Adapting Good Resources to Your Setting

By Michael Sove

As I said in a previous post, people need to be trained to facilitate the cell gathering as well as learn the habits that will make the difference, if practiced, between cell gatherings.  The two resources I use to accomplish this are Lead by Joel Comiskey for the basics (purchase through the Joel Comiskey Group web site) and 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders by Dave Earley, for the practices that should be focused on between cell gatherings.  (Purchase through Touch Outreach Ministries.)

When it comes to the basics, the person will read a chapter in Joel’s book and listen to a CD that I have prepared that explains how this information applies to our setting and contains supplemental things that I want to address around each topic.  There are eight chapters in Joel’s book and therefore eight topics of focus.   I believe a person could easily cover a chapter a week while receiving practical assignments from their cell leader, which exposes them to all aspects of facilitating a cell gathering.

Next they will work through the 8 Habits book by Dave Earley which will give them the tools which will help their cell be transformed outside the gatherings.  Again, this can be completed in eight weeks but what is most important is actually practicing these habits.

A person who really works at it can receive excellent training over the course of sixteen weeks while living out and practicing these skills in their cell group.  They can work at their own pace and start at any time.  We provide these resources to those in our cell groups who are willing to be trained.  If your budget can’t afford that, then keep the cost to a minimum for those being trained.

One resource that I have found recently that I highly recommend is Michael Mack’s book, Burnout-free Small Group Leadership.  (Purchase through Touch Outreach Ministries.)  This is all about forming a core team to help lead the cell and share the ministry.  The principles in this book are very powerful and will help your leaders avoid burnout and put excitement back into cell group life.

What materials do you use?  Do any of you write your own that you’d be willing to share?


How Elim Developed Training Material

MARIOby Mario Vega

For a long time, our leader’s training course was too simple. There were only four lessons that we taught in four weeks. When we realized that cell ministry is a leadership strategy, we started looking for a better way to train our leaders.

We reviewed the training materials of various cell churches around the world. We discovered, however, that many of these training courses were too long and didn’t fit the context of our culture. Given that fact, we decided to create our own training course.

We needed the following elements:

  • not too long but not too short either
  • a simple course, without technicalities that could discourage new believers
  • A course which could lead a person from his conversion to leadership.

In the end, our course was completed with 26 lessons to be imparted in six months.

They are designed so that each lesson is given in an hour. It starts in a very basic way, according to the understanding of a new convert and ends with technical details of the cell work.

Creating our own material allowed us to overcome the difficulties I mentioned at the beginning. Many churches will find it easier to adopt ready-made material that responds to their culture and particularities. It is a good way to start. God will tell you later if it is necessary to create your own training course or not.



Translation into Spanish

El curso de entrenamiento de líderes en Elim.

Nuestro curso de entrenamiento para líderes fue durante mucho tiempo de lo más sencillo que se pueda imaginar. Solamente cuatro lecciones que se impartían en igual cantidad de semanas. En la medida que el tiempo pasó, y al comprender que el trabajo celular es una estrategia de liderazgo comenzamos a buscar una manera mejor de entrenar a nuestros líderes.

Revisamos los materiales de entrenamiento de varias iglesias celulares en el mundo. Sin embargo, el común denominador era que resultaban ser cursos largos y fuera del contexto de nuestro país. Ante ese hecho, decidimos crear nuestro propio curso de entrenamiento.

Los elementos que necesitábamos eran los siguientes: un curso no tan largo pero tampoco tan corto como para dejar una formación insuficiente. Un curso sencillo, sin tecnicismos que pudieran desalentar a los nuevos creyentes. Un curso cuyos contenidos pudieran llevar a una persona desde su conversión hasta el liderazgo.

Al final, nuestro curso fue completado con 26 lecciones para ser impartidas en seis meses. Están diseñadas para que cada lección se imparta en una hora. Comienza de manera muy básica, de acuerdo a la comprensión de un nuevo converso y termina con detalles técnicos del trabajo celular.

El crear nuestro propio material permitió superar las dificultades que he mencionado al principio. Posiblemente a otras iglesias les resulte mejor adoptar un material ya elaborado y que responda a su cultura y particularidades. Es una buena forma de comenzar. Más adelante Dios dirá si es necesario crear un curso de entrenamiento propio o no.

