God’s original design was for home groups to be foundational to every other aspect of church life. They provide a place where the lost can be led to Christ, demons can be cast out, the sick can be healed and a strong biblical foundation can be laid in the lives of new believers. Home group ministry teams will actually provide the bulk of the work in equipping the saints, including teaching and pastoring. Rather than being isolated units, the home churches serve as ideal vehicles to incorporate new believers into larger congregations.
Jesus’ vision to revolutionize the world was pretty simple—its focus was person to person and house to house. Out of the multitudes of His followers, He appointed only 12 to be His disciples. “Then He appointed 12, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14). By living closely with them, day in and day out, He gave them intense training, demonstrated His miraculous power, explained His parables and answered their questions. A disciple is a learner, an apprentice. Jesus provided His disciples with innumerable opportunities to practice and exercise the things He taught them. He poured His life into them by close, daily contact for three and a half years.
As we observe Jesus interacting with these 12 men, we see a model of what could be regarded as the first cell group in the history of the church! Just as a cell is the basic building block of the physical body, so the “cell group” network can provide a fundamental source of life for a congregation.
Running a Rescue Shop
C.T. Studd, the famous missionary to Africa, once said: “I do not wish to live ‘neath sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” The main purpose for every cell group must be to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell. Otherwise, the cell becomes a social club without any power. The Lord gives us power to be witnesses, not to sit around and enjoy nice comfortable “bless-me” meetings. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The church is not primarily a hospital; it is an army. Although armies do have medical units, they are for the purpose of getting the soldiers healed so they can get out on the battlefield and destroy the enemy. The focus is not the medical unit. The focus is on the battle and in winning the war. We are in a spiritual war! We do not have time to sit around and play church like children play war games. We need to rise up in faith and be the church and destroy the works of darkness in Jesus’ name!
When I was a young man, our nation was in the midst of the Vietnam war. Every year, Bob Hope would take an entourage to Vietnam to entertain the soldiers. Now let’s face the facts. No one joined the army to go to Vietnam to see Bob Hope. They went to Vietnam to fight a war! However, while they were there they had the fringe benefit of being entertained by Bob Hope and his company. Although the primary purpose of the cell group is to reach the lost and disciple new believers, we also experience the fringe benefit of tremendous fellowship and relationships with people who care about us. They stand with us as we face hardships and struggles.
This article originally appeared here.