Principles to Make your Home Group Grow

The Holy Spirit has been putting great emphasis on the use of small groups for discipleship, outreach and other purposes. This is not surprising, especially when you consider that there are so many commands in the New Testament relating to things we do “one to another”. How can we love one another as Jesus loved his disciples (John 13:34,35) unless there is an environment in which close relationships can develop?

The Example of Jesus

Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples, because he loved them. They were with him both in public and in private. As well as in field work together, Jesus trained and prepared them in a small group context. Jesus is, or should be, our model. The kind of relationships he advocated for his followers cannot be built simply on the basis of casual contact. The early church certainly followed this example, and so multiplied mature and committed disciples, who became effective both in evangelisation as well as the other tasks they got from the Lord.

Our Need Today

Likewise, we need a context in which trust can learn and grow, a context in which we can love one another, exhort one another, speak to one another, honor one another, receive one another, watch over and care for one another – just as the Bible instructs us. This can’t happen if we limit our contact with one another to public celebration meetings and a brief chat afterwards – even if we do occasionally go out to lunch with others from the church and talk about things. No, the full implementation of God’s plan requires a small group setting, in addition to any other kinds of meetings that may be set up. Small groups, which may be known by such names as “home cells”, “house groups” or “life groups” are therefore a vital part of God’s strategy. Just as the early church often met in homes, so too can we. It is interesting that the vast majority of growing churches today have some kind of home cell network in place, through which new people are added, strengthened and developed for the purposes of our God.

Multiplication is a Goal

Healthy home cell groups have as part of their vision the aim to multiply. This requires two things. The first is the addition of new people to the group. The second is the training and equipping of existing members to lead a home cell group themselves. The purpose of this article is to focus on keys which will cause your group to grow. The leader, as well as participating members need to put these things into action for best results. When these are missing, the group may stagnate or even die.

So What are the Keys to Small Group Growth?

1. Prayer

Prayer is the key factor for growth, because it is prayer that gets God Himself involved in the life of the group. It is God who works in people’s hearts to make them want to come along and participate in the life of the group. When the leader is a man or woman of prayer, someone who devotes themselves to really meeting God and getting to the throne so they can be filled with God themselves and intercede effectively for the needs of others – then things will happen. Prayer creates the atmosphere in which God can work.

Prayer is more important than other factors such as personality type, gifting or personal charisma. Its not the opening or closing prayers in a group meeting that count as much as the whole prayer life of the members of the group, especially the group leader. Unless the group leader privately prayers an hour or so on the day of the actual meeting, it is unlikely that the meeting will hit the mark God intended for it. Some things that God intends just won’t happen unless effective prevailing prayer is being offered for the group.

Many people come straight from work to small groups. They are often tired and in need of refreshment, both spiritually and naturally. The leader, more than anyone else, needs to be full of the Spirit of God in order to have what is needed to bless the group. So the leader must be prepared and disciplined. The leader may need to get up earlier than others in order to have time to get what is needed from God.

Some may say they are too busy to pray. If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. Change your priorities. You cannot achieve more of eternal value by having less of God in your life, no matter how busy you may be in doing one kind of work or another.

2. Personal Contact with Individuals in the Group outside of the meeting time

It is really very important that a group leader has personal contact with individuals in the group outside of the meeting time. People need to know that they are valued as individuals. People have a need for personal affirmation and encouragement. By spending time with individuals in the group, or at least getting in touch by phone, a leader shows that he places value on the person contacted.

Hopefully a leader realises that people really are valuable. They are much more than numbers for the group. Every person is intrinsically valuable. In addition, each person has a great potential for God. A group leader is entrusted by God to care for people. We should care more for people than any kind of investment portfolio, because people are of more value than money. And since most of us give up so much of our time in order to earn money, how much more should we use a portion of our free time to show interest in, and put a high value on, people. They will appreciate it when it is done with this understanding.

If the only reason we contact people is because we want them as numbers for our group, people will sense this. Determine to show a genuine interest in people. Rather than asking, “Are you coming on Wednesday night?” Listen to the person, let them know you are praying for them, and express how delighted you will be if they do come at such and such a time. It is better to draw with love than to attempt to manipulate with fear or even mild forms of condemnation. At the same time, continue praying for them. In so doing, you give God a chance to put it on their hearts to come to the group. And when God does it, it works so much better than we attempt to entice and cajole people.

