What Would You Do Differently?

by Joel Comiskey

Winter 2019

I love to listen to audio books. I’m currently listening to George W. Bush’s Decision Points, in which he describes the important decisions of his eight years as president of the U.S. When he left the presidency in 2009 his popularity rating was 33% but ten years later (2019) it stands at 61%. Why is this? 

One reason is because our memories tend to forget the negative with the passing of time. Another reason is Bush’s willingness to admit past failures. In Decision Points, Bush is quick to say, “If I could have done things differently, I would have. . .” He often points out that history is the ultimate judge of presidents and that hindsight is so much clearer than foresight.

How does this relate to cell church ministry? If you had perfect hindsight and were able to understand back then what you know now, what would you have changed? 

If you’re a pastor, maybe you would have emphasized the equipping track more or made your equipping simpler, less complicated. Maybe you would have emphasized coaching the leaders a lot more.

If you’re a cell leader, maybe you would have listened better or fine-tuned your lesson to include less questions. Maybe you would have multiplied leaders more rapidly or on the other hand, maybe you would have waited longer to make sure your leaders were truly prepared.

It’s often easier to look back at our cell church ministry and say, “with the perspective of hindsight, I would have done this or that differently.” We always have to remember that at each moment in time we are limited by our current understanding, maturity, circumstances, and insights.

As I look back at my own cell church experience, I would have done a lot of things differently but three come to mind:

  1. I would have focused on making disciples who make disciples as the chief motivation for cell ministry. I would have concentrated on the why of cell ministry more, which I now realize is to make disciples who make disciples. I would have geared my entire cell church philosophy on Christ’s last command to make disciples who make disciples, rather than church growth theory.
  2. I would not have ignored the essential role of community in small group ministry, knowing that God himself loves community and wants his church to practice the one-anothers. For a long time, I saw community as a hindrance to cell ministry. I was very zealous for evangelism and multiplication, but I felt that community was the enemy of rapid growth. I now realize that community is biblical and essential for long-term success.
  3. With regard to church planting, I would have waited longer before starting the weekly celebration service. I now realize that it’s essential to have a strong network of cell groups and people before having a weekly Sunday celebration.

What about you? if you had the benefit knowing back then what you know now, what would you have done differently.