Set Free to Serve

JOELMost of us would have passed over Mary Magdalene because of her sad spiritual state (possessed by seven demons). Yet, Jesus released her and used her mightily. According to the gospel writers, after his resurrection, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9). Often the most set freeeffective cell leaders [and team members] are God’s treasures that simply need to be developed and unwrapped. Jesus is all-powerful. He’s able to take the brokenness of sin, heal it, and transform us in the process

I remember visiting a cell church where I met a drug addict who had just come back from an Encounter Retreat. His eyes just sparkled with the love of Jesus. Oh he didn’t know the Christian lingo and all the Christian culture habits, but he knew his mission. He had been touched with the flame of Jesus Christ that burned from his bosom. And this cell church was ready to use this young man in the ministry. Yes, he had more training to complete before entering cell leadership. Yet, it’s through people like this young man, that this particular cell church was reaching their nation for Jesus.

The bottom line is that those who freshly know that Jesus is the true liberator want to tell others about that fact. They’re ready to make disciples of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Surely, they still have glaring weaknesses. We wouldn’t consider such people “mature.” But like Mary Magdalene, they know who has set them free and they can clearly and pointedly disciple those around them.

Knowing the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, let’s commit ourselves to prepare and use young Christians, women, the less likely, and everyone else who is willing to serve.

God Uses Abnormal People

joelSome are better than others in finding and using “leaders” (disciples who make other disciples). John Wesley excelled in this area. less likelyHoward Snyder in the Radical Wesley writes, “One hears today that it is hard to find enough leaders for small groups or for those to carry on the other responsibilities of the church. John Wesley mastered the art of finding the gem in every person.Wesley put one in ten, perhaps one in five, to work in significant ministry and leadership. And who were these people? Not the educated or the wealthy with time on their hands, but laboring men and women, husbands and wives and young folks with little or no training, but with spiritual gifts and eagerness to serve. . . Not only did Wesley reach the masses; he made leaders of thousands of them.”

My survey of cell leaders confirms the strategy of Wesley. I discovered that the potential to lead a fruitful cell group does not reside with the gifted, the educated, or those with vibrant personalities. The answer, rather, is prayer and hard work. I discovered that male and female, educated and uneducated, married and single, shy and outgoing, those gifted as teachers and those gifted as evangelists, equally multiplied their small groups. The anointing for cell multiplication doesn’t reside with a mysterious few.

Who really is comfortable anway with the “normal” type leader anyway? Calvin Miller is his book, The Empowered Leader: 10 Keys to Servant Leadership, writes, “But I am convinced that great leaders are rarely normal, well-adjusted people. Frankly which of us is not a bit tired of normalcy anyway?” (27)

I personally think it’s extremely refreshing to watch our extraordinary God work powerfully in very abnormal people! How about you?



Conflict and Christmas

Conflict is a central component to the Christmas story.  God sent himself to provide a pathway for man to be reconciled to the Creator.  In essence, mankind was in conflict with God.  Potential conflict, very real conflict, and conflict that led to terror are all present in the story of Christmas.

Consider Joseph and Mary’s predicament.  Consider Mary’s parents:  “Now, tell me exactly what happened one more time, please young lady.”  Think of the terror of Herod.

Indeed, conflict lurks around the Christmas experience today.  For many, the Christmas season is painful because of some “unopened boxes” labeled “unresolved conflict.”  Many folks “grin and bear” the season dreading their time with their family of origin, extended family, and/or Uncle Fred and Aunt Phyllis.

As a reminder, conflict is common to all relationships and is seldom every resolved accidentally.  Further, the choices that you make during conflict will either drive you apart or bind you together.  Do you remember being taught the various stages of a cell’s existence?  The first stage is the honeymoon stage.  Next, conflict happens.  The third stage can be resolution.  Finally, the cell has the opportunity to grow deeper in relationship if the conflict is handled in the spirit of Christ.

Be attentive to those in your cell who are experiencing the reality of conflict this holiday season.  They need someone to provide care, comfort, a listening ear, and wise counsel.

A closing thought:  It is more rewarding to resolve a conflict than it is to dissolve a relationship.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

by Rob Campbell



Women in Cell Ministry

joelI’ve been talking about seeing the leaders around us and using them. Does that mean only male leadership? What about females? In my own church, the most effective cell leader is female. She has successfully invited person after person to both cells and celebration. Have you discovered similar results at your church? In my book Leadership Explosion I wrote the following four paragraphs: WOMEN

When I visited Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1997, I desired to know how this church succeeds in raising up so many cell leaders. One clear answer is that Cho trusts his lay people. He believes in the priesthood of all believers—whether they are men or women.

Today, David Cho’s church is the prime example of a cell ministry that was launched by women and that uses women as the vast majority of cell leaders. For years, Cho tried doing everything himself. One night he tried to baptize 300 people, and he had a physical breakdown that required ten years to overcome. His doctor prescribed strict bed rest. In desperation, he asked his board of elders to help him pastor the church. They refused–even considered finding another pastor. With few alternatives, he gathered all the women leadership in his church, saying, “I need you to help me to pastor this church.” They said, “Yes, pastor, we’ll help you. They began to pastor and care for the church through the cell ministry. When Cho had his physical breakdown, there were some 3,000 people in his church. When he finally recovered in 1978, there were 15,000 people in his church.

In Cho’s church today over 19,000 of the 25,000 cell groups are led by women. The women who lead cell groups in Cho’s church are not considered authoritative Bible teachers. Rather, their authority is derived from their submission to Pastor Cho’s leadership. These women leaders are seen as facilitators ministering under Pastor Cho. Their job is to encourage the spiritual life of the group by visiting, praying, and ministering to each member. New Hope Community Church in Portland Oregon views their women leaders in the same way. At NHCC an equal number of men and women are Lay Pastors.

Most of the rapidly growing cell churches make extensive use of women in ministry. This is not a new phenomenon. Back in the days when Wesley turned England upside down through a powerful small-group ministry, the majority of his cell lay leaders were women. The proliferation of cell groups creates a need for more leaders and it becomes especially critical that a church not eliminate 50 percent of its potential small-group leaders on the basis of gender.