Do you use the name CELL?

joelAllow me to divert a little from the theme of DIVINE APPOINTMENTS (covered on Monday) to the topic of the word CELL.

Do you like the word CELL? Do you use it in your church? Do you use CELL CHURCH to describe what your church does? name

Let me say from the outset, I’m not married to the word CELL. I am committed, however, to the DEFINITION of a cell/small group/life group, etc.

By now, you know my conviction that a cell/small group/life group is a group of 3-15 that meets weekly outside the church building for the purpose of evangelism, community, spiritual growth with the goal of multiplication. Some have made adjustments to this definition, while keeping the core of the meaning–and I applaud this!

But what about the name/word CELL? Someone recently told me that the phrase HOLISTIC SMALL GROUP is far better and doesn’t turn people off because of the negative publicity of terror cells, etc. Others love the term LIFE GROUPS. I know that Rob Campbell, part of the JCG team, uses HEART GROUPS at Cypress Creek Community Church.

As I travel worldwide, however, it’s hard to escape the influence of David Cho, the modern day founder of the cell church movement. He coined the term cell to describe his groups back in the 70s and the worldwide cell church movement still uses this title.

What do you think? What is your opinion?


An Unusual Thought

There’s an unusual thought contained in Rusaw and Swanson’s The Externally Focused Church that I liked.  This thought might give you a glimpse into my jaded humor.  Nonetheless, let me establish the context of said thought.

The authors are writing about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.  The crowds are cheering, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest!”  There’s a great celebration in the city.

Now, let me quote from the authors.  “For a moment the donkey thought it was all about him.  After all, he was doing all the work that morning.  But it wasn’t about him.  It had nothing to do with him.  He was simply carrying the Message.”

“The externally focused church is a good donkey that takes Jesus into places where he hasn’t always been welcome.  The serving church is just the donkey.  It’s still all about Jesus.”

Did Campbell just call me a donkey???  No, I’m simply sharing an unusual thought with you.  In essence, this is not about us, but his work and message through us.


by Rob Campbell 

Finding the “Person of Peace”

joelGod is the One who opens hearts and converts souls. One of our key roles as cell leaders, pastors, or church planters is to find that person or persons in whom God is working. These Divine appointment are often called persons of peace. divine

The reason for this name comes from Luke 10:5-7 when Jesus sent out His disciples to ministers, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” (Luke 10:5-7).

What’s this all about? It basically means that God is the One going ahead of us and He prepares people to listen to the gospel message. Our job is to look for those who are open to the message. And after finding that person, we need to have the right atmosphere to invite the person to.

The principle is well illustrated by the Conversion of Lydia. The Lord simply opened her heart. In Acts 16:13ff we read, “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.  When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.”

It’s easy to get frustrated when leading a cell group or pastoring a church because of the lack of fruit. One of the key questions we need to be asking is “where is God already working?” Who are the “persons of peace” who God is calling. Then we need to be willing to go with God. I’ll talk more about this concept on Wednesday.



Ministry in Quito, Ecuador

joelI just returned from a seven day trip to Quito, Ecuador. My oldest daughter, Sarah, accompanied me on this trip. Sarah was born in Ecuador and lived quitothere until she was ten years old. Now as a sixteen year old she loves the familiar sounds, friends, and sites of Ecuador.

I spoke at the La Luz Church, a model CMA cell church in Quito. David Jaramillo, senior pastor of La Luz, sat in on our pastoral meetings at the Republic Church for one entire year (I was the co-founder at the Republic Church). He not only caught our cell church vision but perfected it. Now, when I go back to Ecuador, I go back to the La Luz church instead of the Republic Chruch. Jaramillo is a testimony to the senior pastor’s key role in guiding the cell church vision.

The conference was great. 211 people registered. The overall theme was the Holy Spirit in cell ministry. Two CMA cell church pastors from Guayaquil, a coastal city in Ecuador also spoke. I was exhausted after speaking seven times in Spanish! I preached three times Sunday morning and was thrilled to witness about fifteen people commit their lives to Jesus Christ.

David Jaramillo is a shining example of clarity in vision and singlemindedness. Other pastors in Quito–who started on the cell church journey–have since lost their way, becoming muddled with programs and lack of clarity. Not David Jaramillo. He understands the principles behind cell ministry and is in it for the long haul. The 530 people that attend the 59 cells at La Luz are growing in Christ and reaching out to their neighbors. La Luz has also planted various churches and has a long-term vision for the country.

Sarah and I spent a lot of time before and after the conference visiting Ecuadorian friends and North American missionaries. We were refreshed by God’s special work in Quito, Ecuador.



Inspect what you Expect


by Steve Cordle


 As important as it is to think through how we train future leaders, it is just as important to be intentional about how we lead those who are currently in mnistry.

When we develop a leadership training process, we generally start with the question “What do I expect these emerging leaders to do and to be?”, then we develop people in those spiritual and in minstry areas.

Once people become leaders, we also need to ask how we nurture and develop those same areas. An old management maxim is that we need to inspect what we expect.

So if you have some expectations of your leaders’ spiritual life, how do you “inspect” that? It is not wise to just assume they are growing spiritually and staying close and clean.

Assuming you have specific expectations of the leader when it comes to ministry tasks and roles, how do you “inspect” their fulfillment of those without coming across as overbearing?

After all, what does it say to leaders if we never ask them about how they are living out what we taught them to do and be?

How do you go about this matter of ‘inspecting” what you “expect”? What process do you use? Share with us your ideas!