Growing a cell group is not rocket science even though it looks like it. It’s difficult for many cell group leaders to grow and multiply their groups but I believe that multiplying a cell group is an art. If you can consistently follow a list of things and do them weekly, you are bound to make that happen. Every person can learn this art of growing and multiplying cell groups from scratch. I have had an opportunity to grow and multiply about 5 cell groups in our church. What does that mean? It means we started with no one and we were able to grow the group to about 10 and then within the time trained another person who could also lead the group so that the work could continue.
As you read this, may God give you the wisdom to practice this every week? The difference is in what you do every week.
If you don’t want your cell group to multiply, this article isn’t for you. I believe the real purpose for a cell group is to grow and multiply. If yours has any other main purpose apart from this, then this section might not be of benefit to you. Practice these 10 things and you will depopulate hell immensely.
1. Have a vision of when you want to multiply your group
Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
I have discovered that, this is probably the main reason that keeps cell leaders from never multiplying. Have a date when you want your group to multiply. It means at this date, you have an assistant who is ready to break out and continue the good work of shepherding.
I usually ask groups that are starting to give themselves 6 months. Write a statement like this: On ____, I want to be able to have trained an assistant who is ready to take over my group so I start a new one or go out and start their own. The next most important thing is to share that date EVERY week with your cell group members.
They need to know the date off the top of their head also. Put it somewhere it will be easy to see so you remind yourself and them. The date to multiply needs to be revealed to you through an amount of time in prayer so you are sure you are co-operating with God.
2. Pray for your members every day
Your members need prayer EVERY day from their cell leader. Always carve sometime to know what to pray for them on. I have discovered that leaders who pray for their members every day have their members more open and receptive to the gospel. Getting a group to grow and multiply is a spiritual warfare.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Walking according to the world is in accordance to the working of a spirit and power that causes us to disobey God. If the group is going to be effective, that power needs to be battled and fought against every day. I mean every day.
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
1 Timothy 1:18
3. Meet once a week
You might think this should be normal but believe me it’s not. The consistent meeting is very important. A cell leader will have many reasons why the meeting wouldn’t come on that week but you need to make sure the meeting has become a consistent thing. In the beginning, you might get excuses from people why they can’t come and you can even have bad days also that you don’t want to have it but you need to ALWAYS make sure you have your meeting irrespective of who has called out or how you feel. The leadership life is a lonely life and especially because of the influence you are having in other lives in a spiritual sense you will be attacked often and so you need to sometimes even tell your assistant to always call to find out if we are meeting and make sure you make the meeting come on. The presence of the leader gathers the people.
My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, my flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.
Make sure you meet EVERY week unless there’s a church event that doesn’t make it possible. I have tried bi-weekly cell groups before but they didn’t work so well because when someone misses one meeting, you won’t see the person again till after 1 month. You can’t change people’s lives meeting them monthly.
4. Helping build relationships in the group
What links the group are the relationships the members form? You need to make a conscious effort to make sure the relationships are formed intentionally. When friends come together, it’s different from when strangers come together. God made it so that we grow with love all around us.
As long as you intentionally create that environment where people can learn more about each other, the relationships will be built. You can have 5-10 minutes ice breaker games during your meetings. A good example is the fact & fiction game where each member is supposed to say 2 false things and one fact about themselves and the rest of the group is supposed to figure out which one is the fact of truth. The laugh and smiles foster friendships. Sometimes after church service, you just connect the members to speak to each other. It’s got to be intentional. You can take pictures as they speak and all this become topics for conversation. Encourage them to call each other during the week. Connect students who can help each other and the like but almost every week, you need to be connecting the members to building friendships. Relationships create love which grows each person.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work
This verse emphasizes the fact that when the body is well joined through relationships, it helps every part to be supported and then it begins to grow and it builds itself up. If you don’t intentionally start relationships, your group won’t grow. There are 59 one-another verses in the bible. If you can get them to be friends, you are on the road to getting your group to practice these. You can see these 59 verses in Appendix C
5. Always invite people
A group grows by members being added and the major way to add members is by invitation. Remember your Oikos relationships. Oikos is the Greek word New Testament writers used to represent those key relationships we all find at the center of our daily lives. Like everyone else, your oikos is made up of your friends, family, neighbors, classmates and coworkers. Jesus’ expectation is that you also will tell them what God has done for you and invite them. The Oikos principle is the primary strategy for reaching out to our community with God’s love. In the beginning of the group, you ask members to put together a list of people who haven’t given their lives to Christ or who need to go deeper with God. You pray for that list every time you guys meet. You always encourage members after prayer to invest, inform and invite them.
- Invest in them by listening to them, meeting practical needs or just spending time together as friends.
- Inform them by sharing with them what God has done for you in your relationship with Jesus. Here you focus on what you already know because it’s important they know the story of your faith.
- Invite them to take a step closer to Jesus or invite them to your cell group or most importantly to go to church with you. Jesus will do the rest.
