By Joel Comiskey, check out coaching
At one time in my life, I wanted to sing solos, so I took voice lessons in preparation. However, I made a big mistake. I tried to sing my first solo too early in the process. I made my debut before the gathered church one Sunday night. My voice cracked, I felt embarrassed, received some criticism, and decided I didn’t want to do that again. The large audience wasn’t merciful to my mistakes. In reality, I should have started in a smaller setting, learned from my mistakes, and made the necessary corrections.
Jesus chose the small group atmosphere to prepare his disciples. They learned and grew in the small group as they walked with the Master, made mistakes, reflected on what they learned, and then received new challenges. When the disciples first joined Christ’s group, they had little knowledge of what they were getting into. But along the way, they took on more challenges,which led all the way to the cross and resurrection. After the resurrection, they received the Holy Spirit’s power, and continued to take steps of faith to lead the early church.
Often people come into the cell group with very little experience in the Christian faith. The leader’s job is to keep them moving forward, while keeping two main principles in mind:
- Don’t raise the bar too high. That is, help them to succeed by taking baby sets. Rather, than having them lead the lesson right away, for example, start with an ice-breaker, a word of encouragement to someone, or picking their favorite worship song.
- Be a fanatic for encouragement. Find something positive to say about the step of faith. “Great choice of song, Jim.” “Great ice-breaker, Mary.” “Thanks for that wonderful encouragement,” Juan. For every criticism or correction, generously give 4 or 5 encouraging words.
People are far more likely to take the next step in the journey if they first take baby steps followed by loads of encouragement.
I look back with amusement at the time I tried to sing a solo in a Sunday night church service. I can laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny at the time. I also learned important lessons from that experience: I didn’t take sufficient baby steps, and I I didn’t get needed encouragement and corrections in a smaller setting.
Each of us has a long way to go and are in different places in the Christian life. Some of you reading this blog are apostles of large church networks. Others are new members of a cell group. But each person, regardless of where they are in the Christian life, follows a similar pattern of taking one step, followed by another, and then another. As Paul said, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).