Releasing the Spirit’s Gifts and Power in Your Small Group
by Jim Egli,

In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 we get a glimpse into the home group meetings of the 1st century, when Paul says:

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (NIV)

This little video clip of body life shows each member using the Spirit’s gifts to minister to one another in power.

But exactly how does this work in the average small group like yours and mine? There are lots of different ways to do Spirit-led ministry in a small group, here’s one pattern that we teach leaders to use in the groups of our church.

The Five W’s

Like many churches we teach our leaders to follow a pattern of 5 W’s. Our groups typically use this order:

Welcome – Groups use an icebreaker or opening question to connect people to one another and get everyone engaged.

Witness – People pray for their friends that need God in pairs or triads. (We used to do this at the end of the meeting but found that it consistently got squeezed out when done then, because inevitably some other part of the meeting went long.)

Word – We look at God’s word together to let him shape our minds, hearts and actions.

Worship – Typically this involves singing a couple of God-centered songs to help us respond to God and listen to him.

Wind – Spirit-led ministry to one another.

It’s easy to get in a rut as a small group in terms of ministry if all you do is say something like, “What would you like prayer for today?” The main problem with this approach is that God may want to do something entirely different than what is on people’s mind.

To tune into what the Spirit is saying, we encourage leaders to invite the Holy Spirit to speak to people during the worship time and to release his supernatural gifts to each person. This is also the time for the leaders to tell group members to listen to the Spirit for any impressions—pictures, phrases or scriptures he might give—during worship.

The worship time is then followed by a time of silence and then people are asked to “give expression to their impressions.” After people have been ample given time to share impressions, we typically move into smaller groups—perhaps forming groups of four or five people or breaking into groups of men and women. In these smaller groups we ask what impressions spoke to people. That is where we begin our ministry. If there is time after that, we then take personal prayer requests.

For example, one evening in my small group, the person leading ministry time, after a time of silence, asked what impressions or sensations people had experienced. In response I shared that my hands were tingling. The ministry time leader then asked, “Does anyone have a problem with their hands that they would like prayer for?”

A young woman in the group who was a new believer said that she had a condition that caused the skin on her hands to peal off and that her doctor had told her that there was no cure and that she would have this condition for the rest of her life.

So we laid hands on her hands and prayed for her. After a brief time we asked her if she sensed anything. She said, “Yes, my hands are getting very warm.” We told her that this was a sign of God’s healing activity and we prayed some more. Again asked her what she was experiencing. and she said, “My hands are getting very hot.” She had a concerned look on her face, but we were getting more excited and prayed for her once more. Then she reported, “It feels like my hands are on fire!”, and she went to the bathroom and ran cold water over them perhaps to keep them from igniting!

Jesus totally healed her hands and they have given her no problems since that time several years ago!

In John 14:12-14, Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Ask for awesome, God-sized things in your group. Invite God to do things so big that people will realize how amazing and big his love and power are.

I like to pray what the early church prayed in Acts 4:30: “Lord, stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” God wants to do just that and is waiting for us to ask.

Jim E. :-)