By Larry Kreider
Mario Murillo exhorted, “To do anything below what you were created to do will bore you.” We were created by God to be ministers. Apart from this, we lack a sense of fulfillment and dignity.
Several years ago, my journalist friend, turned pastor, from Nairobi, Kenya knew his people were bored. Ibrahim, having a keen interest in the small group church concept, sought for a working model and wanted to “tag along” as I served in our new small group church. Our new church was birthed a few years earlier with three small groups, but instead of multiplying, one died. We desperately pleaded for God’s help as we reminded His people, “The Bible says you are a minister, and God desires to use you!” Eventually, faith rose in heir hearts, and the Lord used them. People were saved. New believers came to the cells. New leaders were trained. At last—multiplication. It was fun!
Two small groups became four. Four became eight. Eight became sixteen, and sixteen became thirty-two. The church had grown. As pastor, I spent most of my time meeting with cell leaders and discussing the needs and potential in individual cell members. I and each leader regularly spoke simple faith-filled prayers for each believer in each cell.
Ibrahim had been watching and listening. One day, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my African brother open his heart. Weeping, he unburdened, “Western evangelists come to my nation and hold massive crusades. The TV cameras are rolling. When the evangelist asks my African brothers to raise their hands to receive Christ, many respond. The next week, another western evangelist comes to town, and many of my same brothers come to the crusade and raise their hands again. My people need a sense of dignity, where every individual believer understands he is important to God and to His purposes. Will you come and help us? We need a new model of church life.”
Today, Ibrahim has a vision to train leaders to start cells and celebrations throughout Africa. He and his wife, Diane, have opened their home for cell ministry. Neighbors and friends have received the Lord, and many found a spiritual family. Cells were birthed in neighboring areas of the city, multiplying throughout Kenya and into Uganda. Ibrahim’s people have received a new sense of dignity!
Jesus’ Small Group
In New Zealand, where I was asked to share the vision of New Testament small group ministry, I met Robert. He listened intently as I spoke about Jesus spending most of His time with the twelve disciples—His small group. I discussed God’s call on every saint to be a minister as stated in Ephesians 4:11-12. I also looked at Acts 2 reflecting the New Testament model church meeting and casted a vision for effective cell-based ministry in today’s church. After thirty minutes, Robert spoke, filled with emotion. “When I was 13 years old, the Lord called me to be a minister. For more than 20 years, I tried to find doors that would open for me to fulfill this call. I attempted to be a minister, because I knew the Lord had called me. And as I understood it, the only way to be a minister was to be ordained after completing years of theological training. Sometime back I led a man to the Lord, I discipled him and watched him grow. It was so fulfilling. I realize tonight, I am a minister!”
A heavy load dropped off Robert’s back. The truth had set him free. Robert realized he could fulfill the Lord’s call to minister by discipling new believers in a small group. He did not need a title or a degree. He did not need to try to become a minister. He was one!
What John Wesley Believed
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, believed one out of every five persons was a potential leader. Through his exhortation, the Wesleyan movement spread massively throughout the nations. God’s people worked out their calling as ministers and opened their homes for class meetings, similar to cells. Each person had a sense of fulfillment and dignity.
This is a universal problem! People in your town are not living their potential as ministers. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit,” claims II Corinthians 3:5-6. We become spiritually rusted and paralyzed when we do not strive to fulfill our calling. Ministry may have been confined to a few in a church building, leaving limited opportunities for true ministry. However, consciously being passive in a church service every Sunday and staring at the back of someone’s head is nullifying. Cells remind us of our calling to do ministry and provide the opportunities.
The harvest is upon us! Every saint must capture the revelation of the call to minister. Cells are the ideal places to train and experience effective ministry. It is an opportunity to get over boredom and regain a sense of dignity!
About Larry Kreider
Larry has spent the past four decades training leaders to make disciples with the small group concept. Larry serves as the international director of DOVE International, a worldwide network of over 1,000 churches in 26 nations. Larry has written more than 40 books and travels extensively teaching and imparting practical discipleship to leaders globally. Read about Larry or catch up on Larry’s blog.