The Core Leadership Team Meeting

joel by Joel Comiskey

I’m writing from Winnipeg, Canada. I’ve been here for the past four days holding a cell conference at the International Worship Centre, an exciting cell church of 80 cells and 800 people (pastor Junie Josue). I spoke to pastors and leaders during the first two days, but the third day pastor Junie wanted me to speak into his life and the life of his leaders.

One of the key things I told Junie was to concentrate on his core leadership team, which consists of five cell network couples who oversee the eighty cells (with the help of supervisors under each network). I told Junie to spend the majority of his time with these core leaders, building relationships with them and overseeing the cell system through them.

I encourage lead pastors, like Junie, to meet as frequently as possible with the core leadership team (weekly is best but every other week also works). As far as the order of the leadership team meeting, I recommend the following:

1. The lead pastor speaks into the lives of his core leaders. He shares what God is showing him through the Scripture and then asks the core team to respond. It’s also great to pray for one another and minister to each other’s needs.

2. Review the progress of the cells. I think it’s best if each core leader has statistics that show:

  • A list of each cell with the attendance in the cell from the previous week and any other pertinent information
  • Those who are in the training track and what stage they are in the training track
  • The cell goal for the end of the year.

I encourage each core leader to go around and talk about the network under his or her care, highlighting cells that are struggling, those ready to multiply, spiritual victories of cell leaders, and urgent needs. The beauty of this approach is that the leadership team is able to pastor the entire church through the cell structure.

After discussing the cell groups, the team can then move to the large wing of the church, such as celebration service (s), various ministries, and calendar items. In my experience, a normal leadership team lasts about two hours.

But what about you? Perhaps you run your core leadership meetings differently. We’d love to hear. . . .


Spiritual Leadership

robby Rob Campbell

In July 1994, Chuck Swindoll spoke at the Promise Keepers Leadership Conference in Boulder, Colorado. As he stepped to the podium, he looked intently from left to right at the thousands who had gathered for this event. I was one of those in attendance, seated in the very front row next to Coach McCartney. Then he spoke, “Pastors, lighten up…lighten up!” I loved his admonishment for I have always believed that pastors are too tight, serious, posturing themselves to be more important than they really are.

The place filled with laughter and Chuck continued. This masterful communicator cited the dirty dozen obstacles to leadership. They are as follows: Authoritarianism, Exclusiveness, Greed, Hypocrisy, Sensuality, Prejudice, Pride, Rationalization, Manipulation, Secrecy, Unaccountability, and Traditionalism. As he rattled off this deplorable, dirty dozen list, conviction fell on me. I sensed God saying to me, “Rob, leadership is a big deal. Continually clothe yourself in me.”

Might I share a few thoughts on leadership? You are so kind!

First, a leader sees the way (vision). Second, fellow team members and followers are essential for the journey (mission). Finally, leaders must be passionate about people for relationships are the key to any successful quest (passion). Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Vision (seeing), mission (doing), and passion (feeling) are commendable and necessary traits for an effective leader. Each strand is essential as you serve others. For example, if you lack mission and passion, then chances are strong you will jump from project to project. Further, if you have strong strands of passion and mission but lack vision, then you will give yourself to too small a task. Finally, if you lack passion but have immense vision and mission strands, then you will not have the heart to inspire others and the vision will become dry and laborious.

Spiritual leadership is a high calling and can be filled with great joy and/or immense pain. A great deal is expected from key leaders. These expectations can become burdensome as a pastor tries to become all things to all people. Can you guess which group is “the single most occupationally frustrated professionals in America?” That’s right– you nailed it! The answer is pastors. Pastors are in need of help and help is available as they intentionally and deliberately empower others for ministry. Pastors must consistently be on the lookout for emerging leaders. Author Mike Regele writes, “This means you may get less done in the present, but you will actually accomplish far more in the future by pouring your life into the people who can carry on those things that are nearest and dearest to your heart.”



Good and Pleasant Teamwork

by Michael Sove

David expressed what we are experiencing as a staff here at Allen.  He said, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”   Psalm 133:1

A few days ago Jeff Tunnell talked about how “Two Are Better Than One.”  He said, “We need the camaraderie and brotherhood of others for mutual encouragement, mentoring, sharpening of skills and broadening of ideas in our cell ministry.”

