“The word training is too mechanical,” a pastor friend recently told me. “I want to equip my people in a relational way, and when you talk about thetraining track, it sounds like producing robots in a factory.” I argued my case, but I realized he had a very good point. His feedback stirred me to change my terminology, and in fact, I no longer use the word training. I now use the phrase discipleship equipping.
After all, Jesus told his disciples to make new disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). He didn’t tell them to go out and train people. You’ve probably heard me say over and over that the essence of cell-based ministry is to fulfill Christ’s great commission to make disciples who make disciples. Cell-based churches make disciples through the cell (small group) and celebration (large group). Yet, they also highlight a discipleship equipping route or path. Why do cell churches do this? Simply because believers need additional equipping.
The preaching in the larger celebration gatherings and the application of God’s Word in the cell don’t fully equip God’s people. For example, believers additionally need to know how to have theirdevotional time, how to evangelize, how to be set free from besetting sin, why it’s important to tithe, what is the meaning of baptism, and so forth. These important truths can easily be overlooked if the church only depends on the teaching that takes place in cell and celebration.
Cell churches, therefore, have developed a series of books or manuals that take people from A to B. Some key principles about this equipping are:
- Those who are taking the equipping should be in a cell group.
- The church should develop one equipping path that everyone is expected to complete.
- There are a wide variety of ways to teach the discipleship equipping (e.g., one-on-one, one-on-three, in a classroom setting, in a retreat, etc.).
People are often confused about the difference between the discipleship equipping and the cell lesson. The lesson and the equipping are two distinct entities:
- The cell lesson: This is what the cell facilitator uses during the cell meeting. The lesson is normally based on the pastor’s weekly sermon and is comprised of questions that focus on application that leads to transformation.
- The discipleship equipping: This is a series of manuals that teach basic doctrine, evangelism, spiritual disciplines, and small group dynamics. It is taught separately from the cell meeting and normally takes four months to one year to complete.
The purpose of the cell lesson is to apply God’s word to daily living and to evangelize non-Christians. It doesn’t specifically explain how to pray, read the Bible, have a devotional time, receive freedom from besetting sin, and other aspects of the Christian life, which are essential for discipleship.
During the month of April, we’ll be exploring different aspects of discipleship equipping. We’ll answer questions like: “How do cell churches practically teach their discipleship equipping?” and “What are some examples of discipleship equipping?” We will write twenty blogs on this topic in the month of April. If you’d like to receive these blogs in your email inbox each day, please sign up HERE. We’ll cover:
- Week 1 (April 06-12).The general theme about discipleship equipping. All cell churches take people from A to B through proactive equipping. Why? Because cell members won’t get everything from the preaching or the cell lesson. They need additional biblical instruction and application.
- Week 2 (April 13-19). Practical examples. We will be covering some great examples of discipleship equipping. We’ll look at some equipping paths that cell churches use today.
- Week 3 (April 20-26). Discipleship equipping principles. We’ll look at the main principles to follow when developing a discipleship equipping path.
- Week 4 (April 27-May 03). Most cell churches start with using someone else’s materials, and then they adapt those materials to their own reality. We will share some examples during this week.
What kind of discipleship equipping are you using in your church? What have you learned that you’d like to share with others? Please feel free to comment HERE.
Read chapters of Joel’s 2013 book, Making Disciples in the 21st Century Church
2014 JCG Events
—We will have a second JCG event in the Elim Church in Houston, Texas on May 17, 2014. Mario Vega and Joel Comiskey will be ministering in Spanish and simulaneous English translation will be available. Place it on your calendar and register today for special deals. More information coming.
Trip to Israel on July 18- 28, 2014
–Daphne Kirk (Generation to Generation) and Joel & Celyce Comiskey (Joel Comiskey Group) will lead a team to Israel July 18-28, 2014. You are invited! Please click here for more information or email us here
May 2014 ministry of Joel Comiskey
New advanced training book available in Spanish
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—Read parts of Comiskey’s new book, Biblical Foundation for the Cell-Based Church
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