Cell Leadership-Pt.3


Cell Leadership-Pt.4

chapter 4:foundational  PRINCIPLES FOR CELL LEADERs  

            In the last chapter, we discussed various cell leader training models which describe both the pre-cell leader training as well as post-cell leader training.  Now we turn to the content of the training. What are the essential leadership principles that a cell leader or potential cell leader needs to know in order to be effective?  

Difficulty In Identifying  Leadership Characteristics  

Before I present some important cell leadership  principles, it is important to remember that lists of  effective leadership characteristics abound. I did a comparison of leadership  characteristics listed in five  popular leadership books and found a lot of variation. The following table demonstrates what I am saying: 



Spiritual Leadership

by J. Oswald Sanders

Leadership that Endures in a World That Changes

by John Haggai

Leadership Style of Jesus

by Michael Youssef

Learn to be a Leader

by G.S. Dobbins

Leaders Are Made; Not Born

by Ted Engstrom

·        Discipline

·        Vision

·        Wisdom

·        Decisiveness

·        Courage

·        Humility

·        Integrity

·        Humor

·        Patience

·        Friendship

·        Prudence

·        Inspirational

·        Decision Maker

·        Listener

·        Prayer warrior

·        Reader

·        Organizer

·        Vision

·        Goal setter

·        Lover

·        Humility

·        Self control

·        Risk taker

·        High energy

·        Perseverance

·        Authority

·        Knowledge

·        Courage

·        Friendliness

·        Tradition breaker

·        Generous

·        Truthful

·        Forgiving

·        Good health

·        Physically attractive

·        Intelligent

·        Superior education

·        Clear ideals

·        Enthusiastic

·        Perseverance

·        Capacity to learn

·        Integrity

·        Good reputation

·        Faithful

·        Integrity

·        Visionary

·        Willingness to deal with obstacles

·        Ability to receive correction

·        Flexible

·        Committed to people

       From my study of what other authors had to say about leadership characteristics, I came up with a wide varieties of answers. I am not saying that such lists are useless, but I am saying that they are certainly not conclusive. They seem to give validity to what  Bennis and Nanus say, “…leadership is the most studied and least understood topic of any in the social sciences,…Leadership is like the Abominable Snowman, whose footprints are everywhere but who is nowhere to be seen” (1985:20).

Actually, I think that one needs to be careful when promoting lists of leadership characteristics because scholars like Stogdill (1948) and  Fielder (1967) have already  demonstrated that leadership effectiveness is not only determined by a series of traits or characteristics. It is much more complex. The followers, the situation, and the leader must  be studied as a unit  to arrive at an accurate picture of effective leadership. Finney’s comments are instructive here, “A leader emerges from within a certain set of circumstances at a particular time. The context is all important. A small group can often be instructive in providing a useful microcosm of a church or other larger assembly of people” (1989:38).  

Biblical Leadership  

            When considering  the content of cell leadership training, I believe that the best place to start is the authoritative Word of God.  In order to avoid simply giving my own opinion about what made a Bible character effective, I decided to do a study on those passages which specifically  declare God’s requirements for leadership. 

Old Testament Principles

  The following table presents various principles  drawn from the Old Testament  where the text gives clear requirements to leaders:  



Exodus 18:25

Deuteronomy 17:15-20

I Samuel 16:7

II Samuel 23:3 &

Leviticus  25:43-53

·        Leaders of virtue

·        Delegation of responsibility


·        God’s election (v.15)

·        Committed believer (15)

·        Dependent on God (16-17)

·        An obedient student of the Bible (18,19)

·        Humility (v.20)

·        A dedicated heart to God


·        A reverence for  God


        When I do cell training, I know that I need to share the above leadership requirements because God has explicitly directed them to potential or existing leaders. It seems that the one requirement that stands out more than any other one is the necessity of dependence upon God. A cell leader must be continually dependent upon God to give wisdom, direction, love for the people, and power.

