Harvest Events

joelChristmas is coming soon, and it’s a great time to reach out. Some unchurched people feel a responsibility to fulfill their religious duties during the Christmas season and are willing to attend a Christmas cell or celebration event.

The beauty of cell church ministry is the use of both wings to evangelize (cell and celebration). I’ve written a lot  lately about the role of the cell in evangelism, but what about  celebration outreach?

In the early church, God granted a gigantic celebration harvest when three thousand were added on one occassion, five thousand on another, and we read in Acts 2:47, “. . . the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Sometimes people prefer to come to a celebration event first. They’ve been befriended by someone in a cell or just heard about the church’s Sunday celebration service. Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore uses annual “harvest events” to evangelize the lost. In December, they have designed an evangelistic event called “Come Celebrate Christmas.”  Rob Reimer, pastor of a cell church in New England, preaches an evangelistic message on grace about 8-10 times a year. He told me,  “Most of our evangelism growth occurs through the cells – that is, people from the cells, doing teamwork evangelism, bring people to church.  But, usually their first exposure to a ‘Church’ experience is Sunday morning worship.”

About a month ago, Nancy, a single mom living in Moreno Valley, saw Wellspring’s sign on Sunday outside our rented public middle school and decided to attend. She liked the worship service and  has been coming back ever since. My wife befriended Nancy after the service and invited Nancy to attend her women’s LIFE group on Wednesday afternoon. She came to the LIFE group and loved it.

One Southern Baptist pastor said to me, “I train our cell leaders to be ready to pounce on every visitor in the church. Our cell leaders immediately try to assimilate the newcomers by inviting them to their cell groups.”  You don’t have to “pounce” on visitors but it is important to love and eventually invite them to the cell.

Christmas day this year (Saturday) is sandwiched between two Sunday services, so it’s a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors. How are you planning to reach your non-Christian or unchurched contacts this year? Don’t miss this opportunity to reach out through the cell or celebration.


8 thoughts on “Harvest Events

  • Good day sir, I am pastor Jayston from Liberia.I really appreciate the cell church strategy,but there’s no way I would be a part there in the U.S.I send this request to invite you to my nation. We need this strategy.It will be a great blessing to have these sections here in Liberia on the cell church strategy.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Pastor Tonnelle

  • I read your note on Harvest Events and tutorial on Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC).

    I was an ex-pastor from FCBC and agree on the many great strengths of the church which had contributed to the sharp growth in the initial years of establishment.
    I am very proud to be a part of the growing church in its initial years.

    But why the plateau from 1997 onwards?

    I was led to New Zealand and planted a church with another couple in 2003. After stepping down from pastoring the church after 4-5 years, it dawned on me the different culture and underlying belief systems of different nations and even different churches within a nation. This has subtle impact which is not so discernible without experiencing it.

    Here in my opinion are some reasons why there is a plateauing effect:

    1. Pressure To Perform

    You have correctly identified the high pressure to perform. This trait is sometimes evident not only in the country of Singapore (being a small island nation with no natural resources as it seeks to maintain top place in the world in its challenge to survive and thrive), but is also finding its way into churches.

    As I challenged my congregation then in NZ to do a number of things / programs, they felt a pressure to perform – to bring guests for harvest events like Easter and Christmas.
    Then with the statistics, there is a pressure to see conversions.

    2. Pressure To See Conversion Results
    The statistics gathering of the number of conversions from the Harvest and outreach events mean that cell leaders and cell members sometimes feel the pressure to see results. It is a subtle and not so obvious effect. But cell members sometimes feel the pressure to see results because their pastors feel the pressure too.

    What if a cell leader – meeting a person who is ready to receive the Lord – delays in leading this person to Christ until the harvest event so that there is a conversion statistic to show for the Harvest event?
    The heart of cell leaders and members can be corrupted subtly.

    3. Quantitative Statistics – Conversions
    Whilst believing in Statistics myself being a business and theology graduate, the focus on conversion numbers fail to capture the great effort made by cell members to befriend pre-believers and bringing them on a journey closer to the Lord.
    There needs to be an appreciation of every member who reaches out and brings them on the journey closer to the conversion point as well as on their onward discipleship journey.

