Goals: How to Achieve Them


by Mario Vega

One of the basic principles about goal setting is that they must be clearly defined. Each person should have complete clarity about what, how, and when the goals are pursued. One way to clarify the goal is to constantly repeat it. The more you mention the goal; the more probabilities there will be for people to actually fulfil it.

However, even if we have a very clear definition of the goal and a passionate desire to reach it, we still might miss the goal unless we also have the proper means to achieve the goal. Therefore, a a large part of achieving the goal is to have the proper means to accomplish the goal and then to faithfully progress toward the goal. If we do this, the accomplishment of the goal is assured. Remember: progress toward the goal is exactly proportional to the purity of our means.

These means are prayer, the implementation of a training course for new leaders, fidelity to the cell work principles, the transmission of the vision, and the constant care of those involved in the cell work. As we manage to care for these details in a meticulously way, we’ll be assuring the attainment of the aimed goals.

Mario Vega

Translation in Spanish

Las metas y cómo alcanzarlas.

Lo básico al hablar del tema de las metas es que éstas deben estar claramente definidas. Cada persona debe tener completa claridad de lo que se persigue y para cuándo se persigue. Una manera de aclarar la meta es su repetición. A mayor cantidad de veces la meta se menciona más probabilidades existen de que las personas se la apropien.

No obstante, la definición más clara posible de la meta y nuestro deseo de llegar a ella no nos harán alcanzarla si no conocemos y utilizamos los medios necesarios. Por eso, buena parte del esfuerzo debe ser dedicado principalmente a la conservación de los medios y a su uso progresivo. Si lo hacemos así la consecusión de la meta está asegurada. El progreso hacia la meta es exactamente proporcional a la pureza de nuestros medios.

Esos medios son la oración, la puesta en práctica de un curso de entrenamiento de nuevos líderes, la fidelidad a los principios del trabajo celular, la transmisión de la visión y el constante cuidado de quienes se encuentran involucrados en el trabajo celular. En la medida que cuidemos de éstos detalles de manera meticulosa, aseguraremos el alcance de las metas que se hayan propuesto.

Fixing My Game

coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

I just finished my FIRST round of golf this year!  Shank & pull should have been my scorecard name! The last round I played was on Father’s Day in 2008! (Michael Sove probably can’t even believe this!)

So the game was going wrong (as maybe are cells). Life began to “teach” me again.  I recalled when  Armin Gesswein told me of a golf book titled “The Nine Worst Shots in Golf” with the subtitle “and the one shot that fixes them all”.  While I haven’t found the book, the conversation left me with a continuing thought that I can either (1) keep applying all my energies on trying to repair “what’s wrong” with my game, or (2) FOCUS on the ONE SHOT that will overcome the errors altogether.

I looked up some advice from Dr. Jim Suttie, golf professional: here are 3 of 7 correction (I am trying to apply them to Cells):

• Lighten up your grip. (How can I apply this to fixing my cells? Lighten up! Don’t get overly serious, relax some, quit squeezing the leaders so hard, let God have control)

• Get farther from the ball at address. (I am getting a message here; step back a bit, quit hovering and smothering the things could help you)

• Work on a little straighter back takeaway with no rolling of the right hand. (are your values steady? are you rolling away from the straight course you set?)

But, most importantly, see your PGA professional for some help. (Ahh…. Back to seeing a coach! let go of pride and get some help!)

I wonder what lessons life is teaching you.  Care to share?

Your Group’s Next Step

steveby Steve Cordle

On Monday, Joel posted an excellent blog about taking the next step as leaders. Today I’d like to build on that by inviting you to think about taking the next step as a group.

Sometimes groups get stagnant because they need to take a next step and have not yet done so. There is a big difference, though, between taking a next step down the path and taking a step off the path.

The core purposes of a group are evangelism, discipleship, and community, with the goal of multiplication as new leaders are developed. When a group is stagnant, it is important not to stray from these purposes, but to go deeper in them. Resist the temptation of introducing a new focus for the group (bike-riding, etc.) and instead grow inward and stagnant.

For example, perhaps the way a group has done evangelism has grown stale. Don’t abandon evangelism, just seek God about how He wants your group to do it on a new level. Perhaps He is calling the group to new boldness or new people. Quite often the next step requires risk, creativity and seeking of God. These all work together to create freshness in the group and effectiveness in the mission.

Maybe the group’s experience of community has settled into a predictable level. Is it time the leader takes a relational risk and shares what God is doing in him or her at a much deeper, more vulnerable level than before? Has the group’s prayer life grown stale? Maybe it’s time to take a step to a new level and have an all-night prayer meeting?

What new level is God calling your group to take along the path?

