouragement and instruction can go a long way in rooting out passivity. Sometimes, I will just stop the song and spend two minutes giving reasons for what we’re doing. Don’t scold the people or drive them to give forced offerings (as described in I Samuel 2:16). Lead them by revelation, not obligation. Show them the worthiness of our God!
Be Inclusive. Sometimes people will reason that because they aren’t great singers, God has not called them to be worshipers. Nothing could be further from the truth! Psalm 150:6 states “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!” Encourage the children, youth, adults, the elderly and anyone else who is breathing to worship God with all their hearts! Don’t accept the notion that you are called to worship God on their behalf.
Clarify. It may be your cell members don’t know the songs, or the songs are too difficult. Be patient, and teach them the songs! As a musician, you probably have a greater capacity to learn new songs than those you are leading. Regularly go back to the ” songs that are familiar and sprinkle in new songs.
Build a Highway. I like the Scripture that says “Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones” (Is. 62:10). As a worship leader, you must remove the obstacles that hinder participation.
It’s your responsibility to make sure the words for the songs are available, so always have song sheets for everyone. Choose songs that are relevant to what God is doing among you. Pitch the songs in the right keys and tune your guitar beforehand. When you practice the songs, include transitions so that your cell doesn’t stumble, or start and stop, as they are entering into worship.
All of these preparations are like “preparing the way” or “building a highway” for the people’s easy access.
Economize. Work out general time parameters with your group leader beforehand. Then, be sensitive to waning participation due to going too long, or trying to sing too many songs or repeats. As a musician, your tendency will be to go longer than everyone else. Worship leaders, just like preachers, teachers and writers, are prone to going on and on! If your “detector” is working properly, you’ll be able to pick up what’s called the “collective groan” just as you’re starting into “the third song past the end.” (Your wife or husband can help you with this!)
The Presence Factor
Ultimately, the greatest factor affecting participation is the intangible called “God’s presence.” Expect this when you lead worship, for the Scripture says that we “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4). When this happens, hearts open like flowers in the sun!
Worship should be like Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 14:13-32). As they were talking about the Lord, “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.” As you sing about the Lord and offer our praise to Him, it shouldn’t be uncommon that Jesus comes up and walks along with you too. Their description — “Were not our hearts burning within us!” — will become yours.
You certainly can’t manufacture this, but you can make room for it. And when you do, participation will increase automatically. When Jesus is there, interest increases incredibly! Our highest calling as worship leaders is to prepare a way for people to encounter God’s dynamic presence. Beyond learning the mechanics of leading songs, we should be learning the mysteries of God’s ways.
Go Do the Right Thing
So be vigilant to guard against passivity in worship. Don’t accommodate a big gap between the experience of the worship team and the people. Prayerfully seek creative ways to engage the people in worship. God hasn’t called you to “do worship” for them, but rather to stimulate their own lives of worship. The result? God will be happy, and they will be forever grateful! (end of article)
Gerrit Gustafson founded WholeHearted Worship and is a seasoned man of worship. He works with small groups in the Nashville, TN area.
Nucleus - By Larry Kreider
It’s how we fish that counts: Discovering that God’s purpose is the process, not just the result.
I have great boyhood memories of fishing with my Dad. Strangely enough, in those days I was convinced the main purpose of our fishing expeditions was to catch a lot of fish. But as I grew up and had a family of my own, I discovered my perspective was flawed.
Catching big fish was never the main goal in my father’s mind. His goal was to teach me some basic life principles: perseverance (when the fish refused to bite), following his instructions (better known as obedience), and learning where the best fishing holes were (sounds like discernment to me).
As I learn to walk with my heavenly Father, I find amazing similarities. I am convinced He is much more concerned about what He is doing in me than in my reaching my lofty spiritual goals. Isaiah tells us that our natural thoughts are completely different than God’s thoughts:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Leading a healthy, multiplying cell group or serving as the pastor of a growing church is a noble goal. Nevertheless, do not confuse this goal with the Lord’s clearest goal and purpose for your life. He loves you, and He is more concerned about building His life in you than your exciting cell meetings or successful church.
Oswald Chambers once said, “We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful and keep a clear head while in the midst turmoil, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish. His purpose is the process itself!
Believe God for your cell group to grow and multiply as new people come to Christ, even though you do not see progress today. Yet never forget the Lord’s most focused goal for your life: to make you more like Jesus.
Isaiah tells us: “. . . the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above” (Isaiah 37:31). God’s goal for us is for our roots to reach deep down into Him, so we can bear spiritual fruit in abundance. The character of Christ is developed in us through the process of the trials and disappointments of life. We must trust Him and His Word rather than our present circumstances. Anyone can be excited when things go well. What about when our expectations are not met? What happens to you when your cell goes for a season without anyone coming to Christ, or doesn’t multiply as often as you had projected, or people seem to leave your cell group for the wrong reasons? Continue to pray and to believe, but be sure not to miss the Lord’s higher way and higher thoughts for your life.
When crops do not receive the blessing of rain for a season, the drought forces their roots to go deep for moisture. A season of spiritual drought just might be the proper environment for our spiritual roots to go down deeper into Him. The Lord is calling us to complete dependency on Him as we persevere during the process of life. One of the most effective means of spiritual warfare is simply to not quit! He has called you to bear good fruit! And don’t forget, as you submit to His higher thoughts and ways, the last chapter has not yet been written on your fishing expedition! (end of article)
Larry Kreider is director of DOVE Christian Fellowship International, a world-wide network of cell churches.
(end of issue)