The ground is sown for other people to participate, which in turn leads to multiplication and the existence of two cells.
Through this process an increasing number of cell groups can form throughout a parish.
In a few Irish parishes, there are more than 10 cell groups.
In Florida, at St. Edward's parish, there currently are 96 cells, while in St. Eustorgio, Milan, there are about 120 such cell groups.
So you see the possibilities for parish cell groups are enormous.
An authentic cell experience influences a parish in three ways:
I. Relationship with Jesus.
They come to know that He is near, and that He wishes them to experience His love.
When people talk about the benefits of attending a cell group, they often say that God had felt distant to them,
but now they know Him as near and as intimately involved in their daily events and encounters.
A relationship with Jesus greatly changes those who participate in cell groups.
They see themselves, God and other people in a different way.
As a result:
* Participants feel happier.
* They are more at home with God, whom they know loves them and is actively and intimately involved with them.
* They become more tolerant of the people they meet and more eager to serve and help them.
* The Eucharist takes on a new significance and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament becomes for many participants a weekly or even a daily event and commitment.
* Scripture becomes the living word of God and takes a central place in their personal and communal prayer.
* Participants want to read and learn the fundamentals of Christian faith.
II. Oikos Evangelization.
When participants experience the transforming impact of relating with Jesus Christ, they simply want to evangelize.
They don't need to go to evangelize. They evangelize as they go.
They want to tell the people they meet about what has helped them as persons.
In other words, they want to tell members of their families, their neighbours, work and leisure colleagues,
about Jesus and his influence in their lives.
When this happens, it can be called oikos evangelization.
Essentially, oikos means the pool of people with whom each individual is in regular contact.
Hence oikos evangelization is a commitment to:
- Recognise the presence of God in each person one meets and in each event and encounter in life.
- Love each member of one's family in a way that brings life
and that encourages them to a deeper trust in Christ's love for them.
- Accept one's neighbours and people at one's places of work and leisure.
- Share when it seems appropriate about God's transforming love
and point them towards the same experience.
People experience community through cell participation. They experience a sense of belonging.
In the informal setting of a home they come to know, and to trust the few people who gather together with them.
They learn to share a little about their relationship with God,
and about how they see God at work in their own lives, in the lives of other people
and in everyday events.
To share at this level means that all present are drawn closer to one another.
They learn to pray for one another about the real issues that affect them.
They learn to give and to receive help and support.
Essentially, they experience church in its domestic setting.
In summary, then, cell groups make a great contribution to parish life.
They help those who attend their meetings to know Jesus in a personal way,
and encourage them to serve the people they meet, and share with them about what their faith in Jesus means to them.
Cell people also want other people to experience the benefits of community.
For this reason they invite people to their meetings.
They tend to get involved in parish and social activities.
They build up a spirit of community in their families, neighbourhood and parishes, as a result of their own good experiences of community.
Fr. Michael Hurley