I don’t know about you, but I have been in cell groups where I honestly didn’t feel close to anyone.
In better cases, I felt connected to the individuals in my group, but we were still somewhat “Friday friends” or “weekend friends” since we were only in each other’s lives for church-related activities and were not involved in one another’s lives outside of church.
We were only in each other’s lives for church-related activities and were not involved in one another’s lives outside of church.
Especially with our busy lives, it can be a challenge to keep up to date with one another — and attendance in some cell groups can sadly be irregular.
With how important Christian community is in spurring one another on in our faith (Hebrews 10:24-25), it is all the more important that good connections are established in cell groups.
It got me thinking: is there a better way forward? So, I spoke to some Christian peers to find out what their ideal cell group looks like, and how they think better connections could be fostered.
UNITY IS KEY
A common theme that emerged in the responses was the idea of unity.
Jost Png (23) of Trinity Christian Centre shared: “My ideal cell group follows that of Acts 2:42-47, with everyone together, everyone sharing, supporting and encouraging one another — and not just on weekends.”
It was an opinion that was reflected in other responses, like Tiffany Ho* (22) of New Creation Church who said: “My ideal cell group is one where it is a safe space for one another, with every member connected to the group and having a strong sense of belonging and trust.
“It would be a safe space not only to talk about raw life struggles, but also to have fun journeying in life together.”
“A cell group should consist of people we can go through life’s ups and downs with,” echoed Gloria Pang (22).
Indeed, true unity allows for a safe space where members feel comfortable to discuss deep and personal issues without hesitance. In such a community, contributing to the group comes out of a sincere heart, as each person’s effort motivates others to do likewise.
Where there is unity, there is trust and belonging. So, even if the people in the group changes each year or every few years, there would still be a sense that everyone is in this for the long-haul.
Thankfully, such a community is possible! I first experienced such a sense of unity when I joined the Navigators at 17.
We would spend time together as friends over Bible study, food and sports. It was an enjoyable time, especially because it was a community that I felt close to. In an otherwise non-Christian environment, being part of the Navigators gave me a spiritual community while at school.
Then, when I graduated and entered the National University of Singapore, I continued to journey with the Navigators in my new school. While the club was much bigger in university, I felt at home right away.
It was like living out Acts 4:32.
While we were all unique individuals, there was synergy between all of us — one founded on the same desire to grow in our relationship with God and to share His love with others.
As I’ve spent time reflecting and speaking with my peers, I’ve come to see two ways (though there are surely more) we can partner with God to bring unity to our cell groups.
1. Know what is the purpose of the group
The core purpose of the cell group is for its members to grow in their faith. Being with like-minded Christians should encourage members in their personal walk with God.
Yet, this purpose can sometimes be forgotten, turning the cell group into a casual hangout group where members come together solely to socialise and have fun.
Socialising and having fun aren’t wrong, but with the main purpose lost, individuals may end up attending infrequently since they see themselves as part of just a “social group” after all.
Furthermore, a lack of synergy in the absence of a strong uniting purpose could lead to a weak sense of belonging.
But if we understand what the group is truly for, it changes the way we engage and interact in it.
Have you been attending your cell group with a heart full of purpose and intention, excited at what God might do through your participation? I’m sure such a spirit would be a catalyst for change.
When we really understand the purpose of our cell groups, and share a common desire to grow with one another in faith, there can be a huge difference!
2. Take initiative
Beyond that, take the initiative to schedule meetings with your cell group members during the week. Make this a regular thing.
Wong Siqi (26) of Hope Church shared, “My best cell group was in university. Everyone was very close — and everyone took initiative.
“If someone had been absent for a while, others would check on the person. It was just natural, and it was not just the leader that cared for the group. There was good synergy.”
She also shared about how different people in the group planned different activities, and how this meant that there was something for everyone.
If you’re a student and there isn’t time in the semester, why not start in the holidays?
Take the initiative to become real friends with your cell group members. Get someone who’s on board with this idea. Together, encourage the whole group to catch this same heart.
Change might not happen immediately, but you can be the catalyst!
* Name has been changed for confidentiality.
THINK + TALK
- What would your ideal cell group be like? Are there any biblical models you could look to for ideas?
- What’s your cell group actually like right now? What are some areas for improvement there?
- Naming each member, lift up your cell group to God in prayer.
- Now, what is one practical thing you can do this bring about this improvement?