By Joel Comiskey
When helping cell leaders prepare the lesson more effectively, two words of advice come to mind: preparation and flexibility.
I highly recommend that the leader receives a copy of the lesson before the pastor preaches on Sunday morning. It really helps if the small group leader can listen to the pastor’s Sunday message, while envisioning how that message will apply to his or her small group. In the internet age, it’s quite easy for the lead pastor (or the one who prepares the lesson) to send out the lesson via email to each team leader on Sunday morning before the preaching. It’s also wise to print out the lesson to make it available for team members when they enter the church.
I lead a cell with other team members. Before pastor Eric preaches on Sunday at Wellspring, I download his message onto my Samsung cell phone. As Pastor Eric preaches, I follow the lesson on my phone, switch to my kindle Bible app on the phone, and also jot down notes on my “S Note” software. This gives me a head start before my Tuesday evening LIFE group.
But I also like Randall Neighbour’s advice about including a lesson copy in the bulletin so every cell member has the lesson in hand. This is great advice. Why not prepare the members as well as the leaders!
Does the pastor have to prepare the lesson? Often the main pastor will take on this responsibility, but if the pastor notices another gifted person, he may decide to give his sermon notes to that person who will then prepare the lesson. Perhaps an associate pastor could do it.
The lesson questions are guidelines, not laws. One of the most common errors is for the leader to ask too many discussion questions during the cell group. Some small group leaders feel obligated to cover all the questions—even if there are ten or more. Don’t do this. Choose the ones that best suit your group. For example, last Tuesday, I only used two questions from the sermon. I closed with, “What else has God showed you from this passage?” This stimulated the members to apply the message in new ways.
I’m discovering more and more that the LIFE group is all about sharing life. It’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to transform through the minister of each person. It’s not a Bible study! Yes, God’s inerrant Word undergirds everything in the life group, but as I shared last week, it’s God’s Word applied to those present.
My advice is to allow the people to leave with a hunger for more, rather than a commitment never to return to such a long, boring small group meeting. I also think it’s important to leave time for prayer, the ice-breaker, and outreach.