What the Best Cell Leaders Do

by Joel Comiskey

Summer 2018

Jesus took a ragtag group of fisherman and turned them into the pillars of the early church. He molded and shaped them in the small group atmosphere and then prayed for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them. They turned the world upside down. Jesus is doing the same thing today as he turns cell members into disciple-makers who make new disciples. One of my favorite book titles is Turning Members into Leaders (Dave Earley) because cell groups are leader breeders and Christ’s goal is to make disciples who make new disciples.

In the past, my rallying cry was “anyone can be a leader.” That sounded good, but I also noticed that the word leader was full of cultural baggage. Didn’t Jesus tell us that the greatest will be the servant of all? Yet, the world’s idea of leadership often includes domination and control–not servanthood. And didn’t Christ’s great commission tell us to make disciples who make disciples? He did not tell us to make leaders.

In fact, leadership in the New Testament was always plural, never individualistic. Thus, I began to realize that I needed to emphasize team leadership to stay biblical,  so I changed my rallying cry to anyone can be part of a team of disciples who make other disciples. Granted, one person will be the point person who leads the team, or better yet, facilitates the team. You’ll notice that I often interchange facilitator with leader because facilitation accurately describes what effective leaders do. The word leader often projects the image of someone who most of us are not. Very few feel like leaders, and even those who have visible talents and self-confidence are riddled with a sense of their own inadequacy.

So what makes a great team leader (facilitator) and what do great team leaders (facilitators) do? I can think of several things:

  • Prioritize time with God. The best team facilitators hear from God and lead by example. Those following them know that they are men and women of God. Godly facilitators prioritize their families and know how to rest (day off) as well as to work hard.
  • Facilitate the group. The best facilitators take the group from my group to our group. The goal is total participation. The worst facilitators dominate and control. The best facilitators get everyone involved in the different parts of the group, as well as each member using his or her gift (s).
  • Expect group members to evangelize. Evangelism is not optional. Great facilitators expect members to grow their discipleship muscles through diligently reaching those closest to them (oikos). The facilitator guides the group to pray for the unchurched as well as promotes plans for outreach events.
  • Developing new team facilitators. Cell churches have clear, feasible equipping for everyone in the church that prepares new team members to launch new groups. One of the goals of the point leader is to make sure everyone in the group is taking the  discipleship equipping.