Children in the Cell

mario

by Mario Vega

Today’s subject is based on the conditions of counries in Central America. Those conditions have two important components: families have an average of three kids and houses are very small.

These two components combine at the moment of celebrating the cell meeting in the houses. There are always more children than adults in an insufficient space. It was decided, under these conditions, almost since the beginning of the work with cells that children should be attended in a different area than the adults. While the adults were celebrating the cell meeting, the children were taken to another part of the house to receive a Bible teaching.

In the future this would be a measure that we would like to modify, but for several years it was the resource that allowed the adults to focus on the cell meeting, knowing that their children were being attended, most of the times, by young people that were willing to help.

Next week I will share with you about the changes that were introduced.

In the mean time, could you share with us how you have been working with children in the cell meetings?

Mario

Translation in Spanish:

¿Cómo atender a los niños?
El tema de hoy se basa en las condiciones de los países centroamericanas. Esas condiciones tienen dos componentes principales: las familias tienen un promedio de tres hijos y las casas son muy pequeñas.

Esos dos elementos se combinan al momento de realizar la reunión de célula en las casas. Siempre hay más niños que adultos en un espacio insuficiente. Bajo esas condiciones, se decidió casi desde que comenzamos a trabajar con células que los niños debían ser atendidos en un área diferente a la de los adultos. Mientras los adultos realizaban la reunión de células, los niños eran llevados a otro sector de la casa para impartirles una enseñanza bíblica.

En el futuro ésta sería una medida que habríamos de modificar, pero, por varios años fue el recurso que permitió a los adultos centrarse en la reunión de célula sabiendo que sus hijos eran atendidos, normalmente, por jóvenes dispuestos a ayudar.

La próxima semana compartiré sobre los cambios que luego se introdujeron. Mientras tanto, ¿podría usted compartir cuál ha sido su manera de trabajar con los niños en las reuniones en las casas?

A Reminder

coaches_jeff-150x1501by Jeff Tunnell

www.bigbearchristiancenter.org

“We don’t need more instruction, or new information, but we could sure use a good reminder!”  This comment was shared last week at a financial seminar we hosted for people looking for help in our troubled financial times.  It came at an appropriate time as I was preparing to deliver “Mission 2009”, a message for the direction of our congregation.  Prayer, Cells, Missions are the focus. We call our Cells “Lighthouses”.

Prayer: the first work:  Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done  (Jesus taught us to pray Matthew 6:5-15)

  1. We will teach, practice, example and gather for prayer in 2009
  2. We will declare our dependency on God and place hope in no other source of help
  3. We will see our community prayed over in multiple methods (walks, strategic targets, meetings)

Cells: our local Mission is to “provide a witness for Jesus, in every home and every business, every day”

  1. We provide equipping and training, a place to belong and to begin growing and serving simultaneously. (salvation, baptism, Lighthouse Family Member connections, pastoral care, ministry to others, service to community, etc)
  2. We will disciple ourselves, and others in the Lighthouses, and equip each one to influence their “oikos” and beyond
  3. We will multiply Lighthouse Keepers into every strata of our community

Missions:  our trans-local missions  “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

  1. We will cooperate in the Great Commission by giving, sending & praying for those with whom we partner (Romans 10:14-15)
  2. We will give a minimum of 10% of our general income (tithes & offerings) to missions which are involved in accomplishing Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:18-20
  3. We will equip each believer to become a “mission-ary”*, locally and/or trans-locally

* “ary”, suffix meaning “of, or related to”, “person belonging to, connected with, or engaged in”

How do you keep the Cell vision in front of your congregation?  Is it random or planned, sporatic or regular?  What methods or avenues are implemented?  Share your creativity with us on the blog.

Diversity

by Rob Campbell

www.cypresscreekchurch.com

Years ago, I heard a speaker at a Promise Keeper’s gathering declare, “Diversity is not the enemy of unity.”  I think it’s a brilliant quote actually.  I believe it to be true.

Are the cells in your church diverse?  Certainly, there are some commonalities in format, vision, and more.  But, there’s diversity, right?  Because every individual is unique, there are some unique aspects to each and every cell.  I would suggest that this is a beautiful thing in the local church.