            Anyone studying leadership in the Old Testament is obliged to take note of the life of Nehemiah. The principles derived from the study of  Nehemiah’s life  can be very instructive for cell leadership. With this mind, I studied the man Nehemiah with the hope of deriving various principles that might be helpful in my training of cell leadership. Here are the principles that I wrote down:  



A passion for the glory of God (1:4)

A dynamic life of prayer (1:5-11)

A willingness to fulfill  his own prayer  (1:11; 4:8,9)

A sacrificial life (2:1-7)

Wise plans (2:4-7)

A contagious vision ( 2:17, 18 & 4:1-14)

A just life ( 5:1-13)

A ministry of teaching ( 8:9, 18)

A hatred  of sin  (13:25)

         Nehemiah is an example of someone who got the job done—from beginning to end. He possessed God’s passion, was willing to get involved, knew what to get done, how to get it done, and was able to motivate people toward the fulfillment of his  goal. His vision was so utterly contagious to complete his God-given task,  he never allowed obstacles and difficulties to deter him.  Nehemiah’s first class leadership speaks to the cell church today.  

New Testament Principles  

            Using the same technique for the New Testament, I simply included those references which specifically are directed toward leaders and how they should behave.  The following table explains those passages:  



Mark 10:42-45

Acts 6:3

Romans 12:8

 Timothy 3:1-13 (Titus 1: 5-10)

·        Domination is the world’s leadership style

·        Servanthood is the leadership style of the disciple

·        Service through the cell ministry

·        A good testimony   

·        Filled with the Spirit

·        Filled with wisdom


·        Diligence


·        Social qualities

Ţ    A pure life (3:2,3)

Ţ    A good reputation (3:7)

·        Moral qualities

Ţ    'husband of one wife' (3:2)

Ţ    'not given to wine’ (3:3)

· . Mental qualities

Ţ    'respectable' (3:2)

Ţ    'self controlled' (3:2)

Ţ    ‘Able to teach’ (3:2)

· Personal qualities

Ţ    Gentle (3:3)

Ţ    Hospitable (3:2)

Ţ    Not  a lover of money (3:3)

· Domestic qualities

Ţ    house in order (3:2,4,5)


            One characteristic of leadership that is unique to the New Testament is the concept of  servanthood. Jesus modeled this attitude so perfectly when he washed the feet of His disciples (John 13). This characteristic  is also highly desirable in the cell leadership. Steve Barker points out,

To begin a cell group requires lots of service. Someone must decide who, when, where, why and how. This means that someone has to make the calls, find the house, set up the chairs, make the coffee, remind the people of the  meeting, and introduce everyone. Oftentimes it is a job without appreciation- but absolutely necessary. The service required before the actual cell meeting begins often makes the difference between the success or failure of the group (1985:44).  

        Effective leadership in the cell group requires a huge amount of service. Although it is always good to delegate, ultimately the cell leader is responsible for the activities in the group, the order of the meeting, where the group will meet, the refreshments, follow-up on the newcomers, etc.  

Essential  Church Growth Qualities  

            As I stated at the beginning, this present study is biased toward church growth leadership.  It is my conviction that the best type of cell leadership is church growth oriented. Bishop George Carey says,

You show me a growing church, where people are being added o the faith and growing in it, and you will be showing me effective leadership…Churches and fellowships grow because of visionary leadership. Conversely, when churches loses heart and fade away, often, although not always, it is connected with ‘leaders’ who cannot lead (forward in Finney 1989:ix).  

As part of the larger church growth movement, much of the success within the cell-based structure is due to church growth leadership. Normally, the top leadership has implemented the cell ministry because they are interested in ever expanding church growth. The most effective cell leaders are those who earnestly desire that their cell multiply.  The following are some of the foundational church growth qualities that I have embraced and urge cell leadership to internalize and practice.  

