by Rob Campbell
A good portion of cell churches around the world use some type of format or outline during the actual cell gathering. My church family utilizes the ever so popular 4 W’s. This cell gathering format really works for us. I have found that cell leaders appreciate a basic framework as they lead their cell week end and week out.
As a reminder, the 4 W’s are as follows: WELCOME (A time to connect person to person using an icebreaker question or two), WORSHIP (A time for group members to connect to God; Welcome the presence of Christ in their midst through singing, reading of a Psalm/scripture, prayer), WORD (A time to dialogue and reflect on God’s Word seeking deeper reflection, insight and application), and WORKS (A time to cast vision concerning multiplication, spiritual formation, missions; “Because of what God has done in our lives this week, here’s how we choose to spread the vision of this cell and church family.”)
Some cell churches have switched the order of the 4 W’s mentioned above and that is surely understandable. Other cell churches follow the basic content of the 4 W’s, but use other words in formatting their outlines. It’s all good!
This post’s purpose is quite simple. May I offer up a fresh call for us to allow the 4 W’s to FLEX? I believe that the underlying purpose for attending a cell gathering is to be in the presence of the resurrected Christ. Further, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Therefore, let’s allow the 4 W’s to be our guide, but not our master.
Specifically, a cell leader should not: Read verbatim the cell outline, Feel like he/she must cover every question and/or idea, Lead every section of the outline by himself/herself, Cover all the W’s every gathering. Conversely, a cell leader who does not adhere at all to the 4 W’s can risk leading a gathering that “is all over the map” lacking focus and effectiveness.
My original experience underscoring this need for flexibility occured in 1993. My wife and I were hosting a cell in our home, but not leading this specific cell. During the WELCOME time, one woman began to share some rather deep things in the presence of a good number of children. I desperately wanted the cell leader to call a “timeout” and usher the children to another room for their time of teaching. It did not happen. I maintained my “wallflower” posture knowing in my mind the leader was making a significant mistake.
As I was about to speak up (you know- and lend some “guidance”), the cell leader said, “Children, I want to you to gather around this woman [using her name] and pray for her.” Again, I thought– this is not going to be good. I mean, the lady had shared some very deep emotions, pain and hurt. Well, needless to say– I was wrong concerning the leader’s act. I will not soon forget the prayers offered to God by those children. They were prayers of hope, love, comfort….even direction! Indeed, we had experienced the resurrected Christ in our midst and the Spirit of God was freely working. By the way, I don’t remember what happened during the WORD and WORKS time. I hope you will forgive me!
A final thought: God is not confined to a 4 W box! He’s out of the box and isn’t it great?