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Growing in the Why of Cell Ministry
by Joel Comiskey
The age-old saying still rings true, “It’s not enough for a pastor to have a cell vision, the vision must possess the pastor.” I tell pastors in my seminars not to even start the cell transition until being 100% convinced. And after catching the vision, it’s best for the lead pastor to facilitate the first pilot group!
But how does the lead pastor and team keep growing in the cell vision–the why of cell ministry? I think the best foundation is God’s Word. When the pastor realizes that the New Testament atmosphere is house to house ministry and reads the Bible from this perspective, he or she will continually grow in the why of cell ministry during sermon preparation or even Bible reading. I strongly recommend my two books Biblical Foundations of the Cell-Based Church and the sequel Making Disciples in the Twenty-first Century Chuch to help establish and feed the vision. I know my research and study in writing these books has transformed my own perspective.
The next step is to live the cell vision. I always rejoice when a pastor believes in the cell vision to the point of actually leading a cell group, visiting cell groups, and prioritizing the staff’s progress in cell ministry. I was recently in Paulo Mazoni’s cell church in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and was pleasantly surprised to discover that every one of the pastoral staff (including Paulo) lead a cell group and are directly involved in overseeing the 1500 cell groups in the church. I don’t want to be legalistic here because not all lead pastors will facilitate their own cell group. Perhaps the pastor has another way to stoke the cell fire, the “why” of cell ministry.
The key is that the lead pastor and staff are living the life they want others to follow. Cell church success is not determined by how much a pastor talks about cell ministry from the pulpit, but rather by how much he actually lives the cell life and guides the cell vision from behind the scenes. I recently counseled a lead pastor who was making the cell transition to make sure he was moving his pastoral staff forward in the cell vision. I told him that he might even have to give a time-table to some staff members (who were wavering in their cell commitment) to either get on board or to serve Jesus somewhere else. Why is this so important? Partly because a lead pastor needs to be able to talk freely and boldly about the “why” of cell ministry in the staff meetings, the leadership meetings, and from the pulpit. In doing so, the motivation for cell ministry will be clearly kept in front of the people, and the church will continue to move forward.