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June 2015 Newsletter

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Joel Comiskey's new book: 2000 Years of Small Groups 
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New: 27 videos on cell church from Joel Comiskey
There are 27 videos on all aspects of cell church (with downloadable resources) on Ministry Grid. Check it out.

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Free Ebook from Joel Comiskey (Making Disciples in the 21st Century Church). Joel's book is available at the end of the Thriving Small Groups Assessment. There is no catch to this. We are not asking for your contact information or trying to up-sell anything. At the end of the assessment, you will also discover the health of your small groups. I think you'll find both of this free resources extremely helpful. 

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Joel Comiskey ministry in June 2015
--From June, 8-11, 2015 Celyce and I will be ministering in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso Brazil. This is a cell seminar at Primeira Igreja Batista de Campo Grande (Pastor Gilson). Contact person: Pastor Gilson 
--From June 12-14, 2015, Celyce and I will be in Sao Paulo, Brazil with Robert Lay. Contact person: Robert Lay
--From June 19-20, 2015, my daughter, Nicole, and I will be in Long Island, New York. This is a Spanish cell conference with Mario Vega in the Church of the Nazarene (Pastor Magdiel Diaz). Contact person: Pastor Magdiel

Major 2016 JCG Event 
--We will have our annual JCG event in the Elim Reseda Church, on February 27, 2016. Mario Vega and Joel Comiskey will be ministering in Spanish and simultaneous English translation will be available. Place it on your calendar/

  
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How to Keep the Dones

by Joel Comiskey

A pastor who I'm coaching recently shared a story of a member who announced he was done with the church. Jim, a godly member and faithful tither, announced that he was leaving the church during a prayer meeting.  Before Jim announced he was done, he read portions from Josh Packard's recent study about those who were fed up and tired of traditional Christianity. Packard's  article summed up how Jim felt about his church experience, and so he read it to the small gathered group. Jim was not involved with one of the church's Life Groups, and I'm sure this affected his level of frustration in the church. 

Josh Packard describes several factors for Dones leaving the church in his upcoming book Church Refugees. Among the reasons, "After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they've heard it all." One of Packard's interviewees said, "I'm tired of being lectured to. I'm just done with having some guy tell me what to do." The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn. Packard says that most likely the  Dones will not return. Here are some excerpts from Josh Packard's study: 

John is every pastor's dream member. He's a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously and leads others passionately. But last year he dropped out of church. He didn't switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn't the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person or another member. It wasn't triggered by any single event.

John had come to a long-considered, thoughtful decision. He said, "I'm just done. I'm done with church." John is one in a growing multitude of ex-members. They're sometimes called the de-churched. They have not abandoned their faith. They have not joined the also-growing legion of those with no religious affiliation-often called the Nones. Rather, John has joined the Dones.

So what are we to think about Josh Packard's research? First, Packard's research took place in the North America context, a land where post-Christianity is the norm and many are leaving the church. Second, cell churches are only a tiny part of church life in North America. Unlike the growing cell churches in other parts of the world, cell church ministry has not really taken root in the Western world and North American in particular. Third, the research doesn't take into account that one of the key goals of cell ministry is to avoid the plop, pray, and pay mentality that is so common in the traditional church. 

Here's a question: Would Jim have made the announcement at my friend's church that he was "done," if he was actively involved in a life-giving cell group? I don't think so. Why? Because cell ministry is about total involvement. Disciples are formed in the small group environment and each member can actively practice the priesthood of all believers. The lead pastor, in fact, is the main cell coach who mobilizes the members to do the work of the ministry through multiplying cell groups (Ephesians 4). 

Through cell ministry, all members grow in determining their spiritual gifting. All members participate in the life of the group. All members prepare to become part of a discipleship team that is preparing to give birth and start a new group. Some members will become leaders, supervisors, pastors, and church planters. In other words, the plop, pray, and pay mentality is totally contrary to the philosophy of cell church ministry. 

During the month of June, we'll be exploring the topic of how cell ministry transforms the sitter into a doer.  Key leaders will blog on this topic, sharing their convictions and experiences. If you'd like to receive these blogs in your email inbox each day, please sign up HERE

  • Week 1 (June 07-13); The reality of traditional church life. We will explore why the conventional church has produced a group called the Dones. Cell church pastors will comment on why this has taken place. 
  • Week 2 (June 14-June 20); How the cell church corrects the done mentality. Cell church is designed for involvement and deals with this basic problem of sitting, listening, and leaving.  
  • Week 3 (June 21-27); Dangers in cell church ministry. Some cell churches become too controlling and top heavy. They just grow larger and larger and have no room for church planting. We need to go back to the simplicity of New Testament ministry, where church planting was the norm, rather than the exception.  
  • Week 4: (June 28-June 04); Personal testimony. Bloggers will share their own testimonies of how they have avoided the done mentality in their own churches. 

What is your reaction to Packard's research on those who are done with the church?   

Joel Comiskey