How you start a cell group is very important in your ability to multiply your group. You need to make sure you build on solid ground. Cell groups usually die when their leaders are discouraged. If you can protect yourself from discouragement, you will surely do well with growing and multiplying your cell group. Starting anything is hard, especially as few people if any will buy into your vision of the cell group.
The devil is an expert at killing great things at the infant stage so that it will never ever become what it needs to become. He tried it with Jesus when he sent Herod after him to kill him in Bethlehem and believe me if I say the devil has been planning your demise right from the beginning. These 10 steps will help you get a good foundation from the beginning. At this point, I’m assuming you have prayed and you are fully convinced that you want to lead a cell group. These are practical steps to follow:
1. Pray throughout
From when you decide to host a group till when it begins officially, pray throughout. Leading a cell group is a spiritual exercise which calls for spiritual effort and measures. Prayer is the master key which solidifies what you are starting. Bible says the strong man needs to be bound first.
No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.
It tells you that for people to change, whatever is in control of their lives now will have to be broken first. While praying, God can give you a goal of when you should aim at multiplying the group. These are some prayer points you should consider praying always:
- that everyone who came the week before will come again,
- that new people will come and be born again,
- that the group will grow,
- that the flock will understand the word and their lives will be affected,
- that every need will be met: healing, peace of mind, salvation, deliverance,
- that God will give you a spirit of revelation in the Word.
2. Complete your vision form
This helps you to know where you are going. What will drive you to succeed is your vision and it has got to be one that God gives you. What will motivate you is your vision. You should know when you want to multiply your group and the number of people you expect to have then. Make sure your vision lines up with the vision of the church. Your vision should be about the group’s health, growth and multiplication. Group health means is God’s presence there? What can I do to bring his presence there and avoid his presence leaving? Group number growth means is the number increasing? What must I do to remove barriers of growth? The form should look like this:
– I have the vision of leading a healthy, growing, multiplying small group.
– I will learn what it takes to make this vision come true.
– By God’s grace, I will live the habits needed to make this vision come true.
– My group will multiply every 6 months
Sign and date this commitment.
Read the statement of your dream regularly and make it an ongoing focus for prayer, learning, and effort.
3. Don’t do it alone
God never created anyone to handle His work alone. Jesus even worked with 12 disciples and many women.
He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach
David was assisted by mighty men,
These were the chiefs of David’s mighty warriors—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the Lord had promised
1 Chronicles 11:10 (TLB)
It’s important you understand that if you undertake this alone from the beginning, you will fail. It’s important that you have that mind from the beginning. Don’t start alone. Starting anything is difficult and being the only one, you can easily become discouraged. The things that the devil will throw at you to put you in despair are so many that you don’t want to fight them alone. We weren’t built to fight alone. Unity is strength so don’t do it alone. You have no idea the snares that have been set for you by the devil. The other person is your anchor in desperate times, especially the ones you didn’t foresee coming.
4. Meet with your assistant
Spend time to pray and find a mighty man, an assistant. When you find one, take the person to lunch and share your dream and goals for the group with the person. These are the following things you should go over with your assistant:
- Why you chose the person,
- Rehearsal of the meeting,
- Expectation and commitment,
An example of a document you can use can be seen in Appendix A
5. Make a simple flier
Don’t make anything complicated. I like to use a business-card-like paper for invites. This is because it’s small enough that they will put it in their pocket. They can find it there anytime. It should contain the day you meet, the time you meet, the venue of meeting, phone number to call, email address and a simple message at the back.
6. Make a list of 25 people
For many are called, but few are chosen.
Experienced group leaders…realize that you usually have to personally invite 25 people for 15 to say they will attend. Of those 15, usually only 8 to 10 will actually show up, and of those only 5 to 7 will be regular attenders after a month or so. This is a list that you and your assistant can come up with. Look throughout your church and look at those who aren’t in cell groups already and are disconnected. Put together more names of friends and especially neighbors.
Don’t forget your oikos relationships: friends, family members, co-workers, class mates and neighbors. Between you and your assistant come up with this list; a table that can help you put it together is in Appendix B. It should have a name, phone, email address, invited column. Let your focus be on the unchurched and the disconnected.
7. Personally invite them all:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
A research was once conducted on many cell groups. The question was, why did you join this group? 98% of the people said it was because they were personally invited by the host or the leader or by someone. What I’m saying is that the general announcements at church don’t work. Neither does mass Facebook announcements. People are looking for friends and that’s how friendship starts: personally, talking to the person. An example of what to say during invitation: “I want to PERSONALLY invite you to be a part of our small group at…. It’s a wonderful fun group of good Christians who love one another and are there for one another. We eat together and we pray for one another. Most importantly, we study the bible together every Tuesday. You will learn a lot about how to live a better life and do well in life. We touch on different issues relating to spiritual, marriage, relationships, work and the best friends you would ever have will be in this group. If after 4 weeks commitment, you do not want it, you are free to leave with no issues. Is it something you want to try out?”
