Cell Basics

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What is a cell church?

by Joel Comiskey

Cell church in its simplest form is a strategic approach that emphasizes both cell and celebration on an equal basis.

In the cell church, cell is the church and celebration is the church. Every worshipper is encouraged to attend both the weekly cell group and the weekly celebration service.

Most people know what the Sunday church celebration looks like. Worshippers gather to hear the Word preached, worship the living God, and participate in the sacraments (e.g., the Lord ‘s Supper and baptism).

But what about the cell? The most common definition of a cell (and the one followed in this book) is this: a group of three to fifteen people who meet weekly outside the church building for the purpose of evangelism, community, and discipleship with the goal of multiplication.

Implicit in this definition is the overarching goal of glorifying God and achieving spiritual growth in Christ.

All small groups are not cell groups. One of the major differences between cell groups and generic small groups is the cell’s emphasis on evangelism, leadership development, and multiplication in each cell.

Cell churches also have other types of ministries (e.g., ushering, worship, prayer, missions, and training). These ministries, however, are not called cell groups, even though the particular ministry might be small and a group.

The ministries in a cell church, rather, support the cell and celebration. Everyone participating in a church ministry is also actively involved in a cell group, if not leading one (this is especially true of elder and board leadership).

In the cell church, the cell group is the backbone, or center, of church ministry. Cell ministry replaces the need for many traditional programs.

I like to use the phrase “the cell-driven church” because church-growth success is primarily measured through infrastructure growth as the church grows from the core to the crowd.

Some churches have cell groups as one of the programs in the church. In this scenario, the senior pastor, while overseeing all the programs, delegates the small-group ministry to another person. In the cell church, however, the senior pastor is personally involved in cell ministry and is considered the point person and cell visionary.