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TRANSITIONING TO CELL CHURCH

By Joel Comiskey

November 2004

In this article I cover two main points that I’ve divided into two parts:

  1. Preparing for the transition
  2. Making the actual transition.

In the first part I give general advice on change and how to successfully make changes in the church and in the second part I give more specific advice on how to actually make the cell church transition.

Part one: preparing for the transition

Have you ever placed a new coat of paint on rotting wood? It works! For a little while. Small group ministry in many churches is a coat of new paint over rotting wood. Loads of excitement accompanies the initial start. “We finally have small groups in our church,” an excited member proclaims to her friends. But then the faulty infrastructure kicks in, minimizing the small groups and reducing them to independent, roaming Bible studies. Have you dealt with one of these autonomous groups after two years of rotating on their own solar system? I have. “Please join our cell system,” I pleaded. “Well, we have our own way of looking at small groups,” the leader politely informed me.

How do you replace the rotting wood? The key: think long-term. A quick-fix small group solution may feel great at the time. It may in fact solve the problem or drive it underground for two, three or four years. But just remember that it will surface again (and in greater force)—with possibly another pastor sitting in the chair. While it might be possible to experience some short-term successes this way, it is almost impossible to build a ministry that will last for the long-term. More often, a false start leads to a church that says, "We tried small groups once and they didn't work."

How change works

We prepare for those things we value. When we don’t prepare for something it’s because we don’t value it. Preparing to make cell ministry work in your church will take loads of preparation. You’ll have to work hard.

The process of change

"I’m sure that they’ll accept our proposal,” I thought. “After all, we as the pastors of this church had decided to convert the church into a cell church. Then the meeting begin. Two hours later, bruised and battered I wondered what went wrong. That night it became crystal clear to me that the church wasn’t interested in our plans for change—the cell ministry would remain one program among many. I learned that evening that tradition is deep-rooted and doesn’t budge easily.

Entire books have been written about the dynamics of change. Anyone attempting to transition his church to the cell church philosophy would do well to understand the dynamics of change in the process of becoming a cell church.

Anytime something new is introduced into the life of your church there is the potential for conflict. Introducing a new small groups ministry always involves change. Managing the dynamics of change is one of the most important issues you will face in starting or rebuilding a small groups ministry in your congregation. If the changes are handled well, the introduction of small groups can be a real blessing for your church.

Change takes time

Give yourself time. Remember the well-worn adage: “Everything takes longer than you expect; even when you expect it to take longer than you expect.” It takes longer to build a skyscraper than a woodshed. The difference lies in the foundation. The depth of your dig depends on the size and purpose of your building.

People need time to process ideas just as it took you time to reach conclusions. Their heads will nod with enthusiasm when you introduce the idea of small groups, but often they haven’t digested the implications. Remember that different people respond to change at different rates and that it is not necessarily based on spiritual maturity.

This leads to another question: How long do you plan on staying in your present ministry? After having made the changes, do you plan on seeing them take hold? Don’t even start and unless you’re willing to see the change to completion. This might take five years. And just remember that at some point every pastor wants to bail out and find greener pasture. Just when you think you’re making progress, “all hell will break lose.” I call these moments “programmatic knee jerks.” Count the cost and hang-in for the whole ride.

Don’t force change

When Bobby Clinton teaches the Change Dynamics class at Fuller he recites this one liner: “A person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” If you overlook it, this phrase could haunt you later.

We as a family were missionaries to Ecuador for eleven years. We’ve seen the sad results of forced change that is now haunting the Catholic Church. When the Spanish invaded the land 500 years ago, the Indians were given the choice of conversion or death. They converted. Wouldn’t you? But these indigenous people simply changed the names of their personal deities to the saints of the Catholic religion. They were now officially Catholics--in name only. Not satisfied, the conquerors proceeded to destroy the ancient temples of the indigenous people and build their own churches in the same spots. Yet, to this day, these “spots” remain “sacred” to the indigenous people. They are in the church physically but not emotionally or spiritually. 500 years ago, so the records indicate, the whole country converted to Catholicism. Yet the present state of the indigenous people proves the truthfulness of the statement: “A person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

Pastor, don’t try to immediately convert your people against their will. Prepare them well and then get ready for the long process of change.

