This is our church family picture from February 2009. We take a family picture after each worship. This picture represents only a small portion of our overall cell group family, but in this picture you will see faces that represent different sexual orientations, different financial circumstances, many come from broken homes, some struggle with addiction and trust, while others are are in a good place and are here simply to worship. No matter what, our family is diverse and our God’s love is unconditional. We believe that providing this type of environment, folks will learn to trust the spirit as God works in their lives, because they are being accepted and invested in. Yo Buddy!
We provide a church family and worship experiences that focus on: – An environment where ALL people feel loved and accepted (regardless of race, financial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, education, past mistakes, etc) – Relationship with a God of unconditional love – Discipleship of Christ, with focus on mentoring – Strong relationships with peers and developing a church family that extends outside of worship – Open participation in worship, emphasizing open communication. Folks share / talk / explore their thoughts and opinions during worship. OnEdge is a place where others’ words are valued (even if they are not commonly agreed upon.)
The entire worship experience typically goes from 2PM until 10PM one Saturday per month. We spend the first 2 hours eating potluck food, getting to know each other better and making our new folks feel right at home.
We do not like overhead and keep our costs low, so we do not own a building. Our baptisms occur in hot tubs, pools, or anyplace with deep enough water (lol). This picture is the immediate moment after James was baptized and started a new journey with Jesus.
Before any major life event, we have a family prayer. Monica is getting ready to be baptized, so the church family is offering a prayer over her right before her baptism.
This picture is immediate after Monica’s baptism. Monica like many of our folks come from a broken family. God has helped Monica overcome a lot in her life and her church family has been a huge part of that. Yo Buddy!
Another family picture!! We never have cell group in churches, so we need to get creative in our locations. We use homes during bad weather days and reserve park areas during the nice weather. This is one of those nice weather cell groups! A typical cell group will have 30-40 people, 5-6 new folks, and over 75% will be non-members.
Since we meet only once a month, we make the worship experience a big one. The first few hours is designed to fellowship and deeper our relationships. During this cell group, we played volleyball.
We do not take a lot of pictures during actual worship, but this is one of the rare examples. In this cell group, one of our young ministers, Evan teamed up with a few new folks to plan the entire cell group event, worship and all. It takes a lot of time and 70-100 phone calls.
Sometimes we break up the bigger group into smaller intimate groups. This is one of those times.
Since a number of our folks do not have healthy families, we celebrate Thanksgiving as a church family on Thanksgiving! Like cell group, Potlucks all the way!
Another one of our young ministers Ben decided to take a break from his preparation. While this picture does not do it justice, we have a number of young ministers that serve the needs of our church family. Chrissy, Evan, and Ben while having full time obligations (work, school) spend the majority of their remaining time in hands on ministry. A lot of time is spent with our folks in great places like coffee shops or homes or during unfortunate times like rehab centers or hospitals.
What an awesome group!! 2 of the people in this picture walk over 1 mile to get to a train that takes them over 1 hour to get to church. We do train pickups for 4-5 people and have a number of people that drive 1-2 hours to get to cell group.
It’s all about the environment and making folks feel comfortable and welcome before worship. Here folks are playing Nintendo during fellowship time. Sometimes cell group goes late (actually it usually does) and sometimes it goes late enough that we miss the train. When that happens, our cell families welcome folks to stay over.
Chrissy and Pat are spending time with Jake. One of our young ministers, Chrissy and her family allow us to use their home during the winter months. This is their dog, who loves his church family!
It may not look like much, but all of these people drove 2 hours in a Chicago snow storm to surprise Charis for her birthday!! It was an awesome time and the food was great!
A Note From Sarah: When I first heard of cell group I was skeptical. A group that accepts you for who you are no matter your past, color, race, or sexual preference did not really sound like a church to me. My friend was the first one to introduce me to cell group and by the end of the day I was hooked. What cell group teaches is based off a belief in a God of unconditional love, a God that at the time seemed too unfamiliar to me. I have had a life full of troubles and hard times and from that I taught myself to not trust in anyone. After being a part of cell group for a couple of months now I dropped that concept. I have opened up to my cell group family more than I have my own. The acceptance and willingness to share from others is a welcoming and warm feeling that I had not felt for a very long time. Being a part of cell group has changed my relationship with God; I now understand that everything he does is with reason. I try to not look at my past as a hard one but rather a becoming one. Everything that I have experienced I can use towards helping others and strengthening my relationship with God. Cell group has changed my life significantly, not only did it teach me how to trust in others but to trust in myself as well. Thanks to my cell group family, I can have a better understanding of my past and a better outlook for my future. – Sarah Peters
A Note from Angela: When a friend first told me about Cell Group I was unsure about how it would be, every other unconventional church had been crazy to say the least. Every time I have been to a non-denominational unconventional church I have wanted to turn around and run out the door. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be going there monthly. My past has taught me to never open up, that no one really cares, and most importantly that there was no God. Cell Group has made me turn 180 degrees in my ideas on life. It showed me a God that cares about everyone, no matter how much you may have screwed up or just had a messed up life. Cell Group has helped me more than anything on rebuilding my relationship with God. It has helped me open up to others and actually listen to what other people are saying. I have never met such a loving family filled with amazing people. All these people have different lifestyles but are open and accept anyone; I consider it an honor to be a part of something so great. I can honestly say that if it was not for Cell Group I would not be the more optimistic person that I am today; I have no idea what kind of mess I would be without it. It has taught me that life is an amazing journey to experience with God and others around you and not a winding road that goes nowhere. – Angela Peters