Reaching Islam

by Jeff Tunnell

This week I am appreciating Author Dr. Nabeel T. Jabbour and his book, “The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross”, insights from an Arab Christian.  Born in Syria and raised in Lebanon, he then lived with his family in Egypt for 15 years.  His Doctorate is in Islamics and he presently works for the Navigators in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.

I enjoyed Dr. Jabbour’s explanations and insights on the different types of Muslims, their views of Christianity, and successful ways to reach out to them with the Gospel.  My surprise came in part three of the book when he explained his view of ecclesiology, faith and culture.  Here in chapter 15 was a simple diagram of two churches: one a traditional building, the other a network of relationships.  He went on to discuss that the second “hidden ecclesia” becomes the most effective way for Muslims to gather after accepting Christ and still remain salt and light inside their existing culture without complete rejection by family or society.

It now became clear why a Cell leader gave me the book.  Recent messages on “What is the Church?” “Community through Cells” and speaking about relational evangelism, had connected the two for this leader.  Her concern for those who make up nearly 20% of the world’s population had led her to investigate the life and beliefs of Muslims.

Dr. Nabbour inspired me by demonstrating once again that the cell church method is the most practical, effective and efficient way to reach the last great harvest among Muslims!

What is your experience with reaching Muslims?  Have you integrated these converts into your cell-based ministry?

Restructuring the JCG Blog

joelby Joel Comiskey

Rob Campbell is currently visiting one of his network churches in Mexico, and he doesn’t have Internet access. He asked me to blog on his behalf.

I’ll take the opportunity to share with you about our new blog emphasis and format. Starting next week, we’ll be switching to a thematic blog. That is, each of the five bloggers will focus on the same cell church theme. In this way, we hope to give a more in-depth view of a particular cell church topic each week. For example, for the month of April, all of us will cover:

Week 1: Prayer in the cell church–why prayer is so important in the cell church and how to do it

Week 2: Prayer in the cell–how to integrate prayer in the cell

Week 3: Leader exemplifying prayer in his or her own life (devotions, etc.)

Week 4: Christ presence in the cell–how the Trinity produces life and power in the cell group

We hope you’ll actively participate in commenting on these themes.

We also want to welcome Michael Sove, cell champion at Memorial Baptist Church, as our new weekly blogger. Here’s is the new order of blogging:

Monday: Joel Comiskey

Tuesday: Jeff Tunnell

Wednesday: Mario Vega

Thursday: Michael Sove

Friday: Rob Campbell and Steve Cordle (they will alternate from week to week or month to month)

We believe that this new format will bless all who read the blog and help extend Christ’s kingdom.



Balancing Cell Evangelism and Community

joelby Joel Comiskey

Most people consider David Cho to be the founder of the modern day cell church movement. Not only did his cell church grow into the largest church in the history of Christianity, but his landmark book, Successful Home Cell Groups, told everyone how it happened. In this book, Cho makes it clear that cell groups should emphasize both evangelism and community. Chapter 5 (The Security of Cell Groups) highlights cell community and chapter 6 (Home Cell Groups: a Key to Evangelism) emphasizes the evangelistic thrust. Even to this day, each cell at Yoido Full Gospel Church has the annual goal of winning two people to Jesus.

For the most part, worldwide cell churches follow Cho’s example in positioning cells  to both evangelize and promote intimate community. But it’s a tough balance to maintain.

I’ve noticed a tendency in some cell churches to over-emphasize cell evangelism to the exclusion of community (a tendency in some majority world churches). Others over-emphasize community to the exclusion of active cell evangelism (a tendency in some western churches).

Last week several pastors came  to to my house for our regular coaching time. One of them asked the question about how to maintain the emphasis on both evangelism and community in the cell. “How hard should I push for evangelism and multiplication,” he said.

