By Joel Comiskey, Biblical Foundations for the Cell-Based Church, 2021
How solid is the foundation for your cell group strategy? If you are doing cell groups because they work, or because your people need community, or because they can close the back door, your foundation will crumble when groups aren’t working well, when conflict arises, or when people become too busy to participate.
The reason for implementing cell church ministry is not because it works, although groups do work rather nicely. Not because it will make your church successful, although groups can make your church more successful. Not because you have to be the right kind of church, although groups can help you become the right kind of church.
You follow this path because the vision for doing life together, mutual accountability, hospitality, deeper discipleship, organic church life in our neighborhoods, and the call to take the gospel into everyday life has shaken your soul and moved you from the inside out. You can do nothing else.
Cell church ministry is much more than a technique of church growth. I’ve come to believe that the key reason we do cell church is because of theological convictions and that those biblical convictions should never be secondary, but rather, they should be the primary reason (for more on cell church theology, please refer to my book Biblical Foundations for the Cell-based church and Making Disciples in the 21st Century Church)
Theology gives wings to cell ministry because it provides the basis for implementation in both receptive and non-receptive areas. Following the cell church strategy does not result in instant church growth. It takes time to change traditional thinking, develop the laypeople to do the work of the ministry, and engage in relational evangelism. Some churches might even lose members in the early stages of the process.
The cell church strategy is not a quick growth strategy, but rather, a biblical one. Cell groups provide the environment to form disciples. In certain receptive areas around the world, multiplication happens rapidly because people are coming to Christ, being trained, and starting new cells. In more resistant areas around the world, however, the process takes much longer because the soil is harder. No matter where the church is established, it must depend on biblical truth rather than outward results.
Pastors and churches that make it in cell church ministry go beyond mental ascent to the point that the vision grabs them and won’t let go. They become “compelled” as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:16.
Are you convinced that cell church ministry is biblical? Are you willing to press ahead even when the going is tough? As you pray and dig deeper into the Scriptural reasons for starting and sustaining a cell church ministry, God will help sustain you in dry times when your expectations are not fulfilled. You’ll go back again and again to the why of cell ministry, which is to make disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
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