Cell Leadership-Pt.5



            Admittedly, at times this study has seemed  very broad. For example,  I am aware that entire tutorials  have been written on Biblical leadership, church growth leadership, and  situational leadership. Here, I have simply included them  as important issues.

Although the leadership topics have been broad, the ever present challenge in this tutorial  has been to include  only the leadership theory  that best applies to the cell church-- and more specifically to the cell church in Latin America.  My hope is that this tight relationship is evident throughout.

            As we have seen,  in the cell church there are a variety of applications to leadership models and theory.  We  looked at  the ever present need for new cell leadership  in a church which is rapidly multiplying cell groups.  We saw that in the cell church,  leadership training  begins when a new covert is added to the cell group for the first time. Instead of creating an additional structure to care for the new convert, the cell church emphasizes “in-house” or  “in-cell” training. The goal is to turn the zealous new convert into an effective cell leader who will in turn train others. A number of leadership models were also examined, and it was determined that the Cho model is the most complete.

Beyond models of training, we delved into the content of the training. Specifically what kind of content is needed to raise up unapologetic church growth leadership within the cell church.  Throughout this tutorial, I have not tried to hide my bias toward church growth leadership. As I have mentioned many times, I view cell-based ministry as a very important methodology in the larger discipline of church growth, and not as an end in itself.  Keeping in mind the various levels of leadership in the cell church, I tried to apply  principles to cell leaders and paradigms to top leadership,  although these categories are more fluid than stringent.

For me,  the most important part of  this study was the last chapter. I have become increasingly aware of the need to deeply understand Latin culture in order to properly apply  leadership theory and principles. Too often, there is a wholesale application of North American leadership  to Latin culture that fit no better than  Saul’s armor on   the boy  David.

Since I have tried to apply leadership theory to cell based ministry along the way,   I will not repeat myself here. Simply to say that  cell-based ministry offers some  exciting leadership challenges. Perhaps cell-based leadership  can  best be described as extended leadership since a giant net of leadership is needed. Although strong, charismatic leadership is essential in the cell church, there is no such thing as the super pastor---the one who  does everything himself. Rather, leadership in  the cell church is distributed throughout, so that it reaches down to the  lowest denominator. From this study, I think we can conclude that although the need for leadership is great in the cell church, the potential is even greater for raising up an army of  church growth leaders through the cell church.

APPENDIX: Dr. bobby clinton’s leadership research  

            To be honest, I was not sure where to place Dr. Clinton’s research on leadership.  It does not qualify for pure church growth leadership theory, nor does it apply specifically to one particular level of cell leadership. Nor do I believe that knowledge of Clinton’s literature is essential for success in the cell church today. Rather, I view his  research as more qualitative and reflective in nature. It gives  a leader the chance to examine his or her  life from the perspective of God’s  sovereignty.  It can bring  clarity as the leader’s giftedness and future ministry focus. weakness, and possibilities for the future.

Clinton has written and taught on a number of areas which include: Leadership Theory, Leadership Giftedness, Leadership Training Models, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership In The Bible, Change Dynamics, Mentoring, and Leadership Emergence. In this appendix, I will include only two areas of Clinton’s research that I feel might most directly apply to a cell leadership or top leadership in the cell church (i.e., section leader, zone leader, district pastor, or senior pastor).  

Emergence Theory  

            Perhaps, the concept of Emergence theory can best be described  by the quote,  "If you know that God will be developing you over a lifetime, you'll most likely stay for the whole ride" (1988:23). His basic thesis  is that, "God develops a leader over a lifetime.

            His theory comes from studying some 800 leaders. [1] Clinton sees 5 major stages of leadership development. The following chart helps clarify :

TABLE 17  


(Adapted from Clinton 1988) 

¨       Sovereign Foundations


¨       In this phase, God is working in the leader personality to make him the man that God  wants him to be.

