Children Grow Strong in a Cell Group Community

daphne

[I, Joel Comiskey, have the privilege of introducing you to Lorna Jenkins, a New Zealander by birth. Lorna grew up through a church community and during her university days was an active leader in the Evangelical Union (Intervarsity Fellowship). She taught Sunday School at every level, and became a trainer of others. She married a Baptist pastor, and they now have three children and four grandchildren. In their fifties, Brian and Lorna studied with the Columbia International University in South Carolina and received the degree of Doctor of Ministry. Lorna’s dissertation was on “Children in Small Groups and in the Whole Church.” On returning to New Zealand, Lorna became Director of Christian Education for three years before accepting a call to the staff of the Faith Community Church in Singapore (FCC grew to 500 cell groups and 5000 attendees). She worked for six years on the full time staff at Faith Community Baptist Church and a further four years as a consultant. During that time she traveled under the sponsorship of the church, teaching at churches and conferences in many parts of the world, especially in Asia, South Africa, the USA and Canada, Europe and Australia. She was invited by Dr Ralph Neighbour to write the children’s chapter in his seminal book, “Where Do We Go From Here? She wrote the book, “Shouting in the Temple,” as an outline of her philosophy of children’s ministry. She also wrote “Feed Me Lambs,” which concerns intergenerational cell groups. She has also written extensive children’s ministry resources for various types of children’s cell groups and also an equipping track for children, after they have made a decision to follow Jesus. Her “sticker” evangelistic booklet, “Breaking the Barrier” has been widely used in many countries. Presently, Lorna is living in Auckland, New Zealand with her family around her. She still talks with children’s ministry leaders by email, and serves her local church whenever she can].

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By Lorna Jenkins

In the 1980s I became aware that, in Australia and New Zealand, churches were losing their children, especially those who were born into Christian families. This made me question the systems of Children’s Ministry which were established in most of our churches. By 1992, we had statistical material which showed that we were losing up to 80% of children who had moved through our churches.

After talking with many other leaders, I came to the conclusion that the children never felt personally involved in the community of faith which they attended. They had a working knowledge of the main Bible stories and they often made a profession of faith at an early age. However they had missed experiencing a fully functional Spirit-filled daily life, nor could they even observe the spiritual lives of their parents or other adults, because the church separated them from the main stream life of the church community.

At this time Dr Ralph Neighbour, Jr was asking similar questions about the whole church. Do our church structures allow every Christian to grow and function in the midst of a caring community? As he developed his cell church concepts, we also discussed how children might be part of the cell church community and be released from their isolation, so that they would be taken seriously as growing Christians.

I began to develop practical examples of children in cell groups, both in Australia and in the United States. The results looked promising and this work became the subject of my doctoral dissertation.

As we asked God for better models for ministry to children, two formats began to crystallize.

  1. The Children’s Cell group. These are fully rounded cell groups, modeled on adults’ cell groups and expressing community among the children. They experience Welcome, Worship, Word and Witness sometimes with adult cell leaders but sometimes with older children in leadership. The best example I saw of this type of cell group was in Hong Kong in Ben Wong’s church. There, the older children led the children’s cell groups covering a mixed age range of children. An adult sat quietly in the group, but the children led the group and did so most effectively. After the cell meeting the group leaders went out to eat and had another hour’s session when they could report what happened, and receive their briefing for the next week’s meeting. They also prayed for God’s help and anointing. I understand these children also received nurture and training at other times, so that they
    were confident leaders to care for and teach the younger children.
  2. The Intergenerational Cell Group This is a cell group which includes people of all ages from babies to grandparents. The children are accepted as full members and they are enabled to participate in the life of the cell group. This has great advantages. They could see their parents living out their Christian faith in practice. Daddy prayed for someone who was healed! They also made friends with other Christian adults who could give them a wider world of witness and experience. The adults were amazed and blessed as the children learned to pray and minister to them. No one should underestimate the power of God flowing through the prayers of a child.

The second format is harder to achieve, because it requires the training and commitment of the whole church. It was successfully carried out by a dedicated team at Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore under Rev Lawrence Khong. These cell groups take time and a strong visionary direction from the church leaders. When I returned to Singapore recently I found many of the children from that time, actively involved in the church’s leadership. I was reminded that when we view children as disciples who need to be developed, involved, and engaged, they will become the future leadership of the church.

Comments?

