By Joel Comiskey
God often speaks to me when I conduct seminars and conferences around the world because I see what other churches are doing up-close. During my September trip to Barquisimeto, Venezuela, God spoke directly to my heart about the need to emphasize children’s cells–as well as adolescent and youth cells.
On the plane from Caracas to Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Henry Camacho, the organizer of the event, turned to me and said, “Joel, there are very few books on children’s cell groups. You should write one.” Henry then said, “You are going to be surprised by how this church (MCM) in Barquisimeto has prioritized children’s cell groups.”
From the first day at MCM in Barquisimeto, I knew God was speaking to me. Pastor Keison, lead pastor at MCM, told me that when he visited Scotland a few years earlier, he was grieved by the many empty churches in a land famous for revivals. God spoke to him about the need to focus on children and youth, or face the same eventual fate as Scotland. MCM now has 500 cell groups and the goal is that every adult cell has a children’s cell group attached to it. They are well on the way to fulfilling that goal.
MCM also believes in training the adolescents to lead the children’s cell groups. I interviewed several adolescents (10-14 years) who clearly told me how they finished the equipping and were now taking full responsibility to visit, prepare the lesson, and pastor their children’s cell groups! I came back with a new vision to prepare the next generation.
I believe God is speaking to his church today. We cannot afford to only emphasize cell groups when the members are in high school or college. If the children are not actively engaged and becoming disciples, there’s a good chance they’ll lose interest before reaching high school or college.
A number of cell churches are waking up to this challenge. Pastor Aluizio Silva’s church in Brazil, the Vine, is actively developing children’s cell groups and now has 1000 children’s cells (and a yearly children’s cell conference). Mario Vega, lead pastor of Elim, is prioritizing children’s cells and actively training children cell leaders. Daphne Kirk has dedicated her life to developing the next generation and has created excellent literature on how to do it. Lorna Jenkins is another expert on children’s cells and has written a excellent book on the topic called Shouting in the Temple: A Radical Look at Children’s Ministry. And there are others.