The Priesthood of All Believers and Church Planting

By Joel Comiskey, free teaching videos on leading small groups 

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary work. Jesus modeled this principle by choosing the common people of His day to become His followers. None of Christ’s disciples occupied important positions in the synagogue, nor did any of them belong to the Levitical priesthood. Rather, they were common laboring men, having no professional training, no academic degrees, and no source of inherited wealth. Most were raised in the poor part of the country. They were impulsive, temperamental, and easily offended. Jesus broke through the barriers that separated the clean and unclean, the obedient and sinful.

He summoned fisherman as well as a tax collector and zealot. Jesus saw hidden potential in them. He detected a teachable spirit, honesty, and a willingness to learn. They possessed a hunger for God, a sincerity to look beyond the religious hypocrisy of their day, and in turn they were looking for someone to lead them to salvation.

People ask me, “Joel, why are you so interested in cell church planting?” I tell them that cell groups are the perfect place to develop new leaders. Leaders are not developed and released by sitting in church on Sunday morning or worshipping in a large group. In a cell, a person can develop into a leader. Cell ministry brings out the ministry skills a person will need in a future church plant—pastoring, caring, counseling, evangelizing, and coaching. It’s the perfect microcosm to prepare a mature, future church planter

Undoubtedly, a potential church planter will seek out biblical education and grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Fruitfulness on the cell level builds confidence for future church planting and allows the candidate to then make it happen. The order is clear cut:

  • Attend a cell.
  • Receive training.
  • Plant a cell.
  • Multiply the cell several times.
  • Coach the leaders who have multiplied into other groups.
  • Receive more biblical training.
  • Plant a church in the US or overseas using the same strategy.

Cell churches don’t require a huge budget, a large plot of land, modern buildings, or super-talented pastors. The cell strategy uses the houses of people all over the city as the primary meeting locations. Instead of laboring to get people out of their houses once a week for an hour-long service, it seeks to utilize those same houses to reach an entire city and nation.

Reproduction is at the heart of the cell church movement. This reproduction comes at the level of cell multiplication, but it must move into the realm of church planting because church planting is the best way to fulfill the great commission of Jesus Christ.

The beauty of a simple cell church is that it’s reproducible.

A person who has led a cell, multiplied it, and coached the daughter cell leader(s) has completed the core basics of cell church planting. Such a person is a prime candidate for future church planting—anywhere in the world.