Goal Setting  

            I am a strong believer in goal setting. I will even be so bold to say that effective goal setting is the primary catalyst behind successful  church growth leadership. I believe that in order for cell groups to multiply rapidly,  the cell leader must set bold, clear  goals for the group. It is my strong suspicion that those  cell leaders who have  specific goals will multiply  more rapidly than  those who do not. 

            Donald McGavran, the father of church growth, states, Nothing focuses effort like setting a goal  (1990: 265). In his study on leadership, Ted Engstrom  concurs,   "The best leaders always had a planned course, specific goals, and written objectives. They had in mind the direction in which they wanted to go…”(1976:106).

            This confirms two significant research projects that measured church growth and direction in leadership. First,  John Wesley Hall Jr., who received his Ph.D. from Fuller Seminary, studied urban church leadership in  Latin American. John performed an in-depth statistical analysis of pastors from both large and small urban churches throughout Latin America. The statistics showed clearly that  pastors of larger churches were  directive and future oriented  in their leadership approach (1992:171-172). Second, Kirk Hadaway performed a survey in which he discovered that sixty-nine percent of growing churches set membership goals, as compared to forty-two percent of plateaued churches and thirty-two percent for declining churches. He concludes,

Growing churches are goal-directed. They set measurable goals for attendance, Sunday School classes, revivals, and for many other areas….Setting goals helps churches to grow….Goals provide direction and ensure that priorities (which flow out of purpose) are acted upon….Challenging goals have the potential for producing motivation and enthusiasm. Big plans create a sense of excitement if they are consistent with the mission and vision of a congregation and are not see as totally impossible” (1994:120-121).  

            This decisiveness that characterizes effective leadership must be connected with clear, reachable goals. Engstrom supports this conclusion. He  discovered that the most effective goals were very reachable. Referring to a leader’s  goals, he goes on to say, “They [goals] must be reachable within a particular time frame… “(1976:139). Hocking advises leaders to, “Set deadlines for your goals. When is a project completed? Most leaders find that they are more productive when they have deadlines” (1991:248). I would also add that goals should be visible. [1] Tom Peter gives this same advise in his book, Thriving On Chaos (1987:91).

            However, many leaders refuse to make goals. They behave like the person who  shot the arrow and then drew the bulls eye around the place where the arrow landed.  In other words, there is no goal, no bulls eye out in front.  These leaders meander aimlessly and accept  whatever  happens--often very little.  Talking about goal less leadership in plateaued churches, Hadaway writes,

…the pastor and laity in these churches may be working just as hard as their counterparts in growing congregations. Yet there is something lacking. The organization is not going anywhere, it is only seeking to maintain itself, rather than striving to become something better and to reach even more person with the gospel. Goals, when they exist at all, tend to be maintenance oriented rather than dealing with membership, attendance, and outreach (1991:111-112)  

            One thing that I have noticed about Paul Yonggi Cho is that he is  extremely focused.  He knows where his church is going and how it will get there. He is also  very  committed to setting church growth goals. In fact he  believes that it is essential for a church growth leader to set clear, measurable goals (1984:144-204). Cho says, “The number-one requirement for having real growth—unlimited church growth—is to set goals” (1982:162). He recommends four principles for setting goals:

1.     Set specific goals

2.     Dream about those goals

3.     Proclaim those goals to the church

4.     Prepare for the fulfillment of the  goals

            In training cell leadership these four basic steps are  a good place to start. Each cell leader should know when (it is preferable to have the exact date) the group is going to give birth to another group. [2] The cell leader should then dream about that goal,  proclaim the goal to the cell members and top leadership, and make all the needed preparations (as if the goal was definitely going to become a reality).

            Cho believes so much in  this principle that he  requires that his cell leaders practice it as well. Referring to the cell leaders in Cho’s church, Karen Hurtson writes, “Each cell leader is to pray that God will give him a specific number he and his group are to win to Jesus Christ that year” (1995:101).

