MAKE YOUR CELL MEETING VISITOR-FRIENDLY
BY JIM EGLI
Ellen came to my cell group the first time with her neighbor, one of our cell members. She was an older woman who was recently divorced. While she came with mixed feelings, she was hungry for God and glad for the invitation. She trusted the new friends who had invited her, but she had never heard of a cell group. “Perhaps this was some kind of cult!” Ellen thought.
Cell members greeted her warmly when she arrived at our home and took a genuine interest in her. The songs were new, but there were song sheets and she liked their lively tempo. Later in the meeting, however, she was puzzled when I announced that we would “prayerwalk” the neighborhood. I didn’t realize how this would come across and didn’t notice that she was uncomfortable. Thankfully, Ken – an alert cell member – noticed her discomfort and remained at the house and spoke with her about recent changes that had taken place in her life while the rest of us walked around the neighborhood praying.
When the meeting was over, she enjoyed talking with others over refreshments. She left thinking that this would be a nice group of people to have as friends and that they didn’t seem to be a cult. She was unsure, however, if she would come back. Did people like her? Would they be glad for her to return? My wife and another cell member called her on the phone that week, and her friends invited her back. She became actively involved in the group and began to receive healing for the past and support for the future.
Through my years in cell, I have learned a few simple things that make a big difference in making visitors feel more comfortable when they come to your cell. Here they are:
• Introduce your non-Christian and new Christian friends to as many cell members as possible. Do this through meals, parties and other shared events. The more cell members a person knows, the easier it is for them to visit a cell.
• Have the meeting at the home of the member who has invited someone new. When a member has a friend who is open to visiting your cell meeting, consider having the meeting at that cell member’s home next week or even for several weeks. It’s much easier for your friend to come to your home than to go with you to someone else’s house (unless, the visitor has been introduced to that friend outside of a cell meeting.)
• Use an easy, “history” type of icebreaker. This is not the week to ask more probing questions like, “What stronghold do want to be delivered from this year?” A better icebreaker would be a Quaker Question like, “Where did you live between the ages of 7 and 12 years?”
• Use song sheets and sing fewer songs. New Christians and non-Christians do not know your songs. Since worship is usually near the front of the meeting, extended singing can seem awkward to them.
• As you begin the meeting, explain the purpose of a cell group. “We meet to experience the presence, power and purpose of Jesus!” Explain other things as the meeting proceeds that might be taken for granted, i.e., what the children are going to do when someone takes them into another room.
• Do not go around the circle asking people to read. They may not have a Bible, may not know where to find the book of James if they have one and may have limited reading skills that embarrass them.
• End on time! This means keeping each part of the meeting on track. When you end on time, there is time for the very important fellowship afterward.
• Follow-up on newcomers. Be sure to call them and drop them a note, expressing appreciation for their visit … and invite them back!
Loving non-Christians to Christ involves praying for them, caring about them, being their friend and letting them serve you. They need God, friends and relationships. The perfect place for them to find what they need is in your cell. When they show up, welcome them, be considerate of their needs and let them know you’re glad they came. Like Ellen, they will find a family where Christ can minister life, healing and belonging!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY TOUCH OUTREACH MINISTRIES, 2000, “CELLEBRATING” CELLCHURCH MAGAZINE, PAGES 235-237.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY