Pastorless Cells

There are small groups who are part of the church program, and they meet fortnightly (some weekly) to create smaller versions of the church. The idea is as little life units, it can grow better and if all of these “cells” grow and thrive, the church will too. I have been part of this sort of thing for years.

In Malaysia, Tress and I used to have them in our house. The group was between 8 – 10 persons and over time, a great bond was created. The local pastor would drop in every now and then, to share in the fun. We used to tease him and each other, that he was “checking on us”, but it was essential for him to do so and we knew it. We were just ribbing him.

Here in Melbourne, we have been part of cells since maybe 6-7 years ago. Since we moved into our present home about 5 years ago, we’ve used it as a cell meeting place. I became its leader by default, when the leader suddenly left the church. This was maybe 3-4 years ago.

Last week we had a combined cell, with a group which was made up of all ladies. They were wonderful ladies. Faithful and unassuming, they have been part of the church for years and they’re always faithfully working behind the scenes. A few of them had been cleaning the church for years, coming in every weekend at unearthly hours. The church pays them a token sum but the money often ends up in one form of offering or another. One of them has been sick recently and has not been able to work. Their needs are real, basic and constant. I guess the cell is an important source of help, comfort and company (fellowship) for them.

Both groups are made up of people from the old ICC group. ICC had merged with another church almost 2 years ago, to become the present church. While the younger people from both churches have integrated well, the older members have taken a bit longer and from the perspective of cells, the integration has some way to go. So the combined meeting, had it been between groups which came from different churches, would have been very useful. I advocated that over a year ago but met no response, so I gave up. A vision statement included what sounded like a key role for cell ministry but the cells were left pretty much alone. Our cell continued like nothing happened on the church front – like we never had a merger or a new pastor.

And so the two old cells met together. We sang some songs, broke bread, prayed, and watched a DVD. We tried to minister to each other. We carried on as we have for a number of years now – all amongst the old ICC group.

We didn’t have to “worry” about a pastor checking in on us – that was never going to be real “threat”. It would have been a key moment and important “inflexion point” for a visit but I guess there are other fishes to fry. There always seems to be other fish to fry, other than groups such as the older groups of old ICC people. Cells like ours, it would seem, does not need any attention. Cells like these don’t really need to ask whether they are well or thriving because in the larger picture of being constituent parts of a church, they don’t really matter, I guess.