Cell Church V1 I1

 Volume 10, Number 1


 Editor’s Note – Randall Neighbour


In January of 1991, we received a fax from my dad, who was then living in Singapore, on staff at Faith Community Baptist Church. At that time, this church was growing rapidly with new believers and cell groups. It was the most exciting place to live and work for a pastor of vision.


He wrote that we needed to educate pastors about the growing cell movement and help them see how powerful the model was for equipping every member for ministry. It was biblical and reached many for Jesus compared to the ineffective programs found in many traditional churches.


TOUCH had published books and offered conferences and training, but for some reason, cell groups were still the best kept secret of the 80’s. With great determination, Dad and the two person staff of TOUCH were determined to expose the American church culture to a better way of “doing church.”


If you’d like to learn more about that first issue and the impact of the magazine on the American cell movement, you’ll want to read the feature in this issue spanning the years of this periodical.


As you peruse each page, you’ll see the “ten” theme repeated in every column. In preparation for this important issue, I challenged each writer to give you ten practical ways to build your group, reach the lost, love others with Christ’s love, etc. Each rose to the challenge in creative and useful ways, and you’ll appreciate and be able to apply what you read.


Now take a minute to weigh this issue in your hands. It’s a chubby little offering, isn’t it? I gave each writer more elbow room. The columns are longer and as it turned out, there are fewer advertisers this issue. We’re growing!


On to other important matters . . .

When you read each issue of the journal, know that we’ve been pressured to remove lots of great stuff to accommodate the valuable real estate on each page. In an effort to give you as much help as possible for your ministry as a cell leader, we’re adding a special area to the TOUCH web site for CellGroup Journal readers in the first quarter of 2001. Check it out!


Last, but not least, I’d like to ask you for prayer support for the cross-cultural mission trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April. By the time you read this, the deadline to join our group will have passed, but we are desperate for prayer support! We must gel as a team and raise enough support to pay for the trip. If the Lord leads, contact me via email <randall@touchusa.org> and I’ll add you to the prayer warrior list for this trip!    (end of article)


Randall Neighbour is the President of TOUCH Outreach Ministries and the Senior Editor of CellGroup Journal.



Making Him Known – Karen Hurston


Going into every man’s world: Ten steps to starting cell groups in your workplace.


Billy Joe Daugherty regularly challenges his congregation by saying “God has called us to go into every man’s world. Think about having a cell group in the neighborhood where you live, the place where you work or go to school.”


Daugherty is the senior pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a church that has focused on cell groups since 1983. During that time, Victory has grown from 29 groups to nearly 900, with one of the longest continuous “group track records” of any church in America. By July of 2000, 7,344 participated weekly in Victory’s cell groups with an estimated 7,000 attending Victory’s four Sunday worship services. Even Ralph Neighbour, Jr., leading statesman in the cell church movement, publicly declared Victory as the most mature group system he has seen in America to date.


Among Victory’s nearly 900 cells are a growing number of 60 plus business and workplace groups, blended into Victory’s 35 diverse kinds of need-meeting cells. These workplace groups meet in insurance companies, realty offices, hospitals, airlines offices, telephone companies and even in stores like WalMart. Workplace cell leaders hold meetings in the middle of company breaks, during the lunch hour, in workshops, in factories, in boardrooms ...whenever and wherever it is most convenient. According to Lynn Popenhagen, who with her husband Jerry oversees Victory’s pastoral care department, these workplace cells are the most evangelistic of Victory’s varied cell groups aimed at adults.


Interested in starting a workplace cell to care for fellow believers and reach out to the lost? Consider these ten steps.



Jim Husong was a machinist whose shop makes components for utility trucks. He had a burden for both believers and the unchurched in his workplace. Husong started his weekly cell in his east Tulsa shop during his Thursday lunch break.


Radhika Mittapalli, a convert from Hinduism, had a cell in her home since 1997, but after she started a corporate job, that was no longer enough. She knew there had to be some way to bring ministry to the workplace and bridge that “worship-work gap.” Soon after, she started a weekly luncheon in the company cafeteria she termed “Something to Chew On Lunch Fellowship,” inviting co-workers to join her for devotions, prayer and food.


Pray that God would birth within you a vision and sense of urgency to start a cell at your workplace. You’ll know when you’ve received it ...the time, place and participants will all come together naturally.



Husong and the dozens of other workplace cell leaders first completed Victory’s application process and training for cell leaders. You should do the same. Complete your own church’s application and training process for cell leadership. Choose approved curriculum that is relevant, appealing and fits the time available and start praying daily for specific people who might be in your group.


3. IDENTIFY YOUR “CORE”             

Rally any interested people that share your vision for a workplace cell. Husong asked people in his shop if they would be interested in a weekly lunch break group. The response let Husong know God was directing him. Mittapalli asked her friend Christina Grimm — a co-worker and Victory member — to join her in weekly luncheons in the company cafeteria.


4. SECURE PERMISSION                      

Discuss the group idea with your boss or office manager, seeking approval to allow the group to begin. Make the time, place and length of your meeting plain to the decision maker.


Husong, like other workplace cell leaders, asked his company’s vice president for permission, clearing that there were no conflicts of interest. Husong made sure that their group stayed within company parameters and met during the 30 minute lunch break.



Next, decide time frames for any song, prayer, testimonies, teaching, discussion and fellowship. Integrity is essential, so workplace groups must end promptly, allowing people to return to work on time.


Husong, Mittapalli and other workplace leaders at Victory discovered that limited time usually did not allow for songs, but always had three constants in each meeting: 1) at least one nugget shared from the weekly lesson Victory gives all cell leaders (taken from one of Daugherty’s past sermons), followed by discussion; 2) prayer and ministry; and 3) opportunity for Christ-centered fellowship. Some groups, like Mittapalli’s, also cater lunch.



Husong speaks of how their workplace cell has become a “family,” with care between meetings and different people rotating to share the weekly lesson. When I visited Allen and Kandi Thurman’s workplace cell in a local cafeteria, it was clear that prayer, care and ministry were prominent themes.


Mittapalli and Grimm sent invitations, weekly e-mail devotionals, birthday calls and encouraging notes to members. Mittapalli made Grimm her intern from the start, and later turned the cell over to her. They even termed their growing leadership nucleus a “steering committee,” each with designated responsibilities.



Share the time and location with as many people as possible. Workplace leaders agree that “word of mouth” is the best way to promote any cell. Also make use of e-mail lists, voice mail, flyers, e-vites and e-groups to invite and remind people of upcoming meetings. Make sure participants receive permission from their supervisors to attend meetings.


Above all, expect God’s Holy Spirit to use your workplace cell in unexpected ways. Samantha Franklin started her workplace group in a tense government department. She was surprised when 15 people attended their first meeting, and one lady accepted Jesus in her office afterward. Expect God to move in your group as well!



A workplace cell creates a “platform” for a wide variety of ministry. Ministry happens both during meetings as members minister to one another, and between meetings when members care for each other and seekers come for prayer and ministry.


A workplace cell in a Boeing plant so positively touched the workers they asked that group leader to become a chaplain. Upon their request, he started an afternoon training session for employees who were having marriage problems.


Husong’s workplace group impacts more than those who come to their weekly meetings; many who do not attend that cell have come to Husong and others to pray for specific needs and concerns. Husong states that “people are drawn to you because of who are, if you practice living out your faith in your workplace.”


Your new workplace cell will give birth to numerous ministry avenues. Remain sharp, and look for needs. If the focus of your workplace group could be changed to fit the need, be flexible. Or, raise up a leader quickly and launch a second group to meet the need.



Problems will arise. At one point Mittapalli and Grimm stopped their fledgling workplace cell through the summer months due to low attendance. The remaining four members met weekly with Grimm in her home to pray for downtown Tulsa businesses and the future of their cell.


In September, many co-workers asked Grimm if the meetings would begin again. Not long after, Grimm started meetings similar to “monthly crusades” in the 15th floor auditorium of a business tower in central downtown Tulsa.


When you experience problems, don’t give up. Rally the faithful and seek God’s face. He will help you make changes that will bring success, and bring in the supportive people you need.



Husong’s weekly workplace cell has reached people in their company ranging from salesmen to secretaries. His group has helped two lost people become born again, and several nominal Christians have become fervent in their faith. They have also seen one of their members become an elder in a local church, and two members go on church staffs.


Grimm now leads a weekly leadership group using Victory’s lesson material. They invite special speakers to their monthly meetings, with an average of 30 business professionals in attendance, and more than 120 addresses on their e-mail distribution list. Mittapalli, the group’s original leader, is now manager of investor relations of a multi-million dollar communications company, and has become Victory’s “young adults cell coordinator.” She currently leads a G12 group that has birthed five other groups, including two workplace cells.


You can do this. it’s not hard!

Has this article sparked something within you about starting a cell at your business or workplace? Perhaps this is the gentle nudge of God’s Holy Spirit.

God uses ordinary people just like you to do extraordinary things! Follow these ten steps as you follow God, trusting Him to lead you to “go into everyman’s world” at your workplace! (end of article)



A 19 year-old student, (a member of a church in Oklahoma affiliated with Victory), went directly to her  college president and asked for a room to hold a Bible study group. The president responded by giving her the entire second floor of that building, personally attending the group himself, and providing a buffet lunch for all participants.


Not long after she started the group, her pastor received an anonymous letter. In synopsis, that letter read: “We want to tell you about a  little girl in our college we thought was a ‘Jesus freak.’ We’re drug dealers and we used to make fun of her. We go to this college, and went to her Bible study. There, we got saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, have walked away from the drug cartel, and are now preparing for the ministry.”


“We can’t tell you who we are, because it has not been long enough and we might be killed if we did.   But we want you to know this: your ministry has reached us.”


Source: Jerry Peterson, Director of Victory’s Fellowship of Ministries



Karen Hurston is an international consultant to cell churches based in Gulf Breeze, FL. She is the author of Breakthrough Cell Groups, a book that gives an in-depth look at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, OK. Visit her website:




Cell Leadership – Billy Hornsby


What makes a great leader? Ten outstanding characteristics of true leadership.


When you think about the great leaders in today’s world, what traits do you first notice about them? Is it their charisma with others, or is it the dignity with which they carry out their duties? Or maybe you are inspired by their courage in the face of difficulty? Just as there are many, various qualities that could be listed to describe a world leader who is truly great, there are many moral characteristics that define greatness in Christian leadership. It goes without saying that the foundational qualities of honesty, purity, transparency, and  humility are expected from every Christian leader. But many good, moral people fail as leaders because they lack “learnable” skills that are required of leadership today.


Let’s examine some of the extras, the “above-the-rest” qualities that we can identify in those who are great leaders in the Kingdom of God and in our local church communities.


1. Unwavering faith

Great leaders demonstrate the kind of faith that, even under the most extreme of tests, never buckles. Pressure, stress, instability, and change can all challenge the vision that God gives you for your ministry or vocation. But leaders who demonstrate a calm faith in the midst of the storm can guide others to success. As the apostle Paul said, “Nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (II Timothy 1:12 KJV).


Every leader who is trying to move forward in the purposes of God hears the voice of the enemy saying, “This is going to fail! No one will follow you! You don’t have what it takes to pull this off!” If a leader succumbs in the time of adversity, all those who follow him can become disillusioned and discouraged. However, a leader who maintains his faith communicates confidence and empowers his followers to “keep on keeping on,” regardless of current circumstances. 



C. William Pollard, chairman at ServiceMaster Corporation, says, “God has empowered every single person with dignity, worth, potential, and the      freedom to choose. You honor God by recognizing and promoting that dignity and worth.” No matter what a person does for a living or what seemingly menial task he performs, he has great intrinsic value because he is made in the image of God. To acknowledge that inherent value in all people will catapult you as a leader far ahead of most others. Great leaders understand that human resources far outweigh the monetary “bottom line.” As a steward of “human capital,” you must see each person’s worth and help him realize his value to the Kingdom of God. To overlook the worth of people is to miss the treasure that God has placed in earthen vessels.