Our staff is actually experiencing this and we are working well together.  There are a couple of things that lead to this unity and camaraderie.  Each of us including the Senior Pastor is involved at some level in a cell.  Some of us lead a cell, some of us coach as well as lead a cell, while others simply participate in a cell because of other levels of responsibility. We understand the importance of connecting in community and being in each other’s lives.  It’s a value we all hold in common and this strengthens us as a team.

Having a cohesive team is important in any situation but I feel it is even more critical in the cell church.  One of the greatest moves we have made is to simplify our objective as a church.  Each person on the staff focuses on that objective and therefore our ministries all fit into a directional flow that leads toward the fulfillment of that objective.  So when we come together in a team meeting, there is this sense of togetherness and encouragement.  We are helping and supporting one another.  We understand the importance of “integration.”  Everything we do fits the objective and connects with everything else we’re doing.  There is not a sense of competition but of cooperation.

On top of all that, we’re growing as friends and this leads to good and pleasant teamwork.

Comments?  What have you done to enhance teamwork in your ministry?


Pastoral Team Values

by Mario Vega

It’s very important that each member of the pastoral team share the same vision. It is not possible for a team to be properly integrated if each one of its members has a different vision of where they’re heading and the methods to get there. The Senior Pastor of the church establishes the vision, and the church responds to what has shown the lead pastor, for the community, city, and country.

Each of those on the pastoral team recognizes that they have been invited to join the lead pastor’s vision and to help fulfill it. If a team member wants to serve as a Senior Pastor and not as a collaborator, which is completely legitimate, it’s best for him to leave his position and dedicate himself to pastor his own church.

In the Kingdom of God there will always be number “ones” and number “twos.” Both need each other. No number “one” will be effective trying to be a number “two.” And no number “two” will be effective trying to be a number “one.” Each one must be very aware of his call and must remain faithful to the position God has given him. The desire of every child of God should not be to become the main player, but rather to to be the servant of all.

To share and live these values is essential if a pastoral team is going to be effective in Christ’s body.



Translation in Spanish

Valores del equipo pastoral.

Una condición muy importante para formar un equipo pastoral adecuado es que cada uno de sus miembros compartan la misma visión. No es posible que un equipo se integre adecuadamente si cada uno de sus miembros tiene una visión diferente de hacia dónde se dirigen y los métodos que se utilizarán para llegar allí. La visión debe ser establecida por el Pastor principal de la iglesia y responde a lo que Dios le ha mostrado para su comunidad, ciudad o país.

Esto supone que cada uno de los miembros del equipo pastoral reconozca que ellos han sido invitados a sumarse como colaboradores del Pastor principal. Si alguno de los miembros aspira a desempeñarse como un Pastor principal y no como un colaborador, lo cual es totalmente legítimo, debe mejor dejar su lugar a otra persona para dedicarse a su verdadero llamado.

En el Reino de Dios siempre habrá números ‘uno’ y números ‘dos’. Los unos necesitan de los otros. Ningún número ‘uno’ será efectivo tratando de ser un número ‘dos’. Y ningún número ‘dos’ será efectivo tratando de ser un número ‘uno’. Cada quien debe estar muy conciente de su llamado y permanecer fiel a la posición que Dios le ha entregado. El anhelo de todo hijo de Dios no debe ser el protagonismo pues en el Reino de Dios el mayor es el menor.

El compartir y vivir estos valores se convierte en elemento fundamental para integrar un equipo pastoral que pueda dar atención a los miembros de la iglesia celular local.

Two Are Better Than One

by Jeff Tunnell

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companiion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one o help him up…and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 & 12

Getting together with other leaders is always an encouragement to me.  I work things out verbally, which means I need to talk issues out in person to come to a good conclusion.  Providing and receiving feedback about cell ministry occurs in the regular meeting of coaches, supervisors or zone pastors, whichever level or name of leadership you utilize. 

Luke 9 demonstrates Jesus meeting with His 12 disciples, giving them power and authority to preach and heal, followed by giving instructions for thier work. This is a wonderful help to the leadership meeting, instructing us in the following: there must be a key leader to bring the other leaders together.  He/she must know the mission clearly, including the goals to reach, the other leaders must understand mutual submission to leadership and their part on the team. Verse 10 shows us the accountability of those dispatched by the Lord along with another private meeting of the leaders.

