Plan of Action Page---------------

Get involved in something much greater than you can imagine, and make an eternal difference!

Our Plan of Action

To take the Gospel to the people

by spreading evangelism oriented Cell Groups all over the city
by teaching every Cell Group Leader how to share the Gospel with non-believers
by encouraging every Cell Group Leader to teach his Cell Group members to learn from Christ independently

Cell-Based Church

Mansfield CRC chose to become a “Cell-Based Church”, placing evangelistic small groups (“cells”) at the core of its ministry. “Cells” are open, evangelism-focused small groups, aiming at multiplying itself, as the group grows through evangelism.

In our Church, a Cell consists of anything between 3 and 7 members, including a Cell Leader as facilitator of the activities of the Cell. For every 3 up to 7 Cell Group Leaders, the congregation selects an Elder to shepherd these Cell Leaders, and for every 3 up to 7 Elders, the congregation calls a Pastor to shepherd these Elders.

We use the term, “Cell” because the Bible refers to the Church as an organism, named “the Body of Christ”. A cell is the smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of independent functioning. In nature, the total genetic package received from the parent is re-established in each daughter cell. This also occurs in healthy cells of the Body of Christ, and therefore in church cells.

Theological Motivation for Cell Groups

Dr. Murray Capill writes in Reformed Theological College Monthly Newsletter (NO. 21 15 October 2007), the following regarding Cell Groups and Accountability:

"It seems to me that if a church simply doesn’t have enough men to have small, effective mini-flocks, there are two things it ought not to do. One is make the mini-flocks larger and larger so that the care becomes less and less meaningful and the elders more and more frustrated in their work. The other thing churches must not do is lower the bar of eldership, appointing out of desperation rather than principle. Only those well-suited for office should be ordained.

A number of churches are therefore developing other strategies for shepherding the flock. One model is to make home groups (or growth groups, small groups, cell groups or whatever you want to call them) the main providers of primary pastoral care. In the home group people find a place of prayer, support, encouragement and Bible input. The home group leaders are key people, following up the people in their groups and mobilising them to care for each other, and other people with needs.

In this model each elder may be responsible for the oversight of two, three or four home groups. They themselves may or may not lead a group, but they do mentor the leaders of the home groups. Each elder encourages his home group leaders in their work and stays in touch with them regularly so as to know pastoral needs. They are then able to follow up where there is a pastoral crisis or special need, but they do not personally try to extend regular care to all those in the home groups. The elders oversee pastoral care via the home groups rather than trying to do all the pastoral care themselves. This frees them up to focus on other aspects of the eldership – overseeing church vision and direction, encouraging and resourcing ministries, training and equipping people for works of service.

In this model, fewer elders are needed but more well-trained and supported home group leaders are required, making a strong second tier of leaders in the church. In time, some of these home group leaders will step up to eldership, with a good background in small group leadership and pastoral care...

Some may ask, is delegating primary pastoral care to others a biblical way of the elders shepherding the flock? The answer to that is that the Bible never lays out a single model of how the flock is to be shepherded. The elders are responsible to ensure that everyone in the church is being spiritually fed, encouraged, protected, challenged and nurtured to maturity in Christ. For this to be done by utilising the gifts of many is fully in line with the biblical model of the members of the body being equipped for works of service, and every member of the body ministering to others. What is essential, however, is that the elders are responsible for, involved in and vitally in touch with the pastoral care being provided.

As mentioned above, these models not only require fewer elders but also allow more time for the elders to develop other aspects of their leadership task... ".

In a different article, dr Capill continues

"The advance of the gospel is not dependent on the latest way of praying, or presenting the gospel, or reaching people. It is dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit as people hear the life-changing message of Christ and him crucified, revealed fully and completely in the Bible, ministered by weak vessels, to people who would find it all foolishness if it were not for God at work within them.

"During my years in ministry I have seen, every year or so, the rise of a new resource, strategy or approach to Christian ministry that has promised great fruit. I think, for example, of the Toronto “blessing”, the Jesus film, the prayer of Jabez, The Passion of the Christ, the Alpha course, 40 Days of Purpose, Christianity Explained, Introducing God, and so on. I also think of entire movements, like the seeker-service movement, or the house church movement, or the charismatic movement.

Sometimes the new strategy is announced with such fanfare that you are made to think that if you do not use this resource or adopt this approach, your ministry will be by-passed by the incredible things God is about to do. You will miss one of the greatest opportunities in the last 2000 years to advance the gospel and build the church.

But whether the claims are large or modest, every new resource and movement requires thorough evaluation. Each requires theological reflection and prayerful, careful assessment. Just because its the latest doesn’t mean it’s the greatest. Just because nearly everyone is using it doesn’t mean it’s right. In fact, sometimes only time reveals that all is not quite right. It is only in recent years, for example, that the seeker-service movement has been critiqued by its own advocates. Some notable seeker-service churches have acknowledged that despite the huge numbers they have drawn, they have not done so well in making disciples of those who were part of the movement.

Church leaders will continue to face new programs, courses, evangelistic tools, resources and movements. And you will have to pick and choose. Like me, you will probably use some of these resources and find them very helpful, but you may also find yourself standing to the side as another movement sweeps through town. That generally makes you feel like a very uncool pastor!

But gospel ministry is not about being cool. Church is not about being trendy. And the gospel is not about a particular resource or program that will “do it” for you and your church. Sure, programs, resources and new models can be helpful and stimulating. We may learn new things, garner fresh ideas, gain helpful tools. But no tool, resource or movement should be too quick to claim too much for itself.

The fact is, the advance of the gospel is not dependent on the latest way of praying, or presenting the gospel, or reaching people. It is dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit as people hear the life-changing message of Christ and him crucified, revealed fully and completely in the Bible, ministered by weak vessels, to people who would find it all foolishness if it were not for God at work within them. Even if you missed every latest trend and resource blasting through the evangelical world but remained steadfast in prayer, active in proclaiming the gospel in culturally relevant ways, and faithful in building the church as a loving, serving, mission-minded, Bible-saturated community, it will be well with your church’s soul.

We need to keep our eyes much more on Christ and the power of God’s Spirit than on the latest way of “doing” church or outreach."

Dr Murray Capill (RTC Monthly, 04/02/09)

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