Cell Leadership Development

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Don't Short-Change the Process

By Joel Comiskey

Winter 2014

In the past, I’ve fallen into the trap of using entrepreneurial people who have not gone through the entire cell process. I’ve fallen into the temptation to use “already formed leaders” to help in the cell work. But I’ve also learned from my failures to avoid this. Experience has taught me over and over that when I short-cut the cell process, I’m inviting disaster.

It’s so easy to look for the “leader types” who have not completed the equipping process and been transformed through the cell system. This is especially true when entrepreneurial people come from other churches. These so called “gifted people” might have lots of business leadership skills but really don’t understand cell ministry and philosophy. They have not gone through the normal process of participation in a cell, being part of a leadership team, church wide-equipping, multiplication leader and so forth. Avoid the trap of inviting them into positions before they’ve paid the price of going through the normal cell process of cell involvement and equipping.

This is true both in church planting and transitioning a traditional church to cell church. I always suggest to transitioning churches that it’s best for the lead pastor to lead the first pilot group (s). The lead pastor facilitates the pilot group (s) so that the future leaders truly experience cell values before they start leading their own groups. Those churches who ignore this advice and short-cut the process usually suffer later on when groups close or become dysfunctional.

I’m coaching a pastor from Quebec who has become excited about the cell vision. He first cultivated the vision in his own heart by reading, talking with other pastors, and asking for coaching. He then plans on sharing the vision with his pastors, key leaders, and board members. But then he’ll ask those willing leaders to meet with him in two pilot groups (he’ll lead both of these groups) for several months. At the same time, he will take these leaders through the church-wide equipping, knowing that they will be future trainers. After the pilot groups multiply, he will then announce the cell vision to his church, asking them to attend one of the new cell groups. The pastor will continue to promote the biblical vision of cell-based ministry while he himself stays in involved in cell ministry.

Developing leaders from within demands a carefully guarded process that should not be avoided in the quest for rapid growth.