Adopt, Adapt, Abandon

Jeff Tunnell

Developing our training track has been a training process in itself.  At the onset of transitioning to cell-based ministry we adopted the baseball diamond materials from Bethany Cell Church Network.   We did not yet understand the changing nature of a training track and when BCCN began altering their materials to meet their own needs, it left us frustrated.  Becoming dependent upon someone else’s publishing (we were too small to produce our own) left us feeling vulnerable to their decisions.  Promoting this training track with zeal, we were left holding booklets that could no longer be supported or purchased.  Using someone else’s materials that were not designed to flex with our situation was hindering us.

Then we began using various components for each level of the training track.  These were not produced or published by one company or ministry, just specialized pieces we decided would fit each step in our training.  We made certain that these would remain available for a longer period of time in order to not make the same mistake.  This was adapting and it felt better and left us more in control of our journey.  Having books completed through one-on-one discipleship, complemented by weekend Encounter retreats gave us flexibility in applying the training track.  But it was cumbersome and not giving the results we desired.

Recently we abandoned that array of components and are now implementing Joel Comiskey’s 5-book equipping series.  This brings us back to the adopt part of the cycle.  As Joel pointed out in yesterday’s blog, whatever you use should be biblical and reflect your cell church philosophy.  We want to streamline the training, make it consistent from step-to-step and measurable across the board.  Someday we may produce our own, but for now we are excited to use a proven process of discipleship from a trusted source.

Training Material

JOELby Joel Comiskey

I’m here in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada (greater Toronto area) having just finished a cell church conference for pastors and leaders at the Newmarket Alliance Church. One of the questions that came up frequently was how to develop an equipping track and what materials to use. I told them that that the best equipping tracks promote the basic doctrines of the faith (along with the specific vision of the church), spiritual life development, evangelism, and leadership training. They are concise and clear and don’t overwhelm the learner.

I told them that there are two major points to remember when selecting training material. First, is it biblical? Does it reflect the pure doctrine “once delivered by the saints?” Second, is it connected with your cell church philosophy? In other words, is the training conducive to convert every member into a disciple-maker through the cell system?

Many cell churches, while in the process of developing their own materials, use the materials of others. Ralph Neighbour’s equipping track offers a number of booklets. Neighbour has spent the major part of his years perfecting training material for every aspect of cell life — new Christian development, Bible curricula, evangelism training, gifts of the Spirit, spiritual warfare, and more. The believer is told from day one that eventually he or she will be leading a cell group.

Little Falls Christian Centre has developed its own material. Each book leads to higher-level learning. The equipping track starts with basic doctrinal training in Welcome to Your New Family; then the new believer receives more in-depth discipleship in the Arrival Kit Companion; the Reaching the Lost booklet prepares the potential leader to evangelize, whereas the Cell Leader Equipping Manual launches him into cell leadership. A more in depth manual, taught in a retreat, accompanies each booklet.

My own training material possesses this same clarity. I begin with a book on basic biblical truths called Live, which leads to the book Encounter to help free a person from bondages. The potential leader uses Grow, to learn how to have a daily devotional time. Then the person studies Share, which helps him or her learn how to evangelize. The fifth book is called Lead, which prepares the person to launch a cell (or be part of a leadership team). Of course, the trainee is exercising his spiritual muscles in the cell group while completing the five books. I have two books (Coach and Discover), which are part of my higher level training.

Over time, most cell churches establish their own materials because they fit better. God has made your church unique, with particular convictions and methodologies. You’ll want to reflect this uniqueness in your material. Most importantly, listen to God. Discover what’s best for your own particular church and context.



Training Outside the Classroom

By Michael Sove

Over the last 15 years I have used many different approaches to cell leader training.  Let me share with you some of those approaches and what I have learned through the process.

The first time I took people through training I held 8 weeks of training.  We met once a week on a weeknight.  This process was fine but committing to eight weeks in a row was tough for most people.  People that completed the eight weeks of training could open a cell.  What was lacking at this point was on the job training that I have found so useful in later years.

Later on I held training that went Friday night and all day Saturday.  This would complete the process faster but people were overwhelmed with information.  What they needed more than information was actual cell experience and feedback from the leader.  Another variation of this was training on a particular weeknight split between two weeks lasting for three hours each week.  In these shorter variations, sure, people could get through the training but I always felt rushed and that the training was too condensed.

There is nothing wrong with classroom training but I have found one on one, on the job training to be the most effective.  I began to ask myself the following questions:  How could I get as many people as possible in the training process?  What would happen if they could start at any time and work at their own speed under the watchful eye of their cell leader?

I am currently working on a process where two main books are used for training and a person can work through the books at their own speed, with their cell leader holding them accountable.  I am making CD’s where I talk through the chapter topics and make specific application to our church and setting including stories from my experience over the years.  What I like most about this is that a person doesn’t have to wait until the next cycle of classes are offered and the cell leader can help them practice what they are learning.

