6th October 2016
It was 1996, and the latest trend to emerge among UK churches was cell church. The four Ws were in vogue: welcome, word, witness and – what was the last one? Worship? Works? I cannot remember. At King’s, I was in the first year of leading a struggling church, and small group or cell group life was well down the list of priorities. Feeling pressure from some quarters to adopt the cell church model, I sought advice from Steve Nicholson, an experienced friend and pastor in the US Vineyard. His view was that cell church had been tried in the States five years earlier and had not seen much success. I decided to keep my head down and get on with the task at hand.
Obviously the cell church movement has borne and continues to bear much fruit, especially in communities where extended families and shared communities are the norm. That is very different to the urban context of western cities such as London, where a strong cultural undercurrent of individualism means the principles behind cell church are far less likely to succeed.
My observation was that most churches in the west who were regularly reaching people for Jesus had a few things in common. Here are three for starters: openness to the work of the Holy Spirit; an outreach strategy that put Sunday at the centre; and an invitational culture which invited people to come on a journey, which may lead to faith.
Good contextualisation takes biblical truth and applies it to the mission field – it works out the best way to reach the particular culture in which we live.
So perhaps you are wondering if groups are not important to us at King's. If so, you would be mistaken – they are a core part of our church community and in fact last term we had more over 12s meeting in our groups than were here on a Sunday!
But when it comes to first contact with unbelievers, we still find Sunday services to be the place most people come to. We then give them an invitation to come on a journey by providing a ‘next step’. It is another way we ‘reach and then teach’.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.