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Cell Churches within Denominations
By Joel Comiskey
I was surprised when the leader of a mega cell church movement asked me if I thought denominational churches could also be cell churches. He felt denominations hindered the cell church flow. I told him that I had seen many great examples of cell churches within denominations. “Yes, denominations can hinder churches from becoming cell churches, but I know of many fruitful cell churches within denominations,” I told him.
Yoido Full Gospel Church is a good place to start. YFGC, the forerunner of the modern day cell church movement, started as an Assembly of God church (later became an affiliated AG church). The cell church movement in Korea has exploded among most denominations. The largest Methodist Church is in Korea, and it’s a cell church. Huge Presbyterian cell churches (and many small ones) abound in Korea. I had the privilege of preaching in a 10,000 member Baptist cell church in Seoul. As far as I know, every major denomination has a representative cell church in Korea.
The Anglican Church in England is another great example of denominational cell church ministry. Phil Potter’s book, The Challenge of the Cell Church, and Michael Green’s, Church without Walls describe the cell movement among the Anglicans in England. I preached in Nick Bell’s Anglican cell church in Luton, England and saw firsthand how an Anglican church built in the 17th century (and has a chair for the queen of England) can successfully transition to the cell model.
Latin America is full of growing denominational cell churches. El Centro Cristiano in Guayaquil, Ecuador (Assembly of God) was one of the model cell churches in my doctoral research. As a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Quito, Ecuador, I saw many CMA churches transition to the cell strategy. I could go on highlighting many other denominational cell churches throughout Latin America, like the Baptist church in Tabasco Mexico which has more than 600 cell groups. In the blog last Monday, I talked about the growth of the cell church movement in Brazil among a wide variety of denominational churches.
Steve Cordle, a United Methodist pastor in Pittsburgh, blogged last Wednesday about his transition to the cell strategy, which he wrote about in his book, The Church in Many Houses (a must-read book). In my book, The Church that Multiplies, I highlighted twenty-seven exemplary denominational cell churches from among Assemblies of God, American Baptist, Church of Christ, Church of God, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Covenant, Free Methodist, Lutheran, Nazarene, Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, Pentecostal Free Will Baptist, United Methodist, and Wesleyan.
If you are a denominational church, I want to encourage you. With God’s help, you also can become a cell church.