I remember reading Dr. Cho’s book, Successful Home Cell Groups back in the 80s. What is not to get excited about? A church in South Korea with a quarter of a million people that would go on to reach three quarters of a million people! This in a country that was only 2% Christian 100 years ago. Amazing.
I remember thinking when I read Cho’s book, “I wonder if home groups could ever work in America.”
A few years after I read Cho’s book, my pastor went to a conference where he heard Carl George speak on what he called the meta-church model. It was an adaptation of the Cho model for American consumption. This model went on to be the basis of part of the success of churches like Willow Creek and Saddleback. Of course, they made their own adaptations in time. Carl George predicted that home groups were the next big thing. I remember thinking at the time, “Show me an example. Show me a single example of a church in America that is using home groups in favor of on-campus, Sunday School style groups.” I couldn’t think of any. My, how things have changed.
Fast-forward 25 years. Go to any Christian bookstore in America today. Get a pile of the top ten best-selling Christian books for pastors today. Read them all. Tell me, do you get the impression that home groups or on-campus groups are the dominant model today?
Part of this is perception. If you were to read a book like Simple Church (great book, by the way), you would get the idea that the churches researched were mostly home group churches. David Frances did a follow-up study of these churches and found that most were, in fact, not home group churches. Rather, most of them have on-campus groups.
Still, it is clear that God is doing a new thing. God is at work in a movement of home Bible Groups. Many seem to be wondering if Sunday School has had its day.