3. Be Prepared

Its important in any group that the leader knows beforehand where he or she is wanting to take people! This requires some preparation, and waiting on God. Often, home cells under the authority of a senior pastor must follow certain study materials. Always think about the application of the material to the lives of the people. Prepare with a view to helping people in your group go to the next level – whatever that may be.

People in the group can see if you are unprepared. When people see that the leader is unprepared, they interpret it, perhaps even subconsciously, to mean that “we are not a priority”. This is not an expression of God’s love. Even if the agenda is to wait upon the Holy Spirit, a leader should have seriously prepared his or her heart and have some idea of where the Holy Spirit is wanting to take the group. Failure to seriously attempt this has more to do with laziness than a desire to be totally open to the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, who was totally in harmony with the Spirit of God, often knew what was to happen beforehand precisely because he really did have communication with the Father. We should aspire to the same.

When people see that a leader is prepared, they feel complimented. They realise that the leader has expended effort in order to add value to their lives through the preparation. God will honor that.

The most important preparation is to be as full of the Holy Spirit as possible before the meeting begins. This is the condition of God’s perfect working. The Holy Spirit will not leave us confused and bewildered as to what He wants for a meeting, but will lead us with purpose.

4. Have Clear Goals for the Group, and Articulate them

Every home group should have the goal to grow. Groups should be inclusive rather than exclusive. They should welcome visitors – those who have made the effort to come to the group. If the group is not reminded of the goal to grow, it can settle down to become a mere support group which is only concerned with the needs of existing members. Such groups have a limited lifespan.

Another goal of the group needs to be the development of individual members. We should always be desiring to take people to the next level. The apostle Paul strived to present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28). Paul’s intercession was a key factor in this. No matter how this goal of maturity is expressed, the idea is that people change. People must become more like Christ. People must become more disciplined, more focussed on the Lord and His purposes. People must give place to the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit’s fruit becomes increasingly evident in their lives. The power of personal discipline is unleashed when people have a clear vision and purpose – when they really believe there is an achievable goal worth disciplining themselves for.

Almost every person can be developed to the point where they are capable of leading a small group in their own right. This is a good goal to have, however, if it is presented it must be done so with wisdom. Articulating such a goal may cause some on the one hand to want to back off, if their life’s values are not in line with those of Christ. On the other hand, others, whose spirit is not right, may be ambitious for position more than personal transformation. When they are not quickly promoted as they hope, they may become frustrated and begin to create problems in the group or in the church. Everyone, however, should be encouraged to be ambitious for the edification of others (1 Corinthians 14:12).

Every leader should want to their group to be the kind of group that they would want to be part of even if they were not the leader. And every leader should ask, “How many more people like me do I want to be in this group?” If we would not like more people like ourselves, why not? Its time to change.

Without goals, a group will drift, and people will not be as motivated for Kingdom purposes. It is important that the goals be articulated regularly so that the group can focus on achieving something together. This will produce better results.

5. Treat Visitors Right

The visitor is the most important person for the home cell group to grow. Why do visitors come? They come because they are interested in what the home cell group offers! They have taken the trouble to get into the car and come out and meet a group of others, many of whom are possibly unknown to them. Its my conviction that the group meeting should always be very sensitive to the visitors and their needs. They should be honored, loved and respected no matter who they are. Grace should be extended to them. They should feel that both God Himself and the people in the group want to bless them.

Its important to show grace to people in the group before confronting them with painful truth – such as the sin in their lives. Actually, the presence of God in the group will go a long way to making a person conscious of their sin – even if no one says anything about it. People need to firstly sense our compassion, before they hear convicting words.

It is important to follow up visitors. As stated before, this should be done because people are valuable, and need to be loved and valued. In following people up, it is good to be “pro-active” but not to be a “pest”.

Good leaders invite people, pests badger and hassle prospects.
Good leaders use positive reinforcement – express delight for the person’s visit. “Pests” major on negatives.
Good leader are gently forceful. “Pests” are overbearing and arrogant.
Good leaders infest people with enthusiasm. “Pests” seek to manipulate people by causing them to fear their disapproval.
Good leaders use vision to benefit the people. “Pests” are motivated to use the group to elevate themselves.

When we learn to really treat our visitors with respect and honor, when we learn to intercede deeply for them, without neglecting those already entrusted to our care, our groups will explode with growth and new life. As a single cell can multiply in a body, so our cell groups will multiply and produce people who will go on to do great things for God.

May God bless you as you put these principles into practice in your home cell group ministry.

Michael Fackerell

What do YOU think?


About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.


