The reason the cell group philosophy hasn’t grown many churches

The senior pastor is the key to growing the church using cell groups

Whether cell groups will work or not to grow the church depends on ONLY one thing: who leads the program? If anyone leads the program apart from the senior pastor, I can assure you that it won’t work. The senior pastor has so much influence that for members to buy into the idea, it must come from him as the main champion of the program. If you want to start the cell group ministry in your church and the senior pastor sees it as another program, believe me it won’t do well. The key to a multiplying church through cell groups depends on if the senior pastor is the one who is seen to be the champion of the whole thing. I list below ALL the things I believe the senior pastor must be doing for this to happen. If you are a senior pastor reading this and you don’t do any of these, now you know why the cell group ministry isn’t multiplying your church. Pastor Yonggi Cho mentioned it and I heard Bishop Oyedepo reiterate it. Backed by my experience, I fully agree with why they devoted whole chapters in their books to why the senior pastor must be the main champion or it wouldn’t work.

A small group coach once said: I encourage lay people in my seminars not to attempt to transition to the cell group church philosophy. They must, rather, pray for their pastor to catch the vision, as well as invite him to attend a cell seminar, provide literature, etc. A church will never go beyond the level of a church with cells unless the senior pastor is sold on the cell church vision and is openly promoting it. If you want to cast the vision as the main champion of cell groups, these are the things you should consider doing as the senior pastor:

1. Lead a cell group yourself and multiply it.

Don’t leave it for the others but be the good example in this first. I have always been the first of anything I have wanted my leaders to emulate. I was the first cell group leader to multiply my group. I was the first cell leader to be leading 2 groups even though I was the pastor. All these examples tell everyone else that they can also do it and it’s the main thing.

2. Always give a yearly vision and emphasize it a lot in your sermons.


Move everyone towards that vision. Send the message quite clearly that the cell groups are the main way of reaching the vision. Every year, I tell my members and make banners of our yearly goal for souls: 100, 200 etc.

3. Have a weekly relationship with your cell group leaders/coaches

I recommend the following coaching order:

Receive from God

Listen to the leader

Encourage the leader

Care for the leader

Develop/train the leader

Strategize with the leader

Challenge the leader

Be the first to celebrate any cell group victories. Celebrate new cell leaders. Celebrate new cell groups. Celebrate members who join and become active in cell groups. That kind of celebration should come from the senior pastor.

4. Prepare your sermon outlines to be used in the cell group discussions.

Personally, prepare it yourself till you get to the point, you wouldn’t get the time to do it. Instead of just giving them a book for every cell leader to flow with, write septs from the book so every cell group will be doing the same thing. It’s to your benefit. Appendix F shows you an example of how the cell group discussion format prepared by the pastor should look like. This should be a weekly activity

5. Including cell ministry testimonies in the sermon.

You can receive these testimonies from the cell leaders if you follow Appendix F.

6. Devote 2 sermon series every year to talk about the cell group philosophy and its benefits.

Encourage them all to join. When the pastor preaches a sermon series on cell groups, the members take it seriously.

7. Bi-weekly meeting to review cell group data

We are talking about data from Appendix D. Anyone who fails to complete it before the meeting should be charged a fine. I charge $50 for forgetting it so that you send the message to everyone else that the cell data is very important. Remember you are a cell leader yourself so this affects you if you forget.

8. Bi weekly meeting to empower cell leaders.

You can use the same time and intertwine it with reviewing the cell group data. Truthfully speaking, they need a lot of encouragement and empowerment. Use these periods to show them what to do.

9. Communicate relevant things about cell groups regularly

if you are on twitter, tweet about cell groups from time to time. If you are on Whatsapp, make images of cell group information and post them regularly. Have Facebook posts regularly on cell groups especially to inspire people to join one.

These are the things that usually show that the senior pastor has fully bought into the idea of the cell group ministry. Do this and watch the church grow through the cells.

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