When a leader realizes a person’s intrinsic worth, it then becomes his or her responsibility to develop that value and potential. To empower is to authorize a person to carry out a certain task or responsibility; to sanction, endorse, and support the actions of the one carrying out the task.


It is letting those around you know that you believe in them and have confidence that they can be successful. It also allows for people to fail without condemnation or embarrassment.


Jesus gave the greatest example of empowerment when He delegated His ministry to His disciples. Not only did He give them the responsibility, but also He gave them the authorization to go beyond what He had done on earth (John 14:12). In the same way, you empower others when you tell them, “I know that you can do this, and I believe it will be done better than anyone has ever done it before.” Great leaders give this kind of empowerment to those in their care.



When leaders listen to those with whom they work, they discover what they can do to help each person excel in his role. Obstacles to success are sometimes overlooked because those in charge don’t listen to those who have the ground level task of carrying out the job. When you listen, however, you pinpoint the source of problems, how to solve them, and how to implement new and better ways to accomplish what is expected. When mistakes happen, they are quickly overcome because of the common understanding that everyone is involved in the completion of the work. Listening communicates trust and confidence on the part of the leader towards his co-laborers. When you listen, you capture the heart of the one speaking, and you build cooperation.



It is always to the advantage of the leader to give away the credit of a job well done to those who work with him or her. Acknowledging someone else’s work, especially in cell group ministry, is the only reward that person will receive on this side of heaven. The person who takes the credit away from someone else is a thief! However, when you are secure enough to allow others around you to shine, it will always reflect well upon you. So, help those around you to receive proper recognition, and reward them for every accomplishment; it will pay long-term dividends to you and the cause of Christ.



Never get up on the wrong side of the bed! Why should those around you have to pay for your bad moods? A great leader knows how to deal with disappointments and personal trials without making those around him or her pay for a “bad hair day.” One of the greatest compliments that I have ever received personally was when someone said, “I have never seen Billy in a bad mood.” Well, that’s because he hasn’t been around me very much! We all have our troubles, but we should never take them out on those with whom we work.



When I was raising my children, I sometimes taught them through punishment and it worked!  However, when we “punish” adult co-laborers, we create negative reinforcement that only makes it harder for them to achieve the most basic goal. Not only is punishment demeaning, but it can also destroy the desire to perform. You must learn how to discipline in a way that brings out the best in people, not suppress productivity with negative punishment.


The most effective way to discipline is to give immediate reward or acknowledgement of a corrected response. Do not withhold a reward that is deserved. If rewards are uncertain or delayed, they lose the intended sense of sincerity. If you promise someone a bonus for improvement, give it to him. To delay undermines the purpose of the offer.



Nothing deflates excitement and enthusiasm more than the unavailability of a leader. If a person has to wait three days to a month every time he wants to talk with you, he will soon give up trying to communicate with you. With modern technology, however, it is very easy to stay in touch. Develop an e-mail, voice mail, or telephone system that allows people who are critical to the success of your group to get in touch with you immediately. Make a point to respond to others within acceptable limits of time.



Conflicts will inevitably occur in cell groups as in any organizational structure. Therefore, a great leader must become an expert in the resolution of these conflicts. Learning how to steer around emotions and wrong perceptions that fuel upheaval between opposing parties is a learned skill that every great leader must acquire. Collaborative conversation that helps identify the misperceptions and the interests that each party is trying to protect is the key to successfully resolving conflict.  The interests of both parties must come to the forefront and agreement in principle be reached before there can be effective resolution.



How many times have you seen the momentum suddenly change on the football field or basketball court? What is the force behind momentum? Motivation! When motivation is absent, momentum wanes. And when you lose momentum, it takes tremendous effort and energy to get back where you were. Listed below are a few tips for maintaining motivation in your cell group or organization:


• Fun — Include fun activities in the task or the meeting.


• Ownership — Let members make choices for the group.


Opportunity — Give opportunity for leadership and advancement.


• Interaction — Provide times for socializing with leaders and members.


• Learning — Build competence in every member.


• Achievement — Help everyone reach his goals.


• Appreciation — Express sincere public thanks for accomplishments.


• Significance — Clarify the meaningfulness of each one’s work.


The list of qualities found in truly great leaders is endless and subjective. I believe that the ten traits discussed here are crucial to outstanding leadership in the body of Christ. Whether you aspire to be a great pastor, cell leader, or employee, you can rise to that level of effectiveness that you desire if you will make a commitment to carefully cultivate the ten outstanding characteristics of a great leader. (end of article)


Billy Hornsby is the director of Billy Hornsby Ministries, The International Director of the Association of Related Churches, and Director of Missions Training of Indigenous Pastors. See www.missiontips.com.



Toolkit – Practical Tools and Testimonies for Cell Leaders


Toolkit Cover Article:


The family that worships together stays together. This is a good concept but I think most people have the wrong idea of what it really means.


Most churches have nurseries for babies, programs for pre-school and elementary-aged children, and the teens are sent to worship in one location while the adults worship in another. Even though everyone is in the same building, walls separate the families. Even programs offered during the week for the whole family send everyone in separate directions.


Most “family” cell groups combine the entire family for a time of singing and then separate the children from the adults. The adults study scripture while the younger members watch a video, play or maybe have a lesson separate from their parents. Again, the family is fragmented. It is important to have a "family cell" that stays together for the entire cell meeting including worship, prayer, fellowship and study.


We began a “family cell” in October 1998. Our cell had four families with children ranging in age from three to 15 years old with a total of eleven children. Each meeting began with a time of singing and sharing. Then we stayed together for the study and prayer time, and followed up with some refreshments.


During our study time, there was a good balance of sharing. Of course, the preschool children didn’t share much, but they were included as the older children and parents talked to them about the lesson and the application. The elementary aged children and the teens were just as open to discuss as the adults. It was a good mix of sharing.


Our only problem was with the lessons for our study time. They needed to challenge the adults as well as reach the children. It was a bit difficult because I couldn’t find any printed material with this focus. I was forced to develop the lessons myself. Most of our lessons were character studies aimed at obedience, faithfulness, worship and sharing the news of Jesus Christ. The adults and children were open to share the joys and difficulties they faced in each situation. It was good for the kids to know their parents had the same struggles they did.


In one lesson, we talked about Noah and the difficult task given to him by God. As families, we measured off the distance of the ark. Two of the families measured off the length of the ark while the two families remaining marked off its width. Both the children and adults were amazed at its size. As families, we discussed the difficulties of building something so large. We read scripture and talked about Noah’s obedience. We talked about the difficult tasks that we each have to deal with and how we need to trust God to give us wisdom and strength to accomplish them.


We later explored the life of Paul and how he shared the news of Jesus with others. We also read about Timothy and his love for Christ, Daniel and his strong faith, and David’s style of worship. To make it interesting, we did some skits, role-playing and other activities that involved the whole family.


The time of study together helped the children and the adults to bond together. The older kids related to what the younger ones were going through at school. The younger kids learned that adults are still growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ and the adults were reminded what it was like to be in school again. It was exciting to have the kids and adults talking openly and understanding each other. It was a time of intergenerational relationship building.


Leading a “family cell” was easy for me. As a pastor and a father of four, I felt comfortable working with all ages. The young children would often move from one seat to another or onto the floor. As usual, they would have something to share that may not relate to the lesson, but, as a family cell, everyone in the group was tolerant of the noise and movement.


I believe if Jesus were physically present, he would hold them in his lap or get down on the floor with them. He would be excited to have them in the room with him while he taught and never be disturbed with their activity.


This October we started another “family cell.” This cell is for parents with pre-school and early elementary aged children. There are two emphases with this group: family relationships and service.


I would like to develop more successful “family cells” because I believe it is good to keep the families together and to build intergenerational relationships. In our society, our families are divided. I’ve found it rare for families to spend an adequate amount of time together. What better place to bring families together than the church? A family that worships together stays together.


Tips for Launching a Family Cell


1. Recruit an intern who feels comfortable working with children, teens and adults.


2.  Help parents relax and participate, even when their toddler is in the same room.


3.  Include activities (as well as discussion) in your study time to keep the attention of your younger members.


4.  Choose worship songs appealing to all ages. Include songs with motions.


5.  Keep your study questions simple so they can be answered by all ages.


6.  Your application must also be broad enough for everyone to apply to their personal lives.


7.  Use character studies in your meetings. They work well for all ages and have a wide range of application.


8.  When asking questions, specifically call on the preschoolers to involve them.


9.  Reserve time for each person to reflect on the lesson and to share openly in the meeting. This allows the children and adults to personalize the lessons taught.


10. Encourage children to listen and learn to pray by observing the parents. This provides a comfortable environment for children to pray aloud.


- Dan Thomas, First Church of God, Hanover, PA



Burned Out?

One Sunday afternoon, I got a call from a friend who asked if I was coming to cell. She asked if I would bring the bag of ice that she forgot. I thought to myself, “She has never done that. She always has things together.” Somehow I felt it was God prodding my heart to go. He knew I entertained thoughts of not going. I decided to go out of obedience, but did not expect to get much out of the evening.


As I drove to the meeting, I began thinking about my cell. I had been thinking about leaving it for a while. The members love God and I’m sure they love me. I just never seemed to hear from the Lord or knit with the people. Also, our leader is more of an evangelist and prophet and I longed to be under the type of counselor anointing that I used to be under in a care group.


Alone in the car, I repented and confessed my dissatisfaction to God. I confessed that I did not expect any help from God through the cell and I asked forgiveness for not expecting God to use me in the group.


Later that evening, the speaker in our cell talked about the Lord as a spiritual husband. I understood and I knew I needed to hear it. I was like a dehydrated woman in the middle of the desert. I identified with her words and I drank it up. God was real to me again!


As I prepared to leave, the leader grabbed me and insisted we pray. We identified the sin of unbelief and despair in my life. She spoke humbling words of correction, but also of the Lord’s love. Some of it was difficult to hear, but it did not discourage me. Instead, it strengthened me. I asked for weeks for God to bring me out of the pit, but He knew I needed to get myself out of the pit! I realized that God is a hard teacher, but also a loving husband.


Once again, I have found the value of our time together as a group. I realize now that Satan tries to rob us of this blessing. Everyday I thank the Lord for my cell group as He continually works through them.  I have hope and peace now that there is a purpose and a place for me.


- Jackie Cluck, Christ Community Church, Camp Hill, PA



Ten Ways To Pray

There are many ways to approach the throne of God. Each way is unique and precious to Him. Here are a few ways to pray as a cell.


Specific Prayer – If someone in your cell has a prayer request and you feel the Lord leading you to pray for him or her at that moment, this is the prayer to use. Everyone in your group prays for that specific need. This also keeps your prayer time organized and focused.


Prayer Circle – This kind of prayer gives the group a sense of unity as everyone stands and joins hands while they pray. Bringing your cell together is important, especially during prayer.


Directional Prayer – In this prayer, each person prays for the person to their right or left, continuing in the same direction until each person has prayed. This ensures each person was prayed for and it subtly forces your quiet cell members to pray audibly.


Popcorn Prayer – This is the most commonly used prayer for groups of people. Each cell member prays one short sentence at a time in random order. This prayer can last as long or as short as you want it to and each person can pray as many times as they feel led.

Hot Seat Prayer – Place a chair in the center of your cell. As people ask to be prayed for, they sit in the chair and the cell gathers around them. Everyone lays their hands on the person in the chair as each person prays. The person being prayed for feels comforted and protected.


Two’s and Three’s – Divide your cell into groups of two’s and three’s to pray. They can be separated by gender and age or however best suits your cell. Splitting your cell in this manner gives the prayer time more intimacy and helps the members get to know each other better.


Prayer Walking – Divide your cell into same-sex pairs. Each pair will walk up and down the street of the host home. Usually, there is about 5 feet of space between each pair. While walking, each pair prays for the protection and salvation of the people who live on the street. It’s best to explain to your cell what they will be doing before you start. This prayer is recommended if you rotate host homes regularly.


