By Joel Comiskey, An Appointment with the King
“Joel, remember to tell pastors that commitment to prayer is the main thing,” my wife Celyce reminds me. Celyce knows from experience that prayer power drives successful cell churches. She also knows that I can easily forget this truth and start over-emphasizing the technical side of cell church ministry.
Many churches have little need for prayer because the programs and techniques are so effective. As long as the worship team performs, the pastor preaches a relevant message, and the administration flows without a hitch, everyone feels satisfied. As you examine these churches, however, you’ll notice a fatal flaw: the lack of transformed lives. There is no power. God even seems scheduled on the church calendar.
A pastor can grow a church numerically without prayer. But it will be a weak church that lacks power. Transformed lives will be the exception, rather than the norm.
How much better to build a church that breathes New Testament life from every pore—where people can feel the power of the Spirit and sense that the church has been laboring on its knees. People come to Christ and sign up for cell ministry because of the Spirit’s compulsion. God wants our churches to breathe this type of New Testament life. Prayer is the key to making this a reality.
I believe that those who will even consider the church in today’s post-modern society will most likely come because they are drawn to Jesus–not man’s techniques. The most powerful witness to non-believers in a post-modern age is demonstrating the power of God, whether in the cell or celebration. People in today’s society go to a cell or celebration because they want to see Jesus.
What can you do to promote prayer in your church? First, the senior pastor must lead the way. People will follow what the senior pastor does, not just what he says. If the senior pastor is a man of prayer, the people will follow. Second, welcome a wide variety of prayer options in your church. Are some willing to come to the church at 7 a.m.? Gladly receive them. Appoint a prayer warrior to lead the meeting. Are others willing to pray in the afternoon? Gather them into a prayer group. All you need is two or three, and Christ promises to abide in their midst. Third, encourage your cell groups to pray. Give the cell leaders specific petitions. It’s a good idea to include those petitions on your cell lesson handout.
Cypress Creek Church in Wimberley, Texas prioritized prayer from its initial roots. Rob Campbell, the founding pastor (and JCG board member), not only exemplified prayer but hired Cecilia Belvin, the pastor of prayer, as the first staff person. Cypress Creek Church has one of the most vital prayer ministries I have ever seen.
Prayer is cell church oxygen. To breathe normally, prayer must permeate the church. It doesn’t matter if a pastor is starting a cell church or transitioning to the cell church strategy, prayer has to be the first step.