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6 Habits of a Healthy Group Leader


New members sense a freedom to share deeply in the warm atmosphere of an accepting, loving group. The “cell atmosphere” is the most effective way to expose non-Christians to the truth of the Gospel.

During one cell meeting, leader René Naranjo of Ecuador began a lesson on how Jesus cleared out the temple (John 2). Discussion flowed from the Jewish temple, to our own bodies as God’s temple, to home cells as God’s temple today. René guided the discussion when necessary, but the conversation flowed naturally and orderly. One couple said little, but they were asked to share their thoughts. This couple lacked a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, yet no one pounced on them with the Good News. They felt liberty to express themselves. René closed the cell by asking those who wanted to receive Jesus Christ to pray a simple prayer with him and visit with him after the meeting concluded.

In the last six months, René Naranjo has planted three daughter cells. He personally supervises these new cells and disciples the leaders. In his cell group, non-Christians feel comfortable to express their opinions, as he graciously points them to the Savior.

Are you targeting non-Christians in your group and including them in the lesson? Cell evangelism is not a programmatic, canned approach. Rather, it’s a personal process of sharing Good News about forgiveness of sin and new life in Jesus. Because of the intimate, caring atmosphere of small groups, evangelism happens naturally.


A man had a beautiful garden that yielded rich and abundant food. His neighbor saw it and planted his own garden in the spring, but he did nothing to it: no watering, cultivating or fertilizing. In the fall, his garden was devastated, overgrown with weeds and bearing no fruit. He initially concluded that gardening does not work. After more thought, he decided that the problem was bad soil or maybe that he lacked a “green thumb.” Meanwhile, a third neighbor started a garden. Though his garden did not immediately yield as much as the first man’s, he worked hard and continued learning. As he practiced new ideas year after year, his garden reaped an increasingly abundant harvest.

The truth of this parable is obvious. I traversed the globe to discover the secrets of small-group growth, and the same principles made the difference between cell growth and stagnation in every country, culture and church. Prayer, hard work and the steady application of proven principles set apart the successful cell group leaders. The insights outlined here will work for you if you are willing to pay the price. These habits require time and effort.

Successful cell leaders spend time seeking God’s face and are dependent on Him for the direction of their group. They prepare themselves first and then turn their attention to the lesson. They pray diligently for their members as well as for non-Christian contacts. But successful cell leaders do not stop with prayer. They come down from the mountaintop and interact with real people, full of problems and pain. They pastor their cell members and visit them regularly. They invite new people, visit newcomers and evangelize naturally in their small groups. By developing these habits, any cell leader can lead a group to grow 6 Habits of a Healthy Group Leaderand multiply. That is God’s heart and His Great Commission. How are you doing?

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Joel Comiskey (Ph.D. Fuller Seminary) is an internationally recognized cell church coach and consultant. He has served as a missionary with the C&MA in Quito, Ecuador and is now founding pastor of a cell-based church in Southern California. Joel has written best selling books on the worldwide cell group movement. He teaches as an adjunct professor at several theological seminaries. Joel Comiskey Group is a tax exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to helping complete the Great Commission in this century by providing resources and coaching to plant new cell churches and transition existing churches to cell-based ministry. For further reading on this topic, see Comiskey's books Making Cell Groups Work Navigation Guide and Home Cell Group Explosion.