Cells and celebration
As we make disciples and plant churches, we aim for a healthy balance between cells and celebration. We look to the New Testament, primarily the Gospels and Acts, as our guide in planting churches. What do we see of these two elements there?
In the Gospels, we see how Jesus trained the Twelve – the cell. We notice His interaction with the crowds. However, there was also a wider circle of disciples from whom He chose the Twelve. There were the 70 that he sent out two by two. When he entered Jerusalem, “all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along.” After he rose from the dead, 500 believers – and then on the day of Pentecost, 120 disciples – were gathered together. Quite a congregation!
However, after dramatic growth at Pentecost, they needed more organisation and we see both elements – cell and celebration – emerge clearly in Acts 2. We read in verse 44 that all the believers met together in one place! Thousands worshiped together at the Temple each day and then broke up into cells to meet in homes for the Lord’s Supper.
We meet together to worship and study, to encourage one another and to break bread. But Jesus does not mandate what structures we should use. He wants us to be free, not in bondage to traditions, to adapt wineskin to wine, to use what works. So we pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and we take note of the hints we see in these passages.
Historically, the church has majored on the celebration, making it almost compulsory, and few people have been involved in cells where they could grow as disciples. At the other swing of the pendulum, some have emphasised small discipleship groups to the exclusion of the celebration. Sadly, most groups like that disintegrate after a few years. The early Methodist movement was so effective because they did both well. They not only brought individuals to salvation and gathered them in churches, but they ensured that they grew in obedience through a variety of study groups and societies.
Cells and celebration – let’s aim to do both brilliantly!
Jo and Jenny’s passion is to help a new generation of young people, many sons and daughters, to make disciples of unreached ethnic groups.
Jo and Jenny live in Osaka, Japan.