Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

joel Last night, we as a family celebrated our last advent time before Christmas. We read from Luke 2 where the angels felt compelled to share the goodjesus news to the shepherds about an extraordinary babe in the manger. After reading the familiar passage, we went around as a family and answered the questions:

1. How has Christ’s birth transformed the world

2. How has Christ’s birth changed our own lives.

We talked about: 

  • Knowledge: Jesus gave us true knowledge of the Father. He portrayed a loving, caring Father–so different from the impersonal dieties of that time period. Jesus showed us that God is love. In fact, He loved the world so much He came down Himself to die for the sins of the world.
  • Purpose: the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus gives us reason to live. Christ’s birth and death sets us free to live holistic, joyful lives. We are not a freak accident of nature. Rather, God has a perfect plan for each of us, and one day we will live forever with Him in heaven.
  • Dignity: Christ’s birth among the lowly reminds us that God desires to reach all of His creation. While on earth, Jesus demonstrated his love for the oppressed, the impoverished, the sick, and those on the margins of society. Jesus gave new dignity to women. Christ’s birth gives new new confidence and hope.

Christmas is all about Christ, and we at JCG want to wish a very merry Christmas and happy new year.

Becuase of these important holidays, we will not be blogging for the next two weeks. We will continue this blog on January 05. Enjoy time with you families!

Joel Comiskey and the JCG team,

The Invitation to the Cell Meeting

marioby Mario Vega

Once the prayer process has been completed, the first contact has been made, the friendship promoted and a special gesture has been expressed, the person is finally ready to be invited to the cell meeting.

This invitation is not an isolated event but rather the continuation of a constant interest to help a person. In fact, the invitation to the cell meeting represents a more efficient way to help a person.

At the moment you interpenetrate with their problems and concerns, you can invite them to come to a cell meeting where they’ll meet another person who experienced similar problems but has found solutions. New friendships will provide support for the new person’s difficulties.

If this process to “make a new guest” is followed step by step, the person will not hesitate to attend the cell meeting. Once he or she does, we must keep on encouraging this person to continue to do so. The greater the number of times a person hears the gospel the greater the possibilities to be converted.

The road to bring a guest to the cell meeting may seem long, but every time you travel through it, a pattern is created that will soon become a lifestyle. It is the lifestyle of an evangelist.

Do you have the courage to do it?

Mario

Translation:

La invitación a la célula.

Una vez se ha completado el proceso de oración, establecer el primer contacto, fomentar la amistad y expresar detalles especiales, finalmente, la persona está lista para ser invitada a la célula.

Esta invitación no es un hecho aislado sino que es la continuación de un interés constante por ayudar a la persona. De hecho, la invitación a la célula se presenta como una forma de auxiliar más eficientemente a la persona.

Ya compenetrados de sus problemas y preocupaciones, se le ofrece ir a una reunión donde conocerá a otra persona que vivió problemas similares a los suyos y para los cuales encontró la solución. Se le ofrece nuevas amistades que le apoyarán en sus dificultades.

Si este proceso para ‘hacer un invitado’ se sigue paso a paso, la persona no pondrá reparos en asistir a la célula. Una vez lo haga, se le debe continuar animando a que siga haciéndolo. A mayor cantidad de veces una persona escucha la exposición del evangelio mayores posibilidades que llegue a la conversión.

El camino para llevar un invitado a la célula puede parecer largo; pero, cada vez que se transite irá creando una pauta que pronto se convertirá en un estilo de vida. Es el estilo de vida de un evangelizador.

¿Tienes ánimo para hacerlo?

Genius

Jeff Tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

www.bigbearchristiancenter.org

Genius; the ability to make complex things simple. 

Choose from the following list the activity you most regularly begin with in pursuit of your calling: Pray, think, read, sing, work, connect with others, write, avoid, postpone, gather information, just get started with whatever presents itself, delegate, prioritize.

Now, if you picked anything but the first word, PRAY, how are things going for you? Really? Jesus said “abide” or you will be fruitless. Once you abide, keep the outworking “simple”.  This is true genius; dependence upon God FIRST in prayer.  It is so simple that we miss it easily and substitute many activities in the place of “learn of me”.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light – how’s your load?

Do a quick word study on “commit” from Proverbs 16:3 – roll your works into God’s care. The picture is of a camel burdened with a heavy load: when the load is to be removed, the camel kneels down, tilts far to one side and the load rolls off.

