by Rev. James Wong
The concept of cell group or life group is not a modern invention of the church. During the first two centuries of the Christian era church buildings did not exist at all. So Christians met in the homes of members.
In writing to his friend Philemon, Paul said in his letter, “to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home.” He also said to the Roman Christians, “please give my greetings to the church that meets in their home” (Romans 16:5 NLT). To the Colossians Christians Paul requested, “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house” (Colossians 4:15 NIV). So the early Christians met in the homes of believers and the churches were house churches.
When the church becomes more organized and structured and financially able, church buildings become necessary for corporate worship to hold a bigger congregation and to facilitate the smooth and effective development of church ministries. As the number of members of the church increases the relationship with each other becomes more and more superficial. Therefore the church must grow larger and smaller at the same time. It is necessary to structure the church with cell groups for the development of meaningful fellowship and effective outreach.
The two agendas of the cell group are as follows. Remember them.
1. Loving those who are within. This refers to loving those who are already Christians—those who have given their life to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV). The life group is an excellent setting for believers to love and care for one another. It is impossible to be a follower of Jesus Christ without consciously and intentionally loving another believer. The cell group is not there to entertain you but for you to love others.
2. Loving those who are outside. This refers to loving those who are non-Christians. God’s heart is always with those who do not know him. God has called us on a mission to share his love to those who are outside the church circle. This is how Jesus describe the joy of heaven when the lost sheep is found; “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7 NIV). The home setting provides a friendly environment for friends to drop by and have fellowship with us in a non threatening environment. But we need to be nice to people and invite them to our cell group.