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Small group bible studies

Updated on October 20, 2014

Small group Bible Studies

This page represents a growing collection of small group studies used in the small groups of the English network of the Vine International - A network of cell based churches around the globe.

The studies are designed to encourage growth and development through the use of discussion questions.

The Vine International
The Vine International

Introducing Resources from the Vine International

Small group leader training

Many of the small group leader’s articles on these pages have been used or adapted from the ministry of the Vine international which is an International Church Planting ministry begun in the year 2000 in central Brazil. The ministry began with a group of 50 people meeting in the garage of one of the members and has spread to multiple countries in North and South America, Europe and Africa.

The original church in the city of Goiânia, Goiás in Brazil has exceeded a membership of 30,000 people. Globally the movement now includes more than 120,000 Christians. The main reason for this growth is a firm commitment to the principles taught concerning leadership, discipleship applied within the context of small groups.

My prayer is that the principles outlined here will be practiced and taught in every nation so that we can hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus to set up his earthly kingdom and usher us into the eternal state of the New Jerusalem.

Now that is anointing!
Now that is anointing!

Everything starts with anointing!

But what is anointing?

A young boy once asked a man of God:

What is anointing?

The man of God then called the boys' attention to a cow that was eating grass in the distance and asked him:

Do you see that cow eating grass?

Yes, the boy answered.

That is not anointing.

Then he called the boys' attention to a bird singing on a branch of a tree and said:

Do you see that bird singing?

Yes, the boy answered.

That is not anointing either.

The boy impatiently insisting with the elderly man persisted:

Tell me then, what is anointing?

After a brief pause, the man turned to the boy and concluded by saying:

If you see a cow on a branch of a tree, singing like a bird, that is anointing.

The true reality of the church is supernatural. If all we have are birds singing on the rooftops and cows eating grass in the fields, then we have nothing more than what the world has. The true work of God needs to be supernatural, heavenly and unusual.

The purpose of this manual is to disseminate the above attitude concerning the structure of cell groups in our church. Our growth is not a result of having good structures and good organization. If the success of our work can be attributed to a mere good organizational structure, then we are no different from the world. In worldly structures, there are marketing strategies, quality control, participative management and many other similar things that we possess and practice. We cannot depend on mere techniques and organization. These things are only garments that we can put on and take off according to the need. Children change clothes as they grow and in the same way, churches change the structure and organization as the need arises to facilitate growth.

If the fellowship that we practice is nothing different from the Rotary club or the Lions, we are doing nothing more than the world already does. If our preaching is not distinguished from political oratory or from academic speeches, we are doing nothing more than the world already does. The message of Jesus was very clear: He did not come to do away with the Law; He came to deepen and to transcend it, and drive it into the heart. Therein lays the great difference, we must transcend the common practices of the world.

To transcend is not only to do better, but to do it supernaturally. We cannot attract the world by merely singing songs, since the people the world also have music even better produced than ours. In the same way, we cannot attract the world through our dramatic skits, small groups, and creative programs, since all these things already exist in the world and the world does them better than us. However, there is something that neither the world nor anyone can do: make a cow sing on the branch of a tree. Only anointing can do this.

Without the power of God, all we do is entertain the Saints and occupy ourselves with activities. The church is not earthly; it is heavenly, its power and life are heavenly. Anything that we do that is not based on spiritual power, whether it is fellowship, preaching, counsel, music or social groups, will not communicate the reality of the church.

Only through the anointing of the Lord can we establish and order the principles of our ministry. The anointing transcends the pattern of our work. Our fellowship cannot be common or natural, but must be the type with which God Himself enjoys. Our preaching cannot be mere intelligent and intriguing speech, but must be the very voice of God thundering from heaven to earth. Our authority must not depend on academic titles, or the volume of our voice when we preach, but on the authority of the Holy Spirit. We are not fruitful because we use techniques, but because we have anointing. It does not matter how hard we try; only the anointing can enable a cow to sing like a bird on the branch of a tree.

If our ministry through cell groups merely reproduces techniques and dynamics applied in the psychology of groups, we will be wasting our time. We are not a business; we are a church of the Lord Jesus. Learn the techniques and the methodologies of our vision, but remember that the most important thing is what is inside the wineskin, the real source of growth, of life, of fruit and everything else: the wine of the Holy Spirit.

May the Lord of glory, King Jesus, pour this anointing over you in order that you become uncommonly fruitful above all expectations. This anointing, more than an event, is what transforms life and makes it a heavenly expression.

Everything begins with prayer

Our prayer is that, at some point, while you study these principles, you receive a special revelation from God. That you may see the church through His eyes and be won over by a heavenly vision: the edification of a church of overcomers. Allow these two dreams to influence you: to multiply your cell group (once per year) and to conquer our generation for Christ. First, take a few minutes to write what you are feeling. Whether you use the lines below or jot them down in your Bible write a few lines that correspond to your prayer to God concerning your ministry of fruitfulness and leadership.

Sharpening each other through fellowship
Sharpening each other through fellowship

The importance of fellowship in God's family

Five reasons why Fellowship is an indespensable element of Christianity

ICEBREAKER: Visiting teddy bear: the leader announces to the group that today there will be a special guest. Using a teddy bear or another stuffed animal, the leader should ask each member of the cell to pass it around from member to member instructing each one to do whatever they want to it, for example: hit it, hug it, throw it in the air, say something to it, or kiss it. Whenever the teddy bear has gone around the circle the leader should explain to each person present that they should do the same thing with the person that is to their right by starting with a person designated by the leader and one by one going around the circle of participants. (It's really fun to see the members hugging each other trying to throw each of the other up in the air etc.)

PRAISE AND WORSHIP: encourage a time of fellowship through song in the meeting.

Feeding on the Word of God: Psalm 133

EDIFICATION:

Christianity was never meant to be lived alone in isolation. Life in community is the biblical manner of living out the Christian life. The more you grow in God and attain more intimacy with him, the closer you will grow to others and to the members of your small group in your local church.

Without fellowship you are like a brick separated from the construction, a bodily part separated from the body, a lost and alone soldier in the battlefield, an ember taken from the fire. Without fellowship your life loses its purpose and meaning.

Let's examine some reasons why fellowship is so important:

Fellowship is important because . .

You cannot grow by yourself - Hebrews 10:25

Just as a child learns from its parents and older brothers and sisters, you also need older brothers and spiritual mothers and fathers to grow in God. To neglect this will only bring harm to your spiritual life.

Many churches exist only for people to go and take part of a campaign in search of a blessing. This is not wrong, but this is not what the church is for. If that is all that Christians do, none of them will ever grow up. From time to time each one of us needs to be exhorted, corrected, motivated, occasionally carried, encouraged and probably many times forgiven.

Salvation is received on an individual basis, but you cannot grow spiritually isolating yourself from your brothers and sisters. Fellowship is much more than going to a church meeting and frequently sitting beside a brother or sister in Christ whose name you don't even know.

That is why we are a church in cells. Because we can have fellowship among everyone at the celebration service, but at the same time, we can have fellowship individually one with another in the cells in homes.

Do you think that a person that arrives at a church meeting after the meeting has already begun, leaves running home the minute it finishes and does not belong to a cell group can be blessed by God? Of course! But will he grow? No! Read the biblical exhortation in Hebrews 10:25

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Fellowship is important because . . .

Jesus Christ manifests himself in Fellowship - Matthew 18:20

Just as we all express ourselves through our own body, the same principle applies in the body of Christ which is the church. The church as Christ's body, is the only way that he can express himself on the earth. The church is not made up of just one body part or one lone member. The church is a number of members bonded and connected to other members that are bonded and connected to more and more members successively.

Jesus Christ expresses himself through his body. His body is the church. Therefore, to a certain extent to be out of communion means to be absent from the presence of the Lord.

Fellowship is important because . . .

There is power when we are together - Matthew 18:19

The church united in prayer is the greatest concentration of power on the face of the earth. This is what Jesus said in Matthew 18:19.

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

Certain prayers will only be answered if we pray together in agreement through fellowship.

There are many things that you can do on your own, but the greatest and more important things you will do through a group or a team, whether in the cell or in the local church.

Fellowship is important because . . .

Fellowship convinces the world that Jesus is God - John 17:20, 21

Our fellowship helps us to express the love of God to the world according to John 17:20, 21

The Bible says that in the primitive church the multitudes were attracted to Christ because of the fellowship of the first Christians. They were always together.

Some people do not like the crowds, they don't like to mix with others, but there is nothing as beautiful as a life of fellowship in the church. The world sees this and begins to believe in the Lord Jesus.

Perhaps someone will say: "I have been disappointed too many times. There are too many complicated and problematic people in the church." Even so, you need them in order to grow! Even if these people are like coarse sandpaper in your life, they will help polish you into a beautiful vessel for God.

Fellowship is important because . . .

Fellowship is a safeguard for your life:

Is not difficult to imagine what happens to an ember that has been separated from the fire. Neither is it necessary to argue the uselessness of a soldier going to war alone. Therefore fellowship in the church is a spiritual safeguard for you. Through fellowship your fire is maintained and the battle is won.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken

The devil knows that when you are alone you are easy prey, therefore he often tries to isolate you from the fellowship of your small group and local church.

DISCUSSION AND SHARING

Do you know anyone who has tried to be a Christian without belonging to a local church? What observations can you make about this person? How do you think you can help this person?

In what ways have you been able to recognize the manifestation of Christ when you meet with other members of the church or cell group? In what ways have you benefited from fellowship?

What has been your experience as a result of deciding to become part of a local church? Do you feel protected and spiritually covered? Why or why not?

TIME OF PRAYER: encourage those who need prayer to share their requests and one by one intercede on behalf of each person who made the request.

Encourage each member to think of someone they will invite to the meeting for next week.

Be prepared to give a prophetic word over the members before concluding the meeting.

Christian unity and unanimity

Unity and The move of God

ICEBREAKER - indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following phrase and why. "A dream that is dreamt alone is just a dream, but a dream that is dreamt together as a group has already become a reality".

CHRISTIAN UNITY IN A WORTHY ENDEAVOR

We dream of the church as a heavenly endeavor, in which God himself unites us so that we can be a testimony of his grace on the earth. If enough people dream together, the reality will manifest itself. When we dream about a church in cells, we don't merely dream of meetings in homes. The meetings are important, but the cells are a project to be lived out in a day-to-day community. The church happens wherever we are. The church happens during a walk in the park or at the beach, at work, while shopping or taking care of business. To be in a cell is to participate in a family and gather with those who have the same nature and who share a life in common.

We dream of a strong church and the strength of the church is in its joints, its connections. When joints work together, we understand the power that there is in Christian unity. We may be many, but when we are one, heaven truly descends to earth.

CHRISTIAN UNITY AND THE MANIFESTATION OF POWER

We dream of a pleasant place with an atmosphere of love and acceptance, because we have already understood grace, and because of this, we gracious accept it. But we also yearn for a place full of the anointing and power God so that miracles can popup around us like popcorn pops in a hot pan. After all, we dream of the community that flows with the supernatural.

But for all of this to happen there must be unity in the same purpose. Without unity, none of this can happen. This is why I am putting forth the challenge for us to dream together. Each one of us can have our own dream, but if we want to build together, we have to have the same heart and the same dream.

CHRISTIAN UNITY AS A COUNTERCULTURE

Today people think that in order to be considered intelligent, they must be a contrarian. They think that if they constantly disagree that they will become original freethinkers. The problem is that the Word of God says that the things of God are reached by unity and purpose, or in other words, in unanimity: These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:14)

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, (Acts 2:46)

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said:" Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, (Acts 4:24)

That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Christ. (Romans 15:6)

CHRISTIAN UNITY AND THE MOVE OF GOD

Every move of God in the book of Acts was a result of a single attitude: unanimity. Because of the fact that everyone was united in one single purpose, God was free to act among them. The same principle applies today. There will only be a move of God among us if we are united as a local church. There can be no discordant voice among us. We must allow no foreign dreams to transform our dream into a nightmare.

THE PRICE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

Each one of us must protect and preserve the Christian unity that exists among us. Don't permit people in your cell to question the vision or the leadership.

In an Army the moral of the troops must be maintained. The moral of the troops is their unanimity. No commander will ever permit a soldier to introduce another way of thinking within a troop. All the soldiers think the same thing, see the same thing and are led to champion the same cause. If someone thinks differently, they will be discharged for the good of the moral of the troops. This moral is not seen in many churches today, but it must be seen among us.

There are four areas in which we must maintain practical Christian unity. These areas are also levels through which we advanced in unity.

CHRISTIAN UNITY IN TEACHING

In the book of Acts the work prevailed because of unanimity in three areas: prayer, the word and the spirit. All that we need his prayer, the word and the spirit in order to win over our generation, but this must occur with unanimity.

The Church persevered unanimously in teaching and fellowship (Acts 2:42). It is necessary that there be only one teaching. Whatever is taught among us must have the "amen" of each one of us. If we are unable to obtain this unanimity, the work will not prevail. Some of us have come from other groups, but, if we believe that it is God who brought us here, then we must persevere together in everything that is taught here. If there is anything with which you disagree, yet you want to remain with us, then you must learn how to keep your disagreement quietly in your heart. If you teach something different, you will be breaking the unity of the church and blocking the move of God among us.

We can have different opinions and positions with respect to the natural affairs of life, but with respect to the things of the church we must have one single position.

CHRISTIAN UNITY IN PRACTICE

We all know that teaching produces a practice. Our practice in the church is a result of the Revelation that we had received from the Lord through the years. We are not a church in cells because at one point, it was a popular thing to do, but because of deep spiritual convictions.

But even in this matter unanimity is necessary. Many people think that we can practice cell group ministry in any way that we please. This brings confusion and hinders our progress in reaching the goal. We must advance in the practice of the vision of cells. All of us must have the same practice, according to biblical teaching and pastoral oversight.

We must have the same mind and the same will and move toward the same objective, with the same soul and the same heart.

