Cell Evangelism: The Need for Modeling and Training

joelby Joel Comiskey

I’m writing from the Dominican Republic where I just finished a cell church conference. 1300 pastors and leaders from a wide-variety of denominations were present. Shekinah Fellowship, the sponsoring church, did a marvelous job of bringing together the entire body of Christ to learn about cell church ministry. I prophesied to this hungry group of pastors and leaders that God desired to use the Dominican Republic to be a sending base for pastors and missionaries all over the world. I told them that cells are a perfect breeding ground for future pastors and missionaries because people are converted in the cell, grow in Christ, become co-leaders, leaders, and eventually multiply new groups. “Some of you,” I told them, “will sense the call to plant cell churches in the most needy places of the world.”

The process starts when Spirit-filled cell groups win new people to Jesus and prepare them to become disciple-makers. Evangelism, in other words, is at the heart of cell ministry.

Last week I spent time with the founding pastor of “La Iglesia del Nuevo Testamento Vega Baja” in Puerto Rico.  Pastor Emilio  burns with a passion to reach people through cell evangelism. His church started five years ago in a cell with the express purpose of reaching non-Christians for Jesus.  I noticed that each of the twenty-five cell leaders burn with the same evangelistic passion of their senior pastor. Emilio models what he expects others to follow.

While modeling is the best way to train cell members to evangelize, I believe cell evangelism training should be an integral part of a church’s training track. In my own 5-book training track, one of those books is called Share, which deals exclusively with how to share the gospel from a cell perspective (I’m also excited that Share (Comparta) and the other training books are now available in Spanish).

In the last two weeks I’ve been encouraged by the power and potential of cell evangelism, both in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Modeling and training are the keys to keep the evangelistic fire burning. What about you? What has your experience been? Do you think modeling is more important than training? Both equally important?


Open Groups

by Jim Wall

This generation is motivated by relationships. People often come to relationship with Christians they trust before they come into a relationship with Jesus.

Last week, I blogged about the driving force behind the formation of our church’s cell vision. In 1996, we concluded that a cell-based approach was the only way we could keep our evangelistic passion and yet create opportunities for young believers to grow up in their faith. We developed a ministry that focused on celebration services designed for evangelism and a closed-cell system focused on intimacy and discipleship. It worked—the church continued to grow by conversion growth and the congregation’s maturity deepened—for a while.

In recent years, we’ve noticed that the larger the church has gotten, the more intimidating the crowds have become to unchurched, unsaved people who visit. (We call it the “deer-in-the-headlights-look” and we see it every Sunday!) Even more disturbing, we’ve found that many of the unsaved people who do come, hide in the crowd. Add to that, we had to acknowledge our closed-cell system had stagnated.

After much prayer we decided to heed Joel Comiskey’s advice to open our cells to anyone who would come. Joel had advised us to add an evangelistic element to our cells for years. I liked what he was saying, but I was nervous. After all, most of our cells leaders had come to Christ here, joined their first cell group here and had become cell leaders here. How would they react to an open-cell system? Besides, our cells weren’t growing but they were very intimate and they had become the backbone of everything we did as a body. We decided to step out by faith.

We started by casting vision for the open-system to our cell leaders. Part of the vision included inspiring our cell groups to build their own friends (oikos) list. We also took advantage of our new sanctuary construction by giving markers to our members on a Sunday morning. We invited them to write their “friends list” on the floor before the carpet went down as a reminder to pray. They filled the floor with names!

The next step was to cast vision to the congregation and encourage everyone to participate in a cell for a six-week “trial” period. Our cell numbers soared. A high percentage of those who responded stayed after the trial period.

Since then, we’ve seen a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through the place! There is a new buzz in our monthly cell leader’s gatherings. There is new fervor in our prayer times. People are coming to Christ in larger numbers than ever and intimacy among our members is at an all time high. Add to that, we’ve now started new cells on area college campuses and even on board a US Navy ship deployed in the middle east. Thanks Joel!

Next week, I’ll blog about the training process we’re using to prepare laborers for the harvest. For now, how about sharing your stories of the impact of evangelism at the cell level?


Many Approaches – One Desired Outcome

By Michael Sove

In previous weeks we have been talking about all the ways cell groups can emphasize evangelism as a group, from, “body-life” evangelism to praying over the open chair as the group gathers weekly, to throwing monthly outreach events as a group.

Now I want to focus on the whole church gathered together and share some ideas how all the cells can work together to reach out with larger events. As I write this, we are involved in a multi-faceted series of outreach events as a church.

The Lead Pastor and our Missions Coordinator met with city officials a few weeks back and asked if there was a particular part of town that really needed a positive influence that we could adopt as a church.  They quickly told us about an area only a few miles away from where we meet for our weekend services.

Two weeks ago, about ninety of us went out door to door inviting the residents to a “Block Party” to be held in their area the next week.  People were really receptive to the invitation.  At this “Block Party” there was free food and games, door prizes, music etc.  Here is a link for you to get an idea of how it went for us.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtuH6SxOPOc&feature=sub At the “Block Party” we passed out invitations to our next big event “Double Day” which will be held this weekend.  An estimated 500 people came through the “Block Party.”

Double Day is just our internal name for this weekend where we are seeking to double the number of first time guests in our Sunday services.  The message is called “Peace of Mind… At Last” and is geared for those we are inviting.  We have been advertising in the community all month with billboards, yard signs and most importantly, personal invitations.  Each person has been asked to invite two people who do not know Christ.

