Harvest on Holidays and More

by Jeff Tunnell

Merry Christmas blog readers!  While celebrating the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, we should naturally want to share this good news!  Harvest events capitalize on widely known and regularly celebrated holidays, community events & needs, school schedules and even local disasters to evangelize.

Cell groups should think strategically, pray, and then organize to step into an event with a meaningful action that presents Christ in a corporate, attractive method.  Outreach can be performed to a particular group and need (such as disaster relief or feeding the poor & homeless) or be more broad and sweeping (like a booth offering prayer at a local street fair).  Harvest events can be as focused as taking care of one family’s need (meals during an illness or traumatic time) or more widespread (offering a weekend seminar for single parents, financial training, marriage & family).

Taking part of the cell meeting time to think strategically does not detract from the importance of worship of Christ, but in fact lends to our view.  Leaders should keep the cell involved in outreach and evangelism during the “witness” or “works” section of the 4 Ws.  The Christian worldview dictates that evangelism and sharing our faith is a constant as we dwell in a world order of chaos and change.

Cell and Celebration Outreach

JOEL I mentioned in my last blog and newsletter that a key strength of the cell chruch is the use of both wings to reach out. Last week, each JCG blogger explored that connection. We mentioned how that cells reach out as every member uses his or her evangelistic muscles to befriend unbelievers. On the other hand, top leadership can plan celebration events to further reap the harvest.

Christmas, Easter and other holidays are important times for harvest events. Cells and celebration are intimately linked to reap the harvest and then to disciple those who choose to follow Jesus.

In Ecuador, we held four to six evangelistic campaigns during the year. Both the mother and daughter churches where I served were part of a larger CMA movement called “Encounter.” One of the key Encounter characteristics was to hold regular evangelistic campaign to reach out.

Many cell churches have found that a regular “Friend’s Day” is the most effective (perhaps once per quarter). “Friends Day” is a time when the cells proactively invite their oikos to the celebration service. The person who is preaching focuses the message on newcomers.

WillowCreek popularized the seeker sensitive service every Sunday, but I’ve found it more effective to target certain days to focus on the fruit of cell outreach, while highlighting expository verse by verse preaching the rest of the year during the celebration serice.

What type of harvest event has worked best for you?

p.s.: this week will conclude our blog for 2010. We are taking three weeks off blogging for the holidays and will start again on January 10, 2011. Thanks for all your contributions!

Joel and JCG team

Connect through Sermon-based Group Material

STEVEby Steve Cordle

Michael Sove’s list of ways to connect the cell to celebration was outstanding and comprehensive. (If you didn’t see it yet, be sure to check it out)

One other way to connect cell and celebration is to make the weekend sermon the basis for the group curriculum.

Each week we distribute (via email and paper copies available at the worship services) a group guide that includes the “5 W’s” of welcome, worship, witness, word and works. The “Word” section consists of questions based on the text and content of the sermon. There are two major benefits to this approach.

1. The cell and celebration are clearly connected. In our experience, it is not hard for those who did not attend the worship service to participate meaningfully in the group discussion. (We always read the text in group and write the questions to assure that) At the same time, it provides a subtle nudge to get involved in the celebration component of the church.

2. The group material emphasizes application of the sermon’s main points, which promotes true life-change and a culture of acting on the Word.

In case you are wondering, for years I wrote the group guide myself. It didn’t take long, since I had just written the sermon the and it created an opportunity to use some material which couldn’t fit in the sermon. Today I send my sermon to a staff person who writes the group guide.



It’s a Two Way Street

By Michael Sove

Celebration and cells are the two wings that the cell church uses to soar as God intended it to soar.  I like the quote by J.I. Packer who writes:  “. . . I go around telling people that if they’re not with the whole congregation on Sunday, and in the small group somewhere during the week, their Christian lives are unbalanced.”

Because both the celebration and cell work together and are equally important we do all we can to make connection between the two.  Everything you do at celebration should support the cell and everything you do at cell should support the celebration.  People will flow in both directions as well.  Some will come to cell and then flow toward celebration and others will come to celebration and flow toward cell.  “It’s a two way street.”

Here are some of the ways we connect cell to celebration:

