What about Vacation Time?

joelI’m on vacation right now in Colorado. I had to decide what to do with my LIFE group while on vacation (At Wellspring we call our “cells” LIFE groups–Living in Fellowship to Evangelize)

In my case, I asked someone else to lead our Life Group in my absence. Yet, there are times when my group just decides not to meet one week. This happens. I was in one cell church that felt it was a sin for the group not to meet each week. This church believed that even if everyone in the group was on vacation and couldn’t meet on the regular day, they should somehow meet on another day to get their regular meeting in. While I applauded their commitment, it seemed legalistic. On the other hand, I know it’s vogue in some “small group philosophies” to close all groups for the summer or worse yet, have all small groups close every semester and then reorganize (very much like Sunday School semesters).

My personal conviction is that cell ministry should continue on a weekly basis throughout the entire year–just like the celebration service. Yet, there are times when indivdiual cells choose not to meet for a particular week due to a holiday, people being on vacation, etc. This should be an individual group decision, as opposed to the pastor saying, “all of the groups will be closed during the summer” or “all of the groups will close for this semester”. If the church decrees that small groups will not meet during the summer, what happens to the person who receives Jesus during the summer? Will she have to wait until September to join a cell? I’ve written an article on this topic, so if you’d like to read more, go to: http://www.joelcomiskeygroup.com/articles/basics/vacations.htm

What’s your feeling on this topic? All comments are appreciated!



Evangelism and Care

marioby Mario Vega

Elim was one of the first cellular churches in El Salvador, very possibly the first one. This brought the novelty advantage. People attended the cellsEVANGELISM driven by the curiosity that those meetings in houses raised.

In the early years it was enough to invite a person to ensure with a lot of success their attendance at the cell meeting. However, as the novelty effect passed, it became more difficult each time to get people to accept the invitation.

So it was necessary to do more than simply invite friends. We saw the need of promoting relationships of friendship and service to get the non-believers attention. Guided by Pastor Cho’s books where he mentions what he calls the ‘holy indiscretion’, we began to penetrate in the lives of our neighbors to identify their major difficulties. That information gave the brethren clues to introduce the gospel to them as the way out of their problems.

Since then the meetings´ purposes in houses were defined as: evangelization and care. The care for people’s needs was not seen as a bridge to evangelize but as a sincere interest in itself. Soon the church understood the double purpose of our meetings, and that was decisive for the growth.

What has been your inviting experience ?

Evangelización y atención.

Elim fue una de las primeras iglsias celulares en El Salvador, muy posiblemente, la primera. Eso le dio la ventaja de la novedad. Las personas asistan a las células movidas por la curiosidad que esas reuniones en casas les despertaban.

En los primeros años bastaba con invitar a una persona para asegurar con bastante éxito su presencia en la reunión de célula. Sin embargo, cuando el efecto de novedad fue pasando, cada vez fue más difcil lograr que las personas aceptaran la invitación.

Entonces, se hizo necesario hacer algo más que simplemente invitar a los amigos. Se vio la necesidad de comenzar a fomentar relaciones de amistad y de servicio para interesar a los no creyentes. Guiados por los libros del Pastor Cho donde menciona lo que él llama la ‘indiscreción santa’, comenzamos a penetrar en la vida de los vecinos para identificar sus principales dificultades. Ese conocimiento les daba pistas a los hermanos para presentarles el evangelio como la salida a sus problemas.

Desde entonces los propósitos de las reuniones en casas se definieron como: evangelización y atención. La atención a las necesidades de las personas no era visto como un puente para evangelizarles sino como un interés sincero en s mismo. Pronto la iglesia comprendió el doble propósito de nuestras reuniones y eso fue decisivo para el crecimiento.

¿Cuál ha sido su experiencia al invitar?


