Adapting From International Series

If you are interested in using the facilitator/applying/sharing approach using available Sunday school lessons, such as the International Series, here are some suggestions that you might find helpful:


  • God created us and loves us.
  • God is all knowing, all powerful and always with us.
  • Everyone has needs.
  • Some in the class you are leading will have deep needs themselves or be closely associated with someone who does.
  • God meets needs.
    • Directly.
    • Through others
    • Through scripture

Your class time is an opportunity to maximize meeting needs – by people interacting with others in applying Scripture in the presence of God. So, as the class leader, you are provided this great opportunity to meet the needs of others.

To take advantage of this opportunity will require time and effort – more than required to teach a Sunday school lesson. To the extent that you believe the premises, you might want to consider the cell approach to Sunday school classes. If you are interested, here are some thoughts on how to change the Sunday school experience into a scriptural-sharing experience in the presence of God.

Sunday school lessons tend to concentrate on providing a deeper understanding of Scripture – who wrote it, circumstances under which it was written, and what it means generally and to you.

Adapting the lesson

  1. Prayerfully ask for God’s help and believe in His presence.
  2. Read the entire lesson, highlighting the most meaningful thoughts of the understanding/questions portion.
  3. Think through how application of this Scripture will, or has, impacted your own life.
  4. If needed, add additional Scripture passages that puts the lesson Scripture in appropriate context. This is particularly appropriate for Old Testament Scriptures, which can be misleading. That was the basic purpose of Jesus's sermon on the Mount. Later, He did it in one sentence; “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” in Matt 7:12 . If you are well-versed in Scripture, finding the contextual passages may be easy, but if it’s a problem, a Life Application Bible could be very helpful
  5. Summarize each highlighted thought in a way that would be meaningful to the class – or during the class you may want to just read, or have someone read, each of the highlighted segments – or maybe just some of them.
  6. Where it would be helpful, prayerfully reword these summary thoughts in light of the contextual Scriptures, your experience and to provide understanding for your class.
  7. Develop questions about how applying the Scripture might impact someone’s life – not about the general understanding of the Scripture. Questions should be based on events/instances that class members may have experienced or observed.

Leading the class

  1. Don’t normally start the class discussion, or initially answer your questions, with your own experience/needs – some members may feel they have little to add.
  2. When you read the question, ask them to think about some experience they had in their life, or have observed in the lives of others, and to volunteer to share.
  3. The last question should ask them about any new insights they found helpful.

Examples of lessons adapted from the International Series can be seen here.

You might find that the Cell Leader Training course would be helpful in developing further understanding of how to facilitate. Here are some pertinent excerpts:

  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.

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.

  • Most people “know” more Bible information than they practice.
  • The cell is the place where people apply the Word to their lives.
  • 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

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.
  • 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