by Joel Comiskey
At the Dallas JCG conference in February 2011, Mario Vega spoke on values, principles, and models. Before hearing Mario, I knew about Biblical values, time-tested principles, and cell church models. Yet, Mario connected them for me. God used Mario to show me that the Bible must be the basis for all the values we hold dearly. Cell church allows us to live out those biblical values to a fuller extent. In other words, we believe in the cell church strategy because cell church allows us to truly live out Biblical values. I’m sure there are many, but the foundational biblical values are:
- community (God is a Trinity)
- priesthood of all believrs (everyone is a minister)
- relational evangelism (Jesus and His incarnation)
- discipleship (Christ’s last command)
- multiplication (be fruitful and multiply)
We do cell church because we believe that a two-winged strategy will help us to live out the biblical values. Why do we need cell church principles? Once we’re committed to do cell church because it’s biblical, it’s important to know how to cell church the most effectively. We can do this by following the time-tested principles that fruitful cell churches follow. In other words, what do they all growing cell churches have in common, regardless of culture, denomination, or history. My research on worldwide cell churches highlighted five key principles:
- commitment to prayer and spirituality (God is the fuel behind the cell church)
- lead pastor and team giving clear vision and direction to cell ministry (in contrast to a church with cells).
- cell ministry promoted as the base of the church (not just another program)
- clear, holistic definition of a cell group (the cell is the church)
I noticed additional principles as well, such as:
- The passion behind cell ministry is evangelism and church growth.
- Reproduction (multiplication) is the major goal of each cell group.
- Cell and celebration attendance expected of everyone attending the church.
- Clearly established leadership requirements for those entering cell ministry.
- Required cell leadership training for all potential cell group leaders.
- Cell leadership developed from within the church itself, at all levels.
- A supervisory care structure for each level of leadership (G-12 or 5×5).
- Follow-up system of visitors and new converts administered through cell groups.
- Cell lessons based on pastor’s teaching to promote continuity between cell and celebration (although flexibility might be given to meet the needs of specific homogeneous groups)
I talk extensively about all of the principles in my book Reap the Harvest.
As a church follows Biblical values and time-tested principles, God will raise up models for others to follow. Model cell churches should always point people back to biblical values and time-tested principles, while generously welcoming people to see what God has done in their midst. Often people need to see practical examples to really understand the cell strategy.