Our methodology is shaped by our theology. What we do is based on what we believe.
If cell groups are going to be the base of a church, it will be because making disciple-makers is the leadership’s central goal and commitment.
In making the transition to a cell-based ministry model, it is easy to get preoccupied with structures (the “how”) and overlook the theological foundations (the “why”). For example, it is easy to focus on making cells the base of the church by eliminating other programs and activities. But unless there is a clear and widespread commitment to the goal of making disciple-makers, this generally fails.
One of the reasons cell-based ministry doesn’t come naturally to the U.S. church is that we have a fundamentally different assumption about ministry. All of our models assume that a successful church has a lot of people attending weekend worship and believing in Jesus. The assumption is that this happens as irreligious people attend and get involved with the church. In other words, it is the church’s activity that makes disciples, and the people support the church’s mission. Thus, equipping the saints for ministry means helping them use their spiritual gifts in the multitude of ministries which will result in more disciples.
In contrast, the target of the cell-based church is to make irreligious people into disciples who make disciples. It isn’t “the church” that makes disciples, it is the disciples themselves who do so. The leadership doesn’t see the believers as cogs in the disciple-making system of the church, they see the believers as the “system” itself.
If our goal is to make disciple-makers, and if we believe that it is not systems but disciples who make disciples, then it will be natural to focus our energies and resources on the essential relational disciple-making environment: “the cell”. We won’t call people to numerous other ministries – only those which promote the development of disciple-makers who lead cells. We won’t have battles about which ministries to support.
What does your church’s current structure reveal about what you believe?