Steve Cordle


Taking the Next Step

joelby Joel Comiskey

Last June, I taught a D.Min cell church course with Ralph Neighbour for Golden Gate Seminary (right after the symposium). During the last half-hour, Ralph Neighbour’s firstborn son, Ralph, asked me to speak from my heart and give some final words to the eleven present. I shared with them what God had shown me the night before in my devotions about taking the next step. “Take the next step,” I told them. “Often the next step brings us into new territory, difficulties, and sometimes stretches us beyond our own limits. But we’ll never become all that God wants us to be unless we take the next step.”

The night before I had reflected back on my own journey. I looked back on each new step in my life and ministry. For example, it was a big step to become a missionary in Ecuador. But then it was another big step to become a cell church leader while a missionary in Ecuador. I was rocking the boat of my denomination by my writing, speaking in seminars, and transitioning the flagship church in Ecuador to cell ministry. Then there was the step of leaving Ecuador to establish my ministry in the United States. I remembered how painful it was to leave Ecuador, relearn the North American culture, and then start coaching pastors–a completely new ministry for me. Some of those pastors left in frustration because I really didn’t know what I was doing. But while taking the next step, I learned how to coach. God was perfecting a new, important ministry while I was crying out in emotional agony. As I looked back at God’s work in my own life, I was challenged to continue taking new steps in ministry. I realized that I had to continually be moving forward with God.

Dr. Robert Clinton of Fuller Seminary has studied the lives of 1000s of leaders and discovered that many leaders never reach their full potential because they fail to take the next step. They end up stagnating. Some of these leaders become hindered by structures that impede the full blossoming of their lives, ministries, and talents. They fail to reach what Clinton calls “convergence.” Other leaders, according to Clinton, keep on stepping out and enter a wonderful convergence of fruit, lasting legacy, and powerful ministry.

Taking the next step often means stepping out into the unknown. Scripture says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country” (Hebrews 11: 8-9).  Abraham became all God wanted him to be as he stepped out into the unknown.

My 18 year old daughter, Sarah,  is an example of stepping out. On August 12, she will take the step to live one year in Texas.  She will study at the Honor Academy, which is part of Teen Mania Ministry.  She felt God called her to do this last March in Sacramento at an Acquire the Fire event (Teen Mania). In the “flesh” we don’t want her to go, nor does she want to go!  Yet, she knows she must take the next step in her life to follow God wholeheartedly.And so do we, even though it will be painful to see her go.

My encouragement to you is to take the next step in your life and ministry. Enter into the unknown with God. He’ll be right by your side. For some of you, this means staying the same course you’re on right now and not jumping ship. You are in that “unknown country” at this moment. For others, it means stepping outside your comfort zone and taking the next step for God, wherever that might lead you. Let’s commit ourselves not to take the soft road, the easy way out. Let’s keep on taking the next step, wherever that might lead.



Following Up on New Converts


by Mario Vega

On several occasions it has been mentioned in this blog that the training of new leaders is a key factor to cell multiplication. And we must remember that new leaders can only emerge from those who are already members in your church (attending the cell groups, etc.). Yet, often churches stagnate in their potential leadership pool because they are not seing new people come to Christ, connecting to the cells, and participating in the training process.

One of the key problems is that new converts are not given appropriate follow-up. I believe it’s very important that a church has a plan to receive the new convert, care for him or her, and guide the new convert to become a disciple of Jesus by entering the training process. The cell plays a critical role in preparing the new beliver to serve the Lord. Each new convert should be incorporated into the training process with the goal of making him or her a future leader.

By doing this, there will always be new blood in the cell model. The new converts will be oxygenating the model and allowing new leaders to emerge.

Does such a mechanism exists in your church?

Mario Vega

Translation in Spanish

Atención a los nuevos conversos.

En varias ocasiones se ha mencionado en éste blog que la formación de nuevos líderes es clave para la multiplicación de las células. Los nuevos líderes solamente pueden surgir de nuevas personas que se incorporan al trabajo de evangelizar en las casas.

Después que una iglesia ha agotado los posibles candidatos de entre sus miembros activos, los nuevos líderes solamente podrán surgir de las personas que recientemente están conociendo a Jesús. De allí, que es muy importante dar a los nuevos conversos el seguimiento apropiado. Después de la conversión de una persona es cuando el verdadero trabajo va a comenzar.

Se debe elaborar un plan que permita que cada nuevo converso sea recibido, atendido y guiado para iniciar su vida cristiana de la mejor manera. Parte de la vida cristiana es el servicio a Dios y, dentro de ello, el trabajo celular juega un papel importante. El plan de atención a nuevos conversos debe incluir el mecanismo para que cada nuevo cristiano se incorpore en el curso de entrenamiento para llegar a ser un nuevo líder.

