By Joel Comiskey
Back in 2003, I became acquainted with Tim, and he started attending a Life Group but would never share on a deep level. Rather, he would consistently say, I don’t want to complain because after all, there are a lot of people that are far worse than I am. Pray for them; not me. It sounded noble at first, but when I heard him continually use that phrase I began to wonder. At the same time, Tim was one of the first to volunteer for tasks in the church, which is good in itself but soon he stopped going to the cell group entirely. As the months passed, I developed a deep concern for Tim. He was performing tasks but wasn’t maturing as a disciple in the group context. We as a church believed that the cell was the best place for people to mature in community, discover their gifts, become a minister, evangelize in a group context, and prepare to disciple others through group multiplication. We as a leadership team didn’t want Tim to only focus on church tasks while not maturing emotionally and spiritually as a disciple of Jesus. At the same time, we didn’t want to snuff out Tim’s desire to serve Jesus in any way possible. What were we going to do?
And this is the dilemma of integration. Most churches don’t practice integration. They tell people to get involved in a ministry/program or a small group. You can do whatever you want. No restrictions. The cell church, on the hand, asks people to first hook into a life-giving cell and then if time allows they can perform one or more ministries in the church. We in the cell church don’t want people to hide behind tasks who are not maturing in their own walk with God.
Is this difficult to accomplish? Yes. Is it worth it? Oh yes. Take Tim’s example. We opened a new cell group with Tim in mind. He was asked to participate in the discipleship team from the beginning. Tim came alive in sharing what was happening in his own life but also in ministering to others. Getting Tim involved required a commitment to make cells the base of the church and provide new opportunities. it would be far easier not to rock the boat. However, most gains require pain. Have you experienced the pain and victory of integration? Tell us about it.