By Joel Comiskey, check out Joel’s latest book, Living in Victory
I remember talking with a missionary who criticized the cell church because of its lack of doctrinal emphasis. He felt that the cell church neglected pure doctrine because it primarily focused on the cell and not the preaching of God’s Word. After listening to him, I said,
You don’t understand cell church ministry. Preaching God’s inerrant Word was apriority in all the cell churches I studied. The difference is that cell churches want to go beyond preaching and help people apply God’s Word. They do this by asking each cell to apply the Sunday teaching.
Scripture is clear. Paul says:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:2-3).
Effective cell churches go beyond the preaching on Sunday morning. They want the people to apply God’s Word in life-giving cell groups during the week. Most cell churches use the Sunday sermon as the lesson material in the cell. The goal is to apply the message. The focus of applying the Word of God helps align the preaching of God’s Word with the New Testament truth that the job of the pastor is to prepare God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Preparing the leaders: To assure the quality of cell leadership, cell churches have a step by step process to take a person from conversion to spiritual maturity. The training track is intimately linked with cell ministry and furthers the process of cell multiplication.
Synonyms for the word “track” include path, route, channel, and road. An equipping or training track takes the new believer from point A to point B. The training is specific, and the end result produces disciples who make other disciples through new cell groups.
Cell church training tracks feature clarity and “doability.” They have a definite beginning and ending and a new person entering the church can readily understand what it takes to go from A to B.
Coaching the leaders: One of the key differences between groups that start and fizzle and those that make it over the long haul can be summed up in one word: coaching.
Most churches can successfully start groups—even hundreds of them. People will even readily offer their homes—for a few weeks.
To make it over time, however, the small-group leaders must have a high-quality support system, much like the supply line that channels food and other materials to battle-weary soldiers. The cell-driven strategy succeeds or fails on the quality of the coaching given to the cell leaders.
God’s Word is our guide. Doctrine does matter! The good news is that applied doctrine is far better than just preaching sermons. And that’s a key reason why we need life-giving cell groups.