Traveling across the lush green regions of Western Kenya, David Juma and Clinton Moore regularly visit a number of churches. With SIM Kenya’s Cell Kenya Ministries, they share and practice the Cell Church vision far and wide.
The vision of Cell Church can be summarised in the Great Commission: Go make disciples. Cell Church introduces revolutionary ideas for the church, especially those in rural parts of Kenya, about what church life could look like.
Christianity is the majority religion in western Kenya and there are churches of all kinds, sizes and denominations in each village. Usually rural church members look to their pastor to take care of everything: The sermon, leading worship, greeting church goers, home visits, evangelism in the community, hospital visits, counselling. The list goes on.
Such great and diverse responsibility is stressful for the church leaders. Meanwhile, the church members are not experiencing spiritual growth by taking responsibility of Church matters they are capable of, or of following the Great Commission to make disciples.
Simply put, the regular practice and culture of many rural church communities is not ‘inclusive’. The result is dormancy within the church and in the community. Church communities fail to grow in maturity and in number.
Bishop Haron Kwambai leads a church that pratices Cell Church and says, “Making disciples is not the responsibility of the pastor or laymen alone, but the responsibility of every believer.”
The model of Cell Church encourages participation of all church members and inclusion in smaller groups that meet within homes. Such groups explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ daily, not just a Sunday Christian. As members grow in confidence and participation, these groups even impact the Sunday community - greeting the congregation, leading worship and so on.
Milkah Chebeti leads a Cell Church group and she says, “Through these small groups, we have been able to discover talents from the members. Even those who are shy, those who are not able to speak, can be helped to grow and come out of those challenges”
Small home groups are continually looking to invite others, to grow spiritually and numerically and then to multiply once the number regularly reaches above twelve. With the rapid growth of Cell Church in these Western Kenya areas, there are a large number of homes hosting a Cell Church.
We have spoken to numerous church pastors and members who have adopted the Cell Church model - some for many years now - and their testimonies are encouraging.
Bishop Felix Wanyonyi has seen clearly the difference Cell Church has made to his church, saying, “We have spent thousands and thousands doing crusades where many people get saved, but there is no way of following up - the people just disappear back into the community. But through cell everybody is somebody. New people come because they are invited by those in cells, so we know where they live in the community and we can reach them in their houses - this is the biggest difference I have experienced.”
School of Discipleship
Churches across rural western Kenya are being equipped to make disciples and have experienced dramatic spiritual and numerical growth.
It’s not possible for the Cell Kenya Ministries team to meet the growing demands of the church in Western Kenya. Thus, the vision is to equip disciples and disciple makers to spread Cell Church further themselves through the School of Discipleship.
The Cell Church model is being introduced to church leaders through an in-depth School of Discipleship course called ‘Disciple Makers’. Created by the team at SIM Kenya, the six-month course offers six facilitated sessions, tailored to the local context and another six sessions where the lessons are applied.
In September 2015 ‘Disciple Makers’ launched in two locations in Western Kenya. Rather than being part of Cell Church, the participants of the course learn the theory, how to lead groups and take an active role.
Bishop Felix Wanyonyi, one of the many course participants, said “I have received teachings that are making me understand that Cell Church is not just a movement, it’s a form of discipleship that will transform the church. We are not just getting new Christians, we are making new disciples of Jesus Christ who will in turn make more disciples.”
More than 35 people graduated from these first cohorts, including church leaders and lay people, all of whom are ready to practice and share the Cell Church vision.
Furthermore, the graduates can facilitate the training, so the Cell Kenya Ministries team can further share the vision of Cell Church far and wide. Bishop Saul Barasa also completed ‘Disciple Makers’ and said, “I was excited to hear about the course. I know that it is going to equip my people. They will not only be trained but be able to train others, so we can handle the souls that come into our church community”
Once dormant churches are now growing in spirit and in number. Reverend Samuel Kiptum noted, “I have learnt how the church can grow by having everybody be responsible in the church and involved in ministry.”
There is a movement of those actively experiencing life in a church community and looking to make disciples within their communities. Praise God.
For more details on Cell Church, contact David Juma, Coordinator of Cell Kenya Ministries team: firstname.lastname@example.org