Reaching out further
Let's go back and visit the church of Pastor Mario in Bgy. Poblacion. They reached 25 the first year. But after three more years they were only 30. Bakit kaya kakaunti lang ang nadagdag?
You now have ministries in place to provide ongoing nurture for your members. This is intended to help your church grow in quality. At the same time, you also want your church to grow in quantity. Even though you now have a group of new believers and a weekly worship service, marami pa rin sa inyong target barangay ang hindi pa ligtas! The job is far from over! What can be done to continue to reach out? Here are some actions which should help.
• Mobilize members to evangelize
• Begin new outreach ministries
• Include the Gospel in your preaching
• Place new contacts where they are most comfortable
• Multiply cells
• Develop more leaders
Mobilize members to evangelize
In Chapter 13, we've seen how to mobilize those who have received Christ to share the Gospel (pp. 222-228). After you bring the OBSes (Outreach Bible Studies) together to form a joint fellowship, continue to encourage all members to share their faith. As more come to Christ, continue to train and mobilize them to do this also. This is probably the biggest key to continued healthy outreach.
Mobilizing believers to share their faith will result in the opening of new OBSes, cell group growth and increased worship service attendance. It's also essential for each individual's spiritual growth.
&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. (Phm. 6)
Begin new outreach ministries
Hopefully, all the new believers have been mobilized to serve. As they continue to mature, encourage them to begin new outreach ministries. Here are some samples of ministries that churches have started:
• Libreng tubig ministry
• Free tutoring ministry
• Livelihood projects
• Street cleaning ministry
• Recreation center
• Free art lessons
• Evangelistic prayer visitation
• Beauty tips ministry
• Free music lessons
Try to identify the needs in your barangay. Then, mobilize your members to start ministries that provide for these needs. Christian Schwarz, in his massive church growth research project, has identified the importance of this. "The key to church growth is for the local congregation to focus its evangelistic efforts on the questions and needs of non-Christians. This 'need-oriented' approach is different from 'manipulative programs.' "1
Small groups can handle these outreach ministries. These probably will not involve the whole church. This is different from another church meeting that everyone is expected to attend, like some of those on the signboard at "Aktibong Alliance Church."( This is not another meeting for the members' nurture. These ministries will not overlap with the nurture ministries already in place. These are outreach ministries.
Try to open new OBSes for the new contacts made through these ministries in the barangay. You could also bring them to cell groups or to your worship service.
For more ideas, review Step 5. You could begin some of the ministries mentioned. Reading these ideas may also spark an idea of your own.
Include the Gospel in your preaching
Because there will usually be visitors in your worship service, it's good to cover the Gospel in the message. The main objective of the sermon will not usually be evangelistic. But the Gospel can surely be included. This is not only for the benefit of the visitors. It will also help deepen your new believers' understanding of their position in Christ and of the way of salvation. Most people have had a wrong understanding of salvation all of their lives. This sometimes takes time to completely correct.
Follow-up on visitors and open an OBS in their home or bring them to a cell group.
Place new contacts where they are most comfortable
We have seen three ways through which we can continue to gain new contacts. We should mobilize new believers to evangelize, use outreach ministries and include the Gospel in our preaching for new contacts who attend the worship service. When we make good contacts through any of these three methods, there are three main ministries into which we can place these new contacts. First, we can open new OBSes for them. Second, we can place them in existing cell groups, if you choose to use cell groups. Third, we can encourage them to attend the worship service. Each of these options has its benefits.
1. Benefits of opening new OBSes
• Many contacts are not yet comfortable in attending a cell group in someone else's home or attending a worship service. But many are very open to having an OBS in their home.
• You will have an opportunity to reach the whole family.
• You can give personal attention to the contacts.
• You can provide a solid foundation for the contacts as you focus on a thorough study of the Gospel.
2. Benefits of joining an existing cell group (if you use cells)
3. Benefits of attending the worship service
• Contacts will hear the Gospel in the sermon.
• Contacts will see how the Bible is relevant to their daily lives.
• They will observe corporate worship. This can be a powerful tool in evangelizing. There is a unique spiritual dynamic when true worship takes place. Contacts will see what they can be a part of, should they choose to follow Christ. Notice the connection between worship and evangelism in these Scriptures:
&He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psa. 40:3)
&He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (Psa. 50:23)
Attending the worship service has great benefits. Pero, kulang yata if this is the only involvement of new contacts. Personal attention is needed. It's far better if they can interact with someone regarding their understanding of the Gospel and their response to it. If possible, try to either open an OBS, or get them into a cell group.
