Last month’s Cell Church Summit in Brisbane gave many Australian ministers their first taste of a church growth strategy that has swept the world.

“One of the biggest benefits of cell church is that it helps individual churches have a mission and outreach focus,” said John Colquhoun, a pastoral worker at Peninsula Community Church, an International Anglican Church at Pyrmont. “Small group members are actively encouraged to reach out to their acquaintances and become their friends with the ultimate aim of sharing the gospel with them.”

Cell church principles re-position the centre of church life from the Sunday service to small mid-week group meetings of around 12-15 members. Non-believing friends are invited to join, with the aim that the group will multiply, new cells will be formed, and the church will grow.

The Summit’s main speaker Laurence Singlehurst, who was instrumental in establishing the UK Cell Church Network, emphasised that ministers should not ‘straitjacket’ their churches into a model that may have worked in other countries, but find a model that will work in their own context. He said that Anglican churches in the UK have taken more readily to the Cell Church concept than other denominations, partly because they are already used to a hierarchical structure.

Mr Colquhoun said Sydney churches with a good small group set-up would not have much problem transitioning to cell. “It all fits in very well with what the Archbishop says about encouraging new groups and ex-panding existing ones,” he said.