I have been looking for a book that provides some solid direction for those who are seeking to start a gathering that is particpatory and Spirit-led or who want to see their gathering supernaturally empowered in a greater way. Joel Comiskey's "The Spirit-Filled Small Group" fits this bill quite well.
I wrote the following as a review of this book, so it sounds like... well... a review. But I trust that it will be helpful:
This is an excellent primer for learning how to facilitate Spirit-led, participatory church gatherings. It is also more than a primer. Comiskey provides solid biblical and historical background to the significance of small groups as the key to transformation. He also presents practical tools for facilitators of small groups (or house churches) who want to see their gatherings empowered by the Holy Spirit while releasing every person to express his or her spiritual gift.
From the Publisher
"The focus in many of today's small groups has shifted from Spirit-led transformation to just another teacher-student Bible study. But exercising every member's spiritual gifts is vital to the effectiveness of the group. With insight born of experience in more than twenty years of small group ministry, Joel Comiskey explains how leaders and participants alike can be supernaturally equipped to deal with real-life issues."
"Only God's supernatural power can draw people to the truth and liberate them to be all that God wants them to be."
"What excites me most about small group ministry is the intimate home atmosphere in which God has the perfect opportunity to change people's lives, prepare them for ministry and further His kingdom work."
"People are inundated with information; what they need is transformation."
"Sensitive small group leaders ask the Holy Spirit to manifest the needs of the members, knowing that the best agenda is the one that meets the needs of those present."
"The church is a hospital-not a performing arts center."
"Gifts are not primarily related to institutional maintenance. Gifts are related to the building up of persons and are best exercised in direct person-to-person contact."
"In a loving environment, group members are willing to risk and use the gifts they have."
Comiskey pastors what I would call a cell-based "traditional" church, yet he provides an outstanding argument for house church:
"The Spirit-filled small group was the ‘normal' Church in the New Testament; it was never seen as an ‘addition' to the ‘real' Church. The small group was the Church."
Comiskey provides a wonderful background on the working of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and how gifts work within the small group context. His personal experience with small groups is apparent in that his insight is not merely theoretical but practical. My only minor disappointment is that he has very little focus on the missional nature of small group life. I recognize that this is because of his own church context. This in no way detracts from the book--it is simply a significant missing piece when seeking to understand the house church concept overall.
Good resource for those wanting to see a better spiritual flow in their house church gatherings.