Community as Part of the Christian Life


by Mario Vega

As I have written on other occasions, after some time, cell ministry becomes part of the Christian culture of the people. New generations of believers enter the cells as naturally as they enter the Christian life.

Community relations also occur very naturally. Being a Christian includes being a cell member. To be a cell member provides a foundation for relating with others. The sense of community and evangelization are implicit in the Christian life within a mature cell church.

When talking about a mature cell church, I’m referring to those churches who have more than a decade in cell work and are experiencing conversions within the cell strategy.  The leader’s role continues to be vital, but he or she does not need to exert loads of effort to establish friendship ties. The community is established by an inertia that comes from the strength of a well established tradition. Granted, to make this happen, it takes diligence, patience, and consistency. The good news is that those who sow in hope today will reap with joy later on.



Translation into Spanish

La comunidad como parte de la fe.

Como lo he escrito en otras ocasiones, cuando un trabajo celular lleva ya bastante tiempo llega a convertirse en parte de la cultura cristiana de las personas. Nuevas generaciones de creyentes se suman a la actividad celular y, con ello, ingresan a las células de manera tan natural como ingresan a la vida cristiana.

Las relaciones de comunidad se producen de manera, igualmente natural. Ser cristiano, incluye el ser miembro de una célula. Ser miembro de una célula proporciona una base para relacionarse con otras personas. El sentido de comunidad y de evangelización están implcitas en la vida cristiana dentro de una iglesia celular madura.

Al hablar de madura, me refiero a aquellas iglesias que llevan más de una década en el trabajo y que sostienen la experiencia de lograr conversiones dentro del modelo. Las personas creen en una iglesia celular dinámica.

Desde ese punto de vista, el papel del lder sigue siendo importante. Pero, no necesita hacer muchos esfuerzos para establecer esos lazos de amistad. La comunidad se estable por una inercia que viene de la fuerza de una tradición muy bien establecida.

Claro, esa incorporación de la vida celular a la cultura evangélica es el resultado de un trabajo cotidiano, paciente y constante. Los que hoy siembran con esperanza, cosecharán con gozo.

Call for Community

by Jeff Tunnell

It is my recommendation that pastors and/or cell champions make the extra effort necessary to contact a cell leader when they become aware of important events in a cell member’s life.  This may be a birthday or anniversary event, business opening, family celebration or a distress call.

For example, due to a cell member’s emergency hospital visit, the church office may receive notification from the hospital staff or chaplain.  Immediate contact with a cell leader may be difficult due to their other responsibilities (work, school, etc) but the effort must be made to allow this leader to shepherd their cell member in distress.  If the leader is unavailable to respond, then we must encourage them to contact another cell member who CAN respond to the need right away.  These efforts are often bypassed due to a mindset prevalent from a previous program-driven paradigm that assumes the pastoral staff is paid to be available for these needs.

Let’s be honest; as long as paid staff are assumed to be the first responder to all needs, the cells will not learn to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.  This does not prevent staff from responding along with the cell leader or cell member, it simply moves the shepherding care to the cell.  Bonding will be deep when cell members share traumatic moments as well as joyful events together while building community that endures.

Sharing the Relational Load

JOELby Joel Comiskey

I remember a conversation with a cell leader at a church I was coaching in southern California. He was wrestling with guilt over not being able to spend individual time with members of his cell group apart from the actual cell meeting and celebration time. This leader had a fulltime job and a young family. As we talked, I reminded him that he should not feel like he needs to develop all of the relationships in the group. I said to him, “Your cell members are equally responsible to develop relationships. In fact, perhaps more so, because they don’t have the additional job of leading, like you do.”

But how do you get members to share the relational load? One way is to encourage cell members to meet together during the week in gender specific sub groups for mutual encouragement, like Neil Cole teaches in his book, Cultivating a Life for God. Cole recommends that these relational sub-groups hold each other accountable by using questions patterned after John Wesley’s 18th Century bands:

  • What is the condition of your soul?
  • What sin do you need to confess?
  • What have you held back from God that you need to surrender?
  • Is there anything that has dampened your zeal for Christ?
  • Who have you talked with about Christ this week? (For a complete list of Wesley’s questions, go here)

Other ideas to stimulate interaction among cell members include:

  • Rotating from house to house to get to know each other better
  • Developing a prayer chain among members
  • Exchanging phone numbers, emails, facebook, etc.
  • Hanging out together during the celebration service
  • Encouraging gathering together for sports, picnics, etc.

Perhaps you have some additional ideas? The key is to share the relational load among cell members.


Celebrating Community

By Steve Cordle

How many times have you moved? If you are the average American, the answer is 11.7 times (I guess that last time the truck didn’t make it all the way to the new house!)

All of that mobility is hard on relationships. Many in our churches do not have old friends or family near by. But God’s gift to us is that we can always experience the family of God with brothers and sisters in Christ, especially through a cell group.

Groups can build and experience community in many ways, both in and outside the regular group meeting.

One way to celebrate our community is through communion. Many of our groups have a practice of holding a special communion service. Often at the end of a year. The tradition is for members to serve communion to each other. The leader starts by carrying the cup and bread to where a fellow member is seated. Before serving that member, he or she names a specific way in that person has influenced him/her while in the group. Then the leader offers the cup and bread.

Next, that member picks out another member of the group, and does the same thing.  And so it goes around the whole group, until everyone has been served and shared and heard about their influence.

It is a moving experience, and always a little surprising. Members are often unaware that they have made an impact on anyone else in the group. They may have thought they were there just to grow in their own faith. They may even have felt they were not worthy to help someone else, but they discover is that just by spending time each week together, and doing life as a group, they have made a difference. It’s a way the bonds of Christ-centered community are made visible.



Call for Help


by Bill Mellinger

James 5:16 NIV – “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

It was Saturday afternoon, and we were nearing the end of our Encounter Weekend. We were using the material that Joel Comiskey shared with us last year in our first Encounter. There had been some good community already. Our individual times and our times of prayer with a partner had already drawn us closer to one another and to the Lord.

We placed a chair in the center of the room. Everyone had been told at the previous session that we would be inviting people to sit in the chair, so that they could be prayed for, if they desired it. Our discussion had centered on the healing that Jesus wants to give us.

I began the session by reading James 5:14-15, where James invites the sick to call for prayer from the “elders.” After sharing that the chair was there for people to sit on and request prayer, we went into a time of worship. Then, I added the text from verse 16 where it tells us to confess our sins one to another. The Holy Spirit drew us close. It was obvious that the Spirit had some work to do and that it needed to happen in community. We had already been honest with God. Now he wanted to give us freedom by sharing/confessing to one another.

Some shared requests for personal healing. Another shared generational curses in their family. A couple openly and tearfully shared their struggles with sin, and unforgiveness. God was faithful, and we were experiencing His healing. Some were afraid to “sit in the chair.” Their pain was evident on their faces. Sometime they will “call for the elders,” and there will be healing, but it didn’t take place at that time.

God has placed us here to respond to one another when we “call for help.” This is the beauty of the community that is developed in the safety of a cell group or on an Encounter weekend.

God bless you when you “call for help.”
Bill Mellinger