Today we continue with Step 6 in the series: “Ten Practical Steps For Planting New Churches,” written by Rev. Manuel Molina Flores.
How to create home cell groups or Bible study groups.
Generally we begin a church with a family that offers itself to Christ. They offer their home to begin Bible studies, and then we invite other converts or contacts to attend one day a week. The church planter or pastor directs the study. In that way we can open several homes or cell groups led by new converts. These cell groups eventually join to give birth to the new church.
The goal is to create cell groups that promote a spiritual identity for each member and promote mutual ministries under the care of a spiritual leader or pastor. Discipleship focuses on developing the habits of a disciplined Christian life. The spiritual community promotes the formation of identity and family responsibility through the practice of mutual ministry.
Specific activities will vary based on the needs and interests of the group. They can include worship, Bible study, fellowship activities, etc. There should always be chances to share victories, defeats, challenges and tests, and then an opportunity to pray for each other. There should also be a challenge for the members of the group to serve one another. These meetings also serve as an opportunity to evaluate the spiritual health of the members.
From the beginning, insist on local leadership
Creating cell groups depends on discovering potential leaders (or the leaders of families). As church planters, we should avoid the trap of organizing these groups around ourselves. We must motivate and empower leaders from the group itself. Church planters should invest their time in preparing the leaders.
The main characteristics of a spiritual leader are:
- An authentic spiritual life. He or she is growing spiritually and has something that is worthy of being imitated and shared.
- Deeply loves the people. He or she is concerned with and involved in the needs and interests of the other believers.
- Creates a sense of belonging. He or she encourages others so they feel part of the group.
- Mobilizes others for service. He or she can motivate others to become actively involved in mutual ministry.
If our vision is that the new church grows through the Bible study or cell groups, we must send potential leaders to form those groups. (Keeping them “in their seats” without sending them out will mean the work will be centered only on the initial group.)
- Pray that God will raise leaders from among those who are actively following the Christian disciplines of growth. Try to identify the potential spiritual leaders within those who show love and who actively encourage others to grow in their spiritual life.
- Begin to meet with potential leaders; help them to develop and have a clear image of the concepts of identity, spiritual community and ministry responsibility. Practice the activities with them they will need to start a new church.
- Potential leaders should begin actively seeking those who they want to include in the new cell group they are trying to form. Resist the temptation to intervene in this stage. The leader will have the responsibility to maintain the cell group, and he or she should be the one who forms the cell group.
***We’ll move to Step 7 in the next post.