For 20 years I've served as the President of TOUCH Outreach Ministries. Through those years, some amazing people worked at and with TOUCH. Together we created resources to fill gaps in the knowledge base for cell groups and for all the discipleship needs for members and training needs for group leaders. Around 2010, I realized most everything the ministry needed to provide pastor and churches was in print from our ministry or other ministries or publishers.
This left me with a lot of time on my hands. With a lot of prayer, I decided to do some tent making and serve others in the financial services industry. I've been at it full time now for four years, and boy-howdy, do I have a better understanding of what we're asking of people when we encourage them to not only be a part of a cell group but lead one. I can see clearly now.
Just before I took on outside work, Etna and I started a house church. At this point it's not a high maintenance church plant. We're small enough to meet in our home on Sunday mornings and enjoy each other's company between meetings and minister to one another on an ad-hoc basis. When we grow a little more, we'll start gender-based cell groups that meet mid week. A group has already popped up spontaneously by a member who lives quite a ways away and has friends who aren't committed enough to make the drive in on Sundays to our place.
I visited his group this last week. After a long and somewhat frustrating day at the office, I zipped home for a quick bite to eat, played with the dogs for a few minutes and headed out the door. 45 minutes in traffic to arrive 5 minutes late. We had a great time together, applying a couple of chapters of the book of Acts and prayed for one another. Then I made the trip home and collapsed at 10 pm.
If I had kids in the house, I can only imagine how challenging it would be to attend a mid-week group, let alone lead one! If there was ever a reason to design your cell group leadership structure with multiple leadership (3-4 co-leaders in a group with one serving as the group's point person) this would be it.
Group-based ministry in major metropolitan areas like Houston is tough on the participants. Anything we can do to design holistic groups to keep the fatigue level down is going to be critical to success.
Randall - I was excited to read your blog post. I have served as a volunteer leader for several nonprofit organizations and churches. In recent years, I have encouraged some of the staff to do volunteer work for other organizations (not their own). This gives them a better understanding of what their volunteers sacrifice to support them.
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