    4. Feel Like A Failure

    Instead of feeling victorious in our Christian living, when a cell group doesn’t see conversions, it may actually feel like it failed in its assignment.
    It has not achieved its target.
    Then with the target to multiply every year and if the cell does not win or attract enough members to multiply – then they feel like they have failed.

    Then there is talk of closing their cell group or that the cell leader’s leadership skills need to be upgraded – means that there is a sense of failure.

    5. Love Relationship

    The pressure to perform and task orientation (in spite of the expressed desire for 100% task and 100% people orientation) had an adverse impact on relationships – especially at the staff level when the bottom 10% of staff are being fired.

    And when zone pastors meet cell leaders and cell leaders meet members – the subtle talk of results can derail the efforts to build a love relationship with leaders and members.

    6. “Staleness” In Harvest Events

    This can arise because:
    a. Cell members have already invited most of their Type A Oikos to these regular Harvest Events and the follow-up may be better addressed through personal friendship rather than going to a Harvest Event focusing on conversion.

    b. Cell members feel pressure rather than a joy to to have the opportunity to bring a friend to this massive event. Since this event is ongoing (usually an annual event) and their friends had already seen it, the opportunity now becomes a pressure.

    7. Amateur Christians

    I write this comment to serve as a caution to the many pastors who desire to achieve so much with good intentions – but unintentionally fracture relationships as well as Christians’ desire to do well for the Lord.
    The pressure to perform is evil and corrupts our desire to reach out to pre-believers.
    Don’t let this destroy the heart of Christians who want to reach out to others for the Love of God and for the love of our neighbours – whether they are converted at some future time or converted at the Harvest event or whatever point in time, is best to surrender the results to the Lord.

    I am back to being an Amateur Christian – doing it for the love of it – rather than a professional pastor or being pressured to show results.

    “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor 3:7)

    Continue with the Harvest Events – but mindful that the heart of doing it is out of love and not the pressure to perform to see the conversion numbers.
    And remember to surrender the results to God as we do our part.

  • wonderful response, brother. the PRESSURE to perform, give statistics, impress others, grow your church, has caused untold problems in western cultures. I didn’t think it was as bad in places like Singapore, but after reading your BLOG, I see it’s pervasive. I’ve been wrestling with the same thing for years and believe, like you, that motivation is all important AND we always need to rely on God’s sovereignty and plan. Thanks for sharing, brother.

  • Bendiciones, Gracias por esas palabras alentadoras, y que nos motivan a no perder las oportunidades, si no, a movernos en todas las épocas. Paz…

  • bendiciones joel que gusto escribirte, la verdad cuando me hablan de celulas lo que me da es una sensacion de hambre o sed por ver muchas celulas, pero ultimamente he estado buscando como Dios quiere que le hagamos para desarrollarlas.

  • Dios te bendiga, Joel, estoy plenamente de acuerdo con tu apreciacion sobre el individualismo implantado en la cultura occidental y que es un imperativo el desarrollar al interior de la iglesia cristiana, el sistema celular, pero creo tambien que es necesario ir más allá y pensar en las celulas no solamente como una herramienta de unidad y lucha contra el individualismo, sino tambien como una lucha en contra del templo, ya que si analizamos a la luz de la Escritura vemos que tanto el Maestro como los discípulos tuvieron la oposicion desde el templo y actualmente el templo se ha convertido nuevamente en esta parte de Latinoamerica un centro de disputa y de corrupción, por lo creo necesario el pensar en las celulas no como herramienta sino como el medio necesario para rendir nuestra adoración a Dios y esto nos hara volver a los parametros de la iglesia del primer siglo.

    Saludos en Cristo Jesus
    Pastor Edgar Pérez
    Quito- Ecuador

  • Joel te felicito por ese nuevo libro. megustaria recibirlo cuando lo traduzcacas al espanol. todavia no se ingles, pero algun dia aprendere.

    pastor hector del jesus .
    santiago. republica dom.

  • Gracias por ofrecerme tu nuevo libro creo que mui pronto lo comprare pues cuando tu viniste a san Diego tubería la oportunidad de comprarte varios de ellos de echo aun no termino de leerlos muy buenos y mui frescos DIoste bendiga siempre, usa para cristo

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