I answered: “In our cell church in Ecuador, most understood the purpose of evangelism and multiplication in the cell. On the other hand, I’ve had to confront cell members in North America who outright told me that they weren’t interested in evangelism and were especially against multiplication. In such cases, I’ve had to work behind the scenes with such people to help them to understand the purpose of the cell. You cannot  back down from emphasizing evangelism and multiplication. True community demands reaching out to a hurt and dying world.”

Traditional church people often have a harder time balancing the dual emphasis.  I coached a pastor in Delaware last week who excitedly told me that  two of his cells were ready to multiply. “I’ve discovered,” he told me, “that the new believers quickly catch the vision for both evangelism and community.  Those who have been in the church a long time have a tougher time understanding the need to reach out and multiply.” I told him that it’s best to run with those who are running with the hope that their excitement will rub off on the rest of the church.

Whether you’re dealing with long-term church members, new converts, a church in transition, or a brand new church plant, it’s essential to emphasize both evangelism and community in the cell.



More about Rotating Cells

by Mario Vega

Cells that rotate from one house to another over a two to three week period are much more inclusive in terms of reaching people with the message of the Gospel.

When a permanent cell is opened, at first, there is a high interest among the neighbors to attend the cell. But, as months pass by, the cell stops being a novelty and a greater effort is required to bring guests.

The advantage of rotating cells is maintaining a constant freshness. They are always a novelty since they only stay in one house for two or three weeks before rotating to another one. Because of this there are always many guests wanting to know what a cell is.

But as I said before, rotating cells is not the only way to do it. We normally encourage rotation for specific needs, and the goal is to convert rotating cells into permanent cells. I simply wanted to share this variant of our work.

We’ve discovered that a rotating cell can only work when it has a very strong core, so that it doesn’t have to depend on a house, but on the inner strength of the core members.



Translation into Spanish:

Más sobre las células rotativas

Las células que rotan de una casa a otra en lapsos de dos a tres semanas, poseen la particularidad que son mucho más inclusivas en términos de alcanzar a personas con el mensaje del evangelio.

Cuando una célula permanente se abre, al principio, existe mucho interés por los vecinos por asistir a ella. Pero, en la medida que los meses pasan, la célula deja de ser novedad y requiere mucho más esfuerzo llevar a los invitados.

La ventaja de las células rotativas es que siempre se mantienen frescas. Dado que solamente permanecen dos o tres semanas en una casa, para luego rotar a otra, siempre son novedad. Siempre hay muchos invitados queriendo conocer lo que es una célula.

Pero, como dije anteriormente, las células rotativas no son nuestra regla. Su número es muy reducido y se recurre a ellas solamente por necesidades especficas. La meta es que las células rotativas terminen por convertirse en células permanentes.

No obstante, quera compartir esta variante de nuestro trabajo. Quiero insistir que una célula rotativa solamente funciona cuando posee un núcleo muy bien consolidado. Cuando la célula no depende de una casa sino de s misma.

Prayer in Coaching

by Jeff Tunnell

I am sitting in our regular coaching time with Joel and 5 others and the dialogue is warming up.  We are developing relationship and pursuing progress while discussing principle approaches to cell ministry. All of us are cell leaders and two are Senior Pastors.

Joel moves from one to the next, asking us to share our recent praises and then request prayer for present needs.  I deeply appreciate this component today because as I share my needs (deep and personal ones) the group stops spontaneously to pray for me.  Kneeling on the floor, humbling myself before Jesus and this caring group, they begin to intercede on my behalf.

The conversation flows freely between these leaders and our Father, just for me.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit begin to operate in my friends as a word of wisdom comes through one followed by a supportive word picture from another, both bringing God’s life and guidance to my situation.

We proceed to counsel together as the conversation broadens to encompass other’s needs and more prayer is offered in the throne room of heaven.  The peace that passes all understanding settles on hearts which have surrendered to the will of God.

Coaching is a necessary and welcome part of my week (and month)!  It brings life in the kingdom into focus and provides much needed encouragement that reaches beyond our human limitations.

How has coaching helped you recently?  Is the JCG blog a regular component of your encouragement?  Let us know if there is an area of Cell ministry you would like addressed.