York Alliance Church (York, Pennsylvania) started the process to become a cell church in 1998. Before 1998 York Alliance was a STAR programmed based church in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. Yet, community was not a priority. Senior pastor David King writes of those earlier days, “Christians at the church had commonality in their core beliefs and backgrounds but did not have community. Worship services were high on participation but low on real adoration of the Lord. Although the music was great, praise was hesitant.” Pastor David knew that the increased attendance was masking deeper problems within. And he had no system at the time to deal with the superficiality.
David, the pastor since 1994, went to a TOUCH cell church confernce at Cornerstone in West Virginia (Gerald Martin) in 1998 and was bit by the cell church bug. They started their first prototype cell a the end of 1998 and have been pressing ahead ever since. I visited one of the eighteen cells on Monday night.
I was very tired before going to the cell. But when I entered Ken’s living room, the burdens lifted, and I felt like I was transported to New Testament times. One man present was a former drug addict who now loved Jesus and actively participated that Monday night. Another guy had spent four years in prison. Now a transformed believer, he was preparing to go off with a team to start the daughter cell. I noticed both married couples and singles–a true intergenerational cell.
The WELCOME time drew us close together. We shared GOD-words during the ice-breaker (members simply sharing how God has used the other cell members to minister to their lives). Then we entered into God’s presence through WORSHIP using a CD. The WORD time applied the Sunday message to our own lives. During the WITNESS time we broke up into sub-groups to pray for our unsaved oikos. I left that night filled with joy, realizing once again that cell ministry touches hearts at the deepest levels.
At York Alliance all cell members get involved in the cell process. One person will lead the worship one night; another will take the ice-breaker. They often trade off the WORD time as well. One leader oversees each cell, but his or her job is made a lot easier by the active participation of the members. The cell groups (they call them LIFE groups) rotate from house to house, which makes it a lot easier on one host. Most of the cell groups are intergenerational cell groups–even the youth mix in with the adults and children.
York Alliance is an exciting testimony of the power of cell ministry in the western cultures, such as the U.S.