WHAT ARE COVENANT LIFE GROUPS?
I have defined the Covenant Life Groups, or home groups, or cell groups, or house churches, as groups of 6 to 30 people that usually meet in a home and engage in all the activities described for the Church in the New Testament. They are "basic Christian communities". The smallest functioning unit of the Body of Christ - a cell. No matter what name you apply to the group itself, all groups should function with all the needed components so the people can be fully equipped to do the work of the ministry they are called to. This style of small group ministry can function in any society or culture.
When the group gets too large for it to meet comfortably in someone's home, the group multiplies into two or more smaller groups so they can multiply, grow, and begin the growth process again. Remember, anything that has life will grow and reproduce itself.
This process of "cell" multiplication is the same as what occurs in the human body. It is very natural and when done correctly there are no problems.
WHY SHOULD COVENANT LIFE GROUPS BE THE PRIMARY FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH?
THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH IS TO COMMUNICATE AND DEMONSTRATE THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
1. HOME GROUPS ARE BIBLICAL:
Every Church body we see in the New Testament was a home group, or a basic Christian community.
Traditionally, the institutional church has honored the Apostle's beliefs while often disregarding their practices.
The home group, or cell group, based Church is a way to restore some of the relevant practices back into the daily life of a community of believers.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with groups of Christians meeting in a "church" building or other large assembly facility, most of the New Testament practices of the Church gathering can only be done in a smaller, more intimate, more relational environment.
The Bible makes it clear that the home group-based Church model is at least permissible, if not the preferred structure for any and every culture -- including our Western culture.
2. THEY ALLOW THE CHURCH TO QUICKLY REPRODUCE:
In most cultures of the world, the cell-based Church structure has allowed the Church to experience explosive growth through rapidly reproducing basic Christian communities.
In countries like China, where persecution is great, the small group structure is widely used.
In countries like South Korea and Columbia there are huge Churches composed of small basic Christian communities.
In the U.S. the house church and small group structure is growing at an amazing rate as people are leaving the old institutional structured church groups.
I believe the reason for this is that many institutional designed churches do not "demonstrate the life of Jesus" in their assembling together, but in the small group based Church structure the "life of Jesus is a demonstrated reality" that is tangible and experienced by all the participators.
Where there is no "life" there is no reproduction or growth, but where there is "life" it will always reproduce itself.
I have a strong desire to experience the "LIFE" that Jesus promised to give His followers "abundantly". John 10:10.
3. THEY ARE INEXPENSIVE:
The two greatest expenses in the institutional church structure, facilities and staffing salaries, are greatly reduced or eliminated by the Covenant Life Group structure.
Therefore, your giving is not wasted on something that has no eternal value.
In the home groups structure, I believe the Scripture teaches us that every Christian bother or sister is a minister and simply needs to be equipped in order to function.
The covenant group design is especially well designed to equip the followers of Jesus to do the work of the ministry as Scripture teaches us to do.
This process will be much more fully explained in the section of this website dealing with "equipping the saints".
When the people of God are enabled and equipped to do the ministry work, the"professional" clergy is not really needed, therefore the expensive salaries they receive are done away with.
This releases much more of God's money to be used in other areas of giving that produce results with great eternal value.
When meetings are held in homes the need for large expensive buildings is also done away with, therefore the money given to God is used for doing ministry work not paying for mortgages.
Can you imagine what could be accomplished in the world if all the money given to God through tithes and offerings was actually used for ministry purposes rather than paying for salaries and mortgages?
I am not advocating getting rid of your current pastor or pastoral staff and trying to go to a home groups based structure unless the current leadership in your church gets a "thus saith the Lord" command.
There are many ways to transition a church group, or to simply start a new sister work that is structured purely as a small-group based Church.
I can help any group make these types of changes. Simply contact me on my Contact Page
The three main functions of a New Testament Church are:
1. Develop Community
2. Equip the saints to do the work of the ministry
3. Outreach to the lost
The small group model of Church structure accomplishes all three functions in any culture.
Do Not Make The Mistake of thinking that the small home groups structure is the answer to church growth.
A small group based ministry is more than a METHOD, it becomes a way of life!
Meetings in cell groups or house churches or covenant life groups are not meant to duplicate a "traditional Sunday morning church meeting" on a casual basis -- it is based on being established in the basic values of the kingdom of God.
I believe that the vibrancy of Church life is directly tied to your connection with God and with other people.
In other words, if you don't really know God and get to know others, church life is nothing more than another form of social isolation (and the American church already has too much of that.)
The Church is supposed to be a connected body of people, not just in name but in reality.
The service I present to the body of Christ is to help people learn to function in small home group meetings that take precedence over large group meetings.
The small group is like a family and the large group is like a family reunion.
As important and as fun as a family reunion can be people can afford to miss them.
But no one can afford to be without a family to relate to.
I believe the followers of Jesus have been called out of the darkness of fragmented families and united into one large united family called the family of God.
The small home groups, or Covenant Life Groups, is where you:
It's a hands-on Church experience of Life.
It's not an antiseptic, sterile, lifeless form of Church where you punch your card in some religious time clock on your way in or out of a meeting.
Rather, it's an attempt to express your faith in the truest of all places -- among people.
The Covenant Life Groups are "hands-on" Church where we come together under the loving Lordship of Jesus Christ and learn to live a new lifestyle in a new way.EQUIPPING THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF MINISTRY
The next section to go to will be the section entitled EQUIPPING THE SAINTS, but it is in the process of being written at this time. Check back in April 2013. This section will also have material on how to begin discipling a new believer.
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"Declaring the New Covenant and that the kingdom of God is at hand"
Rob Board Ministries
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073