You might be a cell group leader reading this, fretting over that Bible study you have to write by tomorrow, in time for next week. You wonder if it’s just you, or is there anyone else whose cell group members never seem to RSVP for cell?
You might be a cell group member, wondering why on earth anyone would avail themselves to lead a cell group. Between the time and effort needed to prepare for a session, irregular attendance of cell group members, and all-round imperfection which makes you struggle to love your cell group – why would anyone want to do this?
How can the church congregation help, or encourage their cell group leaders? My friends, who are currently serving as cell group leaders (CGLs), have shared these thoughts with me.
5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT CELL LEADING
1. CELL GROUP TIME REQUIRES PREPARATION
Most of us are aware some planning is required before each cell group meeting – they don’t just happen on the spot – but what does this entail?
Cell group sessions usually consist of several components: Simple ice-breaker games, worship, some Bible or book study.
In some cell groups, these segments are delegated out to members to help out in. Part of cell group preparation thus includes the cell leader allocating members to take charge, while providing guidance. In the event that no one is available to help, cell leaders must be ready to run the show themselves.
Of course, it’s not as easy as delegation – cell leaders can be seen as the conductors of an orchestra. This means setting the vision and curriculum of the year, overseeing the running of each session and ensuring church-wide initiatives are carried out accordingly at cell level.
2. IT’S EXTREMELY CHALLENGING (BUT WORTH IT)
A huge challenge that comes with holding cell group is the acknowledgement that Singaporeans are busy, tired people who could use less “forced gatherings” within the week, as cell group appears to be.
The challenge is magnified when cell group members are also busy with their own ministry commitments, which, for example, may include leading their own younger cell group. Add in mentoring groups and personal ministry – and that’s hours of extra curricular activity every week.
In terms of human relationships, personality differences between members or even between a cell leader and his/her members also pose as a challenge. In this respect, submission to the leadership of the cell group leader is important, and likewise for two-way communication.
3. HERE’S WHAT ENCOURAGES CGLs
My cell group leader friends tell me that a cell group is an encouragement to their leader when they take fellowship, the study of God’s Word, and worship seriously. This manifests itself through devoting time to the Lord and reading Bible study material beforehand, where there are any.
Nonetheless, it brings them joy when cell group members grow deeper in love for God and for each other. While this is something I’m sure all cell group leaders look forward to, this comes with trust in God to facilitate the fellowship rather than reliance on personal strength.
It doesn’t have to be verbally saying “thank you” every single time, but even the act of showing up and being present makes a lot of difference to the atmosphere – and morale – of the cell group, and this makes leading that much more joyful.
4. REPLYING TEXTS GOES A LONG WAY
Attendance issues are a common challenge that cell group leaders face. This includes both the poor attendance of members, and the unresponsiveness of members in terms of indicating their attendance for the week, or even just responding to a “How can I pray for you?” text.
Cell group members ease the challenges of their leaders by simply responding to efforts to communicate. As cell group leaders, my friends find it helpful to know if regular members are not attending cell group that week.
As cell leaders, keeping updated on cell members’ lives are as important as having them attend cell group sessions. It takes time out of personal busy schedules to talk to a whole group of members individually – and having cell members reply and allow leaders into their lives is greatly encouraging.
5. YOUR CELL GROUP LEADER IS STILL YOUR FRIEND
A friend who leads a young adult cell tells me that on his birthday, his cell members wish him birthday blessings and thank him for being “a good cell leader” and for serving the church in this way.
In this respect, he acknowledges that it is good to express gratitude, but sees himself as more than his ministry roles or a position in church. Instead, he prefers to be thanked for being a friend to his cell group members – beyond his ministry, he appreciates being affirmed that his peers value his friendship.
To him, it is important that cell group leaders are supported in the same way that their members would towards other friends.
Taking into consideration my friend’s words, instead of solely thanking my former cell leader for his responsibilities and service to church, I thanked him for other things I appreciated – his hospitality in opening his place up for gatherings, generosity with time, and commitment to maintain the friendships in our former cell group, despite us being spread across different cell groups now.
Yet, despite of the multiple challenges faced, cell group leaders persevere in their call. Why?
In the words of a friend, there is “no way to just stop having cell.”
Another friend points me to Hebrews 10:24-25 to echo the same sentiment – these verses tell us that as Christians, we are to encourage love among each other and help each other persevere in the Christian life. To do this, we would need to meet together in order to spur each other on (Hebrews 10:24).
After all, there is no way for a cell group to be perfect, and cell group leaders don’t need them to be before they love and serve them.
If you have heartwarming stories on cell group or cell leading, we’d love to hear them.