Beyond the Cell: Making Disciples in the Celebration Service

By Joel Comiskey, free teaching videos on leading small groups, Summer 2021   

Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Am I writing too much about making disciples in the cell?” Truly, the cell is the crown jewel of the cell church. But there is another side of the coin: the celebration service.

Cell and celebration are the two wings of the cell church and both are essential in the discipleship process.

Pastors need to know that their preaching role when the cells are gathered is critical in the disciple-making process. Pastors spend a lot of time on their messages. During the worship service, they can fine-tune the leaders and members through the preaching of God’s inerrant Word. When small groups base their lesson questions on the sermon, the pastor knows God’s Word will have an even greater impact.

Dynamic worship is an important part of making disciples. When the entire church family comes together to worship Jesus, individual cells catch a glimpse of Christ’s greater purpose for the church. 

Discipleship also involves vision casting and motivating the troops to move forward. During the celebration services, pastors and leaders can encourage leaders to press ahead and not be discouraged. The pastor reminds the leaders to fulfill God’s heartbeat to reach people for Jesus.

The celebration also helps small group multiplication. Former group members can enjoy each other’s company during the celebration service—much like an extended family coming together for special occasions. This is all part of the discipleship process.

Bill Beckham coined the term, the two-winged church, to describe the emphasis of both the small and large groups in the cell church. Both wings help the bird fly. Beckham uses the following parable to describe the cell church:

A church with two wings was once created; it could fly high into the presence of God. One day the serpent, who had no wings, challenged the church to fly with one wing only, that is the large gathering wing. With much effort the church managed to fly, and the serpent strongly applauded it. With this experience, the church became convinced that it could fly very well with only one wing. God, the creator of the church, was very sad. The church with only one wing could barely rise above the ground, and it just flew in circles without being able to move from its point of origin. The church settled down and started to gain weight and became lazy, beaming with a purely earthly life. Finally, the creator formed a new church with its two wings. Once again God had a church that could fly into His presence and sing His joyful praises.

A church with two wings is better equipped to make disciples who make disciples than a church that only emphasizes one wing. Both are important in the process of discipleship.

For the month of July, let’s look at how the celebration service helps in the process of making disciples who make disciples. Experienced pastors and leaders will write twenty blogs on this topic. If you’d like to receive these blogs in your email inbox, press here. We’ll cover:

  • July 04-10: Biblical base for gathered cells. The New Testament talks about unified leadership under the apostles and other called leaders. We can also see various places when all the cells came together (Acts 2:42-46; 5:42; 20:20).
  • July 11-17: How the celebration of gathered cells helps in the process of making disciples. We will talk about the importance of preaching, casting the vision, etc. Pastors should be encouraged that their hard work of preaching really does pay off in making disciples. Connecting preaching with cell lessons is another benefit.   
  • July 18-24: Multiplication and the celebration service. It’s easier for cells to multiply when mother and daughter cell members can fellowship with each other on Sunday. In other words, relationships can be maintained. And let’s not forget the power of outreach. The celebration service is a powerful tool to reach people for Jesus.
  •  July 25 to July 31:  We will talk about ways to encourage cells in the gathered services: announcements, testimonies, cell tables, maps, and so forth.