When I was a kid, I watched my father begin a new hobby.  He got interested in stain glass.  I remember looking at his workbench adorned with a myriad of stain glass pieces that he had cut with his own hands.  There were various colors and unique sizes.  They were all different.  Eventually, the carefully crafted and cut pieces were placed together displaying a nice piece of art.

To me, this is like the church.  We are formed by our Creator in many different ways and His Spirit fashions together a cell or church family.  It’s a piece of art, isn’t it?  Yet, the pieces are quite diverse– sometimes completely different in color, size, and more.

To the point, it’s a good thing when a church has diverse cells.  A “one size fits all” type of Christianity in expression and spiritual formation is not reality.  I would encourage you to celebrate the diversity– it is a thing of beauty.

Comments?

Cell Church in Quebec

joel

I’m on the plane flying home from my ministry trip to Quebec, Canada in a city called Granby, about 1.5 hours outside of Montreal. A few cultural experiences from my trip: first, it’s cold in Quebec in January (an average of about 15f below while I was there). Second, I feel a new compassion and delight in the French people of Quebec. They’ve had a tumultuous history, are a wonderful people (passionate, funny, artsy). I also believe they are ripe for the harvest because of all the incredible struggles they’ve gone through.

My seminar was directed to a group of five Evangelical Baptist Churches  who were planted from the same mother church. The mother church, led by Richard Houle, became a cell church and then a cell church planting base. Now, Richard is one of the key coaches to the five churches, having identified another senior pastor for the mother church.  Here’s some key things I learned from Richard and their church planting movement:

  1. Develop a missionary team for church planting purposes. Rather than putting all the responsibility on the mother church for the daughter churches, it’s a good idea to develop a missionary church planting team to nurture and care for the new cell churches. In this way the coaching of the new church plants doesn’t just fall upon the lead pastor of the mother churches (if you have more questions about how they are doing this, contact Richard at: r.houle@leflambeau.org
  2. Fine tune the cell church vision. I loved the way this movement of churches connects to the worldwide cell church vision. Richard Houle and the team has read the cell church literature, held conferences in Quebec with some of the best cell church teachers (e.g., Ralph Neighbour, Bill Beckham, etc.), and are practicing cell church ministry (both having transitioned a traditional church to a cell church but also having planted five cell churches.
  3. Influence your denomination. This group of five Evangelical Baptist Churches have been a shining light to the rest of the French speaking Evangelical Baptist Church denomination in Quebec (80 churches all-together). They’ve maintained their place in the denomination and even offered to help other churches in the cell vision. These churches are now held up as an example of church planting multiplication and other churches are hungry to learn more. For example, we had approximately 200 pastors, leaders, and lay people at the seminar (in a region where only .5% is evangelical. ). 

When I do these seminars around the world, my goal is to pass on to you, the lessons I learned. I hope these principles will help you in your ministry,

Joel

A Return to House to House Ministry

mario

by Mario Vega

At present we have become accustomed to divide our lives between spiritual and secular aspects–a totally unknown division from the teachings of the Scripture.

Within this logic, we build buildings to worship Jesus while we go on to live in our houses. In this way, we set the separation between what we now call the secular and spiritual life. Spiritual life becomes the visits made to the worship center while the secular life is everything else that is done outside that building.

The first century churches were not like that. The church of ACTS owned no personal property. Rather they used houses of Christians. In this way, the church was vitally linked to what was considered the center of life: home.

Returning the church to the houses is an important step to the understanding of the truth that Jesus should be at the center of our lives on a permanent basis. He must be the Lord of our entire lives–not just a few hours per week.

Has working with cells helped you to live out this truth?

Mario

In Spanish:

De regreso a las casas.

En la actualidad nos hemos acostumbrado a dividir nuestra vida entre aspectos espirituales y seculares. Una división totalmente ajena a las enseñanzas de las Escrituras.

Dentro de esa lógica, construimos edificios de culto para Jesús en tanto que nos vamos a vivir a nuestras casas. De esa manera establecemos la separación entre lo que ahora llamamos la vida espiritual y la secular. La vida espiritual son las visitas que se hacen al edificio de culto en tanto que la vida secular es todo lo demás que se hace fuera de ese edificio.

