Does Your Home/Small/Cell Group Have a Hidden Agenda?
by Susan Bertalotto
The purpose of writing this article is to make others aware of the hidden agendas that are present in the home, small, or cell groups of your church. The agendas are not perpetrated by the group leaders and not always by the pastoral leaders of your church. But there is a hidden agenda that goes beyond the local church. Bear with me as I outline what I have found to be true regarding the Home Groups, Small Groups, and Cell Groups of churches.
These groups are an extension of the local church. They are used to minister to individuals on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, keeping a pulse on the congregation in a nurturing, loving way. With the large sizes of churches nowadays, it is impossible for the pastoral staff of a church to take care of each person individually. Each group leader is trained Biblically to take care of the “flock”. The groups usually discuss the past Sunday’s sermon and read the scripture presented in the sermon. Based on those premises, what could be wrong?
It is the way the leaders are taught to facilitate the discussions, and the direction the groups are headed that are concerning to me.
The groups base their discussions on the facts of the Bible. Or do they? The group leader is trained by the church to allow for discussion of the feelings of the group, allow other viewpoints (we don’t want to offend anyone, do we?), and to read from various paraphrases of the Bible. Usually by the end of the evening, the group comes to a concensus and all is well. The facts of the Bible are never stressed and no one is challenged to live by the Bible. Instead a good feeling (fellowship) is the targeted outcome, whether or not the Spirit of God had control of the meeting. Members (and visitors) are encouraged to share problems and situations they are confronting. There is usually prayer time at the end of the meeting, but what does the Bible have to say about a person’s hang-ups or problems (dare I say it – SIN!)? What is the guide that is used within the group to “analyze” these difficulties and quandries we all face? The first thing the leader refers to is the material on the outline from Sunday’s sermon! And the analysis of the pastor! The Bible is used as a reference point, but NEVER the ONLY source.
Here is an interesting article about Outcome Based Education (OBE) by Brenda Fischer. It is written in the context of the Promise Keepers, but is applicable to groups.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?
Believe it or not, there is a step beyond these groups that even your local church may not be aware of. The leader of your group fills out a form each week and turns it in to the pastor or zone leader. What is your leader reporting to the church? There may not be much reported on the form now, but what about the future? Cell/small group software is available: CELLTRAK and EXCELLERATE. Your church has access to this software, although it may not be using it yet. The ramifications of your church sharing your individual information outside of your church are vast. The World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs has the intent of databasing each and every Christian in this world, all in the name of “Christian unity and prayer”. The local church with home/small/cell groups holds vital information integral to the success of this databasing project. Who knows where this will lead?
Only God knows.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the THOUGHTS and INTENTS of the heart. Hebrews 4:12