Worldwide Cell Churches
Bethel International Ministry (Newark, New Jersey)
by Joel Comiskey
In February 2010, I ministered at Bethel International, pastored by Byron and Rosa Straube in Newark, New Jersey. Byron started the church in 2001, not knowing what strategy he was going to use. Jesus showed him the cell-driven church strategy, and he started with a single cell. A few years later, he felt the need to connect his church to a network of churches, so he joined the Church of God denomination (Cleveland). Although Byron identifies with the Church of God, he is an apostolic leader and has spawned his own network of churches.
From a single cell in 2001, Bethel has now grown to 400 cells and 4000 people in the mother church (9 satellite churches) as well as ten church plants worldwide! I love this church because it raises up leaders from within. Each of the full-time pastors at Bethel was converted in a Bethel cell group. They then followed the same process:
- go through the training track (3-day Encounter retreat, school of leaders, second encounter. They’ve created their own material)
- become a co-leader
- become the cell leader
- multiply the cell various times
Fruit and character has everything to do with becoming a pastor; Nationality doesn’t matter (2 are from Ecuador, 1 from Mexico, 2 from Honduras, 1 from Guatemala, etc.)
Spanish ministry in the U.S. is like working within the United Nations. Every country and culture is represented. Yet, what unites these various nationalities at Bethel is Jesus Christ and a shared vision to penetrate the nation with multiplying cell groups. Vision is very important.
I spoke each night for two hours. On Thursday night, Byron announced to the 800 leaders and co-leaders present that the new goal for 2010 was to go from 400 cells to 800 cells by October 2010! And I believe they can do it.
Byron’s vision goes beyond starting cell groups. His passion is to multiply new churches as well, and he encourages his leaders to dream of church planting.
The vision for cell ministry worldwide can be summed up in Christ’s Words: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). Bethel is fulfilling Christ’s heart-beat to raise-up an army of leaders to reap the harvest.