By Joel Comiskey
Do yourself and your group a favor. Cease all cell preparation at least one-half hour before the cell begins (e.g., lesson, refreshment preparation, etc.). Take that time to prepare your heart before God, asking Him to fill you with the Spirit. So many unexpected things happen in the course of a normal cell group: the ringing phone, the unexpected non-Christian visitor, the forgetfulness of Susan to prepare the icebreaker, the broken guitar string, and John’s job loss. When John shares about getting fired during the ice-breaker, should you pray for him immediately, give him more opportunity to share, or wait until after the lesson (perhaps you know John has the tendency to talk a lot)? You’ll need the Spirit’s wisdom.
If you’re a veteran small group leader, you know plans and preparation can help—but they’re insufficient. You’ll agree that Spirit-anointed common sense will hit the home runs. Following rigid, preconceived plans when someone is hurting results in a strikeout. To win the game, you need a good coach. The great news is that the Holy Spirit is willing to give to you the inside, play-by-play counsel on a moment-by-moment basis. To hear His voice loud and clear when you need it, you’ll need His filling before the meeting begins.
Remember also that some of the most powerful ministry occurs while chomping on chips or eating cookies after the cell meeting. Heart talk often transpires when our guard is down, and we’re not worried about every detail of the cell meeting. The Spirit might stir you to minister to the newcomer or talk with the wayward. You might feel impressed to speak to Johnny, who rarely talks during the meeting. Or maybe you need to just listen, while others lead the conversation.
Stay in tune with Him, and He’ll make your way prosperous. He’ll guide your steps. Jim Egli’s book, Small Group, Big Impact is very clear that it’s far more important that the leader prepare himself or herself rather than simply the cell lesson, room environment, refreshments, and so forth. Take heed to Egli’s research and prioritize your spiritual preparation.