8. Reminder call and email
The week can get so busy that you don’t want to assume they will remember because actually they forgot an hour after you invited them. First send them an email 3 days before the day. Let the email show excitement. Add exclamations like “yipee” and “yaaaay”. Excitement is transferable and people want to join something exciting so try to convey that. It’s important that you call them a day before and remind them. “Hi John, this is Mason, hope you’re having a good day! I’m just calling to remind you about the small group meeting I invited you to last Sunday morning. We’ll be meeting this Sunday night at 6pm at my house. If you need more info feel free to give me a call at 555-5555 or you can check your email for the Small Group Reminder I sent you. I’m praying for you and your family, hope to see you there! God bless…”
9. Share the burden with champions
One of the most important things that will be able to keep the group going is the presence of champions in your group. A champion is someone who has picked a part of the meeting and owns it. It’s important that they serve one another with their gifts.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10
Use your first meeting to find champions for different parts of the meeting. If someone is saying no, try to encourage the person that they can do it. You can convince them to learn from you 2 weeks in a row so they can pick it up and champion it. The blessing at the cell group level is that we can serve one another if even we can’t do it at the church level. These are some champions to consider:
- Evangelism champion – Helps group reach out to and pray for friends who do not have a relationship with Christ (I recommend the leader to do this)
- Worship Champion – Leads worship through singing or any form of singing
- Food Champion – Helps plan anything related to food
- Prayer Champion – Leads prayer times, may keep prayer journal
- Study Champion – Facilitates Bible Study time (Let your assistant do this)
- Host Champion – Hosts or plans meeting place for group
- Announcement Champion – Sends out announcements to remind members via emails and texts.
The main catch with champions is that at least you are guaranteed a certain number of people in a meeting. They aren’t coming because you invited them but they come because no one could fill their void when they aren’t. This takes away the stomach rumblings that some cell leaders get the day before a meeting because they aren’t sure who will show up. Make people champion certain parts of the whole meeting and you shall always be at peace before meetings. Appendix H is a form you can use at the meeting. Give it to each member and let them fill where they would like to serve and collect it at the end. Don’t let anyone take it home. This will help you know where to put everyone as a leader
10. Facilitate with these simple questions
What usually scares people from starting cell groups is the feeding of the word part. Please remember that this is usually a discussion and so as long as it is being steered towards the goal of the meeting, you should be fine. These questions can help in any case. The four questions are:
“What stands out to you in this passage?” Just after you read a portion of Scripture, this is an ideal question to begin with because there is no right or wrong answer. Anyone can respond to it honestly and quickly. The question is simple, yet it surfaces promptings that God is speaking to people, and sometimes it reveals important things that are going on in their lives.
“What do you think the main point is?” After getting people’s first impressions, this question is perfect because it guides your attention to the heart of the passage. There are different ways to ask this. When digging into a Romans passage, you might say, “What do you think Paul is really try to say?” Or, if you are studying a parable of Christ, you might ask, “What do you think Jesus is trying to get across?” Don’t get in a hurry. Allow time to let people’s thoughts and questions emerge. The depth and richness of Scripture becomes so powerful when we grapple with it together.
“What would it look like if Christ-followers totally applied this lesson (or obeyed this principle) in their lives today?“ Once you can have discovered the key thrust of the passage, now you want to figure out together how it should change our everyday lives. Again, there are other ways to ask this. You might ask, “Have you known anyone who is a wonderful example of this?” Or, “What has it looked like when you have, or have not, applied this principle in your life?” All of these questions help us see what applying the truth of a passage looks like in real life.
Finally, ask: “What is one way you can apply this truth to your life this week?” Your goal is to guide each person to respond to God in a tangible way. You don’t want to pressure people to reply, but you do want to give each person an opportunity to easily respond and, if needed, to receive prayer, so it often best to move into smaller groups at this point so that people can share more freely.
BONUS: Give “Friday Nights” to Jesus
Friday nights is a metaphor. It doesn’t actually have to be Friday nights. It is an informal time of Diet Coke, table games and coffee cake. If you can get them to the party, you would not be able to keep them from class. The Bible says to, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9).” Without grumbling because all good ideas degenerate into work and because some people are hard to love. Love them anyway. Love them in common, ordinary, pedestrian ways like having them into your home, breaking bread, eating together, sharing together—doing life together. Research shows that 90% of people you invite into your home to spend some time of fun with you usually join and stay in the church. So, try to open your home to people who are invited to your cell group. If you invite them to your house first and invite them later to your cell group, they will come. People are looking for friends and not friendliness. Be a friend first.
Romans 12:13b LB