  1. Hi Michael

    Thank you so much for this article. I am a home cell leader and this has been so helpful, motivating and inspiring. I am trusting God for great things this year in our cell and I’m excited to share the goals of the home cell with the family. I have learnt a lot from this article and may God bless you and may you continue to share with us and help us in this journey.

  2. Phakamani Tshabalala says:

    i have learn a lot from this site, i am a leader with the calling from God. i believe that this site can help me fulfill my calling in the excellent way. Sir i can be so gland if you can help me, in this journey of rebuilding life’s through the Gospel in small groups(homecells).

  3. Paul Mahendran says:


    My name is Paul mahendran. I am a volunteer Missionary from S’pore. I am serving God in Mindanao,Philippines at present with my wife. Both me and my wife are pioneering a Bible Training Centre and also a Children Home Ministry for the Less-advantage children in Tagum City,Davao,Minidanao,Philippines.

    I am very blessed by your site as i am teaching my students to start small groups in their respective churches or cell groups.Ps attached is my Testimony and hope to hear from you. Pls uphold us in prayers for our Bible Training centre needs of materials and study bibles. Also for the needs for our Children Home Ministry.

    God bless and will study your teachings and bring to our students.

    In His Love
    paul M
    From Prison To Mission

    Greetings In Jesus Name,

    Praise Be To God! My name is N.M.Mahendran (Paul). I was born to a Hindu family. I have 1 sister and 3 brothers. My father was a drunkard and gambler. There was always trouble in my home and my mum used to go to all the religious groups to pray so the my father would change his ways. At the age of 11, my mum came to know the Lord Jesus and thru prayers, my father accepted the Lord and was transformed. There was peace in my home from then onwards.

    The problem started when I was in my secondary school. I started to play truant and mixed with a secret society group. From there on I became very violent and rebellious at the age of 13. I was involved in gang fights and was arrested for a gang fight when I was 15 yrs old. At time I was also involved in drugs and became addicted and could not concentrate on my studies. Thus there was always unrest in my home because of me. I used to follow my family to church until I was 13. I stopped following them and was rebellious to my mum and dad. I was put under Police supervision at the age of 15 and could not leave the house after 7pm. At that time, my Police officer recommended me to join the Army Boys School so that at least I could have a future. I decided to join the school but later found out that most of the guys who joined this school were like me. I was still involved in drugs and gang in the school and was caught for drug consumption at the age of 18. That was in 1978 and from then onwards my life was in and out of prison for drugs and gang fights for 18yrs.

    All of my family had given up on me but my mum alone would visit me each time and always had hope in Jesus to deliver me from this bondage. Each time I came out from prison, I always made a decision to change but it never lasted long. Prison became my first home for the past 18yrs. I almost gave up but because of my Counselor, Ronnie Tan whom I met in the Prison Christian Chapel and in whom I could trust as I saw the love in him to help people like us.

    It was in 1990, my last imprisonment for drugs, that I was tired of this life and decided to join a group of inmates for a Bible Course. My intention was to just pass my time but as I studied the word of God for almost a year, I believe the Word was working and convicting me and giving me hope to change. Upon my release in 1996, I decided to change but it lasted for only a month and I went back to drugs. I was very down and my only solution was to continue trafficking drugs till I end my life in death or suicide. I took the second option and was smoking and popping tablets to overdose. I was in a room and I could feel death was so near and an eerie voice telling me to die the only way. But at the same time, there was a still small voice crying JESUS, JESUS! The last thing I knew was telling Jesus to please save me .Then I just went off. The next morning, I found next to me a lump of tablets and I could sense that the atmosphere was peaceful. The thought that came to me was to call Ronnie Tan. I did that and Brother Ronnie Tan asked me to see him at once. I obeyed and from then onwards, it was a road to recovery thru God using him as a vessel for my transformation. I repented of all my sins and decided to walk with God. With the help of Ronnie, God started to work in my life and I gave up drugs, renounced my involvement with the gang and walked with God.

