Dealing with Problems in the Cell Group

joelby Joel Comiskey

Recenly in my LIFE   group (Living In Fellowship to Evangelize), I confronted a member about a particular issue. I felt he was overstating his point. I felt justified in pointing out a “blind spot,” but after the LIFE group my wife nailed me: “Joel, don’t you think you could have talked to him afterwards about that issue? Don’t you think he would have accepted your words better in a more conducive setting? Ouch. I knew she was right, and I also knew I had it coming. My confrontation with the brother made everyone feel uncomfortable, and it was hard to regain the momentum of the LIFE group after it happened. I did talk to this brother later, asking him to forgive me for my timing. He accepted my apology and we forged an even deeper bond between us.

Cell  groups are born for intimacy and in such a close atmosphere conflicts will occur. You’ll see weaknesses in your brothers and sisters. You’ll witness areas that need correction.  You might discover, for example, that a cell member is out of control in financial spending, drinking, or pornography. Or perhaps there are issues of pride, rebellion, workaholism, ignoring children or wife, skipping church, or not tithing. Care enough to confront. Holding back and being “nice” when you should share the truth does not serve the person’s  best interests. Challenge the person and he or she will appreciate you for it. The Bible even says in Hebrews 3:13: “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Yet, here are a few guidelines when you do confront.

1. Ask for permission

You might say, : “Jane, can I have permission to share with you something I’m seeing about your life?” This is so important because people feel slighted if we barge in on them and tell them our  “expert knowledge.” By asking permission before you bring up a problem or concern, you increase the respect your members/leaders feel for you. You’re placing the control where it belongs—in the hands of the person. Asking permission is especially important when the issue is unusually intimate or potentially uncomfortable for the person.

2. Consider timing (this is the area I needed to work on in talking with the brother)

3. Confront ASAP (that is, talk about the matter when it’s still fresh; don’t wait until it’s no longer relevant)

3. Separate the person from the wrong action

4. Avoid words like always and never

5. Affirm him or her as a person and a friend

Would you like to add a technique you have used in confronting a brother or sister? (whether a cell member, cell leader, or staff person). Please share it in the comment box below. How have  you dealt with problems that have come up in your cell groups (good or bad)?


9 thoughts on “Dealing with Problems in the Cell Group

  • good lesson….will use in men’s prayer breakfast….i’ve learned restating a person’s point ensures me that i didn’t hear it wrong and saves me from correcting the wrong point many times….the group can also learn subtle things about what the person “was really saying”

  • In many cultures, it would not be your personal, private task to correct another.

    Rather you would go through a mediator, someone older, neutral or so designated, who knows how to approach your issue with the other party. This usually works very well.

    Now, you corrected, perhaps humiliated, the other chap in front of others. Did you ask forgiveness in front of the others, as well?

  • I also wondered if you had apologized to the gentleman in front of the group. If I had been similatly corrected or “chastened” in a group setting I might be really embarrassed, depending on the circumstances. Now that time has passed, perhaps you could mention to the brother privately that you wanted to make amends with the group and, with his blessing, follow through. This would demonstrate sensitivity & humility on your part.
    If this is inappropriate for this situation, please forgive me. But I did think of Luke 6::41 when reading your account.

  • You are all correct! And I have absolutely no problem in doing that. And I will! Actually, this brother leads TONIGHT so I will mention this situation before he even starts.

  • I have experienced very recently a very bad experience with an intern of mine who i was training for leading a Cell.I wasnt rushing her as she was a very sensitive person with low self esteem and prideful.While i was visiting her, she brought out topics which i felt at that moment needed to be checked as it wasnt right to just let her go on on the same topics again.But unfortunately it was her child’s bday and what started as a conversataion ended with her suddenly loosing her cool.She didnt come to the Cell and i went the next day and apologised and told her i love her. she in fact with consulatation of her husband went and reported to my G-12 Leader saying that i rebuked her in front of her child and it wasnt so…as he overheard his mother getting upset and got upset.The whole incident turned sour and i am still recovering from the hurt and although i have forgiven her she too and we both said sorry, there is such a strain that i am asking God to heal us as she is so precious to me.I think asking like you said is important before we correct.Also timing is very very important too.

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