Chapter one: Signs of Hope
Summary: The cell based model has numbers to demonstrate its effectiveness in reaching a group of people with the gospel.
Quotes and Commentary:
“But the effectiveness of these dynamic cell churches demonstrates that a local church can significantly penetrate a region with the light of the Gospel” (Loc. 178).
Note: Models can be effective even if the founding principles are not biblical. And models can be ineffective even if the founding principles are biblical. We have to strive to see both.
“God has chosen to make his Church the instrument through which He will extend His kingdom. When the Church reaches the unreached by demonstrating and proclaiming the Gospel, God’s kingdom advances.”
Note: This wording used here of “Kingdom advancing” is often thrown around without a proper understanding of the theology of the Kingdom.
“Noted cell church researcher Joel Comiskey offers this simple and clear definition of a cell church: “a church that has placed evangelistic small groups at the core of its ministry” (Loc. 215).
Note: While a “cell group” is “a group of 3-15 people that meets weekly outside the church building for the purpose of evangelism, community, and discipleship with the goal of multiplication” (loc 236).
“One way cell groups differ from other small groups is that they are fundamentally outward focused“ (Loc. 240).
Note: While not a strict distinction, I think the concept built into cell groups is distinct from most small groups, at least in practice.
“The goal of the cell-based church is to help equip Christians for the ministry of making disciples who make disciples” (Loc. 245).
Note: Again, this is in contrast with many small group models which attempt “to keep” people a part of the body. It can do both, but when we focus on “keeping people in” I think we forget to focus on “bringing people in.” You can have the “keeping” without the “bringing”, but I don’t think you will see the “bringing” without getting the “keeping” tossed in.
“We can see the early church’s rhythm of ‘cell and celebration’ in these passages from the book of Acts: ‘Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts’ (Acts 2:46) ‘Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.’ (Acts 5:42)” (Loc. 249).
Note: This is very true. So much so that I think we could handle a lot more development of the New Testament texts here.
Overall, relying on numbers and “effectiveness” can be misleading. Models can be effective even if the founding principles are not. And models can be ineffective numerically even if the foundational principles are biblical. The point is to be faithful in doing what is biblical. So this chapter could use a whole lot more biblical basis, which would be easy since the concept of small groups meeting together to study the Word and inviting pre-believers in is biblical.