John Mallison, the Australian small group expert,  recommends that  goal setting can be aided by the group claiming  the verse, ‘Unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’ (John 12:24). Of course, by that verse, he is referring to a group dying (not staying together) in order to give birth to a new one. He writes,

Let the goal be to grow to 10 or 12 members by the end of the first year….This becomes the group’s motivation for their life together—to grow to the point where they lose their original identity by dividing at the end of twelve months, to become the basis for two more groups with the same goal. As this process is repeated, so the redemptive fellowship of the original small group is multiplied (1989:22).  

Church Growth Attitudes  

            Along with goal setting,  church growth teaches that  there are three essential attitudes for leaders  to possess. They are:

1.     Obedience

            This is obedience to the Word of God. Biblical obedience is  primary. For this reason, I covered the Biblical principles of leadership first. 

2.     Optimism

            There were twelve leaders  who went to spy out  the promised land (Numbers 13, 14). All of them saw the giants and were faced with the same reality. However, only two of them saw beyond the problem to the power of God. It was Joshua and Caleb who maintained an attitude of optimism and urged the Israelites to trust God to defeat the giants (Numbers 13:30-33). 

            Optimistic cell leaders are  able to see beyond the many obstacles that confront them week after week. They have the faith to lay hold on  the God who “…calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). George Barna did a survey among  leadership in rapidly growing churches. He noticed this  pattern,

In the churches that have grown rapidly, the leaders have learned to dream and have the faith that the obstacles are opportunities. Negative attitudes are not permitted to influence these leaders…They believe that God can do anything and for this reason they make great plans and goals (1991:32,38).  

            On the other hand, cell leaders do get discouraged. Oftentimes, they are ready to throw in the towel. For this reason, the ongoing training sessions are exceedingly important. [3]   

3.      Pragmatism

            It was while reading Donald McGavran’s foundational work, Understanding Church Growth that I became a church growth enthusiast.  McGavran’s heartbeat for a lost world won me over. I became convinced that  church growth was a legitimate discipline  that was committed to evangelizing a  lost world.

            In my opinion, if there is one value that stands out about Donald McGavran, it was his commitment to  pragmatism. He writes,

Nothing hurts missions overseas so much as continuing methods, institutions, and policies which ought to bring men to Christ--but don't; which ought to multiply churches--but don't; which ought to improve society--but don't. We teach men to be ruthless in regard to method. If it does not work to the glory of God and the extension of Christ's church, throw it away and get something which does. As to methods, we are fiercely pragmatic--doctrine is something entirely different (quoted in Wagner 1973:146, 147).  

            I do not believe that  there is one  “right way” to lead a cell group. The “right way”  is the one that edifies the saints and attracts non-Christians to the group. If the cell leader has managed to multiply his group, he or she has done it the “right way”.  This pragmatic attitude characterized the life and ministry of John Wesley. Wilke notes,

John Wesley changed his structures and methods, almost against his will, in order to save souls. He didn’t want to use women, but he did in exceptional circumstances. The ‘exceptional’ became normal. He didn’t want to use lay pastors, but he did. They were able to reach the unbelievers. He didn’t want to preach in the open air, but he did so that more might hear the Word of God (Wilke 1986:59).  

            Tom Peters takes pragmatism one step farther when he says, “The best leaders…are the best ‘note-takers’, the best ‘askers,’ the best learners. They are shameless thieves” (1987:284). Instead of inventing something on your own, Peters recommends the title, “Swiped from the Best with Pride” (1987:284). Cell leaders do well to take this advice by stealing any  information,  methodology, or leadership style that will ultimately lead to the multiplication of the cell group.  