Change is a complex process

Churches are composed of countless and often invisible interactions between people, beliefs and external forces. The implications of these components upon one another may take years to fully play out. The linkage between cause and effect are not obvious.

People desire to maintain the status quo because it helps feel settled. Lyle Schaller says, “every organization tends to move in the direction of redefining purpose in terms of institutional maintenance and survival. . . The care and feeding of the organization, rather than service to the clientele. . . (note 1). Once an organization or system gets in motion, it tends to keep going in the same way. People interact in predictable ways and for organizations to survive threats from within or without. People become comfortable with their traditions and patterns and keep doing things in the same way .

In the early days of long sea voyages, scurvy (a disease which resulted from a deficiency of vitamin C ) killed more sailors than warfare, accidents, and all other causes of death. In 1601, Captain James Lancaster of the British navy conducted an experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of lemon juice in preventing scurvy on four ships. He gave daily portions of lemon juice to the men on one ship while the men aboard the other three ships received nothing. Those on the ship receiving the lemon juice remained healthy while 110 of the 278 men on the other three ships died of scurvy.

The results were so clear that you’d expect the entire British navy to immediately adopt the new cure. Sadly, it wasn’t until 1795 (194 years later) that “citrus juice” was adopted as the official cure for scurvy in the British marines. Part of the resistance stemmed from the competing remedies that were offered at the time. Suffice it to say, there were many factors that hindered the full acceptance of the citrus remedy (note 2).

Innovation often diffuses slowly. Many factors--often unexplainable--contribute to this resistance. Remember to deal tenderly with those in your church as you present your cell church vision. Give people time to process the new ideas as you carefully explain how the cell church will benefit their lives. The adoption of new ideas takes time and there is always potential for conflict. Learning how to manage change dynamics will help you to work through the conflict and establish the cell church philosophy.

How to successfully make changes

Step one: create the need for change

It’s an established truth that most people receive Jesus Christ during a time of crisis. Circumstances created a need and now the person is open to the gospel. This is the context for change. Need, turmoil, desperation. Unless there is a need for change, the people will not budge.

Is there a need for change in your church? Some people are content with the status quo. They refuse to change because they don’t see the need. Or perhaps they just overlook the need. “I want my same group of friends and my same circle of influence,” they say express unconsciously. This is normal.

Many churches languish year after year in the same desperate state of stagnation. They limp along because certain people diligently guard the gate called change. They steadfastly refuse to allow any changes to upset the status quo. It’s like heating up a frog in a pan. The frog doesn’t realize the turmoil before it’s too late.

Experts tell us that without discontent with the present situation there can be no planned, internally motivated and directed intentional change. The change agent is concerned with this question, “Is anyone else dissatisfied with the present situation? (note 3)

Bobby Clinton says, “Often a first task of the agent of change is to increase discontent in order to open the door for intentional change. This sometimes strikes a Christian leader as unethical at first glance. But careful analysis shows that this technique is basically what is done when an evangelists preaches so as to convict sinners of their need for God’s salvation” (note 4).

The best way to increase discontent is when God’s Holy Spirit reveals the need to return to New Testament norms—community, servanthood, the priesthood of all believers, to the name a few. This might come through the preaching of the Word of God or deep times of prayer.

Another way is to do a thorough analysis of your church—growth patterns, areas of strengths and weaknesses, and future projections. The forty page analysis that we accomplished in September 1997 created the need for change. It unearthed the inherent weakness of our “Sunday morning only” to church ministry. We realized that our structures weren’t Biblical. Agitated by what we saw, we felt drawn to the cell church approach. Show your people both the future vision as well as the poor decision that have led to your present state.

