by Joel Comiskey
I coached one denominational church that had grown to mega church status through their wide array of programs. Every night of the week they featured a different program to attract people. The senior pastor eventually realized he was a one-man show, and that his people were not growing as disciples. He asked me to help move the church to the cell-based strategy.
I counseled them not to move too quickly in deleting the programs. “After all,” I said, “Those programs are meeting felt needs. Cells will eventually do a much better job of fulfilling those needs, but until the cells are functioning, programs are all the people have.”
The pastoral team thanked me for helping them to understand how cell ministry replaces the need for programs, but also for helping them to avoid abruptly closing all of their ministries.
Becoming a fully integrated cell based church takes time. Most churches are somewhere on the path to becoming fully integrated (e.g., Michael Sove’s and Allen Memorial), but few churches have reached the point of Mario Vega’s church (see last week’s blog).
In the process toward integration, it’s important to have functioning cells to offer the people before stripping away cherished ministries and programs. Effective transitions, in fact, happen underground. As more and more cells become available, the need for programs diminish and the leadership team can get rid of those ministries that are no longer needed. Effective pastors patiently and persistently guide the church toward the cell driven strategy.