“Bread and Butter” Cells before Specializing

by Michael Sove

This week I would like to speak to those who are just starting out with cells or transitioning toward a base of “holistic” cells.

When I first arrived at Allen three years ago, I came into a situation where there were some cells in place.  The problem was that these cells were not “holistic” as we have been describing in our blogs this month.  There was no leadership training or coaching in place.  There was not a common vision or approach toward what happened as these cells gathered.

So the first thing we did was introduce training to help the existing leaders begin to understand cell life and the dimensions that make a cell holistic.  A few weeks ago I introduced these dimensions and the questions to ask to determine if your cell is “holistic” in nature.

#1  (Upward)  Are the people being directed into the presence of God?

#2  (Inward)  Are the people experiencing community and serving one another.

#3  (Outward)  Is the cell actively praying for and reaching out to the lost?

#4  (Forward)  Are people being discipled and leaders being raised toward the next multiplication?

Next we made sure every cell leader was coached.  I believe this is one of the most important aspects of a cell system.  Everyone needs to be cared for, especially your cell leaders.  Beyond this, one of the best decisions we made during this initial phase was to make our mixed (family) cells to be the “bread and butter” type cells we focused on starting.  We didn’t want to start specialized cells until we had the basic systems in place.  So we said no to many requests about starting specialized cells and directed people to first participate in a mixed cell.

Now with 25 cells we are open to planting specialized cells, like recovery cells, women’s cells, college cells, single mom’s cells as well as forming networks.  We now have a men’s network.  The key is train your leaders well and build a base of “bread and butter” type cells then God will begin to call different people to plant more specialized cells.  But the common denominator is that all these cells are holistic in nature, there is a common training system and coaching structure in place.

This approach was very helpful in our startup phase and the first few years of our transition.

Comments?  Questions?  What has been your experience as far as types of cells in your system?


Let the Holy Spirit Guide Cell Homogeneity

by Mario Vega

There is no doubt that when the New Testament church met in houses, it had no major concerns about whether or not the meetings were homogeneous. For them, the meetings of Christian worship were for what they called their “oikos,” the extended family that included slaves.

It is obvious that the characteristics of their meetings corresponded to the social and economic conditions of their time. They settled on what was more natural at the time. Similarly, we should not try to force one type of homogeneity; rather we should let things happen naturally.

In our case, we began working with mixed cell and cells for women only. The leaders of the mixed cells were always men and the leader of a women’s cell was alwasy a woman. However, it was an artificial division. Over time we realized that many men preferred to go to a cell led by a woman. Now, the cells headed by women are also mixed cells.

Regarding the work with children, we have gone in the opposite direction. We began emphasizing intergenerational cells. However, it was difficult to maintain a suitable environment. Currently, we are developing children’s cells on a different time and at a different place than the adult cells. The result has been very successful. Please understand that I don’t disqualify intergenerational cells. I’m just sharing our experience.

In each case the Holy Spirit will guide the churches to what is best. And when that happens, things will occur naturally, without forcing them. They’ll run free like water finding its own way.



translation into Spanish

El Espritu Santo como modelador de las células.

Sin dudas que cuando la iglesia del Nuevo Testamento se reuna en las casas no tena mayores preocupaciones sobre si sus reuniones eran o no homogéneas. Para ellos, las reuniones de culto cristiano eran para lo que llamaban su “oikos”, la familia ampliada que inclua a los esclavos.

Es obvio que las caractersticas de sus reuniones correspondan a las condiciones sociales y económicas de su época. Ellas se acomodaron a lo que resultaba más natural en su momento. De igual manera, no debemos tratar de forzar nada sino permitir que las cosas sucedan con toda naturalidad.

En nuestro caso, comenzamos trabajando con células mixtas y células sólo para mujeres. Los lderes de las células mixtas siempre eran hombres en tanto que en las células para mujeres el lder siempre era una mujer. No obstante, se trataba de una división artificial. Con el tiempo nos dimos cuenta que muchos hombres preferan asistir a una célula dirigida por una mujer. Ahora, las células dirigidas por mujeres son también mixtas.

Pero, en cuanto al trabajo con los niños se ha caminado en la dirección inversa. Comenzamos enfatizando las células intergeneracionales. Sin embargo, era difcil conservar un ambiente adecuado. En la actualidad, estamos desarrollando las células infantiles en un lugar y horario diferente al de las de adultos. El resultado ha sido exitoso. No descalifico con ello a las células intergeneracionales. Solamente estoy compartiendo nuestra experiencia.

