[NTCP] MentorNet # 22 Developing a Cellular Body, Part 2
forwarded at housechurch.org
Sun May 2 23:20:35 EDT 2004
Helping Church Leaders to Develop a Cellular
Church Body ' Part 2 of 2
Copyright ' 2000 by Galen Currah and George Patterson
Download Part 1 (MentorNet # 21) from http://www.MentorNet.ws.
Part 1, MentorNet # 21 dealt with:
1.. Let members discover the joy of meeting with a group small enough
to practice the kind of edifying interaction that Jesus and His apostles
want for us.
3.. Begin groups with an organizational structure and a curriculum that
are entirely new and radically New Testament.
5.. Allow small groups to take to themselves many of the functions and
privileges of traditional pastors.
7.. Start small groups as a means of discipling seekers and new
believers, rather than as a way of causing numerical growth.
5. Let small group participation be voluntary.
Let small group participation be spontaneous. Let older believers who are
indifferent to small groups 'lie in green pastures beside still waters.'
Forcing them into face-to-face 'growth' breeds stagnant groups that die
without reproducing. If older believers feel no desire for a small group
experience, or have so many activities that they resist 'one more thing
to do', then they will try out small groups with a reluctance that can
quickly turn into revulsion. This is particularly so where members are
assigned to a group by a clergyman who drew zone lines on a map.
Keep the entire congregation aware of what God is doing in the small
groups. One way to encourage small group workers is to interview briefly,
during the congregational worship time, individuals who have had
spiritual victories in their small groups. Even where group members find
some affinity one for another, and make the group part of their busy
lives, groups can stagnate if left to their own devices without
continual, fresh input and encouragement from their pastors through their
small shepherds or hosts.
6. Small group shepherds can help older believers to grow in their
practice of church body life, as they receive on-going guidance from
Equip the members of the body. This is the primary task of teachers and
pastors. Ephesians 4:11-16 requires pastors and others to train and model
mature Christian life. They can do this more effectively in a
congregation that has multiple 'elders' or group shepherds who receive
regular coaching from more experienced pastors.
Listen to those whom you coach before telling them what to do. Pastors
who coach small group shepherds must listen to them often and help them
to serve their groups. Respond to urgent issues, and add to group
activities more of the kinds of 'one-another' ministries that the New
7. Start small and reproduce the first group or groups.
Develop your own forms and methods. Many cultural variables prohibit one
church from merely adopting the forms and methods of another church,
especially a culturally-distant one. Every shepherd will have to try
different things, develop what works, and grow in his own coaching skills
and mentoring wisdom.
Start three groups at about the same time if possible. This has some
advantages. Even if one or two disband, there is still a group. A pastor
can meet with more than one group shepherd for mentoring, and have time
to hear from all of them, give them advice, and make plans with them for
their groups. It will become clear faster, what kinds of group activities
meet needs and lead to the starting of new groups. Furthermore, the group
leaders can encourage and counsel one another.
Aim to reproduce. From the very start, let each group shepherd share the
vision to lead his group to help start another group. Seldom do groups
start another one by splitting, for it is too hard to break up the
friendships. Usually, group members start new, smaller groups with
others, while maintaining ties with their first group. Groups and their
shepherds should envision and pray to make that happen continually. Often
those who start a new group never leave the original one. They simply
visit friends to win them to Christ, and train new leaders in the new
group, while remaining with the original group. This is similar to what
Paul and Barnabas did; they started many churches but kept returning to
their home church in Antioch.
8. Start with new believers, where there are any.
Let new believers start immediately to form new groups. Even traditional
congregations sometimes see folks come to salvation. Where new believers
have no other opportunity but to sit on pews once a week and listen to
sermons, they are not likely to bring seekers with them.
Let each new believer be a doorway to many other neglected people. Where
every new believer is seen as a member of a family and a circle of
existing friends, they should be viewed as the door into a potential new
cell. So you should coach shepherds in how to encourage new believers to
identify those of their acquaintances who might be interested to hear
about their new life with Jesus. Shepherds should also coach those new
ones to witness and pray for their relatives and friends.
9. Allow rustic believers to take leadership from the start.
Recognize the gift of leadership when it emerges. Often people will
emerge, as Cornelius did, whom God affirmed as a spiritual man even
before he knew Jesus. While the New Testament sets standards for
ordination as an elder, the Holy Spirit often distributes pastoral gifts
even to immature believers. Where these 'diamonds in the rough' are able
to bring others together, share with them and care for them, pastors
should treat them as apprentice shepherds and coach them in pastoral
Hold up to new shepherds the possibility of becoming elders. Let them
view church leadership as something to be developed, while serving with
all the love and skill that God gives to them for their small groups.
Some may eventually leave shepherding to others, while others will become
competent pastors or elders.
10. Provide regular, patient coaching, in addition to training seminars.
Include mentoring of group shepherds in your list of primary pastoral
duties. Where a pastor is too insecure or unskilled to mentor others, he
should assign that training task to another, perhaps a staff member or
associate missionary, and show frequent, public support of that helper's
Maintain a balance between mentoring and classroom training. Rapid cell
multiplication requires training new leaders the way Jesus and the
apostles did it. Pastors who rely mainly on big-group training classes
for small group leaders will be disappointed, for shepherding is not so
much an academic subject as it is a relational skill with a God-given
desire to see others grow in faith and obedience. This skill cannot only
be taught, but it can be modelled.
Avoid over-training with too much information. Experienced trainers have
found that providing information before workers see a need of it, will
require you to train again later when the need becomes apparent.
Furthermore, learning without implementation often leads to a haughty
attitude and unwillingness to listen later.
11. Keep group leaders focussed on the commands of Jesus and the New
Focus primarily on obeying New Testament directives. Western pastors who
are educated in theology, management practices, and popular psychology,
tend to demonstrate doctrinal precision, elegant social customs, and
domesticated personality traits. They often like to preach about these
things and seek them in others. However, Jesus and the New Testament put
far more emphasis on spiritual power, on obedience to the commandments of
Christ, and on showing of grace and love one's fellow believers,
neighbours and enemies.
Keep coming back to those directives. There are enough explicit New
Testament guidelines to keep every group and its shepherd quite busy
growing in faith and obedience for over a year, without demanding that
they adopt or demonstrate non-biblical cultural ideals.
12. Form groups mainly from existing relationships.
Keep new believers in a loving relationship with their relatives and
friends. In the Book of Acts, historically, and as a usual pattern across
cultures, new groups of believers are formed mainly by new believers
drawing relatives, associates and friends into their group and to faith
in Jesus. Pastors who will let such natural bridges serve as paths for
supernatural faith will see more growth, over time, than will those who
depend on public evangelistic meetings.
Avoid forcing new believers to meet together with people with whom they
normally would not associate. Groups of new believers that are least
likely to grow and reproduce are those that have been forced together by
a pastor or missionary for his own convenience, or as a social statement
about inter-cultural unity. There are better ways to express Christian
unity than by disallowing growth through normal relationships, thereby
requiring cultural suicide in order to become a follower of Jesus.
To find mentoring tools and sites, visit
For information on Train & Multiply' write George Patterson,
GPatterson at MentorNet.ws.
For information on how to obtain, T&M', visit
To obtain free, reproducible training materials, visit
For information on 'Come, Let Us Disciple the Nations' (CD-ROM), visit
Order Church Multiplication Guide from a bookshop or
To view or download earlier MentorNet messages, visit
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