Cell Church Seminars by Bill Beckham

William A. Beckham (Sept. 1997) Bromley Town Church, Sevenoaks


For me, the main value in this series is that Bill Beckham is not presenting a pragmatic “how-to” of church growth, but presenting the fundamental principles of how a church should operate. It’s not primarily about a structure, but about the nature of God.

He begins with the suggestion that “Just about every problem of the church, apart from sin, can be traced back to the 4th century.” Some people would like to blame the problems we have in the church today on the leaders. Others would blame the people. Bill Beckham says the root problems are systemic. He says,

“As a young preacher I became suspicious that the church I was preaching to was not the same as the church I was preaching about

He argues that the principles he is teaching are not grounded in pragmatic ideas of “what works”, but in the nature of God himself. Poor practice results from poor theology. E.g. the building of great cathedrals results from an overemphasis of the transcendence of God.

Systemic problems in the church have throughout history resulted in parachurch organizations stepping in to fill the gap. Examples are the monastic movement, missionary societies and organizations to promote evangelism. Having presented his critique of where we are, Bill is ready to introduce a more biblical model for the church.

The Cell System

This section is the big picture of cells and how they relate to the life of the church.

How a Cell operates—Overview

  • 3a The five functions of the cell [play or download]
    • Overview of Cell System using the picture of the hand
      • Thumb—core of the cell: Abiding in Christ
      • 4th finger—Accountability: mutual support system/partners
      • 3rd finger—Leadership and leadership development
      • 2nd finger—Equipping: every new believer is developed
      • 1st finger—Evangelism

The idea of using the picture of the hand is so that “you will all take it home with you when you leave”. It works well as a picture, especially the thumb which enables all the other fingers to function, and the 1st finger that points the way. I found it a helpful way of remembering the system.

Cell Life Part 1: Abiding in Christ

This is not some little “how-to” message on cell church—this guy is on fire! The thesis of this message is that: “Small groups are not going to change the world, it is the presence of Christ that will.” He introduces a statement that is going to be fundamental to the whole system:

  • “What God indwells he empowers, and what he indwells and empowers he uses”

I believe that he is absolutely correct in placing this teaching at the core of the system. In cessationist circles, they tend to place Bible study or prayer at the centre, and of course these are important, but nothing should come before a real sense of Christ’s presence and a manifestation of it by means of the Holy Spirit. This will be objective (exercise of gifts) and subjective (e.g. love poured out in our hearts Rom 5:5, cry of Abba Father 8:15-16). Another quote that I found very interesting:

  • “It is not about trying to build community. It is about entering the community that is already there through the presence of the Father, the Son and the Spirit.”

In one of the question times a lady told the story of how whenever she was in a group that was beginning to flag, they had a social to revive it. This always had the opposite effect and things went downhill from then on.

Cell Life Part 2: Accountability

There were some interesting questions at the end. I wish this section had been a bit longer because I can see some practical problems.

Cell Life Part 3: Leadership

  • 5a The Jethro leadership structure [play or download]
  • 5b Leadership structure (continued) [play or download]
    • vertical as opposed to horizontal leadership
    • supporting cell leaders
      • this isn’t about how great you are as a leader, but the focus is on Christ
      • make a personal equipping track for them

Part 5b deals with an interesting development in the cell church movement—leaders are giving up their successful secular jobs because of how they are being encouraged in their kingdom work. There are lots of ideas here and I probably have to listen to it again as our church grows.

Cell Life Part 4: Equipping

  • 6a Equipping [play or download]
    • review of the cell system
    • the equipping track in a cell
    • the old way of teaching likened to a force-fed fat goose
    • the new way:
      • self study,
      • with a sponsor,
      • in the context of cell life,
      • with supplementary “encounters”
  • 6b Equipping Questions and Answers [play or download]

I found this a very helpful session, especially the idea that we don’t need to try and squeeze all our teaching into our weekly meetings. It is hard to do this effectively, and it ends up not being done well at all. It is much more effective to use both:

  • guided self-study and
  • special “encounter” weekends or days

I also liked the emphasis on first training new believers to feed themselves from the Bible. (Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for life...) Bill concludes by giving some recommendations for training material.

