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 Sandy needs a solution
 The Member Everyone Dislikes

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touchadmin Posted - 08/28/2003 : 05:02:55
There is a member in Sandy's group that is obnoxious. He interrupts others during the meeting, crunches potato chips during worship, and makes fun of people when they share needs, saying things like "Why do you always wear your heart on your sleeve? You're making a mountain out of a mole hill. Grow up and learn that life's not fair."

Outside the meetings, he's non-existent, unless the group has a party, and then he shows up to eat everything in sight, offend a few people and stay at the host home long after everyone else has left.

What process would you suggest to Sandy to help this obnoxious person and what, if anything, would you say to the other members of the group, who are unhappy about his actions?

Randall Neighbour
Forum Administrator
12   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
adeno Posted - 08/12/2004 : 04:54:25
I would make it clear that the cell is about edification and evangelism. eg. asking, "Was that said to encourage Bob?" That way, not only are you setting a standard, you are also vocally stating that you question his motivations. It is important that other cell members see this because you are protecting the sheep.
This sort of a person needs to be shown love, and sometimes, that comes with discipline, if things really become bad. Talk one on one and share your heart.
If this persists over time, I would focus on those who want to grow and invest my time there. I think it would be wiser to spend time on those middle 60% who want to grow into the top 20% than to exhaust energy on the bottom 20% who do not want to go anywhere. Further, you can share the responsibility of looking after this person with the top 20%.
God will reward us according to how we use the resources given us -time and people.

Inspire a fire!
touchadmin Posted - 02/08/2004 : 15:12:29
It would seem that everyone is reacting to Ralph Neighbour's use of the word "screen" when discussing the Journey Guide interview he always has with new members as their cell leader.

I don't think he meant to use the word "screen" as to weed out the bad eggs... I think it was more of a "find out who they are and how to minister to them and know where they're coming from."

As this thread's administrator, I'd really love to see as many posts that answer the question posed in the original post... enjoy the comments made by others in response so far, but I urge you to stop, think about what you've done that works or that didn't work with a member that everyone has grown to dislike, and post it. This would be really, really helpful to the hundreds who will read this thread in the coming months and years.

Thanks for posting your gameplan for the question "how should we deal with a member everyone dislikes?"

Randall Neighbour
Forum Administrator
Link H Posted - 02/08/2004 : 08:53:33
My perspective is a house church one, in which the home meeting is a church, and should do everything a church does. I suppose if one sees a cell group as a specialized study group-- e.g. reading the purpose driven life, etc.-- then the situation is a bit different.

But if you think of a home group as a church, does it make sense to screen people to keep them out of your church? People in Corinth were getting sick and dying for no regarding the body of Christ. The idea of excluding someone from fellowship (unless they are unrepentant sin) because they don't 'fit' with the rest of the group doesn't sit well with me.

My experience is that God sometimes has put me with people that I wouldn't choose yourself. People with different perspectives, personalities, and opinions, who can make you uncomfortable, and then you rub rough edges off of each other. Of course, house churches are often set up with less deliberate strategizing than cell groups.

If you do screen the group, and come up with the perfect match, what do you do when the group begins to grow organically to include uncomfortable people? What do you do when a home group members funky rapper cousin whose been living on the street gets saved and starts attending, and you have to deal with helping him with the mess he's made out of his life? What do you do when you get people who don't fit with the make-up of the group? Do you shuffle them off to a cell group for misfits, away from the home group of the spiritual parents who led them to the Lord?

James Bell Posted - 01/16/2004 : 16:28:52
Rick, that is a good point. One of the "difficult cases" I had to learn to love and minister to is now one of our best cell leaders.
Ron Ressler Posted - 01/16/2004 : 08:16:09
I think it's absolutely essential that, as a leader, you ask God to let you see again how madly in love He is with this difficult person. Pray fervently for them, as a parent for a lost child. This will change HOW you relate to them, not only in private discussions, but in the group as well. This will model a godly response for the group, and help them in their reactions as well.

This will create a wonderful foundation to begin to minister deeply to this person.
bree Posted - 11/20/2003 : 14:02:48
Behaviour thats distracts and disrupts the other members of the cell group that are there to learn, is not acceptable. I have a couple members who don't pay attention to the lesson and distract the other members, at the end of our meeting I often take time out to remind the WHOLE group the reason we are all there, and tell them the importance of the meeting. I make it very clear that this behaviour will not be accepted, and that it is unfair for the whole group, who gather together to learn the word of god, and reflect. In the begining it happened often, but since I have expressed my felliings it happens less and less. I also take those specific people aside and discuss with them if there is anything that they need to talk about or are having a hard time with so we can try to solve the problem. This has made changed the way they look at the cell group and they come and appreciate what they are learning.

James Bell Posted - 10/20/2003 : 02:03:21
Often this kind of "agitator" is actually insecure and needing some attention. Sometimes I will let that kind of person read the scripture text, lead in the opening prayer, serve the coffee, etc. just to get some attention directed to him (or her). If that fails, I will have that "private talk" some of you are referring to.
smalltownohio Posted - 10/09/2003 : 22:20:37
I must admit to being a bit in the dark regarding the whole screening process.

