by Joel Comiskey
So many things can go wrong in a small group:
- Those who talk too much or too little
- Extra grace required people
- No place to meet
- Dirty house after the group meets
- People showing up late or staying too late
- Boring lessons with too many questions
The list could goes on and on.
Books, websites, and ministries have been developed to resolve these small group problems. And most of the material and insight is excellent.
But is leading a small group mainly about solving problems? Is it all about the search for the perfect small group? Is there ever a time when problems will cease? The answer is no, no, and no. The reality is that God has a higher purpose for you and your small group.
To keep the “day one” excitement, it’s essential to understand a higher purpose for small groups. Jesus summed this purpose up when he told his small group to make disciples who make disciples. They understood what he was talking about. After all, they were formed and molded by Jesus for three years in an intimate small group. Before the ascension, Jesus told them to go out and make more discipleship groups (Matthew 28:18-20). And that’s just what they did after Pentecost as they formed house churches and made disciples (Acts 2:42-46).
The reality is that small group problems are here to stay. Cells are messy because they are intimately tied up in the lives of people who have problems. We all do. However, when the theme of making disciples who makes disciples motivates cell ministry, it makes sense. It becomes worthwhile.
I think of my own Life group. We know each other very well, both our strengths and weaknesses. But we meet weekly because we know Jesus wants us to become more like him, and he has chosen the small group atmosphere to mold us to be like him. This knowledge keeps us fresh as we practice the one-anothers, transparent sharing, reaching out, and multiplying new disciples. An unchurched neighbor joined our group recently. We have grown in the process of welcoming him into the life of the group. Is it messy? Yes, the process of integrating new members is a challenge. is it worthwhile? Definitely. Why? Because there’s an eternal purpose behind it: making disciples who make disciples.
My book Making Disciples in the Twenty-First Century Church talks about the why of cell ministry. Have you read it? Here’s a sample chapter.
Don’t get caught up in the external, outward problems or techniques of small group life. Take a step back and understand the broader purpose. You have the privilege of participating in Christ’s work of making disciples who make disciples. Pinch yourself. You are very fortunate indeed. Yes, God has chosen you and your group to further his kingdom purpose of multiplying house churches and making disciples in the process. Go back to day one.