My Journey into Cell-Based Ministry

By Joel Comiskey, check out Joel’s book Empowered to Lead, 2021

At this point in my life, I would only be comfortable serving and being part of a cell-based church. Even if we moved to a faraway place where there were no cell churches, I would start one or help a pastor transition to a cell-based church.

But this was not always my conviction, and like many of you reading this blog, I’ve been on a journey that has led me to this belief. Here are a few key turning points in my own life:  

  • 1975: Experiencing the dynamics of community in the cell I started at my parent’s house. We gathered each week to pray, worship, and study the Bible. God transformed me as his disciple in that small community group and gave me a taste of better things to come. 
  • 1983: I heard David Cho (Yoido Full Gospel Church) speak in a church growth conference in Pasadena, California. I bought and listened to his tapes over and over. I also devoured his book Successful Home Cell Groups and taught cell-based principles to the elders of my church plant.
  • 1988: Reading The Church without Walls and envisioning what the early church must have been like: simple, manageable, and reproducible. I reflected back on my church plant in Long Beach and realized I had launched the celebration too soon and had become bogged down in trying to get people to “come back to church.” I longed for the simplicity and reproduction of New Testament life.
  • 1996: studying growing cell churches around the world and actually visiting them. I understood the possibility of unlimited qualitative and quantitative growth.
  • 2009: realizing that theology must guide methodology and understanding that the cell church is biblical. I grasped that making disciples who make disciples is the motivating drive behind cell ministry. Through my own failures, God gave me the grace to dig deeper into the “why” of cell church ministry.

Currently, I’m involved in a dynamic cell church that started its transition in 2019. People are excited about cell church ministry, and so are we. I believe that house-to-house ministry is biblical and that the cell church most closely reflects the New Testament church and Christ’s desire to make disciples who make disciples. I’m all in.

Recently, one of the pastors I’m coaching said, “Joel, my biggest regret is that I didn’t start cell ministry a long time ago. For years, I depended on concerts and events to attract people back to church. I spent a lot of money and time with little to show for it. I’m so excited to finally start making disciples who make disciples through cell-based ministry.”

What about you? Why are interested or committed to cell-based ministry?