by Joel Comiskey
When we think of “counseling” we often picture a person sitting or lying on a couch answering questions from a professional psychologist. Cell ministry, on the other hand, promotes group healing. Yes, individual counseling might be needed in some circumstances, but group ministry can meet most of the needs. Larry Crabb, the famous author and psychologist, came to the conclusion that group counseling was more effective in most cases than individual counseling. In his book Connecting, Crabb wrote:
Ordinary people have the power to change other people’s lives. . . . The power is found in connection, that profound meeting when the truest part of one soul meets the emptiest recesses in another. . . . When that happens, the giver is left more full than before and the receiver less terrified, eventually eager, to experience even deeper, more mutual connection (Connecting, p. 31).
Effective small-group leaders get members involved so that each person begins to see themselves as God’s healing agent. Each member of Christ’s body can minister healing to others. No one should sit on the sidelines. Wise leaders encourage group members to share honestly and to pray for one another to experience restoration and healing.
When Monica arrived early to our cell group, she began to pour out her heart: “I’m so thankful I’m no longer living with Andy. I feel clean inside, but it’s still so hard; at times, I feel like I need him.” Frank and Kathy arrived in the middle of our conversation and began to minister to Monica from their own experience. My wife also spoke words of encouragement to her, and eventually all of us began to pray for Monica. My wife and Kathy understood Monica’s needs more deeply than I, and their prayers hit the emotional nerve center of what Monica was going through.
Monica left that night a renewed person. She dedicated herself to live a pure, holy life—without her live-in boyfriend. Her healing came through the ministry of the body of Christ. Notice the idea of group healing and group community. It’s not about one person bringing about all the healing; it’s about everyone ministering to one another. It’s about getting our eyes off one person and onto everyone involved. Small-group healing is not the preacher’s job. Everyone participates, and through the entire group, God moves and blesses each one. Miracles often occur when every member becomes a minister, and the members of the Church begin to see themselves as instruments of healing.
The power of small-group ministry is discovered by allowing each member to minister and connect to each other. It’s a time when confession, inner healing, transparent sharing and renewal happen. I love small-group ministry because it allows the grace for everyone to be involved in the healing process. It opens the door for all people to take place in ministering to others and blessing others through powerful healing prayer.