We need the camaraderie and brotherhood of others for mutual encouragement, mentoring, sharpening of skills and broadening of ideas in our cell ministry.  Holy Spirit synergy occurs when we meet as a team!  Regularity is key in this gathering for consistent forward movement and accountability.  Don’t let this drop from your calendar!

The Leadership Team in the Cell Church

joelby Joel Comiskey

A few decades ago, God used the Christian and Missionary Alliance to start a movement in Perú called Encounter with God.The focus of Encounter with God was evangelistic campaigns and intense discipleship. It spread throughout Latin America, and when I arrived in Ecuador in 1990, I became part of an Encounter pastoral team at the El Batán Church in Quito, Ecuador. One key principle of the Encounter movement was team ministry. Yes, each Encounter church had a lead pastor, but the leadership team led the church alongside the lead pastor.

I was part of the El Batán team that planted a daughter church in 1994 called the Republic Church. When the Republic Church made the transition to cell ministry in 1997, we already knew the importance of team ministry. We held many team meetings together to plot our transition. We decided that each of us as pastors and missionaries on the Republic Church team would lead a cell and oversee a network of cells. We then met together as a team on a weekly basis to discuss the cell networks under our care. During those team meetings, the lead pastor, Porfirio Ludeña, asked each team leader how our cell networks were doing, multiplication goals, prayer needs, etc. We worked as a team to build the cell infraestructure.

The lead pastor will be much more effective if he develops a team to share the load, build-up each other, and oversee cell ministry. And of course, team ministry is a biblical concept. Jesus formed his team of twelve, Jesus sent his disciples out in teams, Paul developed a missionary team, and the early church based their leadership structure on a plurality of elders.

Team ministry is also a  part of growing cell churches around the world. Those on the leadership team have first been proven in cell ministry. They’ve multiplied cells, shown godly Christian character, received training, and are asked be part of the leadership team (read more about the team ministry process).

Perhaps you are the lead pastor and also work a secular job. Your church isn’t large enough to hire another team pastor. My counsel is to form your team with fruitful volunteer cell leaders. It’s best to meet with them on a weekly basis to envision and oversee cell ministry. If this doesn’t work out, meet every other week or once per month. As you build your team, you’ll discover new potential and fruitfulness in cell ministry.



Lifelong Learner

by Michael Sove

Those who know me know that I always talk about being a lifelong learner.  Since 1995 I have been involved in the Cell Church movement.  I try to read every book that comes out that has anything to do with cells, cell church values, making disciples and coaching.  Bill Warren, the Senior Pastor and I, always have a book that we are processing together.    When we meet weekly, we will typically spend some time talking about the latest chapter we have read and how it applies to us.

I have the privilege of focusing full time on developing people, learning from cell resources and networking with other cell pastors.  I always pass on to Bill Warren the book, the chapter, the quote, the idea etc. that I think will help us flesh out the vision to become a Spirit-filled Cell Church that impacts the world for Christ.

Three years ago we also did something that has been so helpful in our on-going transition to become a cell church.  We contacted JCG and asked Joel Comiskey to be our outside coach.  It has been a continual blessing to have someone who is on the outside, to ask good questions to, someone with experience who can help us set achievable goals to move to the next level in our transition.  Find someone who can function as your coach.  The return on investment far exceeds the cost.

Pastor Bill and I have contacted other lead/senior pastors from cell churches that are larger and a few steps ahead of where we are currently in our transition and development as a cell church.  These pastors have graciously given us their time, usually through a conference call, so we could ask questions and learn from their experience. These conversations have proved to be invaluable and encouraging and keep us moving forward in our vision.

I strongly recommend that the lead/senior pastor and his team attend an annual cell seminar, conference or workshop.  Those of us who attended the Cell Symposium that Dr. Ralph Neighbour organized last year, know that this was a very special once in a lifetime gathering. The last two years a team from our church attended the “Day With Joel and Mario” sponsored by JCG and have been greatly encouraged and strengthened as a team.  I have also found new friends to network with at these events.

I hope you are also a lifelong learner, doing all you can to sharpen your understanding and leadership skills.  I have found this to be the key to endurance and passion when it comes to cell church leadership.