  • Cell Spots – We will often use video testimonies from people in our life groups during our celebration services.  We want people to see that lives are being changed and exciting things are happening in our Life Groups.
  • Cell Group Tags – Everyone who is in a cell wears a tag, which says “Ask me about Neighborhood Life.”  We have three services and we want people to be able to see potential people to connect with before and after services who are not in a cell.
  • Invitation Before Final Prayer – Before I close the service in prayer I invite people to our cells by drawing attention to the tag I’m wearing and invite them to connect to one of our cells by finding someone with a tag or coming out to our cell booth for further information.
  • Cell Booth or Rack on Wall – We have a rack on the wall, which is very visible as you move toward the worship center that holds cards for all our cell groups.  These have the basic meeting information as well as a photo of the cell leaders.  This is also the place where cell agendas and other information related to cells can be picked up.
  • “Meeters” – We work real hard at connecting new guests to cell members.  We have found that face to face contact is really important in trying to connect people to cells.  If they just pick up a list or receive a phone call from a stranger they are less likely to go to cell quickly.  So after our staff meeting on Tuesday we contact cell “meeters” who will be available after a service to meet new guests from previous weeks we’ve potentially targeted for them.  As cell pastor I play match maker here and it really works.  No guarantee they’ll come to cell but it begins to build a potential relationship.
  • Connection Week – Every month the first Sunday through the following Saturday is called “Connection Week.”  All our cells hold events or throw parties with the intention of inviting unconnected guests as well as unchurched friends.  We are able to use that as another way to invite people to connect.  I have stories of people who first came to a party and later got saved and are now leading cells.  This monthly “Connection Week” is a big momentum builder.  Before you ask, our cells meet three weeks for normal cell gatherings and one week for parties or events.  Usually the parties or events are held on the weekend and not the normal cell night as guests are more likely to come to a weekend event. 
  • Sermon Illustrations – If you are the one preaching on Sunday do all you can whenever you can to talk cell values and illustrate from your cell experiences.  You have the chance every week to make a connection between your message topic and some aspect of cell life.
  • Invite Cards – Not only do we have good information in a very visible spot for people to pick up in relation to interest in cell groups and also attempt to match potential people, but all cell leaders have invite cards (business cards) that they pass out to their cell members so that their cell members can give invites both in the celebration and outside the building.
  • Music & Message Application– This doesn’t have to do with people but it is a powerful way to connect celebration and cell.  We have provided acoustic versions of our celebration music to all our cell groups.  This works both ways to enhance worship.  The songs that people are familiar with during worship are now recognized in cell and helps with cell worship.   Then when they come to celebration they are very familiar with the songs and are able to enter into worship.  Obviously if you can apply in cell what you are hearing on Sunday, this goes a long way in connecting these two aspects.  We don’t always apply the Sunday messages but in certain series we do and it enhances connection between what is happening in celebration and cell. 

These are just a few of the ways to make a connection between the two wings of the church.  Do whatever you can to support the cell while at celebration services and whatever you can at celebration services to support cells.  “It’s a two way street.”

What other ideas do you have and what have you tried to connect the two?


Intimate Connection between Cell and Celebration

by Mario Vega

In our experience, the connection between cell and celebration is very strong. We build this connection based on the following elements:

1. Evangelism. The cells have a fundamentally evangelizing character. That evangelization will not be complete until people attend church’s celebration, are baptized in water and start a service function in the celebration.

2. The invitations that are made through radio and television. Through these we insist that the public attend both cell and celebration. Since our cell meetings are held on Saturday, it is easy to concentrate the invitation to each particular day and event.

3. The transportation to the church. Each supervisor organizes with the cell’s core to rent a bus. The purpose is to provide transportation to those who wish to attend the celebration. In that way, the mobilization is facilitated and the attendance to the celebration is strengthened.

4. The cell’s key role. The cell is presented as an extension of the church. At the end of each cell, announcements are made that include information about the church, its service schedule, place, date and time to board the bus, etc.

5. Celebration and cell play a role in mentoring new Christians.

The cells are not entities divorced from the celebration. Nor are they seeking to discourage people to attend the celebration by offering an alternative closer to their domicile. On the contrary, the cells are arms that extend the power of the church’s attraction toward its celebrations.



Translation in Spanish:

Celebración y células en Elim.

En nuestra experiencia, la conexión entre la célula y la celebración es muy fuerte. Esta conexión la construimos en base a los siguientes elementos:

1. El concepto que todo lder maneja. Las células tienen un carácter fundamentalmente evangelizador. Esa evangelización no estará completa hasta que las personas asistan a la iglesia, se bauticen en agua y comiencen alguna función de servicio en la celebración.

2. Las invitaciones que se hacen a través de radio y televisión. En ellas se insiste ante el gran público para que asistan tanto a las células como a las celebraciones. Ya que nuestras reuniones de células se realizan en da sábado, es fácil concentrar la invitación en ese da particular.

3. El transporte hacia la iglesia. Cada supervisor organiza con el núcleo de las células la renta de un autobús. El propósito es el de ofrecer transporte gratuito a las personas que deseen asistir a la celebración. De esa manera se facilita el traslado y se fortalece la asistencia a las reuniones de celebración.

4. El enfoque del programa de la célula. En el se presenta a la célula como una extensión de la iglesia. Se señala la pertenencia a Elim. Al final, los anuncios también incluyen información sobre la iglesia, sus horarios de servicio, lugar, da y hora para abordar el autobús que les conducirá a la celebración.

5. También es parte del mentoreo de los nuevos cristianos el animarles y acompañarles para que se conecten y asistan a la celebración.

Las células no son entidades divorciadas de la celebración. Tampoco tienen como propósito sustituir a la celebración. Tampoco buscan desalentar a las personas para que asistan a la celebración ofreciéndoles una alternativa más cercana a su domicilio. Por el contrario, las células son brazos que prolongan el poder de atracción de la iglesia hacia sus celebraciones.