Cell Lessons, Training

Our initial leader training was provided by Wesleyan Fellowship and was based on a guide from Touch Outreach Ministries. It covers the leader’s role both as meeting facilitator and outside the meetings as minister to the cell members. The latter role applies in cell churches, but not in our cells. Members are asked to volunteer each week to lead any of the sessions they desire. They review the material for the session they are responsible for both before and after the meeting – thus promoting continuing improvement. They are encouraged to be very aware of the scheduled time and try to meet their session’s allocation but not cut off a meaningful discussion just to end on time – staying open to the leading of the Spirit. Meetings tend to be much longer than planned so if the session is running short, don’t stretch it.

What follows is a summary of the training material directly applicable to the meeting itself.

What is a Cell Group

A recent Wesleyan Fellowship sermon topic was “What Is a Cell Group?” The following points were taken from that sermon (with some adaptation) and provide good insight into what our cell group is all about.

  1. A cell group focuses on seeking God, or connecting with God. In a cell group we want to grow spiritually, we want to apply God’s word to our lives, and we want to experience the life changing effect that application of God’s word in our lives brings. It is a time where you’re seeking not just to hear about God but to make connection with God.

  2. Developing relationships and connecting with each other. God is offering us in the cell group an opportunity to develop relationships. As these relationships develop, walls come down and people experience God, and they experience both God and community in ways that they never would have in a large group.

  3. Reaching out to those in need. This includes connecting with the unchurched and helping them to connect with God. But it also includes Christians whose lives would benefit from the cell group experience. It’s about meeting the needs of others - all types of needs - it’s not a duty so much as it is an opportunity. Don’t just form a group and close the doors and say: “Man we found it!” When you find it, that’s the reason to open the door, not close it. People may have big needs in their lives that go unmet because they are either afraid or maybe they’ve been hurt in the past and they have built up walls around themselves. They know that they have needs, but are just afraid of letting people, and even God, in. They can remain hidden in a congregation but, when you’re sitting in a little room with eight people, it’s more likely that your needs are going to come out into the open.

What Happens in a Typical Meeting

Welcome Session (30 mins)

Try hard to maintain the time schedule but don’t inhibit the conversation. Although, sometime you might need to find an opening that will allow you to close the discussion with a positive statement about some aspect of the session. Starting the icebreaker session during dessert will help.

The benefits of icebreakers

  • They prepare people to share openly

  • They help people connect with one another

  • They warm up the atmosphere and ease tension

Basic instructions

  • Normally, use the icebreaker question given in the cell lesson

  • Make it natural

  • Answer questions in a circle

  • Whoever asks the question answers it first (Applies only to the icebreaker question. The Facilitator of the word session should never answer first)

Worship Session (15 mins)

Worship is one of the ways that we invite and encounter the presence of God. So, in a cell meeting, God is worshiped, His name is praised, and people come together seeking and inviting His presence.

Worship - Experiencing the Presence of Jesus

Focus the group on Jesus

  • Not worship songs

  • Not a group lesson

  • Not even people’s needs

Ask yourself these Questions:

  • What does Jesus want me to do in the group?

  • How is the Holy Spirit ministering to people tonight?

  • Where is God leading the group?

Guidelines in Leading Worship

  • Be a worshipper.

  • Pray, Plan, and Practice.

  • During worship: Lead by being observant and sensitive.

    • Be in charge of the session Even if you are unsure or nervous, don’t tell people.

    • Although you have prepared a certain format, always allow the spirit to lead you.

    • Expect God to be present.

Things to avoid when leading Worship

  • Key ‘no-no’: Do not try to reproduce church worship service.

  • Stay Flexible…. Watch out for ruts and routines.

  • Meet in His name, not in the name of what you planned.

  • Avoid an impromptu selection of songs, prepare beforehand.

  • Avoid introductions and comments between songs.

Creative Ways to Worship in a Small Group

There are proven ways to lead worship in a cell group

  • Using a CD has proven to be the most user-friendly and reproducible pattern.

  • Share short testimonies about the good things God is doing or has done.

  • Share answers to previous questions.

  • Read a short section of scripture and meditate on God’s word for a few moments.

  • Use the Psalms.

  • Sentence prayers offered by everyone in the group.

Word Session (40 mins)

If you teach a 45-minute Bible study, we call that a Bible Study. A cell group is a little bit different. A cell group is a time when you have interaction rather than teaching. The key to the word portion is that we want you to connect.

  1. Should be about 40 mins long. If it is running short, don’t try to stretch it. Short is OK. It’s OK to run over to avoid stopping a meaningful discussion.

  2. It is based on the lesson but feel free to not follow it strictly during the meeting. The questions are usually very good but they may require more time than you have and some of them will lead, naturally, to some follow-up questions. This means some of the questions will have to be skipped to avoid long time overruns. Adjust this as you see fit to meet the “flow ” of the meeting. Let the Spirit lead.

  3. A summary of the training material follows.

Facilitate, Facilitate, Facilitate!

