When a group leader falls

by Steve Cordle

I will follow Rob Campbell’s excellent example today and ask a question so that we might learn from one another. It’s a question no pastor likes to think on, but most likely we will all face it at some point:

Q: When a group leader falls morally, how do you go about removing that leader? If the leader will not own their action nor agree to the removal, what is said to the group and what is not? What is the role of the pastor/coach?

Obviously we don’t want you to identify specifics, but specific action steps and why.

2 thoughts on “When a group leader falls

  • I think that there needs to be a “missionary team” that acts like fathers to to cell church. Like Timothy in 1Tim. 5. 19-21. Timothy was not pastor in Éphesus. He planted the Church with Paul, and was sent there because of the false doctors that were giving trouble to the elders present (read the whole letter, this is quite clear). In his role he had to discipline some elders from the church who were caught in sin (5.20). He had to receive an accusation against an elder only on the testimony of two witnesses. One was not sufficient. If he had those proof, he had to rebuke them before all (elders, church?). In the least, he had to rebuke them before all the other elders. He needed courage to do that. He gives him a very solemn charge in v.21to do what he just said i.e. rebuke before all,
    – So we need to have those kind of missionary teams that oversight the cell churches that are planted.
    – we should call them when an elder sins
    – They shoud do what the apostle Paul charge Timothy to do.

    It doen’t say what should be done after the elder repents. I think it is with the team of elders and the missionary that a solution should be sought in prayer.

  • It may seem naive, but I would believe that prevention is the better path. It is so easy to promote people to responsibility beyond their ability to be faithful.

    My first contact with the cell church was over 20 years ago through reading books by Dale Galloway and Yongii Cho.

    Galloway stated firmly that to become a lay pastor at New Hope you had to first be a tither. At that time, this disqualified every leader in my church from leading a cell except one … who had another glaring problem. Including the pastor. His position based on Matthew 6:21 was that their commitment to Christ as Lord was not yet mature. In 30 years of ministry, virtually every person who fell apart signaled their unreliability in financial irresponsibility before other problems became known. Over the following years, I got my house in order and became a tither. John Maxwell also likes to talk about this.

    The ability to humbly submit to procedures such as weekly written reports is another signal of reliability.

    Both the Yoido 5×5 as Yongii Cho describes it and the G12 (through the D group) have regular supervisory structures where loving, ongoing oversight occurs on a regular weekly basis. The structures provide leaders with hours of ongoing contact with supervising leaders which not only upbuild a person in faith, but would also catch spiritual problems while they are small. This constant loving involvement is very different from our tendency to pretty much send people out on their own to do ministry.

    Our experience with clergy in our denomination is that in order to hide their sin, they isolate themselves, withdraw from interaction with others and avoid spiritual activities which might provoke their consciences. This withdrawl would be impossible in the 5×5 or G12 cell structures as the books describe them. I seem to recall reading that a cell leader who is unreliable is sent to Yoido’s Prayer Mountain to fast & pray for several days – and given the choice to rededicate themselves or resign. By asking for faithfulness in little things (Matt 25:21), perhaps problems are averted before they become large.


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