Open Heaven is a cell church. This means that everyone who is part of Open Heaven is involved in a cell. Cells are dynamic, vibrant, inclusive, outward looking communities. They are the building blocks of church life and are a place to belong, grow and invite friends along to.
Practically, a cell is a small group of around 6-12 people who gather during the week for support, accountability and encouragement, applying Bible teaching to everyday life, and learning how to be followers of Jesus in the 21st century.
For OH students, cell groups are arranged into clusters. A cluster is a medium sized community composed of a number of cell groups (up to about three or four). The idea is that a cluster community is “small enough to have a common vision and large enough to do something about it”. The cells in a cluster will share a common vision, continuing to meet as cell groups each week and gathering together as a cluster once a month in place of a cell meeting.
In Open Heaven there are a number of clusters, each with an outward looking vision for a particular area of the student world; Club Mission, OH society, Student Alpha, Hall Cells, Seeing God’s Supernatural power on campus and others. The idea is that you choose a cluster which you feel a particular passion for. Choosing a cluster doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in other activities. However, by committing to be part of a cell in a cluster, you will be the driving force for that area of mission in terms of strategy, delivery and prayer.
Mission is a lifestyle and is something we want engage with in all of our lives. An element of mission is our collective response as a church community. The key to clusters is that they represent a group of people who are totally committed to investing in and pushing forward a particular area of mission that they are passionate about and feel they can be effective in. In prayer and from speaking with other churches, we believe that encouraging people to be focussed and intentional in their approach to mission represents the best opportunity to maximise their effectiveness. Our vision is to share and provide an opportunity for every student at Loughborough University to experience the good news of Jesus.
To give you an example, I might have a real passion for Club Mission. Consequently, I’d choose to be part of a cell in the Club Mission cluster. Each week I’d meet with my cell as usual. The cluster specific element would mean that as part of the ‘Witness’ element of the cell meetings, we might pray specifically for, and sort out the practicalities of that week’s club mission. Once a month our cell would meet with the other Club Mission cells for a Cluster Celebration. It’s a great opportunity to get together, encourage each other, thank God and keep moving the vision of Club Mission forward.
There are a range of clusters you could choose to be part of. The key is in trying to choose a cluster with an area of mission that you feel really passionate about. Also, it’s worth thinking about what missional area you feel best equipped to serve in. So for example, it could be that you’ve been involved in Student Alpha, really enjoy and feel you’re good at facilitating Alpha small group discussions and therefore choose to be part the Student Alpha cluster. If you’re not really sure, just choose a cluster that you think you will enjoy. If you’re up for it you’ll be able to make a valuable contribution wherever you go.
One of the great things about cell groups is that you can invite friends along to meetings and activities. This doesn’t change with clusters because you will still be meeting in cell groups on three out of the four weeks. Often people will want to be part of your cell for the relational connection rather than any focus that a cluster/cell might have. We’d encourage that so if you have a friend who is starting to get involved and wants to come along to your cell/cluster that’s fine. If they get more involved with Open Heaven and decide there’s another cluster they’d really like to be part of that isn’t a problem.
You may find that the cluster you’re part of doesn’t feel like a best fit. We’d really encourage you to stick with the cluster you have chosen for at least the first term. It takes time to settle in and find where you fit in your cell and cluster so we want to encourage you to give time for that to happen. However, if you really want to move, have a chat with your cell group or cluster leader.
We want to encourage you to be part of a cluster that you feel passionate about but we don’t want to limit you to one area. Whilst we think it’s important to commit to your cluster, we’d also encourage you to become a member of the OH Society and take part in other cluster’s mission initiatives throughout the year. The difference is, in your own cluster, you’ll have more opportunity to take responsibility, develop a vision and strategy and have a sense of ownership in the cluster you are part of. For example, if you were part of the Student Alpha cluster, you would be involved in the Alpha evenings as well as praying for it and helping organise and develop it during cell and cluster gatherings. You might also go along to Club Mission on a Friday and be a member of the OH Society but you wouldn’t be so directly involved in the ongoing organisation and development of the mission focus in those clusters.
Clusters will be overseen by members of the Open Heaven Student Team. Each cluster will have a cluster leader and they will be able to talk to, get advice and accountability from the student team. Within the clusters, each cell groups will be lead by two cell group leaders who are accountable to the cluster leader. During the term there will be regular opportunities for cell group leaders to meet with cluster leaders to catch up on how things are going and receive training.