Recovery Cell Outreach

Evangelism and Multiplication

CCS September 2006 Newsletter: Cell Evangelism

Buddy Tipton, the senior pastor of Central Assembly in Vero Beach, Florida for 30+ years, loves cell ministry because it’s outreach oriented. “We tried fellowship groups for years,” he told the cell seminar participants three weeks ago, “and they turned inward. They didn’t bring new life into our church.” Buddy and his leadership team were attracted to the cell strategy because of evangelism and multiplication that forms the DNA of each cell group.

I had a great time with Buddy and his leadership team this past month. I liked Central Assembly so much, in fact, that I will include their church in the next edition of my book Cell Church Solutions. This isn’t a perfect church, and they are still transitioning to the cell strategy. What stood out was their commitment to cell evangelism.

I went away with a new fire to emphasize evangelism in cell ministry. Buddy’s burden for lost men and women without Christ was obvious. Buddy positions himself as friend of sinners, a title Jesus also wore. I sensed that Buddy was a true fisher for people’s souls. I went fishing and looking for gators on Buddy’s boat at Farm 13, a local wetland hang-out (he caught 10 fish to my 2!). We ate often at Mrs. Bees, a homegrown restaurant where Vero Beach residents gather. I went away challenged to reemphasize evangelism and even preached on evangelism at my own celebration service in California.

Buddy Tipton and Joel Comiskey in Buddy’s office—his office is like a museum, full of stuffed animals and antiques

Cell evangelism and multiplication pinpoint the main difference between small groups and cell groups. Evangelism and multiplication must be the DNA of each cell. Small groups or fellowship groups, on the other hand, normally serve the purpose of community care for those who are already attending the church. Those who launch care groups often assume that people will come to the Sunday service first and then will be cared for in “fellowship groups.” In this scenario, the church tries to attract people to Sunday celebration, while the small group ministry attempts to connect people. Cell groups, on the other hand, realize that true community is enhanced by sharing it with others. True community seeks to save the lost and then to raise up new disciples to offer God’s community in a new group.

I believe, in fact, that cells must reach out to remain healthy. Not only does cell outreach bless the heart of God in the winning and discipling of non-Christians, but visitors bring new life to the group. The presence of non-Christians or unchurched people in the cell gives a reason for members to exercise their gifts while ministering to those in need.

How are you doing in cell evangelism? Is your small group more inreach oriented or outreach oriented? Be encouraged to renew your commitment to reach men and women for Jesus Christ.