By Joel Comiskey
Should cell groups take offerings in the cell meeting? All of the Latin American cell churches in my research took offerings in the cells. They learned this from Yoido Full Gospel Church, which started the practice. In David’s Cho’s church (Yoido) each cell group member is given envelopes for the offering. The amount inside is marked on the envelope. They are turned in during the cell meeting. After being totaled by two persons, the separate envelopes are placed in a larger one. This envelope is then brought by the cell leader to the next worship service attended. Under the main auditorium there is a wall with pigeonhole boxes, where these envelopes are dropped. Each cell leader approaches the pigeonhole in the wall, puts the envelope to their heart, passionately prays for its use, and then drops it in a slot. In addition, at Yoido, offerings are taken at every public service.
In the Latin American churches I researched, taking offerings in the cell group helped give the cell a sense of responsibility. Treasurers were appointed in each cell to take the money to the church during the celebration service (normally on Sunday morning). At Elim Church, I stood amazed at the orderliness and first-class organization as I watched each leader bring the offering taken in the cell meeting and drop it in the slot. Trained staff counts the thousands of envelopes throughout the day. I experienced a complete paradigm shift.
Cell offerings worked as a vehicle to connect the cell focus with the celebration. These churches believed that those not attending the celebration service should be given the opportunity to contribute financially. After all, they’re benefiting from the church through the cell group. To those who are not yet ready to attend the celebration service, the cell group is their church.
Not every cell church will take offerings within the cell. Bethany Prayer Center forbids all financial dealings in the cells (apart from an occasional love offering). Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the other hand, receives an offering at each cell meeting.
I personally encouraged churches to take offerings in cells as well as in celebration. I’ve seen too many cell churches de-emphasize cell ministry during times of financial crisis, whether through a building program or economic downturn. The underlying subtle value was, “We must get people to the celebration service so we can raise money.” I believe that cells need to be part of the financial growth of the church. If cells are also a source of financial growth, the church will see cell group growth as another source of financial income and have less tendency to ignore cell ministry during a financial crunch.