January 19, 2004
Question: How do we fulfill our purposes in our cell group if our one-weekly group meetings are pretty much our only connection? When can we share our visions, plan outreach together, etc? How do we love each other when we're not "at church"?
I'm wondering... in the house churches in Acts (and maybe in places today like in China) how were the groups formed? Considering people mostly walked, wouldn't these churches be mostly comprised of people "in the neighborhood"? So they'd be living close together and could see each other often. Wouldn't that make a difference?
It says in the Bible that they met daily. Is our once-a-week mentality a problem? It also says they ate together, shared all they had. I don't think that meant occasional potlucks, somehow! How far do we need to go in imitating early churches? And yes, I'm quite sure they were busy people; most likely they had to work from sunrise to sunset just to survive. After all, it was NOT the rich who generally came to Jesus.
What about people being saved daily? How long do we have to "build" our little group before we can go out? And why is our going out apparently an individual thing? It looks to me that the early Christians - even the disciples while Jesus was still on earth - went out at least two-by-two or in larger groups. (It sure works for Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. Why not for us?) This is where mentoring or discipling works: a practiced, seasoned Christian soul-winner taking a new convert along, maybe not just on special occasions but on as many diffferent regular daily occasions as possible, to role model in action. Classes on soul-winning have their place, but seeing it really happen - that creates true longing and enthusiasm to do it yourself!
I wonder how we would feel about selling our property and possession to share with all the church family? Wouldn't that be a "shake-'em-up" proposition!
How do we have "one mind" when we only see each other briefly once or twice a week? How do we really get to know each other? Doesn't the enemy just fill our lives with busy-ness so we "can't" work, play, study, eat, worship together more often?
I don't even know basic things about the people in my cell group, like what their job is, what kinds of major burdens they carry, what financial needs they have. But from the few things I've picked up, I find myself asking questions like:
- Why does that man have to work 12 plus hours a day, 6 days a week? How is that impacting his wife and his little girls? Is there some way we could help him out so he could have a bit more family time? Could we share some money, or do a bit of his job, or anything?
- What can we do for the single mom in our group who is running her own business while raising her children? How could we help her? Give her a break?
- What about the person who has a great vision, and longs to serve the Lord, but is being held back by spouse and/or family?
- What about marriages that are in trouble?? How do we help and support in practical ways?
- How can we expect people in positions like the single working mom, to go out and evangelize when they are overwhelmed, just barely surviving day to day living?
- Are there other people in my group as lonely as I am? How do we really get to know each other, share together? How do we get "together" as the early church did (Acts 2:44)?
- Our church is already considered to be radical and pro-active, in a sense, for starting cell groups and so on, but how far are we as Christians actually prepared to take that? Are we willing to truly "give up all things" for Christ? Do we have any inkling of what that could mean? How many of us have been genuinely hungry? or beaten, or imprisoned for Christ's sake? or any of those other things where "suffering for Christ" could take us?
How can we prepare ourselves for what Christ might ask of us? I'm wondering... should we maybe start right now in our cell groups by actually doing some of those things the early church did? I have to ask myself: am I willing to sell my car, for example, to help out a family who is struggling financially? Or give up a full day or more a week to babysit for free for a single mom who is trying to support her family on minimum wage? Or invite a family who has just lost their home due to unemployment, to move in with my family until they find work?
- What does it really mean to put on the mind of Christ?
- What about integrity? If we "commit" to a cell group, what does that mean - in terms of attendance, participation, giving our tithes and offerings, loving each other actively?
- How do we help each other in times of trouble or in overcoming and defeating temptation when we don't even know those kinds of things about each other? How do we even come to trust each other enough to share those kinds of things? And if I share them do I have any kind of assurance that people in my group will even have time or inclination to do more than say a quick prayer (important as that is)? If not, why would I even bother to take the chance of exposing myself? How far will I go?
- I'm also wondering: when people take courses or do Bible studies, how do they take that back to their group? How do they share what they have learned, and how does the group help them put it into practice? Or is there that kind of connection at all?
- It is important for me to know my gifts and passions and such - but is it not also important for that to be shared with the group - the church - so that all gifts can be used to build the body (Acts 6:1-6)?
- How can we go out and bring in new people, unsaved people or brand new converts, when we are too busy to even know and love each other beyond our 1 1/2 hours per week at our cell group and the 1 1/2 hours per week at the church service? Yes, the cell group is more intimate than the larger church service, but with the "schedule" (x minutes to worship, x minutes to pray, x minutes to study, and finish for sure by x o'clock) are we quenching the Spirit? How do we get around this(recognizing the need for sleep, people's jobs, etc)? Is meeting once a week for 1 1/2 hours exactly, the pattern Christ intended? How do we move beyond that? Can we intentionally (to get people started) "book" meals together in each others homes, make "dates" to go out and evangelize in small groups, etc?
- Why are our special events always fun activities like potlucks or progressive dinners or pool parties? When can we study the Word together? When can we help each other in practical ways? Why, when we get together for potlucks and such, do our conversations center around the weather, politics, etc, but rarely on the Lord? Why do we seem to feel that a testimony of God's goodness is not as great a conversation topic as is the weather?
- Oh, and do we really feel comfortable bringing new people to our groups? Will they be welcomed if their language or appearance might not be a "good influence on our children"? Will they feel comfortable in our nice middle class homes? Why do we want our meetings held in nice big homes? How does that make people feel who really want to share their home, small and simple as it might be? Why is it bad to not have enough chairs so some people have to sit on the floor?
- Why is it bad to not have a play room for the children (and why must children be separated and entertained? I'll bet that didn't happen in the early church family! Do we even do that to our family at home? Are we just buying into the world's day-care mentality? Are we aware that schools and day-cares were set up (and continue) with the express purpose of separating children from the influence of their parents' old-fashioned religious superstitions, and making them obedient to the state, rather than to their parents and to God?)
- And what about our seniors? They're not the "focus" of our church, okay (we're interested in young families, according to the church leadership), but what do we do, then, for wisdom, mentors, etc? And have we accepted the government social net in place of our responsibility? Should we take it back, or do we just figure that our taxes cover it (of course they don't, at least not sufficiently).
- How willing are we to truly put on the mind of Christ, the principles of scripture - and truly face up to and analyze - and cast off - the worldly principles which go against the word of God (Col 2:8)?
- How can I go and tell others the good news of the gospel when I'm not even really having the opportunity to share my life message (my testimony, the vision God has given me, my life lessons, my Godly passions, the Good News of salvation) right in my own family and in my cell group?
- What does it really mean to live a "purpose-driven life? Can I say for myself, and can my cell group and church say for themselves, that everything I/we do is to worship God, to be part of and love God's family, to become like Christ, to serve God by serving others as He has purposed for me/us, to go on mission and tell others about our God? Is everything I/we do, done for God's glory? Or it is for my own comfort? Have I put on the mind of Christ, or am I still wrapped up, without even realizing it, in the wicked principles of this world? Am I constantly humbling myself, praying, seeking God's face, turning from my wicked way, so that I can then obey the Great Commission to go, to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey, go, make disciples, obey...?
I believe that our cell groups are a great biblical idea, a great starting point, but how far are we willing to go with them to fulfill God's purpose, God's vision, that God's Kingdom will come and God's will be done? How far will I go?