by Joel Comiskey
I had a recent opportunity to visit specific groups and meet with leaders. Between visiting the groups and meeting with the leaders, I noticed four specific problems. These problems are common to all cell groups worldwide. In fact, I’ve noticed them all over the world.
Here they are:
- Problem people in the group. In this particular group there were asylum seekers from a particular country, which I will not mention in this newsletter. These refugees tended to flood the Life groups, hoping to find help. They became a source of irritation to many groups which felt they were too bold in asking for money. The church had to deal with this situation, making a rule that each Life group should only have one refugee and that asking for money was off-limits. But this is just one example of problem people in groups throughout the world. Other problem people include gossipers, dysfunctional people who don’t know how to relate to others, and debaters.
- The tendency to give advice, rather than listening. As we visited the groups, we noticed this common problem. There was a tendency to offer counsel and to try to correct the problem after someone shared deeply. While members might have the answers, often the greatest healing comes through careful listening, rather than giving immediate answers that tend to shut people down. Now there is a time and a place to give answers. For example, approaching the person individually after the Life group is a great time to share biblical truth. Another option is after diligently listening to the person to say something like, “I hear what you are saying. I wrestled with this issue myself and Jesus showed me this Scripture. . . “
- Dealing with the talkers (and getting the shy to talk). Dealing with the talkers was a common problem with those leaders who signed up to talk with us. I also noticed this problem in one of the groups I visited. Yet, this is also an age-old problem in cell groups worldwide. Left unchecked, a talker can ruin the group and the leader needs to know how to deal with him or her.
- Neglecting key parts of the Life group (Icebreaker, worship, etc.). Two of the three Life Groups I visited were exemplary and life-giving. However, I visited one group that failed to do an icebreaker, and I felt lost. A new person would have felt the same way. Keeping the group moving and a balanced diet of Welcome, Worship, Word, and Works really helps bring life. Granted, there are times when the Spirit moves differently, but unless that happens, it’s best to follow a balanced Life group order.