Social Action through Cell Ministry

JOELElton Lin is the pastor of Haven, a church plant in the San Jose area. I’ve had had the privilege of coaching Elton and can testify that he has a compassionate heart for needy people. He has repeatedly felt burdened to equip his cells to reach out with the gospel AND with practical acts of service.

Several months ago, he gave each house group $5,000.00 and basically said use it to make a difference in the community! justiceHe called it the Justice Project. Here’s what he wrote and gave to each group:

Objective: To find ways to “act justly and love mercy” [Micah 6:8] within the community that we live.

  • Practice hearing God’s voice
  • Develop an eye for people in our community who are poor, marginalized, neglected, under-resourced, under-privileged
  • Find creative ways to make our resources matter to those who need it
  • Put our faith into action.

Summary: The house group will be given $5,000 USD to be a resource for putting our faith into action in our communities. Each person will also contribute a suggested amount of at least $50. If you cannot afford $50, prayerfully contribute what you are able. The hope is NOT that we would donate money to a charity, but that we would pray, seeking God’s heart and seeing our local community through his eyes. We hope to find opportunities to tangibly love those around us and use the money as a means to serve people. The goal is always to love God and people.
Suggested Pathway:

  • Pray – Pray for God to open our eyes to people who are marginalized, neglected and experiencing injustice.
  • Investigate – Investigate the needs of these people.
  • Discuss – Discuss tangible ways to serve, love and empower these people.
  • Devise – Devise a concrete plan [objective, costs/materials, date, required personnel].
  • Pray – Pray for God to revise, adjust and provide in regards to the plan.

Sample Ideas [not limited to]:

  • Building Handicap Access Ramp for People w/Disabilities
  • Establish and Resource a Computer Lab for a Community Center in an Under- Resourced Neighborhood
  • Helping to Renovate a Food Bank or Shelter
  • Prepare and Give Out Street Survival Kits for Homeless.

Other Parameters:

  • If project requires, Haven may provide more funds upon request.
  • Compete Project by October, 2007.

As soon as I know what happened, I, Joel, will let you know.




You have hopeless people in your cell and/or church family.  This reality is not a sad thing– it’s just true.  It isn’t something to be ashamed of.  As a matter of fact, hopeless people walking into your home or worship center is a good– no– great thing.  It’s no secret that healthy, growing churches offer hope.

My hunch is that we have all been hopeless at one time or another.  Hopelessness will probably visit our door many times this side of heaven.  When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed.  Proverbs states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

For most people, hope is something they do, but the Bible talks about hope as something you possess.  Romans 15:13:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  If you are a child of God, then you have hope…you possess hope.  Why do you (at times) feel hopeless?  It’s normal.  It’s human.  We make a choice to push away the hope of God within us and entertain other ideas and notions.

Hope is the expectation of good in the future.  It is the confident expectation that God is willing and able to fulfill His promises to us.  God gives hope because today is tough, rough, and rugged.  The purpose of hope is to keep us engaged in the task, mission, relationships that we need to be in to make it another day. 

If you find yourself (or your cell members) in a state of hopelessness, consider these thoughts.  First, surrender defensive hope.  This is the hope that things will get better because I want them to get better.  It’s like wishing upon a genie in a bottle.  This type of hope is rooted in wishful thinking and blind optimism.  Next, express your hopelessness to God.  You won’t ruin his day.  Hopelessness means you don’t have the answers or a plan.  When we are at the end of our rope, then that is where God loves to do his work and extend his mercy and grace.  Finally, grieve.  Grief allows you to let go of things that you cannot control.  You may remember that Jesus was “well acquainted with grief.”

Moving from hopelessness to hope requires action.  You need not travel this road alone.  Learn to trust others.  Live in the truth.  Share your hopeless state with a friend whom you admire and trust.

It’s a GREAT thing for hopeless people to be in our midst.

“I will wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him” (Psalm 62:5).


 by Rob Campbell 



Serving through Cell Ministry

JOELCalifornia fires ravaged San Diego, Orange County, Malibu, and mountain homes around Arrowhead. I live right in the middle of it all, and our windows were closed the entire time because the air outside was so contaminated (a very small inconvenience compared to those who lost homes, etc.). I remember visiting my 83 year old dad in servingLong Beach, CA last week during the height of the Santa Ana winds. We tried to take a walk on the Seal Beach peer, normally a fresh, cool diversion. We walked about half way on the peer and had to turn around because the 94-degree winds were so uncomfortable (and this was literally on the ocean!). Many, many people in California now find themselves in crisis because of the fires.

What can cells do to reach out to people in times of crisis? Most of you know that the most famous cell order is the four Ws. The last W is Witness or Works. A great way to use the Witness time is to minister to people in need.

On Steve Cordle’s blog three weeks ago, he mentioned that many of the cells at Crossroads were out in the community serving unchurched people in practical ways: painting homes, doing repairs, passing out water on a walking trail, or other missional/service-oriented projects. One of our own cells at Wellspring recently asked their non-Christian neighbors, along with their own cell members to prepare shoe boxes full of goodies for Operation Christmas Child.

How has your cell group reached out to hurting people? Next blog I’ll share how Elton Lin, a cell church planter in the San Francisco area, is equipping his cell leaders to meet social needs in the community.



Reaching Generation X through Cell Groups

joelJim Wall pastors a growing cell church in Chesapeake, VA (Jim is the one in the red shirt to the right). You can read more in-depth information about about Jim’s church, Western Branch Community Church, on my web site. Jim was sharing with me a few days ago about the victory they’ve had in integrating the Generation X jimwall crowd into their normal celebration services. Jim told me that Dale Sauls came to Western Branch in the mid 90s to start a Generation X Sunday celebration service along with cell groups. The church realized that they were effectively reaching baby boomers but not reaching their young adult children. Pastor Dale began to grow a “church within a church” to about 600 with two Sunday morning celebration services and two dozen cells.

Pastor Dale eventually left to become senior pastor of a church in North Carolina. With Dale’s departure, Western Branch opted to leave the cells in place, but phase those celebration services out. The church simply invited the Generation X people into the “general adult services.”

Pastor Jim Walls writes, “To my knowledge, the only people we lost in the transition were those who attended the Generation X celebrations but were not in a cell! Today, three years later, that age group is the fastest growing segment of our church – without a celebration service of their own. They are happy to celebrate with their parents and grandparents because they have their cells which still tend to form around common age groups.”

What an exciting testimony of the connecitng power of cell groups–and how young people love to celebrate intergenerationally.



Joining God’s work

by Steve Cordle

If you have the privilege of coaching a number of groups, you know that there are always some groups that are “up” and some that are “down”. As a coach it can be natural to focus on the group that is experiening a “down” time. After all, we want to “fix” them, don’t we?!

But the most effective coaching stance might be to focus on the groups that are doing well. Learn from them – what are they doing that is effective? Resource them, what ideas and prayer can help them move ahead even more?

Some years ago Henry Blackaby taught us to “find what God is doing and join Him in it”. To coach in this way means to sense where God is at work in a group and to join Him in it. It doesn’t make sense to ignore a move of God and focus on where there is none.

Now, I am not saying we should ignore struggling groups. Far from it. Those groups deserve good coaching too!

But the bulk of our time, focus and prayer can be strategically used in connection with groups that are going well. We might think they need nothing, but atually they need help since they are growing and changing.

Where is God at work in your network of groups?” How can you join Him in it?