Cell Church - My Personal Involvement
One of the key concepts about Cell Church is that it revolves around small groups within which each member has a part to play according to the gifts God has given them. There is much more to it than this, but that statement goes some way towards capturing what excited me most about moving in this direction.
Ever since I was a student at the University of York in the early 1990's I've found small groups to be the best encouragement to walking on with Christ. Large events are good, especially with gifted speakers and passionate worshippers, but in a small group you have to lay aside most of the trappings of performance and get on with the business of meeting together out of a shared love and awareness of Christ.
At university I was involved in leading 'small' groups, crushed into each other's rooms, studying the Bible, discussing things that were important to us, laughing and getting on each other's nerves. Maybe it wasn't quite the same as devoting ourselves to the apostles's teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42) but it was a good place to grow. Since moving back into 'real' life, I've continued to be keen to be involved in homegroups, housegroups or call them what you will in the churches I've been involved in.
Three particularly useful books on the subject are that I've read are The Second Reformation by William Beckham, The Shepherd's Guidebook by Ralph Neighbour Jnr and Body and Cell by Howard Astin. I found the third of these most encouraging and useful, but that could be because it's the only British book out of the three and hence more culturally relevant to the situtions I faced.
In practice, the cell vision did not live up to all of my expectations. I wonder if they were left as an option too long - gradually people showed less commitment to the groups and none of them reached the point of being a significant doorway into faith for people outside. I still believe there is life in small group structures but I appreciate more the tension between "old" and "new" wineskins.
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