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The Ministry of the Host/Hostess
by Joel Comiskey
Carl George taught in Prepare Your Church for the Future that each cell should have a host/hostess apart from the leader of the cell (i.e., the cell should not meet in the leader’s home but in the home of the host/hostess). At one point in my cell journey I pushed this concept.
The Elim Church, the second largest church in the world, practices this strategy. Each cell has a host/hostess, who opens his/her home for the cell group. Elim places a high priority on the ministry of the cell host/hostess. The host doesn’t just open his or her home but is actively involved in reaching neighbors. Nubia Lopez, for example, started her ministry at Elim as a hostess in 1997. She opened her home for a cell group and began visiting her neighbors to befriend them and ultimately reach them for Jesus. Her goal was to find a need and meet it. One of her neighbors was very resistant to the Gospel message, so Nubia volunteered to care for her neighbor’s children, since this was her neighbor’s immediate need. As Nubia cared for these children, her neighbor saw Jesus demonstrated in such a practical way that she decided to attend the cell group and even accompany Nubia to Elim Church.
Apart from evangelism, a host/hostess can bear the administrative burden of the cell leader by preparing the home and then cleaning up afterwards.
To share the load, often cell groups will rotate the job of host among cell members. That’s what my own cell has been doing lately. We rotate among three homes–one of them being my own.
Kim Cole, cell leader and coach at York Alliance Church, writes,
We do not push the issue of hosting hard, but we do encourage everyone who is capable to host. This accomplishes several things: First, it starts the journey for some people to have visitors in their homes. (sometimes for the first time) Second, it helps teach people that a snack is ok, and that big meals are not needed to invite some one in. Third, it’s a great window into a person's life and personality and will often give you insights into hobbies, family, lifestyle, etc. things that can give you a basis to connect with them. At times this has also allowed an critical or unbeliving spouse or family to “listen in” in a non threatening way to them. And has opened doors to invite those same people to a group body life event.
As much as possible, we need to help our cell members to open their homes to host the cell group. Instead of all the responsibility falling upon the cell leader to both lead and host, it's best to share the load with others.