Humble Prayer – This prayer can be very intimate and humbling as you have each person kneel at his or her seat and lift their request to God. This type of prayer is an excellent form of accountability because it shows your cell members how their daily prayer should be.


Family Prayer – The opportunity for this prayer is rare. If you have all of your families present, with no single cell members, have each family break off into groups to pray. This gives the families the time to pray together that they would not normally take.


Concert Prayer – Have your cell members stand in a circle. In this prayer, everyone prays audibly at the same time. It may seem chaotic, but it reminds your cell members that in the midst of chaos their prayers are still heard.


–Tiffany Symmank, Toolkit Editor


A Higher Purpose

In September 13, 1999, my husband Bryan and I were given the privilege of witnessing the birth of a precious baby girl, whom we hoped to adopt. Just two days later, we brought our daughter, Mariah, home to join her brother Isaac. A few months later, after receiving notice of a hearing to terminate his parental rights, Mariah’s birth father took legal action to stop the adoption process. We had permission from the birth mother to adopt Mariah, but, unbeknownst to us, her birth father was very interested in parenting his daughter. This prospect frightened us because we were lead to believe that he was an awful person.


After months of prayerfully waiting through countless court hearings, we received the devastating news that the birth father was awarded custody of our daughter. Mariah was little over a year old when she moved to her father’s home. While helping Mariah get to know her birth father, we discovered he was a very nice person. Although he is not a believer, we know he loves Mariah and will care for her. He has also demonstrated an amazing amount of compassion toward us, as he is willing to let us see her.


It is still very difficult for us, but God is bringing peace and healing to my husband and me because of the prayers and love of our cell group. Our cell members, as well as our extended family and church family, were like the four friends of the paralyzed man. They were diligent in seeking the Lord for us. They helped carry us. They broke through so many barriers to bring our daughter, my husband and me to the feet of the Lord. Our son Isaac has helped as well. At age 2 1/2, he has been our joy and light in this faith-shaking ordeal.


God has worked such a miracle for me through my cell. Our hearts are still broken and our spirits wounded, but we are praying that somehow through us, Mariah and her birth family will come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.


–Linda Karchner, Three Seasons Community Church, Berlin, PA


Refiner’s Fire

Some time ago, a few ladies met together to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi in the Old Testament, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver . . .” (Mal. 3:3)


One lady proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling the object of her errand, asked the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver.


After he had fully described it to her, she asked, “But sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?” “Oh yes, madam,” replied the    silversmith. “I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.”


The lady at once saw the beauty and the comfort in the expression, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” God sees the need to put His children into a furnace. His eye steadily intent on the work of purifying and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.


Before she left, the lady asked one final question, “When do you know the process is complete?” “Why that is quite simple,” replied the silversmith, “when I can see my own image in the silver.”


- Contributed by Joseph Nelson, Brooklyn Park Ev. Free Church,

  Brooklyn Park, MN



Missions: Go Ye Therefore – Sam Skaggs


Reaching the unreached: Ten keys for success in missions.


In keeping with the ten year anniversary theme of this issue, my mind immediately went to a picture of keys and locks. I don’t know about you, but I always forget my website passwords, where I put my car keys, and the numeric combinations to locks.


This afternoon, I attempted to open my new briefcase and the lock wouldn’t budge. I purchased it three days earlier and I had not even changed the combination from its “00” factory setting. Someone fiddled with my bag before I bought it and changed the combination. The right keys are definitely important if we want to use something or go somewhere today.


In an average week, I am literally bombarded with emails about missions and unreached people groups. Here are ten keys that will enable your cell group to be successful in missions.


Key #1 - Become the “Champion”

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Whenever God calls us to do something significant, He calls someone to lead. A champion is anyone who is willing to raise the flag for the unreached people group and facilitate the forward progress of recruiting others to join him or her in this important journey. God has given you the perfect platform for this. Prayerfully ask the Lord to give you a passion for a people group or city. If you pray fervently, you’ll be motivated to investigate ways to get involved and it will be a frequent topic of conversation for you. Stay enthusiastic and rally your cell for the challenge.


Key #2 - Church leadership support

Unless we are under authority, we will not be able to lead with authority. This is an especially important principle when planning an endeavor as important as this one. Visit with your pastor and church leadership when you know where God is leading. Their support will be critical to your success.


Key #3 - Prayer

When you’ve taken the lead and you have the support of your church leadership, you must have people praying with you about what you will need to make your vision a reality. You’ll also need a strong prayer support structure for protection. Satan will try to thwart your efforts. Prayer is a powerful source of protection and builds faith, a strong team, and continued reliance upon God.


As a cell, pray for your unreached people group each time you meet. Develop a team of intercessors who will faithfully lift up your future mission, its members, the finances needed, the families of those who will go, etc. 


Key #4 - Think “Long Term”

The process of cell-based missions is not a sprint, but a marathon. I worked with a dynamic cell church for ten years to take the Gospel to the country of Albania. Even though we are now on different paths, the church and I are still involved with church planting and partnering with Albanian believers many years later. The trip you plan today will have lasting effects and provide deep friendships with believers overseas.


With this in mind, don’t think of your first trip as your only trip. God wants to use you and your cell members to impact the world for years to come. Who knows? You may become a church planting missionary, sent by your church and supported by the cells you’ve served as a leader! (This was meant to excite you, not scare you from reading the rest of the article.)


Key #5 - Strategy, Goal-Setting and Evaluation

In a never ending cycle, our vision expands and grows. We learn from our research, experiences, intercession, relationships and even our failures!


As you pray and seek God’s face for your mission, seek wise counsel from others who have gone before you. Use this information to create a strategy, and include goals for your mission that are clear and attainable. While you may not achieve every goal you set out to accomplish, you can employ careful evaluation to make your next trip more effective.


Key #6 - Ongoing education

This key is closely related to key number five. We must view research and failure as vital components to success. These are as important as other noble things like prayer! There are many things we can learn from those already in the region as well as others who have established churches among other peoples in recent years. Do your homework and ask tough questions. Finding out what has not worked for other mission teams will help you plan and give you insight.


Key #7 - Funding

You and your cell group must be willing to give sacrificially to see this vision become a reality. Traveling abroad is expensive, and you’ll also sacrifice vacation time from work to make it happen. While you can seek additional funding from believers who want to participate financially, some of the blessing you will receive from this effort will be the joy of your personal sacrifice.


When the goal is to reach people for Jesus, the resources will flow. It is amazing how the Lord will work to release the necessary funds to do what He calls you to do, so have faith and start saving your money.


Key #8 - The short-term team with a long range plan

As you share the vision, prayerfully forge a strategy and start saving money, God will speak to your cell members and they will join your team. Once this happens, look out! Natural relationships, which lead to spiritual relationships, begin to form and before long, your whole church is hooked!


Key #9 - Missionary support

Often, short-term team members go back and forth until their lives have become so intertwined with the emerging church that they lose sight of their own country. They feel led to go and live among the targeted people long term.


This is exciting for your cell group or church because now you have your own “flesh and blood” living among the unreached people group!


Another way missionaries are supported is through linking up with nationals, or indigenous people from the area in which they are working. The Lord shows missionaries and locals how to work together, speeding up the process of establishing a church planting movement. Because the nationals know the language and culture, forming a strategic alliance with others in the Kingdom to reach their own people is naturally the next step in the process.


Key #10 - Networking

Last but not least, networking with other cell churches and agencies will help your church planting endeavor become a movement. This is why the Global Cell Church Missions Network was established! Almost four years ago, the Lord began to speak to the hearts of cell church pastors and leaders to build closer relationships internationally to take this movement to every unreached city and unreached people group in the world. Start networking with others.


The cell church movement is penetrating denominations and mission agencies all over the world. “Doing cell church” is no longer a foreign concept! This is not a coincidence. Rather, it is a God-inspired dynamic released to see countless men, women, boys and girls come into the Kingdom of God!


The next time you lose your keys, a combination or password, remember that the Lord has given you the “keys to the kingdom” so that ordinary Christians can do extraordinary things!


We are anticipating that great and glorious day where people from every tribe, tongue and ethne (nation) will worship together in heaven, at the throne of Jesus, where there is no darkness, no tears and no locked   doors!    (end of article)


Sam Scaggs provides direction for the Cell Church Missions Network, USA from Virginia Beach, VA. Visit his website at: www.stragetgicnetwork.org.



Editorial – Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr., Publisher


Ten years later . . .A movement has matured!


In 1969, I moved my family to Houston to plant an “experimental church.” It would not focus on programs and buildings, but rather on preparing the people of God to be ministers and reach the unchurched. I ran into a brick wall of opposition, not only from other church leaders but also from the small group who assembled to become   “charter members.” Knowing little about taking people through change, I moved too fast. I did not realize how long it would take to guide traditionally trained people into a new lifestyle.


There was a second problem: I didn’t know what this new church life would look like. I had no model to follow. We only knew that the Acts 2 model was developed by forming house groups, and that is what we started doing. Over the next ten years we experimented both in Houston and for three years in Singapore, seeking a pattern for the “last days” body of Christ.


Dr. Donald MacGavran visited me in Singapore and told me about the church in Seoul that had 50,000 people in cells. I made a trip there and was overwhelmed by what I saw. Now I knew what we were to be: a “cell church.” Copying much of Cho’s pattern, we began to piece together the elements that are now standard in all cell churches. We learned about cells, congregations, and celebrations.


Upon my return in 1977 to Houston from Singapore, the model of a cell church was further developed as we began to experiment with how to equip people to be ministers. Gradually the structure developed, tested and revised over and over. We began to see the harvest of unreached people, showing one conversion for every four cell members. Our cells were able to multiply in four to six months.


TOUCH Outreach was an infant ministry that held seminars and produced primitive equipping materials which were marketed through a small office. Ten more years, from 1980-1990 would be spent writing equipping materials, holding pastor’s seminars, and generally seeking to “evangelize” traditional pastors to switch to a cell based structure. Many pastors were fired for their effort, and I began to wonder if the American church could ever be renewed. Quite discouraged, I decided to accept an invitation to return to Singapore, where a newly forming church asked me to come and guide their progress into cell life. As I left the country, the Lord impressed me to prepare a “magazine” to go along with a book I wrote entitled Where Do We Go From Here?


The first printing of the magazine was done in Singapore, financed by a dear man who believed in the possibility that it would make an impact in America. It was then that Randall Neighbour came on board and developed the infant publication.


I believe that the combination of the book and the magazine have been used by the Lord to set the cell church movement ablaze in the United States. Meanwhile, the awesome work of the Holy Spirit was exploding the concept of Basic Christian Communities all over the world! It was so obvious that this was a work of God and not man: men who had never met each other had formed cell-based churches that were strikingly similar.


Now, on the tenth anniversary of the Journal, there is a global movement that involves several million people. The magazine has taken its place as a Journal, an information bearing vehicle, not only in the United States but in foreign countries as well. It is currently published in a British format and in    St. Petersburg for the Russian world.


Because of the maturing of the movement, the focus of the Journal has been able to change its direction, from pastor to cell leaders and members. Its greatest ministry is still ahead. It will lead cells into the future and show them how to penetrate the unreached. That’s where the action is going to be in the next ten years — cells who mature to target specific groups of unreached people groups. The advent of the G12 management system focuses on each cell participating in penetrating a specific group who need Christ. With this thrust, the dream of every Christian becoming a minister is being reached.


Here is an example of what is happening around the world at present as God anoints every believer to be a minister. Kathy Freestone attended the recent Global Cell Church gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia. Hundreds came together there from all over the world. Kathy wrote to me, “We met an amazing lady last night, [who I’ll call Lydia] who was in cell leadership with her husband. They had been unable to attract men to Christ but were having an effective ministry among women. Recently, after a period of continued animosity from his Muslim employees at work, the husband was murdered in the street outside their house. Following her husband’s death, Lydia knelt down on the blood-stained pavement and prayed that his death would not be in vain. She boldly prayed that every man who passed by the area would see the blood, repent and be saved. Since that time  (and this has all happened very recently), scores of men have literally fallen down and repented in that area. All the husbands have now joined the cell and many more are being saved in that area of town!”


