by Daljit Gill (filling in for Rob Campbell, who is on sabbatical; Daljit is the cell champion at CityLife Church)
Here in CityLife Church, Melbourne, Australia, we presently have over 500 LifeGroups and that number is growing. Our goal is to reach 540 by end of this year.
We maintain a high emphasis in the church by encouraging everyone to come for one celebration meeting in a week and to attend a life group.
We embrace the majority of values of a cell-based church. In other words, nothing competes with cells (life groups). We are a two winged church, consisting of cells & celebration.
We are totally convinced that Life groups are the very heart of the church and have never deviated from this. The Senior Minster has always been totally supportive to any suggestions I have made. He is the driver from the platform and the vision caster â€“though my role is to make things happen. Our Life groups are based on 4 primary purposes:
- Life groups are CARE groups
- Life groups are DISCIPLE-MAKING groups
- Life groups are MINISTRY groups
- Life groups are OUTREACH groups
Once a year we evaluate the effectiveness of our grousp based on these 4 core purposes.
Our groups are encouraged to use the weekend sermons as discussion material. Often the senior pastor (or whoever is preaching) will generate the the sermon discussion notes with a one-page summary of the sermon followed by 4 to 6 small group discussion questions. This material is posted on our website (leaders section) where life group leaders are able to access the material. We have a library of such material dating back some 10 years!
There are numerous benefits of using the weekend sermon discussion as the cell material, and I would strongly encourage pastors to lean towards this style. Just to name a few, here are some of the benefits:
- It aligns the church celebration meetings & small group (cell) meetings. It’s the 2-winged principle, where one supports the other
- It helps take the load off our leaders, so they don’t have to hunt for material or wonder what to do and what questions to prepare.
- It spurs the people towards the vision of the church, as they now can discuss the message a second time and re-emphasises some of those values.
- It causes the preacher to think about bringing a ‘practical’ application to the message.
- It brings about life change and discipleship to a higher level as there is now an accountability needed on the part of the members.
- It creates an enthusiasm and a desire in people’s lives– especially if the message is a provocative one and people just can’t wait for their next life group meeting as they want some of their questions answered.
- It draws people to the Life group and causes an increase in attendance level. And last, but not the least;
- It creates a desire for people who are not in a group to now want to join a group because they don’t want to be left out.
Besides sermon discussion material, we also provide a ‘resource library’ at our ‘cell centre’ to all our leaders, especially for homogenous groups who may need specific material on marriage, parenting, etc. We believe that all Life groups should use the weekend sermon discussion notes as ‘cell material’ regularly. We do understand that a number of churches require their small groups to do this at every meeting, but for our groups we also allow for some flexibility. We also like to release our leaders to bring something that they have prepared, some of their own creativity to their meetings. This allows the leader room for personal growth and maturity through studying the word and preparing a discussion. Bottom line is : a growing leader = healthy group.