Step two: make the changes

Once you’ve created the need for change, you must act quickly. You have a window of opportunity, but it won’t last forever. Windows of opportunity open and close quickly. Take advantage of the openness that God gives you and don’t look back.

Step three: prepare for the reaction

After making the changes, get ready to fight. There will be reaction. Everyone likes something new—for a little while. But when push comes to shove, they’ll reach for the old, the established, and the traditional. This is our human nature.

I like to use the phrase “programmatic knee jerks” to describe what takes place after the initial change. Suddenly people began to realize that the change would effect them in the practical details of daily living. Suddenly the change might affect the way we do Sunday School or our ability to accept all and every program in the church. Some will holler one thing; others will yell another.

This is where it gets hard. This is where you just have to hang on for dear life until the changes are frozen—until everyone is on board. How many times did I have to argue against implementing the latest program. After all, we were just starting our cell ministry. We were young and tender. We needed to focus rather than redirect our energies to accommodate the latest fad. I wrote the following to one fellow missionary:

The system will push back. People love change—for a few weeks. Some of the ones who patted you on the back during the initial stages will suddenly recoil when your stop promoting their pet program. The Touch manual offers valuable advice: “Welcome the initial opposition. Resistance is a good sign. It means people understand what you are saying and are grappling with it! (note 5)

Sometimes it’s not even the resistance of one person. It might be the collective resistance of a traditional church culture that doesn’t know how to handle the change. Church people often deal with their pent-up fears by spreading their discontent through gossip—and most likely you won’t know that it’s occurring. Hang tight. So often the most typical point to give up is just before a breakthrough to success” (note 6).

Step four: freeze the changes

“You must freeze the changes for long term results.” This is the one phrase that I remember most vividly from Change Dynamics, a class taught by Dr. Bobby Clinton at Fuller seminary. Missionaries, for example, have often implemented programs which as soon as they leave the field are dropped by nationals. The changes were not stabilized and allowed to become a part of the natural system. No missionary to push the program—no program. The stabilization of a change into a system is very important (note 7).

After the initial excitement has settled down, some will long for the “former things.” These same ones might have expressed agreement to the changes in the beginning, but perhaps they didn’t understand all the implications. Suddenly the impulse to revert back to the “way things were.”

Expect this to happen. It will. What do you do when this happens? Don’t give up. Your hope is that changes eventually will be locked into the system. They will become a habit. It is essential, therefore, to guard those changes until they become a way of life—part of the church culture, a natural way of doing things. Those who initially resisted you will begin to support you. The changes will become a way of life for you and your church. You’ll perceive permanent change when the leadership has taken ownership for the innovation and are overseeing its implementation.

Part two: making the actual transition

There are three stages to a successful transition: pre-transition, transition, post-transition. In part one, I laid a basic foundation for the pre-transition state, but because most churches fail during this stage, I offer more suggestions below.

Pre-transition

Step one: make sure the senior pastor is in agreement

Don’t even try the cell church unless the senior pastor is totally involved. Many zealous lay people long to introduce cell changes, but it won’t work unless the senior pastor takes responsibility for it. An enthusiastic lay person might convince the pastor and church to start cell ministry. The new change might even take hold in the church; but your church will only be a “church with cells.” Only a senior pastor can successfully guide a cell church. Cell churches require total participation by the senior pastor.

Through experience, I’ve learned the wisdom behind Cho’s advice, “. . .ministers [senior pastor] must be personally committed to small groups. They must have personal knowledge, personal interest, and personal leadership in the small-group system” (note 8).

Shane Crawford once gave an excellent train illustration to describe the senior pastor’s role in transitioning to the cell church paradigm. He said that a cell church transition is like a train changing tracks. The lead train (head pastor) first changes the tracks. The supporting engines (key leaders) follow. For awhile the train is both on the old track (program church) as well as the new one (cell church). This is not a problem because the members are following the leadership. Shane concludes Saying, “The church’s transition must begin with the lead engine, who is the senior pastor (note 9). ”

Steps two through five (pre-transition)

Step 1 is the only step that I laid down in order. I strongly feel that the senior pastor must first catch the cell church vision before any of the other steps. Yet the following four principles can be accomplished in any order:

  • Understand how cell values/principles will satisfy the needs in your church
  • Visit other cell churches to catch the vision
  • Envision the end results—what you want to become
  • Build a team to help in the transition

I used to place them in logical steps until I realized some leaders tried to legalistically followed my steps in exact order, which was never my intention. I will now detail what I mean by each of these pre-transition steps.

