by Jeff Tunnell
My preference in transitioning an established church from â€œprogramsâ€ to â€œcellsâ€ as the base of ministry is for the Pastor to begin a prototype cell group with key leaders (along with their spouses if possible). As this group grows in relationship, experiencing and accepting the biblical values of living in community, they should also develop an equipping track for preparing additional cell leaders. They can experiment among themselves with the traning components to become confident in them.
Principles that will serve you well in transition:
Prayer: the foundation for EVERYTHING you do. All successful Cell churches have a base of consistent prayer and dependence upon God. If our cell church has a weakness this is where we will find it.
Faith: in God (not cells). Trust Him to keep the rest of the church intact as you work with the prototype until it experiences a shift in values and becomes life-giving and ready for its first multiplication.
Coaching: Secure a known and trusted coach to come alongside you during the first year; they will help you build correctly from the beginning, rather than having to remodel later (if you have ever been involved in remodeling you are aware that it takes MORE time and MORE resources than building does). You will also need to trust your coach; this will require faith also. Remember, as pastors we are required to â€œknow-it-allâ€ constantly. To avoid this trap you will need to trust the coach to know more than you do as you learn a new set of values.
Homes: Take your prototype home! Experience this life-giving cell group the same way as the early church did and set the precedent for all of your multiplication cells to come.
Pastors are used to adding one more spinning plate to their already full agenda so forming the first cell group will satisfy this habit at the onset. Commit to NOT ADDING other programs for at least one year (more or less) once the cell is formed. Give all of your time to this as the ONLY new thing you are doing AND begin to let other programs conclude and disappear in a natural way WITHOUT replacing them. You will get your life back, time back, relationships will deepen and youâ€™ll begin to experience life in His Kingdom like never before!