Things to do in Cell or HouseChurch 'Start-up' Meetings
Facts about these things to do in the
first few meetings:
can start with just getting friends or relatives together,
even through they are not yet believers, for food and fellowship (sometimes
called "a gathering group"). Fellowship is first in the list
of essential elements below.
can add the other elements one by one, usually in the sequence, below at
the pace of the group--slow or fast.
believers are required for Communion (element #6). Up to that point the
gatherers might all be seekers.
some will become believers by the time # 3 is added, and might then
appoint some provisional elders ('provisional' because they are still
unproven) to help you shepherd the group, but it's not essential at this
a core group among the gatherers has decided to obey the basic commands
of Christ, out of love for Him, and you are practicing all elements
regularly, appoint elders and call it a church (it meets the New Testament
requirements for a new church).
One way is to talk and have fun as you have a
meal. Plan any activity in which your friends or relatives will participate
and find it easy to talk.
Practice the "one another" passages
from the New Testament, the church 'body life' described in 1 Corinthians
chapters 12 through 13, and .
Start with parables and stories of Christ. If
they have a world view that gives no meaning, or a very perverted meaning to
the words "God," "holy," "sin," "deserved
"redemption," "salvation," "heaven," and
"judgment," then you might have to lay a foundation for these
concepts from Old Testament stories also.
Read the stories and simultaneously act them
out (if possible) or do dramatic reading, in which a narrator begins a
passage with dialogue, and others read the words of those who speak. For
example the narrator reads the non-spoken parts of Genesis 3, others read
(and act out) the words of the serpent, Eve, Adam, and the voice of God.
Include stories from the Old Testament that
lay the firm foundations for the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
For beginners, tell stories that focus on the
7 basic commands of Christ (listed below). Do this as soon as any new
believer or seeker can understand their importance. When new people become
believers later on, ask someone go over Jesus' commands with them, so that
the group is not bored with constant repetition.
When the group matures, you can work through
one or more of the Gospels, then the Epistles or any other Bible book,
including passages that are not stories.
Use questions to discuss the story, whether
it is simply read or dramatized. Some find these questions helpful:
did you like best about the story?
did you like least about the story?
did you not understand?
did you learn about God's character?
are you personally going to do about it (practical application)?
whom can you share this story this week? Can you go over it with a friend
or your family?
applicable) Which of the basic commands of Christ does this story/text
remind you of?
3. Pray for
Each person can give prayer requests and
others pray for them. Or, if they are not yet praying out loud, the host can
pray for them in Jesus' name. Often Muslims are open to people praying for
them in Jesus' name.
How should you pray? In many societies all
pray at once. In other societies people take turns leading the prayer.
Muslims have their own way. Sometimes everyone prays at once in a soft voice.
Sometimes one person prays while the others say "Amen."
Often it is wise to praise God without using
music. Read a Psalm of praise, or give testimonies of praise. This is common
among Muslim converts who feel that music is too frivolous for serious
worship, and where informers might hear and report it to hostile authorities.
You can read a Psalm, sing, give testimony,
praise God for one or more of His great characteristics (forgiving, powerful,
holy, compassionate, etc), write or read a poem, etc.
Confess out loud or silently as the Lord
leads. Public sins are normally confessed publicly and private sins
Often if the leader confesses a sin publicly
others will also do so.
Keep it simple. There is no need for a sermon
Avoid rationalistic explanations of the
mystery. Just explain that Jesus told us to eat his body and drink his blood
in remembrance. Let the mystery stand.
believers are ready, teach them a 7th element, to give in
obedience to Jesus.
Do not ask for an offering until you know for
sure that the group is ready to obey this command of Christ. Then do it
the group decide how it will be used, and make sure that it meets a definite
need, or needs. The group as a whole should feel strongly that they want
to give for it.
a small group passing an offering plate around is awkward. This offends
visitors. Instruct new believers who want to give to leave offerings in a
certain place without public demonstration.
Things to Remember
possible, meet somewhere other than the mature believer's home--it does
far more good to meet at the home of a new believers or seekers.
mature believer should not invite people to the 'church,' but allow the
hosts to invite their family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors.
believers may or may not attend the gathering, depending on
circumstances. If they attend, they should keep silent except for prayer
requests, confession or some brief announcement. They must never say
anything that undermines the hosts' authority, or that sounds 'preachy'
can be commissioned as some believers are practicing these elements of
church meetings. Before that it's only a gathering group.
mature believer goes over the "schedule" of the gathering with
the hosts a day or so beforehand, especially focusing on the Word--the
story and the questions--and obeying the seven basic commands of Christ
when the group gets to that point. Any questions that come up that the
hosts don't know the answer to, they can discuss with the mature
believer who is mentoring them (we hope) at their next session, to have
answers for the next gathering.
it simple but serious. Do everything in a way that the people in the
group can imitate easily and reproduce by themselves in another new
group. I.e. No "Seminary speak" or
rituals leave the group bewildered.
others to lead rather than focusing on one leader week after week.
non-Christians can lead the initial gathering meetings. You coach them
behind the scenes. First start with Fellowship and the Word. Then add
prayer, and when you have a few believers, add worship, confession,
communion and, when you know it won't offend, giving.
appropriate clothes for the type of people and gathering.
it low key. You can meet in a park, a restaurant or in a factory during
the lunch break. To avoid drawing attention in a public place, for
example, you can pray with your eyes open.
believers often feel guilty if we are not worshiping in a building. Get
over it. This is not for you; it's to reach others!
the meeting, don't just focus on one person (i.e. the new believer). We
must edify the whole the group and help everyone to participate in some
invite foreign Christians. This changes the focus of the meeting. Their
testimonies will be about needing money!
asking first time visitors to participate in the dramas. They are not
used to it yet. Let them watch a few times so they understand how to do
it-- but if they offer to do it, fine.
Seven Basic Commands of Christ, and Stories that
believe, and receive the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:15; John 20:21-23).
Stories--these are only a few of the ones
you might use to portray repentance. The Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32; Jesus'
talk with Nicodemus, John:1-17; Paul's conversion,
Stories: Jesus' baptism, Matt. 3;
Jesus' command to baptize, Matt. 28:18-20; the jailer and his family, Acts
bread (Communion) in remembrance of Jesus' death (Matt. 26:26-28)
Stories: The original Passover Feast,
Exodus 12; Jesus offers his flesh to eat and offends his followers, John -63.
(God, others, forgive enemies, etc., Matt. 22:33-40; Luke 6:27-33)
Stories: The Good Samaritan, Luke
10:25-42; Ruth's love for her mother-in-law Naomi, Ruth 1.
Stories: Abraham's prayer for Lot's
family, Gen. 18:20-33; the publican's prayer, Luke 18:9-14.
generously (Luke )
Stories: Abigail feeds David's hungry
soldiers, 1 Sam. 25; Dorcas makes clothes for the poor, Acts 9:36-43;
Barnabas sells his property to give to the needy, Acts -37.
disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)
Stories: Jesus chooses the twelve to
accompany him, Mark 3:13-19; the apostles teach the believers in the first
church in Jerusalem to obey all of Jesus' basic commands, Acts 2:37-47;
Priscilla and Aquila disciple the leader Apollos, Acts 18:24-28.