Pastoral Renewal in Cell Ministry

by Mario Vega

In a cell structure that functions well, supervisors encourage the leaders and the network pastors encourage the supervisors. But who will encourage the lead pastor? Such encouragement must come from elements outside the congregation.

An excellent way to get inspiration is visiting another church that is working very well in the cell vision. Personally, I always find new inspiration and new ideas when I visit the Full Gospel Church in Yoido, South Korea. Contemplating the living miracle which is Pastor Cho’s church is always a reason to find inner renewal. Such a visit is particularly relevant if it is made during the development of the Church Growth International Conference, which is held in October in odd-numbered years. The next will be held in October 2011.

When I’m at Yoido Full Gospel Church, I like to dedicate at least a morning (and even better a full day) to go to the Mountain of Prayer. I’m convinced that it’s impossible to understand Pastor Cho’s model without visiting Prayer Mountain.

Although YFGC is a great model to visit, most likely you’ll discover it more practical to visit a cell church closer to you geographically and culturally. My main point is that visiting an exciting cell church can keep the lead pastor’s passion burning for cell ministry.

In those visits, it’s a great idea for the pastor to take with him one or more close associates to interchange thoughts, have two different points of view, talk to a larger number of people, and to share key experiences on the way home. Visiting successful cell churches inspires a lead pastor to believe that all things are possible and to answer key questions about cell church ministry.

You don’t have to break all the new ground. Others have already walked before you, and you can follow in their steps with humility and creativity. As you are inspired and your church grows, be sure to return the favor and allow others to be inspired by you and your church.



Translation in Spanish:

Pastores apasionados por el trabajo celular.

En una estructura celular completa los líderes son animados por los supervisores y los supervisores por el Pastor de la iglesia. Pero ¿quién anima a los Pastores de las iglesias? Obviamente, el estímulo debe venir de elementos externos a la congregación local.

Una excelente manera de obtener inspiración es visitando otra iglesia que trabaja muy bien en la visión celular. En lo personal, siempre encuentro nueva inspiración y nuevas ideas al visitar la Iglesia del Evangelio Completo en Yoido, Corea del Sur. El contemplar ese milagro viviente que es la iglesia del Pastor Cho es siempre una razón para encontrar renovación interna. Tal visita cobra especial relevancia si se realiza durante el desarrollo de la Conferencia Internacial de Crecimiento de la Iglesia que se realiza en el mes de octubre de los años impares. La próxima será en octubre de 2011.

En esa visita no debe olvidarse el dedicar una mañana, aunque lo mejor sería un día completo, para ir a la Montaña de la Oración. Solamente cuando se visita este lugar se puede tener una idea integral del modelo del Pastor Cho.

Aunque la Iglesia de Yoido es el modelo por excelencia del trabajo celular, también existen otros modelos más cercanos tanto geográfica como culturalmente. El punto principal es que el visitar cada cierto tiempo una iglesia que desarrolla con éxito su trabajo celular mantendrá apasionado el corazón del Pastor.

En esa visitas el Pastor puede hacerse acompañar de uno o más colaboradores cercanos con el fin de compartir observaciones, tener dos puntos de vista, conversar con mayor número de personas, compartir la experiencia al regreso, etc. Esos modelos celulares exitosos no solamente muestran que las cosas son posibles sino que también dan respuestas a las preguntas que surgen en el diario caminar.

No es necesario que abramos el camino completo. Hay otros que lo han caminado antes y solamente debemos seguir sus huellas con humildad y creatividad. Luego, el camino llegará a ser tan transitado que los que nos sucedan encontrarán una autopista de libre circulación.

What I Do

by Jeff Tunnell

Our leadership is enrolled in a cell-church coaching contract with JCG that began in 2009 and continues through September of 2012.  The contract will take me back through nearly every book on cell church that I own! (I was one of a group of pastors who met with Joel for a previous 3-year coaching process as well and this led to our current church contract). Coaching is VITAL.

Our monthly cell leader gathering was yesterday.  We prayed for one another, reviewed the focus of ministry the Holy Spirit is directing in our Celebrations and discussed our reporting process for monitoring our goals.  This piece is so very necessary for including and encouraging those who are on the front lines of ministry.  Our under-shepherds are meeting incredible needs at the implementation level of cell church and in that place of ministry they also encounter extreme spiritual warfare.  They need and deserve our support and friendship on a regular basis to keep the vision fresh and meaningful.

