Children’s Bible School and Cells


by Mario Vega

There were practical reasons that initially led us to shift the Bible School teaching for children to the houses. But as we started to design the first training course for leaders of children’s cells, new elements arose.

One was the reflection on how the New Testament church instructed children into Christianity. It was obvious that what today is called “Bible School” (or Sunday School) is a relatively modern term. It was born with Robert Rikes in 1780. Rikes’ idea was not exactly what we now know as Bible School. Rikes’ School included literacy, math and Bible classes. It would not be until 1889 when the Bible School would specialize in teaching the Scriptures.

But how did the New Testament church teach the faith to children? We know that the church was born following the Jewish traditions and within this tradition the two great pillars of education were memorization and oral tradition. Both elements were present at home.

So we decided to have memorization and oral tradition as pillars of the education in children’s cells. That is, we decided to give true value to the memorization of the Scriptures and the oral transmission of the teachings, rather than focusing on expensive methodologies or on making handcrafts.

With these two elements as main axles, we began to design the training course for leaders of children’s cells. It was an effort to return to the New Testament’s church model.

Comments? Ideas?


Translation into Spanish:

Escuela bblica y células.

Lo que inicialmente nos llevó a trasladar la enseñanza de Escuela Bblica para niños a las casas fueron razones de ndole práctica. Pero, al comenzar a diseñar el primer curso de formación de lderes para células infantiles hubo nuevos elementos que se fueron sumando.

Uno de ellos fue el reflexionar sobre cómo la iglesia del Nuevo Testamento haca para formar en el cristianismo a los niños. Era obvio que lo que hoy se llama ‘Escuela Bblica’ es un término relativamente moderno. Nació con Robert Rikes en 1780. La idea de Rikes no era exactamente lo que hoy conocemos como Escuela Bblica. La escuela de Rikes inclua clases de alfabetización, matemáticas y Biblia. No sera sino hasta 1889 cuando la Escuela Bblica se especializara en las enseñanzas de las Escrituras.

Pero, ¿cómo haca la iglesia del Nuevo Testamento para enseñar la fe a los niños? Sabemos que la iglesia nació siguiendo las tradiciones judas y dentro de esa tradición los dos grandes pilares de instrucción eran la memorización y la tradición oral. Ambos elementos tenan lugar en el hogar.

Decidimos entonces hacer de la memorización y de la tradición oral los pilares de la enseñanza en las células infantiles. Es decir, darle valor a la memorización de las Escrituras y a la transmisión oral de las enseñanzas antes que enfocarnos en manualidades o metodologas caras.

Con estos dos elementos como ejes principales comenzamos a diseñar el curso de formación de los lderes para células infantiles. Era un esfuerzo por volver al modelo de la iglesia del Nuevo Testamento.

¿Comentarios? ¿Ideas?

Further Coaching

coaches_jeff-150x1501by Jeff Tunnell          

If there is further interest in the conversation about coaching from last week, allow me to continue.  The comments received from Galen and Richared are appreciated!  We are grateful for each reader of the JCG blog, please fenter the conversations!!

Concerning the regular “practice” of coaches, shouldn’t we include visits to the cells being coached?  What prescribed frequency should be observed;  one cell per week or month?  Observing the cell leader leading their cell gives insight to the coach.  It provides points of praise for a job done well and the opportunity to stay after and give feedback concerning a weakness that exists. (such as ??? Just what would the coach be looking for during the meeting?)  Your thoughts here…

How many cells can one person coach in your cell structure?  Is it different for those who also lead their own cell?  Must each coach be required to lead a cell or not?  How frequently do the coaches meet with the Senior Pastor?  Let’s offer some assistance to those who are looking for direction on this topic.

What’s working?

by Rob Campbell

Hats off to Jeff and Jane Powell (Fellowship Church, Gainesville, Florida) whom Joel highlighted yesterday in his post.  Check it out!  It’s always encouraging to see people excited about God, Christ, and His church– eh?

Here’s the point of this post:  What’s working [for you]?  By this question I mean– How are you and your cell/church getting outside the walls of the church and building relationships with not-yet believers?  Further, what one “tweak” or innovation has worked well in the context of keeping the cell members connected throughout the week?  What has been your greatest “a-ha” moment in recent days?  What surprises you about your cell and/or cell church?

Post a quick comment that might benefit others.  The Powell’s “fire” encourages me.  Now, why don’t you take a moment to encourage others?

My hunch is that if some of you share briefly then others would benefit from your creativity/counsel/experience; thus, benefiting the cell church around the world.


