by Joel Comiskey
This past weekend I led a cell workshop in a large Chinese Church called Vineyard of Harvest in the Chino Hills area (part of the Vineyard movement). This was my second cell seminar in this church in the space of one year, and I was impressed with the strides the church had made in the past year (check out the portal page to their website). After I finished the seminar, the senior pastor and his wife pulled me aside and began to ask me hard questions. I sensed by their earnestness that they really wanted to make cell ministry work.
I shared with the pastor that he was the key to long-term success. The congregation looked to him, to decipher whether the cell church philosophy was a passing fad, or a permanent fixture in our church. Without his modeling of cell church values and principles, the cell vision would surely wither.
I frequently lead cell seminars. More than once I have encountered zealous lay people who get so excited that they want to convert the entire church to the cell philosophyâ€”whether or not the senior pastor agrees. While we can applaud this type of excitement and zeal, we must quickly explain the consequences. Long lasting change requires a point man. As Cho says, â€œ. . . a system must have a control point. The controlling factor in home cell groups is the pastor.â€ Without him on board, cell church ministry will sink. I tell people not even to begin the cell church transition unless the senior pastor is leading the charge.
Dale Galloway, an early pioneer of cell church ministry in the U.S., says: “No matter who introduces small-group ministry into a church, that ministry will only go as far as the Senior Pastorâ€™s vision for it. The people will watch the Senior Pastor to see if small-group ministry is important to him or her, because whatâ€™s important to the Senior Pastor is important to the people” (The Small Group Book, p. 21).