Basing the Cell Lesson on the Pastor’s Teaching

joelby Joel Comiskey

I’ve become increasingly excited about the effectiveness of using the pastor’s sermon (teaching) as the basis for the cell lesson. We’ve been doing this in our church plant here in Moreno Valley for years, and I’ve increasingly seen its importance. Here are a  few reasons:

  1. It connects small group with the large group. Basing the cell lesson on the Sunday sermon serves as a constant reminder that the cell isn’t an independent entity doing its own thing. The larger purpose and vision of the cell is to build the local church. The expectation is that those in the cell are also part of the larger gathering on Sunday—or at least being evangelized to eventually hook into the celebration service.
  2. It applies the expository/teaching message to real 24/7 life. I like a church that has a well-planned preaching schedule and skillfully exegetes God’s inerrant Word from the pulpit. Yet, the best churches humbly realize that even excellent sermons are inadequate to completely transform the hearers. George Barna and others are reporting that those inside the U.S. church are not applying what they hear. Statistics demonstrate that North American church goers are not significantly different from those outside the church (e.g., ethics, morals, divorce, pornography, etc.). When a church asks each member to discuss and apply the Sunday message in a cell during the week, there’s a far greater chance that transformation, rather than information, will take place.
  3. This is the pattern of cell churches around the world. As I researched these churches, I noticed that all of them–without exception–based their cell lessons on the pastor’s teaching (either the Sunday sermon or mid-week expository teaching).
  4. It provides a never ending supply of material.Buying cell material at the local Christian bookstore can be very expensive. And even the best material is bound to run out. When the lesson is based on the pastor’s teaching, there is a steady stream of new material–as long as the pastor doesn’t repeat the same sermons each week!
  5. It relieves pressure from the leader.It’s hard enough leading a cell. There are people to visit, leadership development to consider, etc. Add the need to find or prepare the lesson, and the leader might feel overwhelmed. Distributing questions based on the Sunday morning message helps alleviate the leader’s workload.

Cell material is far less important than other key cell components that I’ve blogged about for the last few weeks, but it’s still important. What about you? What kind of material do you use? What are your convictions on this issue?


8 thoughts on “Basing the Cell Lesson on the Pastor’s Teaching

  • What if your church consists of several cell groups and do not yet conduct a corporate sunday sevice to pull a weekly lesson from? Would you say, an equally effective approach would be to just ensure that all the cell groups are sharing the same material?

    • Daniel, good question. Using unified materials would be a great asset for keeping the vision consistent among groups. I like the concept of using teaching that supports cell-based “values” that will keep everyone growing the same direction. I’ll blog on this some tomorrow also.

  • I have led my group with this approach several times. The groupies love it. We get the chance to dig deep into the Pastor’s sermon and discuss the many topics. Our Pastor post his notes on the chuch website so we have a printed guide to follow. Very powerful and transformational.

  • I will blog on wednesday about all my experiences with this. For the last three years all our cell groups use the same cell guide. I call it the cell edification sheet. I will explain more on Wednesday.

  • Daniel, great question about what to do if you don’t have a weekly Sunday celebration. My advice, like Jeff’s, is simply for the lead pastor to prepare the cell lessons and hand them out to the various cell leaders, according to the themes he feels God is laying on his heart.

  • Thank you so much it is a big help to us, our church learned a lot in your articles about cell group, our church right now is slowly transitioning into cell church. And we are now on the basic. Praise God in ministering us.

  • I have several small group leaders that say they don’t always follow the lessons given to them by the pastor becasue they want to make sure ‘the peoples needs within the group’ are being met. I have mixed feelings about this. What is your perspective on how much flexibility a small group leader should have to alter the lesson content to meet the need of a specific group member?

  • Hi Tommy, I believe it’s important that all leaders have the same lesson in their possession. I believe there is liberty to change it as the needs arise. However, each cell leader should be coached and the coach needs to know what’s going on and what the leader is sharing. This can be done via the weekly report, a phone conversation, etc.

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