Learning To Say No!

By Dan Vis
November 04, 2016

There's a growing trend towards small groups in my local conference--and I praise God for it. I've seen small groups work effectively in reaching out to unbelievers in even the most secular environments. And I have no doubt it is biblical. It's clear the New Testament church from Pentecost to Paul, built their evangelism on the foundation of using homes to preach Christ (Acts 5:42And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ., Acts 20:20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,).

It's great to hear people saying "YES" to the need for small groups these days. But the key to being successful in small groups may have more to do with saying "NO" to other things.

Joel Comisky, an internationally known evangelical cell group expert, in a post at ChurchLeaders writes: "if cell ministry is simply one program in the midst of endless church activity, the church is bound to fail." From my own personal experience, I've come to the conclusion this is true.

I am blessed to be the pastor of a medium-sized church in the Chicago area. We run the full spectrum of ministries you would expect in a church our size. As a result I have members who are out at one event or another, a committee, prayer meeting, a church school program, or something else, as much as 3 or 4 times a week. Or more! Asking them to give an additional night each week to a neighborhood small group, is not only difficult, it is probably wrong. After all, they have families!

Quoting Comisky again, "For many churches transitioning into the cell lifestyle, it’s wise to place a moratorium on new programs for a certain time. The lead pastor, along with the ministerial team, needs to help the church concentrate in order to establish the cell philosophy as a way of life in the church." Or to quote another author, "success in any line demands a definite aim."

Despite the busyness in our church--we've still managed to grow. Attendance has nearly doubled in 5 years. And as a result we've been able to recently plant a new church in a nearby town--with a good strong core group of about 40 people. In this new church, we've been intentional about keeping the focus on our small groups. Even single-minded. And as a result we have about 90% of our core team actively participating in small groups. Other than our worship service--all ministries of the church plant are being run through small groups of one sort or another.

Quoting Comisky again: "Learning to say NO is one of the most important principles in the cell church. There are one million good things that will come knocking—even pounding—on your church door. These are well-intentioned programs by well-intentioned people, but they will surely drown the cell ministry ... If the church doesn’t learn to say NO, the cell church system will flounder."

If you want to see small groups thrive in your church, consider the importance of not just saying yes to small groups, but also of the need to say no to countless other things.

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