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How to Lead Your Small Group Like a Sports Team

by Brian Kannel

True confession: I’m kind of a sports nerd. I don’t follow as much as I used to (four kids and a growing church tend to shift priorities), but I still love to see the various storylines unfold in the world of sports. Among the most fascinating things to watch is the effect of coaching on a team. The coach never walks onto the field of play.

The coach doesn’t play defense. The coach doesn’t execute the fundamentals within the heat of the game. However, despite that reality, the coach can have a huge affect on the game!

In my experience, the best denominational leadership teams act like good coaches. They encourage, give perspective, challenge at times, but ultimately, they recognize that we as pastors and church leaders are the ones that actually have to play the game. Therefore, they give the freedom necessary to be able to “play” according to the values of the system that we’re running—in this case, cell ministry.

However, as the “players,” there are some things that we can do to help our leaders have the tools to coach us well. It’s vital for them to understand both you and cell ministry as best they can. If they are open, here are a few suggestions as to how to help equip them to lead you more effectively as a cell church:

  • Recommend one key book that gives an overview of the values of cell ministry. Remember, they are very busy people, so don’t hand them your entire library! Choose one strategic book, ask them if they would be willing to read it over a period of time and then discuss it with you.
  • Invite them to attend your Celebration gathering as well as several Cell gatherings, not as a speaker or instructor, but simply as an observer. In our context, we’ve invited our District Superintendent to come for a week, attend our Celebration and then visit cells throughout the week. I, then, spent time debriefing with him afterward about the experience.
  • If there are multiple cell churches within your denomination and geographical region, consider putting together a forum for discussion around a specific cell topic (multiplication, development of leaders, communication of values, etc.) and then invite the cell pastors and leaders to be involved and your denominational leadership to observe.
  • Consider having Joel Comiskey present a seminar on cell ministry for interested pastors and leaders within your district or region. In some instances, denominations would be willing to fund this as continuing education for their pastors!

These are just a few ideas—the goal, as you can tell, is helping them to understand as much as possible about us as cell churches. From that perspective, then, they are able to invest in us and our churches strategically. However, we have to remember that we are still the players who are actually on the field, and we must ultimately make the decisions as to whether or not a specific play fits within the system we’re running.

Denominational leadership, when given a basic understanding of cell ministry, can be a huge asset to the cell church by giving an outside perspective on what’s happening and giving insights that we might otherwise miss. We need to always remember that the primary goal of all ministry is the glory of Jesus and the expansion of His Kingdom—healthy cell ministry is simply a means to that end.

And that’s a goal that we can all agree on!

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JCG is a tax exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to helping complete the great commission in this century by providing resources and coaching to plant new cell churches and transition existing churches to cell-based ministry.