Visionary Leadership  

Vision is one of those qualities that everyone want to have, but no one really understands. Due to my lack of clarity on the subject, I often talk about vision, goal setting, optimism, and faith interchangeably.  And yes, there are many similarities.  Yet, there does seem to be one thing about vision  which everyone agrees upon---it is the one characteristic that all church growth leaders possess (Barna 1992:12). If this is true, it behooves us to understand what vision is and then to pass it on to cell leadership.  

Toward A Definition Of Vision  

When George Barna studied User Friendly Churches (1992), he became so  impressed by the relationship between church growth and visionary leadership that he wrote a  book on the subject entitled,  The Power of Vision. In it, he describes vision this way, 

Vision is a picture held in your mind’s eye of the way things could or should be in the days ahead. Vision connotes a visual reality, a portrait of conditions that do not exist currently. This picture is internalized and personal (1992:29).             

The “picture in your mind’s eye” sounds  strangely like what Paul Cho promotes in his landmark book,  The Fourth Dimension. Vision lies in the realm of the future and involves our dreams and aspirations. Bennis and Nanus state,

To choose a direction, a leader must first have developed a mental image of  a possible and desirable future state of the organization. This image, which we call a vision, may be as vague as a dream or as precise as a goal or mission statement. The critical point is that a vision articulates a view of a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization, a condition that is better in some important ways  than what now exists  

God Inspired Visions  

These dreams and visions are not concocted by our own human whims and emotions; rather they come from God. William Beckham writes,

Vision in a Kingdom sense means passion, calling, a compulsion from God, an oughtness. This kind of vision is not something I catch but something that catches me. I do not act upon this vision, it acts upon me….A vision is something working in our lives, not something we are working on” (1995:223).  

If God is the one who imparts dreams and vision, we must remember that His dreams are oftentimes much larger than our own. He has the means to accomplish any dream that He initiates. Barna says,

…His dreams are bigger than yours and that they call for you to expand the size of your mental playing field to accommodate His vision…Dreaming big, through God’s enablement, is also one means of allowing the church to see and to reflect God’s power and majesty (1992:107).  

Perhaps vision  can be best described best in terms of the  architect and the construction workers. Before the actual construction can begin, there must be a blueprint. The blueprint comes first; then the construction. This is the lesson that Stephen Covey would have us to capture. He  refers to vision as the first creation, the blueprint that must first appear before reality comes into being. Covey believes that it is the leader’s first task to nurture this first creation in the mind (1989:101ff).  

Vision Separates Leaders From Managers  

It is this distinction between the initial dream and the actual fulfillment that, perhaps more than any other trait,  separates leaders from managers.  The leader spends his time with the first creation, the vision. He meditates on the vision, he broadens it, he clarifies it, he synthesizes it, and he communicates it.  The manager on the other hand is like the construction worker who follows the blueprint, who manages the existing direction. Bennis and Nanus state,

We have here [vision] one of the clearest distinctions between the leader and the manager. By focusing attention on a vision, the leader operates on the emotional and spiritual resources of the organization, on its values, commitment, and aspirations. The manager by contrast, operates on the physical resources of the  organization,… (1985:92).  

Cell leaders should be encouraged to dream about their cell groups, to ask God to show them His desired direction for the group. This dreaming should cover the raising up of future cell leaders, the multiplication of the cell group, and the spiritual communion among members of the group. The cell leader should not spend all of his time doing the work of the ministry, at the expense spending time before the Lord. Perhaps, this is why leaders who pray often seem to be more effective in cell multiplication---they’ve spent more time receiving God’s vision for their cell group. [4]   Barna says, “…the vision-capturing process may be an ordeal. Hours and hours will be spent in prayer, in study,….Some leaders find this period very lonely” (1994:148).  

Communicating Vision  

Effective leaders not only meditate on their  vision, they also clarify it so that the followers will respond. Bennis and Nanus say, “Leaders are only as powerful as the ideas they can communicate” (1985:107). This is not an easy task. Followers are bombarded with a wide array of  images, signals, forecasts, and alternatives. However, this is where the genius of leadership lies. The effective leaders are able to take from the wide array of ideas and clarify  a vision for the future which is easy to understand, desirable, and energizing (Bennis and Nanus 1985:103).

