Will it work here?

Early one morning more than 10 years ago I sat in our church’s prayer room asking “But can it work here?”
I had just read Joel Comiskey’s book Home Cell Group Explosion. I was captivated as I read about churches in Latin America which grew to amazing sizes while producing high quality disciples. The promise of a church which made disciples which made disciples was pulling me strongly.
But suburban Pittsburgh is a long way from Latin America. Would it work here? In prayer that morning I sensed God giving me two seemingly contradictory answers: 1) “What you read won’t work in Pittsburgh”, and, 2) “do it” (implement cell ministry at our church).
As we became a cell-based ministry I was pleased at the results in the lives of our people, and I was highly committed to the foundational principles. It was “working” in many ways. We have grown significantly in both number and maturity. But I knew that God had also shown me “it won’t work here”, and I didn’t know what to make of this contradiction.
Today I realize that God was showing me that copying what happened in Bogata or elsewhere would not work in Pittsburgh; I would need to keep listening to the Spirit about how to shape the ministry around the key biblical principals while learning from others.
For example, our Encounter Retreat is different in many ways from the ones in Bogata or Baton Rouge. Yet, yesterday I was moved to tears as I read accounts of last weekend’s Encounter: a man with no feeling in his feet and walking for years with a cane left healed and no longer uses a cane. A couple that had been ready for divorce and to walk away from God has been transformed. They  recommitted to God and to each other – they’re glowing and testifying to God’s power. They credit their group for embracing them with love and guiding them toward the weekend.
I hear so many leaders ask the same question: Will it work here? Answer: What they are doing elsewhere won’t work for you, but the Holy Spirit will show you how to employ the key principles where you are.