Staying “too” late after the cell

We lead a cell group in our own home. We’ve done it for years. Even though our cell does rotate from house to house once in a while, the bulk of the time we have the cell in our own house. Our cell starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. We then have great food and fellowship for an additional 1-1.5 hours (last night people stayed until 9 p.m.). Yet, after that additional refreshment time, I’m ready to call it quits. Lots of clean-up awaits me. Kids have to get ready and go to bed. I have work to do.

Most of us have had the experience in church when the lights flick on and off. It’s an indicator that it’s time to get going. The janitor wants to go home. That’s not so easy in your own house!

I’ve found that some people just don’t get the hint when the host is ready to close the door after the refreshment time. Some cell members are just overjoyed with the rich fellowship. They can’t get enough of it. Community is sweet. For some, the cell is their family. Others are naturally very chatty and relational and become sooooo comfortable they don’t want to leave! A while ago, one of our cell families would just start warming up about 9 p.m.! And this family had six kids! And if you’re a host that wants to draw some boundaries, it’s easy to feel guilty. “Aren’t true cell people the type that hang out until midnight?” you might tell yourself.

Most of us would be in agreement that the actual cell should last for approx. 1.5 hours. Yet, the length of the  refreshment time AFTER the normal cell varies widely. You’ll have to live within your own comfort level. My inward boundary is between 1-1.5 hours of refreshment time after the cell ends. At that time, I’m ready to shut down, clean up, and prepare for the next day.

How do you subtely let people know you’ve reached your boundary? Here are a few suggestions to let others know it’s time to close shop:

1. Just tell them plainly at the beginning or end of the cell what you’re boundaries are.

2. Give your own family a private 5-10 minute warning, so they can start saying the good-byes.

3. Start emptying the trash and cleaning the kitchen as a sign that you’re ready to close down shop.

Any other suggestions? Comments?

Joel

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