"Each believer is a potential new church."
This is one of the concepts we are learning at CPM training. Typically, when someone comes to Christ two things happen:
1) We seek to incorporate them into a church of a bunch of people they mostly do not know and help them form relationships with other Christians in the Christian community. They are encouraged by fellowship, accountability and example.
2) Before long, they lose the opportunity to witness to their families, friends and network of non-Christian acquaintances as they immerse themselves into the new Christian community. The "fire" they have for Christ is spent in the existing church. Then, years down the road when they have learned more about the Bible and what it means to be the Christian and are "mature" enough to be trusted to teach others, the fire is mostly gone. They might teach Sunday school or something.
A friend of mine told the tale of two girls he and his wife led to the Lord. The first one was incorporated into the existing church structures in a big city here in The Location. She learned a lot, grew and served well in the church. But she never really led anyone to Christ.
The second girl was encouraged to start worshiping in her home with anyone in her family who would join. She was not confident to do this by herself, but she was coached by the missionary on what to do. Then she did it. Her whole family joined her. They all came to the faith. She baptized all of them. Every day during the initial stages she was e-mailing the missionary asking questions about God, the Bible and what to do with new believers and how to have worship. For months her whole family worshiped together with joy in their new faith. A church had been planted.
Later, an official church leader in the registered church in The Location found out about her meetings and came to their house. He chastised the girl and her family for doing this outside the authority of the church. She had no right to lead it, he said, because she was not a trained and ordained pastor. She had no right to baptize them so he declared all of her family's baptisms invalid. He reminded them that this meeting was illegal and said they all need to go to the official registered church.
The official church leader killed the budding new church. He crushed a beautiful flower that was just beginning to bloom. Only the girl and her younger sister joined the offcial registered church. The rest of the family fell away.
Later, the missionary visited and had a chance to interview the parents and the family members. They said that they had put their faith in Christ when they had seen how their daughter's life had changed--how it was so evident as she taught and led the studies. Now that she can't do it any more and she has joined the church in town, we don't see how her life has changed much. Also, worshiping in their home felt like they were really believing in God in a natural way; going to the big church downtown felt like they were joining a foreign religion--so they stopped.
Every person we lead to Christ is a potential new church. It is important that we get them sharing their new life with their families and friends before we quench the fire of their faith in the lake of the church.