Transitioning at Crestline First Baptist

billby Bill Mellinger, lead pastor of Crestline First Baptist Church

Joel has asked me to do a guest blog. Since he is our coach, I try to listen do what he says.  Seriously, I am honored to share our journey of “integration” with you.

I have been on an interesting journey the last three years.  After serving for several years as a church planter, God led us to serve a sixty-year old church.  This church has had twenty-three pastors and one of them was pastor for sixteen years.  It has been a small program-based ministry.  Since coming, we have been working to transition the church from its program format to being a “relational church that is sold out for Jesus Christ.”

With the help of some great counsel and encouragement from Joel Comiskey and after a lot of reading, we have carefully been transitioning to a cell church model.  Since I am more of a burster and innovator, I knew that I needed to heed the counsel of others who said to “take it slow” and be sure to have the new ministry approach in place before discontinuing the “old way of doing things.”  While this goes against my nature, we have worked to build a good foundation.

I have taught, talked, modeled and led the people in becoming more relational.  Slowly, we began one prototype and now we have transitioned into three prototypes while we develop our coaching and training tracks.  The exciting thing is that this process has allowed people who were negative on the idea to actually become great supporters.  Members of the Leadership Team which were not involved are now committed to the cell concept and one of the three functioning cells. It has taken a lot of discipline, but God is blessing the patience we have applied.  This has truly been a God thing for the church and me.


Bill Mellinger

5 thoughts on “Transitioning at Crestline First Baptist

  • Bill has done a great job of transitioning his church to RELATIONAL MINISTRY. This is the terminology he’s been using all along. Cell church was simply the best way to do relational ministry. However, if Bill would have pushed “cell church,” most likely his people would have seen it as just another program.

  • I particularly liked your counsel to “go slow”… we use the terminology “2 degree shift”. You are more likely to retain your people with this approach, and the exponential principle of growth will reward you for your patience. At our church, we have too much experience of “2 steps forward, 1(or2-3) step backward”, which just frustrates everyone.

    I’m finding these “integration” and “transition” blogs very helpful!

  • I’m conflicted about going slow. Thank you for your thoughts. I have ton of questions about relational cell ministry. What has your timeline been like? and how do you model the outreach/multiplication aspect of a cell in the initial prototype group?

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