The COVID-19 new normal is anything but normal when it comes to how we have typically been meeting in cell groups.
Of course, we can still gather through digital methods, but the virtual format is simply not the same. This has definitely affected my own life.
I had just joined a cell group in 2018 when I decided to become more serious with my faith. As a result of this pandemic, half of my cell group experience so far has been through Zoom.
One reason I initially stayed in my cell group was for the physical interaction with others. Hence, during this time I did wonder: What’s the point of being part of a cell group if it’s held online?
However, by choosing to continuously attend my cell group, I experienced benefits such as being able to stay in touch with a Christian community, receive support in these tough times, experience greater spiritual growth and step out of my comfort zone.
Such blessings made me realise that cell groups held online can still be tremendously impactful — and are especially important during this pandemic.
Here are 4 ways that my cell group has been helpful.
1. KEEPS ME CONNECTED WITH COMMUNITY
I will admit that meeting through Zoom feels a lot less personal compared to meeting face to face. However, there are not many other platforms to socialise with fellow Christians during this period.
Weekend church services only accommodate a limited number of people, and socialising during service is discouraged. Church events where we can make new friends and have fun with others are also no longer taking place.
Therefore cell groups have become one of the few ways to remain connected to the wider church community. For introverts such as myself, I would likely have become disconnected from my church without a cell group.
In fact, staying connected through cell group has become easier during this pandemic since meeting virtually eliminates the need to travel.
This added convenience has encouraged certain members who used to rarely show up to come for cell group much more often. As a result, I’ve gotten to know these cellmates better and have the opportunity to become closer to them.
2. PROVIDES SUPPORT DURING TOUGH TIMES
At every cell group meeting, we have the opportunity to share our prayer requests, and I have seen how God hears our prayers and provides according to His will (1 John 5:14-15).
For instance, I asked for prayer over my final-year project in school — for it to be successful even though I was working with completely new project mates and under all the COVID-19 restrictions. In the end, our group clicked well and the panel loved our project.
My cell group also occasionally conducts meetings for the specific purpose of catching up with each other. We take turns to talk about what has been happening in our lives and share any problems we face.
Thankfully, my cell group has been a consistent source of support.
Knowing that I am not the only one struggling during these times definitely creates a sense of togetherness. Within those sharing sessions, my cellmates also often chip in with helpful advice and provide different perspectives on the issues I experience.
Moreover, since they are fellow believers who share the same worldview, they have been able to empathise with my faith-based dilemmas and comfort me with God’s Word.
3. HELPS WITH MY SPIRITUAL GROWTH
There is a very real risk of our spiritual life stagnating during this pandemic since it has also affected other aspects of church life beyond how we attend services.
Many of the ways we used to participate in church ministries have been suspended. We can also no longer physically serve by going on mission trips.
Regularly attending cell group has fortunately helped me keep this issue at bay. Besides being a platform to connect with one another, weekly cell meetings are where I can dive deeper into God’s Word.
Unlike the weekend service where one sometimes struggles to not get distracted by the things happening at home, I find myself having to actively participate during cell meetings. This has the benefit of keeping me focused throughout.
Ever since we started conducting cell group through Zoom, my cell leaders have also used more online resources, such as eye-catching slideshows and YouTube videos.
In addition, my cell group is a safe environment for me to ask questions and discuss personal opinions on topics brought up during church service or the cell meeting itself.
All these factors have made every cell meeting engaging and fruitful despite being conducted online. As a result, my spiritual life has continued to grow.
4. CHALLENGES ME TO STEP OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE
Having cell leaders also provides me with role models I can emulate.
While face-to-face interactions before the pandemic helped me to see their godly character in action, I am still learning from them now as I observe how they tackle the unique challenges of leading the cell group through COVID-19.
Fellow cell members have also inspired me. For example, a cellmate recently took the initiative to try leading several cell meetings and share God’s Word. Watching him step up has made me more confident as the idea of leading cell meetings myself no longer seems impossible.
Even just regularly attending cell group has helped me become more sociable.
Having the option to turn off my audio and webcam caused me to often isolate myself during Zoom meetings at the beginning of the pandemic. But through constant encouragement to turn on my camera and speak up from cell leaders, I am definitely becoming more open.
At the end of the day, I understand that the lack of physical interaction can make cell groups seem unappealing in current times.
However, let us not give up on cell group by focusing on what it currently lacks. Let us focus instead on the beneficial aspects it has retained, and even that which we gained during this pandemic.
We should also remember that the Bible itself counsels us to “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
As for those who are currently not participating in a cell group, I hope you will give it a shot.
It may not be a great experience straight away, and you may not even stick with the first cell group you meet.
But if you keep persevering, I sincerely believe God will lead you to a cell group that is right for you. You will find that it will be a blessing to you, just as my cell group has been for me.
- What do you think is the purpose of a cell group?
- Are there any obstacles preventing you from joining or fully participating in a cell group? Who can you speak to?
- How can those of us in cell groups help support and sharpen one another during these times?