by Joel Comiskey
I’ve become increasingly excited about the effectiveness of using the pastor’s sermon (teaching) as the basis for the cell lesson. We’ve been doing this in our church plant here in Moreno Valley for years, and I’ve increasingly seen its importance. Here are a Â few reasons:
- It connects small group with the large group. Basing the cell lesson on the Sunday sermon serves as a constant reminder that the cell isn’t an independent entity doing its own thing. The larger purpose and vision of the cell is to build the local church. The expectation is that those in the cell are also part of the larger gathering on Sundayâ€”or at least being evangelized to eventually hook into the celebration service.
- It applies the expository/teaching message to real 24/7 life.Â I like a church that has a well-planned preaching schedule and skillfully exegetes God’s inerrant Word from the pulpit. Yet, the best churches humbly realize that even excellent sermons are inadequate to completely transform the hearers. George Barna and others are reporting that those inside the U.S. church are not applying what they hear. Statistics demonstrate that North American church goers are not significantly different from those outside the church (e.g., ethics, morals, divorce, pornography, etc.). When a church asks each member to discuss and apply the Sunday message in a cell during the week, there’s a far greater chance that transformation, rather than information, will take place.
- This is the pattern of cell churches around the world. As I researched these churches, I noticed that all of them–without exception–based their cell lessons on the pastorâ€™s teaching (either the Sunday sermon or mid-week expository teaching).
- It provides a never ending supply of material.Buying cell material at the local Christian bookstore can be very expensive. And even the best material is bound to run out. When the lesson is based on the pastor’s teaching, there is a steady stream of new material–as long as the pastor doesn’t repeat the same sermons each week!
- It relieves pressure from the leader.It’s hard enough leading a cell. There are people to visit, leadership development to consider, etc. Add the need to find or prepare the lesson, and the leader might feel overwhelmed. Distributing questions based on the Sunday morning message helps alleviate the leader’s workload.
Cell material is far less important than other key cell components that I’ve blogged about for the last few weeks, but it’s still important. What about you? What kind of material do you use? What are your convictions on this issue?