Isn’t Cell just another name for small group? Well a cell is a small group but a small group is not a cell. Cells are unique in that they have only one function. Just like cells in the body, they grow and then multiply. They don’t stop, they keep growing and multiplying. Growth is exponential. Cells in the church context, grow by discipling. They disciple those who are followers of Jesus who then reach out to others who are not. They become followers of Jesus, are discipled and repeat the process. When the cell becomes too big for the members to successfully disciple each other, the cell multiplies so that more people may become followers of Jesus.
Evangelism and Discipleship are the two key components of cell life. Without the presence of both components, the cell will eventually die. Cells are not new, they were the basic building blocks of the new testament churches and are simply the most effective way for us to reach our communities.
The problem with the above reasons is that they don’t give long-term foundational strength. God has shown us that theology must guide our strategies-and not the other way around. So what are the core theological reasons for doing cell church? Allow us to share three important ones:
1. The Trinity
Our God is a social God! He lives in relationship with the other members of the Trinity. God is not an independent, lone ranger. Individualism might be the cultural norm in the western world, but God loves community and unity (think of all the one-anothers in the Bible). One of the key values of cell church is that people need to live in community rather than hide in anonymity. The intimacy of a cell group encourages people to know and be known.
The Trinity is also an outreaching God. Evangelism flows from His very heart. God’s will is to reach lost people through His Son, Jesus, and the church is His instrument to make it happen. The cell church encourages each member to reach out through relational evangelism. Cells expect all members to develop relationships with non-Christians because such activity reflects the heart of God.
2. Priesthood of all believers
It’s quite easy for people to sit in church. Some churches grow large through filling pews. Yet, Scripture teaches that all believers are priests. Cells value the participation of every believer.
Part of the priesthood of all believers is the use of spiritual gifts. The books, The Spirit-filled Small Group and Discover by Joel Comiskey, talk about how cells are the best atmosphere for spiritual gift use. In fact, all of the New Testament gift passages were written to house churches. Cell churches are rediscovering this important truth.
3. Making disciples
Christ’s last command to His disciples was to make disciples of all nations. I believe the essence of cell ministry is making disciples who make disciples. Cells are leader breeders and the best place to prepare disciple-makers. Multiplication is at the heart of cell ministry because new cells provide the environment for making new disciples.
Large, growing cell churches or church planting movements are often highlighted. But such examples shouldn’t be the main reasons for doing cell church. The best reason is because cell church promotes key theological concepts and brings glory to the living God.