by Rob Campbell
Years ago, I heard a speaker at a Promise Keeper’s gathering declare, “Diversity is not the enemy of unity.” I think it’s a brilliant quote actually. I believe it to be true.
Are the cells in your church diverse? Certainly, there are some commonalities in format, vision, and more. But, there’s diversity, right? Because every individual is unique, there are some unique aspects to each and every cell. I would suggest that this is a beautiful thing in the local church.
When I was a kid, I watched my father begin a new hobby. He got interested in stain glass. I remember looking at his workbench adorned with a myriad of stain glass pieces that he had cut with his own hands. There were various colors and unique sizes. They were all different. Eventually, the carefully crafted and cut pieces were placed together displaying a nice piece of art.
To me, this is like the church. We are formed by our Creator in many different ways and His Spirit fashions together a cell or church family. It’s a piece of art, isn’t it? Yet, the pieces are quite diverse– sometimes completely different in color, size, and more.
To the point, it’s a good thing when a church has diverse cells. A “one size fits all” type of Christianity in expression and spiritual formation is not reality. I would encourage you to celebrate the diversity– it is a thing of beauty.
2 thoughts on “Diversity”
I agree wholeheartedly. And in the world of cell church/small groups I am saddened by the number of people writing books on the subject who find themselves obligated to cut down someone else’s way of doing ministry to make their own seem better.
As a Smallgroupologist I read and read and read on the topic of small groups and cell church. I seldom read a book where there’s not some passive attack at someone else’s way of doing groups. And the most disheartening thing of all is that they never come right out and mention the leader of the movement they are questioning they simply give you a few sarcastic comments that make you aware of their disdain for a fellow believers way of doing groups.
I believe we can bring the world to Christ through cell groups/small groups/house churches but the world must first know we are all after the same goal… to make Jesus famous. If this is our primary agenda, we’ll be much less apt to even be concerned about open or closed groups, house church or cell groups, community focused or “deep Bible study” driven groups, etc…
Thanks, Rob, for broaching an important topic that some find sensitive.
In Africa I have enjoyed cell gatherings in which there was active body life between black, coloured and white.
In India, I have participated in cell meetings attended by the elderly, adults, youth and children, all of them entering into worship together.
In North America, one can join a cell in which highly-educated professionals fellowship with “homeless” school leavers.
Amongst the various factors leading to such diversity, there is often something more than a commitment to show love. There is usually some existing social connection between the participants.
Networks of family, friendship, work place, school, neighbours, and such can prove more important than ethnicity, “race”, and first languages.
Once a cell is functioning and growing in love one for another, its members can determine to include folks who are culturally different from themselves.
However, as in congregations, so in cells, diversity can prove an obstacle to seekers and immature believers who do not want to worship, or to be seen worshipping, in a diverse setting, if so doing would keep their own friends and family from coming in faith towards Jesus.
Thus one might be able to identify several patterns in cell composition:
a) Cells within existing social networks, in spite of ethnic diversity.
b) Cells of immature believers who have yet to learnt to honour diversity.
b) Cells that intentionally choose to become diverse to demonstrate love.
c) Cells that have become less diverse in order to draw in seekers who will not yet countenance diversity.
A cell church has a wonderful capacity to include cells with all of those patterns, and a shepherding staff who can help cell members and shepherds discern when and how to shift or start cells with a different pattern.