In Kentucky, a woman in a cell had to undergo radiation for her cancer. As she lost her hair, all the other women in her cell group shaved off their own hair as a way of showing their love for her to the world. Many unbelievers were deeply touched by their act of love.


Join me in praying for God’s richest blessings to be showered upon this journal, a labor of love from just a handful of dedicated people who prepare it because they believe in its mission!  (end of article)


Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. is the publisher of CellGroup Journal and an author of 35 books. He is currently planting a hybrid citywide cell-based church in Houston, Texas.



Cover Article – By Joel Comiskey




When I was commissioned to write this article on the ten largest cell churches in the world, I immediately agreed to the project. As I began the research, I found it to be a daunting task and had second thoughts. After all, there are no lists from which to refer and use as a launching point.


Before I jump into the numbers, let me share a few important thoughts with you.


My previous research into successful cell churches around the world was useful, but I needed to consult with others. Due to the various ways churches count groups and organize themselves, I had to remain accurate and balanced in the presentation of my findings. One of my advisors was Mikel Neumann, author of Home Groups for Urban Cultures. When I contacted him for information, he said, “Who can track the world’s largest cell churches? Only God knows.” Another consultant on my list was David Barret, expert on the growth of Christianity and editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia. He offered this advice: “Be careful to give the whole picture. Perhaps no single person understands everything about these churches. There is a lot of picking and choosing to do.”


Single vs. satellite Congregations

I originally decided to include only those cell churches that gather all cell members for a weekly celebration event in one place (and of course, the cell groups meeting weekly in various homes). Yet, by doing this I would have excluded Pastor Dion Robert’s famous cell church, The Works and Mission Baptist Church in the Ivory Coast. This church meets in hundreds of satellite churches, that consist of 150,000 people, with only 6,000 in one place). Other huge cell churches follow a similar model. For the sake of fairness, I decided to make a top ten list that   compared those cell churches that      celebrate in one weekly gathering and then a different top three list to compare those churches that meet in scattered satellite churches throughout the country (yet maintain only one statistical count).


One More Thing. . .

As you read this article, know that I’ve written it in style that is descriptive (here’s what I found), rather than prescriptive (do it this way). I’m not   saying that one strategy is better than another. Personally, I’m increasingly attracted to planting smaller cell churches before reaching the size of these citywide cell churches.


This article only discusses churches in the free world. Only God knows the size of the loosely connected house churches of China and other restricted areas.


One weakness of this study is the lack of cell group information in two of the top ten cell churches listed below. I tried, but failed to collect this information.


Whew! With all this prefaced, here’s the list!


The Top Cell Churches Today (as of January, 2001)

These churches gather members in one weekly celebration event, with multiple services.


1. Yoido Full Gospel, Korea

250,000 in worship attendance; 25,000 cell groups.


2. Grace & Truth, Korea

105,000 in worship attendance; Over 1,000 cell groups.


3. The International Charismatic Mission, Colombia;

50,000 in worship attendance; 20,000 cell groups; 150,000 cell attendance (G12 model)


4. Kum Ran Methodist, Korea

50,000 in worship attendance; 2,700 cells.


5. Nambu Full Gospel, Korea

47,000 in worship attendance; Number of cell groups unavailable.


6. Elim Christian, El Salvador

40,000 in worship attendance;

11,000 cell groups; 110,000 cell attendance.


7. Showers of Grace, Guatemala

25,000 in worship attendance;

1,000+ cell groups; 15,000 cell attendance.


8. Word of Faith, Kiev, Ukraine

20,000 worshippers; Number of cell groups unavailable.


9. Family of God, Indonesia

12,000 in worship attendance; 1000+ cell groups.


10. Faith Community Baptist, Singapore

11,000 in worship attendance; 700 cell groups.


The Korean cell movement

You’ll notice that four of the churches listed are located in Korea. Yoido Full Gospel Church tops the list. YFGC is by far the largest church in the world, and, I believe, the largest church in the history of Christianity. In 1964 David Cho literally collapsed of exhaustion, trying to do the work of a Moses. On his deathbed, God showed him the Biblical model for running the church, thus becoming the forerunner of the modern cell church movement.


I visited YFGC in 1997. While there, I picked up a pamphlet that described the cell system this way: “The home cell has been the backbone of Yoido Full Gospel Church. Any church that wishes to implement this concept has to be completely reorganized into a cell-based church. ...On Sunday, you will also attend one of the main worship services, an experience that will convince you of the power of the home cell. ...Home cells are run by lay people, though training is provided by the pastor.”


Surprisingly — or perhaps not —David Cho’s brother, Young Mok Cho, leads the second largest church in the world. Both follow the same cell system. In fact, the cell church model that Cho started is followed by each of the Korean cell churches that appear on the top ten cell church list.


The South American Cell movement

Third on the list is the International Charismatic Mission in Bogota, Colombia. 50,000 people attend the four weekly weekend services that meet in the city's indoor stadium. Approximately 150,000 people attend the 20,000 weekly cell groups. The cell groups at ICM penetrate the entire city, and like a giant net, eventually gather those attending the cells into the celebration services. The “Groups of 12” care structure originated with ICM, and this exciting principle is now being reinvented in hundreds of cell churches throughout the world.


Sixth on the list is the Elim Church, located in San Salvador, El Salvador. Between 35,000-40,000 people attend the weekly Sunday celebration services. Yet, three times as many people attend the 11,000 cell groups during the week (approximately 110,000). I estimated that 600 rented public buses brought the faithful to the Sunday celebration services from all over the city (the cell groups rent the buses for the day).


I was amazed at Elim’s professional statistical reporting. By Monday morning, the church knows exactly how many people met in the 11,000 cell groups.


Seventh on the list is the Showers of Grace Church in Guatemala City with 20,000 people attending on any given weekend. The pastor, Edmundo Madrid, had previously heard of David Cho’s cell church concept, but believed that such a system would not work in Latin America. They were shocked to hear of the Elim Church’s success with Cho’s model in neighboring El Salvador. Some still said that it would not work in Guatemala, but this church has proved the critics wrong. Church life takes place in thousands of small groups, as well as during the Sunday worship. The church has also planted 125 cell churches throughout the world. My contact, Luis Floriano, wrote, “Other churches in Guatemala are now also learning that the impossible is possible, and it is not uncommon for churches which previously had 80 members to now number 300 or 400.”




The former Soviet Republic Cell Movement      

Eighth on the list is a cell church in Kiev, Ukraine called the Word of Faith Church. This church, pastored by Sunday Adelajiah, is the largest church in all of the Former Soviet Republics. This cell church has grown exponentially to 20,000 members since implementing the G-12 model.



The South East Asian Cell Movement

Ninth on the list is the Family of God Church in Solo, Indonesia. The senior pastor, Obaja Tanto Setiawan, has led this church from 273 cells in February 1999 to more than a 1,000 today. The movement began 10 years ago, and   currently has 12,000 in their weekly worship services. This church has also planted 25 daughter churches in the last year. The key has been implementing the principles of twelve, which they now teach in cell seminars. One Indonesian pastor, heavily influenced by this church said, “For years, I have tried to develop our cell groups, but we only had 100 cell groups. On January 2000, we learned and started to apply the ‘Principle of Twelve.’ And now after 4 months, we have grown from 100 cell groups to 415 cell groups. This is an explosion for our church growth.”


Tenth is Faith Community Baptist Church, which started in 1986 with 600 people. With the help of Ralph Neighbour, on May 1, 1988 the church totally restructured itself to become a cell church. Twelve years later, the church has grown to 11,000 Sunday worshippers and 700 cell groups. The church is exemplifying cell church ministry to the rest of Asia, holding an annual cell church conference that attracts thousands of pastors.


Top Three Satellite Cell churches

This list compares some of world’s largest cell churches that meet in scattered satellite churches throughout the country (yet maintain only one statistical count):


1. The Works and Mission Baptist Church, Ivory Coast, Africa

150,0000 in worship services; Hundreds of satellite churches throughout the world; 18,000 worldwide cell groups.


2. Igreja Mana, Lisbon, Portugal

60,000 in worship services; 400 satellite churches; 4,000 cells.


3. New Life Fellowship, Bombay, India

50,000 in worship services; 250 satellite churches; 1,200 cells


The #1 spot goes to Dion Robert’s Works and Mission Baptist Church. The celebration event in the mother church attracts some 6,000 worshippers each Sunday. However, the Works and Mission Baptist Church has 56 local satellite churches in the capital city of Abidjan alone and many more throughout the country. A total of 18,000 cells (14,000 adult cells and about 4,000 children’s cells) form the basis of the church. There is one system of government and administration from the smallest cell in France to the Temple in Abidjan. All reports, accountability, etc. filter back to the mother church. The local churches are not independent. Each local church has exactly the same departmental structure and ultimately reports back to Abidjan.


Les Brickman, who is doing his doctoral dissertation at Regent University on The Works and Mission Baptist Church says, “This church has experienced quantitative and qualitative growth since its inception in 1975. With over 150,000 members worldwide, it has proven to be successful in the context of both African and non-African culture, having planted churches in 34% of current African nations as well as in Europe and North America.”


The # 2 church is the Igreja Mana, pastored by George Tadeau. The headquarters of this huge church is Lisbon, Portugal. This growing cell church has about 50,000 to 60,000 worshippers that meet in the 400 satellite churches. Yet, the 4,000 cell groups provide intimate care for the members. Although these satellite churches are intimately connected to one another, the largest gathering in one spot for a Sunday worship service is approximately 8,000 people.


The #3 spot belongs to New Life Fellowship, located in Bombay, India and is pastored by S. Joseph, Senior pastor in Bombay. Mikel Nuemann, who did a case study on this church, believes that, “New Life Fellowship in Bombay could easily touch 50,000 on a Sunday in their multiple sites.” This church started in 1968, but by 1980 only had 100 in attendance. In 1990, the church emphasized planting house churches and satellite churches throughout Bombay. There are now approximately 1,200 house churches in 250 worship and celebration centers. The church owns little property. All worship centers are rented and the house groups meet in homes. Even the church offices are rented.


Cell Churches Deserving An Honorable Mention

While certain cell churches stand out as giant Redwoods, let’s not pass over the rest of the beautiful forest. Many mighty oaks demand our attention and most of all give glory to the living God.


U.S. Cell Churches

Don’t be discouraged because North America isn’t included in the top ten list. In reality, exciting things are happening in the North American cell church. Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, Louisiana has grown from a respectable church of twenty-five ingrown “fellowship” groups to a dynamic church of 700 multiplying cell groups with 8,000 Sunday worshippers. This church dispels the myth that cell churches just don’t work in America.


Bethany is not alone. Another North American cell church has a record number for the U.S. Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma has nearly 12,000 in worship attendance and 1,000 cells.


Door of Hope, AK, Church of the Nations, GA, Cornerstone Church, VA, Colonial Hills Baptist Church, MS, Clear Point Church, TX, Long Reach Church of God, MD, are examples of healthy, growing cell churches. These just a few of the relatively smaller, yet rapidly growing cell churches in this country. Be encouraged!


Asian Cell Churches

Hong Kong cell churches have set an outstanding precedent by networking together to share resources and better reach a lost world for Jesus. Ben Wong left his growing Hong Kong cell church (Shepherd Community) to direct the HK Cell Church Network, which links approximately 160 cell churches to share ideas and resources to more effectively reach the remaining unreached people groups.


The 11,000 member City Harvest Church in Singapore, pastored by Hee Kong, is a cell church that registers some 400 weekly decisions for Christ. With approximately 500 cell groups, this church is committed to reaching Singapore with the gospel.


