A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Is There A Problem With Cell Groups Again?

The concept of growth groups, connect groups, care groups, life groups, fellowship groups, small groups and home groups seems to have sprung out of good intentions as Christians wanted to know their Bible more and have fellowship in small groups meeting either in homes or some times small itinerant settings. The concept seems to have caught on in many evangelical settings. But is there a problem with this concept so far?

Robert Truelove recently made an interesting observation (with recommendations too) …

I’ve recently attended a few cell groups from other churches in my area. This experience has reminded me why these cell groups are typically a bad idea.  Don’t get me wrong, the social and relational aspects of a cell group are important and beneficial in the lives of many churches. When I say that cell groups are typically a bad idea, I am referring to they way we typically see Bible study done in these groups.

In the typical cell group, no one actually teaches. Rather, one person will moderate a conversation. The environment created is typically one wherein everyone is encouraged to share his or her opinion and all ideas are considered valid. Should another member of the group actually critique another person’s contribution to the discussion, he is seen as being divisive. Rather than promoting Biblical fidelity, the typical cell group is actually promoting relativism.

Where this is the trend in cell groups, I am convinced it were better that they were not even done. The benefits cannot outweigh the damage. However, cell groups meeting in homes can be highly profitable. What is needed is the reformation of the cell group philosophy. With that in mind, here are some thoughts to that end…

1. Cell group leaders need to be teachers. That is, instead of moderating a conversation wherein every idea must be seen as legitimate, they should actually teach sound doctrine. Questions will then replace opinions and the teacher can answer questions from the standpoint of Biblical authority.

2. Churches wishing to have an effective, biblical cell group ministry will have to invest in the training of men to led them. This is hard work, but it must be done. A cell group with a teacher that is unqualified is just as bad or worse than the cell group without a teacher.

We also have to train men in how to teach biblically. We have been victims of the relativistic approach to teaching so long that it is all too easy to slip back into that mode. To simply state a few propositions and then invite the group to have a “discussion” is no advancement in the positive reformation of the cell group.

“…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

3. Women have no business teaching a co-ed cell group, period! I’m rather short and blunt on this one because the scriptures are.

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man…” 1 Timothy 2:12

4. Our churches need to be confessional or at the very least have their doctrinal commitments well defined. Teachers need to be held accountable to the doctrinal standards of the sponsoring church. Those attending the group should know what these doctrinal commitments are. If they are disruptive in trying to promote views contrary to these commitments, they are informed that their opinions are contrary to the church’s confessional commitments (which had already been provided to each member up front). Further conversation with that member should be pursued outside of the cell group.

Excerpt from The problem with Cell Groups [HT Reformed Baptist Blog]


4 responses to “Is There A Problem With Cell Groups Again?

  1. Scripture Zealot August 4, 2011 at 19:17

    I am in the middle of this. I am in a group that is very valuable. The ‘teachers’ are pretty good even though they are part facilitators and part teachers. They spend a good amount of time in preparation. Sometimes I feel like “the doctrine/theology police” when things get a little off, but people say they really appreciate my input and wouldn’t want me to leave. As someone with anxiety disorders and very uncomfortable in groups in general, I just can’t be a teacher. I can’t talk too much or I get so agitated I have to go outside for a while. But this is more like a congregation church meeting than ‘church’ is for me.

    I get frustrated with the group sometimes, mostly the prayer time, which is a different story but nothing better has come along so I’m staying with it for now.

    I’d love to show this post to them but that wouldn’t go over very well.

    • Michael Acidri August 5, 2011 at 03:55

      I used to lead a cell group at one time but thinking of it now it was more of a tolerant discussion group. Every one’s ideas were “valued” and nobody was “wrong”. Everybody was right and I msut say it did alot to stroke egos and boost self esteem. Was it theologically sound? I’m hesitant to answer that bit. But I think there is room for improvement. Through cell groups I went on to know people on a deeper level than just acquaintances. We became involved in each others lives and had a closely knit bond as Christians. There were no facades, no masks and no pretences as we shared our lives in small groups. I dont think cell groups are bad or wrong. They have their pros and cons. In North Korea I think they have been the only form of church fellowship that the persecuted christians can get.

  2. Scripture Zealot August 5, 2011 at 05:19

    That leads me to the problem with prayer. Everyone asks for prayer for temporal things for other people. There isn’t really any way for me to know how to pray for these people on a spiritual level. And I don’t know why this is. We joined after it had been going for a few years. I ask for prayer for some of that stuff along with suffering related things, but it puts a lot of focus on me that I don’t like. It’s a fairly shallow group. I suggested a study on prayer that we did and then nothing changed.

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