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Small Group Craze vs. Biblical Community


God poured out His Spirit in the context of family. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” The early church stood out, and everyone in town knew when Jesus’ church arrived. The people of God were marked by the presence of God. Some even accused them of being drunk! The church demonstrated His presence through signs and wonders, and saw the unbelievable happen as they continued the ministry of Jesus in His name. Peter and John healed the crippled beggar; Philip cast out demons and healed paralytics; Paul and Silas escaped from prison; Steven preached with power; 5,000 people confessed Christ as Lord; the church grew; and they remained in Christ for the long-haul.

Most of us have never seen God move like this. You might even think, “It was good for Peter and Paul, but God cannot do that through me.” Or, “God only uses special people like a pastor or an evangelist.” Well, you are special! Peter was a simple fisherman before Jesus chose him, and look what happened. Who were Philip or Steven or Lydia before God moved through them?

You can see God touch people miraculously, but your experience probably will not look like Peter’s. Your story will resemble those of Mark’s mother (who owned a home where the church met), Pricilla and Aquila, Lydia, Philemon or Nympha. We know little of these people except that they were faithful enough to be named in the Word of God. These were a few of the hundreds who prayed, ministered and labored behind the scenes.

In fact, the power of God probably will move through you and me differently than we think. Most believers will never reproduce what happens in a large crusade or on television. Some don’t want to. But we can pray together for God to work. We don’t need one man to do all the praying. Cell groups must learn that the power of God moves through relationships. If someone needs God’s touch, the family is the means for that touch. In the normal ad hoc parts of life, two or three can gather in His name and minister to one another. We can do this as friends and become united.

After college, I asked God to move in the cell group I was leading. I did not know what I was doing. The group had no formal training. We just started seeking God. We grew close to people with deep needs—Don had cancer and had been hurt by the church, Sharon needed Jesus and healing from a recent divorce, and Jim struggled with sexual sin. We could not pray from a distance, with token requests and a closing prayer. We were too close and the needs were too great.

Seek God together for the impossible and watch Him work! When you start praying for deep needs of friends in the cell, your heart will break for them. You will stay up all night praying. You are no longer praying for an anonymous request or for the need of an acquaintance. You are now personally involved, and if God does not answer it affects you too. You will see miracles up close and personal and know that God is present. Your faith will grow, but even more your commitment to one another will multiply like weeds in the spring. And so will those asking you what is so different about your group.

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