Share the Load

By Joel Comiskey, check out: Facilitate

Summer 2019

People do need personal care and attention in the small group. Someone needs to develop the new believer, encourage the weaker Christian, and challenge the mature. And then there’s prayer, hospital visitation, and so forth. Many cell leaders are over-burdened with cell leadership because they think they are responsible to do everything. The good news is that the leader should not feel obligated to do it all. In fact, the worse leaders do it all.

Michael Mack’s book Burn-out Free Small Group Leadership talks about sharing the load. The best cell leaders delegate. They believe that the Holy Spirit dwells with each believer, and they trust the Holy Spirit to do his work through everyone. Paul said to the Roman house church, “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another”(Romans 15:14). Paul was convinced that each person was an anointed minister and capable of ministering to others.

Trusting the Holy Spirit in each cell member refers to spiritual gift use, participating in the cell, as well as developing relationships within others. One particular cell leader was troubled with the time requirements of cell ministry—specifically with the building of relationships. With a full-time job, a young family, and very little time to offer the church and the cell, he thought he was supposed to also develop the relationships between the cell members.

I told the leader that he didn’t need to take the community burden upon himself and that it wasn’t his role. I told him that each member of the cell is responsible to build relationships with each other. I told him that his task was to direct the body of Christ (e.g., those in the cell) to love and serve one another.

Relationship building is such an essential part of cell ministry that it should not be a one-person responsibility. All members must be involved. Scripture tells us that we are all ministers, all priests of the living God (Revelation 1:6). The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that each plays a vital role in the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:16 says, “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.”

A true cell group is about everyone in it. If the leader is the one who does everything, the members will not learn the importance of reaching out to one another. They will not grow together. Robert Lay, the leader of an exciting cell resourcing movement in Brazil, repeats this phrase over and over: every house a church and every member a minister.

We are all ministers. The cell is uniquely positioned to make this truth a reality. Everyone should be involved in making it work.