By Joel Comiskey, check out coaching
Some people have reacted to the idea that everyone should be in a cell group. “Wouldn’t this stifle creativity and a person’s giftedness?” they say. “Isn’t it better if some join a cell while others join a particular program in the church?”
Many pastors believe that if someone has an urge to do something, he or she should start a new program. Or perhaps there’s already a program operating in the church that will compliment that gifting. If not, the church should create a new ministry for the person. Is this how the early church operated?
The truth is that the cell group is the best place to discover spiritual gifts.
Earlier on in my cell ministry, a person tried to convince me to add additional programs, so that people could find and exercise their spiritual gifts. “But in the small groups they’ll have a chance to exercise their gifts,” I countered. “Those with the gift of mercy will have the opportunity to minister to those in need—both in and outside the group. The person with the gift of teaching can clarify a passage of scripture. Those with the gifts of service or helps will have plenty of chances to use their gifts in the cell.”
He didn’t really hear what I was saying and our conversation that night ended in a stalemate. We both had strong opinions. But the conversation was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to revisit the issue of spiritual gifts and cell groups. The conversation stirred me to go back to scripture for answers.
I realized afresh that when Paul wrote about the gift passages, he was writing to believers meeting in home groups (Ephesians 4; Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12-14). In all three passages about the gifts, he connects giftedness with the body of Christ. The only way to know where a person fits in the body of Christ is to discover his or her giftedness. The home atmosphere of the early church gave each person ample opportunity to test, prove and discover their own spiritual giftedness and place in the body of Christ.
I encourage cell leaders to study the gifts of the Spirit and to approach cell members about their gifts. One thing I discovered when writing the book, The Spirit-Filled Small Group: Leading Your Group to Experience the Spiritual Gifts, was that when a person knows and uses his or her spiritual gift, he or she will feel more responsible and needed. The person doesn’t want to miss the cell, knowing that he or she is needed in the body of Christ.
Gift Discovery that helps form disciples is a key reason for prioritizing cell involvement. When a church or pastor asks a person to be in a cell group as a requirement for other programs and ministries, the reason is to help him or her discover God’s purpose and to become an active disciple of Jesus Christ.
 Carl George, How to Break Growth Barriers, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993), p. 136.
 Normally, ONE speaker preaches ONE sermon per Sunday. I was surprised—and initially offended–after I preached a 50-minute translated sermon in a large church in Russia last Sunday and another pastor stood up to preach a second sermon! There are always exceptions but you understand my point.