Moving Forward in Cell Ministry

by Joel Comiskey

Winter 2019

What does McDonald’s have in common with a fancy restaurant? And I’m not referring to food. Nor am I talking about making money or getting people to come back.

So what do they have in common? They both are goal oriented. Both have already made clear goals for 2019. Yes, their goals are very different. For example, when I go to McDonald’s, I expect certain things like a quick delivery and a similar menu. When eating at a nice restaurant, I don’t know what’s on the menu, and I can expect to relax more. The goals of McDonald’s center around selling a lot of hamburgers and getting people out quickly and satisfied. The goals at a fancy restaurant includes improving the atmosphere, quality menu, friendly service, and so forth.

Every church is different with their own set of problems, cultural issues, and leadership personalities. Each church is also in a different place on the cell church journey. One church might be just starting their transition and will begin their first group in 2019. Other churches have vast experience, like Elim which is celebrating thirty-three years of cell church this year. One church has four groups and another four hundred. One church might be contemplating the cell vision and considering starting in 2019. Another church wants to work on reviving a stagnated cell ministry. Where are you in 2019 and what are your goals?

January is a great time to work on your goals and future reality. Here are some principles:

Rejoice in what you have already accomplished: Start with what you did well in 2018. What are the strengths of your church? Rejoice in what you are doing well. 

Evaluate your current reality: Werner Kniessel talks about mending the nets each year and envisioning the next year. Werner would do this with his pastoral team, but maybe you’re a solo pastor. You could mend the nets with elders, supervisors, cell leaders, or key members. 

I’m coaching one church that will start their first pilot group in 2019. The goal for 2019 is laying the groundwork for the pilot group to begin, gathering the right people, and starting the pilot group. In 2020, we’ll be able to make more concrete goals for multiplication. Many churches, however, have gone way beyond the transitional stage. They already have a great equipping, coaching, prayer network, and leadership structure. They can make concrete goals for new groups.

Base your goals on reality: One of the most common mistakes is idealism. I remember one church that set the goal of 100 cells by the end of the year when they only had twenty in January. This is simply not realistic and will discourage the leaders. Nor is it realistic to go from a very traditional church to a fully functional cell church in one year. Rather, in a traditional church that is transitioning, it’s best to think in terms of: 1. preaching ten message on cell-based principles. 2. Give cell books and resources to key elders in the church. 3. Visit a cell church with key leaders. 4. Talk to those who will be part of the first pilot group. 5. Start the first pilot group.

Stretch your faith: Goals should move people forward. They stir people to pray that the God of the impossible will work and do miracles. Perhaps one goal is to have a weekly prayer meeting. This is a huge step for many churches. Or maybe the goal in 2019 is to form a first-class leadership team that is tracking the cells and envisioning the future. Or maybe you plan on going from five groups to eight. You know by name those who will complete the equipping and be ready go. Other churches can envision 200 new cells in 2019.

Track the goals: it’s so easy to make goals at the beginning of the years and then forget them. Tracking the progress of the goals makes it possible to discover what’s really happening and separates great leaders from those who don’t go anywhere.

Communicate the goals: Goals are useless unless they can be communicated. I’m not referring to endless Sunday announcements, but I am talking about holding key leaders accountable and asking them how they are doing toward reaching those goals.