You’ll have to discern what works best in your setting and maybe multiple ways to accomplish the same training should be offered.  Some people might prefer seminar training while others might work best independently with their cell leader as an accountability partner.  Whatever you choose to do, remember that people will learn more by doing, and then receiving constructive feedback from their cell leader.

What have you found most effective in training?


Equipping Believers to Become Leaders

marioby Mario Vega

Our training course for new leaders begins with the idea that every Christian can be a cell leader. Consequently, our equipping track leads new converts from new birth to leadership.

Since every day there are new converts, it is necessary to start a new training course each week. This means that every week there are at least twenty-six different levels of the course being offered simultaneously (e.g., one for each one of the 26 lessons that covers the entire course). To facilitate everything, the training course takes place on Sundays.

Since we don’t have sufficient classrooms in our church building, we implement the training in homes. In this way, the trainees don’t have to drive to church. Rather, they are trained in the neighborhoods in which they live.

Zone pastors teach the courses. As the training courses multiply, the zone pastors rely on the coaches (supervisors) to help in the task of training new leaders. Some of our Pastors combine courses that are at the same advanced level in order to give more uniformity to the training, but not everyone does it this way. Although the material is the same, each Pastor has the flexiblity to share it in a way that fits in with the particularities of the particular geographical area.



Translation in Spanish:

La Ruta del Líder en marcha.

Nuestro curso de entrenamiento para nuevos líderes parte del deseo de convertir a cada cristiano en un líder de célula. Consecuentemente, nuestra Ruta del Líder es un programa de formación que lleva a los nuevos conversos desde su nuevo nacimiento hasta el liderazgo.

Dado que cada día hay nuevas personas que creen, es necesario iniciar un nuevo curso de entrenamiento cada semana. Esto significa que cada semana existen no menos de 26 diferentes niveles del curso que se están impartiendo simultáneamente. Uno por cada una de las 26 lecciones que comprende el curso completo. A fin de facilitar las cosas, el curso de entrenamiento se imparte los días domingos.

Dado que en el local de nuestra iglesia no tenemos aulas para la enseñanza, el curso se imparte en casas de hermanos. Los candidatos no tienen que viajar hasta la iglesia. Se entrenan en su mismo vecindario.

El entrenamiento es impartido por los Pastores de Zona. Cuando los cursos se multiplican los Pastores también se apoyan en Supervisores que les ayudan en la tarea de entrenar los nuevos líderes. Algunos de nuestros Pastores deciden reunir los grupos que llevan el mismo nivel, ya avanzado, con el propósito de dar mayor uniformidad al entrenamiento. Pero, no todos lo hacen igual. Aunque el material es único, existe la flexibilidad para que cada Pastor pueda impartirlo de manera que llene las particularidades de su zona y de su gente.

Each One Teach One

Jeff Tunnell

I sat in a class of 7 people this morning covering “Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery”. Conducted by Loma Linda University and taught by Janelle Martin, MS RCEP, it is a one hour class, using PowerPoint presentations and the accompanying handouts. This is week Two of Twelve weeks and my interest level is peaked as I attend with my close friend Joe who is recovering from a recent Bypass surgery.

The class method is very effective for this group as they interact with laughter, questions and mutual affirmation of the information given.  All of those here, except me, have been through a heart surgery recently and are learning about what happened to them after the fact.  Attention levels are HIGH and camaraderie is obvious in the verbal support exchanged between attendees.

Thinking about training and equipping new cell leaders certainly comes to mind in this setting.  It reminds me that if I have a handful of people who are at the same level in equipping need, I can gather them in a class setting to teach the material associated with that step.  I, or another leader, can present the instructional component of information to everyone at the same time and foster a team spirit using dialogue among the learners.  These disciples have a direct relationship to the class content, and one another, which leads to overflowing encouragement.

However, I don’t always have enough for a class and often those in the equipping track are not at the same level.  If I wait for a batch to accumulate, many stall out and loose interest in leadership development.  Consequently, we conduct nearly our entire training track using a one-on-one method.  The cell leader bears the responsibility for each cell member’s progress through the training.  They may delegate the weekly process to a cell member and come alongside these two to monitor successful completion.  Flexibility in when to meet each week is extended to the ones engaged in the equipping while the cell leader holds them accountable to finish the equipping step in an acceptable time frame.

