Right Hand of Fellowship

coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell


a sharing of common interests, goals, experiences, or views

companionship or friendly association

a community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience

a company of equals or friends

In Galatians 2:9 the Apostle Paul relates the moment when the other apostles in Jerusalem “gave me and Barnabus the right hand of fellowship” in recognition of his ministry to the Gentiles.  This phrase has since been used regularly in Christian circles to express our agreement with others in common mission.

Ideally the cell group will discover similar fellowship in their common missions.  Often our fellowship first occurs in simple activities together (picnic, bowling, sports, coffee, events, etc). During these times we learn about each other’s personalities, reactions, likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.  Shared experiences can form a necessary foundation on which to build toward the “ideal” of accomplishing missions that promote the gospel.

As leaders we can organize our initial fellowship times with, and on, purpose.  That is, we may construct opportunities that will promote rapid and deep interaction with one another (internal to the cell) in order to establish association for future outreach (external to the cell).

Our mission of spreading the gospel is URGENT.  Our right hand of fellowship will be much stronger when we are in the company of friends, sharing the common goal of accomplishing the “Go” part of Jesus’ great commission.

How much time or number of internal activities together as a group is necessary to build enough community in order to activate the cell toward “mission”?  How long is too long?  What must we guard against to avoid becoming centric and stuck on internal focuses?

by Rob Campbell


“Holistic small groups are the natural place for Christians to learn to serve others—both inside and outside the group—with their spiritual gifts.  The planned multiplication of small groups is made possible through the continual development of leaders as a by-product of the normal group life.  The meaning of the term ‘discipleship’ becomes practical in the context of holistic small groups:  the transfer of life, not rote learning of abstract concepts.”

 Natural Church Development, Christian Schwarz, p. 32

 May I ask you to read that last sentence one more time?  That sentence is one of the most concise definitions of discipleship in the context of holistic small groups that I’ve ever read.  Ruminate of that sentence, my friend.

 A few questions:

 As you partner with God, how do your group members experience the “transfer of life?”

 Concerning your equipping track, is it curriculum centered or seminar style?  Do you equip one on one or assemble all the leaders together?

 What one mistake have you made in equipping leaders that you would like to share with this blog community?


Dion Robert and the Works and Mission Baptist Church

joelI hope to see many of you at the cell symposium this month. If you receive this blog and will be coming to the event, I’d love to greet you during the symposium. One of the pastors I’m looking forward to meeting for the first time is Dion Robert, founder and pastor of the Works and Mission Baptist Church. If you’ll look at Dion Robert’s bio on the cell symposium website, it says,
“CWMI is a cell church that gathers over 185,000 in cell groups weekly.” Wow.

I’m thrilled that I will drive with Dion from Dallas to Waco. Ralph Neighbour wrote yesterday, “Jim Lassiter will pick you up at DFW and bring you down along with Dion Robert.” I’m going to pepper Dion with lots of questions because my knowledge of his church is dated. The last time I wrote about his church was nine years ago in an article entitled “Ten Largest Cell Churches.” I wrote:

The celebration event in the mother church attracts some 6,000 worshippers each Sunday. However, the Works and Mission Baptist Church has 56 local satellite churches in the capital city of Abidjan alone and many more throughout the country. A total of 18,000 cells (14,000 adult cells and about 4,000 children’s cells) form the basis of the church. There is one system of government and administration from the smallest cell in France to the Temple in Abidjan. All reports, accountability, etc. filter back to the mother church. The local churches are not independent. Each local church has exactly the same departmental structure and ultimately report back to Abidjan.  Les Brickman, who did his doctoral dissertation at Regent University on the Works and Mission Baptist Church says, “This church has experienced quantitative and qualitative growth since its inception in 1975. With over 150,000 members worldwide, it has proven to be successful in the context of both African and non-African culture, having planted churches in 34% of current African nations as well as in Europe and North America.”

