by Joel Comiskey
I talked with a team of volunteer elders last week who were pastoring a growing cell church plant in Canada. I was very impressed with the life of their cells, the growth of both cell and celebration, and the commitment of the entire church to cell values. And this was all happening without a senior pastor and no one on salary.
I’ve written a lot about the importance of the senior pastor in the cell church vision, and have often quoted David Cho, who said, “The [senior] pastor must be the key person involved. Without the pastor, the system will not hold together” (note 1) Yet, this cell church was not only holding together but pressing ahead in reaching people for Jesus and growing in community. Have we over-emphasized the senior pastor’s role and under emphasized the role of the team in cell ministry?
Team ministry at the top level is critical for healthy cell church ministry. Even if you only have one cell–like one pastor I’m coaching–you need to think now about forming a team.
The very nature of the Trinity is team ministry. The Trinity is One, yet each person of the Trinity has His distinct function.
In Exodus 18, God spoke through Jethro to Moses to stop his lone-ranger activity. God directed Moses to form a top level team of seventy elders, which would then direct the leaders of the 1000s, 100s, 50s and 10s.
Jesus worked on a team of twelve, but you could argue that Peter, James, and John were Christ’s true team. And Paul ministered on teams throughout his missionary career. I’m sure Paul’s team prayed, strategized, and sought to discern God’s will in every unique situation.
Team ministry not only helps a pastor to minister more effectively but also prevents the yoke from becoming too heavy.
First and foremost, those on the team, whether volunteer or paid, should exemplify love for God, wife, and family. Second, team members should be totally committed to the cell vision. They should be on the team, in fact, because they’ve clearly demonstrated their commitment to cell leadership, either my leading and multiplying a cell group in the past or currently leading one. Third, their lives should line up with the Biblical requirements listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 (in my book Leadership Explosion, I go into great detail about the Biblical requirements for leadership).
In my church plant here in Moreno Valley, we meet as a team of two couples every Wednesday to pray, nurture the cell ministry, and oversee the church.
When the team comes together, it’s essential to start with a time of ministry (normally led by the lead elder or pastor but not limited to only the lead pastor). I like to start with a time of sharing from Scripture with prayer following.
Next is a time to review the progress of the cell groups. In our weekly Wednesday team meeting, for example, we each have a sheet of paper that tells us:
- How many cells we’d like to see at the end of the year (our goal)
- Names of people who we perceive to be future cell leaders
- A list of each cell with the attendance in the cell from the previous week
We then talk about each cell group, allowing team members to share what they know about the cell, the leader, potential problems, praise reports, etc.
In this way we truly pastor the church–rather than mainly focusing on programmatic details. Since the cells are the base of the church, going over each cell is essential to properly care for the Christ’s church.
After discussing the cells, we cover additional issues in the church, such as celebration service, various ministries, calendar items, etc.
Our weekly team meeting lasts approximately two hours. .
You might do it differently, and that’s fine. The key is to remember that the team guides the cell-driven strategy for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Note 1: David Cho, Successful Home Cell Groups, (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1981), p. 107.