By Joel Comiskey, Empowered to Lead
My pastor friend invited me to attend a local cell seminar. He hoped that this seminar would bring new life to his dying church. His church was definitely on its last breath. My friend wouldn’t quit without a fight. He possessed too much pride. He devoured every new book on church growth and tested each new strategy—with practically no success. Now for another stab–cell groups. “Could this seminar correct a nearly hopeless situation?” he thought.
I believe in cell seminars. I conduct many each year. But I know that a cell seminar won’t cure the ills of a dying church. Only Jesus, the great physician can heal a stagnated church—not small groups. “We must never forget that small groups are not the answer . . . . Jesus is the answer to our problems. Only Jesus can grant new life and dynamic growth.
Cell Churches contain the power—the current of the Holy Spirit. They don’t automatically produce that current. If your church is choking the life of the Spirit of God, don’t expect cells to remedy your problem. You must first invite God to fix the basic problem. You must ask Him to clean the rusty pipes that impede His flow. He uses the cell system, but He winces at being used by it.
So many pastors think that a cell church means having people in groups. “Get more people in small groups and the church will grow,” they think. But this attitude totally misses the point. Cell churches will not grow without the flow of the Spirit of God. Churches can transition to cells, but without the Spirit of God, you will have an empty wineskin. Cells won’t make your church grow. Only the Spirit of God moving through people in community will resurrect a dead church.
Growing cell churches know how to pray. They’ve first won the battle in prayer. They realize that prayer moves God’s hand and unleashes His power to work. They realize that nothing will happen apart from His work.
The largest church in the history of Christianity—Yoido Full Gospel Church– will quickly tell you that secret prayer has brought them public success. Members wrestle in prayer. Spirituality is taken seriously. 1,000 prayer warriors pass through Prayer Mountain every day. So many of these dear saints of God are dedicated to personal prayer as well as corporate prayer. At 5 a.m. in the morning, I witnessed approximately 3,000 people in the main auditorium fervently praying. In fervent pleas to God, these believers rock back in forth while seated in the pew. Loud cries can be heard throughout the auditorium as the believers pray in unison. This church is alive with spirituality. The church can be summarized in the phrase “A spiritual church.”
We must not place the cell model before Jesus Christ. Nor should we promise our church something that only Jesus can offer. God is stirring His people to dedicate themselves to prayer and trust in the Spirit of God. His life is imparted through constant communion—time spent in His presence. Pay the price in prayer and your cell ministry will channel God’s power to a lost and dying world.