Relational Discipleship

joelby Joel Comiskey

I believe the essence of cell ministry is making disciples who make disciples. The cell atmosphere is an incredible way to prepare future disciple makers. Mario has been blogging about the need for leaders to identify new leaders, and this excites me. Cell churches develop equipping tracks to guide the process.

But are we preparing disciples who know how to practice the one-anothers of Scripture? Is it possible to raise up a cell leader who is relationally dysfunctional? As I’ve been writing my new book, The Relational Disciple, I’ve been meditating on the need for future leaders to grow in their relational skills. The phrase “one another” appears 100 times in the New Testament. The majority of the occurrences of the phrase “one another” have to do with relationships between Christians and how to cultivate those relationships. And the writers of the New Testament exhorted believers to grow deeper and deeper in living out Scriptural truth through accountability with one another.

Here are two questions:

1. Is it possible to be a cell leader and at the same time a relational dud? (relationally dysfunctional).

2. How do we assure that future cell leaders (disciple-makers) are relationally well-adjusted and growing in the one-anothers?

All comments about your experience in this area are welcome. I’m also trying to discern how to help future disciples grow to become relational disciples.



9 thoughts on “Relational Discipleship

  • Thanks for this wakeup article. It is in an area that needs close focus in the body and one to which the corporate world is already awake: the importance of emotional maturity. I feel that the key is – as you state in your books – linked to Spiritual Parenting. Dysfunctional families bring up dysfunctional kids. If your family is well balanced and fully functional as a body part, they’ll produce ‘after their kind’. Therefore the focus shift higher up in the family tree. If everyone, from ‘grandad’ is dysfunctional, some external intervention by ‘uncles’ and ‘cousins’ is needed? (intra-cell support) That’s my humble opinion anyway, but the way I make sense of it all. I would like feedback, especially if I have put my foot in it in any way (it happens). God bless you. Nigel

  • Hey, thanks, Nigel, for venturing out and commenting, and you’re RIGHT ON about emotional maturity. So often we overlook this vital area in our quest to raise up leaders. I think in the WEST, the problem of emotional immaturity is more pronounced that in the MAJORITY WORLD, in my opinion. In many places, the importance of group interaction is a high priority. In the WEST it’s a low priority. Yet, BEYOND CULTURE, what does the Bible say? And I think the BIBLE is clear that we need to become relational disciples–those who are growing in love for one another, humility with one another, esteeming one another, etc. etc. Also, the very fact that the TRINITY is one in three is a powerful testimony to this type of oneness.

  • Although the majority world remains more highly relational, its relationships tend to be highly reflective of power differences or of Confucian ideals, hardly “one another”.

    Mentored training provides a highly relational opportunity to listen one to another, plan one with another, pray one for another, teach one another… That is, training demonstrates biblical mutuality.

    As mentor and apprentices meet face-to-face, or in very little training groups, they occasionally review the NT’s one-another commands, discussing and practicing together how to help their cell members do the same, in turn.

    Thus a relational trainer transmits relational skills by example and by design.

  • Good word, Galen. It’s wrong to say THE MAJORITY WORLD HAS GREAT RELATIONSHIP AND WE IN THE WEST DO NOT. Like you mentioned, often those relationships are not solid from a biblical standpoint.

  • Awesome word! I love the term relational disciple. What I have found personally is that as a leader I must take the leadership role and not allow a person that is a ” Relational Dud” to lead so quickly. More times than not, a leader knows when they have this type of person getting ready to step into leadership–as you assign task for them to do or give assignments those type of flaws tend to stand out. My husband and I are in charge of our cell groups and we have over 400 cell groups. We deal with challenges with people that I would consider not really relational, but only going throught the motions and it is very apparent by the way they lead and the complaints we get on the leaders that hey are having challenges. When faced with these types of leaders, we much somewhat become a “pit boss” We have had to be firm, but accountable to God and responsible for His sheep. We have pulled leaders from leading and placed them back under their leader for further training and practice in the cell group. I believe we have an obligation to do this so that they will not hurt the veryones that we have won to the Lord. It is a dangerous position to lead while you are bleeding. Discipleship is not for babies, so that leader must be willing to come to the end of themselves in order to give to one another like we have been designed to give. Most of the times when you are dealing with these type of people, they have deep wounds of the past from past hurts a lot of times their parents, or other relationships etc that they have not dealt with. This is why there has to be a place early on in disicpleship that they have an face to face encounter with God, so that the Holy Spirit can heal all of those wounds that they have buried so deep within them that are causing them to be ineffective and non-productive. Yes they come to church, they raise their hands shouting, but they still have a tiny little hole in their heart that is oozing blood because of what happened in the past. So, true deliverance needs to take place before you can walk as Jesus walked. The compassion of Christ is available to all who have accepted christ, but we cant merely just receive the free gift of salvation, we must give our lives and make him Lord over our lives. Smith Wigglesworth said there is no room for two lives in one body, death for life that is the price! So there must be a dying to self in order to be there for “one another” the way God intended for us to be.

  • Thanks Charlene, for your comments! You have a lot on your plate with 400 cell groups. Recently someone asked for your website, and I was glad to give it. Relational discipleship is more of a subjective area, but I’m finding that it’s very close to God’s heart, so I do think that we as coaches need to promote it and build it into our future leaders.

  • I see. I cant wait to read it. Im very interested in the concept. when will it be out? Thank you for all that you do for the body. Cell groups would not be the same without you!

  • During my first few months on discipling not only people in my cell but also other cell leaders (I am one of the youth network leaders), this has been constantly in my prayers.
    I believe I am gifted to be a great speaker and preacher, but I also knew that something in me had to change about the way I relate with people (and the way people relate to me). I’ve always prayed that the scene of me being not like-able and love-able would change, or I would never be an effective leader at all. Thus, it was a ‘personality’ problem.
    But then, I really kept on praying, asking God to change me.. it wasn’t an easy process, but God has helped be to be ‘relational’. And I am constantly being changed to be more and more Christ-like 🙂

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