Circle Up, My Friends!

Joel’s post yesterday reminds us of the importatnce of training cell leaders.  The comments to this post from Jeff, Iain and Bill were thoughtful, sincere and constructive.  Take a moment to read them.  I, too, appreciate Jeff’s transparency concerning the cell journey in his church family.  I also like his willingness to own where his church family is concerning training and multiplication.

Let me add one major thought to a cell church’s quest to train the leaders.  Simply put, I would say don’t underestimate the power of the “circle.”  Let me explain.  Inevitably, the vast majority of cell churches have a linear approach to the training of cell leaders.  Typically, it looks like:  Potential cell leader completes course of study “1,” he/she now is enrolled in course of study “2,” and when he/she finishes course of study “2,” off to course of study “3.”  Now, these studies may be brilliantly written, passionately delivered, and intellctually stimulating.  I hope this is true for your church family!  But, this linear approach needs to be challenged.  To me, life looks more like a circle than a step by step “line.”

For example, one key ingredient in my church family’s training of cell leaders is the Enounter retreat.  Currently, we offer this retreat two times per year (for children, youth, college, men and women).  For illustrative purposes, let’s say that the next Encounter retreat is in October.  Yet, in August (obviously, two months prior to the Encounter retreat) we want to equip our (potential) leaders in “Developing a Heart for the Harvest.”  Back in the day, we required our (potential) leaders to attend Encounter and then enroll in “Developing a Heart for the Harvest.”  This was a mistake.  The pastoral team helped me see:  “While we desire to equip/ train our people, life is happening!”  We needed to shift from a linear training mindset to a circular mindset.  We have made this shift!

I’ll be the first to confess that it’s not always tidy and may even seem illogical.  You may have an individual attend your course of study “3,” then course of study “1,” attend the Encounter retreat, and then enroll in course of study “2.”  But, please stay with me (especially my melancholy friends)!  When you provide to your (potential) leaders a circular training experience, then you are joining them in their real life journey.  You are coming alongside (potential) leaders and training them in a practical, reasonable and workable manner.  You are acknowledging that they have a life that may not always mesh with the calendar of the church.

A question to ponder:  Has an individual in your church family been delayed in leading a group because she couldn’t attend a certain equipping seminar, training session, or course of study?  My hunch is that a large percentage of cell pastors would exclaim, “Oh, absolutely… this has happened before…a bunch of times!”

Let’s continue to probe.  Is there pliability and flexibility in your approach to train (potential) leaders?  For example, is the senior pastor doing all the equipping or are others empowered to equip?  What about group size?  Can your training be done with 3 or 30 people?  Can your training be delivered in a living room, sitting around a cafe table, or in a worship center?  Can a cell leader train others?  I trust the point of these questions is blatantly clear:  Diversify how you train your (potential) leaders.  Everyone does not have to be trained the same way for all time.

In summation, if your training experience is linear (lacking fluidity and flexibility), then maybe it’s time to circle up, my friends!

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