CG Model Turns One!
Connecting and discipling, growing a strong church.
By Pastor Gerald Tan
Outgrown the Carecell Model
As a cell-based church, we had established ourselves internationally as a strong leading voice in cell-church ministries since 1990. In the 30 years that followed, we have matured and outgrown the Carecell model. Together with the changes in society and culture, we knew it was time to seek the Lord for a new strategy to keep growing.
Eight months of intense strategizing, planning, and preparations later, we had a Spirit-led direction and plan of action.
First, we called for two months of 29:13 meetings every Thursday and Friday in April and May. Instead of attending weekly Carecell meetings, we would seek the Lord together as a church. Bible Study and extended times of worship filled these evenings. It was a beautiful time of encountering God and tarrying in His presence where many were impacted. The stage for the change that was to come was set.
Entering a New Era
Then in June 2019, the Connect Group church model was unveiled during our Life Conference. "I connect with you to disciple you. I disciple you so that you will connect with others." This was the basis for the Connect Group church model, inspired by biblical communities in the Book of Acts. (Connect Groups are small groups in Trinity that meet on Friday evenings all over Singapore. They range from young adults to families with young children to mixed groups. So there's a Connect Group for everyone!)
In a prophetic act that beautifully illustrated the concept, Lead Pastor, Rev Dominic Yeo, led the pastors, ministers and lay leadership community to join carabiners each one held to another's. In each pair of carabiners everyone had, one was engraved with the word "Connect", and the other "Disciple". The hooking of carabiners one to the other continued till every leader and spiritual parent was connected across the sanctuary, prophetically declaring the launch of our Connect Groups (CG), and the call to connect and disciple.
The same prophetic act was repeated in the first CG meetings all across the island, sealing in the spiritual dimension the birth of the new small groups structure.
We had entered a new era.
Growth a Year On
One year on, the church has seen growth in our CGs, and a great sense of community built .
From the topics covered at Discipleship Nights, to regular Area discipleship sessions, leaders have received more relevant and effective impartations. Our Connect Leaders also appreciate the increased proximity to pastors, sharing life with and staying accountable to them.
"Discipleship Night is a re-charge for me, and also a time to be discipled and hear about the church's direction. It's also drawn us closer to our Area Pastors." - Andrew Lee, Connect Leader
The shift from being focused on multiplication to discipleship, and from agendas to intentional connections meant greater engagement between members and leaders.
Sermon discussions during CG meetings have been a refreshing addition, helping everyone focus on applying the weekly sermons in their personal growth. The birth of Connection Nights, while discomforting, have encouraged CG members to take the initiative to build relationships and reach out.
The Ministry Groups released Ministry Leaders and volunteers into serving, and growing in their areas of gifting and passion. Some served in Pastoral Care, some in Pastoral Counselling, Pastoral Operations or Pastoral Training.
"Coming to Pastoral Training was a different area of serving compared to Section Leadership. Though initially uncertain, I soon found my feet as our Ministry Group pastors guided us in areas like Mission-Impact Teams, Trinity Academy and Connect Group consultancy. One personal highlight was to be a TA co-trainer for Before-You-Say-Yes (BYSY). Marriage is God's gift to demonstrate His love though families. It is my honor to share my wife's and my ongoing journey to spur couples towards Christ-centeredness." - Ministry Leader Leonard Chua, Pastoral Training
Some of the most exciting testimonies come from our Ministry Leaders leading people to receive Christ during their ministry visits!
"I was a little nervous on my first hospital visitation as a Ministry Leader. It felt a little like cold-calling to me because I did not know the people. But I went with a sincere and humble heart, and prayed for God to put words in my mouth. God honored my request beyond what I had asked. In the visit, the patient received Jesus! And since then I have had the privilege to lead three others to Christ in hospital visitations before COVID-19. The joy of seeing someone saved far exceeds the inconveniences or strains on my schedule." - Ministry Leader Josephine Tan, Pastoral Care
When services moved wholly online during the heightened measures for COVID-19, the platform provided an additional opportunity for our Ministry Leader to connect visitors to Jesus. Ministry Leader Linda Ong recounts her story here.
God's preparation for the Circuit Breaker
Unknown to us then, the launch of Connect Groups prepared the church to stay connected even when physical gatherings became impossible during the Circuit Breaker.
"I have learnt to be intentional about connecting with CG members and to strengthen and deepen relationships with them. The end goal is not about growing the CG for multiplication, but about growing each individual spiritually, which will lead to an overall growth in the CG when each desires to fulfil the Great Commission. During the Circuit Breaker, we just got a little more creative in our intentional connections. On the basis of strong relationships fostered, members remained open and shared freely about their triumphs and struggles. The trust established in the CG enabled members to grow relationally and spiritually as we focused on the Word of God." - Connect Leader Tricilia Tang
"Staying connected during the Circuit Breaker brought comfort to me as I regularly saw familiar faces. It also pushed me to take the initiative to connect with my friends." - Spiritual Parent Rachel Yeo
God is moving as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds
One of our Connect Leaders has been trying to reach out to her sister-in-law would usually shun a conversation about Jesus.
In recent months, as her sister-in-law was undergoing treatment for cancer, this Connect Leader got her CG to pray for her sis-in-law. Whenever the CG members prayed over WhatsApp, the Connect Leader would send screenshots of the prayers to her sister-in-law to encourage her.
One Friday evening's CG sermon discussion ended with a challenge to use one’s spiritual gift to reach out to someone who doesn’t know Christ the next week. This very Connect Leader put it to action the next day. She prayed and received a prophetic word from God for her sister-in-law. To her surprise, her sister-in-law called! While catching up, the Connect Leader found an opportunity to share the prophetic word from God, which opened her sister-in-law’s heart to receive Jesus into her life!
We celebrate with much joy and thanksgiving, each person connected to another, collectively connected to the church, and to God. As the church continues to grow and the needs increase, we have seen how the new Connect Group church model has brought about the reality of a strong biblical community and position us to raise more strategic leaders where God has placed us.
The Connect Groups have thrived amid the months of Circuit Breaker and Phase One, and will continue to do so. Nothing can stop us from connecting and discipling!
Reflect & Respond
How has being in a biblical community helped you in growing your relationship with God?
How have you grown as a leader through the new discipleship structure or through serving in your gifting and passion?
How have you seen God move as you spur one another on in love and good deeds, even during the Circuit Breaker and Phase One? Share your testimonies with us.