I’m a member of www.smallgroups.com. I like to read through the monthly newsletters and a few days ago I came across an especially great article called “Sharing Our Lives in Difficult Times” (March 2007). The article was written by Mike Messerli, pastor of small group ministries at at a church in Texas. In the article he talks about a time in late 2006 when the senior pastor at his church was discovered to be in sin. The elders asked the senior pastor to resign and then announced the the problem to the congregation.
Many left the church. Pastor Mike says, “A church always loses people when something like this happens. It has been very difficult to watch. It has been heartbreaking to see longtime members simply walk away from our church. I got an e-mail tonight telling me of another family that has decided to call it quits. For all our best efforts, there are families who have left our church looking for another church family.”
Yet, what is so powerful to me is that those who were committed members of small groups were able to weather the storm, whereas those who were simply Sunday attendees tended to leave. Pastor Mike writes, “What I have seen is this–those who are not in a small group are those who have left our church. Not all of them, mind you, but most of those who have left the church were not committed to a small group community. The small groups create Velcro. Those in small groups have a community of people who care for them, who pray with them, who love them and, most of all, who provide a place to share the hurts and sorrows of life. They have a place to grieve. They have a family of believers to care for them. admits that many left the church.”
The power of the cell is that it becomes a famly. It’s one-another ministry at its best. Those in the cell don’t depend on the man in front to make church happen. They realize that they are the church. And the community that develops within the cell becomes a refuge in the time of storm.