Finally, one week later we are holding our annual Comedy Night.  For this event, we invite a well known, Christian comedian to come in and we give personal invitations to our un-churched friends.  This Saturday night event is packed out every year.  My friends without Christ will come to an event like this.  We encourage our cell members to pay for their friend’s tickets, take them to dinner and then to the event!

We have held golf outings and many other events that are easy to invite people to.  In all these events there is one desired outcome, which is best expressed by the following verse:

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

What events have you used to successfully reach out to your community?


Taking Over the Air with the Gospel

by Mario Vega

Even though Elim Church is a cell church, its evangelization work is not confined to cells only. One strategy Elim has developed over the years is the use of media.

We’ve discovered that the use of radio and television are effective tools of evangelization and church growth. Currently, the church owns six radio stations and one television channel. These mediums of communication and evangelism have impacted the country in an incredible way.

Elim began working with cells in September 1986. Two months earlier, Elim acquired its first radio station. In 1988 the city’s stadium was first used for a rally attended by approximately 25.000 people. The church had tripled its members.

As I saw what appeared to me like a huge crowd, I asked the former senior pastor at that time: “What has produced the growth? The cells or the radio?” The Pastor thought for a few seconds and replied: “I don’t know.”

The question was not answered until 1995, in the city of Santa Ana, El Salvador where I was pastoring at the time. The church in Santa Ana completed its transition to the cellular model in 1987 and began to see strong, consistent growth. In 1995 the Santa Ana church acquired its first radio station and saw about the same level of growth as before. The difference in eight years showed that both cell and radio were important elements in evangelization and discipleship. Since then, we use the media as another way of proclaiming the gospel in a cell church.




Tomando los aires con el evangelio.

Si bien Iglesia Elim es una iglesia celular, su trabajo de evangelización no se limita solamente a las células. Elim desarrolla otras acciones evangelizadoras de las cuales solo deseo mencionar, por hoy, el uso de los medios de comunicación.

El uso de la radio y de la televisión es para nosotros una de las herramientas más poderosas de evangelización. En la actualidad, la iglesia posee seis emisoras de radio y un canal de televisión propios. El fruto que se ha cosechado es incontable y la influencia en el pas innegable.

Elim comenzó a trabajar con células en septiembre de 1986. Dos meses antes, también se haba adquirido la primera emisora de radio. En 1988 se utilizó por primera vez el estadio de la ciudad para un evento al que asistieron aproximadamente 25,000 personas. La iglesia haba triplicado sus miembros.

Al ver lo que me pareca una enorme multitud, le pregunté a quien era el Pastor Principal en ese tiempo: ‘¿Qué ha producido el crecimiento? ¿Las células o la radio?’ El Pastor se quedó pensativo unos segundos y luego me respondió: ‘No sé.”

La pregunta no tuvo respuesta hasta 1995 en la ciudad donde entonces yo era Pastor: Santa Ana. Sucede que en Santa Ana la iglesia completó su transición al modelo celular en 1987 y produjo a partir de entonces un crecimiento sostenido. Pero en 1995 adquirió su primera emisora de radio. Esa diferencia de 8 años entre los dos eventos mostró claramente el efecto de cada elemento. El crecimiento proporcionado por estas dos herramientas de evangelización era equiparable. Desde entonces, usamos los medio de comunicación como otra manera de anunciar el evangelio en una iglesia celular.

Points of Evangelism

Jeff Tunnell

Baptisms in homes and at public facilities (beaches, pools, apartment building spas, etc) have proved a good venue for us.  Friends and family members of the person being baptized feel no pressure in responding to an invitation to attend.  Here they will listen to the testimonies of all being baptized and we regularly make an appeal to the unsaved to welcome Jesus into their hearts (even being baptized at the same time).

Celebration gatherings on Sunday have become our greatest point of interaction with those seeking a relationship with Christ and his people.  God has drawn them to us and they are looking for the reason to connect.  This is where cell leaders introduce themselves and extend a warm invite to their cell.  We often have the cell leaders stand and identify themselves while we point out the printed contact information on the back of our weekly handout (bulletin).  We do not leave this as a “come to us” gospel strategy, we want the “go” in gospel to be at the forefront of our thinking, so we are proactive in approaching the visitor.

Praying together (outloud) for new leaders that God wants to establish within our congregation, we acknowledge that many of our new leaders are still pre-saved and need to come to salvation.  I like this prayer time!  It keeps an edge on our view of those we meet, investigating their need for salvation while wondering if this is our next leader – it’s very much like a treasure hunt.

Annual youth conferences produce a high level of interest for young people.  They enjoy getting to go away from home for a weekend with peers.  Many unsaved will gladly tag along to see what it is all about, leaving us with the opportunity to reap a harvest.

Overall, elementary aged children seem to be the easiest harvest to gather.  They respond to the love of the Saviour simply.  We must always give the moment in our celebrations and cells for this response to be made.  Harvesting the parents later is the next step in reaching the child’s oikos.

Concluding today I would like to insert an excerpt from the October 2010 newsletter of Great Commission Ministries:

Looking for God

On September 20th, I noticed an intriguing story on a BBC news web page. The headline read: “The Top 10 Unanswerable Questions Revealed”.

The internet search engine “Ask Jeeves” had compiled what it called the Top Ten “unanswerable questions” of the past decade. The list was based on 1.1 billion queries made on the website. The top two questions asked by over one billion people was: “What is the meaning of life?” and “Is there a God?”  Isn’t this a massive wake up call for every follower of Christ? This is a golden hour of opportunity. The answers are right at our fingertips—in the Scriptures.  Today holds a great opportunity for evangelism through media saturation of mega cities with the Gospel to answer the greatest questions of our generation. Let us labor together as never before. We can shake the cities of our generation with the Gospel!