I gave a cell conference in
Some small group pastors are even more insistent about the importance of small group evangelism. Rob Reimer, for example, says,
is unhealthy about cells that don't reach people. In my experience,
everyone who tries to make a go at a cell church and fails, blows it on this
major point. They compromise this principle and multiply cells through
transfer growth. It is an unforgivable cell church sin. They end up
with small groups that don't do evangelism.
Reimer has taken his church plant from 0 to 500 in secular
Randall Neighbour, president of Touch Outreach, transformed his own cell group by telling each member on the first night that each of them would see a friend, family member or co-worker come to Christ before the cell multiplied at the end of the school year. Then Randall said, “My only role in your life will be to help you get this accomplished, so get ready to be challenged. You’re about to grow.” Previously, Randall prioritized shepherding the sheep in his cell group; his new purpose is to help each one get a friend, family member or co-worker saved within six months.
said to Philemon, “I pray that you
may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding
of every good thing we have in Christ” (verse 6). As a small group
evangelizes, it experiences all those good things and begins to operate in the
power of God. How does evangelism take place in the cell group? Here are a few
If we’re going to see our friends, family, neighbors and work associates won to Christ, we must pay the price in prayer. The Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Only prayer can break the hold of the enemy on people’s lives. Satan and his demons have blinded people’s minds, and they’re unable to see the glorious gospel of Christ.
Paul says in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Effective cells and cell leaders recognize the most effective tool to win non-Christians to Christ is through fervent prayer. They take the words of Paul seriously: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
Jim Pesce, founder and pastor of Harvest Family Community, regularly practices prayer evangelism. Jim and his wife, Debbie, have seen people healed from all kinds of dysfunctional behavior through fasting and prayer. They regularly participate in 21-day fasts and 40-day fasts. Jim writes, “We also asked the Lord to grow our cells with new baby Christians during this fast. By faith, we set multiplication dates based on non-existent new believers, knowing only the Lord could empower us to reach these goals. All but one cell received new saints and were ready to multiply well before the multiplication dates.”
evangelism begins and ends with fervent prayer. All of the other suggestions
pale in comparison with prayer. Let’s fervently commit ourselves to prayer
evangelism as our first and foremost resource to win lost men and women to Jesus
the cell leader. I need to do all the work.” Wrong. The
cell leader is the facilitator, not the work horse. The cell leaders
orchestrates the work for the whole group to carry out. Remember
the concept of net fishing versus pole fishing? It’s the team that does the
work. Everyone participate. The
following are a list of group evangelistic ideas:
· Asks Members to Invite Non-Christians: Leaders who weekly encourage the cell members to invite visitors multiply their groups twice as much as those who do so occasionally or not at all. To be effective, cell leaders mobilize the entire team to invite new people. Dale Galloway writes: “To keep evangelism thriving in small groups, you must continue to push people out of their comfort zones by encouraging them to call on new people, putting the names of new prospects into their hands, and continually keeping the message of evangelism before them.”[i]
¨ Video: During a cell meeting, watch an evangelistic video instead of having a Bible-based lesson or rent a video and tie-in Bible lessons.
Chair: Place an empty chair in the cell meeting and have the members
pray for the next person who will fill it.
Outreach: Prepare a special outreach to one segment of society, such as
police officers or teachers (
transparency is perhaps the most effective witness to win non-Christians to
Jesus. My cell group experience in
that the cells of John Wesley were very oriented to sharing from the heart.
Wesley’s cells met only for one hour, the main event was “reporting on your
The meeting was built upon sharing personal experiences of the past week.
Everyone was expected “... to speak freely and plainly about every subject for
from their own temptations to plans for establishing a new cottage meeting or
visiting the distressed.”
In other words, these groups emphasized transparency. Within this framework of
“open sharing,” many were converted. The hearts of sinners melted as they
interacted with “saved sinners.” Jesus Christ made all the difference.
is the same method that David Cho, the pastor of
Seeker Sensitive Sub Groups from
Another great way to increase the evangelistic momentum is to design outreach groups that are seeker-oriented. Seeker-sensitive groups specifically gear the cell lessons to reach non-Christians. In these groups there is little praying, singing, or talking about the church. The needs of the non-Christians are the priority.[v]
who participate in Share Groups have the dual responsibility of attending their
normal cell group as well as the separate Share Group. Neighbour writes, “This
group should be free, informal, and spontaneous. … It’s important for all
Share Group members to feel they can be themselves.”[ii]
Share Groups allow cell groups to reach hard-core unbelievers who are not yet
open to the gospel but who are open to friendships.
Alpha Course is an introduction to the Christian faith, designed to instruct in
a non-threatening way and inspire people who have little to no church
background. It’s lasts eleven weeks and includes fifteen sessions. It’s
designed primarily to appeal to non Christians and relatively new or immature
believers. It began 20 years ago at a dying Anglican church in central
I heard that
I visited one cell church that works on the zone level to plan evangelistic activities, and each cell in the zone participates. The zone might present a Christian movie, a special speaker, or some type of servant evangelism, depending on the particular zone. Each cell is encouraged to reach its neighborhood through the zone-level events, and for special occasions that the cell itself sponsors. Some groups might create special cards inviting neighborhood mothers to a Mother’s Day celebration. Or the cell might plan a special dinner and invite those living in the neighborhood.
has become more of an emphasis in the G12 movement. The homogeneous networks
come together occasionally to plan evangelism rallies and reach out to
non-Christians. The men’s network, for example, might have an all-men’s
rally. These are congregations (based on cells) that come together to reach a
particular homogeneous group of people.
One of the cell church pastors I’m coaching had a harvest event in his church on the Sunday before Thanksgiving 2002. They put together a 36 hour prayer rally to prepare for the event. The cells participated in the planning of the event. Cell members invited non-Christian and prepared parts of the harvest event (food, setting up tables, renting a bounce house, etc.). Pastor Harrell spent extra time in orienting his message toward non-Christians. The result was that forty-five new people showed up and several received Christ as their Savior.
Southern Baptist pastor I know said to me, “I train our cell leaders to be
ready to pounce on every visitor in the church. Our cell leaders immediately try
to assimilate the newcomers by inviting them to their cell groups.
We’ve discovered here in
Reimer said something similar, “Most
of our evangelism growth occurs through the cells - that is, people from the
cells, doing teamwork evangelism, bring people to church. But, usually
their first exposure to a "Church" experience is Sunday morning
worship. They'll have gone to cell outreaches and the special events.
But, usually they end up coming to a service with their friend before landing in
a cell. I preach an evangelistic message on grace about 8-10 times a
Effective leaders are not necessarily talented, gifted, or outgoing. But they do have one thing in common. They’re persistent. They don’t give up. They keep on encouraging the cell members to reach out and invite people, even when the results are few. They keep on praying, even though the answer is not immediate. Remember the Scripture in Proverbs 14:23: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Such diligence will lead to success eventually.
Rob Reimer sent me this email on
 Randall Neighour, “The Goal is Clear: Live our Your Purpose,” Cell Group Journal, Vol. 9, no. 2 (Spring 2000): 16.
 Jim Pesce, “Fasting for Results,” Cell Group Journal, Vol. 9, no. 2 (Spring 2000): 30.
 Howard A. Snyder, The Radical Wesley and Patterns for Church Renewal (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), p. 55.
 David Sheppard, Built As A City: God and the Urban World Today (London: Hodder and Stoughton Publishers, 1974), p. 127.