Cell Ministry at Monterey Church

joel

I’m privileged to coach some first-class pastors. Most of them are lead pastors and a few of them are cell champions, serving as associates alongsideliz the lead pastor. Elizabeth Lynberg is one of those cell champions who God raised up from within the cell ministry and now trains and coaches other cell leaders at Monterey Church (check them out at www.montereychurch.net). At Monterey, they call the groups dGroups [d standing for discipleship]. They currently have approximately 20 dgroups. Listen to some of the testimonies of God’s transforming work through the dgroups:

Loner becomes Leader:
One man tells the story of when he was new to Monterey Church and a younger guy came up to him and invited him to his dGroup. The man admits to not being much of a small group guy, saying, “Small groups are great for other people, they are just not for me.” But since he was personally invited, he felt compelled to go, at least once. Fast forward one year and he is now leading his own dGroup and is blessed each week to get to know the others in his group in a deep and meaningful way as they share their lives and dig into God’s Word

New Faces, New Friends:
Before service one day, a young lady noticed a new face in the lobby. She describes that she felt led to approach this woman in an effort to make her feel welcome. The new friends talked and prayed together that morning. The young lady also sensed her new friend needed the unconditional love of a community of women and introduced her to a dGroup leader. The woman began to attend the group weekly. Over the past six months, she has experienced acceptance, healing and God’s love in new and real ways. Her life is being transformed by the love of Jesus expressed by the people around her.

I encourage Elizabeth with how fortunate she is to have a first-class celebration service that is attracting loads of young families. Yet, we are also aware that it takes a lot of work to assure that people in the celebration get connected to the cell. Liz recently wrote to her leaders:

Each week, many people express an interest in getting into community. We do our best to get each person connected through follow up emails and phone calls. However, the Lord has shown me that nothing can replace a personal invitation from you. Many of you do this regularly and I pray God will continue to equip you with everything good for doing His will.

I’m excited to follow the cell church vision at Monterey Church.

Comments?

Joel Comiskey

5 thoughts on “Cell Ministry at Monterey Church

  • I’m following a different church in the Bible belt who also has amazing weekend services. They do such a good job of it that they have 15-25 new families a month join the congregation!

    The challenge is that these families have no relational connection to anyone in the cell groups. Therefore, the invitation to visit a group is not an easy one to offer for the members or take for the visitors.

    This has put the cell champion in a very difficult position. He must launch five to ten new groups per month to keep up with the new members and returning visitors, yet the growth is non-relational and somewhat external for the cell group members. This growth is not from group members inviting friends to the celebration services. These are new folks from the community who drove by the building on their way to work or have purchased a home nearby.

    The staff and the cell champion is working overtime to train and release members as rapidly as possible to form new groups, but three problems have emerged:

    1. The groups have become lazy in relational evangelism because of the influx of new people each week to their group.

    2. A few of the leaders have expressed they now feel like a cog in the church’s clockworks, feeling used solely as a net to keep the harvest from the big services… (evidently, they feel church leadership sees the celebration as being more important than cell life.)

    3. Finding enough members to lead is—at times—something that is forced and hurried due to the external pressures from the amazing job done by a few on the platform on weekends.

    Joel, how would you coach this church to correct this issue?

    (BTW, I’m not consulting them or even in regular dialog with them. I’m just watching them carefully to see how their phenomenal weekend congregational services are negatively or positively affecting their cell groups.)

  • This is a Kingdom of Jesus Christ in action.Great & to the point openning statement on thw website. I would be curious to know if they are also helping each other in real life situations & doing buiness with each other?

  • Hey, Randall, good word.

    I think a key, key area is the senior pastor’s vision. MANY, MANY churches that do well in the celebration service do so because the pastor is all about the celebration service!! And in MANY, MANY churches the cells just become a way to close the back door (keep the people in the pen).

    AND THUS, it’s often essential that the senior pastor leads a cell and then can connect what he’s doing with the SERMON ON SUNDAY. He also needs to naturally be promoting cell ministry because he’s passionate about it.

    MONTEREY is a good example of this. Pastor Bryan at Monterey is passionate about cell-celebration, leads a dgroup, hired a cell champion, really wants to have a cell-celebration church, and has even hired a coach like me. The same was true in my LORRAIN, OH example a few blogs ago. Pastor Gilbert is passionate about cell ministry, saw that they needed 50 more cells immediately, asked me to do a seminar, etc.

    Yet, Randall, in reality, as you know, Monterey and House of Praise are not the norm.

    And I really don’t know all the in-and-outs of the church you mentioned. IF THEY HIRED ME TO COACH THEM, I would start with teaching, do an in-depth case study of the church and coach them at WHERE THEY ARE AT. In some churches I’ve coached, that means staying in the baby stages until they catch the passion for cell/holistic small group ministry. For others, they are roaring out of the starting blocks.

    Please feel free to post some things that you would do. . .

    Joel

  • I think you hit the nail on the head. The lead pastor of this church values cell life, but it’s only lip service. He’s not really working hard to help the groups fulfill the mission vs. doing it himself through the pulpit.

    I’m actually very glad I am not consulting this church.

    This reminds me of a joke a psychiatrist told me once. He asked me how many shrinks it takes to change a lightbulb and then answered, saying, “only one, but the bulb has to really want to change.”

    If the pastor isn’t leading the church into relational ministry, he isn’t really leading the church at all. He’s controlling it.

  • Yup this is a great example of something I picked up early on in the piece reading Joel Comiskey’s writings. The leader (senior pastor, head honcho, guy in charge) has to live and breathe a cellular vision, for a cellular type of church to arise. I have been in a situation where a Senior pastor wanted to transition to a G12 type of structure, but wanted to outsource the leadership of it. Cannot do. The leader has to be leading from the front, and the cell champion (if there is one) has to be fighting in the trenches alongside him. If the cell champion is out ahead on his own it is unlikely it will work. In the case I mentioned the cell champion got transferred out of town, and it all fell apart fairly soon cos the Leader couldn’t do cell, or lead cells in an effective way. As Joel says, if the Leader is running a cell group that’s a good sign. In the example I was in he didn’t even lead a cell group….

    It was a good learning experience…..

    The church got taken over by a bigger church a few years later….

    Great hearing about pastor Brian at Monterey. I read up on their web site and got a bit inspired. Seems that there is a bit going on. God bless em!

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