By Joel Comiskey
The blogs last week established the fact that the New Testament church continually met in houses, which gathered in celebration when feasible. Paul wrote the gift passages to house churches where each person could exercise his or her role as a priest of the living God. The intimate home atmosphere continues to be the best place to find and exercise the spiritual gifts. Here are a few reasons why:
- In a small environment everyone can participate. This is not true in the celebration service, where only one person will preach or lead worship. Some will do other tasks, but in the small group, the goal is for everyone to discover and exercise his or her spiritual gift. Cell ministry is face to face ministry and part of such relational ministry is getting to know the gifts of each member. We are not neglecting the celebration wing of the cell church. Rather, when someone is using their gift at a smaller level, they can then be asked to use it at a more public level.
- A small group gives liberty to step out. It’s okay to make mistakes in a small group. Most cells have between 4 to 10 people. They are held in a relaxed atmosphere (my own cell is currently meeting at Dennys Restaurant). Give and take is the norm. Informality rules. The best cell leaders ask the members to share the load of the lesson, prayer time, and vision casting. In such an atmosphere, it’s easy to spot how God has wired or gifted each person because there’s freedom to step out.
- It’s a perfect environment to observe the exercise of spiritual gifts. Perhaps you notice that John has the capacity to clarify the meaning of Scripture. Tell him that you believe he has the gift of teaching. Perhaps you notice that Joan always gravitates toward one-on-one conversations with needy people during the refreshment time. Tell her she might have the gift of exhortation. Perhaps Kirk likes to share “words from God.” Confirm Kirk’s gift of prophesy. The gifts were given to edify the body of Christ, and when people are built up through their use, others will feel strengthened and encouraged. Once the group becomes comfortable with each other and more knowledgeable about spiritual gifts, ask them to confirm in each other their spiritual gifts.
- Gift use helps leaders not to become over-burdened with doing everything. Cell leaders need to delegate cell responsibilities according to the giftedness of those present, rather than trying to do it all themselves. We need to steer away from the lone-ranger mentality in cell ministry and focus on the team, the concept that each member is a minister.