De ésta manera, siempre existirá sangre nueva en el modelo celular. Los nuevos conversos estarán oxigenando el modelo y haciendo posible que nuevos líderes surjan.

¿Podría decir que tal mecanismo existe en su iglesia?


coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

Motorcycles, Boats, Values, Principles, Prayer, Vision, Focus, Patriot Zeal, Mechanical Ministry, Pep Talks, Context, Football, Be alone with God, Ask Him, Transparency, Results, Obedience, Self denial, Solutions, Crop Rotation; these are the lifelines you threw to me after last week’s blog – thank you!

Now that I am safely out of the water, (no longer drowning) my breathing has returned to normal and you have helped me to see that it’s good to be alive!

I often tell others “Principles always work: Principles change us, we do not change them”.  In light of my present conditions I will adopt the following responses;

Not owning a boat or motorcycle, I will find another method to relax and pull back somewhat to gain a new perspective.

I will focus on spending additional time with our Father, alone in His presence, and ask Him for direction and wisdom.

I will sincerely develop relational ministry especially in the area of edifying present cell leaders.

I will not abandon goals or record keeping, but place them in proper perspective and balance their timeframes to more closely reflect reality (instead of the ideals I may have).

I will embrace obedience over convenience in running the race set before me with perseverance.

I will revisit the Values on which cell ministry is founded to strengthen my resolve to live by them.

I will continue to be transparent and openly honest with co-laborers in God’s field.

AND I will be GRATEFUL, for faith, family and friends (like those who read the blog and freely lend their support to fulfill the “one anothers” of scripture).

In all of these, I will lean the full weight of my trust into Jesus and live by His grace (otherwise the “I will”s are futile and possibly fatal).


Helping Cells Develop a Heart for the Nations


by Michael Sove (filling in this week for Rob Campbell)

Last year around this time God began to send me pastors from the nations who were seeking encouragement and even mentoring in cell churchINDIA4 principles. In a very short period of time I had twelve pastors from nine nations who I was in constant communication with. I felt God prompting me to begin the International Cell Church Prayer Network. The idea here was to pray for each other across the nations and build friendships through prayer. I would send out a weekly update highlighting one of these pastors and their ministry needs and prayer requests. When you pray for people you have never met you really develop a heart for them. God used the following verse to capture my heart.

Isaiah 56:7 NCV “I will bring these people to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. The offerings and sacrifices they place on my altar will please me, because my Temple will be called a house for prayer for people from all nations.”

INDIA2After catching the vision for praying for the nations, I began to include our cell groups in this as well. I wanted the cell groups to have a heart for the nations and to think outside of their own needs and the needs of our church. Cell groups could adopt these pastors and their ministries for prayer and as God would lead, they could focus on a practical project as well. One common thing I found in the pastors from the nations is that they had many struggles when it came to basic needs and supplies such as Bibles for distribution in their language.


Some of our cells raised money for Pakistan and were able to provide 500 Bibles and 5 bikes for Pastors. Recently a few cells were able to contribute for Bibles for some Indian pastors as well. During the witness portion of our weekly cell gatherings, the cells pray for the pastor they have adopted as well as praying for those we’re trying to reach locally.

When a cell experiences the blessing of getting involved directly in foreign missions, they will never be the same. Recently one of the pastors from India asked the cell group who was praying for him to help him come up with a name for his church and ministry. One of my dreams is for the cells not only to pray and contribute to these pastors on the front-lines, but also to take short term trips together to go and experience ministry face to face with those they have been praying for.



Not Giving Up

joelLast week on the JCG blog, I wrote, “I can make my best effort under His sovereign grace to write the best books possible and to minister to people in the most effective, diligent way I know how. But then I have to leave the results to God.”

You’ll remember I highlighted book sales and church growth as two areas in which I often start demanding God to do what I want him to do. God is teaching me, however, that I need to do my part and then leave the results in His hands.

About a year ago, I ministered in a cell church in the Midwest. The church was a model of cell church growth for a number of years, but then it stagnated. The founding pastor felt like he should be seeing growth each year and began to feel like a failure when it stopped appearing. I was very impressed with the life and excitement in the church, but the pastor was down on himself because he didn’t feel successful. “I’m fed up,” he told me. “I’ve just lost interest. Maybe I should be doing something else.” I preached in his church on Sunday and was encouraged by God’s work in the church. But once again the pastor began to condemn himself because the church wasn’t growing each year. He told me that he felt like a failure and that perhaps he should simply leave the church. I listened intently, but eventually I found myself saying, “Who brings the growth? You do many thing well, but you have a problem in trusting God’s sovereignty to bring growth in your church. You need to hang in there until it happens.” His wife, knowing I had hit a raw nerve, encouraged him to listen closely.