Understand how cell values/principles will satisfy the needs in your church

Self-analysis is one of the major places where churches miss the boat. They get so excited about the vision that they do not realize that the present state of their church is not ready for this kind of transition. People need to understand the present health of their church. Is your church a praying church? Are open to change or are there clear obstacles—like controlling board members who resist every new innovation? What will be the principal barriers to your cell-church transition. Is your church outreach-oriented or inward-looking? You need to reflect on these questions as you consider transitioning into the cell model. The healthier the church, the easier the transition. But if the church hasn’t changed in 200 years, if it only wants to be fed and feel the Spirit, then the leader must understand thse obstacles.

A church cannot move from A to C without going through B. It also cannot move to C without knowing what A is. Understanding where you are at the present is a preliminary must for thinking about introducing change. All change thinking starts with seeing the situation as it is now. Only afterwards can you envision what you want to become.

The best cell church transitions are well thought out. The churches analyze the growth patterns and ministries—noting both strengths and weaknesses. This type of study will help others to see the cracking infrastructure. The analysis will compel others to confront areas of weakness. This type of analysis doesn’t have to be complicated. I would recommend four sections:

  • Background of your church—the history and context
  • Growth patterns—analyze the statistics for attendance, membership, finances, etc., for the last 5-10 years
  • Evaluation of current ministries—noting both the positive and negative aspects
  • Recommendations—in light of #1-3, you will write down your future cell church goals (see Step Four in this chapter for more detail)

There are a few principles to remember as you analyze your church. First, make prayer the priority. It must be the foundation for all that you do. Only He can point out exactly what is needed for a successful transition.

Second, don’t think that you have to change your unique identity to become a cell church. You are not Faith Community Baptist Church, Bethany World Prayer Center, or the International Charismatic Mission. You are who you are by God’s sovereign plan. Don’t throw away the years of positive qualities of your church. For example, are you missions oriented? Refine this emphasis through your cell ministry. Do you have a strong Christian Education program? Use it to perfect your children’s cells and celebration. Are you known for your social outreach? Improve this emphasis through your cell church ministry.

Third, don’t assume that everything must go. It’s only when a healthy cell system is in place that you will want to begin major alteration of the traditional structure. Some of your current ministries can be refocused with a view to supporting rather the cell structure, rather than competing with it. It’s a mistake to assume that all programs are wrong. Even the early church had some “programmatic” elements such as the food distribution program mentioned in Acts 6 or the relief program recounted in Acts 11. Most churches will need to eliminate many programs, however, because they drain the energy, leadership and prayer focus of the church.

Visit other cell churches to catch the vision

Take the time to research before implementing the change. You need to know what you want to look like. This book and others will help you envision your future cell church structure, but if it’s possible, visit these churches personally.

I counsel pastors to MAKE THE TIME to attend a cell conference at one of the growing cell churches around the world. Why? Because you need to see a cell church. It’s one thing to hear about cell churches; it’s quite another to see one.

One church in Alaska spent $10,000 to train their staff at the beginning of their cell church transition. This church spared nothing to equip the staff with knowledge and skills necessary for a successful transition. Now you probably won’t that much—or maybe you’ll spend. The key is willingness. Are you willing to do what is necessary to make your cell transition work?

Envision the end results—what you want to become

World class athletes frequently envision the final act of their events in their minds before it actually happens. They actually go through the event twice, once in their mind—a future perfect way of thinking, and then when it actually happens. And they make decisions in the present based on that envisioned reality. Discipline in the present is in light of the future perfect reality they have seen.