¨       Inner-Life Growth


¨       Usually, in this stage, the leader receives some kind of training. It might be Bible School. Yet, for the most part, God is preparing the leader.

¨       Ministry Maturing


¨       In this stage, the leader gets more ministry experience. This is often more incidental than intentional. In the first three stages, God is concentrating on the leader. God is more interested in the inward development of the leader himself. 

¨       Life Maturing




¨       In this stage, the leader identifies his gift-mix and uses it with power. "God uses one's life as well as gifts to influence others. This is a period in which giftedness emerges along with priorities." (1988:32)

¨       Convergence


¨       He views convergence as that place in which everything works together. Gift-mix, location, experience, & temperament all seem to flow together during this stage. He gives a warning, "Not many leaders experience convergence. Often they are promoted to roles that hinder their gift-mix. Further, few leaders minister out of what they are. In convergence, being and spiritual authority form the true power base for mature ministry." (1988:33)

¨       He talks about leaders becoming stagnant in ministry. They fail to move on any further. "Leaders have a tendency to cease developing once they have some skills and ministry experience. They may be content to continue their ministry as is, without discerning the need to develop further (1988: 115)"

            That development is a function of the use of events and people to impress leadership lessons upon a leader. This development of a leader (or processing) is central to Dr. Clinton’s leadership  theory. He has discovered  that all leaders can point to critical incidents in their lives where God taught them something very important" (1988:24). One of the key concepts in Clinton’s  Emergence theory is how God uses tests, challenges, and trials to mold us and shape us. These tests are called process items. Clinton states, “Upon successful completion of the ministry task, the leader is usually given a bigger task" (1988:34). He then adds,  "Can you be faithful in little things? You may not see the importance of small tasks now, but can you do faithfully what is given you? If you can, then you'll be given greater things. If not, God will have to teach the same lesson again" (1988:35). He elaborates on a number of tests that he has noticed in the lives of great leaders. Some of them include:

1.     Integrity testing

Will the leader respond honestly?

2.     Obedience test

       Will  the leader  be obedient to the voice of God? He says, "A leader who repeatedly demonstrates that God speaks to him gains spiritual authority" (1988:69). A leader first learns about personal guidance for his own life. Having learned to discern God's direction for his own life in numerous crucial decisions, he can then shift to the leadership function of determining guidance for the group that he leads (1988:127).  

3.     Submission test

      Will the leader  submit to that person that God has placed over him?  He writes, "A developing leader will usually struggle with someone who is in authority over him. Learning submission is critical to learning what authority is, so emerging leaders must first learn to submit" (1988:81). He goes on to say, "An important thing to keep in mind is that the ultimate assignment is from God, even if the ministry task is self-initiated or assigned by another” (1988: 83).  

TABLE 18   


(Adapted from Clinton 1989)  



1.     Effective leaders maintain a posture of learning throughout their lives.

2.     Effective leaders value spiritual authority as their power  base.

3.     Effective leaders make the selection and formation of new leadership a chief priority.

4.     Effective leaders that have been  productive throughout their lives have a clear, dynamic philosophy of ministry.

5.     Effective leaders evidence a growing knowledge of their sense of destiny.

6.     Effective leaders perceive their ministry in future terms in an ever-increasing way. 


1.     When Christ calls leaders, He plans to develop all of their potential. Every leader is responsible to continue developing him or herself to the fullest possible potential. .

2.     One of the key functions of leadership is raising up new leadership.

3.     Leaders should develop a philosophy of ministry which honors Biblical values, is relevant to the times, and encompass the leader’s own giftedness.

4.     Ministry flows from being. A leader must continually develop his or her spiritual power.


            Leadership development theory can be very helpful in the life of  cell leadership. It is always beneficial to meditate on how God has prepared us through His sovereign working. This theory can also suggest future direction as well.  


            The reason that I chose mentoring among Clinton’s research is because it might help a cell leader more effectively raise up the cell intern. Clinton has written an important book on the subject called, The Mentor Handbook (1991).  


