Church Leadership

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Count the Transition Cost

Fall 2011

by Joel Comiskey

Many pastors view the cell church strategy as a technique or program that can be used for a time and then discontinued. When a pastor hears about cell church, he might give it a test run, while always keeping the options open. In other words, it’s a package to be tried, tested, and thrown out, if necessary.

The truth of the matter is that it’s better to count the cost before transitioning to the cell church strategy. It takes time to change attitudes and values. Some of the difficulties to overcome are:

  • Steep learning curve: It’s not easy for pastors and congregations to prepare lay people to do the work of the ministry and then to coach them to make sure those lay people fulfill their pastoral ministry.
  • Extra work required to train and coach leaders: Cell church demands more training and coaching than traditional ministry. Future leaders do better when they are trained and coached.
  • Misunderstanding from people with other agendas: When a church is moving ahead with a clear vision, there will always be those who attack it.
  • Finding leaders who will be on the same page: It’s one thing for the senior leader to be committed, but it’s also critical that a team is formed that goes forth together.
  • Losing people: Some churches that transition to cell ministry lose people before they start gaining them back. Pastor Ramon Justamente (Miami, Florida) and Richard Houle (Quebec, Canada) went through the painful process of losing people after transitioning to the cell vision. But they didn’t quit. Today they are testimonies of plowing through to the end and enjoying exciting, vibrant ministries.

Jesus tells us to count the cost, and this is especially true when transitioning to the cell church vision (Luke 14:28-32). Rather than another program, cell church is a biblical way of life, and pastors who have successfully planted or transitioned to the cell church strategy have done their homework and are ready to stick with it for the long haul.