My Journey into Cell Community

joelby Joel Comiskey

A lot of my writing on cell ministry has focused on cell evangelism, multiplication, leadership development, and growing cell churches. When talking about cell community, I’ve often referred to it as a byproduct of cell outreach and multiplication. When a cell is evangelizing, I’ve taught, the group will experience community. I’ve often warned others about the dangers of cell stagnation that comes from over-emphasizing cell community and fellowship.

God has been changing my thinking over the past year. I now see community as an essential part of cell ministry. I’ve been marveling lately in God’s triune nature, and how often Scripture talks about one-another ministry. Jesus even said that the way non-Christians will know we are His disciples is by our love and unity.

I now understand why so many cell voices have promoted relational ministry over the years. Ralph Neighbour and Bill Beckham have always seen community as an essential reason for cell ministry–maybe even the basis. Others have echoed this same sentiment. I’m a late bloomer. Yet, now I’m on board.

I realize now that it’s important to prioritize and enjoy relational ministry in the cell group–not just as a means to win people for Jesus and multiply a group, but as an essential part of cell life. There’s something beautiful about God’s people openly sharing, confessing sins and struggles, applying God’s Word, and asking for prayer. God is pleased when koinonia takes place because He’s a community-oriented God, dwelling in perfect unity with the other members of the Trinity. And He wants us to act like Him.

Thoughts?

Joel

P.S.: My new book, The Relational Disciple, explores this topic in much more detail. . .

24 thoughts on “My Journey into Cell Community

  • Hi Joel I heard you speak at a church in North Central Florida not too long ago and appreciate all that you are doing for the kingdom of God. I am teaching a lesson this week at my church on connecting with community and we are getting ready to begin our cell groups for the first time since our Pastor started 2 yrs ago. Im glad you are “on board” as you said, and look forward to reading your new book!

  • Community is an equal part in a holistic cell. Most people can relate to this dimension and long for it. Hopefully the the other dimensions flourish as well in a healthy cell. Looking forward to reading your book.

  • Amen to that Joel, I think the cell church is the only answer for a pioneering pastor like me who have no resources for a significant church plant. Its not costly like the traditional church. Keep up the good work. God bless ur ministry!

  • I am anxious to read your book. I personally believe that community is critical to developing the deep meanigful relationships that allow us to go to the heart with those in our cell groups. In my experience, there is a direct relationship between community and quality of relationships. When people feel connected and are committed to a group of people that they trust and share something in common with who are supportive and non-judgemental, there is community. Being Christ to those in our lives and committing to loving them into the Kingdom, the ultimate community, what a concept.

  • Theology breeds methodology! It is inconceivable to endorse the cell as the Body of Christ and not see clearly that the Kingdom of God cannot exist, let alone be revealed, except through community. The reason Christ reveals Himself through the body is to show the nature of the Kingdom! Our great error is in overfocusing on the conversion experience as an independent decision that does not go on to explain that the first thing that happens is ! Cor. 12:12. That is why I wrote my last book: to focus on the sacredness of the Christ Body. Dismembered body parts are the work of satan.

  • There is nothing like the closeness of cell group relationships to help the believer to accept the challenges of spiritual growth. There is nothing like the friendships that develop in small groups to give believers the confidence to try new things in God, and to learn to walk ‘naturally supernatural’ – with expectation that the One who walks with them will glorify Himself through them. Rather than create the exclusive ‘cliques’ that so many Christians fear, the love the members of a healthy small group experience amongst themselves flows over into other relationships.

  • Right on, Joel! The Lord has taken my wife and I on a journey over the past year or so, that has lead us into wanting more relational, cell or house church based community. It’s amazing how long it has taken to reprogram our passions from a pastor/program/building driven model to one based primarily on relationships. We aren’t there yet, but we’re getting closer every day. Blessings to you!

  • Joel,

    Very encouraging to hear what the Lord has been teaching you about community this past year. My soul is refreshed in hearing you share about this! Thanks and God bless you for leading the way in cell ministry. We continue to emphasize cell ministry in our smaller multi-ethnic, economically diverse neighborhood church. For a while we were “requiring” small groups for all ministry leaders, but we changed our approach a little. I still want to “require” it but have realized two things (1) If a person is only attending out of obligation or policy, the motivation will not last (2) The Holy Spirit is organically producing “one another” and mentoring relationships outside of our organized cell groups. I realized I needed to give people the freedom in these relationships and the freedom to be where they are at on their journey. This has been a tough lesson for me to learn since I am so passionate about cell groups! Any thoughts?

    Adam

  • I’ve had a chance to look through the table of contents and read the first two chapters. I’m really excited about this book and the insight that it’ll bring to the body of Christ. I think it was very wise of you to glean from the doctrine of Trinity in demonstrating how a perfect relationship within the Godhead still has a missional aspect to it.

    I have a suggestion for your next book or a follow up book. Maybe you can write about relational leadership. Again glean from the Trinity.. Within the Trinity there is unity, the Father, Son, and Spirit are coequally God. They share the same essence but we find functionally the Father, Son and Spirit all play different roles. There is functional subordination within the Trinity. Within a cell group, leaders have to see themselves essentially equal with members (priesthood of all believers, struggling with the same sin, so forth and so on), and they also have to see themselves as functional heads. Just a thought.

  • Hello Joel, I am new in your site but i read your articles and in fact implement it in my cell.I believe that relational communities are very very important

  • thanks for the stimulating words thus far to this blog. I’m encouraged. Great thoughts, Jonathan, about another book on relational leadership. I’m open to God’s direction on that matter. . .

  • Marriage is based on commitment and covenant.
    Community is based on the same.

    In the past, many have united aroung truth, and divided when disagreed.

    Community is deeper than that.

  • In the Philippines especially in our town & province where every one knows every one in the community. Relaionship is vital & needed inorder to survive spiritually, emotionally & physically. Every one in the community is almost related to somebody. That’s why community is important to people & to God. Thanks for the comment & God bless!!

  • Dear Servant of God Joel,
    Receive much greetings from kenya africa.First thanks to God who called you unto His ministry work, that through you we can learn many things.You are always ablessing to us through sending your news letters on how God is using you to write some books that may help many people in the whole world.We will keep praying for you and your ministry.Here in kenyA Africa in our cell church prayer groups,we see God is changing our community through our cells prayer groups,many people have surrendered their lifes to jesus christ,others have come together for reconciliation through our cell prayer groups,others have started their small business to help their families and the work of God in their churches,cause after praying to somebody,we come to practical for assisting the person where God enables us do.For excample,we use to in different homes where we meet,many people are brought to us to be prayed others are so poor coming from poor families,then through our cell group we contribute something to help the person as our new converted member to make in life.So we have seen greet things happening in our cells groups,we request for your more prayers for through prayers God will give us wisdom and Provision to help assist others after praying and preaching jesus to them.Continually pray for us proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom,
    Yours brother Inchrist Pastor Thomas Okinyi

  • Relational Discipleship is to me, it is Biblical, and if Biblical, then it should be encouraged. I want to see this relational discipleship happen in my Church. Praise God you brought the idea and bring out in the printed form.

    I will be so thankful, if you can send this through email.

    God richly bless you.

    Keni.

  • As we read the long and slow greetings and endings in the epistles … come to think of it, some the middle parts too … I too am realizing more of the importance of relationships.

  • I would recommend buying Joel’s books via the internet (see bookstore tab at the top of this page). Service I have received has been excellent, books arrive in good condition, promptly and are competitively priced. And I live in Australia – if they can get to me there then they can get to anyone anywhere!

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