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How will they tell the difference?

Mike Schorah writes

"We’re always wondering how best to explain the difference between a cell group and the kind of small group or house group that many of us have belonged to in a range of churches. Eve MacInnes, one of our cell leaders, was praying and had some inspiration for the following "drama" which I’ll try to explain so you can use it, too. We presented it at one of our cell leader training evenings and have used it in several cells recently. It works and it’s fun!

"BTW, past experience suggests that it's more helpful for transitioning churches not to imply that all that went before in terms of small group experience was wrong. There can be some "four legs good, two legs bad" thinking as churches move from house group style to cell group life. We want people to hear and experience the life that cells bring, not to get offended by the way in which we present it, nor to get hung up over the terms we use...

  1. Take the members of your group and get them to stand.
  2. One of them represents your unchurched neighbour or the guy who comes to church occasionally or the member of church who has never really grasped what it’s about.
  3. Tell the others they are part of one potential style of small church group meeting in a home and get them to stand in a circle (with the unchurched guy sitting or standing outside the group).
  4. "This group loves meeting together each week for fun and Bible reading and prayer. The members appreciate the support they can give to one another if one is down…" Make it up as you go along, but get the circle to move closer and tighter together as you describe the group, link arms round each other’s back, rest heads on another’s shoulder to show the support…
  5. Pause and ask the outsider how he feels, whether he could join the group. Ask the group to look for the outsider (most can’t turn their neck far enough round to see him!) and how they would feel about having someone join their tight, cosy fellowship…
  6. Now stop and reform the group as a cell group, still with the outsider.
  7. This time, the cell members stand in a circle, but link their left hands in the centre of the circle instead of arms round each other’s back. (The star shape will now make you feel like you’re at a barn dance and there’ll be a lot of giggling!) Talk about how individuals gather together and link up as the Body of Christ in the Welcome part of the meeting; how they Worship (linked hands raised upwards symbolically); how they gather round applying the Word (linked hands turn palms upwards, still touching together). The group members can pray for one another as the Word is applied to the life of individuals in the cell (free hands can reach forward to touch/pray for others in the cell). But the meeting never ends without a focus on Witness (right arms are free to reach out symbolically and to draw the outsider in).
  8. Again, ask the outsider how he feels about the cell group, whether or not he could join, what’s attractive about it. Ask the cell group members how it feels to relate together and to relate to outsiders.

"Hopefully that’s enough for you to get the idea and to improvise with. We’ve experimented with this drama. Of itself it takes just five minutes, but one of our cells spontaneously rearranged the meeting to spend the next hour discussing together the implications and insights as those who’d been in church house groups for years suddenly began to realise how cells should be different.

"Another cell used this exercise at its first meeting, right after the Welcome and Worship and used it as a way in to describing and agreeing the kind of intimacy they wanted to work towards and to affirm their commitment to evangelism…"

This page was updated on 10 January 2001. Copyright © 2000 Cell Church UK Magazine. All rights reserved.
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