Grace Marjorie Namulindwa describes herself as an ardent follower of Christ, and a regular cell group member at Watoto Church, Central. To her, attending church service regularly is good. However, it is insufficient for a Christian who is intentional about growing their faith and fellowship with one another.
“I attend Cell weekly with about eight people who go to the same church as myself and live in the same community – Ntinda. We do Bible study, discuss different topics where everyone gets an opportunity to contribute, we eat together, and pray for one another. My cell group feels like family; people I come to with my struggles and issues. I can’t do that in the bigger church,” she shares. This, she is confident has produced results. She has a keener eye looking at scripture, and since she is also expected to share her thoughts she involves herself more in reading and putting the word into practice.
Understanding cell groups
The Rev Patrick Kamara, who is in charge of the Home Cell and Pastoral Ministry at All Saints Cathedral, Kampala, shares that cells are small building blocks of a bigger unit, with the same mind. They may be selected on the basis of locality, interest groups; such as professions, gender, and status.
“This is derived from body cells, which are small units that make up the body. As Christians, we have small groups, some call them fellowships, prayer groups, Bible study groups, home cells; the difference being the intention for the group,” Rev Kamara says.
He further notes that worldwide, a standard cell consists of two to 14 members. Where there are more than 14 people, then rebirth of another cell may happen.
Purpose for cell groups
The Rev Kamara adds; Mega churches engage in cell groups for purposes of keeping the fellowship burning, to facilitate spiritual growth, reading the word together, admonishing one another, prayer, care, teaching each other and to share other gifts that may not be exercised in the bigger church.
On the other hand, small churches may start Cell to grow bigger in terms of numbers.
Different faiths do cell differently. At Worship Harvest Church, Naalya Cell groups are called Missional Communities that have fellowship as families in different communities, but also reach out to do voluntary missionary work in their communities.
Adrian Edwin Ssenyonga, the leader of a Missional Community - Music Team, shares, “We meet to play, joke, pray, talk, eat and share the word. We use the BLESS Principal when we meet: Begin with prayer, together as a family. Listen to stories like; how one’s week has been, their challenges, down to the smallest details like birthdays, job promotions or anything to celebrate. We Eat together to connect with each other. Serve each other, pray for one another and then Share in the word by picking a person to share with us as we learn from each other.”
On the other hand, the Seventh Day Adventist church encourages a devotional lifestyle beyond the corporate worship in large congregations.
“This could be in form of family devotions or small group gatherings in homes that are dedicated to Bible studies, discussions, prayers and fasting where need be. This is also a time for sharing testimonies,” Immanuel Ogwal, the SDA National spokesperson shares.
These small groups are also a vehicle for outreach to the surrounding community.
“These are not mandatory activities but devoted Christians find themselves doing this, and mature in faith,” In these, activities such as prayers based on prayers requests are done, testimonies shared, praise, occasional fasting as and when deemed necessary and Bible reading and discussions take place.
Why join cell groups
“Most Christians live as Sunday Christians but they never grow. But cell helps people revisit what was shared in the bigger church, for them to ponder, and see how the message applies to their life. The Word that has been planted in the hearts of people needs to be watered to grow and in cell, that is where it is done; by the spirit and through sharing among people,” the Rev Kamara says.
Bonding of Christians
It is in cell that people bond.
“People begin to ask each other deeper questions, without prejudice and in this way, people can grow in the word. Additionally, with the daily schedules of life, many people burn out, because of the characters we meet out there. In home cell, we pray with each other on such issues, and know other scriptures more than we previously knew,” The Rev Kamara explains.
Ssenyonga is convinced it has everything to do with the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20.
“One of the mandates is making disciples. A disciple is a learner. I can’t be a disciple if I don’t learn after Christ and in cell, I have to be accountable to the community I belong to and the community becomes accountable for my spiritual growth,” he says.
Cell groups help one have a sense of belonging, and a community with which they share things they ideally wouldn’t share because these are open spaces.
“Again, it is a key to opening a connection to another person, who I may not know in the bigger congregation,” Adrian Edwin Ssenyonga, the leader of a Missional Community - Music Team Worship Harvest Church, explains.