Take Your Cell Groups To The Next Level

by Scott Boren

More than a few churches are staunch believers in cell groups and have even developed some in their churches. But they have yet to see the cell group growth that churches around the world are seeing. This has led some to say that cell groups won't work in America. Some have even given up on the vision. Others have stuck with cell groups, but they have sought far and wide for a new cell group structure they can copy.

Many churches have falsely assumed that if they adopt the "right" cell group structure, the groups will automatically grow. But as Mark Eliot of Faith Promise Church (a church with over 90 cell groups in Knoxville, TN) states, "There is no magic bullet." You will not find THE perfect formula for doing groups in your church. God is too creative for that. He wants to raise up an organic cell group structure that fits your church so that the groups will touch their "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth."

While there is no magical structure that will transform your groups from mediocrity, the churches that have taken their groups to the next level share a few common elements:

First, these churches understand the difference between programmic cell groups and spiritual community in cell groups. Programmic cell groups look a lot like spiritual communities, but the feeling is very different. Programmic groups meet once per week. They discuss the Word. Members pray for one another. But the routines have become routine. In spiritual community, the group members participate in creative spontaneity that is ordained by the Spirit of God. People get set free from personal struggles and nonbelievers receive Christ. Cell group meetings are only a form to help promote spiritual community.

Second, these churches have an intentional plan for training new cell group leaders. They train them in two areas: how to lead great cell group meetings and how to minister to group members between the meetings. New cell leaders require training in how to facilitate a meeting, how to ask good questions, how to prepare for the meeting, etc. (See Cell Group Leader Training by Scott Boren and Don Tillman for practical ways to train your cell group leaders.)

Third, these churches have developed regular support meetings that serve as an encouragement for current cell group leaders. These meetings range from dinners with awards ceremonies to doughnuts and discussion an hour before the Sunday service. Regardless, the churches that do the best job of growing cell groups do this on a monthly basis.

Fourth, these churches have developed coaches that support, mentor, and oversee the cell group leaders. In fact, the most important component for taking your groups to the next level is that of coaches. There is no one way to set up a coaching system. In some churches, the coaches oversee as many as twelve cell group leaders. In others, they limit the number to three.