There are also many other ministries you can create which could be beneficial to your new contacts.
Where will you place your new contacts? Depende. Maybe you could open a new OBS. Siguro sa isang existing cell group. Maaari rin sa worship service. Possibly in a combination of these. Ideally in all three! It all depends on the readiness of each person. Help each contact to get into the best place for him at that time. Make each decision on a case-to-case basis. By using all available options you should see much more fruit!
As some of the new contacts join existing cell groups, some of the cells will grow. When cells grow large, the benefits of small group dynamics will begin to diminish. You can solve this problem by creating two or more cells out of large cells. Do this when the group reaches about twelve in number. "Pero ayaw namin maghiwalay," sasabihin ng iba. Be ready for this legitimate concern. Having everyone together in one celebration service can help minimize the loss felt from cell multiplication.
Here are a few ways to multiply cell groups:2
1. One group becomes two
A large group can multiply and become two, or even more.
2. Sub-groupings muna
In very large cells of 15 or more, subgroups can be formed during the cell meeting. This creates more interaction and helps prevent the cell meeting from going on too long. These subgroups can then become full cells, when leaders become available.
If a group is very spread out geographically, it can multiply, forming groups located closer to everyone.
When multiplying cells, always use positive words like manganganak, birth, reproduce, multiply or magparami. Avoid negative words like divide, hati, maghiwalay, ibukod, iwanan, or alisin.
Most good books on cell groups emphasize multiplying cells, and rightly so. But this is not the only way for a Cell-Celebration church to grow. At the same time, we can also facilitate continued outreach by opening new OBSes. Most books on cell groups do not mention OBSes, as we know them here in the Philippines. Most of these books are written in a Western context where OBSes are not very popular. In many non-Western contexts, where there is greater openness to the Bible, we can use cells as one way to open new OBSes. This is especially true in Catholic countries.
It's possible that a cell may never grow and "multiply" in the typical ways described in books on cell groups. However, a cell could be extremely productive by making new contacts and opening new OBSes.
Sa mga lugar na masisikip, it's impossible to develop large cells of twelve members that will multiply. Maliliit lang ang mga bahay kasi! But we can open new OBSes in more homes.
Use cell groups to both multiply and start new OBSes, sabay. Use whichever is most effective. By doing both, we can produce maximum fruit.
Develop more leaders
Cell groups and OBSes can quickly multiply. Some leaders can lead several of these, as their schedules allow. However, the day will come when existing leaders will become overloaded. To facilitate continued outreach, we will have to mobilize new leaders. Without this, growth will quickly taper off.
Use every cell group and OBS for a double purpose. While leading the group, have the leader train one or two apprentices. Use the five steps of on-the-job training that we saw in Step Two (p. 77). This is a key to rapid multiplication.
Tingnan mo ang isang bundok ng bigas sa palengke. When the bundok has reached it's maximum height, no more bigas can be added into the box. If more grains are added, these will merely fall to the ground. The only way to increase the size of the bundok is by expanding the size of the box at the base.
It's that way also with a church as it grows. The base of the bundok is like the leadership base of the church. When a church grows, and its leaders become fully loaded, growth usually stops. If new members are then added, they or others, quickly fall away, as leaders are too few to care for them. But if new leaders are mobilized, the church can continue to grow!
To continue to do outreach, keep making contacts and keep developing leaders. Continue until you reach the number you have set as your goal para makabuo ng church. Then continue to grow, even beyond this number! Once you have reached the number you have set as your goal, you're ready to formally organize the church.
Action planning and discussion
1. How many members have you mobilized to evangelize?
2. Is the method for sharing the Gospel that you have taught to your members simple and effective?
3. What are some of the needs in your target barangay?
4. What outreach ministries could you begin which could minister to these felt needs?
5. Which new believers, from the harvest, could you mobilize to serve in these ministries?
6. Did you include enough truths about the Gospel in your last sermon for guests to trust Christ?
7. In the future, where will you try to place more of your new contacts?
qOpen new OBSes
qIn existing cells
qIn the worship service
8. If you are using cell groups, which are ready to multiply?
9. How many cell group leaders have you mobilized from the harvest?
10. Who are some of your non-Christian contacts who are leaders in your community? Pray that God will give them to you as leaders in your church!
11. Which is more important: ongoing nurture or ongoing outreach?
The main thing to do now
qAdd new contacts to each of the following:
• Worship service
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