 This clarification might be in the form of pithy phrases or  pictures. Bennis and Nanus call it the ability of a leader to “position” the vision in the hearts and minds of the followers. For example, Ray Kroc the driving force behind McDonald’s Hamburgers requires every executive office to carry this sign,

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with great talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts Persistence, determination alone are omnipotent (Bennis & Nanus 1985:45).  

            Rick Warren says, “The #1 task of leadership is to continually clarify and communicate the purpose of the organization (Warren 1995:10). He understands that great leaders use symbols and slogans to communicate their vision.  In his popular church growth seminars, he makes a strong plea for pastors to clearly communicate their vision  through slogans, symbols, stories, and Scriptures. [5]   After the vision has been clarified and made simple enough so that the followers can comprehend it, effective leaders use every opportunity to communicate it. Barna says, “Those leaders who have been most successful contend that you must take advantage of all opportunities, at all times, to share the vision (1994:143).  

The Practical Side Of Vision  

Vision should not be  considered only some esoteric, spiritual experience. There are some very practical considerations as well. First, a vision must be realistic and not overly  idealistic or  the followers will become disinterested (Nanus 1992:168). [6]   Second, a vision must change to adapt to an ever-changing context. In his book, Visionary Leadership, Burt Nanus talks about vision and change (1992:162-163). He believes that a vision which is not adjusted to reality will probably fizzle out. To avoid this, the vision should be  monitored and tracked (1992:159-161). Peters notes, “The vision must act as a compass in a wild and stormy sea and, like a compass, it loses its value if it’s not adjusted to take account of its surroundings” (1987:488).

Finally, dreaming or having a vision is never an end in itself. Successful leaders all seem to have this one thing in common. They are able to translate intention into reality and to sustain it (Bennis and Nanus 1985:226). They are not content with merely dreaming. They must see their dreams turn into reality.  

Vision And Cell Multiplication  

Multiplication does not  naturally happen. Just the opposite.  The actual tendency is for cell groups to look inward. Close relationships have developed; fun times have been shared. Why even think about forming a new group?  It is precisely at this point that without a vision the people perish (Proverbs 28:19). It is here that the vision for cell multiplication is absolutely necessary.   This vision can only come from one place: Leadership.  I’m referring to top leadership, section leaders (L’s), cell leaders, and intern leaders.

Cells will not multiply in the church unless the top leadership (pastoral team) intentionally motivate the cells leaders to make cell multiplication  the chief priority. This primarily takes place in the ongoing training times, but it also should  be heard in the announcements, the sermon, and the award ceremonies (in honor of  cell groups that have given birth)  Again, the goal of the top leadership is to instill this vision for cell multiplication into the thinking of the cell leaders. Ultimately, the cell leaders are the ground troops who make it happen.

How do the cell leaders actually make it happen? I’m sure there are many factors. My field research will largely be dedicated to isolating some of those variables. However, I suspect that much of it has to do with expectation that come from the God-given vision. By faith, the cell leader expects that  his group will multiply and   constantly communicates this expectation with the members of the cell.  It is not enough to dream and pray. The dreaming and praying must lead to expectation  that results in practical step by step planning  (Cho 1982:166). In commenting on the miracle of Paul Cho’s church and how it grew from twenty small groups to fifty thousand small groups, Hadaway says, “…the numbers continued to grow because a growth strategy was built into each cell group” (1987:19).