Compared to Singapore, church growth in Thailand is almost non-existent. After 100 years of Protestant missionary service, less than 0.5% of the population is Christian. Yet, there is one notable exception. The Hope of Bangkok Church has grown to 9,000 worshippers and 1,000 cell groups. This church exemplifies how God is using the cell church strategy.


South Africa Cell Churches

In South Africa, some 3,000 churches are making the cell church transition and some cases, they are quite advanced.


My visit to South Africa brought me into contact with the Lighthouse Christian Centre in Cape Town (600 cells, 7,000 worshippers); the Christian Family Church in Johannesburg (690 cells, 6,000 worshippers), Christian Revival Centre in Bloemfontein (500 cells, 5000 worshippers) and Little Falls Christian Centre (400 cells, 4,000 worshippers).


The South African cell movement is unique in that hundreds of churches have transitioned together. The senior leaders of large, well established denominations — with overwhelming support from all the churches within —- made a complete transitional shift to cell-based church structures.


European/ former Soviet Republic Cell Churches

God is working in the former U.S.S.R. Chuck Squeri, who is committed to network and train cell churches in the former Soviet Union says, “The largest church in all of Russia is a cell church. It has 3,000 members and 150 cell groups and holds regular cell church conferences.”


I mentioned Sunday Adelajiah’s 20,000 member church in Kiev, Ukraine in the top ten list. There is another 7,000 member cell church in Kiev, Ukraine that is pastored by Henry Moldova.


The largest Church in the southern part of the former Soviet republics (Uzbekistan) is the Church of God Tash Kent (10,000 members 1,000 cell groups). Even in the midst of persecution, this church continues to flourish.


Faith Church is located in Budapest Hungary, and worth mentioning. This church, pastored by Pastor Nameth, is growing rapidly in this former communist country. There are about 63 home-cells in Budapest, with an average Sunday meeting of approximately 5,000 people. There are about 40,000 believers involved in Faith Church all over the country.


Latin American Cell Churches

Three of the world’s top ten churches are in Latin America (Elim, ICM, & Showers of Grace). However, this article wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the dynamic cell movement taking place in Brazil. There are some 2,000 Brazilian churches exploding with cell church growth, Neville Chamberlin, director of the Cell Church Missions Network, reports, “. . . whole denominations, like the Baptists and Assemblies of God, are deciding to transition to all their churches — hundreds of them — to cells . . .”


How Did These Churches Get So Large?

All the churches here have a number of common values. The commonalities clearly show why they are so large and successful at building the kingdom of God.


1. They value prayer. Prayer is given a high priority and many members spend a generous portion of each day and/or week in prayer. This is where they receive an increased passion for the lost, see their leadership potential and enjoy miraculous signs and wonders.


2. Their purpose in life is clear. The members of these churches understand that glorifying God and reaching the lost brings greater satisfaction than any other activity. Family life is fully integrated into cell life; going to work is for financial provision and is not seen as much as a “career builder” as a home mission field.


3. Leadership is for everyone. As souls are saved, new converts are discipled to become disciplers of others and then group leaders. It is not reserved for a privileged few. The vision to become a leader begins immediately after conversion, and there is a sense of urgency to cast off the fears and strongholds that keep a new believer from moving into leadership.


Is Bigger Better?

The purpose of this article is to excite you about what God is doing through the cell church movement. It’s certainly not to “split hairs” about what church is bigger or better. Perish the thought! God moves in mysterious ways. In fact, many cell churches have consciously decided to plant smaller cell churches, instead of concentrating on growing a huge mother celebration service. The most important point is that God is interested in reaching a lost, dying world for His Son Jesus Christ. In fact, that’s the very reason why He hasn’t come sooner.

The cell church phenomenon is here to stay. It may be that your church will never be featured as one of the largest churches in the world. But you are part of the largest church in the world ...the church of Jesus Christ! Adopt the values of the churches listed here and you will see incredible things happen in your life and the life of your church. As you focus on prayer, living out your purpose to reach the lost and raising up leaders, your church will flourish and grow. Jump in the fray and enjoy the ride!


Joel Comiskey is the author of Leadership Explosion and numerous other titles on the cell church. He and his wife Celyce were CMA missionaries for many years, and are now planting a church in Southern California. Visit his website at: www.comiskey.org



Feature Story by Randall Neighbour


In The Beginning... A true story about the life and times of CellGroup


In the spring of 1991, it seemed like every pastor calling our offices was reading from the same script. When the phone rang, we could guess what the caller was going to say, word for word. It went something like this: “I received this little magazine from your ministry today. I’ve been reading the New Testament for years, wondering how my church got so far off course. What you guys are writing about is exactly what I’ve been praying for! How’d you get my name?”


The Holy Spirit had moved in a big way through the first issues of the magazine, mailed to rented lists of pastors. We had no idea if it would spark any interest in cells. Ralph faxed the Houston office one day from Singapore (where he was living and working at the time) and said “I think we’ve got to educate pastors as to what can happen when a church equips every member for ministry and lives in basic Christian community. Let’s create a mail piece to help them see the




Just a few days after we mailed out the “mail piece,” we were deluged with calls from every nook and cranny of the United States. Soon after, missionaries and pastors from other countries were calling, receiving a copy from a friend back home. That little 16 page piece struck while the iron was hot!


Very humble beginnings

There were only two of us working at TOUCH nine years ago. Joey Beckham and I answered three phone lines as fast as we could, adding pastors to our mailing list and taking orders for the few cell group resources we offered. I remember that I lost a little weight that year ...no lunch breaks for months on end.


At 4:30 each afternoon, we’d put the phone lines on hold and start packing book orders.


If we hadn’t been working such long hours, we would have been scared silly! Thousands of churches decided to abandon programs and launch cell groups, and every one of them called our offices for resources and phone counseling. “How do I start cell groups?” “What do I do first?” It makes me dizzy just thinking about those days!


What we realized was that God’s timing was awesome. Pastors were tired of church growth gimmicks and were searching for a New Testament model to follow. The informative brochure we sent fed a very hungry crowd ...with food they had only dreamed of eating one day.


A brochure or a magazine?

That first piece — designed and printed in Singapore — wasn’t a thing of beauty. But, it substantiated the growing cell movement, and gave pastors a way to learn more with lots of text. We used chapters from Where Do We Go From Here? by Ralph Neighbour Jr. and information that would later be published in The Second Reformation by Bill Beckham.


At this point in the story, it’s important to mention that we never intended to keep publishing new editions of Cell Group Churches. In our minds, it was an advertorial, which is a cross between an advertisement and an editorial. It was designed to showcase the cell group model and a couple of books we wanted to sell to survive as a ministry.


We wanted to counsel pastors and hold seminars, but there wasn’t enough money. Travel, lodging, presentation equipment and advertising for seminars was out of the question.


When pastors called in and said “Hey, can I buy a bunch of these magazines for my church?” we knew our vision had to expand. What we thought was a glossy brochure on our ministry was seen as a magazine in the minds of pastors.


As exciting as the vision for a periodical sounded, there were numerous obstacles to overcome. Where would the money come from? How would we track subscribers? Do we offer ad space to other ministries? We were scared to death and had no answers. In the end, we decided to move forward in blind faith.


Let’s do it again

When I interviewed with Joey in October of 1990 for a clerical/warehouse job at TOUCH, he asked me what I’d love to do if I could do anything. I quickly said “sit behind a computer and design stuff for printing.” I sold printing for a couple of year prior to joining TOUCH as a staff member. Design and layout seemed like fascinating, fast-paced work to me.


With the success of Cell Group Churches, it looked like my dream would come true. I dragged my Apple Macintosh® to the office and starting working on the second issue. I had six weeks to learn Quark Xpress® and crank out a sixteen page, full-color magazine under the new flag, CellChurch Magazine.


Driving home after midnight a few weeks later, I coined a short prayer that I now apply to every area of my life. “God help me. I have no idea what I’m doing.” I had never uttered a truer statement!


And God helped indeed. The second magazine came out on time, and it looked great. We continued to use Ralph and Bill’s writings, and I wrote a new column for non-pastoral readers called Cellular Thinking.

The rest is history.


Manna from heaven

Since those fearful days, God has always been faithful to help us find good articles, work with great columnists, and produce a practical periodical (say that five times fast!) with very little staff. It’s just me and Tiffany on the creative/editorial side of things.


Issue after issue, we try to plan ahead, but few pastors or cell leaders submit work for possible publication. A week after the magazine is delivered to the mail house, we have a brainstorming session for the next issue. Through prayer, God directs us to commission a writer on a topic that is on the hearts of our readers.


It has been this way from the beginning. Is it scary not knowing where the next articles are coming from? For the first few years, it was terrifying and I lost sleep over it. Today, I know God will provide. It’s His publication.


Where are we today?

In the summer of ‘98 (Vol. 7, #3), we began a slow shift in our editorial content. The cell movement had matured and pastors were clamoring for a more practical resource for their group leaders.


We formally changed the name to CellGroup Journal in January of 2000. As expected, this increased paid circulation and gave the publication a much longer life span.


Today we have just over 8,000 paid readers, and a circulation of about 10,000 copies per issue. We have 1,000 single subscribers. All the rest are bulk subscriptions for groups of cell leaders in local churches.


The Journal is also international. There are Russian, UK, South African and Brazilian editions. A Korean version will be out next year. Each is produced locally by the TOUCH affiliate in that country. I dreamed of this years ago, and I watch in awe as God uses this publication around the world to impact others.


Oh, the memories!

As I look through my archive book, each issue brings back special memories of challenges, relationships or feelings. While there’s not enough room to give an inside story on all 37 issues, I’d like to share a few tidbits of information about production, writers and the editing process on some of the more memorable issues. I hope you’ll enjoy this “behind the scenes” look.


Cover art:

Product imageThe good, the bad, the ugly . . .

Without a doubt, Volume 3, #1 takes the title of the best cover design. Everyone loved the crawfish, even if they had no idea that these fresh water critters were good eating. It was bold, and instantly made a connection to our cell church examples in Louisiana. God gave Joey and I the idea while driving home from Baton Rouge.


As a struggling ministry, we didn’t have the money for professional photography. I took most of the photos for the magazine back then, but I wanted this one to be done right. I called Bruce Senior, a young photographer here in Houston. He knew we were broke, and he agreed to do the shot for a ridiculously low amount ...as long as I was willing to (a) bring the crawfish to his studio at 11 am and (b) buy enough to make a nice lunch for him after he’d processed the film. The hot camera lights kept them warm!


Ugly: Adjective. (See photo)

On Vol. 3 #2, we simply had no ideas for cover designs. Weeks passed and we were all stumped! The day the issue was to go to press, our in-house graphic artist (God bless his pea-pickin’ little heart) took a photo of a cell group from a wonderful church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and doctored it up in Adobe Photoshop® at my request.


That was a lousy idea. People do judge a book (or a magazine) by its cover. Now we go to great pains to make covers attractive.


Anything for a laugh!

I can’t remember who came up with the idea for the cover of Vol. 3, #4, which in my book is the funniest cover we’ve ever designed. It was during the days when television stations ran anti-drug commercials every five minutes, or so it seemed. Remember the guy with the frying pan and the scrambled eggs?


Years later, it occurred to me that Dr. Cho in Korea might not have appreciated our humorous introduction to his cover story. Fortunately, he’s a busy man and lives overseas. I think I’m safe.


Turn it down, will you?

The loudest cover we’ve ever released was Vol. 5, #1. My friend Harlan Wichelhaus, a fertility specialist here in Houston, gave me some lackluster photos of human embryos to use for cover art. Each photo looked like a house payment to him ...artificial insemination is expensive! To me, each looked dull and lifeless, even though the cells pictured were very much alive and multiplying.


