Cell Leadership Development
by Joel Comiskey
I coached one pastor a few years ago who bought into the cell church philosophy but didn’t change his inward values. As I coached him over the months, I found that he naturally spent most of his time on the Sunday celebration service and more specifically on his sermon preparation. Cell ministry received leftover attention. When I challenged him on this, he acknowledged that he got a high from the Sunday crowd and didn’t get that same excitement from cell ministry.
Passionate cell church pastors, on the other hand, focus on how many pew sitters can be converted into disciples who will pastor home groups that will in turn evangelize and disciple others (Matthew 28:18-20). They focus on the cell infrastructure in order to align themselves with the New Testament truth that the job of the pastor is to prepare God’s people for works of service (Eph. 4:11–12).
George Whitefield and John Wesley were contemporaries in seventeenth-century England. Both dedicated themselves to God’s work in the same small group (Holy Club) at Oxford University. Both were excellent in open-air preaching. Both witnessed thousands of conversions through their ministries. Yet John Wesley left behind a strong vibrant church, while George Whitefield could point to little tangible fruit toward the end of his ministry. Why? Wesley dedicated himself to training and releasing disciple-makers who led small-groups, while Whitefield was too busy preaching and doing the work of the ministry.
Are you more like Whitefield or Wesley? What do you need to change to concentrate on making disciples who make disciples?
Though both cell and celebration are important in the cell church, I believe the cell infrastructure should guide the church. The cell church strategy focuses on preparing laypeople to become disciples who make disciples. It’s guiding people from sitting in church to helping them go through a process of training, cell involvement, and cell leadership.
The disciple oriented church, in contrast to the Sunday attraction model, focuses on the cell infrastructure. The pastor concentrates on growing the church from the inside out. Fruitfulness equals turning members into ministers that lead cell groups. Dale Galloway said it well, “The concept is that first you build leaders. The leaders build groups. Out of these groups come more leaders and a multiplication into more groups” (20-20 Vision, p. 155).
The disciple oriented strategy is straightforward and simple: concentrate on developing disciple-makers who are leading multiplying cell groups, and they will in turn reap the harvest and pastor the church. It’s the strategy that Christ gave to His disciples in Matthew 9:37–38: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” The goal of new cells is the goal of new disciple-makers who are being equipped and sent out as harvest workers. The role of the pastor is to guide the church to concentrate on this disciple-making strategy.