Church planters often follow Scripture texts such as Acts 2:42-47 and 1 Corinthians 14:24-26 in deciding on activities to introduce into new cells and home church gatherings. Choose from activities like the following, in any order, that meet urgent needs and teach loving obedience to Jesus.
1. Have Fellowship
Gather friends or relatives, even if they are not yet believers, for refreshments and fun, or for a meal. Plan simple meetings with activities in which your friends or relatives will participate easily and find it easy to talk together.Do everything in a way that the participants can imitate easily and reproduce by themselves in another new group.
If possible, meet in homes of new believers or seekers. Let hosts invite their family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. You can also meet in parks, restaurants or in a factory during lunch break. Practice the “one another” passages from the New Testament, and the church “body life” described in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 13, and 14:26. Mature believers should avoid saying things that sound preachy to seekers. Let new believers take the lead.
2. Discuss the Word briefly
Avoid lectures and sermons. You might briefly relate a parable or storyabout Christ. If the people’s worldview gives a warped meaning to the words “God,”“holy,”“sin,”“deserved punishment,”“redemption,”“salvation,”“heaven,”or“judgment,” then you might lay a foundation for these concepts by recounting Old Testament stories.
If the participants enjoy play-acting, then read Bible stories and act them out briefly, or do dramatic reading, in which a narrator reads a passage, pausing to let others read any dialogue. For example,a narrator reads the non-spoken parts of Genesis 3, and others read (and act out) the words of the serpent, Eve, Adam, and the “voice of God.”
Be sure to emphasize the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Teach new disciplesJesus’general commands by telling or acting out stories that show how to obey them. These commands include:
1. Repent, believe, and receive the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:15; John 20:21-23).
2. Stories: Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32; Nicodemus, John: 1-17; Paul’s vision, Acts 9:1-31.
3. Baptize (Matt. 28:18-20)
4. Stories: Jesus’ baptism, Matt. 3; Jesus’ command to baptize, Matt. 28:18-20; the jailer and his family, Acts 16: 16-34.
5. Break bread (Communion) in remembrance of Jesus’ death (Matt. 26:26-28)
6. Stories: The original Passover Feast, Exodus 12; Jesus offers his flesh to eat and offends his followers, John 6:24-63.
7. Love (God, others, forgive enemies, etc., Matt. 22:33-40; Luke 6:27-33)
8. Stories: Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-42; Ruth’s love for mother-in-law Naomi, Ruth 1.
9. Pray (John 16:24)
10. Stories: Abraham’s prayer for Lot, Gen. 18:20-33; publican’s prayer, Luke 18:9-14.
11. Give generously (Luke 6:38)
12. 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 4:32-37.
13. Make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)
Start with Bible stories like these:
- 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.
Ask discussion questions after a story, such as these:
- What did you like about the story?
- What did you not understand?
- What did you learn about God?
- What should we do about it?
- With whom can you share this story this week? Your children? A friend or spouse?
Avoid asking first time visitors to participate in activities, unless they want to. Let them watch, at first, so they understand what to do.
3. Pray for One Another
Each person can give prayer requests and others pray for them. Or, if they are not yet accustomed to praying aloud, the host can pray for them in Jesus’ name. Most folk everywhere, including Muslims, are open to have Christians pray for them in Jesus’ name.
How should you pray? In somesocieties, all pray at once. Sometimesparticipants take turns leading a prayer. Some take unique postures. Sometimes everyone prays at once in a soft voice, and sometimes loudly. Sometimes one person prays while the others say “Amen”or other words of agreement. Pray in the way that is most comfortable for seekers and new believers.
4. Praise God
If you gather where hostile neighbors make it unsafe to praise God with music, then read Psalms of praise, or give testimonies of praise. New Muslim followers of Jesusoften feel that music is too frivolous for serious worship, until they learn its value.
5. Confess sins
Confess out loud or silently as the Lord leads. Public sins are normally confessed publicly and private sins privately.
6. Celebrate Communionafter folk have received Christ
Keep it simple. There is no need for a sermon beforehand. Avoid rationalistic explanations of Communion’s mystery. Just explain that Jesus told us to eat his body and drink his blood in remembrance of his death. Let the mystery stand as it is; the Holy Spirit works through it.
7. When believers are ready, teach them to give in obedience to Jesus
Do not request offerings until you know the group is ready to obey the command of Christ to give generously.
- Let the group decide how offerings will be used, and make sure to meet definite current needs. The group as a whole should want to give to meet particular needs.
- In a small group, passing an offering plate would seem awkward and give a bad impression to visitors. Instruct believers to leave offerings in a certain place without public demonstration.
8. When the gatherers decided to obey Christ, appoint and coach leaders
Ask others to teach, lead, or participate in some other way, rather than to followthe same leader week after week. Seekers can lead gatherings for unbelievers with your help, as Cornelius and Levi did, if you coach them in how to do so.