Eighteen years have passed since I researched why some leaders were able to lead their small groups to multiplication and why others were not. To make sure the statistics were accurate, 700 leaders filled out the questionnaire in eight countries. I published the results in my first book, Home Cell Group Explosion, as well as on my website.
In summary, the data revealed that cell multiplication did not correlate with personality, spiritual gifts, social class, education, marriage status, or gender (i.e., external factors). Yet, it showed very clearly that cell leader fruitfulness depended on the leader’s spiritual life. In other words, those cell leaders who were willing to pay the price in prayer, spend time with God in daily devotions, and intercede in prayer for their cell members were much more effective in leading and multiplying a cell group.
These findings should not be surprising because Jesus himself talked about the reward of the Father for those who seek him. He says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” It’s during our secret devotional time with God that he fills us, guides us, and shows us how to live the Christian life.
During those fellowship moments, he gives leaders insight and direction. He shows them how to lead the group, evangelize others, and develop new disciples that results in multiplication. The reality is that so many unexpected things happen in the course of a normal cell group: the ringing phone, the unexpected non-Christian visitor, the forgetfulness of John to prepare the icebreaker, and so forth. Leaders need Spirit-anointed common sense to minister effectively. The great news is that the Holy Spirit is willing to give the inside, play-by-play counsel on a moment-by-moment basis. To hear His voice loud and clear when you need it, you’ll need His filling before the meeting begins.
Even Jesus made decisions after communing with the Father. As we read in Luke 5:16, He made it a priority to spend time alone with His Father: “… Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15 explains that when Christ’s fame was spreading, the success of his ministry compelled Him to spend more time with God. In the midst of an increasingly busy ministry, He separated from the multitude for quiet time. If Jesus Christ, our model, prioritized His time with the Father, shouldn’t we?
As a small group leader, pastor, or both, spending time with God must be your chief and most important priority. When your group senses you’re hearing from the Creator, they’ll be more apt to follow you. When you can point to times in which you sensed His urging, and He spoke to your heart, you’ll gain the respect of those in your group.