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Denominational Cell Churches?

By Joel Comiskey

Winter 2012

Some people look at Brazil as the Mecca of cell church ministry. Much of the credit for the widespread acceptance of cell church principles in Brazil can be attributed to Robert Lay’s ministry, Ministério Igrega em Células. The beautiful thing about Lay’s ministry is the training and coaching of a multitude of denominational leaders and churches.

During my last conference in Recife, Brazil, a Presbyterian cell church pastor co-led the seminar in a Baptist cell church. I spoke on Sunday night in an Anglican cell church. Each denominational group maintained its unique identity while fully embracing cell church principles. I sensed a unity among these pastors that went far beyond denominational ties. And these denominational churches understand that transitioning to the cell church is a marathon, rather than a 50-yard dash.

Yet, on another occasion I spoke in a growing cell-based conference which partly attributed its growth to leaving the denominational church and being free from the constraints of denominational rules and regulations. One of the leaders questioned the biblical base for denominationalism and felt that denominational tradition hinders cell ministry.

Some denominational pastors want to become cell churches but feel trapped through criticism, regulations and lack of encouragement. What can denominational churches do to ensure successful cell church transitions? What can denominational leadership do to help individual churches in cell ministry?