Walking with God through the Unknown

joelby Joel Comiskey

Last Thursday (February 25) the visa/passport agency informed me that the Nigerian embassy had lost my passport, which I needed the next day to fly to Nigeria. I had to call my contact in Nigeria and cancel the conference. The Family Worship Centre had diligently planned for 2200 people to attend the three-night conference. I also really wanted to go and had already made lots of preparation. The pastor wrote me saying, “This will cause a major crisis for us.” This same pastor had already rescheduled the conference a few weeks earlier due to my not having a visa, and now he had to do it again.

The situation hit me hard because I really didn’t understand God’s plan and purpose. “What are you doing, God?” I cried. My own understanding was in rebellion, and it took awhile to surrender to God’s perfect plan and purpose. I had to spend large amounts of time in devotions to arrive at a place of trust.My mind settled on the verse in Proverbs 3:5, “”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Cell church ministry demands similar trust. Sometimes we don’t see the end from the beginning. We don’t understand why a group member or potential multiplication leader moves away, leaves the church, or just doesn’t seem interested. We often wrestle with the lack of growth in the church. We want to see God move much more quickly. We often do all the right things, but the results are slim.

When you begin to feel the weight and weariness of ministry engulf you, remember the message of Proverbs 3:5. Trust the all-powerful God who has Your best interest in mind. His plan is perfect for you and will show you in His time.



P.S.: Thanks for praying for the Myrtle Beach JCG event and Day with Joel and Mario. God unified the JCG board and helped us to make important decisions. God gave us a greatjcg time of ministry at the Day with Joel and Mario. The event was a great success from a ministry standpoint but not from a fund-raising point of view. We had 21 people at the event (3 more than last time), but we also dropped the price a lot from last year. We will do the Day with Joel and Mario next year in Myrtle Beach and in another location by a major airport. Thanks for your prayers and please pray for next year’s event.

JCG ministry in Myrtle Beach, SC

by Joel Comiskey

On Tuesday, February 23, the Joel Comiskey Group board will meet together in Myrtle Beach, SC for a day of prayer and relational interaction. Each member will answer the following questions on a personal and ministerial level:

1. What point of celebration would you like to share with the group?

2. What was tough for you since our time together last year?

We then eat together. This has been our tradition since 2003 when we met for the first time. We believe that relational connection comes before the tasks of JCG.

On Thursday, February 25, we will meet again to reflect on whether we’ve accomplished our goals for the past year and then envision the future for JCG for the upcoming year.

Sandwiched in between the board meetings is the Day with Joel Comiskey and Mario Vega (February 24). Even though we call it “Day with Joel and Mario” the entire JCG team participates. I’m excited and hopeful about what God is going to do on that day.

Would you please pray that the JCG board (i.e., Joel and Celyce Comiskey, Steve Cordle, Rob Campbell, Mario Vega, and Jeff Tunnell) would experience unity of mind and vision. Pray that God would give us direction on specific issues for the future (e.g., we will talk about bringing on the first JCG missionary and what that would look like). Pray for God’s anointing on the Day with Joel and Mario, and that we could really meet the needs of those present. We will not be blogging this next week because of these events.

p.s.: Some have wondered why we meet each year in the Hampton Inn in Myrtle Beach, SC. The reason is because Buddy Lindsay, one of the original JCG board members and tax lawyer, is also the co-owner of this hotel (we get a great deal). Buddy first suggested the idea of organizing JCG into a non-profit organization and was instrumental in making it happen.

Open Doors

by Mario Vega

A few weeks ago I wrote about the differences between American and Salvadorian culture in relation to cell evangelism. Since then, I’ve been reflecting on this a lot. As a result of those thoughts, I can now add another element that I think is important.

Most houses in El Salvador are small and do not have interior gardens and much less exterior ones. The houses are huddled next to each other in a continuous succession. Moreover, the country’s climate is hot and having air conditioning is a luxury that few can afford. These conditions cause people to open their doors for better ventilation and a feeling of spaciousness when they get home. Many times a closed door means that there is no one home. An open door means that the family is present.

The “open door” has turned into a cultural norm in El Salvador. The individual who locks himself into the house with his family to enjoy his privacy is considered a strange person in El Salvador. In contrast, this is normative among Americans. Granted, there are middle and upper class families in El Salvador that like to preserve their privacy, but their percentage is low in comparison with the large popular sectors that keep their doors open.

This cultural condition has an impact on cell work because in the large popular sectors, cells rapidly multiply, while in the middle and high class sectors the work is much smaller and multiplication is much slower.

Obviously, a church has to adapt to the culture in which it finds itself. And I believe that every church can implement the habit of building rapport with other people, to lead a life of greater outreach to others, and to move the fellowship of the church’s cafeteria to the living rooms of the members. Although the pace of cell multiplication in some cultures is slower, the important thing is that the church is planting seeds, which over the years, will carry a rich harvest of salvation.



Translation in Spanish

Casas de puertas abiertas.

Unas semanas atrás escrib sobre las diferencias entre la cultura estadounidense y la salvadoreña en relación con el trabajo de evangelización con células. Desde entonces, la idea se quedó dando vueltas en mi mente.

Como resultado de esos pensamientos, puedo ahora añadir otro elemento que me parece importante. La mayor parte de casas en El Salvador son pequeñas y no cuentan con jardines interiores y mucho menos exteriores. Las casas se apiñan una al lado de otra en continua sucesión. Además, el clima del pas es caluroso y tener aire acondicionado es un lujo que pocos se pueden dar.