It is this type of ‘built in strategy’ or  ‘ genetic code’   that is placed into the each cell group through the leader’s vision and dreams.  Karen Hurtson talks about one cell leader named Pablo, who shares with the group his vision for multiplication  before every meeting. The people in Pablo’s group have a very positive idea about cell group multiplication. They see the multiplication of their group as a sign of success (Hurtson 1995:12).  Karen Hurtson writes about another group in Shreveport, Louisiana, that baked a cake and had a party before giving birth to a daughter cell. Hurtson comments, “…they understood that multiplying was a sign that their group had been effective, an event worth celebrating” (Hurtson 1995:12). [7]  

The Devotional Life Of A Leader  

            If there was one discipline that I could instill in the life of every cell leader, it would be the  discipline of having regular, daily devotions. I personally believe that this is the most important discipline of the Christian life. I believe that all of my “successes”   (family,  ministry, and life in general) can be traced back to  my daily devotional life. It is during my  time with Jesus that he transforms me, feeds me, directs me, and shows  me new revelation.  Chua Wee Hian writes, “Leadership is exciting and exacting, and spiritual leaders have to give themselves unstintingly to meet the needs of their people. Unless our inner lives are renewed and replenished, there will be little depth to our ministry” (1987:94).

            As the cell leader spends daily time with the King of Kings, he or she will be renewed with optimism, filled with fresh vision, enabled to plan more effectively, and receive new guidance for the  cell group.  One of the questions that I will be asking cell leaders in Latin America is about their daily quiet times in order to see if  there is a connection between this  time and cell multiplication. I suspect that there is.  

The Pastoral Role of the Cell Leader  

            Some people have trouble calling cell leaders “pastors”. I do not. It is my conviction that cell group are mini-churches within the larger local church structure,  and that the pastors of these mini-churches are the cell leaders. [8]   After all, the cell leaders truly do the work of a pastor.  The cell pastor fulfills every Biblical principle required of a pastor:

1.     Care for the sheep (Acts 20: 28,29)

The cell leader must visit, counsel, and pray for the sick flock. It is his responsibility to care for  his cell like a shepherd cares for his flock.

2.     Know the sheep (John 10: 14,15 )

Effective cell leaders get to know each person who enters the group. Neighbour recommends that the cell leader conducts an interview with the new member. He says,

Nothing can substitute for personal time with each member of your flock! It will be in such private times that you will discern their value systems and deepest needs. While you will usually have your Intern at your side whey you visit, there will be times when more private sessions may help you gain special insights into each persons (1992:42).


3.     Seek the sheep (Luke 15:4)

Jesus talks about leaving the flock of one hundred sheep to seek the one that has gone astray. Knowing that a Satanic dominated world is always at work in the lives of the cell members, a true shepherd will go after the  sheep when they cease to attend.

4.     Feed the sheep (Psalm 23: 1-3)

Although the cell group is not a Bible study, the Word of God always has a central place.  Normally, the lessons  are based upon passages from Scripture that have been broken down into relevant application questions. Oftentimes, the cell leader must spend more times meditating on the Scripture beforehand for a cell lesson than a Bible Study/Sunday School lesson.  The cell leader must know the passage so well that he can lovingly draw the group into clear understanding of how the Bible applies to their daily lives. In this way, the sheep are fed and leave the cell group satisfied.

5.     Watch out for the sheep (John  10:10, Ephesians  6:12)

      Satan walks about like a roaring lion hoping to devour God’s flock (I Peter 5:8,9). In many churches, Satan has free reign to attack God’s flock because the span of care between lay person and pastor is huge. In the cell church,  every ten members is under the care and guidance of  the cell pastor and the cell intern, who are responsible to protect their sheep.  Paul’s advice to the pastors in Ephesus is helpful to every cell leader,

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! (Acts 20:28-31).  

            Satan doesn’t only attack from without; he also raises up self-proclaimed leaders from within who use a Christian small group  gatherings  to create  division with the goal of attracting a  following. Problem people are common in small groups and the cell shepherd must be careful that their behavior does not negatively affect his cell flock (George 1990:105, 110).  

