A church cell group is a home-based small group that meets together with the goal of growing and splitting into two or more groups; those groups in turn will continue the same goal. A cell group must have a leader who is willing to invite people into her home and guide them in Bible studies or group discussions. The leader is the most important figure in determining the success of the home-based group.
Write a purpose statement. The purpose statement will give a clear and concise direction to the group; it will inform the members exactly what they will get from being part of the group. All Bible studies and discussion will focus on fulfilling the purpose of the group. If the purpose of the group is to "become more Christ-like," then the studies you choose for the group will be focused on the character of Jesus and how to apply those characteristics to your life. The purpose statement is the foundation of a cell group; write it well and keep it to three sentences or less.
Invite people and make them feel important. At the beginning stages of a cell group it is the leader's responsibility to invite prospective members. Pray about whom you should invite. If you already have a purpose statement, think about people who could benefit from what will be taught. Speak to those people individually about joining the group. Send them invitations through the mail and through social networking websites. At each home meeting greet people as they arrive and thank them for coming as they leave. Use their name each time. After the leader has established a small core group of people who regularly attend the meetings, he should instruct members to pray about people they could invite into the cell group and eventually invite them.
Set guidelines that govern the conduct of the cell group members. People need to feel safe within the group. Sometimes sensitive personal problems or situations may pop up in which a member needs to talk about and seek support from the group. The group members need to commit to confidentiality. There should be no accusing or personal attacking of each other. If a member fails in one of these areas the leader must talk to that person in private and ask her to apologize to the group or leave the group. Nothing will destroy a group faster than someone who constantly attacks others or breaks confidentiality. The leader needs to make certain that members understand what kind of conduct is expected and the consequences that will occur if they do not comply.
Have small group meals or finger foods and coffee. Food promotes relationship-building interaction. The members will enjoy talking and getting to know each other during this casual segment of the cell group meeting.
Pray for your cell group members individually. By praying for the members you are showing them that you care and that they are important as individuals. You can pray on your own, you can call and pray with them one at a time, or you can meet over lunch and pray at the beginning of the meal or before departing. Always ask the member if there are any specific areas for which he needs prayer.
Send out postcards, news and reminders. It is important to keep the cell group in people's minds, especially if you only meet once a month. You can send out a postcard to let a person know that you prayed for her, that you missed her in a meeting she did not attend or that you wish to remind her of the next meeting. If you can come up with enough content you can create a newsletter for the group. It can be sent out monthly or quarterly.
Have group trips. A trip will help strengthen the relationships within the group. The group could take a trip to hear a speaker who is speaking on a topic that relates to the group's purpose statement. The group could also decide on a fun trip to an amusement park, museum, mall or flea market. It really depends on the make-up of your particular group when deciding what to do. The point is to just do something together.
Evaluate yourself. Is your group growing and learning? Do the members feel comfortable enough to be open and honest? Are you doing too much or too little? Take time to evaluate your performance. Try not to base the evaluation as much on how you feel, as on the facts. Leaders who fall into a rut will get burned out and will see the group spiral downward as well. You can evaluate after each meeting. Choose a person or two whom you trust and let them evaluate and discuss with you what they see.
Train another leader. Pray about selecting a person from the group to train as a leader. You will need a leader on occasions when you need a break or when the group grows to a point that it needs to split. Look for the qualities of a good leader within the cell group members. Speak to potential leaders to see if one is interested in leading a cell group. Delegate some of your responsibilities to the trainee and let him lead the group on occasion.
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Nick Johnson has been writing professionally since 2000. His creative works have been published in collaborative books, as well as various online publications such as Kids Ministry Resources, a children's ministry website.
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