En la iglesia de los primeros siglos no era así. La iglesia no tenía edificios para el culto sino que utilizaba las casas de los cristianos. Así, la iglesia estaba unida vitalmente con lo que se consideraba el centro de la vida: el hogar.

El regresar la iglesia a las casas es un importante paso en la comprensión de la verdad que Jesús debe estar en el centro de nuestras vidas de manera permanente. No podemos escabullirnos de él ni hacer nada que escape a su incumbencia. Él es el Señor de nuestra vida y no de un par de horas a la semana.

¿Le ha ayudado el trabajar con células a vivir esa verdad?

Did You “Click the Link”?

coaches_jeff-150x1501by Jeff Tunnell

www.bigbearchristiancenter.org

Before we go any farther, did you click on the link in Joel’s post for this week?  Look for “cell church principles” in the fourth paragraph, first sentence.  This link takes us to an article that I have returned to many times over the last few years.  The principles listed are always worth review.  Don’t allow yourself to put principles aside and embrace the “latest and greatest” untried but possibly exciting way of doing things in Cell ministry  Don’t fall victum to “I already know that” and miss the truth of proven patterns of ministry.  Work on the principles and the outcomes will take care of themselves!   Thanks Joel, I needed that!

I’ll keep this short so you can spend the moment finding the link and reveiwing the article.

What do you think?  Are the principles listed there still applicable today?

Strands

by Rob Campbell

www.cypresscreekchurch.com

Economic pundits are suggesting that 2009 is going to be a challenging year in many arenas.  Indeed, many American churches have felt the downturn of the economy.  Staff have been laid off.  Ministries have been cut.  New initiatives have been placed on hold.  Futuristic predictions abound; yet, no one really knows what will happen in the days to come.  Only ONE knows and that would be our Sovereign Lord.

In these days, I have encouraged my church family to be securely fastened and anchored in God’s Word.  As a matter of fact, our theme for 2009 is “Strands.”  Eccl.  4:12:  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

The idea is that every church member would “be a strand” and come together with two other people to form a cord.  I have encouraged the strands to utilize the One Year Chronological Bible as the primary resource.  The strands would read each day (individually) and come together once a week to discuss the scriptures.  Like you, I’ve seen a lot of discipleship materials, but why not have your people utilize the very word of God?  God is the author!

Maybe strand time could be incorporated/integrated in your current cell gathering.  Maybe you could have a “seeker” who has not yet begun his/her relationship with Christ who would “strand” with you each week.  What an opportunity!  Maybe your time is limited, but you have the opportunity to have an ongoing E-strand (email or blog site) dialogue with a few other individuals.

A recent survey cites that 63% of Americans cannot name five of the ten commandments.  Further, the same survery indicates that 50% of American high school students think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.  My gracious!

In closing, may I encourage you to be a strand….and form a cord.  We need to experience the scriptures in community.  We need accountability from others.  We need to daily ingest the Word of God.

Comments?

Adapting Cell Ministry to Your Church Tradition

joelLast week I ministered to 100+ Episcopal ministers (both fulltime and lay ministers) among the Episcopal Church of Albany, NY. This is a conservative, Evangelical group who is at odds with the direction of the Episcopal denomination in North America (e.g., liberal doctrine and the ordination of a gay bishop). There are six Episcopal diosece in New York and the diosece of Albany is the only conservative one among the six. The diosece of Albany only allows priests to minister who have graduated from conservative seminaries and believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. The bishop of the Albany diosece was present for the entire cell conference.

I was brought up in the Episcopal Church and even went through Episcopal catechism as an adolescent. Yet the symbolic language and religiosity practiced in my particular church made me think that God was far off. I felt like I needed to win his favor by good works. I remember many nights trying to fervently pray to this far off God, hoping He would hear me. I thought God would hear if I offered “canned” prayers, but I soon grew tired of my one-way effort. This distant God just seemed unreachable. In 1973, however, I cried out to Jesus in my bedroom, and He changed my life. God regenerated me and I became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Each morning and evening during the conference, a different priest led the prayer/meditation time from the Common Prayer book. My mind flowed back to my Episcopal upbringing. In the olden days, the words on the pages had no meaning. Now they sprang to life. Great biblical content. I could repeat the prayers with fervor and zeal. I went away edified, rather than mystified.

