My best selling book is How to Lead a Great Cell Group Meeting So People Want To Come Back. Many chuckle at the phrase, “So People Want To Come Back,” and yes, we want people to come back. But getting people to come back to a cell meeting should never be the principal motivation. A much purer motivation is making sure each member is ministered to and transformed during the process. If transformation takes place, yes, they will come back. So what are key tips to ensure needs are met and people go away satisfied? Several come to mind:
How to Lead a Dynamic Cell Meeting
1. Emphasize the ice-breaker.
Many cell leaders minimize the icebreaker or don’t use it at all. I think this is unfortunate. A great icebreaker can get everyone talking and prepare people to enter into worship and the cell lesson. Remember that people have come from work, school, or household responsibilities. Most likely they are tired and thinking about other things. The ice-breaker opens up doors of communication and brings people together in a relaxed, informal manner. The icebreaker helps members to share transparently in a fun, free-flowing way.
2. Don’t neglect worship.
Many facilitators jump into the lesson after the icebreaker. Perhaps these cell leaders prize intellectual interaction more than spiritual experience. Yet we need to think of the needs of the cell members and not primarily the desires of the cell leader. Cell members need to grow in their faith and interact with God in a group setting. Worship in the cell group provides a time for members to minister to one another and to use their spiritual gifts. It also allows each person to interact with one another, rather than the leader dominating everything. What kind of worship am I referring to? It might be Bible reading, singing songs, popcorn praise and prayer, praying for one another, and other creative ideas. There are a variety of ways to worship, but the key principle is to actually do it!
3. Provide the biblical context for the cell meeting.
One error is for cell leaders to jump into the cell questions without reviewing the context of the Bible passage. The cell leader might believe that since the cell members were in the Sunday service, and since they heard the message, they have sufficient background to answer the questions. The truth is that members often forget or don’t understand the sermon. Most people receive immediate edification during a sermon, but they forget the sermon details. Before asking questions about the biblical passage, the cell members need to hear a short summary about the main points of the biblical passage. Afterwards, they will be better prepared to answer the questions.
4. Listen, listen, listen.
The best cell meeting leaders are great listeners! they talk 30% of the time and allow others to speak 70% of the time. They realize that the strength of the cell group is to convert each member into a minister, and the best way to do this is to allow people to share their understanding of the passage and even be willing to fail in the process. Listening makes this happen.
5. Don’t forget the “witness time.”
Every cell meeting leader runs out of time and many don’t focus on evangelism at the end of the group. Remember that cell members grow as they reach out. I don’t believe we can emphasize evangelism too much. New people need Jesus, and they need the community of a cell group. Cell members should exercise their muscles to get to know non-Christians and invite them to the group, and the final 15 minutes (normally called the “witness time”) helps in holding them accountable and even planning evangelistic activity.
6. Close after 1-1/2 hours.
Be spiritual and close on time! People have their own lives beyond the cell group, and they will be more willing to come back if they know the leader is sensitive to closing the meeting on time. And remember that fellowship after the cell group is vitally important. Personal ministry takes place during the refreshment time, and effective cell leaders make sure that people have enough time to hang out, rather than having to leave immediately because the leader didn’t close on time.