Home Cell Ministry
We need to be clear about why we have home cells, otherwise like any other ministry without direction, it becomes ineffective, often carried out just because it’s always been done. Furthermore, this small-group type ministry can be such a powerful ministry tool in the life of the church, by virtue of its size - able to achieve things not possible when the whole church meet together. Therefore it is a ministry in our church that we need to give much attention.
'Home cell' indicates that its place is primary in achieving all the growth aims of the church. The church is the body of Christ i.e. like a living organism The word 'cell' picks up on this idea of life and growth. Specifically, spiritual growth is encouraged through the range of activities that take place: family development, prayer, bible study, fellowship, exercise of gifts etc. Numerical growth is achieved as it is a place of care, and a home environment where one can comfortably bring saved and unsaved friends. So the whole idea of growth - spiritual and numerical, is conveyed through the name.
Also, as a 'cell' it is understood that each HC is not a separate church i.e. they function as a smaller part/ cell of the local church/body.
The overall goal of HC's is to strengthen the body of Christ
The function of home cells will fall within the framework of the overall philosophy of our church. This philosophy being that the church is the family of families. Meaning that the church grows especially through families. Thus strong families = strong church and v.v. Therefore the HC's need to have an overall emphasis on strengthening families and becoming an extended family for those without (e.g. widows, singles).
This would be achieved through the following taking place in the HC's:
- Personal spiritual growth through the study of God’s Word and mutual accountability
One of the major purposes must be that all individuals learn from God’s Word by means of structured, interactive discussions, using approved material. The teaching role can be allocated to one person, or can be rotated amongst a group of gifted individuals within the group. In addition to the study of God’s Word, prayer is an important component in spiritual growth, since it increases faith and dependence, involves one in the wider work of the Kingdom of God, etc. Worship in song could also feature, where a growing appreciation of who God is and what he has done can find expression.
- Mutual edification
Love for one another needs to take place within the group which is small enough to be aware of one another’s needs. The leader / leadership couple (or another delegated gifted couple) must set an example in this. Open up their homes, care, encourage, counsel if need be- but referring major needs to the church leadership.
At a practical level one would expect all the group members to assist at times of illness with meals, etc. This would also keep all the responsibility for care from falling just upon the church staff.
It is important that members interact with one another in such a way that friendships develop and they become involved with one another’s lives. Only in this way will effective care and spiritual growth take place. Having coffee after the meeting or organising extra social events will provide more opportunity for this interaction to take place.
- Family support and development
The members can assist young families through guidance, experience, and in practical assistance in areas such as baby-sitting. Help can be especially given to single parents, working and trying to maintain family life; fathers can invite children of divorce to recreational activities etc.
This would also be especially important for those without the support of families e.g. widows or an elderly couple. Single adults should also find a home away from home.
- Development of individuals’ gifts
If we want individual’s to develop their God-given gifts, then the small group is the safest and least-threatening arena in which to do this. Once identified, they can either be used in the group, be available for the start of a new group, be linked to similarly gifted persons in the church, or be given wider opportunities in the church. One of the duties of the group leader should be to ensure that opportunities are created for individuals to discover their gifts and to exercise them. At the same time feedback should be provided to the church leadership so that they, in turn, can use these gifted individuals. Thus HC's can be a great training ground for future church leaders and a place where the ministry of all believers can be practiced.
- Encouraging intergenerational groups
Ideally, groups should be structured such that there is a diversity of age groups. The biblical model / God’s design for passing on the faith and discipleship, is from the older generation to the younger generation in the context of the church “One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.’ (Ps 145:4); and in the context of families “…he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children not yet born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Ps 78:5b-7)
Secondary purposes might be
Groups might be constituted with the specific intention of reaching out to unsaved friends and neighbours. These groups might be short-term, but might subsequently develop into small groups of their own.
- Specialized teaching or care
It might be desirable to constitute short-term cell groups with a specific focus – parents, newly marrieds, those contemplating marriage, singles, divorcees, etc. However, these should not substitute in the longer-term for integrated, intergenerational groups.
So each HC needs to be seeking to fulfill these purposes. It’s not enough, for example, to just be studying God’s word together. A conscious effort needs to be made. Which will require commitment and initiative from the leader. And members should be aware of the commitment they have to one another in being part of such a group.
Finally, each HC must be careful not to become isolated. They must maintain integration with the larger life of the church.
'Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.'