Desiring consistency in discipleship, we use only ONE training track until each disciple is equipped to lead their own cell, whether they do or not.  We will use different methods along the way, if necessary, to accomplish equipping, but never have more than one training series.  Presently we are utilizing Joel Comiskey’s 5-book series along with the new audio book components.  It brings resolve and clarity to our goal of training future leaders.

One Equipping Track; Many Ways to Teach It

JOELby Joel Comiskey

I remember when we first started using our training track (equipping series) in Ecuador. We tried to train the Ecuadorians one-on-one. We thought that was the “right way” to do it. We soon discovered that it wasn’t natural for a group-oriented culture like Ecuador to readily embrace the one-on-one training method. When we started training the Ecuadorians in a group settting, they came alive and were much more teachable.

Am I against one-on-one? No, I think it’s fabulous. What I am saying is that we need to be flexible with regard to how we train people. After all, didn’t Jesus train His disciples in a group setting? Yes, He did focus on Peter, James, and John, but for the most part he trained them together. Here’s what I believe:

Have One Training Track but Many Ways to Teach the One Training Track

I believe a church needs to determine the one equipping process that the entire church will follows, from the new believer (or non-Christian) to leading a cell and beyond. Yet, I also believe a church should exercise great flexibility on how to teach the equipping. Some examples are:

  • Sunday school hour. Some churches use the adult Sunday school to teach the different training manuals.
  • Before or after the cell group. One option is to ask trainees to come 45 minutes before the cell starts or to stay awhile after the cell to complete one or two lessons.
  • Retreat setting. It’s possible to teach one entire equipping book on a Saturday or during a special retreat.

I’ve trained people one-on-one, one-on-two/three/four, a small group setting, or in a large group setting, such as a retreat.

An importnat goal of the cell church is to make sure everyone enters and completes the training. To make this happen, we need to be flexible and offer lots of options to make sure everyone is trained.

What are your thoughts?


Training the Army

By Steve Cordle

When my boys turned 16, they each eagerly started the process of learning to drive. That meant they visited the Department of Motor Vehicles to take the written driver’s test. They had to demonstrate their knowledge of the manual of the rules of the road. They studied the book and each one passed on their first attempt at the test. They were happy, but they were not yet licensed. They were educated about driving, but they were not yet equipped to drive. To obtain their license, they had to demonstrate to the state trooper that they could translate their knowledge of the manual into control of the car.

In order to release world-changing disciples and group leaders, churches must do more than educate their members with biblical knowledge. Rather, they must equip them in translating that knowledge into obedience to Jesus and ministry to others. Yes, biblical knowledge is important, it is just not enough.

The Equipping Track of a cell church differs from a Sunday School class or a lecture Bible Study in that it is designed with an end in mind: a reproducing leader. Do you have a clear understanding of what knowledge and skills are required for a person to disciple others through leading a group? Do you have a way to develop people in those skills in a step-by-step manner? An Equipping Track should involve not only instruction from a book, but experience in ministry under the coaching of another practitioner. When people realize that your church is designed to equip and release them into ministry, they become excited partners in ministry; the audience becomes an army.



Trained for What?

By Michael Sove

Leading a cell is far more than opening your home or showing up at someone else’s and facilitating a lesson.  Leading a cell is first of all a calling and requires great intimacy with God.  This is not something learned in a classroom but in those day-to-day encounters with the living God.  This is where all training starts.  The most important factor in leadership training is a leader’s devotional life:  His or her time spent worshiping God, listening to God and seeking to be filled day by day by the Holy Spirit.  If a leader is doing this faithfully, they will be building a strong foundation from which all leadership skills will be built upon.

Beyond a close relationship with God, leading a cell utilizes many other skills as well.  People skills, administrative skills, leadership skills.  This requires specific training that will help the leader facilitate life within the cell as well as practice those habits outside the cell that will lead to growth and cell multiplication.

So a good place to begin as you seek to put cell leadership training together for your church is to identify the skills needed to facilitate movement within the cell in four dimensions.  Upward to God, inward toward one another, outward to those needing Christ and forward in making disciples and multiplying the cell.  We’ll talk more about the specifics in a later blog.

Then identify the habits and practices that the leader and their core team will do in between the gatherings and develop training around the skills that will help the cell to be a growing, healthy, and multiplying cell.  This includes habits like inviting new people weekly, contacting the regulars and praying for them daily, and how to develop a core team that shares the ministry of the cell.

So ask yourself, what skills are needed in these two realms, both in the cell and outside the cell?  Then focus your training on these skills including action steps to take to improve at each skill, and you will have a training process that prepares cell leaders for the specific tasks that cell leadership requires.

What does your training focus on?