Call me a curmudgeon. Or an arch-conservative, allergic to all things new. And I will freely admit that I romanticize earlier days, fully aware that they were never so rosy as I fancy them. But I am just not ready to jump on the small (‘cell’) groups bandwagon like so many other Reformed folks. I have already raised some questions on the subject in a previous post. I really do question how ecclesiologically Reformed it is after all.
But here’s another thing that makes me nervous of them. I fear that they detract from a robust pulpit ministry, from Lord’s day to Lord’s day. In some circles, cell groups aim to provide meaningful biblical study for preachers who want their Sunday services to be ‘seeker sensitive.’ In my judgment, that makes cell groups a crutch for an impotent ministry.
Related, it seems that they are now being touted (or maybe I’m just noticing it) as suitable vehicles for ‘missional’ outreach. Unbelievers need a ‘safe’ place to be welcomed, where they will not feel judged. So we can win them over to church, with all its trappings, through the back door. Now, I am all for loving unbelievers and making them feel loved. But what about public preaching as a means of grace? What of God’s choice of the foolishness of preaching? What of the scandal of the cross? And does that scandal come in bold face through the small groups, or is it in the fine print on page 236?
Why are Reformed people enthusiastic about this? Am I off, or is this broad evangelicalism, low churchism, or even anti-churchism sneaking in under the radar?