Cell or Small?

On Thursday and Friday of last week, I read through an excellent book by Joel Comiskey entitled, Leadership Explosion.

This is a book that my organization publishes, and we're revising it with new wording on the inside of the book and a fresh new cover design (which should be released in a few weeks).

One of the decisions the author and I made for this book was to change his use of the word "cell," changing it to "small group." It seems that many people associate "cell group" with an antiquated church growth gimmick from the 90's and others associate it with terrorism.

How do you feel about the term "cell group?" Do you avoid books who use this term instead of "small group?" How about using a book in your church to train your leaders? Do you prefer the generic "small group" label when you consider what you'll use to train others?

I'd really appreciate your comments on this blog post... let me know what you call your groups and what you think about the term "cell group," positive, neutral, or negative.

6 comments:

Heather Z said...

I come from a "cell group" culture, but in the ministry I lead, we call them "small groups." Given my biological engineering background, I really like the metaphor of the cell. But it's just too hard to explain and there's too much potential for confusion or negative connotation.

Sometimes, we even drop the "small" and just refer to "groups" because we are finding that some of our community environments are not exactly "small" but people are still finding growth and connection.

I think the switch from "cell" to "small" makes sense.

Bill said...

In our church's history we have called them house churches, home churches, cell groups, small groups and now - life groups. They have all worked. I think I like life groups best now. Names mean something, that's why we bother with these semantics at all. :- )

Peace.

Pat said...

I differentiate types of groups by the name. To me, a cell group is best used for evangelism and growth. It implies that the group seeks new members and is willing to split (multiply) when some predetermined size is reached. That works in some settings for some people. A small group is one that is more discipleship oriented, where the growth is in character rather than numeric. I prefer for these groups to be small, closed, for a limited time and with a specific purpose. I can see a need for both kinds of groups in a church setting, so using the different terms helps me to identify what the goal is.

Elaine said...

When I hear "cell," I automatically think of terrorist cells. First association. When I talk to non-church people about my small group, I call it a Bible study. In the south, that's more accessible and understandable than small groups or "journey groups" (my current church's label). Besides, when I talk about how we eat dinner together, or pray together, or go out together, they get the picture that it's more than just Bible study.

Pastor Kevin said...

I like small groups better. The word cell creates too much confusion.

Iain said...

I love the term cell group. Still has the same meaning for me as it originally had years ago when reading Dr Cho's books. Seems that everyone else has the problem with it...

Mind you even before cell became a no go word I would never have told an unchurched person that I was going to a 'cell' meeting etc. I would just say I was getting together with some of my friends to care for each other, learn more about our spirituality and be able to love others better...

Whatever our small groups are called we should never dump that term on someone who doesn't understand what it really means. Instead we should explain to people what we are doing. It's a great opportunity to share something positive with an unchurched person.

Don't tell people what your group is called! Tell them how wonderful it is and what you all get up to!

Too many people are worried about names, we should worry more about what we are actually doing. That's the best selling point to an unchurched person. That's what makes the group attractive.