CHRISTIAN UNITY IN THOUGHTS AND WORDS

If we have different ways of doing things, it will be difficult to preserve unanimity. In order to maintain unanimity, we all have to learn how to do the same thing in the same way. We are exhorted to speak the same thing. Within the church, whenever we talk about the affairs of the local church there cannot be more than one way of speaking, our way of speaking must be the same. Whenever a member decides to say something different, our unanimity is broken and we can no longer follow the move of God. In order for us to have the same word, we must first have the same mind. Which is why Paul exhorted the Philippians: "fulfill my joy by being like- minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" (Philippians 2:2).

CHRISTIAN UNITY IN ESSENCE AND EXPRESSION

In spite of the fact that we have numerous cells spread throughout the region, we must have a single essence and have a single expression. Many leaders still have an independent and proud spirit and seek to do things differently within their cell. Sometimes they don't follow the proposed teaching other times they open themselves to practices that are strange to us which again, breaks our unanimity.

If you want to reap fruit in a measure that we have not yet seen, we must work on all of these areas. We must preserve the unanimity of one teaching, one practice, one way of thinking and speaking, as well as one essence and expression.

DISCUSSION AND SHARING

Why do you think that it is so difficult to maintain this level of unity?

How can this difficulty be overcome?

What suggestions do you have in improving the unity of this group?

PRAYER TIME: encourage those who need prayer to share their requests and one by one intercede on behalf of each person who made the request.

Encourage each member to think of someone they will invite to the meeting for next week.

Be prepared to give a prophetic word over the members before concluding the meeting.

A Church of overcomers

Each member a minister and each home an extension of the church in order to win over our generation for Christ.

Our mission is to edify a church of overcomers in which each member is a minister and each home is an extension of the church in order to win over our generation for Christ, through small groups which multiply themselves at least once a year.

This is our vision, our declaration of purpose. The first part declares that our mission is to edify a church of overcomers.

What does it mean to be a church of overcomers? It means being a church that fulfills the purpose of God. And just what is God's purpose? God’s purpose for the church is for God to have a group of people in His image and likeness. God desires to fill man with Himself, as His own life, so that He can express himself through man. Therefore, in this way man can exercise God’s dominion and represent Him on the earth.

Man was created as a vessel to contain God. God made us like a vessel so that He could abide in us as a substance that fills a vessel. A glove is formed in the image and likeness of the hand, but it isn’t the reality of the hand. A glove is designed according to the shape and form of a human hand in order to contain it. Equally, God created man in His own image for the purpose of becoming His vessel.

Once man receives the person of God as his life within his spirit, he becomes an instrument in God's hands. So that God can use him as an instrument, God gave man the following command:

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28)

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY

The first command that God gave to man at creation was to be fruitful and multiply. God has given the same command today in the new creation. All of us have received the command to be fruitful and multiply (Matthew 28:20; Mark 16:15). The difference is that Adam was fruitful and multiplied as a living soul. Today however God calls us to be fruitful and multiply by the Spirit of life (1 Corinthians 15).

A church of overcomers therefore, fulfills the original purpose of God: to be fruitful and multiply. There is no way to fulfill the purpose of God without being fruitful and multiplying. Therefore, our vision demands the multiplication of each Life Group at least one time per year. An overcoming leader is one who multiplies himself.

SUBDUE AND DOMINATE

God also told man to have dominion, or in other words, he gave him authority to exercise dominion as if he were God himself. Anyone who could have seen Adam would have known that he represented God, since in all respects, he was created in God's likeness.

Treasure these two words in your heart: image and dominion. Because we have God's image, we exercise His dominion. Image is for expressing (God Himself) and dominion is for exercising authority (of God).

All of us need to deal with the enemy subjecting him in all areas of our lives (Matthew 16:19; 18:18; Romans 16:20). To subject the enemy means to overcome him in all circumstances and not allow him to take advantage over us at any moment.

When we subject the earth and exercise dominion, we say that we are fulfilling the vision that each believer is a minister. The minister subjects the earth and exercises dominion through prayer and authority in the name of Jesus.

In this manner, the church of overcomers is one that grows and multiplies. However, it also exercises dominion, because it possesses the likeness of God in its character. The overcoming church fulfills the double purpose of God. First, God wants man to have His likeness in order to exercise dominion, or in other words to be His minister. Second, God wants this man to multiply himself. His church of overcomers has the vision of winning over its own generation for Christ.

NOT ONLY SAVED BUT OVERCOMERS

The common understanding among evangelic churches is that every believer is an overcomer. This is in fact is only partially true.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

The truth is that every believer is legally an overcomer, because of the victory of Christ. However, experimentally, many Christians live defeated lives. The overcoming believers fulfill the purpose of God, while defeated believers ignore and despise God's mission for this generation.

There is a difference between a legal position and an experiential position. Legal position is that which is ours by law. Legally, we are already overcomers because Christ has already guaranteed us the victory. He has already paid the price of our redemption on the cross and subjected all principalities and powers. He overcame, thus because we are in him we have also overcome. His position is also our position.

However, an experiential position is very different. To take something in this form means to practice it as a present legal truth. Many Christians are legal heirs of God’s great fortune but have no experience of this truth and they live in total poverty. Although they are children of the King, they live as if they were slaves.

At "The Vine", we have adopted this slogan: our vision is to edify a church of overcomers. Overcomers are Christians who have already experienced in practice, everything that legally belongs to them. It is one thing to be saved; it is another thing to be an overcomer.

Although every Christian has been born again and is an overcomer legally, we know that this is not the experience of all Christians. The truth is that many Christians are defeated.

Perhaps you do not agree with this thesis and may ask, "Are you telling me that a defeated Christian is saved?" It is important that you understand that the condition for someone to receive salvation and the condition for a believer to become an overcomer are two different things. Salvation implies eternal life, which is a gift of God to all those who believe. However, for a believer to become an overcomer implies receiving a reward and reigning in the millennial kingdom with Christ. We receive salvation by faith. However, we receive rewards for works that we practice before God.

Salvation implies the possession of eternal life while reining with Christ, as an overcomer implies a reward. The reward is only for overcomers. You may have eternal life; you may be saved, and still live as a defeated Christian. This is a very serious matter.

Very few Christians concern themselves with the matter of recompense or rewards that they will receive before God. No one should deceive himself or herself into thinking that they will receive a reward because they have accepted Jesus.

REWARD IS FOR WORK DONE FOR GOD.

The great reward for believers will be to reign with Christ during the millennium, at His second coming. However, listen, if you are not willing to lead a Life Group group, how will you be able to reign with Christ? If you have no desire or mission to multiply your Life Group once per year then you will receive no reward.

In a church of overcomers, each member is a minister and all members are willing to lead a Life group multiplying it once per year. The sign that we are acting as a church of overcomers is the multiplication of the Life Groups.

Each member a minister

The practical application of the priesthood of the believer

EACH MEMBER A MINISTER

Our mission is to edify a church of overcomers in which each member is a minister and each home is an extension of the church in order to win over our generation for Christ, through small groups that multiply themselves at least once a year.