Transmitting the Cell Passion from the Top Down

joelDavid Cho once said, “The [senior] pastor must be the key person involved. Without the pastor, the system will not hold together. It is a system, and a system must have a control point. The controlling factor in home cell groups is the pastor.” I don’t completely agree with Cho’s statement because I believe that just as important as the senior pastor is the leadership team. I’ve given seminars and coached churches that don’t even have one lead pastor–yet were very successful in cell ministry. The difference was that the leadership team was fully committed and involved.

I’m writing this blog from Jacksonville, Florida. I just finished a seminar with Fellowship Church in Gainesville, Florida, led by Jeff and Jane Powell. Wow, Jeff has a fire for cell ministry! Jeff was initially on staff with Celebration Church,  a cell church led by Dennis Watson in New Orleans. Two years ago Jeff took the lead role at Fellowship Church, which has added 150 people since Jeff arrived. Yet, it is a programmed based church (started in 1988). I believe that Fellowship Church will eventually become a cell church because of Jeff’s passion for cell ministry.

Some seminars are good. This one was great. Why? The preparation. Jeff’s fire for cell ministry stirred him to gather seven area churches as well as his own for the seminar. Approximately 200 people attended. 

Jeff was hoping to use this seminar to launch his first six cell groups simultaneously. I counseled Jeff NOT to start his first six cells until after starting a pilot group, which would include his staff members. Why? I wanted to make sure Jeff and team got it right the first time. I told Jeff that the best way for new leaders and staff to catch the cell vision is to SEE it first hand from the senior pastor. The bottom line is that cell ministry is better caught than taught.

Jeff also needed to make sure the coaching structure was established from the top, and that’s why I told him to include the staff in the first pilot group. I wanted to make sure that Jeff focused on coaching his staff who in turn would coach the new cell leaders, rather than becoming the main coach of the new cell groups.

Jeff wholeheartedly agreed with this counsel and even called all the key cell leaders and staff together for a planning meeting on the last day of the conference. Most seemed relieved and grateful to first witness a cell led by pastor Jeff. 

What do you think? Do you have any additional counsel for Jeff or for someone in a similar circumstance?


Joel Comiskey

Teaching for Children in the Cell Church


by Mario Vega

As the number of cells in Elim grew, the number of children that attended both cell and celebration also grew. At church we followed the tradition of offering Bible School to children every Sunday, separating the children into age-related classes.
However, it was such a large number of children that it became very difficult to maintain pedagogical conditions for learning. In one occasion, we estimated how many classrooms we would need to attend comfortably all the children that attended the celebration services. It turned out that we needed 200 classrooms. And each year, we would need to continue building additional classrooms to take care of the children that were being added.

Of course we could not build a huge building with 200 classrooms and even less could we continue to develop it year after year. It seemed like we were at a dead end. So, it occurred to me that a solution could be the cell system. We didn’t need to build 200 classrooms, for we already had the numerous houses of our members in which we could care for our children.

Therefore we decided to invert things. Bring Bible School to the houses and then have a big celebration at church. This is how Children’s Church was born. In the church’s premises we built a new building where the children have a great celebration service in which they come together to worship God and develop a special program.

But in the houses they receive weekly Bible instruction from rom well-trained leaders. That is how our Children’s Cells were born. I’ll be sharing with you more about this in the coming future.



Translation in Spanish:

Enseñanza para niños en una iglesia celular.

Al crecer el número de células en Elim también creció la cantidad de niños que asistan a esas células y luego a la celebración. En la iglesia seguamos la tradición de ofrecer una escuela bblica cada domingo para los niños; separados por grupos de edad.

No obstante, la cantidad de niños era tal que resultaba muy difcil poder tener condiciones pedagógicas para el aprendizaje. En una ocasión, hicimos cálculos de cuántas aulas necesitábamos para atender cómodamente a todos los niños que asistan a la celebración. Resultó que necesitábamos 200 aulas. Pero no solamente eso sino que, cada año, necesitaramos seguir construyen aulas adicionales para atender a los niños que se iban sumando.

Por supuesto que no podamos construir un edificio enorme de 200 aulas y menos seguir ampliándolo año con año. Pareca que estábamos en un callejón sin salida. Sin embargo, se me ocurrió que una solución poda ser el mismo carácter celular de nuestra iglesia. No necesitábamos construir 200 aulas, pues, ya disponamos de muchas más casas de nuestros miembros para atender a los niños.

Decidimos entonces invertir las cosas. Impartir la escuela bblica en las casas y luego tener en la iglesia una gran celebración. As nació la iglesia infantil. En el local de la iglesia construimos un edificio nuevo donde los niños tienen una gran celebración donde juntos alaban a Dios y tienen un programa especial para desarrollar. Pero en las casas reciben la enseñanza de lderes capacitados para impartirles su formación semanal. De esa manera nacieron nuestras células infantiles. De esto seguiré compartiendo en el futuro.