For all the years I’ve been attending cell group, I always saw myself as nothing more than just a “normal” cell member.
And as a “normal” cell member, the only role I thought I had to play was the role of receiving.
That meant receiving encouragement from other members of my cell group, receiving guidance from my cell leaders and receiving more knowledge of God’s Word.
But over time, as my cell group grew and dynamics began to change, I began to feel like I was receiving “less” than before.
Soon, I grew disheartened and I started to question what the purpose of a cell group was as well as what my purpose was in it.
At the same time, In my own quiet time with God, I was reading the book of Philippians where I saw Paul’s great love for the Philippi church.
Looking at Paul’s love and hope for that community, I began to see greater purpose in my own small group and gleaned some insight as to what my role and purpose might be within it.
Paul’s teachings also revealed to me that I had to shift my perspective when it comes to cell group, from being just a place for receiving – to seeing it as a community I can serve in.
So let me share some takeaways from my time alone with God. I’ll put this in terms of 4 questions any “normal” cell member can ask him or herself.
And if you really wrestle with the questions, you’ll definitely come to see how a “normal” cell member can still contribute.
1. WHERE’S YOUR TRUST IN?
I quickly realised that most of my disappointments stemmed from unmet expectations. I put so much trust into the hope that my cell group would meet my expectations to the point that it was unhealthy and unrealistic.
Reading Philippians, I learned I should be placing my trust in God first and foremost instead – and I saw this most clearly in Paul’s example.
Paul demonstrated his unyielding trust in God when he assured the Philippi church that he could do all things in Christ (Philippians 4:13) despite the harsh circumstances he faced in prison.
It really hit me as I read that passage, that I had let my trust in man greatly overshadow my trust in God – and I wasn’t even in a terrible circumstance like Paul!
I put so much trust into the hope that my cell group would meet my expectations to the point that it was unhealthy and unrealistic.
While in his prison cell, Paul also trusted and looked to God first for his every need.
So how about us in our own cells? Do we trust that God will care for us in and through community?
When I thought about it, I decided I wanted to be like Paul – someone who trusted God wholeheartedly and encouraged others to do the same.
That is something every cell member (even “normal” ones!) should be doing!
2. WHAT’S A CELL FOR?
I had always regarded cell group as a place to receive, which meant I saw the purpose of spiritual community as being a place to serve and fulfil my needs. But is that really the case?
In Philippians 1:27, Paul wrote to the church that individuals must conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel, so that the community might stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.
That verse showed me the ultimate purpose of striving together as a community: the gospel.
Paul writes more in Philippians 2:2-4, urging the church to do nothing out of selfish ambition but value others’ interests above their own instead.
So rather than viewing my cell group as a place to serve my needs, I came to see that the actual purpose of cell groups is for the sake of the gospel.
As such, whether you’re a “normal” cell member, a cell leader or have just joined a church, a cell really boils down to a few simple things when you think about it.
I believe it’s about choosing unity, putting others before ourselves and doing whatever else needs to be done so that Christ is seen, preached and glorified.
3. ARE YOU SHARING THE GOSPEL?
When I reflected on my time as a “normal” cell member, I realised that I haven’t really done much for the gospel.
I’ve been attending cell to hear and receive God’s word all this while, yet I haven’t really gone out of my way to share God’s word with others. Neither have I been spurring my cell group to do so as well.
Yet looking at Paul, despite the many challenges he faced in prison, he still managed to turn his circumstances and trials into an opportunity to advance the gospel.
In Philippians 1:13-14, Paul describes how everyone, even the palace guards, saw that he was in chains for Christ.
Paul then goes on to say that it was because of his chains that others around him grew in confidence to proclaim the gospel without fear.
I’d love to be like Paul, not only turning my trials into opportunities to advance the gospel but also using them to spur others on to do the same.
Perhaps the best thing a “normal” cell member could do for his cell with regards to evangelism, would be to reacquaint himself with the gospel.
After all, daily knowing our Saviour Jesus is what truly sets a person on fire for God; understanding what Christ did on the cross is what takes him from being just a “normal” member to becoming a passionate disciple of Christ.
4. ARE YOU ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER?
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul famously wrote that believers must work out their salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
He gives some examples on how to do this in later verses, such as doing everything without grumbling or arguing so as to become blameless and pure (Philippians 2:15) and holding firmly on to God’s word (Philippians 2:15).
Yet as tiring as it sounds to spend the rest of our lives working out our salvation, God didn’t intend for us to do it alone!
God sent people to encourage us in our faith journey, like our cell group and church community. And every believer is a part of that process, whether he’s a “normal” cell member or leading churches.
Are we encouraging one another in our cell group? Are we pushing each other to continue persevering in faith?
Just as Paul remained with the Philippi church for their progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:25), let us be there for our brothers and sisters in Christ, supporting and cheering them on in the faith.
As I myself have been thinking through these questions, I’ve began to see how I’m not just a “normal” cell member. Instead, I’m a member in the body of Christ – I have my own unique and important role to play for God’s kingdom.
If ever I feel the same sense of disappointment or discouragement from my cell group again, I pray that God will remind me – as well as anyone who may feel similarly – about the larger picture He has for the Church.
So let us place our trust in God first, remembering that the purpose of our cell group is for the gospel and encouraging one another in the faith.
- What does a cell group mean to you?
- How does God view community and fellowship in the Bible?
- What is one specific reason you believe God put you in your cell group for?
- This week, what is one practical way you can encourage someone in cell?