En cada caso el Espritu Santo ha de guiar a las iglesias a lo que les resulte mejor. Y cuando eso suceda, las cosas ocurrirán de manera natural. Sin forzarlas. Correrán libres como el agua que encuentra su propio camino.

Where’s My Dictionary?

by Jeff Tunnell

Homogeneous?  I couldn’t even pronounce the word correctly when it first came my way!  Already a little overwhelmed with the fact that cell-based ministry would alter the methods I had practiced for 20 years, learning new vocabulary made me run for my dictionary to see if I could figure out why this homogeneity stuff was of importance.

Of the same or a similar kind or nature could not be limited to just 4 similarities: Children, Youth, Men, Women?  There had to be more!  Families, couples, singles, college, workers together at a company, salesmen/women, brokers and more came to mind as I raised a BIG QUESTION: why should I limit who can come to Jesus and mature in Him by just 4 possibilities?

But I tried, because I was learning and was a responsible pastor that knew how to ADOPT what was being presented in the latest programmed approach.  Soon I experienced the failures connected to cultural rejections of novel ideas. Ouch.

Recovery came next.  Let’s allow God to show us how to gather his flocks, nurture them in a healthy setting, following well-known, biblical principles and resulting in JOY.  We all liked that, very much.  Seeing those we had natural connections to on a weekly basis brought life giving friendships formed by the broader definition of homogeneity.  This is good!

Let’s go into all the world, find them in their families (oikos) and tell them, as Paul & Silas told the Philippian Jailer, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved along with your family. Which occurred by morning’s light! That would not have been a good moment to separate the family.

What do you think?

Homogeneous Cell Groups

joelby Joel Comiskey

According to the dictionary, a FAD is: “something that is embraced very enthusiastically for a short time, especially by many people.”

Since Cho initiated the modern day cell church movement in 1965, the cell church has passed through many fads. Those who start a fad are often motivated with a pure desire to jump-start the cell system to produce more rapid growth. The motivation might be good and right, but the problem occurs when the promoter starts declaring that the “jump-start” is now God’s new revelation (the only right way) for doing cell ministry.

Homogenous cells suffered this fate when a famous church in Latin America began promoting them as the “right way” to do cell ministry. Granted, the church grew more rapidly when they divided their cells into the categories of men, women, youth, and children. This famous church asked all their worldwide network churches to follow these strict homogeneous categories.

I remember speaking in several cell churches who had adopted this new homogeneous way of doing cells. They tried to convince me of the superiority of doing away with family cells and focusing only on cells of men, women, youth, and children.

“Shouldn’t the cell be reaching the family unit, rather than just the individual parts?” I asked. “What about intergenerational cells that have children involved.? Didn’t the early church meeting together as families from house to house?”

They replied, “But breaking up into these homogeneous categories causes rapid church growth. The men will share more intimately, and you won’t have to worry about children in the cells.”

I reminded them that both Cho’s church and the Elim Church primarily have family cells, and many believe that these two churches are the number one and two largest churches in the world.They obviously were doing quite well without the new categories.

Well, those conversations took place seven years ago. Like all fads, the hype has now died down and the fad has faded. I rarely hear anyone talking about the superiority of strict homogeneous cells.

I’m not against homogenous cells. My wife leads a women’s cell and I’m just about to open a men’s cell group. I simply believe that homogeneity should flow naturally from a clear definition of a cell group. I also believe that since the family is the foundation of society (or should be), cell churches should always emphasize family cells, along with other diverse types of cell groups.

Again, my counsel is to start with a clear definition and then allow homogeneity to flow naturally as the need arises.

What are your thoughts?


The Importance of Meeting Outside the Building

by Steve Cordle

When I eat out, I judge the restaurant not only by the quality of the food but also by the atmosphere and décor. The food and the setting combine to create the experience.

Cell groups are influenced by their settings, too. If a group meets in a church building, the public setting makes it a little harder for the participants to get personal. But the same group of people meeting in a living room can feel more relaxed and open. Meeting in a home also subtly communicates, “Faith in Jesus is not just confined to church settings, but your whole life.”

Of course, homes can be distracting environments at times. It is important for the host to plan ahead to minimize phone calls, undisciplined dogs, and the like.

Meeting in homes also allows us to invite our neighbors across the yard to a familiar setting (living room) instead of across town to an environment which is foreign to them (church building).

As a pastor, I am also quite glad that we don’t have to build enough space for all the groups to meet in the building. Instead of competing for limited space in a building, we have an unlimited amount of free square footage available as the ministry grows!

Question: For those of you ministering in inner-city American environments, do you find that people willingly open their homes to host groups there as they do in suburban or small town settings?