Tuesday, 2 July 2013

When Cell Groups Go Bad - 20 Tell-tale Signs

You know, small groups are the fuel cell of any successful church community. They provide safe spaces - somewhere to ask questions, somewhere to share doubts, to wrestle with great thoughts. When they work well, they can be the engine of growth. Well-managed, with a decent strategy for growing leadership, they breathe life into the whole organism.

But they can have issues. For cell groups to work, the congregational leader has to delegate responsibility - which means that there should be more opportunity for the people to use their gifts. More people can share the burden of responsibility, and grow into positions of leadership. Or else you've just set a load of bulls loose in a number of china shops. One or the other. Here are those clues you need to look out for, and the pitfalls to avoid, if you want to keep your Cell Group programme on track.

  1. The study on Romans has spent the last six weeks on the word "therefore" in chapter 12.
  2. The people who meet in Privet Drive have declared war on the Holly Row group.
  3. After studying Revelation, one group cancels all meetings after August because "there will be no need".
  4. The quarterly report back from the leader focusses on the quality of the biscuits.
  5. The group that was set up for introverts has been meeting for 6 months, and they're still waiting for somebody to speak.
  6. One of the groups has elected their leader "the god of hellfire", and taken to wearing inflammable hats.
  7. The group leader claims to have a hands-on ministry, and half the group are objecting to what he's got his hands on.
  8. An unofficial league table springs up, charting which group has the most spiritual gifts.
  9. The output from the house group each week is a list of the shortcomings of your sermon.
  10. After a heated discussion, the people in the Church End group have decided that the physical world is an illusion and there's no point in leaving the house. Ever again.
  11. The group that met in the lounge bar of the Red Lion has been banned from every establishment in the Pubwatch scheme.
  12. Since there's just the four of them in the group, they've given up on the Bible study and taken to playing a few rubbers of bridge every week.
  13. Because you're not sure about the strength of the leadership, you find yourself at home looking at the broadcasts from the CellGroupCams in every leader's house.
  14. You suspect one of the groups has a relatively limited musician, when the leader asks if you know any  songs with only the chords E major and E minor. 
  15. The group musician has demanded the hosts take their French Windows out, so he can get the speaker stack installed.
  16. In discussing Romans, the Arminians said they have a choice about their own salvation, and the Calvinists responded that they would say that, wouldn't they? The leader's just phoned to ask where he can find a stake and a large amount of brushwood.
  17. Everybody in one group has acquired an enormous collection of Tupperware over the last few weeks.
  18.  Every time they discuss the book of Job, old Arnie tells everybody how his life is even worse. For three hours. And they have to look at his boils.
  19. The house group is such a success, they decide to meet every Sunday morning.
  20. Because of their flexible, fissiparous nature, your church fellowship now has 23 house groups. But the bad news is, there are only 23 people who are members of house groups.


  1. There's got to be a group with members who hold very strong views on dinosaurs and evolution, but not all of them hold the same view exactly. Or at all.

    On the other hand, it's unlikely to remain a group for very long.

  2. What about the group which uses knitting as a means of meditative prayer being - of course - at odds with a splinter group who claim that only crochet-ing can achieve the highest spiritual noetic peaks?

  3. The group whose main study is the Anne Summers Bible version because they want to understand more about human sexuality>


    The group whose literal approach to the Old Testament has led to them building an Ark which will only take their group and domestic pets.


    The group whose members have become Amish because they like the idea of arranged marriage.

  4. "One of the groups has elected their leader "the god of hellfire", and taken to wearing inflammable hats"

    We have the best parties (BYO extinguisher).

  5. Number 19 describes almost exactly the origins of the Methodist Church. (writes a Methodist)


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