Failing Forward

JOELLast Friday evening I was doing the electronic scoreboard for my daughter’s basketball game (Nicole, 13, and Chelsea, 12 are both on the same failingteam). It was the first time I was in charge of the scoreboard, and I didn’t know what I was doing. At times I would forget to turn the clock on while the kids were playing. The referee corrected me several times. On another occasion the referee told me to turn back the clock eight seconds because I didn’t stop it on time. On account of me, the game stopped for additional seconds while I tried to figure out how to do it. I was embarrassed! Another time, one of the coaches asked me to change to the next period, and I pressed a wrong button that again stopped everything.

I tried to brush off my bad experience afterwards, but I felt like an imbecile who couldn’t even work a simple scoreboard. It didn’t help when after the game my daughter came up to me saying, “Daddy, what happened? Our coach was rolling her eyes when you took so much time with the scoreboard.”

That night my mind drifted to illustrations of failing forward. I thought specifically of a time when Thomas Edison was performing a very important experiment. His brand new aide dropped a vile on the floor, which splattered the precious substance and ruined the entire experiment. Yet, instead of firing the aide, Edison requested that the same aide carry the vile the next day to complete the experiment. Edison knew his helper needed to overcome his fears and doubts.

The next day (Saturday) my girls played for the championship. Their coach, bless her heart, asked me to do the electronic scoreboard again! I could have said “no way.” But I knew that I needed to prove myself. I was nervous. It was a totally different electronic scoreboard, and a lot of people were in the stands. I was on my own. One of the referees from the night before was very patient with me. When I was struggling to figure out how to place more time on the clock, he said to the other ref., “let him figure it out, that’s the only way he’s going to learn.” I felt like a champion when the game ended. Not only had my daughter’s team won the game, but I overcame my own fears and did a decent job with minimal errors.

How are we doing as cell coaches in allowing others to learn through their failures? Are we encouraging them to step out? (like the referee who knew that I’d never learn unless I made mistakes). Are we giving people a second chance? (like the coach who asked me to do it again). Let’s face it, we primarily learn through our mistakes. When we fail—and we all will—let’s remember to fail forward.

And let’s remind people that although they are NOT FAILURES, they will fail–it’s part of life. When people do fail, let’s encourage them to press on, give them needed counsel, and ask them to perform the same task again. That’s how they will learn, grow, and be useful in God’s service.

How does this apply to you and your ministry?


Joel Comiskey

The Passion Spreads

marioBy Mario Vega

With a very modest knowledge of the cellular model, the new cells began to work. Soon the enthusiasm spread and the results began to be evident. PASSIONIt was not difficult to find host number ten that we needed.

The dynamics of multiplication was so strong that we found ourselves needing to train new leaders. I invited all of the deacons and deaconess of the church to join in the effort. Soon we reached twenty cells and in a short period of time there were thirty.

I personally trained each new group of leaders. We would always start these trainings with “The “Vision” theme. It was a motivational type of topic. After imparting this first theme we would always pray.

One day, while we were praying at the end of the impartment of the first theme, I started to pray putting my hands on each one of the new leadership candidates. At the end of the prayer, a young man came with his face covered with tears and told me that during that prayer he’d had a vision. In it, he saw that the streets around the church were filled with buses from which a large numbers of people were coming out to enter the church building.

It was obvious that he’d had an experience with God, but what he saw in his vision was too extraordinary that it was very hard for me to believe it. I did not want to make a judgment on whether the vision was from God or not.

But a year later, that vision had come true. Every Sunday dozens of buses came to church and parked on the streets around the church. There were so many people attending that we had to seek help from the police to stop the traffic for the safety of the ones crossing the street toward the church.

Later on, this young man became pastor of one of our branch churches. With this kind of experiences the passion for multiplication could no longer be extinguished.

Perhaps you’d like to share your own experience in starting cell groups. . .


Mario Vega

Blog in Spanish:

La pasión se enciende.