Our vision represents a passion and a responsibility that we have embraced within our heart. There is a difference between position and heart responsibility. Position implies responsibility imposed upon a person within an organization. Passion is a deep desire of the heart, shared among those who take part of the same organism. This passion proceeds from a deep desire of the heart. Passion speaks of dreams in the spirit, while position speaks merely of opportunities for status. Whoever works because of position needs to be supervised all the time, there is no motivation to create anything and those who have merely position only do what is required of them. However, those who have passion are willing to give their own life for the proposed objectives.

There are two types of leaders that we do not want in our church: those who do not do what they are told and those who do only what they are told. The first group are ineffective and the second group think only of their position, but there is no passion. The passionate leader not only does what he is told, he goes beyond what he is told, he creates, he dreams and he accomplishes more than what was asked of him. As Winston Churchill said, they are men that are willing to shed blood sweat and tears.

CLERICALISM

Clericalism is a great barrier to the vision that challenges each believer to become a minister. The system of clericalism arose in the church after the fourth century and teaches that there are two types of people in the church: the clergy and the laity. The clergy is made up of those who are specially gifted and capable (they are the priests, reverends, doctors of divinity etc.). The rest of the people, the laity are ignorant and incapable. The system of clergy and laity is totally evil and a great threat because it completely undermines the basic concept of the universal priesthood of believers, or in other words the truth that each believer is called to be a minister.

Unfortunately, in the majority of churches, clericalism predominates and the members perform no function and have become lethargic. The enemy has been able to neutralize the members so that they do not function. At present, there are two types of clericalism. In one, the clergy places itself above the laity affirming that only it (the clergy) knows the truth and whatever it say is irrefutable. This type of clericalism goes to the point of inhibiting the members to pray, teach or fulfill any other function. In this environment, the only function of the members of the church is to sit on the benches and listen to the preacher.

The other type of clericalism is a consequence of the first. Here the people are so accustomed to the situation that they hire a professional preacher as an employee of the pulpit and demand that he do God’s work, while the members merely contribute with tithes and offerings. In the first case, the clergy prohibits the people from speaking; in the second, the people deliberately shut themselves up, and hire a professional to express himself in their place.

EVERY BELIEVER A MINISTER

In most churches today, there is no sense of the body of Christ, or structure in which the members may be involved in a functional manner. Because of this, the masses voluntarily decide to sit on the church benches, and are not willing to involve themselves. Contrary to this concept, in the small group vision, there is no way to avoid being involved! To be part of the vision is to be committed!

Believers who do not get involved are parasitic believers. They expect to be pampered, ministered to and entertained by the church leadership. In exchange, they are included in the statistics and eventually give an offering or some other minimal gesture, to maintain "the system". This type of believer makes up 85% of the members that are cared for and ministered to by the other 15%.

In the conventional church there is no context by which a believer may be trained to produce, instead of to consume. However, in a small group based church, the members have an opportunity to develop their potential and become productive leaders. Unfortunately, this dynamic is non-existent in the majority of Christian churches today. Many of their members fortuitously attend Sunday worship services while neglecting to commit themselves to participate in any of the other programs or activities of their churches. Consequently, they transform themselves into mere statistics of annual reports of church activities, included in the figures and graphs of benchwarmers, the "system contributors", or "irrelevant spectators".

Jesus projected his method to multiply producers, not merely consumers, or parasites. In these days, we need to retake our position on the foundation of the universal priesthood of the believer, the truth that each one of us is a minister. (1 Peter 2:9)

In our church, there are no small group departments or programs. We have a more ambitious goal. We want to restore the model of the New Testament church, with a new type of member. This is in truth, the reestablishment of the original paradigm of the church. In the original paradigm of the church that Jesus envisioned each member is not just one more spiritual consumer (in the shopping center of the church), but a useful and fruitful producer in God’s family.

Many Christians view the church as a spiritual service provider to serve them through prayer ministry, an interesting word, classes relevant to family needs or an agreeable atmosphere whenever they want it. Whenever for some reason, the quality level of these church services falls below the acceptable levels, these consumers leave in search of another more efficient spiritual service provider. Such believers have no covenant with the body.

Jesus calls us to make disciples and not only converts! For this reason, we want to be a people with a solid Christian life and a regular practice of prayer and Bible reading. We want to be a people whose homes are warmed by God's love! We want to become a community that serves God through his gifts to family, school, work, church etc. In other words, we desire to be ministers.

CHARACTERISTICS OF CHRISTIAN MINISTERS

There is a difference between having a vision and the vision having you. To have a vision is not difficult. However, to be won over by a vision is completely different, because it implies a change of mentality.

When a believer understands that he must produce and not simply consume, a true revolution occurs in his attitude concerning the local church. He is no longer concerned about what the local church can offer him. Rather, he is concerned about how he can be useful to the church. He does not hold the pastor or any leader responsible for his spiritual growth, because he knows that he can and must have intimacy with God independent of any intermediary.

He faces his own battles and is still willing to support and help new converts with their battles. If he has to move to another city, he knows that the church will go with him. He knows that even though he is far from the building, the church exists wherever he is present.

A person who has been won over by the vision is conscious of his gifts and of the fact that he must use them for the edification of the other members. This vision, in spite of being revolutionary is not new. Ever since the time of the Protestant Reformation, the revelation of the universal priesthood of the believer has never disappeared from our collective evangelical consciousness. We are merely returning to the origins and seeking to live according to God's pattern.

Each home an extension of the church

It is gratifying to see so many people functioning as members of the living body of Christ. We have the privilege of seeing a structure functioning with liberty, without fear and allowing for the full development of the potential of each person.

In our church, we no longer have to convince people of the need for participating in cells; we merely live in them from day to day. We still have professional priests (nothing is perfect!), but each believer is functioning as a priest and a minister. Let us now examine the third aspect of our vision: each home as an extension of the church.

The building where we meet is not a picture of our church. We see it as more like a tabernacle in the desert, wandering from one place to the next, occurring simultaneously all around the city, in homes.

In the cells, there is a natural mobilization to help the needy. The older members teach the younger members what it means to be a believer. The pastor's train the new leaders for the development of their service and the whole body mobilizes itself for the feast of the harvest of souls. Finally, the members of each cell look to reproduce and multiply it once per year. We all communicate in the same language and there is a holy unity of purpose among us. In our hearts, we feel that we are returning to the origins of the first century church.

We are a church in cells

Each institution represents itself by the building where it meets, but our church does not exist because of the building where we meet. The building to us is just a place for training and celebration. The normal life of the church occurs in other places throughout our daily life.

In spite of the fact that in the Old Testament God abided in the Temple, this does not happen in the New Testament. Today we are the temple of God. He abides in us. Therefore, biblically speaking, the church of the New Testament has a meeting place, but it does not have temples.

Temples are a great contradiction to Christianity. The truth is that they did not exist until the second century. If you tried to search for church buildings in the first century, you would not find any but someone would take you to a small group that met in a home. There was no special building. However, the church grew the most in its spiritual dimension during that period of history.