See the final state of your cell church transition before you start. You need a clear picture of the mature and final state. To merely hope the end result will be positive is not enough; A proven, “mature template” is needed so that it can be followed throughout the entire process

It’s important to write down the situation as it is right now and then to write down the situation as you can see it in the future (as part of your church analysis--explained in Step Two). Leaders with vision from God should be able to see what the THEN situation will be like. Leaders who dream about the THEN, are able to interpret present happenings in terms of this future state--which they envision as already having taken place. They can live in the tension of what shall be, as if it were happening in the present.

Build a team to help in the transition

Experts on change dynamics will tell you that developing relationships is the key to the whole change process. Good ideas alone rarely ever convince people of the need for change. Relationships with people are the key. It is people who will ultimately accept, adapt, or reject proposed changes. If they don’t believe in you, the change agent, they are also likely to reject your proposed changes. You must, therefore, establish relationships in order to establish credibility for the changes that you hope to bring to the system.

People are influenced by friends, not experts. This holds true for highly educated people. If you want to influence people and guide them to the desired change, become their friend. Spend time with the person; drink lots of coffee with people. Get ready because it’s going to take time.

Ask yourself the questions: Have I consistently communicated love and caring to the church? Do they feel genuinely loved by me? Many of the pastors who have successfully transitioned churches began the change process with a high surplus balance in their relational bank account. Do you have a surplus balance or is your account overdrawn? (note 10) Remember that leading people into change drains the surplus balance. If a pastor and leadership team is operating in a negative balance, they should wait before transitioning.

Relationship building is important at all levels and with all people. But during a time of transition, it’s especially important that the “movers and shakers” of the church support the plan. It’s true that God created all men equally. But some have more influence. Every church has its power people. These are the ones that move policy--oftentimes behind the scenes. Without their “nod” little happens. Leader, you might not like this, but you need to live with it. As one leader described his relationship with the power people: “I am their leader so I follow them. As soon as I find out where they want to go, I’ll stand at the head of the line so I don’t look bad” (note 11). You must win these people to your cell church philosophy to guarantee long-term success. You can win a few battles without them, but you won’t win the war.

Take your church board, for example. If they’re not participating in cells, they will eventually sink the ship. Every key leader must embrace the vision in order to successfully transition. But what do you do if your movers and shakers haven’t accepted the vision? First talk to them and lead them into a clear understanding of what the church will look like if it transitions into the Cell model. Neighbour recommends taking these people on a retreat (note 12). These power people might come from one of the five groups of change agents:

  • Innovators—true change agents
  • Early adopters—very open to change
  • Early majority—ahead of the rest but want to maintain steady transition
  • Later majority—more traditional and less open to change
  • Laggards—resist change

If your “power people” are in the innovator, early adopter category, you can proceed with the changes quite rapidly; if your “power people” are mainly in the “early majority” category, you must proceed with caution; if your “power people” are in the “late majority” or “laggard” category, it’s best not to even transition into the cell church model (note 13).

Transition

After the pre-transition period comes the actual transition. A lot of people confuse the two. They don’t realize that it takes a lot of pre-planning to get to the point of actually transitioning.

Begin well

Be leery of textbooks that tell you EXACTLY what kind of transition model you must use in the early stages of your cell church transition. Your situation is highly unique. And it rarely works the way the text dictates. Think of yourself as writing your own textbook on starting a cell church ministry in the future.

There is no simple model that all successful cell church pastors use to transition. A lot depends on your situation. Are you planting a church or trying to transition a traditional church? Do you have authority as a pastor or do you have to submit everything to your board? Are you the founder of your church or the seventh man down-the-line? Here are the two general routes that churches have used in transition.

The “Go for it” approach

I mention this transition model, because I’ve observed churches that did it this way. The majority of churches, however, will begin by using the prototype or model cell approach (second approach listed). I give this word of caution because many fail who try to launch cell ministry all at once.

