By Joel Comiskey
A friend of mine, who is also a leader in the cell church movement, asked me on several occasions to tackle the topic of busyness and cell ministry on the JCG blog. He wrote, “In our society, so many people are busy, come home late, and then say they don’t have time to engage in a cell. Maybe there are people who can help with this.” I wrote him back saying,
I do realize that this is a problem, but I’m not sure there is a solution. A phrase that comes to mind is: We do not get more quality by asking for less quality. In other words, many churches try to solve the busyness problem by reducing the frequency of their cell meetings or calling everything a cell group (e.g., Sunday school, ushers, and so forth). For me, the key is to reduce the church time commitments by focusing on the key elements of cell ministry:
- celebration (larger gathering)
Beyond these, we should not require people to be involved in additional ministries (only those who have the time), but everyone should be engaged in the above four.
This was my answer to my pastor friend, but he also wanted to know what the JCG bloggers had to say about this issue, so we will cover this topic in April.
The reality is that all of us have the exact same amount of time. No more or no less. But I wonder if our problem is a lack of time or misplaced priorities? For example, North Americans watch an average of four hours of TV each day. Watching TV is a priority for busy North Americans, and they make the time to watch it.
Now I do realize that those living in the Western world have more distractions than those in the Majority world. One cell church pastor, who is ministering to people living on the Amazon River in northern Brazil, told me that if he didn’t have an activity every night for his people, they would find another church. Of course, the opposite is true in most materialistic cultures around the world.
So what is the answer? I think we need to motivate our people to prioritize cell ministry because it’s biblical. As we help others to recognize that cell church ministry is the strategy that Jesus Christ established and the early church followed, they will eventually align their actions with biblical convictions or values.
At the same time, pastors must resist taking on new programs and ministries that knock and even pound at the church’s door. The best cell church pastors have learned to say NO to the “good” in order to focus on the “best.”
And I also urge pastors and leaders not to lower the quality of the cell in order to save time (this has been a huge problem in the North American church). Since the cell is the church, we must not lose its quality. Watered down definitions end up sucking the life and meaning out of cell church ministry.