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May 2015 Newsletter

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Joel Comiskey ministry in May 2015
-May 1-2, 2015. Paramount, California with the Spanish South Pacific District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Contact person: Bill Mangham 
May 22-24, 2015. Alexandria, Virginia. Spanish cell seminar at Palabra Viva. Contact person: Pastor Jose Acosta 

Major 2016 JCG Event 
--We will have our annual JCG event in the Elim Reseda Church, on February 27, 2016. Mario Vega and Joel Comiskey will be ministering in Spanish and simultaneous English translation will be available. Place it on your calendar/

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Making Disciples in the 21st Century Church
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Connecting People in Two-Wing Church

by Joel Comiskey

A pastor recently asked me about what he could do to connect the growing number of Sunday visitors to cell groups. I first told him a few things I would not do. For example, I told him not   to change the definition of a cell to accommodate new people. Some churches, especially in North America, have tried to get new people into cells by broadening their definition of a cell group to include Sunday School, worship team, ushers, prison ministry, and so forth. I told him that doing this would lessen the cell quality and discipleship process.   

Positively, I told this pastor that he had to exemplify cell involvement and passion. His involvement would help newcomers to witness the importance of cells through the sermons, announcements, and so forth. This particular pastor was leading a a cell group, and I knew he was a great example, so I encouraged him to continue to do what he was doing. 

Then I suggested a few strategies to get people involved, such as starting new cells for newcomers, advertising those new cells on Sunday morning, and linking his initial welcome time for newcomers with cell ministry. I encouraged him to have some cell leaders present in the welcome time for newcomers who could give testimony and even invite the new ones to their cells. I also reminded him of the "tried and true" strategy of asking cell leaders to aggressively invite newcomers to their cell groups. In fact, I often say to churches, "Wouldn't it be great if three cell leaders approached the same guest, inviting them to their cell groups?" Such invitations not only make guests feel welcomed, but it also demonstrates to the rest of the church that cells are very important. I also told him to encourage his cell groups to do special outreach events for newcomers, such as barbecues, picnics and so forth. 

 But what about those who attend a cell and not the larger gathering? Elim has twice as many in cells than in their weekend celebration services? What can cells do to get people to the larger gatherings? First, I always clarify that cell groups are for church members or unchurched people. I strongly exhort cells leaders to avoid inviting believers who are faithful members at other evangelical churches. This is unethical. 

 So what can be done to move people in the cell to the larger gathering? Some cell churches have Sunday events specifically designed to attract cell attendees to attend. I remember one church in Ecuador who was very successful in having a monthly Friend's Day.There are many other strategies, but let's talk about them during the month of May. 

During the month of May, we'll be exploring this topic of connection between cell and celebration.  Various pastors and leaders will share their convictions and experiences in this area. If you'd like to receive these blogs in your email inbox each day, please sign up HERE

  • Week 1 (May 03-09); The biblical base. In the New Testament, there was a connection between cell and celebration. House church networks were connected via leadership and occasional meetings. We also see cell churches that met regularly in both cell and celebration (Acts 2 and 1 Cor). 
  • Week 2 (May 10-16); Vision casting. The lead pastor and pastoral team need to exemplify what they want others to follow. I love it when senior pastors leads a cell group, attend a cell group, or are part of a cell team. This speaks volumes to the church. The lead pastor also has to "consistently and persistently" be involved in promoting the vision (e.g., sermon, announcements, special recognition, etc.).  
  • Week 3 (May 17-23); What not to do. I encourage churches not to compromise the definition of a cell in order to make it easier for people to get involved in a small group. I also discourage cells groups from inviting believers from other evangelical churches to their cell groups. This is unethical.  
  • Week 4: (May 24-May 30); What are some other strategies to connect people from celebration to cell? I have always encouraged cell leaders and members to aggressively invite newcomers to attend their cells. There are other strategies that work well, like having a visitor welcome time where cell leaders are present, asking cells to have special "open house" nights to invite new people, and connecting the follow-up of new visitors with cell leaders or members. Some churches are very effective in taking the new people from the altar call into a separate room where cell leaders take their names and commit to follow up. 
  • Week 5: (May 31-June 05); Connecting people from cell to celebration. Some people attend the cell and not the celebration. What are some strategies to get them to the celebration? Some churches have Friend's Day, a special Sunday service designed for newcomers. Cells make concentrated effort to invite people on that day. We will share other effective strategies. 

How have you connected people to both wings of the cell church? Share what you have learned.  

Joel Comiskey