Mary or Martha? Luke 10:42! Read it again, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Be a genius today! Keep your cell ministry simple from the start, don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Prayer

by Rob Campbell

www.cypresscreekchurch.com

This week, one of CCC’s network pastors relayed to me via email a few stories of life change.  I’m talking stories about salvation and redemption.  Nothing like these type of stories to provide wind for our sails, eh?

I’ve realized that each life changing story is hinged to prayer.  This reality encourages me to wrestle through the many hindrances that keep me from praying to a sovereign God.

Let me share a few words from Dom John Chapman (The Tablet, 1985).

“The only way to pray is to pray; and the way to pray well is to pray much.  If one has no time for this, then one must at least pray regularly.  But the less one prays, the worse it goes.  And if circumstances do not permit even regularity, then one must put up with the fact that when one does try to pray, one can’t pray– and our prayer will probably consist of telling this to God.  As to beginning afresh, or where you left off, I don’t think you have any choice.  You simply have to begin wherever you find yourself.  Make any acts you want to make and feel you ought to make, but do not force yourself into feelings of any kind…Yes, I suspect the only thing to do is to shut out….everything else, and just give yourself to God and beg him to have mercy on you, and offer him all your distractions.”

Henri Nouwen comments on Chapman’s words by writing, “It all boils down to his main point:  We must pray not first of all because if feels goods or helps, but because God loves us and wants our attention.”

Comments?

Rob

Help in Picking the Title for My Book on Community

joelCould you give me your help in picking the title for my next book (October 2009)? This book will be primarily on community (e.g., fellowship, relationships, communityetc.).  As you know this is an important theme in the cell church/small group world.

Yet, there are a lot of books on community, so we decided to focus on how a follower of Jesus needs to be more relational and community oriented. I will establish the problem (isolationism/individualism) and talk about how God uses community relationships to make us more like him. And yes, I will talk about how those leading future groups need to be shaped in community. 

My editor felt it would be best to use the term “disciple” or “discipleship” to broaden the audience (some won’t pick up a book on leadership). However, I’ve received some feedback from those who think I should direct this book toward future leaders (this has been an emphasis in my past books). I’d like to know what you think.

Could you give me your #1 and #2 favorites:

    1. The Relational Disciple: the priority of living in community
    2. The Relational Leader: from Isolationism to Community
    3. Relational Discipleship: how God Uses Community to Shape Followers of Jesus
    4. Relational Leadership: how God Uses Community to Shape Us
    5. Relationships: how God uses Community to Shape Us as Followers of Jesus

    Thanks, 

    Joel

The Extra Mile

marioby Mario Vega

In the process of inviting a new guest to the cell meeting, you must continue with a special gesture towards that person. This may be something simple but of great significance for this person: a visit when he or she is sick, remembering the birth date, an unexpected gift. Sadly, most people never do this.

When you are working to evangelize a person, what you do has much more impact than what you say. An action or gesture can be a decisive factor to introduce the gospel to the person.

When you have made an action with solidarity and love, the person will be so touched by that action that he or she will not refuse an invitation to go to a house where the message of the gospel is shared.

The curiosity that Christian conduct awakes is sufficient to trigger a desire to interact with such a person.

What do you think?

Mario

Translation in Spanish:

Una milla más.

En el proceso de hacer un invitado a la célula, se debe continuar con un gesto especial hacia esa persona. Puede tratarse de algo sencillo pero que será de gran significado para ella.

Una visita cuando se encuentra enferma, recordarse de su fecha de cumpleaños, un regalo inesperado. Es decir, aquello que la generalidad de personas nunca hace.

En el trabajo de evangelizar a una persona tiene mucho más peso lo que hacemos que lo que decimos. Una acción o un gesto puede ser un elemento determinante para presentar el evangelio a una persona.

Cuando se ha hecho una acción solidaria y de amor, la persona quedará tan marcada por ese acto que por ninguna razón rehusará una invitación para ir a una casa donde se comparte el mensaje del evangelio.

La curiosidad que despierta la conducta cristiana es suficiente para desatar un deseo de relacionarse con personas tan serviciales y que hacen lo que nadie más acostumbra hacer.

 

Apprenticeship in the Junkyard

Jeff Tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

www.bigbearchristiancenter.org

My wife and I helped with a surprise birthday party in one of the cells last night.  We gathered outside the house with a small band of friends and came in singing the familiar Happy Birthday tune just as the cell was ending. The person we were celebrating was so surprised that she was looking around the room trying to discover whose birthday it was not realizing that it was for her!

