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The Lead Pastor in Cell Ministry
by Joel Comiskey
I often tell pastors not to consider cell ministry unless they are passionate about it and have a vision for it. I say, "It's not enough to have a vision. The vision must have you." But what does this mean? One kind of vision should lead pastors possess?
Vision for Making Disciples. Cell church pastors need to be possessed by the vision to convert pew sitters into disciples who will pastor home groups that will in turn evangelize and disciple others. This focus rescues the pastor from the role of star of the Sunday celebration (how can I make the celebration attractive enough to keep the people coming back?) to chief trainer and disciple maker (how can I prepare and release lay workers into the harvest by developing them to lead dynamic cell groups?). The focus on cell infrastructure helps align the pastorate with the New Testament truth that the job of the pastor is to prepare God's people for works of service (Eph. 4:11-12).
Vision for Developing a Team. Effective lead pastors are team players. They are not solo pastors. Cell church is really all about leadership development and the leadership team is the steering wheel of the cell church. If the leadership team is united and guiding the cell church vision, there's a good chance the rest of the church will follow.
On a practical level, this means that the first item of business in the team leadership meeting is cell ministry. Each team member will share about how his or her own cell is doing and then report on the health of the cells. After working through the cell ministry issues, the pastor will deal with celebration concerns-worship, announcements, and other ministries.The senior pastor is the "cell minister" in the cell church. He is the one who sets the direction and leads the charge. Yes, he must develop a team who are also passionate about cell ministry.
Vision for Cell Purity. The lead pastor must not allow competing programs to get in the way of making disciples through the cells. A few years ago, I did a seminar in a church and noticed the lead pastor was not willing to say "no" to competing programs. He had some passionate cell people around him, but it didn't seem like he was leading the charge. He loved the idea of cells but didn't want to concentrate.
Are programs bad? No. It's simply a matter of choosing the focus. We all know how cluttered and busy our lives are. If the pastor expects his people to choose cell ministry, this means they will need time to visit neighbors, attend a cell group, prepare the cell lesson, go to the coaching meeting, and other related activities.
Vision for the Big and Small Picture. One trait that distinguishes the best lead pastors is the ability to focus on the big picture while working on the details. Effective lead pastors know what the end results will look like. They nourish that mental blueprint until it becomes part of their present reality. They see with certainty what others dismiss as fanciful daydreams.
Yet, they don't only live in the land of dreams--and this is my point. Their dreams compel them to master the details of the cell church system. Few succeed in combining the long-term dream with the present details. I've known the dreamer-type pastors who launch lofty goals and do little else. Then there are those pastors who confuse the trees for the forest. They get lost in the details and fail to envision the big picture and encourage the church to press ahead in making disciples through cell ministry.