By Joel Comiskey
Have you set goals in cell ministry? Will you? I’m sure you want to move forward in your church. You long to see more growth, new leaders developed, and a stronger cell system. Yet, you are also very busy. You have sermons to prepare, problems to overcome, and family to prioritize.
So what does it mean to have healthy cell goals versusunhealthy ones in 2015? Is it even possible? Allow me to suggest some key principles:
First, don’t make unrealistic goals. This is a common error among pastors. Suddenly, a pastor feels the urge to make goals, so he launches an incredible goal that makes him look good for the moment but has no real chance of fulfillment. Some like to take out their calculators and piously assert, “If each member could just win one more member and each cell leader could just raise up two new leaders we could have 900 cells.” Easy! Presto! In reality, it doesn’t work that way. Leaders quit. Excitement wanes. Cells close. People are busy.
For years the Elim Church in El Salvador automatically set their goals based on 100% growth. Each district, zone, and sector had to double every year. The problem was that the church never expected to double. Rather, pastors and leaders were placed on a list in the order of how close they came to arriving at the goal of doubling. Those highest on the list often only reached 22% or 24% of their goal to double. Finally, Elim changed this system because it simply wasn’t based on reality.
Second, mend the nets. in Matthew 4:21, Scripture says, “Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.” The King James Version says that they were mending their nets. Fisherman don’t want the fish to get away, so they make sure their nets are strong and ready to catch fish.
It’s very hard to set new goals when the nets are riddled with holes and not able to catch and keep the fish. Great cell churches mend the nets by shuffling around leadership in groups that are stagnant, making sure each leader is coached, strengthening the equipping track, and recasting the cell vision to awaken people to cell ministry.
Third, focus on equipping and coaching. I remember one famous cell church pastor in Costa Rica give a lecture on goal setting. He said, “All you have to do is to know how many will graduate from the equipping track and then multiply cells based on the number of graduates.” We in the cell church world believe that new cell leaders need to first go through the church equipping before they can lead a new cell. But I don’t think it’s wise to send off solo cell leaders. It’s much better to graduate teams of leaders from the church-wide equipping and to start new cells with teams. And remember that new groups must becoached to ensure success.
Fourth, think long term. I hope you are in cell ministry for a lifetime. You believe that cell ministry is biblical and Christ’s way to make disciples. For this reason, don’t just multiply cells to fulfill the goal. Weak groups close quickly and while it might be exciting to meet your goals in 2015, remember that 2016 is right around the corner. Multiply healthy cells that will last long-term, glorify Jesus, make disciples, and bear fruit over the long haul