by Bill Joukhadar (guest blogger for Rob Campbell, who is on sabbatical)
While traditional-thinking works nicely in a ministry-based church context, in a cells-based church setting it simply doesn’t work, believe me! Trying to convince traditional-thinkers that cells is the best way to grow a church (and the Kingdom of God) is like trying to convert Goliath to Judaism.
Back in 2000, when I joined Maadi Community Church (MCC), an English speaking international church in Cairo, with the goal of transitioning MCC from being ministry-based to a cell-based church, I was greatly encouraged by the writings of Joel and the wholehearted support of the Senior Pastor, the late Dave Petrescue – and so with the heartfelt inspiration of the Lord I started a radical experiment of “road-testing” cells-based church principles with a particular demographic group of solid, ‘traditional-thinking’ church members. Genuinely believing this to be a wise strategic move, my goal was for this group of people to “buy-in” to the whole “cells” idea and join with me in influencing the rest of the church community.
Well, while I was busy trying to “sell cells” to my dear traditional-thinking brethren, the not-so-traditional-thinking African and Asian demographic of our church had bought into the cells vision with the little they knew and understood and engaged wholly and heartfully in the work of growing our church through the formation of healthy, multiplying cell groups. Their passion, and the way that they embraced this non-traditional (but biblical) model inspired and encouraged me AND other new wineskin-thinkers in the church to the point where we experienced huge growth in cells, leadership training, outreach, church membership, attendance at worship celebrations and – most importantly – lives saved for the Kingdom! During the eight years that my wife and I served in Cairo, MCC saw their cell group community grow from 0 to 413 groups involving over 4,000 people, regular attendance at weekend worship grew to around 1,500 a week and five new churches were planted among the African and Sudanese refugee communities – a truly amazing harvest!
This fantastic, life-transforming experience in Egypt turned my passion for the cells-based church model from a roaring fire into a blazing inferno, which is why we set up Cells-church Consultants International (www.cells-church.com) when we returned to Australia in 2008. Friends, I have learned that cells-based church principles perform quite differently in certain soils, and I encourage any church – whether a new plant, or a ministry-based church transitioning to a cells-based model – to look for “non-traditional” soil in which to plant their precious cell groups seeds.
It’s my conviction that in Cairo, Australia â€¦ or anywhere else in the world, traditional-thinking and cells don’t mix!