THE CELL CHURCH: Preparing Your Church For The Coming Harvest.
by Larry Stockstill- senior pastor Bethany World Prayer Centre- Baker, Louisiana
(c) 1998 Pub. Regal pp.136 price 20.50 pb.
Ch. 1 The Wind is Shifting.
The presidential election of 1992 resulted in an unusual message from God for the author. "Two things are coming in America; Harvest and Hostility." p.14. The threats of hostility are best prepared for by making the church an organization of cell groups that will survive even though the main body is destroyed. Bethany was launched into a cell group church by the senior pastor. His mentor in this journey was Ralph Neighbor. A conference on cell groups in Singapore became the launching idea. Cells need to be evangelistic. At Bethany cell groups helped ‘close the back door’. The church has also experienced a time of harvest.
Ch. 2. Churches With Windows.
The author compares the effect of cell groups in church ministries to ‘windows’ in computer functioning. Where cells are basic, growth is virtually unlimited. e.g. the (Cho) church in South Korea. We are talking about a cell church not a church with cells. Programs and a cell church are compatible.
Ch. 3. Partnership.
Five principles are drawn from John ch. 13-17 about partnership.
1. Serving and Relationships grow and are strengthened through partnership.
2. Encouragement: adds hope to service.
3. Productivity: fruit bearing happens best in small groups.
4. Protecting: through spiritual partnership.
5. Praying: effective praying for and with people you know.
Partnership brings power to work as it is shared. Pastoring is done best in partnership.
Ch. 4. Evangelism in the Small Group.
There are four "basic principles of evangelism- purpose, partnership, prayer, and penetration". p.52. The cell is a safe place for those who are evangelizing and those who are being evangelized. Prayer is crucial in evangelizing and is very effective in the cell environment.
Ch. 5, Be Fruitful and Multiply.
The nature of cells, natural and spiritual, is to multiply by division. (mathematical paradox) Such multiplication involves learning, loving, linking, launching, and leaving. Be fruitful and multiply is the scriptual exhortation.
Ch. 6. Leadership Development in the Church.
Leadership training must be intentional and based on gifts that can be developed and deployed. Eight leadership qualities are identified.
Ch. 7. Multiplying Leaders.
The model used by Rich Warren is presented as a plan of preparing and multiplying leaders. i.e.scoring a run in baseball. This involves "salvation (preaching) foundations, (pastoring), foundational class, (preparing), leadership class, (planting)."
Ch. 8. The "Principle of Twelve".
The number twelve regarding historical significance is not limited to Jesus’ disciples. Within a group of twelve leadership and care are developed. Foundational in this grouping is the goal to grow and multiply. Within this multiplication there remains a connectedness,(for life).
Credibility, strong organization, vision,leadership, and other factors are key in making transitions,(changes) in a church. Transition will not be without turbulance..
Ch. 10 Dangers and Challenges.
Seven "danger zones" are discussed that can impact cells and cell organizations. They are spiritual pride, financial impropriety, negating the children, unapproved teaching, not being real, backsliding and burnout, proselytizing. "Our job is not to prepare for disaster but to prepare for His coming." p.124.
Ch. 11. To Infinity and Beyond.
Several personal and corporate testimonies are cited about the positiveness of cells. Bethany has established an organization that will involve other churches- Bethany Cell Church Network. Through this network the vision is being expanded regarding cell churches.
Appendix- An Ideal Cell Meeting.
The story about Bethany’s transition to become a cell church is truly quite inspiring. Larry believes that Bethany has pioneered the concept of cell church.The association of the harvest and cells is a challenging one.