The truth is that these are the basic objectives of the church: growth in number, in faith and service. Buildings do not help to reach this objective at all. I am not against the use of buildings. Some of the best places for the church to meet are in buildings; however, they present several negative aspects.

Buildings communicate immobility

The move of God tells us: go, but our buildings tell us to stay. The move of God tells us to seek the lost. However, the buildings tell us to have them come to us.

The church in cells is a mobile tabernacle. It is always moving as a pilgrim. Our identity is not associated with buildings. They possess merely a functional but not existential use.

Buildings communicate inflexibility

Conduct your own tests. Go to a church where the building is part of the very identity of that community. Evaluate the degree of openness to new ideas in their midst. To be sure: the results will be zero. The building determines what type of church will meet there. Everything operates as a function of the available space. Nevertheless, the worst part of the lack of flexibility is stagnation. The years go by and the church remains the same. Do you know why? The answer is because the church confuses itself with the building that houses it. Buildings do not change much, especially when they are expensive and magnificently designed.

In Bible times, the Jews kept wine in leather wineskins. These wineskins needed to be anointed with oil on the outside so that they would not dry up and crack thus losing the wine. Therefore, the greatest need of a good wineskin was flexibility. This was necessary because of the fermentation of the wine that releases gases that stretch the wineskins.

This illustration is incredibly clear. Wineskins (structures) must be flexible because the wine (Holy Spirit) is a substance full of life that produces movement and eventual change of volume. A good way to keep the wineskins flexible was to keep them always coated with oil. We are a church that is flexible and open to the move of God, mainly because our identity is in the cells.

Buildings communicate impersonality

Buildings are impersonal. Although sometimes they inspire the worship meetings, they communicate formality and distance. We can be joyful and relaxed, but once we are in a "temple", a spirit of impersonality affects us. We immediately become cold, distant and formal.

This type of problem does not exist when the life of the church overflows the limits of the building, through the cells. They define our liturgy as well as our manner of existing as a church.

Buildings communicate pride

One of the reasons for building the tower of Babel was to perpetuate the names of its builders. They wanted to become well known and famous (Genesis 11:4). If on one hand, church groups are seeking grandeur and glory and overly concern themselves with buildings; on the other hand, the cells have nothing to brag about and are everywhere: in homes, in schools, and businesses. We have nothing to boast about, other than the power of God.

When we use the analogy of a Temple, we are not saying that we are against buildings; we believe that the use of buildings is unavoidable. Nevertheless, we must be careful! When the identity of the church is bound to the building then, the life is over; all that remains is a dead institution.

The time when the life of the church was something that happened on Sundays in the temples is over. In a church of overcomers, to be a Christian implies a life-style that we practice from day-to-day. The church exists everywhere: in the streets, at school, at the supermarket, in shopping centers and, above all, in homes.

In a church of overcomers, we do not recruit members we make disciples. Members of the church cannot accomplish very much for God, disciples however, can conquer nations. If the vision wins you over, wherever you go the church will go with you. If you move to another's city, the church will go along with you. Do not go to church be the church wherever you go.

Winning over our generation

Through Small group multiplication

Our mission is to win-over our generation to Christ through a church of overcomers. A church of overcomers is one in which each member is a minister who makes his home an extension of the church. Through Lifegroups, we build a church of overcomers and win-over our generation. Our goal is to edify a church of overcomers and we use the Lifegroups as the means for doing this. Every Christian leader dreams of filling his church with thousands of lives. We know that small groups have fulfilled this desire in many churches. The groups are a solid basis for the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, the creation of leaders, oversight of the sheep and multiplication. Through the Lifegroups, we can fulfill the dream of seeing our city completely taken over by groups that express Christ in life, love and holiness.

We believe that it is possible for a Lifegroup to multiply one time each year. This is the challenge of our vision and we invite you to embrace it. We can reach our generation, our city and our nation for Christ. For this to happen it is sufficient that we multiply one time per year.

We can transform our country into an army of Lifegroup leaders, who embrace the vision of multiplying their Lifegroups each year just as you do. It is possible to do this because we can do all things through him who strengthens us. This is what we want to do, how about you? Think about it! Normally a Lifegroup begins with six or seven people. In order to duplicate it in one year your task will be to take this group of six or seven people to win approximately one person each, every two months. This does not seem to be a very difficult goal. You can do it! Hundreds of other leaders have done this every year in our church.

WE ARE A CHURCH IN CELLS

For us, the Lifegroups are the way that we manifest ourselves as a church. We are not concerned about doing different things or having a variety of programs. We concentrate ourselves on a single objective: to lead each Lifegroup to multiply once per year.

Our church functions in small groups. Teaching, mutual care, sharing, love, encouragement, gifts, service, everything happens in the small groups and through the groups. If you could see us a few years ago, this was just a dream, but today it is a reality. We could have a number of other supplementary programs: television and radio, interviews and social ministries. However, it is through the work of the Lifegroups where the constant and consistent growth occurs.

Come walk with and among overcomers. We want to influence you with this dream of reaching our generation for Christ. The goal of these articles is to give you the initial directions of how to lead a Lifegroup to multiply itself once per year. We can reach our nation with small group leaders that multiply themselves in this way. We are not inviting you to join us in any type of work, but we are sharing our dream with you. Come dream with us!

If each Christian becomes a minister and each home an extension of the church, we will be a church of overcomers consequently winning over our generation for the Lord! We can only fulfill God’s purpose through multiplication, through fruitfulness, through growth and through expansion. Small groups are merely the means. The end is edification and the expansion of the body of Christ in this generation!

The challenge is clear: each leader must multiply his small group one time per year. This is a very important point within our vision and therefore, we can never over emphasize it. We can win over our nation in this generation if we have leaders that are willing to multiply their Lifegroup once a year.

We invite you to embrace the vision and contemplate our generation as being won-over for the Lord, through a church where each member is a minister. We invite you to take part in an army of believers that are using their gifts to lead a small group to grow and multiply one time each year.

The reason for LifeGroups

Why choose the model?

In our church, the cells are not merely one among many other available strategies that we have chosen. They are part of a vision of how we believe the church should function.

Our objective is not simply to lead the church to grow numerically. Our desire is to work practically towards the edification of the church as Christ’s bride. We do not consider the cells to be a doctrine, but we believe that they establish a vision and define our church model. This is why we are so radical in this vision. In our church, the cells are not just one more department among many others; they are the very life of the church. Members that refuse to participate in a cell are excluding themselves from the life of the body. We are not a church in cells because it is the latest fad or the popular thing to do, but because of clear and firm convictions. Let us examine some reasons why we are a church in cells.

GOD WANTS THE CHURCH TO GROW AND MULTIPLY

Just as biological cells gather together to form the human body, the cells of a church gather to form the body of Christ. In the same manner that the human body grows and develops through the process of cellular multiplication (each one of them, when fully mature, divides into two), the church also grows through the multiplication of healthy cells.