Once again, I turned to my graphics program. I merged two images together, posterized the image and saved it as a CMYK (four color) document. Then, using my “magic wand” tool, I selected various shades of gray and affixed the brightest color I could find to each. Voila! Outrageously loud cover art. I threw in a little type and a few well placed arrows, and I had an eye-catching cover. Total time: 30 minutes. It’s also the fastest cover I’ve ever done!


[By the way, the sidebar about the stubborn intern in the cover article was yours truly. Greg Lee, the writer, was my mentor and pastor at the time. He graciously left my name off the sidebar, but I was easily as bad an intern as he described.]


Most Controversial Cover Art

Vol. 4 #1 easily won this award. The artist, a young missionary with YWAM stationed in Hawaii, designed the cover for this special issue on evangelism.


He depicted Jesus as fair-skinned, and made Him look more like a beach boy than our Saviour (according to a number of readers with proficient writing abilities). When the first stern letter arrived, we felt horrible. The letters to the editor were right on target and we agreed wholeheartedly in letters of apology.


Today, we try to serve all our readers by depicting people from many walks of life in articles, features and columns. Needless to say, if we ever depict the Lord again, he will look very different.


Disaster never looked so good

Just hours before Vol. 4 #3 was to go to press, the writer of the cover article demanded that it be removed. He did not agree with the editorial changes a staff member and I made to make the article fit the content and space requirements of the issue.

I’ll never forget that day. I sat down on the floor of my office and tried to cry, but no tears would form. A few choice words came to mind, and it required a walk around the building to cool me off.


On my ninth trip by the front door of our offices, God gave me a solution. I ran back to my desk and called our only advertiser, Gerrit Gustafson of Wholehearted Worship. Surely he could fix this mess!


I told this seasoned man of worship my tale of woe, and he agreed to work through the night and write an article for us.


Though the problem was fixed in a hurry, the issue was anointed and readers called to say “Each issue gets better and better! How do you do that so consistently?”


Who could explain it? God loves me.


Adding the practical element

Vol. 3 #4 introduced the first Toolkit, a practical resource for cell leaders. The cell movement was maturing in 1994, and many of our readers were cell leaders. We knew we had to give them practical and fun ways to make cell life fun or we’d lose the readers who were cell leaders and members.


Toolkit remains the most frequently read area of the journal. It is easily the most time consuming part of each issue as well.


One of the greatest challenges we face each and every issue is how to fill the pages of Toolkit. A year ago, I hired Tiffany Symmank to oversee these four pages full time. She’s done a superb job, and the Toolkit in this issue is completely her work. She chose the artwork, edited the stories and did the layout and design work. Drop her a line and congratulate her!


The reason Toolkit is such a huge undertaking is due to the fact that we rarely receive stories, testimonies or tips from readers. We know you’re quite loyal, but Tiffany is always on the phone or sending email to churches, begging for testimonies.


We know God is doing incredible things in your life and in your cell group. Let me take a moment right here in the middle of this article to plead with you on my hands and knees ...please send us your testimonies, stories and tips! Your contribution will make Toolkit better and Tiffany very, very happy.



This periodical would not be where it is today without some incredible people. Without their input, work or influence, CellGroup Journal would not be the quality publication that it has become.

Pete Sukonek, you set the standard for artwork, layout and design. You are truly gifted.


Elizabeth Bruns, you brought the magazine to a new level of editorial excellence. I’ll never do as good a job as you did during the year you were here.


Larry Kreider, your random phone calls of encouragement and prayer over the phone are an awesome ministry to me. Don’t stop.


Joey Beckham, you were faithful to this ministry and a good boss, empowering others to fulfill their purpose in life. Bless you!


Scott Boren, you have pushed me over the years to write powerfully in a small space and communicate with humor. Keep pushing. I need it.


Ralph, thanks for establishing a foundation from which to build. The whole cell movement thanks you!


To the numerous columnists and writers, you have helped thousands work the harvest field more efficiently. You’ve also made me a better editor, although it’s hard to thank anyone for an article that needs a series of hard edits.


Etna, my sweet wife and better half, thank you for allowing me to invest so much of my life into this ministry. Without your support, I’d be in big trouble.

And to you, dear reader, thank you for allowing me and the staff of TOUCH to serve you in this way. It is our pleasure. I hope every issue gives you a smile and a practical tip or biblical truth to enrich your personal ministry to others.      (end of article)


Randall Neighbour is the President of TOUCH Outreach Ministries and the Senior Editor of CellGroup Journal.



Intergenerational Cells – By Daphne Kirk


Generational unity: Ten practical elements to restore the generations within the cell context.


Throughout John 17, Jesus continually prays that “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (v. 12). Jesus was praying for a complete unity that included all generations. Across the nations there is growing unity in the body of Christ, but have you noticed how generationally fractured we remain? The main fracture of the generations is in the hearts and attitudes of people towards generations that are not their own. This is apparent in the lives of many homes, churches and nations. We are not united any more!


In secular society, we read about organizations attempting to bring generations together. This is evident in the mentoring of teenagers, family counseling and volunteer grandparent figures. This does not include the countless therapists, psychologist and sociologists who are busy helping people come together.


However, I have seen people become discouraged as they try to repair these same generation gaps in their own churches. Most try to introduce new structures into generations whose hearts are not ready to commit to each other. Maybe being part of these attempts has discouraged you as well.


Repairing generation gaps is an uphill battle. As Jesus’ return draws nearer it will become increasingly easier. Malachi 4 says “Before the great and terrible day of the Lord, I will send the Spirit of Elijah and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers, or else I will strike the land with a curse.” The “Spirit of Elijah” is here. God is ready to restore the generations. As He turns our hearts back to generational unity, he is also implementing his word in John 13: 35, “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, when you have love one for another.”

Just as community is being established through small groups of people who are committed to love God, love each other and love the lost, so different generations are being established in intergenerational cells. How can you restore generational unity within the context of an intergenerational cell?


1. Start with a prototype or experimental group.

Launch your first intergenerational cell with healthy adults and children who have a heart for intergenerational relationships. Ideally, you should have a mixture of singles, couples and families. In this early stage, it is important that other members of your church now this is about generational unity, not just families with children. If this cell is a success, it will become an inspiration to others and they will follow. It will also become a source of support, help and encouragement in the early days of transitioning to intergenerational cells.


2. Prepare your members.

Give your cell members the opportunity to learn the values that fasten intergenerational cells to their hearts. These values include understanding God’s purposes and plans for the generations as portrayed in the Word of God ...from Genesis to Revelation! One of the foundational values that IGC’s must maintain is restoring parents to the role of primary disciplers. Even though God uniquely anoints the parents with this role, many feel ill-equipped and unsupported. In the cell environment, there must be safety and support as parents are empowered with this God given responsibility. There must also be fathers for the fatherless (of all ages) and singles should be restored as “He puts the solitary in families” (Ps. 68:6). By restoring the adults to their biblical roles, children will be restored into the generational blessing they were created to receive.


3. Prepare yourself.

Take time to do some research through reading, conferences, consultation and role models. Many of the mistakes cell leaders make can be avoided if they have thoroughly prepared. Ideally, this preparation can also take place within children’s ministry as they transition into children’s cells.


4. A newly formed cell should start with a “Kid’s Slot.”

A Kid’s Slot moves the children to a different room after the Welcome and Worship. They continue with the Word, taking the same application as the adults. The Kid’s Slot can be facilitated by any cell member(s) that have been active in the cell for a period of time   (so the children are familiar with them). This is a time where the children discover more about each other and the members of their community. They will build relationships with each other and their heavenly Father!


5. Use good, tested cell material.

This will prevent the cell from becoming polemic (too childish or academic). Either of these will be inappropriate for both children and adults! When all ages are being challenged, fruit will be seen in every age group.


6. Implement a “cell agreement” and keep it operational.

It’s important for the children and adults to have ownership of an agreement that can be regularly reviewed. This agreement is based on issues such as how each member will respect host homes, how they will respond to other members, how the issue of discipline will be addressed and any other concerns regarding different standards and boundaries. The children should discuss their ideas independently of the adults and then everyone can compare their ideas and reach an agreement together. If this is reviewed at regularly stated times (i.e. every two months), many unnecessary conflicts will be avoided.


7. Give the children some ownership of the cell.

Ask their opinions and advice. Give them appropriate responsibilities. Have faith for them to move in the gifts of the Spirit and minister to older age groups. Showing you trust the children in this manner teaches the parents to trust the children as well.


8. Remember the principle “as with adults.”

If you feel inadequate as a leader to properly minister to the children in your cell, ask yourself, “What would I do if an adult was in this situation?” For example, if a child is sick, visit him (as with adults). If a child does not want to go to the meeting, spend time talking with them so you can identify the problem (as with adults). If a child does not participate, break into two’s or three’s so he or she can be drawn out (as with adults). Maintain the expectation that the children will be active participators of the cell (as with adults). Disciple them, equip them, and empower them  to reach the lost as you would do with adults and you leadership will be more than adequate.


9. Equip the parents to be disciplers of their children.

 As you implement an equipping track for the children, you can implement one for parents, too. They will need the same support, acceptability and preparation that you give to the children. Taking them through a sponsor’s guide written for that purpose, or holding a “Discipling your children” evening are just two ways of encouraging and empowering the parents in your cell. (TOUCH Outreach Ministries, Inc. has a variety of resources for this).


10. Continually pray and fast.

This will reclaim ground from the enemy. We are in a time of spiritual  warfare. When we do not underestimate the power of the evil one, we are reminded that the promise is always greater than the curse. Only then can we restore and redeem “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zec. 4: 6).

God has given you the resources to bridge the generation gap. By applying these ten practical elements to the life of your group, you will be fulfilling the prophecy in Malachi four. As I stated before, the “Spirit of Elijah” is indeed here. Are you ready to receive it?   (end of article)


Daphne Kirk is an author of numerous cell resources for church. Visit our expansive collection of her work by clicking here.



Leading Student Cells – Randy Riggins


Ten ways to make a difference!

It’s not too late in the school year to reach other students for Christ.


As I write this article, our nation is involved in the tightest presidential race it has seen in years! Various tactics were applied to appeal to the voters, but possibly the most amazing new strategy was that the candidates tried their hand at comedy on the late night talk shows. The most popular ploy was for both candidates to participate in their own versions of a Top Ten list, poking fun at themselves and their opponent. While I’m not attempting to charm you into voting for me, I am hoping you will at least finish reading my article!

My Top Ten list may not be as funny as the candidates’ but I can promise you a list that is both useful and true.


When it comes to making a difference for Christ on your campus, you may feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall. Or, you may be in the midst of a powerful, spiritual breakthrough. No matter which category you may find yourself in now, the following list includes ten principles you can use.


These principles work, and I’m not just spouting off a bunch of “campaign promises.” If you spend the remainder of your school year focused on these top ten principles, God will make a difference in and through your life. Why do I sound so confident? Because God’s Word is true, and when we put His principles into practice, we see the evidence of His workings and power all around us. Now, let’s get started . . .


1. Stay connected to the Savior!

Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me . . . apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Your time in His Word will transform your heart into a heart that resembles the Father, and mold you into the image of His Son.


One example of this truth can be found in Acts 4:13: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” These “missionaries” stood out in the crowd because of the time they spent with Jesus. You can’t change your campus, but God can through you, if you are spending time with Him. Keep in mind, meditating upon and memorizing key portions of His Word will help you maneuver through your days on campus. Here are a few key verses that will help prepare you for service: II Timothy 1:7, I John 4:4, I Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 3:20.


2. Pray!

Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” God has some unbelievable plans for you on your campus . . . and He wants to share them with you.

Keep the communication flowing between you and the Heavenly Father. Pray for your school, your classmates, your teachers, and your principals. Pray alone and in groups. Pray before, during, and after school. Pray for specific people in your school, realizing that your conversations with God about these people will be just the beginning of how God chooses to use you in their lives.


A few years ago, I watched as several students from my church got serious about praying for a specific friend, one who was into the drug scene and very anti-God. They stepped out on faith and invited him to a camp they never dreamed he would attend. Because of their faithfulness and obedience, he came to camp, got saved, and is currently taking seminary classes to prepare him for foreign missions.


