Start with the Why

by Joel Comiskey

Fall 2014

Simon Sinek, popular speaker and author, was considered a “successful” businessman. Like so many, he began to focus on what he was selling and then trying to figure out how to sell it. Yet, he realized he was missing why he was selling the product. Sinek began to study great innovators, leaders, and companies who started with the why question. These great companies and people inspired those who worked for them with ideals and vision because they knew their purpose.

He noticed that companies that started with what or how often resorted to manipulative techniques to sell their products, promoting the short-term benefits. The short-term tactics have become so sophisticated that an entire economy has developed to service the manipulations, equipped with statistics and quasi-science.”

Sinek’s principle is very simple: start with the why question and know the true motivation that should guide you. After spending lots of time meditating and working out the why question, the what and how question will naturally follow.

Most churches know what they do and how to do it. Yet few truly understand why they do what they do. If the pastor can’t clearly articulate why the church exists, members have a hard time following. To truly inspire a church, the pastor or leader needs to embrace and articulate a compelling, God-honoring vision.

In the early days of my cell journey, I focused more on the how and the what questions. I wrote about how cells could grow churches. While it’s important to know how to do cell ministry, I’ve learned that the most important consideration is the why behind doing it. If the motivation is faulty, leaders become discouraged over time, lose the joy and excitement of leading or supervising cell groups, and often quit all together. If the motivation is only how or what, the vision will soon dry up and fizzle.

When a pastor or leader doesn’t fully understand why he is implementing cell ministry, he can fall into the trap of following someone else’s model or thinking a new technique will produce growth. Faulty motivations, however, produce superficial results. Correct motivations sustain over the long haul and give meaning and purpose to what we do.

Those who succeed in cell ministry learn to dig beneath the how-to question and unearth the why motivation. The why question provides the vision or driving force behind cell ministry and allows the leader to keep pressing on in spite of the obstacles.

In fact, the how question often locks a church into certain patterns that probably don’t fit the exact circumstance where the church is located. Only answering the how question leaves the pastor and church looking for formulas from someone else’s model and feeling frustrated when those techniques don’t work.

In contrast, fully answering the why question gives longevity to cell ministry because the pastor realizes that cell ministry flows from a solid biblical base. When a leader grasps the why question, the how question flows naturally. In fact, the leader discovers that there are many ways to do cell ministry and one size does not fit all. The pastor can steadfastly plod through the valleys because of a firm conviction that the church is on the right path.

We as believers know that the Bible is our guide book and that scriptural teaching must guide all we do and say. But is there a guiding theme in scripture, one that stands out above the others? I believe that biblical motivations should guide cell ministry and the key one being making disciples who make disciples. Cell ministry isn’t primarily about the cell but making disciples who are molded, shaped, and transformed through the cell system.

As leaders understand this process, a new, purer motivation develops that compels the pastor forward because of a new understanding of the why of cell ministry. Understanding that the cell strategy is primarily about making disciples places cell ministry within the biblical framework and encourages pastors to stop focusing on outward models and to prioritize a secure biblical anchor for ministry.

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