Effective Small Group Lessons

Cell Basics


By Joel Comiskey, coaching available here (free first session available for those interested in receiving coaching)

The goal of my men’s Life group is to make everyone a disciple who makes other disciples. This should be the goal of every cell group. Although I lead the group, I’m more of the coach than the leader. That is, my role is make sure everyone in the group is participating and becoming a disciple in the process.

Part of the discipleship process is that each one leads the lesson time. To ensure this happens, we rotate each month. That is, one person rotates each month leading the Welcome time (icebreaker); another person rotates leading the worship time; another person rotates leading the Word (lesson time), and another person will rotate leading the Witness time. Are some naturally better in leading the lesson time? Yes, definitely. But the point is not to place the best person in front of the group but to make disciples by giving everyone the opportunity. Remember that people become disciples in the process of participating, rather than merely listening.

To make sure everyone succeeds in leading the lesson time, I’ve been on a quest to simplify it and make sure the questions are simple and application oriented. What could be more simple than Randall Neighbor’s three questions:

  1. What’s the main point of the passage?
  2. Can someone share something from your past or what you’re going through at the moment that makes this passage powerful or timely?
  3. What is this passage challenging you to do personally (and how can we support you)?

Anyone in the group can lead the others through these three questions. But I also like the Disciple Making Movement (DMM) questions:

  1. Read the passage several times together, perhaps in different translations. Then answer these questions.
  2. What does it say?
  3. How would I say that? (Each person tries to retell the passage or Bible story in their own words.)
  4. What must I do to obey what I have learned? “I will…” (Each person crafts an “I will” statement or two to tell how they will obey the passage this week.)

I especially like coming together the following week and starting with:

  1. With whom did you share what you learned last week?
  2. How did it go with your “I will” statements?

As you are making disciples in your own group, make sure the disciples in training succeed by giving them simple questions that apply God’s Word. And remember to aim for obedience. People hear sermons on Sunday. But do they obey what they hear? Are they living out the Christian life?

Jesus, the head of the church, has chosen small groups to make disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). And he told his group of disciples, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). One of Christ’s own disciples, James, summed up this thinking perfectly, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22)