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Characteristics of Cell Church Celebrations

by Joel Comiskey

Winter 2008

Many cell churches bring the cells together weekly, while others choose to do so monthly, or every other week. Celebration in a cell church, like other evangelical churches, should highlight worship and the preaching/teaching of God’s Word.

The distinction of celebration in the cell church is that it’s truly a time for the cells to come together. Many cell churches, for example, emphasize this fact by:

  • asking a cell member who has been transformed through relational ministry—new friendships, special ministry times—to share what God has done
  • hearing the testimony of someone who has received healing within the cell group
  • presenting a new multiplication leader to the entire church

Those attending the Sunday celebration need to realize that the primary pastoral services of the church are offered through the cell system. If they need ministry and help, they can find it in a loving cell group.

I’ve always encouraged pastors to personally lead a cell group. Why? One of the reasons is because personal involvement allows the pastor to freely add cell examples to sermons. When a pastor who is personally involved in a cell talks about the need for community, body-life evangelism, leadership development, and the use of the gifts of the Spirit, that pastor can tie in personal involvement in cell life, drawing on a variety of illustrations and testimonies from real life. Soon the congregation begins to realize that cell life is the normal Christian life and that attending the celebration service is only one part of that reality. They soon realize that they must also be involved in cell to capture the full benefits of what the church really is.

If you’re planting a cell church, just keep it simple.

If you’re transitioning to the cell church, there are some thing you can do that will help your transtion. Take the bulletin. Cell ministry can find a great friend in the bulletin or other advertisements in the church. I suggest that the bulletin in the cell church highlight a cell testimony of how people’s lives have been transformed through cell ministry. Cell announcements should be given priority space so that those visiting will immediately see the heartbeat of the church and know where to go to get involved in a cell group.

One church I coached had thirty cells and two hundred worshippers. The bulletin in this church was a two-sided sheet of paper, listing all the cell groups each week on the front page. The statement made each Sunday was this: “We’re pastoring our people through cell ministry.”

A visitor to the celebration service should be able to detect the philosophy and priority of the church from the Sunday morning service. Some churches have book tables; larger ones even have bookstores. I encourage cell-based churches to have a cell information table where they lay out relevant books on cell ministry, the weekly cell lesson, a box to place cell reports, and other pertinent information about cell ministry.

It’s a great idea to post in the foyer a map of the city with each cell group pinned on it. This map explains where the cells are located, their focus (e.g., family cells, women’s cells, youth cells, etc.), and when they meet. A volunteer worker or secretary should be available to answer questions each week and connect new people to cell ministry.

It’s not easy to adapt to the cell model. People are accustomed to their old ways and habits. They must be reminded of the cell church focus by what they see in church during the worship service.