When I arrived home in California, I still felt burdened by my conversation with the pastor. Why? Because he’s not alone in his struggles. So many pastors don’t hang in the saddle long enough. They don’t trust God’s sovereign hand to bring the growth and give the eventual victories. They leave too early.

Is there a time when God calls pastors and leaders to move on? O yes. However, moving on when we feel like a failure is not the best time to move. My counsel is to hang in there. The blessing will come. God wants to reach lost souls and make disciples. And He also wants to use you and me in the process. I’ve discovered that leading a church is often more about what God wants to do through me than others. When His lessons are finished in my own life, He then brings the desired growth. God is going to move, but He will do things in His timing. Are we willing to hang in there until God moves? What do you think?

Joel Comiskey

Counseling in the Cell Church


by Mario Vega

When a church has thousands of members, the counseling ministry can not follow the traditional model of a few pastors counseling each one of the members. It wouldn’t take long to discover that needs weren’t being met and that new measures would have to be implmented. At Elim, we work under the Jethro Model. I’m not just talking about structure. I’m talking about the core essence of Jethro’s counsel: that each person receives adequate attention. In our system, each leader is responsible for providing counseling to his or her cell members. When a case exceeds the leader’s advising ability or if the leader doesn’t know what to do, the leader transfers the case to the supervisor.

If the supervisor feels that his counseling ability has been exceeded, he transfers the case to the Zone Pastor. Normally, most cases are solved at this level. However, there are situations that are still too complicated or require more specialized help process. In this scenario, the Zone Pastor refers these difficult cases to the District Pastor or directly to me.

The model is not overly rigid. A person can go directly to his Zone Pastor and be cared for. Obviously, many would want to be ministered to by the Senior Pastor, but most people at our church were born again within the Jethro model and thus it’s very normal for them to follow the step by step process.

Without the Jethro model, it would be impossible to truly minister to every case—even if each day was devoted to counseling.



Consejería en una iglesia celular.

Cuando una iglesia posee miles de miembros el tema de la consejería no puede seguir el modelo tradicional de un pastor aconsejando a cada uno de ellos. Pronto se percibirá que se deben adoptar medidas mucho más amplias para cubrir la necesidad de consejería.

En nuestro caso, trabajamos con el modelo Jetro. No solamente en el sentido de la estructura sino más en el sentido esencial del consejo de Jetro: la atención adecuada.

Cada líder es responsable por ofrecer consejería a los miembros de su célula. Cuando un caso sobrepasa la capacidad de asesoría del líder o no está seguro del camino que se debe seguir, traslada el caso al supervisor.

En caso que el supervisor se sienta rebasado en su capacidad de consejero, traslada el caso al Pastor de Zona. Normalmente, es en éste nivel donde se resuelven casi todos los casos. No obstante, hay situaciones que a veces se vuelven muy complicadas o requieren un proceso más especializado de ayuda. El Pastor de Zona suele remitir esos casos difíciles al Pastor de Distrito o directamente a mí.

El modelo no es excesivamente rígido. Una persona puede ir directamente a su Pastor de Zona y ser atendida. Obviamente, muchos quisieran ser atendidos por el Pastor Principal. Pero, la mayor parte de personas han nacido dentro de el modelo Jetro y para ellos es normal el ser ayudados de la manera que se ha explicado. De otra forma sería imposible atender cada caso aunque se dedicara todo el día a ello.

Help Me!

coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

Oh No! My cells are falling apart around me.  Leaders do not report regularly, attendance in cells is down, spiritual direction is not cohesive (every man does what is right in his own eyes), Christian events within our town offer short-lived experiences that compete with steady discipleship and community within the body of Christ.  New people are not being assimilated into cells, no salvations and only one water baptism this month, ushers don’t “ush” and deacons don’t “deac”, while elders meet and pray (best move yet).  Among the congregation vacationing is at the top of the importance list and summer plans are messing with attendance at Celebrations too.

The old confusion sets in upon me; should I be concerned about the ABCs of western church (Attendance, Buildings, Cash) or focus on the health of cells?  If leaders can’t (or won’t) lead, there will be no cells left very soon.  What’s happening? Am I imploding? Maybe it’s my training track that jumped the tracks?  Most of all, what does God want me to do in this situation?

I am probably the only one facing these issues because I am a small cell church, in a tourist town, with a two-man staff, small budget, minimum resources and maybe even a lack of faith. So, reverse blogging is in order today….HELP!

What should I do now?