The larger gathering helps in the discipleship process through teaching God’s Word, providing a celebratory worship experience, gathering the extended family, vision casting, and harvest evangelism. Since the goal of the cell church is to make disciples who make disciples, the larger gathering contributes to that process.
A few years ago, I spoke to the president of a small seminary in Mexico. He criticized the cell church philosophy because of the lack of in-depth teaching in the cell group and doubted that cell churches were deep, biblical churches. I agreed with him that the cell group was not the place to get into theological discussions because the focus was on the application of God’s Word and transformation rather than information.
Yet, I also challenged his thinking that cell churches weren’t “deep, biblical churches.” I told him that many cell churches preach verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and book by book exposition of the Bible during the larger gatherings. “This is my preference,” I told him, “because God’s people need to be grounded in God’s inerrant Word.” This seminary president had a misconceived idea that cell churches didn’t preach through the Bible in the larger gatherings and were less biblical than other churches.
Discipleship in the cell church is a two-winged experience. Bible teaching in the celebration wing concentrates on expository teaching and preaching through the Bible. The pastor can clarify those hard passages and utilize the theological training to better equip the saints. The cell wing emphasizes applying God’s Word and life transformation. And most cell churches connect the Sunday sermon with the cell lesson. As believers receive theological depth in the larger gatherings and practical application in the smaller cell, the church will make more and better disciples.