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Persistence: Counting the Cost

by Joel Comiskey


By Joel Comiskey, check out  coaching 

Some pastors rush to become cell churches because it’s the latest and greatest thing to do, like adding a  new programs such as  AWANA, Evangelism Explosion, Vacation Bible School, or a new program from their denomination.

Programs normally have a built-in life-cycle which can be discontinued after a semester, one year, or when the church decides to change programs. Many pastors approach starting cell church ministry in a programmatic way. They want to take it out of the box, set it up, and then delegate others to make it work. They view the cell church strategy as a technique or program that can be used for a time and then discontinued.

Cell church is not another program. It’s a way of life that focuses on people. Cell church ministry asks potential leaders to go through a specified training. Those who become cell leaders (or part of the leadership team) need on-going coaching. Pastors need to realize this and count the cost to make sure training and coaching takes place.

When a church moves forward with a vision, there will always be people who attack it. Whenever a leader goes in a particular direction and asks people to follow, some will resist, preferring another direction or keeping things just as they are.

It’s one thing for the senior leader to be on board, but it’s also critical that every member of the leadership team also supports the vision. When this happens, a team can go forward together. 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.

Some churches even lose people in the process. Ramon Justamente is a southern Baptist pastor in Florida. He counted the cost to become a cell church by studying the literature and visiting various cell churches (he and his wife even visited our cell church in Quito, Ecuador in 1999). He was totally convinced he should transition his church.

I don’t think Ramon was ready for what happened next: four hundred people left the church. Yet, Ramon believed God had called him to cell church ministry, and he wasn’t going to back down.

When I held a seminar in his church ten years after the transition, I saw a vibrant cell church. God has not only won back far more than four hundred who had left, but the people were excited, motivated, and serving Jesus with zeal and passion.  I spoke on how to transition a church, and Ramon gave his testimony.

If Ramon was just “testing the waters” he would have only lasted a few months. His commitment to the vision and values of cell church ministry helped him to “weather” the violent storms and stay afloat when things got rough. Ramon’s church is now a great model for those doing cell ministry in Florida.

Pastors who have successfully planted or transitioned to the cell church model have done their homework and are ready to stick with it for the long haul. Have you counted the cost?  Are you committed long term?