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Cell Church Missions Network

By Joel Comiskey

Fall 2002

No Glory; no control. This is the theme of the cell church missions network that was constantly repeated at the last CCMN conference in Taiwan from November 5-8, 2002. Everyone paid their own way and there were no superstars.[1] When I first met Ben Wong, the senior pastor of a 1000+ cell church in Hong Kong called Shepherd Community, in May 2001, he shared a deep concern, “We’ve fallen into the trap of lifting up the big shot cell church pastors. We must remember that the senior pastor is just a member of the body. The key is equipping the saints.”

Missions

The cell church missions network is primarily concerned with mobilizing cell church saints to finish the great commission. Cell leaders just happen to be the best missionaries to penetrate the unreached cultures because they’ve already experienced fruitful ministry in their own culture. [2]

On Wednesday, the second day of the conference, Neville Chamberlin , a key CCMN mission’s coordinator and close associate of Ben Wong, gave a stirring missions message, connecting cell church with the great commission. Then we were treated to a panel of missionaries to Muslims who talked about penetrating the darkness of Islam through contextualized cell ministry. The evening mission rally was outstanding, featuring bright Asian colors and creativity, dynamic worship, choreographic dancing, an excellent drama of the life of William Carey, and powerful preaching on the need to embrace suffering as the key to reaching the remaining unreached tribes.

Networking

A dictionary definition of networking means “to maintain relationships with people: to build up or maintain informal relationships.” Most people at the CCMN conference benefit more from networking with fellow cell travelers than anything else. I connected with Ralph and Randall Neighbour , Lawrence Singlehurst, Daphne Kirk , Neville Chamberlin , Robert Lay, Harold Weitz, Chuck Squeri , and leaders from all over the world.[3] Others came to the CCMN conference to network with Asian nationals in order to better reach the Asian masses (e.g., DAWN, etc.)

CCMN History

Several important CCMN dates stand out in the history of the movement:

  • 1990. Ben Wong felt called to network with Hong Kong pastors to share cell church resources. Wong sent out letters announcing conferences, books, and other resources. Every three months, interested pastors would come together to learn from each other. The policy from the beginning was that anyone could join the steering committee as long as he or she had a heart to serve.
  • 1994. The Hong Kong committee decided to invite Lawrence Khong to do a cell seminar in Hong Kong . Those who attended the conference learned from Khong, but primarily focused on learning from each other.
  • 1997-98. During a committee meeting, Ben Wong suggested, “Why don’t we ask various cell churches from different countries to come together and see what the Holy Spirit does.” The committee wrote to cell leaders around the world asking them to come to Hong Kong for a 4-day praying and dreaming summit. Eighty pastors came from fourteen different countries. There was no agenda. They just prayed and dreamed. Wong told me that he was scared because there was no speaker. Those present simply erected white boards and said, “if you want to discuss a particular cell church theme, just put your name on the board.” Groups gathered to discuss specific topics.
  • 2000. CCMN was held in Jakarta , Indonesia at a large cell church called Abbalove . 130 delegates showed up from twenty-eight countries. The participants wrestled with trying to decipher common principles present in all worldwide cell churches, sensing the inherent danger of copying cell models verbatim.
  • 2001. CCMN was held in Hong Kong with 320 delegates present from around the world.
  • 2002: The fifth straight CCMN conference was held in Taiwan. 360 delegates gathered from countries all over the world.
  • 2003: The CCMN conference was held in Seoul , South Korea .

Impressions

  • Incredible organization: I was impressed with the attention to details. My family was greeted by numerous volunteer workers at the airport. Another group of workers met us along each stop of the journey to the conference center. Attentive volunteers manned tables, checked on air flights, placed special treats in the rooms, gave out free gifts, and carefully laid out plans for each person’s airport return. The host church even set up free Broadband internet access for CCMN participants.
  • A return to the basics: Both house church and cell church advocates were present. We focused on cell creativity rather than following one model. CCMN is more of a clearing house for a broad spectrum of creative cell ministry.
  • An Asian flavor: Most of those present are from Asian countries or ministering to Asian countries, although this may change. There were probably 25 people from North America and just a handful from South America.
  • English spoken: English is the main language spoken at CCMN, although the speakers are simultaneously translated into various languages. Headsets are provided for those who need to hear the messages in their own language.
  • Incredible sense of community: We as a family sensed loads of hospitality during our entire stay. My children didn’t want to leave.
  • Great worship
  • Disorganized spontaneity: I sensed a planned disorganization. Ben Wong, the main MC for most sessions, is funny and does a great job of going with the flow when facing decisions of any kind—including where the conference would be held in 2003.
  • Powerful missions emphasis: Some of the best mission teaching I’ve ever heard, and I’m a professional missionary!
  • A work of God: In a day of cell church franchising, CCMN is a refreshingly creative work that magnifies creativity over conformity, principles over models, and the priesthood of all believers over special, anointed saints. No glory; no control. This is the motto of CCMN.

May God be pleased to continue exalting Himself through this humble, interdenominational gathering of like-minded visionaries.

Further reading on this topic: Comiskey's book How to be a Great Cell Group Coach talks about the need to network with other pastors.Passion and Persistence covers the Elim Church in El Salvador and how it penetrated its city for Jesus. Order HERE or call 1-888-344-CELL.

ENDNOTES

[1] My travel schedule didn’t permit my going alone, so I went with my entire family. The financial investment paid off because my oldest daughter caught a mission vision after the rally on Wednesday night.

[2] In 2001, I met with a fruitful cell leader from Ben Wong’s church who was sent out to plant a cell church among Bangladesh ’s unreached people groups. This cell leader had multiplied his cell group several times in Hong Kong, opening the door for him to take further training and ultimately to go to Bangladesh.

[3] Bill Beckham missed this year because he was gravely ill from malaria and almost died. The conference dedicated one session to crying mightily to God on Bill’s behalf and at that moment he was healed.