I attend a cell each week that is led by Rob Hastings, the young man who will take my place as Senior Pastor in 2012.  He is experiencing cell church at the ground level and will multiply my wife & I out to a new cell soon.  We are enjoying cell community together each week, along with practicing the principles of evangelism and multiplication.

Sitting in my small home office, to my left, are 2 books that are on the “front burner” of reading for continued learning about cell church. Above my head are a couple of dozen books on leadership, church growth, values and virtues, discipleship and history.  When I go to my church office the library behind me has two entire shelves of books which are included in Joel Comiskey’s recommended reading list. I have read each at least once, most more than once.

I have marked each passage in the New Testament that demonstrates how the early church met in small groups and homes (check mark in the margin).  This keeps me sharp in how I think about the cell system when reading scripture and preaching/teaching.  It has revolutionized the way I think about how ministry should (and did) take place.

Above all these I have discovered that walking out the vision with a friend and co-laborer to be of greatest value.  Regular friendship and open dialogue about cell-driven approaches has kept me on task and on track over the years.  Many times I have been tempted to return to program-based designs.  My discussions combined with regular prayer together with my friend have helped me see the powerful reasons to stay with the plan God has given to us.

These things keep me refreshed and moving ahead in faith that one day we will again reach critical mass and exponential growth for the expansion of HIS kingdom inside our community.

Keeping the Cell Vision Fresh

By Joel Comiskey

Leading the cell church vision over the long haul requires a strategy to keep the vision burning. Some pastors quickly get excited about cell church but fizzle out over time. Often the reason for stagnation is the lack of a plan for developing and strengthening the cell fire. Here are a few suggestions to keep the fire alive:

Bible reading: Because cell church is based on the Bible, a pastor should grow in his passion as he reads Scripture. Do you see cell church when reading about the Trinity? Our God is a God of community, being in constant fellowship with the other members of the Trinity. Does Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18:13ff fan into flame your vision? Some scholars estimate that the nation of Israel had 150,000 cells among the 1.5 million people. How about Christ choosing a small group to live and minister with for three years? The early church continued that process through modeling both cell and celebration (Acts 2:42; 5:42; 20:20). Do all the one-another passages in the Bible excite you about cell ministry? I’m writing here in Miami at the Oikos conference. Yesterday, I was eating breakfast with Ralph Neighbour, Robert Lay, Mario Vega, Bill Beckham, and the Oikos leadership team. The director the NIV Spanish Bible talked to us about the possibility of creating a “Cell Church Bible” that would highlight the key cell church passages with commentary about those passages. What do you think?

Practicing cell life: Reread Steve Cordle’s Thursday blog about why he leads a cell group. Basically, Steve is saying that leading a cell keeps him excited about cell ministry. If you’re not leading a cell, you should be visiting cells or regularly attending one.

Coaching: Coaches help pastors stay fine-tuned with cell ministry through listening, encouragment, and strategizing. Part of the coach’s role is to resouce the pastor. For example, I ask most of the pastors I coach to read a book in preparation for our phone call. We don’t spend a lot of time on the reading, but I know this discipline will keep them fine-tuned. I also send each pastor my cell PowerPoints to stir their imagination and vision. If you don’t have a coach, find one. You also need to coach the leaders under your care through regular huddle times and one-on-one coaching. This will revive the passion of your leaders.

Online material: One of the key reasons we blog daily on JCG is to keep pastors and leaders excited about the cell vision (please spread the word about our daily blog). Have you also been studying our free online articles? Another great resources is WIZEHIVE. Ralph Neighbour and I are the co-owners of WIZEHIVE and Michael Sove is the administrator. WIZEHIVE offers a wealth of additional cell material. I would encourage you to sign up.

Networking: Cell seminars are great, and I’d encourage you to go to as many as possible. However, the networking with like-minded pastors and leaders is often the most valuable part of a seminar. In my seminars, I ask the participants to regularly break-up in groups of two and three to discuss what they’ve learned. I know that participation will help them apply what they’ve learned and add valuable insight to their lives.

If you plan on staying in the cell vision over the long-haul, you’ll need to proactively feed the cell vision continually.

What are you doing to keep the vision fresh?

Joel Comiskey