When I do cell seminars around the world, the greatest challenge is to take the universal cell church principles and apply them to each specific situation. For example, I’m accustomed to singing worship songs during the WORSHIP time in my cell. Yet, Episcopal worship centers around the liturgy of the Common Prayer book. I challenged them to choose specific prayers to use in the cell, mixed with silence, confession, and meditation. I also had to adjust my presentation about the growing worldwide cell churches. Why? Because many of the Albany parishes only have 15-25 people attending on Sunday morning. I had to make sure I encouraged them to envision growth in smaller increments–from 25 to 35, for example, after starting the initial group (s).

Many of you reading this blog come from denominational backgrounds with specific traditions. What are some of the ways you need–or have needed–to adjust cell minsitry to make it work in your particular situation?

 

Joel Comiskey

The Time that Leads to Intimacy

mario

by Mario Vega

Besides keeping a low number of people in the cell and practicing love, there is a third element that can be added that will facilitate reaching intimacy: time

When we review the stories about the first church in the book of Acts, it’s clear that the first Christians met in houses not only once per week but every day (Acts 2:46; 5:42). And it was not only an occasional and brief meeting, but they shared their food eating together everyday.

Obviously, it’s not about transferring the 1st century Mediterranean culture to the XXI century western world; but it is important to learn the lesson that teaches that establishing friendly relationships with other Christians and new converts is an effort that demands time. That effort played a key role in the lives of early Christians.

The geographical organization of the cell work can be a factor that facilitates the interaction between members of a cell. They can have fellowship not only during the cell meeting but on a daily basis. Those who grow in intimacy pay the price and spend the time getting to know each other.

Thoughts?

Mario

El tiempo que conduce a la intimidad.

Además de un número reducido de personas y de la práctica del amor como elementos facilitadores de la intimidad es posible añadir un tercer elemento: el tiempo.

Al examinar los relatos del libro de Los Hechos sobre la primera iglesia es evidente que los cristianos se reunía en las casas no solamente una vez por semana sino que todos los días (Hch. 2:46; 5:42). Y no solamente era una reunión ocasional y breve sino que compartían los alimentos comiendo juntos diariamente.

Obviamente, no se trata de trasladar la cultura mediterránea del siglo I al mundo occidental del siglo XXI; pero, sí es importante aprender la lección de cómo el establecer relaciones de amistad con otros cristianos o nuevos convertidos es un esfuerzo que demanda tiempo. Ese esfuerzo poseía un lugar esencial en la vida de los primeros cristianos.

La organización geográfica del trabajo celular puede ser un factor que facilite la interacción entre miembros de una célula. Ellos pueden tener comunión no solamente durante la reunión de célula sino en el diario vivir. Solamente llegan a conocerse las personas que se compenetran. Y solamente se logran compenetrar quienes reservan tiempo para ese propósito.

Ask the Questions

coaches_jeff-150x1501by Jeff Tunnell

www.bigbearchristiancenter.org

Discipleship requires that someone is asking the “hard” questions that relate to the application of the Word of God.  Some would refer to these questions as “Accountability Questions”, and if you Google that phrase you will find the first ten results will all be from Christian sites.  There are a myriad of questions that reflect a basic discipleship process and help you to mentor someone else in following Christ.

For cell leaders, our questions reflect another facet of accountability that is simple and fundamental.  Questions that request an honest response and intial evaluation of how the most recent Bible message that we shared together is being actively pursued for apprehension and lifestyle upgrades, i.e. becoming more Christlike.

This is certainly a great advantage within the cell-based church.  Any pastor would love to know that his message preparation has produced fruit in the lives of hearers.  Mid-week cell meetings bring the message to a strong deveolpment point where someone who knows the other person intimately is able to ask the questions that promote growth and progress.

What are the questions you ask?