Cell Parable: A Thousand People in a Field


Section 1. Cell Parable: A Thousand People in a Field

            Imagine two grassy fields; put a thousand people in each of them.

            In the first field are a thousand church members. People being social, they will begin to gather into groups of like-minded friends. When the size of a group is about a dozen, hand them some excellent curriculum. If they do something with the curriculum, they are a small group.

            The thousand people in the second field are an army. Each person present knows the following intimately:

            – Who commands the army, who commands them, and who they command.

            – Their unit – who is in it, their position in it, and their unit’s in the whole.

            – They have clear orders (little picture) and a clear mission (big picture).

            – They have the training and equipment necessary to fulfill their orders and the


            – They have had lots of supervised practice to develop all necessary skills.

            – There are clearly understood customs of etiquette, clear rules, routine and


            – There are clear consequences for disobedience.

            – There are identifying insignia: unit, rank, skill, campaign ribbons, medals and

                        other means to reward and recognize merit and experience.

            The army has a commitment to win, moral courage, and is prepared to engage in a life and death struggle. They are ready to risk their lives, follow orders, fight, and, if need be, to die. Now give the people in each field an important task, such as the evangelization of a lost world. What will happen next?

HOMEWORK Discussion Questions:

2.01 Which field most represents small groups in your home church? Who in your church would enjoy or prefer the field where work is highly organized and structured? Who in your church would prefer the field without structure? Why, in your opinion?

2.02 Consider the list of characteristics of the army – what “each person knows intimately.” How difficult would it be to achieve this level of clarity and commitment within some of the members of your church? Would it be possible?

2.03 Have you ever experienced this level of organization in your personal life? Was it a positive or negative experience?

2.04 Is there an organization in your community that has this kind of discipline? Does this level of organization help or hinder their purpose? (Hint: look for uniforms.)2.05 What could a church with that kind of discipline and organization accomplish? What problems in your local church would a higher level of discipline and organization solve?

What problems would a higher level of discipline and organization cause?





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at www.disciplewalk.com/Resources.html. In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through CreateSpace.com.

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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