Esas condiciones hacen que las personas, al llegar a casa, abran las puertas de sus casas para tener una mejor ventilación y una sensación de amplitud. Muchas veces una puerta cerrada significa que no hay nadie en casa. Una puerta abierta significa que la familia está en casa.

Pero, la costumbre se ha vuelto cultural y se considera extraña la persona que al llegar a casa se encierra con su familia para gozar de la privacidad de su hogar. Cosa que, por el contrario, es normativa entre los estadounidenses.

Existen en El Salvador familias de clase media y alta que s gustan de preservar su privacidad. Pero esto es en la menor cantidad de casos. En los grandes sectores populares rige la costumbre de mantener las puertas abiertas.

Esta condición cultural incide en el trabajo celular ya que en los grandes sectores populares las células se multiplican aceleradamente, mientras que en los sectores medios y altos el trabajo es mucho más pequeño y su multiplicación mucho más lenta.

Obviamente que para la iglesia sera una tarea difcil, largusima y al final quizá innecesaria el tratar de cambiar la cultura de los pueblos. Pero la iglesia s puede adaptarse creativamente a sus condiciones culturales. Una lnea de trabajo es la que, de hecho, ya se está implementando: el crear hábitos de relaciones con otras personas. Llevar una vida de mayor proyección hacia los demás. Mover la comunión de la cafetera de la iglesia a las salas de las casas.

Aunque el ritmo de multiplicación celular en el primer mundo sea más lento, lo importante es que la iglesia está sembrando un precedente que, con los años, llevará una rica cosecha de salvación.

Federer Follow Up

by Jeff Tunnell

In Monday’s blog Joel mentioned a well known tennis player’s approach to coaching.  Allow me to follow up with a little article from “World’s Greatest Coach”, by Running Press.

“When he qualified for Wimbledon in 2003, tennis player Roger Federer had yet to win a grand slam.  Though he had upset Pete Sampras in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2001, and won numerous minor tournaments earlier in the year, the Swissman was unable to crack a major title.

Critics who had predicted his rise had mixed feelings about his potential.  But his coach of 3 ½ years, Peter Lundgren, believed in him. Speaking to John McEnroe, Peter said that in order for Federer to reach his maximum potential, “all he needs is to get one [slam] under his belt.”  Lundgren was right!

Kneeling on the grass court just moments after his victory over Australian Mark Philippoussis, an emotional Federer looked up into the stands – not to pick out his family or acknowledge his fans, but to catch the eye of Peter Lundgren.  The look that passed between them was priceless; it spoke of gratitude, obstacles overcome, awe, and finally, triumph.”

Coaching cell leaders may present a different type of challenge, but the relationship you have with your leaders is vital.  It’s up to you to understand and unlock the potential of each one, pass on the fundamentals of cell ministry and inspire them to be ‘all they can be’ while depending on the grace of God.

By the way, at Wimbledon last year Federer surpassed Peter Sampras’ record (14) for winning the most Grand Slams in a career (15).  His win at the Australian Open at the beginning of this year makes it 16 and time is still on his side.  He is becoming known as the greatest player of all time and he couldn’t have done it without a COACH! (He’s had one since he was 8 years old)

If you are a cell coach, stay with it!  If you are being coached, make sure to utilize your coach often.

Three Questions about the Cell Church of the Future (part 2)

By Rob Campbell


Last week on this blog post I asked three questions about the Cell Church of the future. Thanks to all who responded. Please see the questions and a few comments below. Check out two or three of my thoughts at the end of this post.

1. Do you believe teens and people in their twenties embrace the cell church model?

Joel L wrote: I think one of the attractive characteristics of the cell church model is the invitation from the body to get in the game, and as I college cell pastor (and a twenty-something myself), I believe my teens and twenty-somethings desperately want to play ball. So any church model that equips and empowers is attractive to this generation. I believe my generation wants to be in the game, but in some ways they may not want to play in a way that imitates previous generations.

2. How would you see the cell church model changing to attract teens and twenties?

Oona wrote: I don’t see a huge need for change, there will always be a generation difference as to what preferences are; music, styles of preaching, etc. But the beauty of the way cell church is designed is that, it’s so little about that and so much about relational discipleship. A young person might walk out the door of a more program driven church that fails to have the right look or play the right music, but if that same person is ‘captured’ into cell group first I believe it would be a lot harder to push them off. After all even teenagers would agree that their friends are more important to them than their music.

3. Do you believe in two decades or so, the cell church model will be seen as antiquated and/or obsolete? Please explain.

Richard wrote: Not at all, the contrary. I feel it will be the model to imitate.

Now, a few of my thoughts.

Concerning the first question, I have nothing to add to Joel L’s response. I especially like his last sentence which reads, “I believe my generation wants to be in the game, but in some ways they may not want to play in a way that imitates previous generations.” Therefore, as a forty-something pastor, I choose to fan the flame of this younger generation and avoid “my way or the highway” mentality.

Concerning the second and third questions, I have one thought. Empowering teens and the twenty-something crowd to lead as cell champions will be essential and necessary. With that said, I conclude with a question for Senior Pastors and ministry leaders.

Are you empowering, training a person or a team in their teens and twenties to be the current and future voice of the cell church movement?