All life consists of cells. The body is made up of living cells. If the body is not made up of cells, you cannot call it a body but a machine. Any organism that is not made up of cells is not actually alive. You can have a body that has dead cells, but it is necessary to remove the dead cells if the body is to live.
Jesus made disciples in small groups or in cells. Jesus never commanded us to make churches but only to make disciples. We make disciples in the smallest group level of 2-3 individuals walking with Jesus on a day by day basis. The best possible small group structure is 2-3. This structure of smallest groups is the foundation of all living bodies or living organisms. The foundational structure of the body is small groups of 2-3 that live together on a daily basis. Any other structure in the church is useful to maintain unity for greater city-wide purposes but only the cellular level is absolutely indispensable. It is disciple. We make disciples and equip the saints by teaching men and women to make disciples in the cell group level of the smallest groups.
How I think this works, at least in my experience, is that such intmate relationships that are focused on the teachings of Jesus and living them out surface our problems. We are broken people and our brokenness become apperant if we allow people to know us on a daily basis and if we allow them to speak into our lives. It is not that small groups work in themselves but that these relationships surface and make visible our weaknesses. Couple this surfacing of problems with the covenant to give and take spiritual direction and you are on your way to desperately needing the power of the Holy Spirit.
The training of leaders is training leaders to make disciples in the smallest groups of 2-3. many men and women are not called to provide spiritual direction in larger groups like house churches but all are called to provide leadership at the cellular level. Everyone is called to make disciples and this equipping is fueled when we develop a cellular structure of disciple-making relationships. By doing this we can release leaders like Jesus released leaders. Jesus recruited his church and ALL the members of His church were released into leadership. This is true for a few reasons. Most importantly Jesus only recruited fourth soil believers. Work only with people who are willing to be disciple-makers at the cellular level. Place all our effort at the cellular level where ALL the members are being equipped to be leaders of groups of two or three. This is the foundation of the church and the focus of almost all of our attention.
So principle #1 is that the primary group where all the actual work is being done is at the cellular level of groups of two or three that interact with each other daily.
This group of cellular discipleship interacts daily in one way or another. This discipleship is daily relationship of prayer, worship, confession, and contemplation of the teachings of Jesus.
Principle #2 is that leaders are released to lead intentional discipleship relationship that meet daily. Leaders are men or women who are capable of:
1. Meeting with one or two people daily.
2. Communicating the teachings of Jesus both the Sermon on the Mount and the parables from their own experience.
3. Have a practice of daily worship and prayer in private.
4. Are able to lay hands and pray for others.
5. Are equipped to teach others to make disciples.
Principle #3 – If your church is not made up of people in smaller groups of two or three, then you are not making disciples. The purpose of the church is to make disciples. The church exists to make disciples.
1. Everyone in the church is challenged to participate in daily smaller groups of two or three and to be equipped to lead these smaller groups.
2. If it is not a distinguishing mark of your church that everyone needs to be making disciples in daily covenant relationships, then your DNA is wrong. Somehow we haven’t set an example and articulated an example of a life transformation model that works. I am convinced that the only way to get victory over besetting character defects is to live in discipleship daily. I am not saying that daily discipleship works but that daily discipleship is necessary for human beings to live in faith. Such a faith is so aware of it’s weakness that daily confession has become the means of surfacing our weakness and abiding in Christ. If there are people in your church who think the weekly meeting is where discipleship happens, your DNA is wrong. Stop doing church and start over.
Think about it for a second. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you 70x7 times a day forgive him.” This passage is speaking out of the context of living in community and how these relationships surface our brokenness. It is this process of surfacing our brokenness that leads to walking in weakness and grace.
Principle #4 – The purpose of larger groups is to equip the members in making disciples. This is accomplished primarily through teaching the teachings of Jesus and the scriptural commentary upon the teachings of Jesus.
1. Do not attempt to do the work of the group of two to three in the larger house church meetings of individual confession and prayer for one another.
2. The larger group is to teach the apostolic teaching and proclaim testimony of what is happening in the smaller groups (i.e. on the street).