The church is a therapeutic and transforming community

This is the vocation of the church: to be a place where there is life, deliverance, healing and comfort. We want to be a people that fully knows and lives out the truth. We want to be a dynamic missionary community that begins growing in the heart and then expands to every part of our being in order to win over our city, our country and our generation! The cells are our strategy.

HEALTHY GROWTH OCCURS AS WE HEAR AND SPEAK

We all need a balanced spiritual diet, which involves hearing and speaking. In Romans 10:17, we see that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. On one hand, when we participate in the celebration service, the goal is to receive faith by hearing. On the other hand, if we want to grow, we also need to share what we hear. It is by speaking that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we can produce, release and minister life to each other! In the celebration services, we hear to receive faith, and in the cell group meetings, we speak to grow in faith!

THE CHURCH IS A SPIRITUAL BUILDING RATHER THAN A PILE OF BRICKS

Too many people today in evangelical circles think that the church is nothing but a building made of concrete. Some go as far as to reverence the building and commit heresy calling it the "house of God". They say that they are going to church when they mean they are going to the church building. This is a completely mistaken notion, since we are the church, the living stones (1 Peter 2:5) that after being built up together we are constituted as the habitation of God in the spirit (Ephesians 2:20-22).

Inarguably the church is not a building where we meet. However, it is still a building, a spiritual building, the spiritual edification made with living stones. The Word of God tells us that the church is a construction and as such requires a set of plans, a foundation and adequate materials for its construction.

Every local church must be a building. However, a group of Christians may meet on Sundays and still not be a building. For this to be the case, they must be built together and united with the mortar of the spirit. Isolated and piled up rocks gathered together on Sundays does not constitute a building. Just as a pile of bricks is not a construction.

You can perceive the difference between a building and a pile of construction materials. Everything that is in one is in the other, but there is a difference: in the building, the workers use the materials to build according to a set of plans and a vision.

Our desire is to be a large church in which the bonds among members are preserved. However, the only chance that we have of reaching this goal is to edify the church in smaller meetings, or in other words the cell groups. In a church (structured in departments) where more than 200 people meet together, it becomes difficult to maintain satisfactory ties. In a church structured in cells however, this problem does not exist.

THE CHURCH IS A BODY, NOT A PILE OF BODY MEMBERS (Ephesians 4:15-16; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

In order to be a body, there are two necessary conditions: the members must be bound together and functioning. We see the first is a matter of being joined together. If we would take legs, arms, a head and a torso, and gather them together, we would have a pile of body members. To have a pile of body members in our meetings does not make us a body! In order to be a body, the members must be connected to each other in order for the blood, the life of God, to circulate among us. We are a church in cells because we want to function as a living organism and not just an organization!

Let us make a brief comparison between an organism and an organization.

* In an organism the members are connected. In an organization, they are associated with each other.

* In an organism, the members have functions. In an organization, they have positions.

* In an organism, each member has a ministry. In an organization, each has a job.

* In an organization, we work because of responsibility and reward. In an organism, we own the mission.

* In an organization, authority flows from position. In an organism, authority comes through life and recognition.

* An organization has no life in itself but an organism is essentially alive.

However, a body is not only a matter of having members connected to each other. It is also necessary that the members function and exercise their gifts. In conventional churches, the people can only exercise their gifts in the meetings. That is why we do not see the body functioning. If we were able to give an opportunity to each member to participate in the meeting on Sunday, it would take forever for each one to have a chance to exercise his gifts. It simply would be impractical. However, the Word of God shows us the biblical pattern for church meetings and everyone must participate in this pattern.

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1Corinthians 14:26)

We cannot simply say that it is no longer possible for us to practice the pattern of God in church meetings. We believe that we must apply the pattern that the Apostle Paul set for the Corinthian Churches. This is the secret to edification of the church and of its growth. Evidently, however, we can only reach this pattern through the cell group structure. It is necessary to emphasize that the cell group meeting is just as important as the celebration service. A believer that fails to participate in a cell group is compromising his own spiritual growth, in the same way those who fail to participate in regular celebration services are depriving themselves of nourishment that builds faith. We need both types of meetings to grow properly. The gifts are a great instrument for the edification and the growth of the church. When there is prophecy, faith, miracles, and healing, words of wisdom and of knowledge, unbelievers are touched and believers have their faith renewed. The cell group is the most appropriate place for the manifestations of the gifts available to every member of the body.

GOD INTENDED THE CHURCH TO BE A LARGE FAMILY

In general, people are deprived of love and acceptance. For this reason, we must be God's answer to their anxieties! The church must be a large family. Society is full of wounded and emotionally unstable people, that we will only be able to reach through the atmosphere of family love and acceptance. This is exactly the vision that we have for the cell groups of our church: that each group becomes a family group in which people are accepted and loved. In everyone's mind, the home is a place of convergence, a place of acceptance, of unconditional expression, reception and comfort. The church, among so many Biblical illustrations, is a home that must have all of these expressions of life and love. This is why we are a cell group based church, because we desire to be a place of acceptance and love.

THERE IS NO BETTER WAY TO MAKE DISCIPLES

The plan of God to form spiritual and mature disciples involves placing them within the context of small groups or cells. No one has ever climbed Mount Everest alone. However, each year small teams scale the mountain, reaching the highest elevations!

WE WANT TO WIN OVER OUR GENERATION

Ralph Neighbor says that the cell group structure is a light, agile and ferocious strategy. The enemy may be able to resist great leaders and ministries, but he will not be able to resist the entire body of Christ, functioning in thousands and thousands of cells. The gates of hell will not be able to resist such an army!

WE BELIEVE IN THE RESTORATION OF THE CHURCH

Clericalism and dependency on buildings are impediments, serious impediments to the fulfillment of God's plan. Professional ministers and enclosed buildings cannot produce the New Testament church. The cells are a manifestation of restoration, a return to the origin, in which each member is a minister and each home is an extension of the church.

Small groups in the Bible

In the Old Testament, the people met with God in the tabernacle of Moses and later in Solomon's Temple. The Temple was God's dwelling place on the earth. If a person wanted to seek God, he or she had to go to the Temple.

God designated a place for his people to serve him and there they were to bring their offerings as part of their worship. Today under the New Covenant, God no longer dwells in man-made buildings. We are the dwelling place of God. God abides in each individual believer, as his church. We are individual stones, built up together for a holy habitation of God in the spirit.

In 1Corinthians 3:16, Paul gives a warning:

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Again in 1Corinthians 6:19, he repeats the question:

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Still again, in verse 17, he himself gives the answer:

But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Individually we are the dwelling place of God and as the church; we are being edified as a house of God, as it says in Ephesians 2:20-22

. . . Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

In addition, in 1 Peter 2:5, we understand that we are a true spiritual house.

. . . You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

During the first three centuries, the church had no buildings. It was during this period that it experienced the greatest growth of its history. The brethren met in homes and used neutral locations like synagogues and amphitheaters merely for evangelism. The church met and functioned in the homes.

In Acts 2:46 Luke wrote:

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart . . .

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching, and preaching Jesus the Christ. (Acts 5:42)

After leaving prison, Paul and Silas went to the house of Lidia, where the church was meeting for prayer.