The churches who successfully used the “Go for It” approach did two things very well. First they were led by strong, visionary pastors. Their authority and vision in the church made their cell church dream a reality. Second, they did a great job of pre-transition in their churches. The church was prepared to go for it.

Bethany World Prayer Center, for example, started 54 cells at once, which in six months multiplied to 108 (note 14). Yes, Pastor Larry prepared these leaders beforehand and tthen used this authority to guide the people to transition the church.

Jerry Smith, senior pastor of the Christian Center in Guayaquil, Ecuador (2,000 cell groups) started sixteen groups at once in 1991 and in less than one year grew to 90. By 1993 there were 288 cell groups. Pastor Smith is a risk taker—he attempts great things for God and expects great things from God.

Howard Astin, Anglican pastor in England, relates how his church started with ten cells in his excellent book Body and Cell (Monarch Books: Mill Hill, London, 2002). The key behind Astin’s success was his meticulous pre-transition work. He even gathered the entire church in an assembly before starting so that everyone would be on the same page when starting the transition.

Again, churches that start many cells at once and succeed enjoy a high surplus of good will from the people, do their homework beforehand, and then prepare key leaders before starting the transition. They also effectively communicate the vision to the rest of the church before starting the transition.

Model group approach

This approach starts small and then build exponentially. It begins with a prototype, which according to the dictionary is “An original type, form, or instance that serves as a model on which later stages are based or judged.” The first model group is led by the senior pastor of the church. It usually includes the senior pastor, staff members and key influencers in the church.

Recently a pastor approached me saying, “Will you come to our church and do a seminar on cell ministry. We’re a 30-year old church that has been in a continual state of decline. After reading your manual, I’m convinced that cells are the answer.” I sensed the sincerity and even desperation in his voice. But I also knew that a cell seminar wouldn’t solve the churches’ woes. So I said, “Gather the ten willing leaders you’ve already recruited into a model small group. Lead this group for at least three months, so that everyone experiences cell values. In the meantime, preach cell values to the congregation. Prepare the church. After you’ve modeled cell life to those ten and they launch their own cell groups, I’ll be glad to teach a cell seminar in your church.”

I even invited this senior pastor to attend my own cell group, while he was leading those ten future leaders. Why? So he could also experience cell life. Most leaders of traditional churches don’t understand cell values. They’ve never led a cell group. To launch a cell ministry without experiencing the life of the cell would lead the church down the wrong path.

The Model Group approach says that small group ministry is better “caught than taught.” Rather than starting the transition by “teaching” the people about cell ministry, this approach begins by allowing the first leaders to “experience” cell ministry. Those initial leaders will then impart what they’ve experienced in a small group. William Beckham says: “The senior leader must model the community he is expecting everyone else to live in. If leaders don't have the time to live together in cell life, how can they expect members to do it? (note 15)

Mistakes made in the prototype stage are more easily corrected before they spread throughout a group system. Key leaders are part of the process from the beginning, making it more likely they will actively support small group ministry. If the prototype group does not practice evangelism, neither will any of the resulting groups. If prototype group leaders do not model leadership development, neither will any of the resulting groups.

Dale Galloway, for example, started his small-group church by forming the initial group which he led in his home. Out of that initial group he trained leaders for the next groups who passed on the vision to new leadership (note 16). Even Jesus started by forming His own prototype cell. He spent years developing the model. He couldn’t afford failure.

Although Cho has a church of over 700,000 members, he counsels new cell church pastors to start small: “Take a dozen key lay leaders and train them as cell leaders. Then have them form their own home cell meetings, and watch over them carefully for six to eight months. Once this group of cells has begun to bear fruit, it will be time to get the whole church involved” (note 17).

After a certain period, the prototype group sends out the original members as leaders of their own groups. How long before this happen? I would recommend between three to six months (note 18). What’s important is for you to have a date, a goal for your original leadership cell to multiply. Before entering the senior pastor’s model cell, all potential leaders must commit themselves in advance to leading their own cell group in a period of three to six months.

