Breaking Leadership Barriers

joelIn chapter one of Leadership Explosion I talk about the barriers to preparing leaders for the battle. One of those barriers is “Christian Education.” The following three paragraphs come from Leadership Explosion (pp. 24-25). breaking barriers

The Christian education in many churches is simply not conducive for mobilizing lay leadership. The goal of the training is unclear and the training process is even fuzzier. Everyone is encouraged to enter the classes, but few know what they are being trained to do. The hope is that leaders will develop by themselves. This barrier is often imperceptible. “After all,” many pastors muse, “I have many leaders in my church.” Yet when you examine more closely, you’ll discover self-made leaders who were often developed outside the church.

The phrase “general education” characterizes the training in most churches. The goal is often to prepare a person to live the Christian life, rather than to lead a group of a people. I’m in no way criticizing general education. My love for learning propelled me to acquire a Ph.D. Lifetime learning, in fact, is a highly valued leadership trait. Churches, however, are uniquely positioned to help exercise the muscles of the lifetime learners and to transfer head knowledge to the feet. Effective leaders come down from the lofty tower and succeed in the trenches, where the battle for souls is won or lost.

Yet, even when a person does feel prepared, often there’s a lack of available openings for service. For these reasons and others, a few key people do all the work. Researchers have repeatedly discovered that in most churches, 10% of the people do 90% of the work.

There are a lot of worthy educational courses out there. Yet, we must go beyond mere knowledge. We need to move people to the point where they can do something with that knowledge in a practial setting. Cell group ministry provides a great atmosphere for a person to pastor, serve, evangelize, and minister.



Passing the Baton

by Steve Cordle

“Passing the baton” is often  used as a metaphor for developing leaders. While the image might have limitations, it does communicate two ideas which are vital to development of new leaders: proximity and hand-off. So here are a few questions which can prompt our thinking about how we are developing leaders.

1. Who am I regularly spending time with in order to intentionally build into their lives?

         We can’t pass the baton until we are next to our teammate. We develop new leaders best from close up. Have some fun, hang out, serve together.

2. How am I sharing my connection with God with the person I am mentoring?

           This is foundational to disciple-making. The disciples watched Jesus pray.  Wayne Cordeiro does devtions with those he develops. how do you do it?

 3. How am I sharing my vision?

           The passion for reaching a lost world is best stoked by another flame. I still remember the fist-pumping joy my college roomates showed then they led someone to Christ. It helped instill that passion for the lost in me.

            You can also share the vision you have for the emerging leader. The guy from my group which I am currently discipling one-on-one asked me “Why did you pick me to do this?” I told him it was because I was confident he would in turn disciple someone himself. He took that to heart and has already started discipling another guy from our group.

You probably have your own questions – maybe you can share them with us!


Leadership Eyes

joelI appreciated the responses to Monday’s post about leadership development. Adrian Barker commented that he has yet to be in a church/cell setting that effectively developed leaders. In the third paragraph below I mention the example of Peter, who had a similar experience.LEADERS All three paragraphs come from the first chapter of Leadership Explosion.

I believe in church growth. My core church philosophy centers on church growth theory, and I believe that God wants His church to grow in both quality and quantity. If the major focus, however, is how many people attend on Sunday morning, a leadership void can occur.

When a church primarily focuses on Sunday morning, the people feel like they’ve fulfilled their purpose by showing-up on Sunday. The goal is Sunday attendance and members hear this in many subtle ways. A church, without knowing it, can produce a grand multitude that keeps shifting as people shuffle in and out. The back door is often as large as the front door and in the meantime, few leaders are developed.

Peter is a perfect example of this malady. He came to our church after many years in a denominational church that emphasized the Sunday morning service. God had miraculously saved Peter from a life of wild living, but the church found little use for him. When he came to us, we immediately saw his potential. We asked him to enter the training track to eventually become a cell leader. In the meantime, one of our youth cell leaders began leading a group in Peter’s home. We didn’t view Peter as an attendee in our church. Instead, we saw him as a potential leader in the harvest and even a future leader of leaders.


The potential harvest workers are sitting right in front of us. They are sitting in our cell groups and seated in our pews. We need to ask God to give us leadership eyes in order to see their potential. As Rob mentioned in his post yesterday, we need to “scan the ditches.”




Scan the Ditches

Yesterday, Joel wrote about how the future leadership of your cell/church is in the harvest.  He quoted Matthew 9:36:  “He [Christ] felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help.”

Do you remember the story of Christ that involves a Jewish priest, a Levite, and a “despised Samaritan?”  Most of us know this story we call “The Good Samaritan.”  Of course, you know in Jesus’ day and time, you couldn’t find a Jew that would come close to believing that one could ever find a “GOOD Samaritan.”  Jews despised Samaritans.  They saw them as half-breeds, ethnic traitors, and bad guys.  Socially, a Jewish person would not dare touch a drinking vessel of a Samaritan person.  Mmmm?  Check out John 5– woman at the well.  I digress.