Cell Life Part 5: Evangelism

Bill begins by talking about different forms of evangelism and how they can best fit in with a cell model. I really liked his idea that Biblical fishing is not an individual task, but a group activity. In the same way he suggests we should see cells as “fishing teams”.

  • 7b Evangelism in the post-modern world (by Laurence Singlehurst) [play or download]
    • He begins by describing the difference in the way the gospel needs to presented to this generation.
    • In previous decades all you needed to do was to preach the truth and people were saved.
    • However there are so many who claim truth today, and so much cynicism, that what people need to have is truth presented in the context of relationship.
    • He points out that there are many parallels between our time and the time of Jesus and how Jesus gave the truth in stories and lived among them.
  • 7c Evangelism in practice (by Laurence Singlehurst) [play or download]
    • Laurence explains a 3 stage cycle for cell evangelism based around personal friendships with unbelievers.

This is one of the most practical talks I have heard on cell-based evangelism. It would have been nice to hear more on this subject because it is so important.

Children and Youth

  • 8a Children and the cell [play or download]
    • This is a combination of theology and practice:
      • “children are of value to God and we can’t let practical problems determine our theology”
      • some stories from Bill’s experience on how children can be involved
  • 8b Children, youth, young adults and the cell—common questions [play or download]
    • More ideas and suggestions, with a few questions from the audience

Transitioning into a cell church

I found these two sessions very helpful. One of the things he warns of is the tendency to rush the transition. Instead he presents a plan in which a model cell is developed by the leadership of the church and this is extended to the church in several stages. I must admit that my immediate response to the series up to this point was to want to implement cell church right away. I was quite surprised by the process he recommended, but I can see the wisdom in it.

The Two-Winged Church Will Fly


Is this the same series as the 12 Video Tape The Two-Winged Church Will Fly? Do you have the booklet and overheads in a digital format?


Unfortunately I don't have any overheads

I wish I did, but all I have is the audio series. Let me know if you know where the overheads can be found.


I just scanned all the overheads into a Microsoft Word document which I can send to you. What is your email address?

Paul Shiffer (Shiff)

DVD of seminars


I also have converted the 6 video tapes (12 sessions) to DVD. I can transfer the files to you or burn DVDs (or maybe I should put them up on a web page somewhere).


2 Winged Church DVD

I saw your post on having put the 2 Winged church on DVD. Are they still available and in what format? mp3 mp4
I owned the VHS tapes at one point but in cleaning out my office I thought I would never need them, but am wishing now I had kept them. Let me know if I could get a copy off of you or anyone else on the blog here.

Cell church audio

I'm glad you were able to find out how to download the audio.


you can contact me using: look [at symbol] chri.st
(I avoid writing it directly because spammers harvest information from web pages.)
Thanks, Andrew

cell church

Thanks for the cell church mp3's.

Would appreciate a copy of the overheads if possible


wayne gurney

Need power points of cell church teachings

Hellow pastor
I have gone through some teachings on cell church
Please cani have slides to show it to my leaders so that we can transit to cell church.


I have been trying to track down the slides

I will post them on the site as soon as I can locate them.


The world is transforming. The Muslims have now undergone a revision on their long tradition of having a superior. The people now wants equality. Old tradition lets women less rights and never be on public. This is quite sad since most religions have agreed and respected their women as equals with men. The said countries are now in wide conflict. Wars are going on, fighting for their rights and wants respect from their long time leaders. I wish the said conflict would end without hate.

Cell church

I have appreciated just the browsing through your material and I am so blessed with it. I would lie to take the church in this direction. God bless you.

inquiry about

Could you send me the overheads that were scanned into a Microsoft Word document? I'm preparing to preach a series through the 2-winged church. Thanks!
Mike Terry
send to: [email protected]

Cool! I love your site. Very

Cool! I love your site. Very well done. Thanks for organizing everything to where I can find it easier. Keep up the good work! I love it!

I wish I had the fortune to

I wish I had the fortune to attend a class or seminar by Bill Beckham. The points presented by him motivates so many people.