By Joel Comiskey
One fruitful cell leader in Tegucigalpa, Honduras told me that she varied the order of the cell meeting each week because “variety is the spice of life,” she said. She wanted to avoid boredom among the members. On the other hand, one seminar organizer told me to exclusively emphasize the 4Ws (Welcome, Worship, Word, and Witness) and not to teach that the 4Ws could be varied in any way. He said, “If you give them liberty to change the order of the 4Ws, they won’t know what to do and the groups will be a disaster.”
So who is right? I like the 4Ws, but they should never be slavishly followed, as if they are inspired by God. Rather, the 4Ws are a means to an end. They are not the end itself. Remember that the goal is to make disciples who make disciples. The purpose of the cell is to build up (oikodomeo) each member so that each member will be transformed and become a more dedicated follower of Jesus.
How does the leader do this? This is where the filling of the Spirit of God comes in. Effective leaders are led and guided by the Holy Spirit. They allow the Spirit of God to guide them to lead the meeting. They ask Jesus for wisdom and then allow each member to minister to one another. The goal is to develop disciples, not simply hearers.
Ministering to one another cannot be neatly boxed into a order or schedule. John Wesley instructed his cell leaders in the 18th century to ask one question: “How has your soul prospered during the past week?” In other words, how have you been doing with Jesus during the last week. Each member would respond and the members were encouraged to ask each other questions. It was all about holiness and becoming disciples of Jesus. Simple, right? Those home-based classes changed England and saved it from disaster and the Methodist revival happened.
I’m not downplaying diligent planning or following a clear order, like the 4Ws. This is especially important for those just beginning to lead a cell group. However, we need to go beyond the order and understand the goal of cell ministry. Are you following the Spirit of God? Are you allowing members to minister to one another?