3. Be a friend.

Romans 12:10 &13 say, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves . . . practice hospitality.” Practicing spiritual “hospitality” on campus translates into going through your school day ready to meet needs.


I am reminded of the testimony of Rachel Scott, one of the Christian martyrs of the Columbine High School massacre. She targeted three groups of people: the handicapped, the students who were new to her school, and those students who were regarded as “outcasts.” As Rachel walked the halls of her school, she lived out a life resembling our Savior. For you, it may mean tutoring a classmate, listening to the problems facing a friend, or helping an embarrassed underclassman pick up their spilled meatloaf and carrots off the cafeteria floor.


These actions do not occur accidentally. They will begin to intentionally take shape as you start each day praying, “God, I want to see with your eyes and hear with your ears, so that I am able to recognize the potential distractions of my day as incredible opportunities to show Your love.”


4. Link up with other Christians.

Although it might seem like your campus is a spiritual wasteland, it’s doubtful that you’re the only Christian around. You just have to find ways to meet other believers. Try attending Christian club meetings, or for one night, go to a different youth group in your area to meet other students. Paul reminds us in Romans 15:10, that we were meant to show off His Glory as we live life connected and unified together: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”


If other believers go to a different church . . . Big deal! If they aren’t in the “in crowd,” . . . So what! Band together with other believers and make a difference on your campus.


5. Remain accountable to your cell group.

Let them know who God has placed on your heart. Ask them to keep you accountable concerning what God is leading you to accomplish as a part of His plan. Proverbs 27:17, reminds us that, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Allow your cell group to propel you towards excellence in your walk with the Lord.


6. Be real

Reality-based programs like CBS’s “Survivor” are some of the most watched and talked about shows on television. In today’s culture, people want (and need) to see, experience, and relate to real people living authentic lives.


The people in your school need to see Christians who are honest about their faith and convictions, yet willing to let down their guard for others to see real hurts and struggles. We are called to love others as we love ourselves, but in Romans 12:9, we are reminded that our “love must be sincere.” So let me ask you, are you real?


7. Seize the day

You only have a limited time with your current classmates. A day only has twenty-four hours and you will only be at your school for a few short years (well . . . maybe a few more for some!)

Most of the people that surround you at school will not be in your sphere of influence ten years from now. Don’t take for granted the small talk in the auditorium before the pep rally or the conversations that occur around your cafeteria table each day. Proverbs 27:1 soberly reminds us, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” The time is now!


8. Invite a friend to your cell meetings

You might just be surprised at how many of your friends will say “Yes” to your invitation. Helping your friends make the connection to an authentic, exciting, body of believers can become one of the most eternally rewarding factors you could ever introduce into your friendships.


9. Be ready to give an answer to the faith that is in you

Many people in my high school knew I had a relationship with Jesus Christ. Others only knew me as that “nice guy who was the drum major and president of the French Club.” What about you? Are you “. . . prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”   (I Peter 3:15)? If you are, then you are setting the stage for God to do incredible things in the lives of your classmates.


10. Stay focused on the prize

The Apostle Paul proclaimed: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13b-14). It is our love relationship with the Savior that motivates us to take our next step of faith. The prize: A relationship with God, glorifying Him, now and forever! Now that’s a race with a prize worth running after! F


Randy Riggins is a seasoned youth pastor at Clearpoint Church in Pasadena, Texas.



Just For Pastors – By Don Tillman


One old dog’s new tricks: Ten things I’ve learned since I became a cell pastor.


“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” the saying goes. I’ve often wondered about this maxim.  I’ve asked questions of it, such as: Why? Who says? How old is old? Am I too old to learn new things?


Fortunately, I have found that I am not too old to learn. I am sometimes slow to learn, but I’m never too old to learn. I probably have learned more since starting down the cell ministry path than in all of my adult life. Recently, I took stock of these lessons. Here are my top ten.


Motivation matters

I remember the horror that came over me the day I realized my primary motivation for reaching people for Christ was to grow my church. Someone described my congregation as the largest of our denomination in our city. I felt proud and important. I also felt worried.  What if another congregation came along and took first place?


Then it hit me. I actually feared another church might reach more people than we did and my church might lose its first place status. God has done a lot to humble me since that day . . . and I’m glad. 


God taught me an enduring lesson through that experience: a congregation can grow large through prideful, self-serving efforts, but the real result is stunting Kingdom growth. If churches focus on competing with each other, they unwittingly aid Satan in his efforts to keep all churches small.


If we are to be properly motivated in ministry, we must begin with a Kingdom view of life and ministry. Our task is not to grow our church. Our task is to grow His church . . . and His church reaches far beyond our own four walls. Jesus said He would grow His church and the gates of hell would not stand against it (Mt. 16:18). Our entire lives and our entire ministries are to focus on growing the Kingdom, populating heaven by de-populating the group bound for hell. If our efforts result in the growth of our own church, praise God! If our efforts result in the growth of another Christian church down the road, praise God too!


Ministry belongs to the people

One of the greatest tragedies of Christendom came with the distinction between clergy and laity. In creating the two classes of Christians, Christ’s front-line forces were effectively decimated.  Whoever heard of fighting a war by  placing only the leaders on the battle line? Ours is a spiritual war with eternal consequences, and we have left the strength of our army behind the lines.


I see this tragedy being perpetuated by both groups. Those in the pew have become accustomed to being “ministered to,” and those in the pulpit have come to like it that way. And it is not always different in the cell church.


A common obstacle to successful cell ministry transition lies in this area. Either the pastor is incapable or unwilling to entrust ministries to members of the congregation, or those of the congregation refuse to accept that trust.


Jesus said He was going to build His church, and the gates of hell would not stand against it. The word used in Matthew’s quote is the Greek word ecclesia. The word describes an assembly of people. Only by releasing the whole church into front-line ministry will we win our world to Christ. If the place to begin is with a Kingdom view of life and ministry, the step to follow is to place and keep ministry in the hands of the people.


The gates of hell are out there

Jesus’ declaration that the gates of hell would not stand against the church has often perplexed me. I must confess that, to me, it often seems just the opposite. Rather than advancing, the church seems to be the one behind the defensive gates, and the gates don’t always seem to hold.


I am not the only one to see things this way. Following the breaking of the fifth seal, the Apostle John witnessed the souls of those slain because of the word of God crying out to God, “How long, Sovereign Lord, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10).


I join those precious martyrs in crying out to God, “How long, Lord?” I take solace in the fact that the time clock is still running and the final accounting has not yet taken place. With all this said, I think our Lord intended the church to make definite advances against the kingdom of Satan in the here-and-now.


Let me share this thought with you: Every time God saves a lost human soul, the gates of hell crumble. Every time Satan’s clutching hold over an individual is broken, the church sees victory. Yes, God’s forces stand in victory in eternity ...and yes, they can stand in victory in the here-and-now.


So what must we do to realize this victory? We must leave our sanctuaries and go out onto the battle field. It is there we will find the gates of hell . . . out where the people are. We must stop waiting for lost humanity to come to us.  We must go to them! This goes to the heart of the cell church design.


Cell groups who reach out through relationships — bringing people into the family of God by meeting them where they are — will crush the gates of hell.


Jesus is the Savior; the cell is not

I am a strong proponent of cell-based ministry. I am probably more of a stickler that things are done “just so” than are many other cell church pastors. But I stop far short of “preaching” cells. After all, Jesus is our Savior.


Now, I don’t know a soul who would claim the cell model is the Savior, but it sounds that way sometimes. I have found that too much emphasis on the model communicates the wrong message.


One day I realized I was frightening people away with my passion for cells, so I changed tactics. I don’t talk much about the cell model to people I am trying to reach, I just do it. I talk to them about Jesus, attempt to include them in the life of the Body (the cell), and watch as they thrive in the rich environment created just for this effect. They might not know what the model is called, but they know they like it. Then, when they have grown and matured and are ready themselves to reach out to others, they can be introduced to the model.


Some will choose to go away

This was a hard lesson for me to learn. I was brought up in the pastoral tradition that said I was responsible for every sheep in the fold. I was trained to do everything possible to ensure none fell away. I did my best to do an honorable job at this. In the end, though, I found myself a miserable failure and ridden with guilt.


Through this, I discovered something: If I really wanted to keep people from going away, I had to compromise vision, either my own or the church’s. In many cases it came down to a choice . . . keeping a family or maintaining the vision. Which was I to choose?


Jesus told a story of a shepherd leaving 99 sheep safe in the fold while going to look for the one lost outside (Lu. 15:1-7). Yet He also allowed the disciples who felt His teachings were too hard to go away (Jn. 6:60-66). The rich young ruler would have made a hand-some addition to any Rabbi’s fold, but Jesus let the man walk away (Mk. 10:17). 


Obviously, people were important to Jesus. They were the very reason He came in the first place. But not all people were willing to go where He was going.  Those who were not, He let go away.


It still breaks my heart when someone from my congregation chooses to leave.  If the reasons relate to a spiritual struggle, I attempt to overcome all barriers to bring them back. If the reasons relate to vision, I sadly let them walk.


Evangelism is not self-propelled

I have long been in pursuit of the natural and spontaneous growth of the Kingdom of God. It sounds good. In fact, it sounds great! That is the way it ought to be. Were it not that we fight an eternal battle against a supernatural enemy who puts up a very good fight, it would be natural and spontaneous. When I first launched cell groups, I assumed once they were in place and folks were fully trained, evangelism would simply happen. It didn’t! This was one of those “slow learning” areas for me. Many pastors would have picked up on it much earlier than I did. But here it is: Without an intentional, designed effort, evangelism will rarely occur. There are times, of course, when God has been working in an individual’s life and he gets saved while we happen to be in close proximity . . . and we brag about our personal evangelism effort. But most churches who are effective at reaching people for Christ are very intentional in their efforts. 


Mission does not equal purpose

What is a church’s purpose? Reach the world for Christ? Grow a big church? (I wouldn’t mind!) Is a church’s purpose to bring moral change to society by being salt and light, or to feed the poor and tend the sick?


All this describes a church’s mission in the world, but it does not describe its purpose. One of the best descriptions of the church’s purpose is found in Ephesians 2:21-22. God’s people are being joined to become a holy temple, a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. As God lives in us and through us, all those missional activities flow from His strength and according to His wisdom. 


Don’t misunderstand my words. We need strategies, plans and goals for achieving our mission in the world. But if we confuse what we do with who we are, we will become less than God intended us to be (and conduct our mission activity out of our own recourses and not out of God’s).


Systems fix easier than people

I am just beginning to understand the value of systems management. I wish I had learned long ago that people operate within systems and, very often, the problems I face are not people problems but system problems. To be sure, people are prone to failure, and pastoral ministry will always be concerned with the human condition. But we often blame people for problems they were predetermined to cause ...predetermined by the system in which they were operating.


This was a major motivator for my journey into the cell movement. I became convinced that the system was the problem. The traditional, program-based model of church life and ministry was demanding certain behaviors from those operating within it. I tried for years to change the people, but the system allowed little room for change.


I have taught TOUCH’s Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward workshop across the U.S. On many occasions, I hear from those who attended, and it had a dramatic impact on their church or cell group. Why? The workshop is designed to address critical systems within the life of the cell. It helps group members identify the problems they are experiencing in their cell and then helps them develop a systemic approach to overcoming the problems. Yes, the human element is important, but so is the system the human operates within.


All growth is not good growth

Some people will never adjust to the cell model. As excited as I get when new  people come into my church, I later wish some had never come!


I have learned two strategies that help. First, ensure you have a well-defined and well-communicated vision.  If the direction you are heading is not clear to everyone, you invite strong personalities to clear it up for you.               


