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Follow the Way of Love
By Joel Comiskey
In the first chapter of my book, How to Lead a Great Cell Group Meeting, I wrote:
A certain winsomeness characterizes dynamic cell leaders. They demonstrate loving concern, but they firmly lead. They allow discussion to flow naturally, but refuse to stray from the theme. They listen intently, but won’t allow one person to dominate the meeting. They build community, but not at the expense of reaching out to the unsaved. They take responsibility for the group, but refuse to do everything. They promote group identity, but never at the expense of the multiplication of new cell groups. Does this balance sound difficult? Let’s just say impossible—apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Logic and technique, while necessary, can’t teach the when and how of small group dynamics. Effective small group leadership begins with a transformed heart. The Holy Spirit works inside the cell leader so he or she can minister from the overflow of the heart.
Following the Spirit of God is the key to small group success. But what does that mean practically? I believe it can be summed up in Paul’s advice to the Corinthians: “Follow the way of love” (1 Corinthians 14:1). God’s love always builds up, never tears down, and is patient and kind. All people–whether Christian or not–will respond positively to this type of love. Effective cell leaders allow the Holy Spirit to use them as a channel of love to others. They build up others in love.
On my blog, I regularly talk about failures in small group ministry (check out my blogon my failure of breaking in on a person without his permission). Let me now transparently share a victory (something I did right). Last week we had a new couple in our group who are new to the faith. God has lit a new fire within, and they’re excited about Jesus but know little about walking with the Master.
Before the group started, the Lord showed me to follow the way of love. When the cell meeting started, I tried to build them up, encourage them as a couple, and show enthusiasm for their answers. I didn’t put them on the spot by asking them to pray or read (I knew beforehand they were not accustomed to doing this). The Holy Spirit used me as a channel of edification and the couple went away encouraged and excited, along with the rest of those in the group. .
I don’t believe it’s difficult to effectively lead a cell group. All you need to do is ask God to make you a channel of His love. Look for ways to serve others in the cell and build them up. Follow the way of love in all you do and say. The members will want to come back for more. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. They aren’t impressed by the incredible knowledge of the leader or even by the leader’s small group skills. They do respond, however, to love and care.