Clinton defines mentoring as: A relational process,

·        In which someone who knows something, the mentor

·        Transfers that something (the power resources such as wisdom, advice, information, emotional support, protection, linking to resources, career guidance, status)

·        To someone else, the mentoree, At a sensitive time so that it impacts development (2-4)  

Basic Characteristics Of Mentor—Mentoree Training  

            There are some basic considerations in the mentor-mentoree training process:  

·        Attraction of the mentoree to the mentor

People have a tendency to try to live up to the genuine expectations of those they admire and respect. The attraction must be both ways.

·        Accountability

·        Relationship

·        Responsiveness  

Type Of Mentoring Models  

            Clinton has demonstrated that mentoring covers a wide variety of relationships.  The following chart will help to clarify those categories:

TABLE 19  


(Adapted from Clinton 1991)  




Þ      Discipler

A mature follower of Christ helping a immature Christian grow in the Christian habits

Þ      Spiritual Director

A spiritual person developing a person who needs to develop spiritually

Þ      Coach

Clinton says,   “A relational process, in which a person who knows how to do something very well, imparts that capacity to someone who desire to learn” (5-3)

Þ      Counselor

Very much like a normal counselor. One finds formalized counselors who make a profession of helping the body of Christ through counseling. There are others who counsel on a more informal basis (6-3).

Þ      Teacher

This is your normal gifted teacher who teaches knowledge to people with a specific need to learn who are motivated by the teacher to put their knowledge into action

Þ      Sponsor

This is a person with influence who lifts up a young, emerging leader. He might do this by encouraging him/her or recommending him/her.

 Clinton says, “Frequently there are good potential leaders within an organization waiting to be discovered by those above. Without that discovery they may never rise to their potential and contribute to the organization. Either they will languish or leave the group for greener pastures” (8-1).


Þ      Contemporary           Model


Oftentimes, we’ll be attracted to follow a person who has gifts like our own. Clinton says, “Gifted people attract like-gifted people” (9-10).

Þ      Historical Model

His basic point here is that we can be mentored vicariously by those who have gone before us.

Þ      Divine Contact

   Clinton says, “ God sometimes sends along a divine contact to mentor us in some special way whether we want it or not. We should be prepared to recognize them and respond accordingly to God’s empowerment through them” (11-1).


            As the chart demonstrates, mentoring might be an active discipleship relationship, an occasional contact, or even a relationship with a person via books or example. I  believe that this is a helpful clarification.  


            I have found this section  one of the most helpful.  Co-mentoring is when two people come together on a regular basis to hold each other accountable.  Clinton says, “It seems that because both parties are at about the same developmental level in terms of age, situational pressures, spiritual maturing and ministry experience that there exists the possibility for more honest openness to come into play” (13-1). The relationship is the key dynamic here. It’s not the type of mentoring. There must be an attraction and respect for one another. It should be ‘fun’ to be with that person. Clinton says, “Relaxed times together are just as important as serious times together” (13-2).

            As I mentioned previously, the need for new leadership in the cell church is enormous.  A cell leader should know how to mentor someone from within the group who will eventually lead another group. The relationship that the cell leader has with his intern will vary according to the situation and needs of the intern (situational leadership). Therefore, Clinton’s study on mentoring gives the cell leader new, more creative options.




Comiskey Home Page

Cell Research 



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[1] I have become increasingly concerned about the lack of distinction between leaders and non-leaders in Clinton’s framework. For example, Clinton talks about God’s preparation in the life of a potential leader through various checks. However, are not those checks used in the life of Christian non-leaders? At times, it seems that Clinton is simply reiterating what the Bible says about every Christian—not necessarily Christian leadership.  He has arrived at his theories by using the  grounded research technique (discovering patterns and similarities among leaders). However, he has not used grounded research to study non-leaders, so I wonder how specifically  his research relates to leadership.







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