So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed (Acts 16:40).

Speaking to the Elders of Ephesus, Paul exhorted them saying that they should never stop announcing anything profitable, to teach publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20). In Romans 16:5 and in 1 Corinthians 16:19, Paul extended a greeting to the church that met in the house of a Aquila and Priscilla

“The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”

All evidence points to the fact that this was not merely a temporary arrangement, but a normal practice of the church. In Colossians 4:15, Paul greeted the brethren of Laodicea, Nymphas, and the church, which met in his home. Finally, in Philemon 1:2, we hear of a church that met in the house of a certain brother named Archippus:

. . . To the beloved Apphia, Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house.

In the Old Testament when Moses got tired, because of the weight of the work, the instruction given by God reminds us of networks of small groups. God revealed to Moses that he should organize all the people in groups of 1000, 100, 50 and 10, each group with its leader (Exodus 18:1-27). This was a strategy given directly by God. It is impossible for one leader to care for hundreds of people.

Jesus prioritized a small group of people in His ministry. In addition, although He spent considerable time teaching in the synagogues and in open-air meetings, it seems that Jesus gave special attention to small groups. He separated 70 men and sent them out in groups of two (Luke 10:1, 34; 2:15; 3:20-34; 7:17; 9:28; Matthew 10:12-14; Luke 10:5-7).

When we look at the history of the church, we notice that the house church was the common form of expression of the Christian church. When Constantine became a Christian, there was a great migration of the underground worship in the catacombs and the house churches to the great cathedrals. The house church, that had been the symbol of fellowship and spirituality, disappeared from the structure of the church. However, a part of the monastic movement and some sectarian groups continued meeting as the church in homes as a parallel activity.

During the time of the Protestant Reformation, mainstream Christianity continued to be tied to the cathedrals, but the Anabaptists, who did not use buildings for their meetings, met in homes for worship and spiritual growth. The Pietists became the most striking expression of house churches soon after the Reformation.

Two centuries later, we meet an important personality in the history of the church: John Wesley who was profoundly influenced by the Moravians. He formed the so-called Holiness clubs. These Holiness clubs became the basis for the Wesleyan revival. They functioned like the cells of today and they spread all over the world.

The churches in the world today that grow the most are cell group based churches. This happens by the powerful action of the Holy Spirit, who is restoring the bride of Christ to the glory of the first century.

CELL GROUP BASED VS. PROGRAM BASED CHURCHES

The cell group structure is not a new ministry of the church but the functioning of the church itself. There is no distinct cell group ministry; but there is ministry in the cell groups.

The cell group structure is the way that we organize ourselves efficiently expressing the vision that God has given us. It is our way of being the church.

We are a small group based church. In this type of church, there is equilibrium between the cell groups and the worship services. The groups are not optional neither are they just one more ministry. In cell group based churches, the key leaders are the cell group leaders and the church integrates and decentralizes the entire process of leadership so that the cell group leaders have the autonomy to shepherd the sheep. In cell group based churches the ministry flows through the cell groups and eliminates the distinction between the clergy and the laity. The groups are normally homogeneous.

In cell group based churches, there is equilibrium between the celebration services and the cell group meetings. Bill Beckman defines a church in cells as a two-winged church: one wing is the cell group structure and the other wing is the celebration or worship service on Sunday. If the two wings are in equilibrium, the church can fly to new heights. We do not agree with the notion that the church members only need to participate in one of these meetings. We believe that both are necessary.

What is a celebration service?

The celebration or worship service is a weekly meeting in which all of the small groups meet together for worship and training. These meetings occur each Sunday in the church building, they are very important and no church member should miss them.

Differences between celebration and cell group:

  • In the celebration service, we hear to grow in faith. In the cell group, we speak to grow in faith.

  • In the celebration service, we fight the spiritual battle through prayer on a strategic level. In the cell group, we fight the spiritual battle through prayer on a personal level.

  • In the celebration service, we receive deliverance. In the cell group, we maintain deliverance.

  • In the celebration service, the goal is training. In the cell group, the goal is discipleship.

  • In the celebration service, the goal is to minister the Word. In the cell group, the goal is to practice and share the Word.

  • In the celebration service, we learn from the preacher. In the cell group, we learn from each other.

  • In the celebration service, there is testimony and mass evangelism. In the cell group, there is testimony and personal evangelism.

During many centuries, the church has ignored small group meetings and has over-emphasized the general meetings of celebration. In this way, the church has become a one-winged church: unbalanced and unable to fly appropriately. Note what happened when the church began to prioritize large meetings to the exclusion of small groups.

  • The Lord's Supper was transformed into a mere ritual.

  • Leadership style became professional.

  • Discipleship was replaced by training.

  • Giving became a business transaction with God.

  • Public testimony became a sales pitch.

  • The members who were formerly participants became passive observers.

  • The use of spiritual gifts that formerly built the church began to impress the church.

  • Church members who were formerly producers became consumers.

  • Church growth changed from multiplication to addition.

  • Church buildings that were once functional became sacred.

  • As a small group based church, we work in order to see the cell groups function fully. In order to accomplish this, we demonstrate to the membership in several ways that the cell groups are a priority:

  • The small group leaders are honored and publicly recognized and receive special treatment.

  • Preparation for baptism is accomplished in the cell group.

  • New members are baptized by pastors together with the small group leaders

  • Nobody receives baptism unless he is a member of the small group.

  • In order to participate in any ministry team (such as the worship team for example) the member must have the recommendation of his small group leader.

  • The small group leaders administer the Lord's Supper in their cell group.

  • No one may receive social assistance unless he has a recommendation from his or her small group leader.

  • We never permit special programs of the local church to interfere with the small group meetings, or allow leaders to cancel them.

These practical measures reveal our seriousness concerning the cell groups and stimulate the participation of the church. In practice, the entire working structure of the church is based on the cell group.

Bible study resources from Amazon - Useful guides and resources for small group leadership

The Eden Identity: Daring to live according to our God-given identity (There is more to life)
The Eden Identity: Daring to live according to our God-given identity (There is more to life)

It is clear from scripture that God created man to rule in life and to enjoy his existence as it reflects God's image and likeness. If Adam and Eve had not sinned and all of the generations of their offspring remained faithful to God's command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, perhaps we would still be in the garden of Eden daily walking in God's presence and enjoying the experience of his Sabbath rest.

The reality is however, that man fell. The first couple fell. Yet, across the centuries and millennium, God in his sovereignty and infinite wisdom has offered not only to restore our exalted Eden identity, but has even gone further in bringing us deeper into relationship with himself.

In this book, you will discover all of the ramifications of the restoration of the Eden identity and will yet discover further depths of the blessed unity that God offers through the death and resurrection of his Son.

Although God is willing to do marvelous things in and through your life, if the perception of your identity that your life experiences have assimilated within you are not in line with his Word, your ability to realize his plans for your life will be tremendously limited. As a result, you will fail to experience the abundant life for which Jesus suffered on the Cross and your influence as a Christian witness will be tragically limited resulting in needless loss for God’s kingdom.

