by Joel Comiskey
In the cell church strategy, the church begins with the start of the first cell. The essence of the celebration is connecting the cells together and helps each person to see themselves as part of a greater whole.
Many cell church planters start celebration services too early and get trapped placing too much energy into a celebration service, losing the cell focus and momentum.
I gave a seminar to Southern Baptists in Florida and discovered that most of the church planters started their church with a celebration service. When I spoke about the need to first multiply the pilot group and to grow the infrastructure naturally before starting the celebration, most of them nodded in agreement. They knew firsthand the difficulties of trying to celebrate with so few people. They regretted that their celebration service felt more like a cell group than a true Sunday service.
Resist the temptation to begin regular celebration services before establishing the infrastructure of the cell groups. Otherwise, it puts too much strain on too few people. Small groups are supposed to be small. Large rooms, however, with few people lack vibrancy, and a certain emptiness engulfs everyone.
I am convinced that it’s best to wait until there are 70- 100 people in approximately seven to ten cell groups before committing to a weekly celebration service. Until then, it’s normal and acceptable for the cells to meet once per month in a celebration service or once every two weeks. Bob Logan recommends slightly different advice. He recommends the following:
-When there are three cells, celebration once per month
-When there are five cells, celebration twice per month
-When there are seven to eight cells, celebration every week.
Many cell church plants also fulfill the need for the larger gathering with half-night prayer meetings and social gatherings.
Waiting for enough people before weekly celebration assures that the same people won’t be doing the same Sunday ministries over and over. It’s also essential not to depend on a few key families to show up each celebration time in order to have enough people to truly celebrate.
At the same time, not all cell churches meet weekly in cooperate gatherings. I coach some cell church planters who gather the cells in monthly celebrations and do not want to meet weekly. meet in monthly celebrations and do not want to never want weekly celebrations. Cell churches, in other words, do not need to gather together weekly in cooperate worship to be called a cell church. Weekly celebration services will not be the norm for every church. The focus should remain on the weekly cells, and the celebration should develop as the cells build strength. Those cells might celebrate together on a weekly basis, quarterly, or a monthly basis. Or they might meet together more than once per week, like in the case of Elim.