Christian cell groups are building blocks of the revolution, the cataclysmic turnaround we call the reign of God. From the early church communities (formed in the footsteps of Jesus to re-examine Hebrew scriptures in light of this new revelation), through the small prayer meetings of the Anabaptists, Methodists, and Pentecostals, to the base Christian communities in Latin America and the former Soviet Union, small groups have always been central to the Christian discipling process.
Many of us agree to lead our church's RENEW group, Bible study, prayer meeting, or house church gathering out of a desire to serve; besides, somebody has to do it. Sometimes the opportunity comes with prepared materials or leadership training, but often it is simply "make it up as you go." Wouldn't it be nice to have some help?
Palmer Beck-er, a Mennonite pastor and graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, has penned companion books Called to Equip and Called to Care, that offer just such guidance. The first is specifically by a pastor for pastors: Using the "care group" model (as op-posed to the "staff model" or "shepherd model"), Becker explores how pastors share the vision of their church, nurture leadership under that vision, train and commission new leaders, call forth care groups, and follow up once they've started. He includes extensive cross-referencing to other helpful materials as well as a solid scriptural base, reflection questions, and assessment forms.
Called to Care is dedicated to the new generation of lay pastors. This is the book most of us need. It begins by looking at the big picture, the whole congregation. What are the natural networks that exist within your church? Where do members go to get their needs met? If worship, scripture study, and prayer needs are being met, what about dialogue? Care groups can provide a place for exploring our quality of life as Christians, considering