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How to Define a Disciple in the Cell Church?
by Joel Comiskey
If the cell-driven strategy redefines success for a church, it’s important to understand the end product of that success. Jesus made that clear in Matthew 28:18–20 when He told His disciples to make new disciples.
But what is a disciple? CrossPoint Community Church (CCC) wrestled with this question. CCC’s mission statement says their goal is to make disciples who make disciples, but the church had to go one step farther and define what a disciple is.
Because I’m involved in coaching this church, we wrestled together with questions about the definition of discipleship. Pastor Jim Corley and I both agreed that a disciple is a follower of Christ, but we needed to know how that would look in practical terms. Corley and his key leaders were uncomfortable with the idea that a disciple equals a cell leader.
God gave wisdom to break down how a disciple could be defined in the cell church paradigm at CCC. I recommended that the church define a disciple in the following way:
D-1 disciple (member of a cell and training track)
The first step is that a person attending CCC is in a cell and the training track (see Chapter 10). It’s in this process that the person is baptized and taught to obey all the things that Christ has commanded (Matt. 28:18–20). Key steps in the training process include doctrinal teaching, holiness, baptism, evangelism, and preparation to minister to others.
D-2 disciple (associate leader)
The next step is that the disciple lives out in practice what he or she is learning. The term D-2 disciple defines a person who is in a cell, taking the next step in the training track, and actually helping in cell leadership. Such a person is playing a significant role in the cell group and is consciously preparing to facilitate his or her own cell group.
D-3 disciple (cell leader)
The next step is gathering people together and leading a cell group. The disciple has gathered friends and family and is facilitating the cell group. He or she has graduated from the training track.
D-4 disciple (multiplication leader)
This is when the cell leader has developed another disciple who has multiplied out and is leading his or her own cell group (has gone through the D-1 to D-3 process). I would call a multiplication leader a D-4 disciple.
Because the cell-driven strategy grows from the core to the crowd, it’s essential to have a clear picture of the desired goal. While acknowledging that the primary goal of the Christian life is to become like Jesus, it’s essential to define this in practical terms within the church framework. The D-1 to D-4 understanding of discipleship helps guide a believer through a clearly defined equipping process.
From a practical standpoint, the goal is to make disciples, and the cell-driven strategy makes that happen by asking all members to go through a training track that prepares them to become disciples who minister to others.