Facilitation provides the legs that the group walks on.

  • The goal is to facilitate ministry in the group, not to have the leader “do” the ministry.

  • When you facilitate, allow God to work through the group.

  • When cell leaders are facilitating well, they often speak only 30% of the time.

Facilitate application, not information during the Word portion of the meeting.

  • Many people “know” more Bible information than they practice.

  • The cell is the place where people apply the Word to their lives.

Beware of Preaching and Teaching

Most people have experienced the “knowledge-based” group.

  • Each question has only one correct answer

In these groups, only those with the knowledge can share.

  • This communicates that God only uses certain people.

The leader “knows” more and therefore tells people what to think.

  • Dismisses the valid and valuable thoughts of group members

The cell meeting is not the place for the solo preacher or teacher

  • It is the body of Christ working together, building up each other

Ask Open-ended Questions

For the most part the questions will be those given in the cell lesson. The following points apply to follow-on questions, when you feel that follow-on would be helpful.

Limit the use of closed questions that elicit short, specific answers-


  • Who are the Pharisees?

  • Does God’s love extends to the Pharisees and Nicodemus?

Open questions provide an opportunity for interaction.


  • How have you experienced the love of God?

  • What does it mean to you that God gave His life so that you can have eternal life?

Application Questions bring the discussion to the real issue: “How does this apply to me?”


  • Who did God use to reach you?

  • How has God used you in the past to reach people for him?


Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

  • Ask others what they think before you share. (as opposed to the Icebreaker)

  • Don’t plan what you are going to say while others are talking.

  • Affirm people when they share.

  • Give time for others to respond

  • Sometimes you may want to restate what you hear the person saying.

Show interest with your posture.

  • Lean forward.

  • Don’t cross your arms.

  • Nod your head.

Listen to what is not said.

  • 60% of communication happens through body language.

  • Watch for:

    • Disinterested stares

    • People sitting outside the circle

    • Tears

    • Short answers

  • Refuse to answer your own questions

    • Even if silence follows

    • Restate the question for clarity

    • Sometimes people need to think about their answers for a few minutes. If they are in serious thought, this can be the most valuable use of time.

  • Invite further responses.

    • Some people need an invitation to share

    • Address a question to a specific person if he or she has not shared much.

Lead the Word Portion into Edification

Note: Just lead as you are led - Don’t push.

Edification is not:

  • Spiritual problem solving.

  • Sharing similar past experiences.

  • Asking questions about a person’s past traumas.

  • Identifying people’s flaws.

Edification is:

  • Building up and affirming a person in truth.

  • Speaking the truth in love even when it requires confrontation.

  • Spurring one another to love and good deeds.

  • Letting the Lord minister through other people in the group.

  • Praying for one another.

  • A work of God, not of man—We can only speak truth into people’s lives as the Lord directs.

  • Leading people to the cross so that Christ can do the real ministry.

Practicing Transparent Communication in a Meeting

Five Levels of Communication

  1. Surface Communication

    • Public information which most people feel safe sharing.

    • Includes external events like the weather and the news.

  2. Factual Communication

    • Information concerning observable ideas and facts.

    • Discussion at this level is safe (e.g. what the scripture passage states, not what it means in someone’s life).

  3. Thought-Provoking Communication

    • People take some risks at this level as they share their opinions about a topic.

    • Some stop at this level and hide behind debates over ideas.

  4. Emotive Communication

    • At this level, people take the risk of sharing how they feel.

    • This requires a deeper level of trust.

  5. Transparent Communication

    • Highest level of risk

    • At this level, people share their deepest fears, dreams, and thoughts

      “When we are committed to building a safe environment where people can ask stupid questions and be encouraged, reveal their sins and be forgiven, and share their deepest fears and still find acceptance, then we are on the way to building authentic Christian community.”
      Thom Corrigan

Transparency: The First Door

  • Transparency happens when people take off their masks and let others see who they are.

  • Transparency requires honesty

  • It is very difficult for a cell group meeting to continue over the long term, if group members are not willing to become transparent.

Creating an Environment for transparent Communication

  • Give permission for group members to reveal their struggles.

  • Affirm those who share their struggles.

  • Lead the group to commit to confidentiality.

  • Don’t give or allow others to give “pat” answers to problems.

    • “Everybody struggles with that.”

    • “Just pray about it.”

    • “Well, the Bible says”

Witness/Works Session (15 mins)

While there is extensive description of outreach activity outside the cell meeting, there is no description of a witness session itself in the training material, only these bits of the information:

  • 10 minutes long

  • Focus outward on the on lost

  • Flow is God through us

  • Help people wrestle with the call to evangelism

  • Make your cell visitor-friendly

The works portion begins with prayer. This is the time of spiritual work. It’s the time when you pray for each other’s needs, the needs of those outside the group, and it’s that time when you pray for the lost. You need to develop a list of people for whom there are concerns. These come from people that your group members know. You need to pray with passion for each person’s specific needs.