Cell Groups: the old fashioned method
During orientation for newly appointed IMB missionaries in 1988, we learned from a noted missiologist how churches were surviving under repressive regimes. Defying social stigma and political oppression, Christians in China under Mao had increased in number. In Cuba, Russia, Uganda, and Iran, congregations became selective and secretive, underground movements, vigilant against disclosure to their totalitarian rulers.
Such battles for survival have always forced the church back to the basics: Scripture is primary, prayer is essential, fellowship is prized. Like their spiritual ancestors of previous centuries who labored under fatal duress, churches have made a tactical retreat from the public square into a safe haven in the homes of believers, equally bereft of liberties and amenities.
The proto-church in Jerusalem initially met in an upper room (Acts 1); later they convened in the home of Mary, mother of John Mark (Acts 12). Sheers logistics indicate that members were dispersed to multiple sites in Antioch, also (Acts 13).
Paul utilized the patronage of Philemon in Colossae, Aquila & Priscilla in Corinth (1Cor 16), Phoebe in Cenchreae (Rom 16), and Nympha in Laodicea (Col 4). In Paul’s wake (Acts 16-20), house groups met in Philippi (the jailor, plus Lydia), Thessalonica (Jason), Corinth (Justus, Crispus, Stephanas, Gaius), Beroea, and Troas. Philemon was a famous blessing in Colossae, unlike the infamous curse of Diotrophes in Asia Minor (3 John).
In light of church history as well as the New Testament, home units were not restricted to a crisis, but an option born of poverty or an alternative chosen for the reluctant. The home has always been foundational for church life.
Jorge Noel was a prosperous baker in the Republic of Panamá, a loyal believer and generous benefactor. He invited me to lead a weeknight Bible study at his home. There were refugees of cultural Catholicism, university students, elder neighbors and rugged individualists, none of whom had set foot in a church. They poured over the Bible, the gospel was presented, and prayers were shared. Jorge winked at me and beamed, they will naturally transition to the church.
Will you consider joining with us in this ministry? We have the opportunity to initiate a crusade for new believers through our own homes.
Ministry of Outreach & Evangelism
Multiple Sites on Sunday Evenings
Teachers of a planned Bible study
Hosts to open their Home
Helpers to Canvass the Neighborhood
Helpers with weekly Snacks
Partners in prayer support