Who Am I?

Jeff Tunnell

While the Senior Pastor’s role in the cell church is absolutely necessary, allow me to observe from the chair of the smaller cell church’s office.

I enter transition to cell systems with the supreme hope that “this is it, I have finally found the answers to ministry that I have been searching for!”   I have done this before, selecting a new style of ministry every few years in a quest to discover a key to success as designed or required by my governing board, elders, or simply my own entrepreneurial spirit.  It is not new territory, but I am encouraged by what appears to be the LAST change needed.

As the pastor of a smaller-sized cell church most of the work is still in my hands or direct oversight. The varied tasks of counseling, preaching, teaching, day-to-day management of office and communications, worship team direction, youth, Sunday schools and teacher training, etc, etc are a plate full of potential time consuming jobs.

Now I want to add the miracle cure of cell systems and think (or hope) everything will improve rather quickly, thereby alleviating much of the busywork that drains my energy. To my chagrin I find that I now need to add leading a cell and coaching to my list of duties. Simultaneously I begin casting vision to the body in order to transition fully.

Along the way (1-3 years into the project) I am feeling tempted to change yet again or return to program designed ministry. This is driven by two sources: 1) I am not experiencing the growth or transition at the rate I thought was possible and (2) look at all that mail I receive announcing the “next best seminar” or packaged plan for church growth with everything I need for making ministry work with no effort on my part. (ridiculous offers, but they come to my mailbox each week).

Time to get a grip on the reality that preparing the soil, planting the seed, fertilizing the crop, weeding and fighting the pests are all still necessary for bringing a harvest to fullness.  You (and I) may not be good delegators and so we feel the pressure to do everything ourselves and hereby we trap ourselves into a downward cycle of defeat.  The Cell system is a leadership development tool that decentralizes ministry and empowers others to fulfill their calling in God. This will in turn fulfill them as believers who now fully complete the discipleship of Jesus by reaching others with the Gospel and making new disciples.

You are the Senior Pastor, God loves you and directed you to lead His flock into a fruitful field of ministry that will bless them and the city, village or town around you.  Stay with it, you are vital to His plan!

Do you connect with these thoughts and observations?  Let us hear back from you on what you do to stay on task.

7 thoughts on “Who Am I?

  • Awesome Jeff, I can fully appreciate what you have said. I planted a church, rescued a church, merged a church, started a house church network and now have cycled back to serve as cell pastor. The vision for what God can do in both the large and small setting has kept me going all these years. As a matter of fact it’s the changed lives I’ve seen through cell ministry that really keeps me going.

    In all the previous experience, except for my current role, I was the lead pastor and I understand how important it is to stay focused on the call to the cell vision. (to make disciples) Without this calling it is real easy to get distracted by other things or give up because it is difficult. I am so glad that by God’s help I have stayed the course and have seen many lives radically changed.

    Now serving as cell pastor under a Senior Pastor I know first hand how important it is for the Senior Pastor to lead in the vision. More about this when I blog in a few days.

  • One thing I can say and that is ……. no distractions. No quick fixes. It takes time and most times leaders are too much in a hurry to realise this and become dispondent. But I met a pastor who pastored a cell church in Zurich and that church has multiplied itself out into 2 very successful churches. The secret he shared with us was this …..take it slow(it took him 10 years to transition his church fully into a cell church) and in time it will produce. So stay focused and do not look for the quick fix.

  • Only the dream can keep you on track. Since you love God, your hope about your dream(ed) church generates faith to bring forth what you don’t see (yet), His Bride. Write about your (to be) cell church. Post comments in your vision. Add details. Talk about your dream with your wife (or closest associate). What does she think about it? Can you impart your passion to her? Is the picture clear? Understandable? If your dream is vivid, your vision (the way to make it come true) will be crystal clear, doable, and your motivation will always be renewed when you day dream about your cell church.

  • I like what your wrote. I think this is reality for most church planters.

    We have to thing long terms. If we think long terms, we will see God’s blessing. It took Abraham 25 years to see the beginning of his dreams come true. When we look at today and see the wonderful accomplishment of God with real believers all over the world and the 3 main religions (Jews, Nominal christianity, Islam) referring to Abraham as their spiritual father.
    May God help me walk by faith.

  • Another thought I had recently is that my role in the Kingdom of God may not be to see a huge multiplying example of Christ’s work in my generation. I may only be the one who breaks the generational cycle of depravity and passes on a clearer vision to the next generation. It seems so difficult to get ‘churchianity’ in the Northeast US to even consider cell church – they heard it can’t be done in the US – and by can’t be done they just see it as some new program to build their empire anyway. I may yet plant a cell church, but I may only get the opportunity to move the pendulum a bit in that direction to make it easier for the next guy to get the job done 🙂

    Our true calling is to be obedient to Jesus – not be successful 🙂


  • Paul, I like that last sentence as the summary. I knew missionaries that ministered in India for 30 years with ONE convert, that subsequently led 1,000s to faith in Christ in the next gereration. To obey is still better than sacrifice!

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