Lorna

Korean blog (click here)

Portuguese blog (click here)

Spanish blog:

Los niños crecen fuertes en la comunión del grupo celular

Por Lorna Jenkins

En 1980 me di cuenta de que, en Australia y Nueva Zelanda, las iglesias estaban perdiendo a sus hijos, especialmente aquellos que haban nacido en familias cristianas. Esto me hizo cuestionar los sistemas del Ministerio de los Niños, que se establecieron en la mayora de nuestras iglesias. En 1992, tenamos material estadstico que mostró que estábamos perdiendo hasta un 80% de los niños que se haban trasladado a través de nuestras iglesias.

Después de hablar con muchos otros lderes, llegué a la conclusión de que los niños nunca se sentan personalmente involucrados en la comunidad de fe que asistieron. Tenan un conocimiento práctico de las principales historias de la Biblia y que a menudo hicieron una profesión de fe a una temprana edad. Sin embargo haban perdido el experimentar una vida cotidiana llena del Espritu completamente funcional, ni podan siquiera observar la vida espiritual de sus padres u otros adultos, porque la iglesia les separa de la corriente principal de la vida de la comunidad de la iglesia.

En este momento el Dr. Ralph Neighbour, Jr., estaba haciendo preguntas similares acerca de toda la iglesia. ¿Nuestras estructuras de la iglesia permiten a cada cristiano crecer y funcionar en medio de una comunidad solidaria? As como él desarrolló sus conceptos de iglesias celulares, también hablamos de cómo los niños pueden ser parte de la comunidad de la iglesia celular y ser liberado de su aislamiento, de manera que sean tomados en serio como cristianos en crecimiento.

Comencé a desarrollar ejemplos prácticos de los niños en los grupos celulares, tanto en Australia como en los Estados Unidos. Los resultados parecan prometedores y este trabajo se convirtió en el tema de mi tesis doctoral.

Como pedimos a Dios por mejores modelos para el ministerio a los niños, dos formatos comenzaron a cristalizar:

  • Grupos celulares de niños. Estos son grupos de células totalmente redondeados, según el modelo de los grupos celulares de los adultos y expresar comunidad entre los niños. Experimentan la bienvenida, adoración, Palabra y testimonio a veces con lderes de células de adultos, pero a veces con niños mayores en el liderazgo. El mejor ejemplo que vi de este tipo de grupo celular se encontraba en Hong Kong en la iglesia de Ben Wong. All, los niños mayores dirigen los grupos celulares de los niños sobre diferentes edades de los niños. Un adulto se sienta en silencio en el grupo, pero los niños dirigen al grupo y lo hizo más efectivo. Después de la reunión de la célula, los lderes del grupo van comer y tuvimos la sesión de una hora y luego informa lo sucedido, y reciben su informe para la reunión de la próxima semana. También oraron por la ayuda de Dios y la unción. Entiendo que estos niños también recibieron alimentación y capacitación en otras ocasiones, por lo que eran lderes con confianza para cuidar y enseñar a los niños más pequeños.
  • El Grupo Celular intergeneracional. Este es un grupo de células que incluye a todas las personas de todas las edades desde bebés hasta abuelos. Los niños son aceptados como miembros de pleno derecho y puedan participar en la vida del grupo celular. Esto tiene grandes ventajas. Pueden ver a sus padres vivir su fe cristiana en práctica. Mi papá oró por alguien que fue sanado. También hacen amistad con otros adultos cristianos que pueden darles un mundo más amplio de testimonio y experiencia. Los adultos se sorprendieron y bendijeron como los niños aprendieron a orar y ministrarlo a ellos. Nadie debe subestimar el poder de Dios que fluye a través de las oraciones de un niño.

El segundo formato es más difcil de lograr, ya que requiere la formación y el compromiso de toda la iglesia. Se llevó a cabo con éxito por un equipo dedicado a En la iglesia Bautista Fé y comunidad en Singapur bajo el Reverendo Lawrence Khong. Estos grupos celulares requieren tiempo y un fuerte sentido visionario de los lderes de la iglesia. Cuando regresé a Singapur encontré muchos de los niños de esa época, participando activamente en el liderazgo de la iglesia. Me acordé que cuando vemos a los niños como discpulos que necesitan desarrollarse, participar y comprometerse, se convertirán en el futuro liderazgo de la iglesia.

¿Comentarios?

Lorna

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