As in my situation, the people in my cell group were "passed on" to us because no one else wanted to deal with them (this is my opinion, although our mentor leaders came as close as they've ever come to admitting it). They are a very emotionally, financially, spiritually needy couple. They also happen to be mentally challenged, and need all the help they can get.

Wouldn't screening lead to "cliques?" And don't we want to avoid that?

Can someone explain the reasoning behind screening? There may be more to this than I am able to see.


Who Posted - 08/31/2003 : 16:51:20
Hello, well I'm not sure how you guys run your cells, but for exclusive selection is not the aim of cells, all that will create is a holy huddle which for me is very unhealthy.

First question to ask yourself, is this person a Christian, if so well then u need to get him aside and chat to him about is behaviour, present him with biblical truths, rememeber this is not a slating session of telling him everything thats wrong it's a time to point to how he should be acting.

Second question is he unsaved
Cells are about multiplication, how do we multiple, buy people bringing their unsaved friends, and then getting them saved. If he is not saved, keep that in mind, if u try to exclude him it can only make things worse, he could turn from Christ, so have grace.

For any situation its never a simple straight forward solution, because there are often so many differing circumstances, so my advice needs to be weighed up accordingly. I encourage also to speak to other older cell leaders in your church who've been running cells for ages, they've been thru similiar circumstances, everyone does.

Hola Who
athanasius Posted - 08/28/2003 : 21:57:06
I guess with 35 views and only two responses, when the man answers who can argue, eh? No offense, Uncle Ralph, I mean that with all due respect.

I guess I have a different take on things....but only slightly different. I think there's more to it than "screening incoming members". To me, and I may be misinterpreting the phrase, but that carries with it a certain exclusionary high-bar. Taken to its logical extent, this could create a small group where one would be expected to already have achieved a certain (high) level of transformation before one can really be "in". We screen people to make sure they can live and play well with us. In other words, we just don't allow people who don't fit "this" criteria to be a part of our lives. Now, I certainly don't think that you, Uncle Ralph, or any others, would boldly make that statement. I think we would all certainly agree that we are to include the unlovable to help them experience the real transformation that is available in Christ-centered, Biblical Community.

However, I think we have to be careful that our "evaluation" of the proposed member isn't a tool for exclusion, but a tool to receive warning about issues that might arise in Cell Group life and how one can help the person grow in that area. We're extending the Kingdom of God...not building a homogenous club.

I know the previous post may have had that as an intended meaning, but it certainly didn't come across that way. Your answer to the "now what can you do?" question seems, to me, to be what we are called to do...not if the process fails...but when the process is being successful. That's exactly the job to which we are called.

Now let me address the original quesion and post. To answer the original question, I would welcome the opportunity to take them aside and teach them a bit about family. Perhaps this person acts this way because the only familial experience he's ever known behaves this way. I would invite him over more frequently, outside of the Cell Group meeting context, to allow him to take part in my own family. He can experience the way WE relate. Perhaps this would be a great time for Sandy to begin having this guy over for dinner with her family. I know you said he doesn't show up at much outside of the group meeting, but who can refuse a personal invitation to dinner and a movie with a family? If he refuses...continue to ask. Wear the guy down!

I would also begin talking with him to find out (covertly) what inner needs he might be seeking to fulfill by his behaviour and find good, credible, constructive ways to point him to healing and fulfillment of those needs. What has he experienced in the past that has contributed to his inability or lack of desire to really connect with people? What is he afraid of? Rejection? Is this some form of defensive detachment?

As far as other people are involved, I would probably have a standard response about how we all have areas of needed growth and maturity, and they best thing they can do for this guy is to model responsible, compassionate behavior, while holding him accountable for his actions. In other words, if he pops off in group time, address it in group love. I addition to this, I would certainly speak with the natural leaders in the group and explain the situation to them and ask them to make an intentional effort to come along side of me and help me in this venture. Guys like this DEFINITELY require a group solution. NO ONE should take this guy on alone. It will ONLY produce burnout. This guy needs a family...not a solo artist.

That's my humble, but accurate, opinion. (meant jokingly)

Anyone else have any nuggets of wisdom? Anyone else have any first hang experience with a successful venture like this?


contra mundum
touchadmin Posted - 08/28/2003 : 10:40:37
Hey, Pop! Thanks for getting the ball rolling. Any feedback for Ralph or additional thoughts about Sandy's obnoxious member?
Ralph Posted - 08/28/2003 : 08:55:42
Screening incoming members of a cell group is very important. I once said to a Cell Leader who came to me about a problemed person like this, "You deserve each other!" No one comes into a cell group unless they were invited. A personal interview with each incoming cell member is built into the Equipping Track I have written. The Journey Guide gives opportunity to evaluate. Did you skip that?

Now, what can you do? Set some standards for completing the Equipping Track under a solid Christian who will bond to this person and meet on a weekly basis. If the individual is so half-hearted that attendance only takes place when food is present, there is no heart commitment to the cell.

As far as the crude remarks, that is simple. Get him in a private place and express that edification is a word that means "build up." The first problem with this person's deportment is that he does not understand the ground rules of loving care for others. Sometimes a head-on discussion is the best way to handle bad behavior.

Ralph Neighbour

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