Great ministries are built on these three foundations.
Years ago, it was my privilege to study under C. Peter Wagner at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Wagner introduced me to the concept of Celebration, Congregation and Cell to build a great ministry. But what are these three and what makes them so powerful?
Image provided by Grace Lutheran Church via www.flickr.com
Here’s the concept of Celebration, Congregation and Cell:
In the Celebration, Congregation and Cell model for building a powerful ministry, Celebration is the worship gathering of all those involved in the church. Usually this is on Sunday mornings, however some churches have alternatives such as Saturday night worship as my own church has. (Saturday night church is helpful for those required to work on Sunday morning or those who otherwise need or want an alternative.)
What size is the Celebration? Answer: It can be as big as a facility can hold.
The largest church in the world, in Seoul, S Korea, has tens of thousands meeting for Sunday “Celebration” worship in many locations.
You might say that the bigger the crowd, the better the Celebration. This is not always true, but it is certainly true that more people means more sound when singing worship to the Lord, and in the minds of many, more excitement drawn from the numbers of people.
Perhaps you’re thinking how much you’d dislike such a huge church gathering, and you have every right to feel that way. However, you might dislike it because you are looking for something different from church that is provided in the other components of a powerful ministry: Congregation and Cell.
What is a “Congregation?” The word can be used to describe a whole church, but in the Celebration, Congregation and Cell paradigm, it’s used to describe a gathering of 50 to 100 people, within the larger church.
These Congregations could be large Sunday school classes, singles ministries, senior adult gatherings, men’s ministries, MOPs groups, and so on.
Most churches in the USA are at the Congregation size—I’m talking about the entire church. The average size church in the USA is about 70. Often members of these churches are most comfortable with this size gathering. In a Congregation, the crowd is small enough to know everyone by name, and yet big enough to have quality worship, preaching, children’s classes and so on. My guess is that many or most of the believers in Congregation sized churches would have it no other way.
And there is no problem with being this size UNLESS we’re not fulfilling the Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations.” If a church is ingrown, stagnant and self-focused, then there should be some self-examination in the light of the command of Christ to reach the lost.
Not every church this size is self-focused. So, examine your situation to determine if this is the case.
Jesus utilized the Congregation concept as seen in Luke 10:1-2 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (ESV)
These 72 were Jesus’ Congregation-sized fellowship and ministry team.
You might be wondering “What does it take to surpass the Congregation size and grow to a larger Celebration size?” The answer usually lies in the smaller Cell size. By “” is meant a gathering of about 12 who meet for fellowship, study, accountability and discipleship. These are often called “small groups” or “cell groups.”
Does the number 12 sound familiar? That’s right; Jesus Himself is the most famous Cell group leader in history. He mentored twelve who went on to change the course of history.
Why is a Cell so powerful? There are several reasons:
Closeness of fellowship
Depth of accountability
Mutual support in the storms of life
Personal shepherding via the Cell group leader
The opportunity for Cell multiplication
By utilizing Cell groups, churches can become smaller as they become bigger.
Back to the largest church in the world, the pastor, Dr. David Yonggi Cho, will tell you that he built that church through prayer and Cell groups. THOUSANDS of Cell groups.
Check out my post titled It Was Better than the Olympics Opening Ceremonies and see pictures of the gathering of the tens of thousands of Cell group leaders (not groups but leaders). There were about 70,000 Cell group leaders in attendance at the prayer gathering I attended. Multiply each of those by 12 and you get 840,000!
No wonder they’re the largest church in the world.
Celebration, Congregation and Cell as a model for ministry
Do you want to build a powerful church ministry? I suggest that you build utilizing the Celebration, Congregation and Cell model. Why? Because:
It’s what Jesus did.
How do you build such a ministry? Again, do like Jesus: send out those you’ve discipled two-by-two to make more disciples and start more Cell groups. Then, as they make disciples, they too must send them out two-by-two so that groups multiply:
Easy? Not necessarily.
Effective? Most definitely.
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