The Communication Role Of The Cell Leader  

            The cell leader has a unique role. His job is not to preach, teach, nor lead a service. Rather, the goal is communication, interaction, and participation  among the members of the group.  Because of this, I have found that the more training that a potential or experienced cell leader can receive in the art of small group dynamics, [9] the more effective she will be as a leader. David Hocking says, “Communication is the name of the game! It’s not an option or a creative alternative—it’s essential for good leadership! Without communication, leadership cannot exist” (1991: 56).  

Create Responsiveness  

            The leader would be wise to note that his actions, attitudes, and responsiveness will either stimulate others to share and communicate or cut them off  (Hamlin 1990:51-80). This responsiveness is often communicated  through  gestures of the cell leader. Does the cell leader respond with a smile, a nod of the head, an offer to help or  does he have a scowl on his face, show little responsiveness, and delay acting upon the needs of those present. The leaders own responsiveness through actions and gestures will set the tone of the cell meetings.

            Another essential link to creating responsiveness is listening.  One chapter in Tom Peters book, Thriving On Chaos, is called ”Become Obsessed With Listening”. He understands that for a company to make it in such a competitive, ever-changing world,  it must know the needs of its customers and respond accordingly. Listening is the key that provides needed customer information.  Peters says, “Listening to customers must become everyone’s business.  With most competitors moving ever faster, the race will go to those who listen (and respond) most intently” (1987:176). 

            The leader must have the same attitude in the cell group. What the cell members have to say during the cell meeting is the most important part. And cell members know when the cell leader has listening or not listened carefully.  Stephen Covey hits a  common flaw in our human nature when he says,  “Most people do not listen to understand; They listen in order  to answer. While the other is talking, they are preparing their reply" (1989:239). How often have I watched a cell leader rustling through his notes in preparation for the next question, while a cell member was attempting  to answer the  question raised by the cell leader.  When the cell member senses that the leader is not listening he or she will be hesitant  to respond to the next question.



[1] Much of the church growth success that we experienced at the  El Batán Church in Quito, Ecuador had to do with the passion that possessed the leadership team to set clear, specific church growth goals and then to visibly display those goals on a huge plastic poster board.

[2] This is one of the questions that I will be asking cell leaders throughout Latin America, “Do you know when your group is going to give birth to another one?”

[3] I noticed that Larry Stockstill encourages his leaders every Wednesday. He gives them words of vision, encouragement, hope, and appreciation. At times, I am sure that Larry feels like he is repeating himself. Yet, I have become increasingly convinced that this ongoing vision casting time will make or break a cell ministry.

[4] I will never forget the response of  Carl, a leader at Bethany World Prayer Center  who  multiplied his cell group six times. When I asked him the reason for his success, he dogmatically asserted---prayer, prayer, amd prayer.

[5] On the other hand, Barna in his book, The Power of Vision,  advises the leader not to use slogans. He feels that slogans have a tendency of trivializing the vision rather than simplifying it (140). One of the subheadings reads, “Shelve the Slogans” (139).

[6] This seems to be a constant problem among Latin leadership. When working through their goals for the future, I have noticed a tendency to be highly unrealistic.

[7] I visited a cell group multiplication party at Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, Louisiana.

[8] Martin Bucer,  who utilized small groups during the reformation, and Philip Spener, who effectively used them right after the reformation,  never allowed their small groups to be called the church. To them,  the word “church” could only legitimately refer to the state church which gathered  on Sunday morning. They would not allow communion and other sacraments to be performed through the small group. Although I believe that cell groups should be connected to larger celebration events, I believe that they can perform all of the functions of the larger church.

[9] Small Group Dynamics has become a discipline or science in its own right.  Before I ever became interested in small group ministry, I remember taking a secular college course on small group dynamics—how to relate in a small group and how to improve communication in a small group.  Practically all secular organizations hold small group meetings, from boards to task forces. Therefore, there is a plethora of information concerning how to encourage small group interaction, which is generally referred to as “Small Group Dynamics”.








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