“Bread and Butter” Cells before Specializing

by Michael Sove

This week I would like to speak to those who are just starting out with cells or transitioning toward a base of “holistic” cells.

When I first arrived at Allen three years ago, I came into a situation where there were some cells in place.  The problem was that these cells were not “holistic” as we have been describing in our blogs this month.  There was no leadership training or coaching in place.  There was not a common vision or approach toward what happened as these cells gathered.

So the first thing we did was introduce training to help the existing leaders begin to understand cell life and the dimensions that make a cell holistic.  A few weeks ago I introduced these dimensions and the questions to ask to determine if your cell is “holistic” in nature.

#1  (Upward)  Are the people being directed into the presence of God?

#2  (Inward)  Are the people experiencing community and serving one another.

#3  (Outward)  Is the cell actively praying for and reaching out to the lost?

#4  (Forward)  Are people being discipled and leaders being raised toward the next multiplication?

Next we made sure every cell leader was coached.  I believe this is one of the most important aspects of a cell system.  Everyone needs to be cared for, especially your cell leaders.  Beyond this, one of the best decisions we made during this initial phase was to make our mixed (family) cells to be the “bread and butter” type cells we focused on starting.  We didn’t want to start specialized cells until we had the basic systems in place.  So we said no to many requests about starting specialized cells and directed people to first participate in a mixed cell.

Now with 25 cells we are open to planting specialized cells, like recovery cells, women’s cells, college cells, single mom’s cells as well as forming networks.  We now have a men’s network.  The key is train your leaders well and build a base of “bread and butter” type cells then God will begin to call different people to plant more specialized cells.  But the common denominator is that all these cells are holistic in nature, there is a common training system and coaching structure in place.

This approach was very helpful in our startup phase and the first few years of our transition.

Comments?  Questions?  What has been your experience as far as types of cells in your system?


6 thoughts on ““Bread and Butter” Cells before Specializing

  • Great point, Michael, about STARTING with the focusing on holistic family cells in the beginning and then specializing as you noticed signs of health. Very important concept.

  • I have really learned a lot from the blogs this week! I pastor a small church with an avg Sunday morning attendance of 60. I have been leading a men’s cell group for a year now. My wife started one for women a couple of months ago. My group is experiencing a decline in participation mainly because we have not been “holistic” by focusing on all four aspects you mentioned. We have been inward and outward, but have struggled with the upward and forward! After reading Joel’s blog this week, I really feel that we need to bring the two groups together and have a mixed group that is truly “holistic”. Out of that group, we can begin to multiply leaders! I have been discouraged and frustrated, but now sense a new vigor and excitement!

  • Jay, it blesses me to know we have so many people who look to the insights and principles that we bring out in these blogs. What is nice about our bloggers is that we represent the whole spectrum of sizes of churches from start up to large, as well as years of experience in the cell church trenches. Feel free to call me if you want to talk and have someone to share ideas with. My e-mail is msove@allenmemorial.org and if you e-mail me I’ll give you my cell phone number if you’d like to talk or ask further questions.

  • I ran a mens cell group and my wife ran a womans cell group a while back (this was a good idea as either spouse could stay at home and look after our young kids while the other went to cell gatherings, and also it seemed our biggest problem points was always centred around our spouses which isn’t an wasy problem point to talk about in a more intergenerational gathering). However all the other acivities of our two cells were joint. So for example, we would have sociall gatherings to invite our unchurched friends to, that we all held together. We would socialise together, share love friendship and fellowship at other times. In essence we had one 24/7 cell (that’s what we called it, we did cell 7 days a week), but anyone who just looked at the way we ‘met’ would think we had two homogenous cells. Really they wouldn’t be seeing all the other stuff that was going on. For people trying to transition to cell chuch lifestyles, it’s easy to focus on how to organise our meetings, but in reality the more new testament our church lives get, the more intertwined and rich our relationships become.

  • Awesome, Iain thanks for sharing that. I always say it’s about doing life together more than about gatherings.

  • I can only concur with you. If a trasitioning church starts trying to introduce speicalised cells too soon it looses its impact and focus. We must make sure that the vision plus the 4 points mentioned are so grounded that whatever else comes will in itself be solid and will last. We have tried 2 specialist cells and both have fallen flat. I know that in time we can introduce these types of cells again.

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