Con un conocimiento muy modesto del modelo celular, las nuevas células comenzaron a funcionar. Pronto el entusiasmo se extendió y los resultados comenzaron a ser evidentes. No fue difcil encontrar el anfitrión número diez que nos haca falta.
La dinámica de multiplicación era tan fuerte que hubo necesidad de capacitar nuevos lderes. Invité a todos los diáconos y diaconisas de la iglesia a que se sumaran al esfuerzo. Pronto alcanzamos veinte células y al poco tiempo fueron treinta.
Capacitaba a cada nuevo grupo de lderes personalmente. Siempre iniciábamos esas capacitaciones con el tema de ‘La Visión’. Era un tema de tipo motivacional. Después de impartir ese primer tema siempre hacamos una oración.
Un da, mientras orábamos al final del primer tema, comencé a orar colocando mis manos sobre cada uno de los nuevos candidatos a lderes. Al finalizar la oración un joven llegó con su rostro cubierto de lágrimas y me contó que durante esa oración haba tenido una visión. En ella vio que las calles alrededor de la iglesia se encontraban llenas de autobuses de donde bajaban grandes cantidades de personas para entrar al edificio de la iglesia.
Era evidente que él haba tenido una experiencia con Dios pero lo que haba visto en su visión era tan extraordinario que me costaba mucho creerlo. No quise emitir un juicio sobre si la visión era de Dios o no.
Pero, un año después, esa visión se haba hecho realidad. Cada domingo llegaban a la iglesia docenas de buses que se aparcaban en las calles alrededor de la iglesia. Eran tantas las personas que asistan que tenamos que solicitar la ayuda a la polica para que detuviera el tráfico para seguridad de los que atravesaban la calle hacia la iglesia.
Posteriormente ese joven llegó a convertirse en Pastor de una de nuestras filiales. Con tal tipo de experiencias la pasión por la multiplicación ya no poda apagarse.



Increasing Leader Confidence

by Steve Cordle


“I could never be a leader.” How often have you heard a group member say that?

If we are going to see more effective group leaders in our ministries, we need to help people find leadership confidence in Christ.

Leader confidence is built on at least two foundational sources:

1) Internalizing our spiritual resources. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  

    This is an extension of spritual growth. As people grow in their experience of Jesus’ power and promises, they see God as faithful and personal. What are we doing to help people experience His intervention? One on one disciplesihp is often a prelude to a young believer becoming open to ministry. It then becomes a matter of helping them apply their growing relationship with Jesus to serving experiences.

2. Building on postive ministry experiences.

   When we give people small tasks for the group, we give them a chance to develop their ministry muscles gradually. With a few wins: under their belts, they are able to trust God for increasingly larger minstry outcomes.

I only ask people to consider becoming my apprentice after I have had a chance to do some one on one disipleship and also see them in a series of small ministry tasks. By that time they are almost expecting me to approach them with that larger challenge! It is then a natural step. Without that preliminary experience, the step seems too big.


Hanging Between Two Worlds

In light of Joel’s post yesterday, I like what Peter Scazzero writes in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church

“My most effective discipleship is to be an incarnational presence to another person.  It was for Jesus.  It is, I believe, for all his followers.  Jesus….was fully God…He was also fully human, tasting suffering and death….by entering our world, he invited sorrow and pain into his life….He died a naked, lonely death on a cross, hanging literally between heaven and earth.  It was, in a word, messy.”

“You and I may not die literally on a cross as Jesus did, but we will die in other ways when we incarnate.”

“When we choose to incarnate, we hang between our own world and the world of another person.  We are called to remain faithful to who we are, not losing our essence, while at the same time entering into the world of another….We can be assured that as Jesus’ incarnation and death brought life, so our choice to do the same will also result in resurrection life and much fruit in us and others.”

Scazzero continues:  “I am aware of the truth that when we go out of ourselves and live briefly in the world of another person, we never return to our own lives the same person.  God changes us into the image of his Son through the process.  We learn to die to the ugly parts of ourselves.  Our feet are kept on the ground.”


by Rob Campbell  


Caught Rather than Taught

joelLast Saturday I taught a cell seminar in Monrovia, CA. I took with me my associate pastor, Denis Muñoz. On the way home, I asked Denis what he caughtNOTtaughtthought of the seminar. “I liked it,” he said. “Yet, I felt the people wanted something even more practical.” At first I was taken back. I was very practical, I justfied to myself. Why wasn ‘t Denis simply overflowing with praise for the seminar?

Yet, as I continued to reflect on his words, I grew to appreciate Denis even more. You see, Denis was born again in a cell group at Elim Los Angeles Church. From new birth, he began to grow in the cell atmopshere. Eventually, he became a cell leader, multiplication leader, and supervisor. He then started leading English speaking youth cells at Elim before joining us at Wellspring in January. From new birth, Denis has caught a very practical way of cell praying, visiting, planning, and multiplying cells. His practical cell ministry has already been bearing fruit at Wellspring.

The truth is that the best, most practical type of cell ministry is CAUGHT rather than TAUGHT. In reality, there’s only so much you can TEACH people about cell minstry. The best, most practical stuff, is taught by example within the cell (and cell system).

Have you found this to be true? Why or why not?

Joel Comiskey