If you’d like to find out more about Robert’s church, buy Les Brickman book entitled Preparing the 21st Century Church. As mentioned above, Brickman earned his doctoral degree studying this great church.



p.s.: My daughter Sarah and I travel on Wednesday to Monterrey, Mexico to participate in the Cell Church Missions Network meeting. The goal of CCMN is to promote cell church missions in Latin America and beyond. Mario Vega, Ralph Neighbour, Ben Wong, and others will also be attending. I’ll tell you about it in next week’s blog.

Reaping the Harvest through Cell Ministry


by Mario Vega

Most of the conversions at Elim take place in the cell groups. Although we try to have a balance between cell and celebration, there’s no doubt that more people receive Jesus as Lord and Savior in the cell.

On many occassions I’ve said to the church that those who are born-again in the celebration services have first received love and friendship in the cell. . Actually, exceedingly few people just walk into our church on their own. I have no doubt that most have first heard the gospel on various occassions in the cell group. When they come forward in one of our services, it’s simply the final process of having heard the gospel many times.

In reality, salvation comes as a result of the church cooperating together, both in cell and celebration. The cell leader sows the seed, the preacher waters, but ultimately God gives the increase.



Translation in Spanish:

La mayor parte de conversiones que se producen en nuestra iglesia tienen lugar en las células. Aunque tratamos de establecer un equilibrio entre la reunión de célula y la celebración lo cierto es que la mayor parte de conversiones se producen en las células.

Repetidas veces he dicho a la congregación que incluso las conversiones que se producen en la celebración son el resultado del trabajo previo que se ha hecho en las células. Los amigos que nos visitan lo hacen porque la mayor parte de ellos han ido a una célula antes.

Creo que es muy pequeño el número de personas que asisten a la iglesia de su propia iniciativa. No dudo que la mayor parte de amigos vienen de reunirse en una célula donde han escuchado el evangelio varias veces. Cuando finalmente se entregan al Señor en la iglesia lo hacen como el final de un proceso en el cual han participado varias personas y después de haber escuchado repetidas veces el evangelio.

De esta manera, dira que las conversiones se producen como el resultado del trabajo corporativo de la iglesia. El lder sembró, el predicador regó, el crecimiento lo ha dado Dios.

No Success without a Successor

coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

Jim Daly is the new President and CEO of Focus on the Family and the successor of founder Dr. James Dobson.  My wife and I just returned from an evening together with Mr. Daly, H.B. London, Jr. and the Pastoral Ministries staff of FOF.  It is apparent that a great commitment has been made to transition the leadership of this world-wide ministry in order to “reach another generation”, as stated by Jim Daly.  This process has been in the works for 3-4 years and has come to fruition in a beautiful way.

There can be no success without a successor!  Spending the evening with such a reputable ministry that demonstrates this principle by its actions has been inspiring.  I found it remarkable that Dr. Dobson announced his transition on February 28 in a gathering of the staff in Colorado Springs, while I did the same with our church on March 1; This encouraged me greatly.

Our blog readers know that I have been on a similar mission to transition the leadership of Big Bear Christian Center motivated by comparable desire.  Last Sunday I introduced my “Timothy” to the congregation, as God has provided a man for me to mentor over the next few years.  By His grace, Rob Hastings will succeed me as the Senior Pastor and become a great Champion for Cells in our community.  This will come after a season of discipleship and growth in the principles of cell ministry. Rob and I must first share a relationship comparable  to Paul and Timothy, Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, developing discipleship in the context of relationship.  I like the phrase “discipleship only happens in the context of relationship”.  Mentoring a new leader for our cell church will be a wonderful, life-changing experience for both of us.

Every cell leader (and cell Pastor) should be walking in a mentoring relationship in order to multiply himself/herself for the expansion of our Father’s kingdom on earth.  Jesus said, “Go, make disciples…” and we must, at whatever stage of leadership we are in presently. Successors lead to success in our mission!