Through this book, I invite you to take a voyage “back to your better future” in the restoration of your Eden Identity.

 
There is more to life: Recovering what we lost in Eden
There is more to life: Recovering what we lost in Eden

Most Christians are not all that happy and the truth is that there is more to the Christian Life than a future in Heaven. Much more! There is more to life is a journey through the depths of the rich inheritance that all children of God have access to in this life when and where we need it.

 
Strengthening the New Christian: Consolidating New Believers: Updated and Revised (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 2)
Strengthening the New Christian: Consolidating New Believers: Updated and Revised (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 2)

This is an entry level discipleship resource used by the Vine International. In 12 lessons the new convert is provided with a solid basis for growth and maturity.

 
The Small Group Vision Manual: How to Fulfill the Great Commission Through Small Groups: Life Group Manual (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 4)
The Small Group Vision Manual: How to Fulfill the Great Commission Through Small Groups: Life Group Manual (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 4)

This is the basic leadership manual for small group leaders used by the Vine International. A very practical approach to small group leadership.

 
Leadership Training Course: Effective Leadership For small group ministry (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 2)
Leadership Training Course: Effective Leadership For small group ministry (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 2)

The Leaders training course, effective leadership for small groups is an indispensable resource for small groups and cell group leaders. God has called every Christian to fulfill the Great Commission. This implies that each Christian must develop leadership qualities by stepping up and developing his own quality leadership by employing what he has learned by leading a small group. This leaders training course will help. The leadership qualities of a small group leader are learned! Leaders are not born but cultivated, thus the need for a leaders training course. Jesus trained His own small group or “cell group” as we like to call them. These men began with no leadership qualities. They learned through the years they spent walking with Jesus. In the same way today, small group and cell group leaders must learn the principles that lead to effective leadership and these are not intuitively acquired. Quality leadership is always effective leadership. Leadership is about results and not just organization! Each lesson of the small group leaders training course shows how you as the leader of your cell group can identify and improve your leadership qualities and exercise an effective leadership resulting not only in your own growth, but also the growth of the members that you serve. Christian leadership today is going through a tremendous crisis. The church has confused leadership with administration, which is important but not foundational! The small group leaders training course reinforces this distinction by teaching the proper identity we have as children of God and the purpose that God the Father has for each of His children. This leaders training course teaches the foundations of God’s throne and how spiritual authority plays in extending His rule over the earth. Each small group leader will learn effective leadership qualities by understanding and practicing these principles of spiritual authority. Spiritual authority has been woefully abused through the centuries and as a result many churches have abandoned the principle altogether. The small group leaders training course shows how to practice these principles without getting lost in its abuses. The leaders training course teaches the effective leadership qualities that new leaders need to protect themselves and the network of leaders in which they work from the dangers of these abuses. Each small group leader will learn effective leadership qualities by observing the lives of OT and NT leaders like Moses, Joshua, David, and the Apostle Paul. The effective leadership qualities that these men practiced are often overlooked in the narrative of each gospel account. However, we must recognize that effective leadership qualities are the hallmark of each positive bible character and the negative characters in the bible are presented as models of leadership qualities that must be avoided. Each small group leader will learn effective leadership qualities in evangelism, how to overcome barriers to evangelism, styles of evangelism, and tips for mobilizing your small group in evangelism. Each small group leader will learn effective leadership qualities related to praise and worship. Not every group member will have the gifts for ministering praise and worship but some will and you must know how to lead them into serving the group in this capacity.

 

More small group leader resources

Here is a collection of great resources to enrich your leadership!

Unsealed: Understanding Old Testament Symbols & Types (Shadows and types of the bible Book 1)
Unsealed: Understanding Old Testament Symbols & Types (Shadows and types of the bible Book 1)

In order to understand God’s Word more completely and effectively we must have our spiritual eyes opened. This “opening of spiritual eyes” involves correctly understanding and discerning the different symbols and figures of speech that God has employed in the revelation of his Word. The Bible is radically different from all other books in the world. God has divinely preserved the Bible for centuries and despite the fact that powerful leaders throughout the centuries have tried to destroy it, it is still the number one best seller! No other book comes close to the number and variety of contributors to a single cohesive message like the Bible. Diverse classes and occupations like kings, philosophers, poets, political leaders, priests, physicians, tax collectors and fishermen recorded their inspired messages some in the Sinai desert, others in the palace of Jerusalem, near the river of Babylon, in the prison of Rome, on the Isle of Patmos. Aside from the varied locations and types of writers, the message of the gospel was recorded across a span of nearly 1,600 years between the first and the last writer. The subjects presented include history, genealogy, law, ethics, prophecy, science, health, economics, politics and rules for personal conduct. All this forms a unit, revealing God’s plan for the salvation of sinners.

Genesis relates the beginning of things while Revelation explains the consummation of all things. From Genesis to Malachi the Holy Spirit reveals the necessity and the promise of salvation through types and symbols. In the four Gospels, we witness the fulfillment of the prophesied and promised salvation symbolized in the Old Testament. From Acts to Revelation the Holy Spirit reveals the implementation and consummation of our salvation.

God through the Spirit of truth, uses figurative and symbolic language that we can understand as long as we consider the context and compare it to other passages on the same subject in order to reveal the truth of his message. Many biblical texts contain figures of speech that when properly understood and considered help to bring the text alive to our circumstances and situationS. God does this through many and varied figures of speed such as metaphors, similes, allegories, types and symbols. In Proverbs 25:2 Solomon declared “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” The Bible calls the Church a nation of kings and priests. The Lord Jesus is the King of kings, because He is our king and has called us as kings to reign with him. Therefore, we can perceive that one of the aspects of God’s Word is that he has concealed vital truths that enhance the quality of our life experiences within its pages. He does this for his glory through symbolic language and as kings, it is our glory to search them out and “discover” his ways.

 
Leadership Training Course: Effective Leadership For small group ministry (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 2)
Leadership Training Course: Effective Leadership For small group ministry (The Vine International Basic Courses Book 2)

This book provides a solid spiritual foundation for effective church and small group leadership.

Christian leadership today is going through a tremendous crisis. The church has confused leadership with administration, which is important but not foundational! The small group leaders training course reinforces this distinction by teaching the proper identity we have as children of God and the purpose that God the Father has for each of His children.

 
House of Miracles: How to host a weekend encounter with God in your small group
House of Miracles: How to host a weekend encounter with God in your small group

The house of miracles home impact is a one day encounter with our Lord and Creator. This event is both called an encounter and an impact because it is an encounter that leaves an impact.

It describes the course of people who have been hurt, deceived, abused, and misunderstood along their path from childhood to adulthood that is profoundly impacted as it meets the powerfully healing and restorative power of God.

Normally life does not provide us with sufficient tools for sorting out the injustice strewn along the paths of our lives and more often than not we make inadequate choices for our own proper health and well-being.

The house of miracles event is like a flood light of God’s Word that shines on our past experiences and present frustrations and also on the powerful and practical solutions of God that enable us to overcome the difficulties of life and stand tall as an overcomer.

 

© 2013 Vinebrancher

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