    During that time of my transformation, I shared with many members of the church which I was attending with Ronnie. But each time when I went home, I could not read the Bible and often felt sleepy but I could watch TV and stay awake. I told this to Ronnie and we prayed. It was at this time that I attended one of the lunch fellowship meetings at the Metropolitan YMCA that I met Douglas Koh. After someone prayed for me I felt a rushing wind throwing me down on the floor. Suddenly, I began to manifest demonic attacks and became violent. Douglas suggested that I undergo a deliverance session. I agreed and as a result of that ministry, God started to break all the bondages that had tied me for all these years. I went thru 7 session lasting 30 hours with Douglas, and Ronnie and Nelson Ng assisting him. Then I came to know the truth. My demonisation was the result of my involvement in a blood covenant with my gang, occult practices, gambling, keeping talisman for protection, and the many tattoos (including a huge cobra) on my body, worshipping idols for protection and making allegiance with the gods of gambling. There were so many things that God showed me of my past: unforgiveness, stealing, telling lies, sexual immorality and so many other vices in my life. AS I was being ministered to, all these spirits as well as the spirits of rejection and violence and others were evicted. During this time of the deliverance session, God revealed His Mighty Power and I began to see visions of how the Cobra was strangling my neck and there was a chain from my head to the leg. I was crying for help as it was choking me. I remembered vividly, as my counselors were speaking in tongues and praying, I saw a mighty fire burnt the chain. It started from the head to the toe and it was consumed in the fire. I felt a great relief and started to confess all the sins that I had done as the Holy Spirit convicted me. That was the breakthrough in my life.

    After the deliverance, I enrolled in Tung Ling Bible School for the School of Mission (SOM) course. There God started a deeper work and I just knew that He was calling me to serve Him. After praying with my cell members and Ronnie, I followed a Pastor friend who was my classmate to Papua New Guinea. It was the toughest place for me to stay as it was very primitive. I stayed among the Yakuman tribes. Their forefathers were head hunters. To be frank, the prison where I spent 18years was better in terms of hygiene, food and safety. I almost gave up but as I was crying and praying for God’s guidance, the same still small voice told me “ Wherever I send you, My Grace is sufficient for you. That was the turning point in my mission work and I knew God had a plan and a calling for me to bring the Good News to the less advantaged people in this place.

    Thru God’s grace, I managed to stay for 2 years pioneering a Bible training centre. Our mission was to ‘Win Build and Send’ the students to their own tribes. During those times my only support were from my ex-cell members who helped me as God led them. I became a tent-maker cutting trees and selling them to meet my needs and the ministry. In this place God started to prepare me for His work and mission .It was a tough time staying there for 2 years but it was a joy to see people being touched and healing taking place. Thru His grace He used me to be His vessel. I was also working with some Filipino missionaries under Foursquare Gospel and they invited me to go to their place in Mindanao, Philippines.

    After my stay in Papua New Guinea for 2 years, I came back to Singapore for a rest and to see what was the next step that God was leading me to. After praying with the same group, they had peace for me to go to the Philippines as I was invited to speak at a church that was holding a convention for their Pastors. God provided me the airfare thru my ex-cell members but it was only a one way ticket. I remember I left for the Philippines with only S$300. My prayer in the Philippines was that God would open doors for me to work with a tribal group and also the vision that God had put in my heart to ‘Win – Build – Send’ those who are trained and have the calling to bring the message to their own groups.

    God opened doors for me to meet a Pastor from Mindanao. After learning that he needed help as he was working with a tribal group called the Mansaka and the Mandaya at Pantukan,Davao Oriental, I was excited. We prayed together and I visited the tribal site and the Holy Spirit prompted me that this was the place for me to start the Bible and Mission training centre. Starting from scratch and with nothing we prayed for God’s provision. Likeminded Christians in Singapore donated and that is how we started. Today we are bringing the Good news and making disciples and sending them to the harvest field. It has been six years since I came to Pantukan and Tagum City where we have 2 extension classes.

    I am married and have a 7 year old son .God has been marvelously good to me since I stepped out in faith and obeyed His high calling. “God’s work done in His ways will never lack His supplies”
    Praise God thus far what He has been doing in Pantukan and Tagum City. I believe, with His guidance and likeminded Christians, we can win Mindanao for Jesus.
    At present , both me and my wife are pioneering a Bible Training Centre in Tagum City, Davao and also a Children Home Ministry under Renewal Ministries care centre. It’s a home for the less advantage children from the streets , to broken homes and churches. Pls pray for us as we are also very tight in the budget as a volunteer and tent-maker missionary. Pray that God will open doors to link us to like-minded Christians and also favor from foundations to help us in the ministry of the children home and our training centre.

    May God Bless YOU Richly.
    Paul Mahendran
    Renewal Ministries Care Centre Inc
    Tagum City,

    • EmaanuelTamakloe says:

      I am a leader in a small group in Accra Ghana,i am glad i read your principles and pray i will put them in use.I hope will reply me through my mail.Thank you

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