When I blogged for Joel last year, I shared a story of a cell member in my group who invited us to meet in her uncomfortable apartment (dirty floors and no furniture in the living area), located in a dangerous part of town, and with a roommate who constantly smoked marijuana in the next room with her boyfriend. The point I made in that blog was how important it was to meet in the home of new believers in your group so they can take ownership and minister to others in the most familiar place they know . . . their own home.
As I look back on the meeting in her home and the way Christ was revealed so powerfully, I can clearly see we missed a huge kingdom-extending opportunity. After two weeks of meeting there, we moved back to a more comfortable place for the group members. While I wasn’t the leader of the group, I’m now filled with regret that I didn’t impress on our group leader—who was the lead pastor of the church plant, by the way—to stay there and “tough it out” a little to see how God would continue to work in the new believer’s life and oikos.
This new believer had a dozen unsaved friends we never met. Her roommate was never befriended and reached for Christ. Her roommate’s boyfriend was never befriended and reached for Christ. We should have remained in that home until the Lord told us to move elsewhere!
I recently heard the pastor who understands “don’t move from house to house” challenge his group members and leaders with this: “God has given your group a ministry to other believers in your group and the church body, and a mission to reach the lost world all around you. Do not neglect one for the sake of the other or your group will fail.”
When I travel around the USA to train cell leaders, I know I’ll be asked, “Is it OK for us to meet in one host home that’s centrally located and comfortable for the members, or should we move the meeting around to various members’ homes?”
My answer usually introduces a new paradigm for Western cell group life: “Healthy cell life isn’t always about comfort and convenience for the existing members. It’s also about finding out where God wants you to pray, fellowship, worship, and minister and staying in that home until he tells you you’re done. If you’re always asking the Father, ‘Is this the most powerful place we can meet you?’ he will tell you where you should meet for meetings and how long you should remain there.”
If your cell group leaders or members consistently ask or challenge you about the issue of cell group meeting location, you’ve got work to do. Help them see that healthy cell life is about fulfilling the relational mission to which God has called them.