by Mario Vega
When speaking at conferences about cell ministry, I encounter a frequent question about how to make disciples within the cells. People are surprised when I tell them that Elim primarily makes disciples at the celebration services, while focusing our cell groups on evangelization.
The reason for this is Elimâ€™s own history. Since the church’s inception, it has always focused on making disciples through its excellent teaching ministry. Nine years after Elim started, the church made its transition to cell church. From the beginning, the cells were primarily an evangelization instrument, rather than a place to make disciples. The brethren wanted to share what they had learned in church with their friends and other invited guests.
Elim has not changed its cell focus from those original days. Believers continue to be trained in the celebration service. They know they will receive a strong theological formation and grow in maturity through the celebration meetings. Cells, on the other hand, are devoted uniquely to friends and visitors. The purpose of the cell is the presentation of the Gospel.
From that perspective, the cell teaching is limited to a simple presentation of Jesus as the only Savior. All the effort is focused on reaching out to those who are lost. I think the emphasis on evangelism within the cell has allowed us to configure a framework of conquest and salvation.
I appreciate and respect very much those cell churches that use house meetings to make disciples. Yet, without the evangelistic conquest, the cell focus will be limited. I also think it’s dangerous for a cell to only focus on itself, rather than attempting to reach the lost world around it.
Translation in Spanish
Enfoques del trabajo celular.
Al impartir en conferencias lo poco que sabemos sobre el trabajo celular, una pregunta que muy a menudo se nos hace es con respecto a la manera como desarrollamos el hacer discpulos dentro de las cÃ©lulas. Las personas se sorprenden cuando les respondo que el hacer discpulos lo reservamos para las celebraciones. En tanto que las reuniones en las casas se enfocan en la evangelizaciÃ³n.
La razÃ³n de ello, obedece a la historia misma de Elim. La iglesia naciÃ³ con un trabajo tradicional donde su principal componente era, precisamente, su excelente enseÃ±anza para hacer discpulos. DespuÃ©s de nueve aÃ±os, la iglesia hizo su transiciÃ³n para ser una iglesia celular. Las cÃ©lulas se vieron siempre como un instrumento de evangelizaciÃ³n y no de hacer discpulos. Los hermanos deseaban compartir lo que aprendan en la iglesia con los amigos invitados.
Desde entonces, las cosas han continuado la misma lnea de acciÃ³n. Los hermanos van a formarse en la celebraciÃ³n. Saben que all es donde reciben su formaciÃ³n teolÃ³gica y crecen en madurez. Las cÃ©lulas tienen una dedicatoria exclusiva hacia los amigos. Su propÃ³sito es la presentaciÃ³n del evangelio.
Desde ese punto de vista, la enseÃ±anza celular se limita a ser una presentaciÃ³n sencilla de JesÃºs como el salvador. Todo el esfuerzo se enfoca en rescatar las personas perdidas. Creo que el Ã©nfasis en el evangelismo dentro de la cÃ©lula ha permitido configurar una estructura de conquista y salvaciÃ³n. Aprecio y respeto muchsimo a aquellas iglesias celulares que utilizan las reuniones en casas para hacer discpulos a sus miembros. Pero es muy probable que su alcance se vea limitado hablando de la conquista evangelizadora. Se corre el riesgo que la cÃ©lula se enfoque en s misma antes que hacerlo en el mundo perdido a su alrededor.
4 thoughts on “Cell Focus”
I agree with you on the idea of evangelism being of an upmost for cells.
Mario, are you saying you have no equipping path for spiritual maturity for your members after they become believers beyond attending celebration services?
I’m hoping Mario will answer you personally, Randall. The Elim Church does have a training track that lasts six months. The training is separate from the celebration services. Everyone is expected to complete the training track. I believe Mario is saying that long-term discipleship (beyond the training track) takes place in the on-going celebration services. It’s also important to realize that Mario is also talking about mid-week celebration training (large gathering) and not only the Sunday celebration services. During the mid-week celebration service they do in-depth Bible study.
Something else that needs to be remembered about Elim’s cell system: All cells have a have a planning meeting during the week for members only. This is required of all cells. These planning meetings take place on either Tuesday or Wednesday evening in the homes of believers.
So perhaps 5 members will meet on Tuesday to pray and plan for the Saturday night cell meeting. This is a core meeting of believers. Edification takes place during this core time. No UNBELIEVERS are present.
So in one sense, the cell is a two meeting process.
Yet, in most cells around the world, there is only one meeting.
Remember many moons ago how that Bethany tried to copy the Elim system by emphasizing “edification” one week in their cells and “evangelization” the following week. Bethany tried to combine what Elim does in two separate meetings.
I do wonder if ELIM’S cell emphasis would be different today IF Elim didn’t have the two-separate meetings. For example, if they didn’t have the two meetings, how and when would the believing members of the cells grow in fellowship and community?