One characteristic trait that the Samaritan had (in contrast to the Jewish priest and the Levite) was pity.  His pity for the Jewish man (who was attacked by bandits, stripped of his garments, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road) serves as a pathway for sacrificial action.  This Samaritan rescues the Jewish man.  Let’s see now.  A Samaritan caring for a half dead Jewish man?  Did I get that right? 

The story of Christ is presented by Christ to answer the following question asked by a Jewish lawyer:  “Who is my neighbor?”   After telling the story, Christ asks this Jewish lawyer, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?”  The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”  The Jewish lawyer couldn’t answer the question by saying, “the Samaritan.”  He simply couldn’t bring himself to that despicable level of saying those words.

Therefore, Christ responds:  “Yes, now go and do the same.”

A further difference between the Jewish priest and the Levite in contrast to the Samaritan is that the Samaritan not only saw the road, but the ditches as well.  He didn’t pretend that he had not seen what he saw.  The goal of reaching Jericho was not more important than a deed of mercy.

Today, keep your eyes on the road… and scan the ditches as well.


by Rob Campbell



Harvest Workers

joelIn the next few blogs I’d like to take selected quotes from my book Leadership Explosion. The following four paragraphs comes from the introduction:

So often we see the multitude but don’t contemplate their awful state. Jesus did more than analyze the condition of the lost. He had compassion on them because “. . . they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9: 36). Yet, this compassion stirred Christ to exhort his followers to, “. . . Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Mt. 9:36-38). We can’t reap the harvest alone. We need help. This book is about raising up leadership to reap the harvest.

I’ve researched small groups around the world. Here’s what I’ve discovered: Small groups are not the answer. In fact, there is a danger in thinking that small groups are the answer. Small groups come and go; they rise and falter over time. Unless small group members are converted into small group leaders, little long-term fruit remains.

Churches do not reap the harvest because they have small groups. They reap the harvest because they have harvest workers. Churches that have no plan to develop people have by default planned to lose the harvest.

“The growth of the cell movement is based on raising up leaders from within. The highest priority of the cell leader is to identify prospective interns and begin the mentoring process.” With this quote, Gwynn Lewis pinpoints the purpose of this book. Cell leaders are not primarily called to form and sustain cell groups; their primary job is to find, train, and release new leadership. Jim Egli expands on this same point: “The cell model is not a small-group strategy; it is a leadership strategy. The focus is not to start home groups but to equip an expanding number of caring leaders. If you succeed at this, your church will flourish.”

I agree with the above comments today just as much as I did when I wrote them seven years ago. I’ve learned that raising up harvest workers in the WEST is more difficult than in the majority world, but the same principles hold true anywhere in the world. Jesus is looking for harvest workers and cells provide the best atmosphere for leaders to develop and spread their wings.







joelBefore exploring quotes from my book Leadership Explosion, let’s focus on Thanksgiving. For you who are reading this blog from other countries, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving as a national holiday (Thursday is the actual holiday but people normally take time off from Thursday to Sunday). On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrivedthanksgiving at a place called Charles Cittie (sic) about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia was established on May 14, 1607. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a “day of thanksgiving” to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodleaf held the service of thanksgiving. Here is the section of the Charter which specifies the thanksgiving service: “Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

Just like those early settlers, we are on a pilgimage to heaven. God wins the final battle, and these brief days on this earth should be filled with thanksgiving. Sadly, we (I’m including myself here) allow worry, doubt, and fretting about the future to cloud the wonderful things God is doing. In these next several days, let’s practice what Paul says in Philippians 4: 4-9:

 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

I’ll post again on Monday. Enjoy your time with God, family, and friends.




How Men War…Then and Now

In yesterday’s post from Joel, his last sentence read:  “The first place to start [regarding leadership development] when looking for harvest workers is PRAYER.”  I agree.  Let me share the following story.

Around three hundred years before the birth of Christ, a certain king name Pyrrhus was reigning on the throne in Greece.  Because he was a great soldier, he was recruited by the people of Terentum to wage war against the Romans.  Pyrrhus was victorious in many of the battles and played an interesting “war card” against the Romans.  He used elephants!  That’s right!  Pyrrhus had in his arsenal seventy trained elephants who would run in to the ranks of the enemy, knock the Roman soldiers down, and trample them to death.  Sometimes an elephant would grab an enemy soldier with his trunk and throw him high into the air.

Needless to say, this pack of pesky, penetrating, powerful pachyderms packed a powerful punch, paralyzing the Romans with fear.  Eventually, one Roman soldeir was brave enough to rush at an elephant while it was charging and cut off a part of its trunk with his sword.  The elephant arsenal at Pyrrhus’ disposal was soon contained by the Romans.

