Rob yesterday brought up some important points that transcend our focusing on one homogenous target. He talked about authenticity, love, and intercessory prayer as part of the reason why cell churches work. I also liked what Connie said in the comment to Monday’s post about the homogeneous unit principle. She wrote, “This is where the cell concept works so well because through a whole variety of cells facilitated by people from all walks of life, we can begin to reach a range of people from different demographics. If CHURCH = CELL and vice versa, then let ALL cells reach out to ALL kinds of people so that as a BODY we can invite and include everyone. Letâ€™s be flexible, generous in heart and sensitive to the Spirit.”
Allow me to include excerpts from an article I wrote back in 1998 entitled “Reaching Ethnic Groups through Cell Ministry.”
Remember that the cell-celebration paradigm is an ideal strategy for gathering ethnic groups in distinct cells and then asking all the various groups to celebrate together on Sunday morning. In this way you can â€œhave-your-cake-and-eat-it-to.â€ So donâ€™t hesitate to encourage a rich variety of homogenous groups to meet during the week in your churchâ€”just make sure you invite them also to gather in a common Sunday celebration service.
The beauty of the cell church is that it welcomes all of Godâ€™s rich creation. Those same homogeneous cells that meet during the week come together for a weekly Sunday celebration. In these festive moments, those from every tribe, language, and people celebrate together.
Celebrate the diversity in your churchâ€”donâ€™t reject it. Gather the ethnic variety into home cell groups. Donâ€™t force these ethnic groups to enter into your ONE KIND of small group. Diversify. Give them options. By granting them this liberty, your groups will evangelize more effectively and multiply more rapidly.
You can reach Chinese peopleâ€”or any other type of peopleâ€”through your cell ministry. Donâ€™t allow the phrase “It may work with other people, but it won’t work here” to hinder your cell ministry. Take advantage of the diversity around you. I believe that the cell church model is uniquely positioned reap the harvest in todayâ€™s diverse ethnic society.
Celebration in a cell church echoes the words of John, the apostle: â€œAnd they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earthâ€ (Rev.5:9,10).
My wife Celyce, for example, has a special burden for young mothers. As a mother of three small girls, she understands the joys and struggles of motherhood. God stirred her to start a home cell group for this homogenous group. Getting the women to share is not a problem in my wifeâ€™s group. If anything, the difficulty is making sure everyone has a chance to share. These young mothers feel comfortable sharing with those who have faced similar concerns and struggles.
Bethany World Prayer Center (Baker, Louisiana) reaches entire communities for Jesus Christ through its homogeneous cell groups. Theyâ€™ve discovered that people are more willing to invite their non-Christian friends to a homogeneous group, and those same friends are more resolved to attend such a group.
One problem is that even in homogeneous cell groups, there’s the need to reach (and stretch) beyond our comfort zone to reach people NOT EXACTLY like us. And it can be painful! I’ll discuss this more on Friday’s blog.
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