You Can Make the Transition

Church Leadership

Summer 2011

by Joel Comiskey

We’ve talked a lot about what it takes to make a successful transition. Where are you in the process? Maybe you are still counting the cost, just starting the transition, half-way into it, or perhpas you’ve arrived at the finish line. We want to encourage you to keep pressing on by giving you some examples of those who have made it.

Richard Houle caught the vision to transition his conventional French speaking Baptist church in Granby, Quebec to the cell church model. He believed in the theology behind the cell model and decided to make the transition. The new direction required commitment and a change in direction, and in the process, sixty people left the church. Houle continued to press on out of obedience to God’s calling and will.

As the years passed, the church won new people and began to see fruit. Eventually, they became a cell church planting movement with four daughter churches connected to the mother church. When I visited them in 2009, I was thrilled to see Richard Houle’s apostolic role over the four daughter churches and especially how Houle’s example had positively impacted his entire Baptist denomination. A large number of denominational leaders came to my cell seminar because of their relationship with Richard Houle and his French speaking congregation.

Phil Potter is an Anglican minister. He wrote a book called The Challenge of the Cell Church, in which he details his own journey of transitioning a traditional Anglican church in England to the cell church model. Potter guided his congregation to fully understand the cost involved before jumping into cell ministry. They spent months in planning and preparing for the transition. Because of the detailed cost counting, Potter was able to start cells that continued to grow and multiply.

Ramon Justamente is a southern Baptist pastor in Florida. He counted the cost to become a cell church. He studied the books, visited various cell churches, and was totally convinced he should transition his church. He and his wife even visited me in Quito, Ecuador in 1999. I don’t think Ramon was ready for what happened next: 250 people left the church. Yet, Ramon believed God had called him to cell church ministry, and he wasn’t going to back down.

When I held a seminar in his church ten years after the transition, I saw a vibrant cell church. God has not only won back far more than those who departed, but those who are now in the church are excited, motivated, and winning others for Jesus. I spoke on how to transition a church and Ramon gave his testimony.Ramon’s church is now a great model for those doing cell ministry in Florida.

You can make the transition. Don’t give up. In time, cell church values will be the norm.

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