by Steve Cordle
Many churches trying to transition to the cell model find it a huge challenge to get most of their people into groups. While some people get involved quickly, it is not uncommon to hit a barrier; no matter how many times you refer to groups in the sermon, or how often people are told of the wonders of group life, it seems like most just don’t respond. Why? How does a church break through this barrier?
There are multiple causes for this “barrier”, but I believe one has to do with the percentage of church life which occurs in the group.
Joel recently blogged about sharing Communion in the cell. This is excellent! James, an Episcopal pastor, commented that when he did this it was a huge step because “since the sacrament is such an important part of Anglican spirituality it meant that the center of the congregation was Sunday morning worship. It also meant that I, as the Pastor, was the central person.” Huge point! If most people see that sacrament as the central part of what the church does, but that does not happen in the cell, how can cells be central? They will always be seen as an optional activity, and there will be little felt need for them on the part of most people.
How much of your church life happens in the cell?
Visiting Xenos Church in Columbus I realized that there was no musical worship at their central weekend gatherings. And if you got married, it was in the group, and likewise baptisms. Most of what people looked for as “church” happened ONLY at the group. Now, by their own admission, Xenos is actually more of a network of house churches than it is a cell church. That influences how much happens in the group.
The point is, the more of your church life you locate in the group, the more central to the church groups become. (And the reverse is true). So what can you move to the group?
Our worship design team is exploring moving our Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) service to groups and not at the building. It fits the Upper Room experience, and it is just another way of locating more church life in the group.
This is a huge and delicate transition question: What that you are currently doing can you move to the group?