Harvest in Times of Crisis

joelDavid Garrison in his book Church Planting Movements says that one characteristic that identifies church planting movements TRIALS is that they flourish in an atmosphere of uncertainty. He also notes that the opposite is true by saying, “Great social stability tends to lull people into a false sense of security. They forget that life is short and that one must prepare for eternity. This creates an obstacle for affluent Western Europe, Japan, and the United States where unparalleled economic health has fostered unparalleled malaise.”

If we’re going to reach people with the gospel, it’s wise to find those who are experiencing a personal crisis–those who know their need for Jesus. And this might lead us to people who are not like us!

It’s also a well-known truth that unchurched people are most responsive to a change in lifestyle during periods of transition in their lives. A period of transition is a span of time when an individual’s normal everyday behavior patterns are disrupted by some irregular event that causes stress in his or her life. Some examples would be the birth of a child, a marriage, a divorce, or a hospitalization. Those who undergo this kind of transition are even more receptive when irregular events compound themselves over a short period of time (e.g., like 9-11). However, the greater the length of time following a period of transition, the less receptive they will be.

“Jesus, make us aware of those who are needy around us and experiencing personal crisis. Give us the boldness to minister to their needs and lead them to Your feet.”


Reaching Needy People–whether Like Us or Not

joelSteve had some very thoughtful principles on his blog yesterday. In the last sentence, he said, “let’s never be afraid to reach whoever the Lord prompts us to reach toward.”  NEEDY

It seems to me that most of the time, those who God wants to reach are the needy, the outcasts, the spiritually bankrupt, and those on the edge of society. Rarely will the satisfied, the well-to-do, or the comfortable even want Jesus. And most of the time, it seems to me, we will not “feel comfortable” with those who are on the edge of society. 

Look at the ministry of Jesus. In Matthew 21:12ff we read, Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ”‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

Most of the time, those who want Jesus are the blind, the lame, and the outcasts. Or even if they don’t fit that category, they might just be a different ethnic group. For example, in Moreno Valley, we are see God drawing English speaking Hispanic people to Himself. We at Wellspring feel a mandate to reach them because they are abundant in Moreno Valley, speak English, and hungry for Jesus. But they are not like us!

Thus, even though HUP is a common sense principle, I believe it should be thoroughly examined in the light of Scripture.



Random HUP thoughts

by Steve Cordle

Joel and Rob have been stimulating some great conversation about the homogenous unit principle — so let me add some random thoughts as a minor side bar.

* The promise of this principle is greater ministry effectiveness, danger of this principle is number-driven pragmatism. (pursuing as God is leading vs. number-driven production)

* Most people enter the room the first time wondering “Is there someone here like me?” Disciples will find having Jesus in common is more than enough. Unbelievers don’t.

      However, people also want to know “Is someone here going to like me?” The cell can display the answer “Yes!”

* Twenty-somethings today seem to desire both connection with others in their life-stage, as well as mentoring from those ahead of them. A healthy, age-diverse cell can provide that.

* We are all reaching those with SOMETHING in common — the ability to speak the same language (hard to be in a cell otherwise), living in the same area, etc.

Ay root, let’s never be afraid to reach whoever the Lord prompts us to reach toward, adn at the same time not ignore who He has equipped and prepared us to reach, either.

Bringing Together the Homogenous Elements

joelRob 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 TWINShomogeneous 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. Let’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 “have-your-cake-and-eat-it-to.” So don’t hesitate to encourage a rich variety of homogenous groups to meet during the week in your church—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 God’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 church—don’t reject it. Gather the ethnic variety into home cell groups. Don’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 people—or any other type of people—through your cell ministry. Don’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 today’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 earth” (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 wife’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. They’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.


People Groups as “Targets”

Joel’s post yesterday was super.  It was courageous and thought provoking.  The comments to his post were well written, great, and appreciated.

I’d like to share a few thoughts concerning yesterday’s dialogue.  I will end with a simple question that I hope with solicit more ideas, experiences, and thoughts.

First, let’s strive to eradicate using the word “targets” when we are discussing reaching a certain people group.  Enough said.

Next, “like reaching like,” “birds of a feather flock together,” and “you reach who you are” seem obvious.  Yet, there are cells and cell churches around the world who are reaching a myriad/variety of people groups.  They are worshipping God in the same cell gathering and cell church.  How can this be so?

I believe there are three reasons.  First, the various people groups sense authenticity in leaders and members.  This reinforces this life lesson:  Be who you are, no one else is more qualified.  Second, love abounds.  Finally, (and certainly the most important reason) this cell and/or cell church has paved the way through intercession and prayer.

Now, my question.  Does your cell and/or cell church have an intentional strategy to reach a certain people group?  This blog community would love to hear from you.  Please comment.

by Rob Campbell