Shortcuts & Deal Breakers

jeffJeff Tunnell here, pinch hitting for Steve Cordle. Not long ago a couple joined us coming from another church. She is outgoing, an extraordinary COVENANTgatherer, and people love her. Having caught the vision of Cell ministry she is highly driven to multiply a new Cell out of the one in which she currently participates. As far as readiness goes, she wants to get moving THIS WEEK.

This situation is not uncommon as unsatisfied program church people discover the avenue of ministry and relationship their hearts have searched for in the cell-driven environment.

Here is the proverbial “however”; in our training track we include the step of membership prior to becoming a cell leader. (For clarity, this step is #5 in our training track) This couple has many years of serving Christ, plenty of experience and excellence therein, even to the point of shepherding others and administering Christian Schools. Even though she is working on it, they have not yet progressed through all the steps required for leadership in our body. Her husband takes a position that membership is not necessary to be a part of the local church body. I think he has some reservations about control issues from prior church and leadership experiences. Will this become a deal breaker?

The temptation is to fast-track them (or at least her) in order to capitalize on the new cell, get closer to our goals for the year and work out the bugs later. Hmmm…..?

For me the question is not simply one of membership. It’s about Covenant relationship, being committed to one another and being united in mission that is duplicateable (not short-cut-able).

Amos 3:3 provides the rhetorical question, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” What principles should be held to in this case and others like it?



Core Values

by Rob Campbell


A few days ago, Steve Cordle in his blog post entitled, “Simply Reproducible” got the waters stirring.  Check out the blog comments before carrying on.

I got to thinking about this stirring.  Here’s what I want to say– briefly.  Cell churches should be careful not to make the cell paradigm a core value.  Let me explain.

Built to Last authors Collins and Porras:  “Core Values:  a small set of guiding principles; the organism’s essential and enduring tenets; not to be confused with specific cultural or operating practices; not to be compromised for financial gain or short term expediency.”  I like this definition of core values.

My church family adheres to the following three core values.

First, we adhere to the eternal authority and relevance of the scriptures.

Next, we are Christ centered because Christ is Lord.

Third, all members are equipped and engaged for the work of service.

As we lead our church family, these are the values that undergird our decisions, plans, and ministry initiatives.  I’m sure these three core values are not perfect.  Further, I understand that these values may not be who you are or who God has called you to be.  I affirm and applaud the diversity of the body of Christ.  Indeed, diversity is not the enemy of unity.  

Please notice that a specific church structure (paradigm) is not one of our core values.  Why do you think this is so?


Matt Anderson Meeting Needs in Venus, TX

joelLast week I highlighted Jeff French as an effective cell church planter. I hope you had a chance to send him an email, asking for his MP3 CHURCH PLANTINGfiles and lessons. Another church planter I’ve been coaching is Matt Anderson. Matt, a young Assembly of God pastor, is planting a cell church in Venus, TX– a town of about 8,000 people. Matt understands the needs of the area because he grew up in Tyler, TX, not far from Venus.

Matt fell in love with the cell church vision through attending seminars at Bethany World Prayer Center and by reading various cell church books by Ralph Neighbour, David Cho, Larry Kreider, and others. Matt decided to plant his church by starting a single cell (pilot group) in his home. He had a few core couples but the only way to grow was through reaching out. Matt knows the pain of pressing on through unresponsiveness. What I love about Matt is his persistence. Through the tough times, Matt has found his strengh in Jesus.

Matt and I have done a lot of brainstorming about ways to reach out. Matt kept on coming back to the theme of feeding the hungry and helping the needy. Matt grew up in the area, so he has seen the poverty first hand. He shared his vision with the pilot group, and they started a ministry of providing food for the hungry. Last week they served 41 needy families with free food! They testified about God to each family before giving out the food, and asked if they could pray for needs. The result was wour new visitors to their church.

All church planters face the dilemma of how to connect with new people. Let’s rejoice in the fact that Matt pressed on in spite of the obstacles and found a way to reach people for Jesus. Have you found that meeting people’s physical needs is an effective way to reach people for Jesus?

Joel Comiskey