Thus, Pyrrhus found it wise to resort to negotiations for peach with the Romans.  As was his custom, Pyrrhus sent his eloquent negotiator Cineas to the Roman Senate.  In previous scenarios, Cineas was quite successful in encouraging warring legislative bodies to agree to peace with Pyrrhus.

An interesting phrase became common to the Greeks of the day which hinged on this point in history.  The Greeks used to say, “The tongue of Cineas wins more cities than the sword of Pyrrhus!”  As I reflected upon this ancient saying and scenario, the following scriptures came to mind:

Revelation 12:11:  And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.

Ephesians 6:12:  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of the darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Proverbs 18:21:  The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Let us be reminded that our victory does not come through persuasive words, clever physical weapons of warfare (be it elephants or such), or brilliant minds.

Instead, our advocate (Christ) intercedes in the heavenlies on our behalf and He has granted to us the indwelling Holy Spirit that teaches us how to pray.   As you war today in the heavenly realms, pray the scriptures above to God as an affirmation of His position and your position.


by Rob Campbell

Leadership Explosion

 joelLast week I did my first webinar. I discussed my book Leadership Explosion (webinar was sponsored by Leadership Network). If you’re new to the concept of webinars, join the crowd. I knew nothing about webinars until one month ago. A webinar is basically a Web-based seminar, that combines conference calling (everyone on the phone at the same time) and web conferencing (everyone on the same website at the same time). LEADERSHIP explosionA webinar allows for polling and question asking of the participants.

I had the chance to reread my book Leadership Explosion in prepration for the webinar. LE highlights the fact that the heart of the cell church movement is raising up an army of leaders who will reap the harvest. The thesis of the book is that making disciples who make disciples is the heartbeat of cell ministry (i.e.g, leaders who make other leaders). I repeatedly say in the book that the cell church movement is not about the cell. It’s about how leaders (disciple-makers) are developed in cell ministry to serve Christ’s body and evangelize the world.

LE was published in 2000, and I’ve had seven years to reflect on the contents. Granted, I would rewrite some parts of it today. Yet, other sections encouraged me to press on to view leadership deveopment at the heart of cell ministry.

In these next few blogs I’d like to present some quotes that radiate the heart of the book.

Unlike my own quotes, I’ll start with one that is without error. Matthew 9:35-38 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

Jesus is still looking for those who are willing to reap the harvest today. The first place to start when looking for harvest workers is PRAYER.  




Love Each Other Deeply

joelPeter tells us in 1 Peter 4: 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” In the Greek, the word “deeply” literally means to ‘stretch out’. It denotes the tense muscle activity of an athlete–like a football player “stretching out” to kick the ball. While living in Ecuador, I noticed that the thighs of the football/soccer players were huge. They were constantly exercising their leg muscles. FOOT WASHING

In the same way we need to exercise our muscle of forgiveness and love toward those who hurt us, rub us the wrong way, and generally make us feel uncomfortable.

And remember that Peter was writing these words to house churches. Small groups often make our live’s more uncomfortable, rather than comfortable. They force us to face our irritations and conflicts with fellow believers. We can either be honest and openly communicate about our feelings–thus growing in love and mercy–or we can walk away and look for another cell (and most likely we’ll face similar problems in the next cell).

I have one person in my own cell who rubs me wrong–AND I IRRITATE THIS PERSON! We’ve had to openly talk about painful, difficult areas on several occassions. But you know what? I’ve grown to respect this person. Why? Because we met our conflict in a biblical manner.

It’s easy to go to church on Sunday, hide in the crowd, and not really rub shoulders with people. The cell helps us to put into practice the words of Peter to love each other deeply.


Joel Comiskey

The King who stood still


by Steve Cordle

After the dream in which God promised the newly-crowned king Solomon both wisdom AND riches, Solomon returned to Jerusalem - the place of God’s dwelling. He sought out the ark of the covenant, which was where the Lord’s presence centered. And what did he do?

“Solomon stood before the ark…” (1 Kings 3:15)

Solomon stood before the Lord’s presence. He wasn’t planning, ruling, preaching, or traveling. He stood – making himself available to God. A new king — so much to do — and yet he stood…. still.  

How often do we “stand before the Lord”? How much more effective might our ministries be if we did so more often? Part of being still before the Lord is to quiet ourselves inwardly. I admit, standing doesn’t always come naturally to me.

Notably, the passage immediately following the account of Solomon’s time of standing is his famous test of wisdom of two women claiming the same child. It seems Solomon’s standing before the Lord allowed him to access the promised wisdom from God.

I haven’t always asked ministry leaders how they are doing in their devotional life – as if we should be beyond discussing such a seemingly basic thing. No more. I regularly ask “How is your life with Jesus?”, and I have a partner who asks me that question weekly. Standing.