By Joel Comiskey, free teaching videos on leading small groups, Summer 2021
Just as a developing baby needs the proper conditions within the uterus to thrive outside, healthy disciples grow as they are developed in healthy cells. What are the key signs that disciples have been formed within the cell and ready to give birth?
Sign #1: Is Community Taking Place?
If a new cell multiplies that hasn’t experienced true community, there’s a good chance it won’t survive. Before multiplication happens, those in the cell should first experience what it means to be the family of God. If community is not happening in the mother cell, what will the new group have to offer?
Sign #2: Is Everyone Participating?
A group is not ready to multiply unless the group members are actively ministering to one another, applying the word of God to real life, and actively using their gifts. The disciples who will eventually lead the daughter cell are best prepared in this type of environment. Future disciples will also need to know how to identify their own gifts and help others in finding and using theirs. They need to first witness an organic, dynamic cell group, so they can reproduce the same thing in the daughter cell.
Sign #3: Is the Group Evangelizing?
If the mother cell group has not practiced evangelism together, most likely the daughter group won’t practice it either. And if the mother cell is ingrown, future disciples who will lead the new group won’t have a positive mental image of what they are supposed to do.
Sign #4: Are New Disciples Formed?
If no one is being formed in the group to lead the next group, multiplication won’t take place. It’s possible to envision and even set goals for cell multiplication, but if a potential new disciple-maker is not moving through the birth canal, multiplication won’t take place.
While the new disciples are being formed within the cell, they are also being shaped by the discipleship equipping that takes place outside the cell group. It’s this one-two punch that helps cell churches excel in the discipleship-making process.
Even though a person has completed the discipleship equipping, faithfully participated in the cell group, and is considered FAST (faithful, available, servant-hearted, and teachable), it doesn’t mean that the new disciple is ready to lead a group—or even be part of a discipleship team. There might be hidden character flaws that would hinder leadership involvement and ultimately cause problems down the road. This is why it’s important that upper-level leadership approve the new candidate before he or she is placed on a new leadership team.