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Joel Comiskey Group
Resourcing the Worldwide Cell Church 
July 2013 Newsletter


Comiskey's July Schedule:
--July 20,2013. Omaha, Nebraska with pastor Otoniel Garcia. City-wide Spanish cell seminar. Contact information: Otoniel Garcia 

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2013 Seminar Schedule

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Discipleship Through The Larger Gathering

Many don't like the word cell. They equate it with a prison cell or secret communistic "cell" gathering. I welcome churches to change the word to something more palatable, like Life groups (although I tell churches to avoid changing the cell definition). With so many negative connotations, why do many churches still use the word cell?   

One of the main reasons is because of the comparison with the human body.  Biological cells are not independent entities that function on their own. They depend on the ecosystem of the rest of the body and the health of the entire body draws from each individual cell.  In the cell church, cells are part of a larger body that connects through worship gatherings, discipleship equipping, and coaching. How do the larger worship gatherings help in the discipleship process?   

Higher Level Teaching: In the cell, the purpose is to apply God's Word to each person.  On the other hand, one of the key ways discipleship takes place in the larger gathering is via the teaching of God's inerrant Word (just like the "apostle's teaching in the early church-Acts 2:42).  The pastor or staff can tackle some of the more difficult, hard to understand passage of Scripture and fill in the doctrinal gaps. Pastors can also apply God's Word to the particular needs within the congregation because they know the sheep.   

Worship: Worship in the cell group can be an intimate experience. Every believer can ask for prayer, share areas of thanksgiving, read Scripture, share needs, and apply God's Word to their daily lives. I've noticed, however, that cell groups often have more difficulty entering into worship through singing. And this is where worship in the larger group can be a transforming experience. Cell members come together and soak in the presence of God under the guidance of anointed worship leaders.   

Extended family gatherings: Discipleship takes place in cell groups as each person is able to share deep needs and get to know other family members in an intimate way. Separating from those close relationships when multiplication happens can be a painful process. But in the larger gatherings, close friends who were at one time in the same cell group can see each other, relive old times, and renew friendships before or after the service.    

Vision casting:  Cell members receive vision and direction from their cell leaders to use their gifts, evangelize as a group, practice the one-anothers, and even receive discipleship equipping.  During the larger gatherings, the pastor of a cell church has the opportunity to cast the cell vision, give direction, and offer encouragement to keep pressing on. Wise cell church pastors use the preaching, the announcements, testimonies and other means to remind leaders of their eternal rewards, the great things God is doing, and the need for persistence.  

Bill Beckham coined the term "two-winged church" to describe the cell church. Both wings help the bird fly. A church with two wings is better equipped to make disciples who make disciples than a church that emphasizes one or the other exclusively.  

In July on the JCG blog, we'll write about how the larger gathering of the cells helps in the discipleship process. Experienced  cell church pastors will write 20 blogs on this topic during the month of July. If you'd like to receive these blogs in your email inbox each day, please sign up  HERE. We'll cover:   

  • Week 1 (July 07-13). Biblical reasons for larger gathering. In the early church, there was a connection between the house churches. In at least two places (Jerusalem and Corinth), the cells came together for regular celebration times. Although the base of the cell church must always be the cell groups, there is a place for those cells coming together, as we can see in the New Testament.   
  • Week 2 (July 14-20). The larger gatherings and the discipleship process.  The larger celebration gatherings can help in the discipleship process through teaching, celebratory worship, extended family, vision casting, and harvest evangelism. Cells offer more intimate discipleship, whereas ministry in the larger gathering fine-tunes believers through gifted ministers.   
  • Week 3 (July 21-27). Dangers of depending too much on the larger gatherings. Many pastors measure their success on how many are in the celebration service and then neglect the cell infrastructure. They create a  spectator culture and a hearer mentality that hinders the discipleship process. I coined the phrase "cell driven" to describe the central place of cell ministry in the cell church. 
  • Week 4 (July 28-Aug 03). Reaping the harvest through larger gatherings. Cell members can exercise their muscles in the cell group but also within the larger gatherings by inviting friends and discipling those who receive Jesus. Multiplication happens more readily when friends from mother and daughter cell groups can see each other in the larger gatherings. 

How have you received discipleship through both wings of the cell church? Feel free to share here. 

Joel  Comiskey