As we ate cake I spoke with a couple that was new to me. I was impressed to find out that SHE had recently rebuilt her own Jeep, engine and all.  She explained that when she went to the junkyard to get parts and advice, the owner took an interest in her project and began to coach her personally. As she approached each step of rebuilding the car, he would explain how to proceed and then watch her do the work, guiding her with his words, experience and attention but not doing the work for her.

I hope this leaves a picture in your mind as it did mine!  Effective coaching combined with close supervision are a quest when launching new cell leaders.  I believe that many “less than perfect” leaders could be utilized IF they have both of these; Regular relational contact with an experienced leader (supervision) and guidance that leads to success in cell ministry (coaching).

Last weekend my new acquaintance completed a brake job on her car all by herself…now to what conclusions does that lead you?

A “Ripe” Leader

steveby Steve Cordle

I enjoy fresh fruit – but only when it’s ripe. I love a juicy orange, but I’ll pass on rock-hard pears and green bananas.

New leaders are part of the “fruit” of our cell ministry. But deploying a leader who is not ready (“ripe”) is a recipe for indigestion all around. 

A good equipping track will go a long way in preparing a person for leadership. However, just completing classes does not mean a person is ready to lead a group. What are the indicators that an apprentice is ready to lead a cell? Here are a few indicators:
– spiritually growing, as evidenced by a strong prayer and devotional life

– outreach effectiveness: have they brought someone to the group?

– influence with others in the group; would others look to them for spiritual direction?

– commitment to the church’s vision

– ability to submit to a coach

What are the top indicators for of leadership readiness in your ministry?

Steve

 

Sending

joelBen Wong, founder of CCMN, has an excellent PowerPoint on the concept of sending (or being sent out) (download the PowerPoint here). He argues that Christ desires to “send us” rather than “keep us.” Ben feels that the missing factor in the modern doctrine of the church is “sending.” He emphasizes that the “church” is what the people of God DO in the world, rather than what we do in “church.” Jesus often talked about how the Father sent him into the world (e.g., Luke 4:18, John 4:34). And then at least seven times Jesus tells us that we are also sent into the world to continue the process. Jesus says in John 17:18, for example, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

Jesus trained and discipled people in order to send them. Sadly, we often disciple people in order to keep them. Notice that the word “send” is lodged within Christ’s prayer for harvest workers. Jesus says, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).

Cell ministry is never an end in itself. Unless cell members are challenged and trained to be workers, small groups easily become an end in themselves. Ben Wong says, “Sending should be the basic DNA of the church. . . A person’s growth has a progression – from following leaders – to becoming a leader.”

He even wonders if we should change the term “multiplication” to “sending.” Whatever you call it, I”m sure you get the point: God matures us spiritually in order to send us. Would you agree? Disagree? What’s your opinion?

 

Joel Comiskey

Key Information

marioby Mario Vega

Once you’ve established the initial contact with the person you want to lead to Jesus, you must deepen the friendship by looking for ways to give continuity. In my previous blog, Michael Sove posted an excellent commentary where he narrates an experience which illustrates the above.

In order to deepen the relationship, Christians must be very sensitive to obtain key information. For example: needs, difficulties, marriage conflicts, interests, hobbies, etc.

With this information, you can now provide support, assistance, guidance or introduce this person to other cell members that have common interests or concerns. It is important to remember that studies show that the greater the number of Christians a person knows, the greater the probabilities of believing and following Jesus.

Up to this point, there has not been made an invitation to attend the cell meeting yet. So far it has only been about a sincere effort to love and serve the person. This is the best way to make new guests for your cell.

Other ideas?

Mario

Translation in Spanish:

Información clave.

Una vez establecido el primer contacto con la persona a quien se desea conducir a Jesús, se debe profundizar la amistad buscando la manera de darle continuidad. En mi blog anterior, Michael Sove colocó un excelente comentario donde cuenta una experiencia que ilustra lo anterior.
En la profundización de la relación, el cristiano debe estar muy sensible a obtener información clave. Por ejemplo: necesidades, dificultades, conflictos en el matrimonio, intereses, pasatiempos, etc.
Con esa información el cristiano puede ahora enfocarse para ofrecer apoyo, ayuda, orientación o presentar a la persona a otros miembros de la célula con quien tenga aficiones o preocupaciones comunes. Es importante recordar que los estudios indican que a mayor cantidad de cristianos una persona conoce, mayores las probabilidades que termine creyendo en Jesús.
Hasta este punto, todavía no se ha hecho una invitación a asistir a la célula. Hasta ahora solamente se ha tratado de un esfuerzo sincero por amar y servir a una persona. Es la manera de hacer un invitado.
¿Otras ideas?