Learning to Say No

Church Leadership

by Joel Comiskey

Winter 2014

I’m convinced that learning to say no is one of the most important principles in the cell church. There are one million good things that will come knocking—even pounding—on your church door. These are well-intentioned programs by well-intentioned people, but they will surely drown your cell ministry. No is a blessed word in the cell church. If you don’t learn to say no, you’re cell church system will flounder.

How many times have I heard, “This program will strengthen our cell ministry by making better cell leaders . . .” Be careful about this type of argument. In one sense, every program on the market might have some long-term benefit for cell leaders. But in the meantime, these programs draw the leader away from their principal work. They require loads of extra time and normally only benefit the cell leader indirectly.

Don’t add programs with the hope that it might somehow benefit cell ministry in the long run. Billy Hornsbee writes: “There are many good ideas that we want to attach to the cells to help them be successful. These attachments are simply not needed. In fact, they will eventually burden the cell groups so much that there will be an “overload” factor that will kill one cell group after another along with its leadership” (Holding the Harvesttape series). Admittedly, after the cell church philosophy has been thoroughly formulated as part of the warf and woof of the church, other ministries might be added, but these new ministries are not seen as competitive because everyone on staff understands where they fit and all those who participate are involved in cells.

But the majority of churches are so accustomed to the traditional, program style of ministry that you must learn to say no. This is especially true in the early stages—before cell church ministry is a way of life. In this early stage, you must be exceedingly careful about the addition of new programs. It’s like planting a new garden. You must give the seeds a chance to grow by rooting out the grass, which would destroy the new growth. You must water and provide sufficient sunlight. When you first plant the cell church philosophy, you protect your new philosophy from the grass of church programs and competing activities.For many churches transitioning into the cell lifestyle, it’s wise to place a moratorium on new programs for a certain time. Tell the people that you need to establish the cell philosophy as a way of life in the church.