[NTCP] MentorNet # 22 Developing a Cellular Body, Part 2

forwarded 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 
church leaders.

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 
Testament requires.

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 

(Note from forwarder: Original piece contained non-ascii characters which 
are not readable on platforms other than Windows.)

New Testament Church Proliferation is sponsored by the House Church Network.

New Testament Church Proliferation has been renamed. These discussions, via the web, now occur at the Radically Christian Cafe.

house church eldership servanthood lord's day lord's supper world missions