Second, wisely choose the methods you use to reach new people. If you emphasize the large-group in your outreach methods, you will tend to reach people attracted to large-group ministry. I’m not suggesting that you abandon large-group outreach methods such as corporate harvest events. Just ensure you clearly communicate that you are a small group-based church. Then, work hard to develop an effective system for assimilating those you reach into the cell environment.


God can do nicely without me

Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). To understand and accept that I can do nothing without Jesus is probably the most important   lesson I have learned in all my life. God really doesn’t need me to accomplish those things He gets done through me.  In fact, He could do them a lot easier without me.


The fact that He chooses to work through me is nothing short of abounding grace. I consider it the greatest privilege to be a part of His Kingdom activity.

As the saying goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” What about you? Have you learned any new lessons recently?  (end of article)


Don Tillman is now a consultant to cell-based churches, and lives in Pheonix, Arizona.



Worship – Gerrit Gustafsen


The divine imperative: What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?


[Because this article is dealing more with the heart of worship than with practical issues unique to worship leaders and musicians, we recommend it to all cell and church leaders, not just worship leaders.]


In previous articles, we have learned about (a) the vital importance of worship in our church life, (b) developing worship leaders, (c) increasing participation in worship and (d) building a repertoire of great worship songs. But nothing could be more important to our development as worshipers and worship leaders than this 10th anniversary issue’s subject: What is it that pleases or displeases the Lord in worship?


In the first recorded act of worship, Cain and Abel both brought offerings to the Lord. According to Scripture, how-ever, only one was acceptable. “The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” (Gen. 4:4-5).


In I Peter 2:5, we learn that the reason we are being built together is to become “a holy priesthood offering  spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Together, let’s look through the Scriptures to discover the differences between acceptable and unacceptable worship. As we do, let’s not approach it as an academic exercise, but rather, as a discipline of the heart. “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . see if there is any offensive way in me” (Ps. 139:23-24). After all, God looks on the heart.


The Divine Imperative

Let’s begin our study with Jesus’ own words on worship: “God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Meditate for a moment on the word “must.” There is a divine imperative in these specifications.  He’s not saying this is optional. Spirit and truth are essential requirements for our worship. Without these two pillar qualities, our worship is simply not acceptable . . . even if everything else is perfect!

Based on Jesus’ imperative for worship, I would like to offer two    definitions.

1) Unacceptable worship is an offering that is offensive to God, violating either His Spirit or His truth.

2) Acceptable worship is an offering that is pleasing to God, in harmony with His Spirit and in accordance with His truth.


Unacceptable Worship

First, let’s look at what makes worship unacceptable.


• Unresolved conflict. “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come an offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). Fractured   relationships hinder acceptable worship.


• Anger. “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger and disputing” (I Tim. 2:8). The inward attitude of anger can render the beautiful outward act of lifting hands unacceptable.


• Doubt. In the New King James version, the previously quoted Scripture says “without wrath or doubting.”  Doubting and questioning, like anger, can cancel out the effects of our acts of worship.


• Lack of concern for the needs of God’s people. One of the most challenging Scriptures for Christian musicians is found in Amos 5 and 6. “Though you bring me choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps” (5:22-23).  Why was God upset? “You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on your musical instruments . . . but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph” (6:5-6). Ouch!


As much as God likes music, it’s not pleasing to him if it’s not connected to his heart of compassion for the needy.


• Lack of respect for God. Another challenging passage on unacceptable worship is found in the first chapter of Malachi, especially verses 6-14. The problem here was that the worshipers were giving God blemished sacrifices, not the best. Service to God had become a burden rather than a joy. “‘If I am a master, where is the respect due me?’ says the Lord Almighty” (vs. 6).


• Placing human traditions above God’s word. Jesus quoted Isaiah in addressing a problem of worship in his day: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain” (Mt. 15:8-9).  The hollowness of their worship was essentially due to placing human traditions above God’s word (15:3-6).


Acceptable Worship

The following are some of the Biblically specified characteristics of acceptable  worship.


• Truthfulness. We usually think of the word ‘truth’ as pertaining to correct doctrine. But ‘truth’ also means authenticity and reality. Worshiping in truth (John 4:24) points us to genuine expressions of our devotion to God, not just going through the motions. What’s the present “reality quotient” in your small group’s worship?


• Dependence on the Spirit. The true believers, according to Phil. 3:3 are those “who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus and who put no confidence in the flesh.” If we are confident in our own abilities apart from God (the flesh), our worship is unacceptable.  True worship requires the activity of the Holy Spirit.


• Gratitude. “Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably” (Heb. 12:28). Like basil in a tasty Italian sauce, gratitude is one of God’s favorite spices. Season your worship with it generously.


• Reverence. Hebrews 12:28 also tells us that acceptable worship should have reverence and awe. John Stott, in The Contemporary Christian, says “we who call ourselves ‘evangelical’ . . . seem to have little sense of the greatness and the glory of almighty God.”


• Faith. Hebrews 11:4 says that it was faith that made Able’s worship acceptable. Verse 6 says that without faith, there’s nothing we can do that pleases God! 


• Humility and Brokenness. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” Ps. 51:17.  No comment necessary!


• Righteousness. After God’s refining and purifying work in our lives, righteousness is found in our worship and it is pleasing to God again (Mal. 3:3-4).


• Joy. God likes the sound of joy in worship (I Chron. 15:16)! “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).


• Wholeheartedness. We are to love the Lord with all of our hearts (Mk. 12:30). Wholehearted love for God yields wholehearted worship to God. God is not moved by halfheartedness (Rev. 3:15,16), but loves wholeheartedness (I Chron. 29:6-9)!


The list of attributes of pleasing worship will grow. It will include simplicity, a simple stone altar (Ex. 20:25), the love of justice (Amos 5:23-24), and self-giving (Eph. 5:1-2). In fact, if you have a heart like Jesus, who constantly pursued pleasing his Father (John 8:29), you will be adding to your knowledge of what pleases God in worship throughout  your entire life!


The Divine Response

And what will be the outcome of churches and cells that discover and practice such worship? The answer is: ‘no telling!’ 


God responded to Elijah’s worship with heavenly fire and a whole nation was turned back to God (I Kings 18). God answered Jonah’s worship with deliverance from an impossible situation (Jonah 2). God answered Solomon’s worship with a cloud of glory (II Chron. 5). God answered the worship of Jehoshaphat’s choir with victory over their enemies (II Chron. 20). God answered Paul’s worship in prison with an earthquake, and more importantly,  the salvation of a jailer and his family (Acts 16). And these are just a few examples from both the Old and New Testaments.


So fellow worship leaders, cell leaders and pastoral leaders, there is a divine imperative: true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth! Any “old offering” is not good enough for our King! In light of His greatness, and the awesome ways He wants to show Himself to us, let’s be faithful to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable worship, and diligent in leading the people of God to offer bountiful sacrifices of praise that are pleasing to    Him!  (end of article)


Gerrit Gustafson founded WholeHearted Worship and is a seasoned man of worship. He works with small groups in the Nashville, TN area.



Nucleus – By Larry Kreider


Ten signposts for revival: God has provided landmarks along our path to direct us!


I have vivid memories of my family driving to the Chesapeake Bay for our yearly family vacation. Each year we passed the same landmarks . . . the old barn, the railroad tracks, the football field, the small town, and finally, the beach. I clearly understood that we would not get to our destination unless we passed each of those landmarks.


Our Lord promises to pour out His Spirit in these last days, assuring us that “sons and daughters will prophecy, that young men will see visions and that old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). He also promises us, “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the seas” (Hab. 2:14). He is positioning Himself to send us a last-day revival and has placed landmarks (signposts) along our path to assure us we are traveling in the right direction.


The Lord desires to bring revival to us on many levels. Our God desperately wants to invade and revolutionize our personal lives, our cell groups, our churches, and our communities! Revival means a return of obedience to God. True revival is, in many ways, contingent on our obedience to Him as we look for the scriptural signposts along the way. Let’s consider ten clear signposts to look for as we head toward the destination of these prophetic promises of revival.


A Strong Personal Devotional Life

Every true revival has been characterized by a strong devotional life for each individual believer. Nothing can take the place of experiencing daily time alone with our loving, heavenly Father. Jesus tells us, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). We get to know Him daily through personal prayer and time in His Word. A strong personal devotional life characterized the Moravian missionary movement during the 1700’s. The Lord is restoring a hunger for the Word of God and for prayer in His people.


A Desire to Worship Him and Him Alone

We worship whatever becomes our primary focus. In a generation when we can easily fall into the trap of worshiping our jobs, our families, our churches, and yes, even our cell group, He is calling us to focus on and worship Him and Him only.


Imagine inviting your friends and family to your birthday party, and no one even notices you are there. We must give our God the worship only He deserves in our cells and celebration services. The greatest personal worship of all is to lay our lives on His altar day by day as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to Him (Romans 12:1-2).


A Deep Repentance for Sin

True revival always includes a thorough repentance of sin. Our disobedience is not just a problem; it is a sin against a Holy God! David cried out to the Lord after his sin with Bathsheba, “Against you and you only have I sinned . . .” (Psalm 51:4). When we see how our sin grieves a Holy God, we can begin to experience true repentance, which produces pure love. Jesus said, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47).


A Burden For Souls and Evangelism

True revival delivers us from being self-centered and causes our hearts to focus on the unsaved. Those we meet at the grocery store and co-workers become souls destined for an eternal hell or an eternal heaven. We must see non-believers as pre-Christians and begin to pray for them and for an opportunity to share our testimony about Christ. It may be their only opportunity to hear of salvation.


A Return to the Truth of Spiritual Parenting

Malachi 4 tells us that in the last days the Lord will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:5-6). John Wesley’s class meetings in the 1700’s were, in essence, spiritual families —  spiritual fathers and mothers who trained spiritual children to become spiritual parents themselves — thus the Methodist Church grew exponentially throughout the world.


Cell ministry without experiencing the revelation of spiritual parenting becomes just another church program. Elijah passed on to Elisha a double portion of what the Lord had given to him. We are called to do the same!


A Dependence on the Holy Spirit’s Empowering

Without Him we can do nothing   (John 15:7). We desperately need the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. Paul told the Corinthians, “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:3-5). When God comes in power, we will never be the same.


Living Lives of Holiness and Integrity

In an age when sexual promiscuity, divorce and remarriage are rampant in the church, the Lord is calling His people back to walking in a biblical standard of holiness. Marriage covenants must be kept. As believers in Christ, our word must be true. We are called by God to model a standard of holiness, purity, and integrity that makes the world around us jealous.


Committed to Loving Fellow Believers and the Unity of the Church

One of the signposts of every move of God is a holy desire to see the Church as one, just as the Lord prayed in   John 17. There is no competition in the kingdom of God. Pray for other churches in your community. No single church has it all. We need one another. Together we are the church of Jesus Christ in our region. They will know we are Christians by our love!


Helping the Poor Becomes a Priority

When Peter and Paul affirmed their respective call to the Jews and to the Gentiles, they made it clear that helping the poor is clearly a priority on the Lord’s agenda (Galatians 2:7-10). True revival includes reaching out to the poor locally, nationally and internationally. When we help the poor, we are lending to the Lord (Prov. 19:17). He pays great interest on our investment!


Responding to the Call to Missions and Reaching the Unreached

The fruit of a revived spiritual life includes an intense desire to reach those who have no gospel witness. When our hearts have been truly touched by the Lord, we will find ways to practically help get the gospel to the unreached. My friends serving in the Muslim world speak of countries without any known believers in Jesus Christ. God has called us as His church to respond to the unreached through prayer, giving, and for some of us, through going.



Look for these signposts in your life, in your cell, in your church, and in your community. As you see these ten signposts coming into view, one by one, you will begin to find yourself right in the middle of a modern-day revival. Remember, God has promised to send us revival. In many ways, it is up to us. Let’s keep our eyes open and get ready to respond to Him. The best is yet to come!   (end of article)


Larry Kreider is director of DOVE Christian Fellowship International, a world-wide network of cell churches.


(end of issue)