The main secret to adding members is that EVERY week, the leader should aim to invite someone. Look at people who aren’t in cell groups at church and invite them. Anytime someone visits your church, talk to the person and invite especially if they are seekers. The leader should take inviting people personally and make it a priority. If it’s something that you do, you can always talk to members about inviting those on their list also. Moreover, TEAM invitation works best. Sometimes, when only one person invites, they won’t show up but when 4 people all invite, you will be amazed they will show up. If new people join the group, it boosts the morale of the group and everyone knows that they are part of something which is working. Make invitation a weekly thing as a leader
6. Contact members personally every week
If you are always afraid the number of people who will show up for your meeting, this is the secret. If you CONTACT them, they will come. Sometimes leaders have a funny feeling in their stomach the day before because there are times you are the only person who showed up and it can be discouraging. However, if you contact them they will come. During the week, make sure you call them all especially a day or two before the meeting. Find out how their week has gone and if you can encourage and pray with them, go ahead and do that. They will appreciate it so much and then you can tell them that you are looking forward to seeing them at the meeting. If they won’t come, they will tell you. It’s then time to fight every excuse and encourage them to. One time when I was contacting my members, a member said she couldn’t come because she was going for shopping. Such an excuse is so flimsy that you can overcome it a good time before the meeting. If you contact them, they will come.
7. 30 – 60 Minutes Preparation Before Meeting
The main work of a leader is to change the minds of followers to follow one vision. People come with different goals and the leader’s work is to let them all see the vision God has given the group and move them to accomplish it.
Such a herculean task calls for preparation every week. Every meeting, you have the task of changing their minds a little bit more for them to appreciate the gospel and serve God. You need to spend about an hour preparing for the meeting. One day, my assistant asked me how come I was able to talk and keep the discussion flowing and challenging and insightful. She asked because periods when I wasn’t around, she had less to say. The difference is the fact that as a leader you should come to every meeting with a hidden agenda to fulfill the vision God has given you for the group. For example, in this meeting, I want to send out the message that only Jesus can save and nothing else can. I want to come and drive that into the minds and heart of the members as much as I get the opportunity to speak. I get verses around that agenda and questions to ask which will steer the discussion towards that goal during my preparation time. The members need a revelation word and it is your preparation time that you can give them that. You do not need to be the facilitator of the discussion, but you are the one who will be judged for the success of the assignment you have been given. Always be ready to give them something challenging and inspiring from the word of God
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
1 Peter 3:15
8. Plan one outreach a month
If the group isn’t outreach minded, it will die. What gives humans purpose is what we do to help and reach out to others. As the leader, you should always be outreach minded and looking for ways the members can reach out to their community or their invitation list. Sometimes they drag their feet but every outreach ends with joy. Anytime we finish reaching out which can be helping a new parent, gathering money for the orphanage, feeding the homeless, it always ends in joy. You can also try movie outreaches which call for everyone inviting someone. Outreach is the mission we have all been given. Try to always plan something once a month that will help the people look outside of themselves. These outreaches always end in joy and the joy of the Lord is the strength of your group. After an outreach event, the disciples came back with joy.
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
The strength to go to the next month depends on the outreach event which brings memories. For example, to even get my group outreach minded, I setup this program once that if we are 9 or more in a meeting, we will give $10 to the orphanage.
It encouraged those who wanted to help the poor to at least invite people and take it personal when others didn’t show up. It meant their absence caused someone to become hungry. This outreach mindset now even kicks in every week.
9. Ending the group meeting with outreach prayer
I cannot emphasize how much you need to drill the outreach mentality into your group every week. At the end of every meeting in about 5-10 minutes, let everyone pray for their invitation list. Pray that God will touch them this coming week and soften their heart more. One good thing I like to do is put an empty chair in the middle and ask that we pray for the new person who will sit in this chair next week. After that prayer, I ask who is going to invite someone to fill this chair and I wait for an answer. All this sends out the message that we aren’t only here to enjoy ourselves but we want to think of the new person coming. If no one is responding, call out names. This always works as you will get 1 or 2 people who will try and invite. They should be comfortable enough inviting their list and this 5-10 minutes time after everything before the grace is shared.
Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he sends more laborers into the harvest.
10. Make sure you are keeping data
There is a whole book in the bible devoted to numbers. Data is very important because it helps you make informed decisions. Data usually serves as an extra counsel when making a decision as a leader in who to follow up on, who to pray for, who to visit, when to do outreach etc. The only way you can know where to go next is if you know where you currently are. Secondly, the only way to know you have arrived at your destination when you are traveling is by what you are expecting to see and when you see it. If you are on your way to New York and you see a sign which says “Welcome to Philadelphia”, it means you aren’t in New York yet but when you finally see “Welcome to New York”, you know you are in New York. That is what data does. The data you see helps you to know where you are and where you must be and with that you can plan a course of action. I record data every week and it helps me to plan every week.
“Plans are established by counsel; By wise counsel wage war.”
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
Your ability to wage a good war and establish your plans comes from good counsel that data will give you. Data never lies. See the data in Appendix D and replicate it for the cell group leaders.
The answer is: Quit doing everything yourself and think about how to involve each of your members in ministry activities, outreach, and leadership roles!