MCRC chose to become a "Cell-Based Church", placing evangelistic small groups (“cells”) at the core of its ministry.
What is a "Cell"?
“Cells” are open, evangelism-focused small groups, aiming at multiplying itself, as the group grows through evangelism. "Cells" of the body of Christ, carry the DNA of the body of Christ, namely:
- The presence of the Spirit of the Risen Christ (Matthew 18:20; 28:20).
- Word of God
- Witnessing & Testimony
- Faith in the Risen Christ
- Service & edification by means of Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4)
- Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 6:22)
- Discipleship & evangelism (Matthew 28:19)
In our Church, a Cell consists of anything between 3 and 7 members, including a Cell Leader as facilitator of the activities of the Cell. For every 3 up to 7 Cell Group Leaders, the congregation selects an Elder to shepherd these Cell Leaders. For every 3 up to 7 Elders, the congregation calls a Pastor to shepherd these Elders.
We use the term, “Cell”
Because the Bible refers to the Church as an organism, named “the Body of Christ”. A cell is the smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of independent functioning. In nature, the total genetic package received from the parent is re-established in each daughter cell. This also occurs in healthy cells of the Body of Christ, and therefore in church cells.
The Heart of Cell-Based Ministry
The heart of Cell-Based ministry is evangelism, and that is the heart of Mansfield Christian Reformed Church. If God doesn't show up, it's all over. We have a passion for the lost, therefore we accepted as our mission, the Great Commission of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19). Our Cell Groups function like an evangelism net spread out over the entire City.
In order for you to experience healthy Cell-Based church life, your involvement in three relationships, is essential, namely Prayer, Discipleship and Evangelism.
- Prayer refers to our relationship with God. The only way to know God is by spending time with Him, by having a daily appointment with Him doing your daily devotions.
- Discipleship refers to our relationship with other believers, teaching them and being taught by them, to learn from Christ independently.
- Evangelism refers to our relationship with the unsaved. That is also one of the aims of Cell Groups… to reach the lost for Christ
In a Cell-Based Church like ours, ministry is taken out of the hands of a “chosen few”...
and placed in the lap of many. Everyone is therefore encouraged to participate in Cell Groups and use their spiritual gifts.
Cell Leaders mainly act as facilitators getting members involved in a process of inviting each other and new members to cell meetings, getting to know each other, caring for each other, visiting each other, praying for each other, feeding each other with God’s word, protecting, warning, guiding and keeping watch over each other, supporting and encouraging each other, and seeking those who stop attending.
Having said all this, you may feel that
- you’re not ready to participate in this process
- you don’t have the gift of evangelism
- you don’t have the necessary talents, experience or knowledge
- you’re too shy
We all need a healthy sense of inadequacy. We all, at some stage, ask, “How could God ever use me?”
The good news is that God uses those who are dependent on Him (2 Corinthians 12:9). You don’t need to be a superstar. God made you special. You can be successful just as you are. No one can do it quite like you. God uses the bubbly, shy, relaxed, anxious and all of the other personality types! Just be yourself.
Cell ministry is Team ministry
This kind of ministry is team ministry, and therefore takes advantage of the variety of gifts within the Cell…
including yours. It’s about “net fishing” as a group... rather than “hook fishing” as individuals.
Functioning of Healthy Cell Groups
When you’re invited to join a Cell Group for the first time, they’re not going to expect you to do anything.
You will find them meeting in a clean, comfortable, large enough and well lit home. They will probably rotate homes from time to time. They will possibly try not to use the Cell Leader’s home, in an effort not to add to his/her responsibilities to prepare for meetings.
When you arrive, members will be saying hello to each other, and you’ll be introduced to them. The Cell Leader will then wait for every one to take a seat, welcome them, and immediately invite them to participate in a minute of silent prayer. He will then invite those who would like to lead the rest in prayer, to continue to do so. After the prayer, he may ask a first question to the group:
- “Has anything happened to you during the last two or so weeks to make you realize that God is present in your life?”
- “What has the Lord taught you from his Word, during your daily devotions?”
- “Are there any problems you came across during your Bible study, or during your daily life that you would like to share?”
During this whole time you need not say a thing! No one will expect you to say or do anything… not until you feel ready to participate… even if it takes six months or a year! So don’t worry! Just enjoy the presence of the Lord. Experience the members ministering to each other using their spiritual gifts. Some may still be practising how to use their gifts, and others may still be assisted in the process of identifying their gifts.
Maintaining Order in a Cell Group
When you decide to participate, you can help the Cell Leader maintain order, by giving every one a chance to participate, by ensuring that everything that happens in the Cell is edifying and builds up the other members.
The length of a Cell Group meeting is important
We know that our members are busy people and that their time is valuable to them. We therefore suggest that our Cell Groups meet bi-weekly for one hour (preferably 7:30 pm on Tuesdays).
The “meeting after the meeting” is also important. It should not put the hosts of the Group in a difficult position! The provision of coffee, tea, food or snacks at Cell Group meetings may help create an atmosphere of fun and warm hospitality. It may actually facilitate the development of good relationships among members. It is not essential, though, and may actually waste valuable time. If provided occasionally, you will find it to be simple enough to ward off any sense of competition among those members who provide it.
Development Stages in a Cell Group
Like with every other group, we find several developmental stages in the life of a Cell Group.
- The first stage is the forming stage, during which the members get to know each other.
- The second stage is the storming stage during which the members take their masks off, and tend to confront each other with those attitudes and actions they are uncomfortable with.
- During the third stage, called the norming stage, members negotiate norms or unwritten rules according to which they are willing to work together, as well as the different roles each one will play in the group.
- During the fourth stage, the performing stage, the group is ready to focus on their goal, which is to worship and seek God’s presence (prayer), to guide each other in their spiritual growth (discipleship), and to reach out to others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (evangelism).
- The last phase in the life span of a Cell Group, is the multiplication (adjourning) stage. This is the stage during which the Cell has grown in numbers to the point where it becomes uncomfortable to communicate with each other effectively (more than 7 members), and where the core group of the Cell has reached an acceptable level of spiritual maturity, being able to learn from Christ independently, without the help of others. At this stage the original core group of the Cell multiplies by forming 2 core groups and one of the core groups start a new Cell.
It is important for both Cell Leaders and Members to support our local church mission and to embrace it as your own.
A lack of loyalty and commitment to God’s Word, our local church and our church leadership, can cause great harm to God’s people. Jesus Christ is the Head of our church and we all have to hold each other accountable to live according to His will.
The eldership of our local church has the ultimate responsibility before God for each cell member.
Accountability protects, and therefore we should all pray regularly with those who have spiritual oversight over us, and over whom we have spiritual oversight. You therefore have to share your concerns with the church leadership if there is anything you as Cell Leader or Member cannot support or consent to, and to pray with them about these things. Even if you have different opinions, or if you have a wrong spirit toward those in spiritual leadership, you have the responsibility to go to them and share your struggle with them.
Remember that unity does not necessarily mean uniformity, and that we are one in Christ, not necessarily always in our opinions. Where we invest our time, energy and money is where our true interest lie.
Tithing to our Local Church is therefore important!
In Malachi 3:10 the Lord says, “Bring the whole tithe… Test Me in this… and see if I will not… pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it…”