by Jeff Tunnell
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?
by Rob Campbell
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.
Last 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?
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, itâ€™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, itâ€™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.
El tiempo que conduce a la intimidad.
AdemÃ¡s de un nÃºmero reducido de personas y de la prÃ¡ctica del amor como elementos facilitadores de la intimidad es posible aÃ±adir un tercer elemento: el tiempo.
Al examinar los relatos del libro de Los Hechos sobre la primera iglesia es evidente que los cristianos se reuna en las casas no solamente una vez por semana sino que todos los das (Hch. 2:46; 5:42). Y no solamente era una reuniÃ³n ocasional y breve sino que compartan los alimentos comiendo juntos diariamente.
Obviamente, no se trata de trasladar la cultura mediterrÃ¡nea del siglo I al mundo occidental del siglo XXI; pero, s es importante aprender la lecciÃ³n de cÃ³mo el establecer relaciones de amistad con otros cristianos o nuevos convertidos es un esfuerzo que demanda tiempo. Ese esfuerzo posea un lugar esencial en la vida de los primeros cristianos.
La organizaciÃ³n geogrÃ¡fica del trabajo celular puede ser un factor que facilite la interacciÃ³n entre miembros de una cÃ©lula. Ellos pueden tener comuniÃ³n no solamente durante la reuniÃ³n de cÃ©lula sino en el diario vivir. Solamente llegan a conocerse las personas que se compenetran. Y solamente se logran compenetrar quienes reservan tiempo para ese propÃ³sito.
by Jeff Tunnell
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?