Post-transition

While the prototype is in progress, the pastor begins preaching and teaching on the values and vision of cell ministry. He’s preparing the congregation in the process of change—proclaiming kingdom values for all Christians.

At some point, you’ll want to initiate a cell seminar so that the rest of the church becomes involved with the cell church strategy. This seminar will serve as a fishing pool for future cell leadership. Those in the seminar will start attending the new groups that were started by the members of the initial prototype group (note 19).

As you progress in your cell church transition, perfect your training track, care structure and the various cell church details. My book Reap the Harvest outlines the details of post-transition: Concentrate on your cell ministry in the face of competing programs (chapter 8); develop your system of oversight and support (chapter 10); establish an equipping system to train new leaders (chapter 11); fine-tune your cell church by paying attention to details (chapter 12), and provide a first-class celebration service (chapter 13).

Persist to the end

Desire + preparation = successful transition. My advice is for you to meditate on cell church principles, analyze your own unique situation, and use your creativity.

Skyscrapers capture our attention because of their immensity and beauty, but most of us think little about their foundation. But architects and construction workers do.

Christian leader, give careful thought to your cell church foundation. Prepare the groundwork, do your homework, and you will succeed.

Further reading on this topic: Comiskey's book Reap the Harvest (this article was adapted from a chapter in Reap the Harvest). Order HERE or call 1-888-344-CELL.

ENDNOTES:

Note 1: Lyle Schaller, Parish Planning as quote in C.Kirk Hadaway, Church Growth Principles: Separating Fact from Fiction (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1991) p. 111.

Note 2: Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 4 th Ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1995), pp. 7-8.

Note 3: Robert J. Clinton, Bridging Strategies (Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1992), p. 2-13.

Note 4: Robert J. Clinton, Bridging Strategies (Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1992), p. 2-13.

Note 5: Advanced Cell Training (Houston, TX: Touch Outreach Ministries, Inc., 1998), p. 2 of Day 3, Session 2.

Note 6: Advanced Cell Training (Houston, TX: Touch Outreach Ministries, Inc., 1998), p. 4 of Day 3, Session 1.

Note 7: Robert J. Clinton, Bridging Strategies (Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1992), p. 2-10.

Note 8: Michael Mack, “Six Reasons American Small-Group Ministries Fail” Ministries Today (May/June 1993).

Note 9: Shane Crawford, “Finally! A Simple Explanation” Cell Church magazine, Winter, 1998, p. 12.

Note 10: Advanced Cell Training (Houston, TX: Touch Outreach Ministries, Inc., 1998), p. 3 of Day 3, Session 2.

Note 11: Carl George, How to Break Growth Barriers (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993), p. 114.

Note 12: Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. Introductory Cell Church Seminary Miami: FL, 1996 ( Houston, TX: Touch Outreach Ministries), pp. 2-6 of section entitled “Transitioning a Traditional Church to a Cell-Based Church.”

Note 13: Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. Introductory Cell Church Seminary Miami: FL, 1996 ( Houston, TX: Touch Outreach Ministries), pp. 2-6 of section entitled “Transitioning a Traditional Church to a Cell-Based Church.”

Note 14: Larry Stockstill, The Cell Church (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1998), pp. 21-22.

Note 15: William A. Beckham, The Second Reformation (Houston, TX: Touch Publications, 1995), p. 168. On a side note, I recommend that all pastoral staff continue to lead their own cell group—even after becoming a full-fledged cell church. You need to continue to experience cell life and model it to your flock. If you can’t multiply your cell, for example, how will you expect this of others.

Note 16: Dale Galloway, The Small Group Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1995), p. 42.

Note 17: Paul Yonggi Cho, Successful Home Cell Groups (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1981), p. 111.

Note 18: According to Ralph Neighbour, Jr., after two months of training within the cell group, the original disciples will open their own cell groups.

Note 19: Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. Introductory Cell Church Seminary Miami: FL, 1996 ( Houston, TX: Touch Outreach Ministries), p. 3 of section entitled “Transitioning a Traditional Church to a Cell-Based Church.”