Models versus Principles


by Mario Vega

There are several working models of cell ministry. Sometimes people try to present one model as THE best and then look down on everything else. Some pastors are moved by a feelling that by jumping into a model they will find the growth they’ve been longing for. The fact is that switching from one model to the next often negatively affects the cell work and ends up disconcerting the church members.

It is important to underline that the key is not the model but the need to persevere in cell principles. There is no magical model that will lead to guaranteed success. Only perseverance and hard work can bring the desired fruit that will glorify Christ.

It is not bad to inquire and know about the existing models. However, to switch from one model to another must be avoided. Rather, cell church principles must be understood and applied to every church’s particular culture and context. The next step is to persevere and be faithful to those principles.

Do you have any comments on this topic?


Translation into Spanish:

Modelos y principios.

Existen diversos modelos de trabajo con células. Algunas veces un modelo se ha tratado de presentar en oposición a los demás como mejor. Tal actitud, mueve a algunos pastores a saltar de un modelo a otro pensando que de esa manera obtendrán el ansiado crecimiento. Esos cambios de modelo a veces afectan profundamente el trabajo y terminan desconcertando a los miembros de la iglesia.

Es importante resaltar que la clave no es el modelo sino la perseverancia en los principios del trabajo con células. No hay un modelo mágico que por sí mismo lleve el éxito garantizado. Solo la perseverancia y el trabajo pueden dar como resultado el avance de la causa de Cristo.

No es malo informarse y conocer los modelos que existen, pero hay que evitar cambiar de un modelo a otro con facilidad. Se deben comprender los principios de este trabajo y aplicarlos a las condiciones particulares de cada iglesia. Luego, la clave será la perseverancia y la fidelidad a esos principios.

¿Tiene algún comentario sobre este tema?


coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell (with a little help from some friends)

David Early tells us, “After 25 years of leading cell groups and coaching small group leaders, I have come to one clear conviction: prayer is the most important activity of the small group leader.”

 Joel Comiskey gives us this same end result from his work: “My Ph.D. study of 700 cell leaders in eight countries revealed that one of the chief factors behind fruitful cell groups that multiply was the cell leader’s intercessory prayers for group members. The survey revealed that prayer for group members was the leader’s most important work to unify and strengthen the group in preparation for multiplication. Those small group leaders who prayed daily for group members were twice as likely to multiply their small groups than those who only prayed occasionally.”

 Right now, don’t hesitate, really NOW, stop and simply name the Cell members for whom you are responsible.  If you are a coach or supervisor, name the cell leaders.  Write them down in a simple list.  Look at this list and estimate that you add 1-2 minutes of intercession for each one starting today, just how much time is required of you to begin, or expand, this area of effective leadership in your life?  Wouldn’t this be a valuable exchange of time?  John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” You are surrendering your life for others when you deny yourself the personal benefits that could have been gained during your prayer time for others!

Evaluating the Health of a Cell Church (Part Three)

by Rob Campbell

Check out my last two postings concerning the “Evaluating the Health of a Cell Church.”

Here’s Part Three:

How does a Network become a Healthy Cell Incubator?

• Measurements change from numbers and percentages to observation of behavior/activity.
• Leaders are so well cared for that they experience personal growth.
• Cell members are impassioned by their leaders continued growth and constant modeling.
• Collaboration among leaders expands skill and creativity within the leadership.
• Collaboration among cells brings diversity and creativity to the cell experience which stirs life.
• The community is impacted by the overflow of cell members intentionally getting outside of themselves and serving others.


Cell-house Church Seminar with Kreider

 joelYesterday, I taught a cell/house church network seminar with Larry Kreider in Longview, Washington. About 100 pastors and leaders were present. IKREIDER spoke 20 minutes on one aspect of cell church, and then Larry took 20 minutes on the same topic—but from the house church persective. We covered: house church/cell church definitions, community, evangelism, multiplication, leadership training, and the nuts and bolts of both movements. We flowed very well together.

How did we come together in the first place? In my book Planting Churches that Reproduce I tackle the need to simplify church planting and make it more reproducible. Kreider had already come to the same conclusion. Dove Christian Fellowship, the network Kreider founded, has some 150 churches. Many of Kreider’s new church plants are simple house church networks, in which the house churches meet weekly but come together once per month for celebration (this is the most common scenario). I asked Kreider to review early copies of Planting Churches that Reproduce, and we realized that we had a lot in common, thus spawning the idea of doing seminars together. Our next one will be in PA in September.

It’s my conviction that most cell churches have not done a very good job of planting new churches. Many have fallen into the trap of magnifying mega cell churches and have even contracted the disease called “Yonggi Cho Envy.” They are constantly comparing themselves with Cho’s church and fail to plant new churches in the process.

It seems to me that we in the cell church world have done fairly well at multiplying cell leaders but not the best job of multiplying pastors. Both are necessary.

Do you agree or disagree? What’s your opinion?


Joel Comiskey

Additional Cell Goals


by Mario Vega

Besides the growth targets, other types of goals should be set for cell leaders. I know that not everyone agrees about taking offerings in cell meetings, but we have done this from the beginning– following Pastor Cho’s model.

As a church with almost no wealthy people in it, we have no choice but to work, sometimes, with economic goals for leaders. Our strength lies not in having some people with great economic resources but in having a lot of people with few economical resources.

When we needed to buy a new property for the construction of a larger church building, we needed to collect one and a half million dollars in twelve months. That seemed like an impossible amount to collect. So we took around 50,000 of our brethren to the property we wanted to buy. There we prayed and asked God for the miracle of providing the money.

We determined that every leader could find 20 people to give a ten dollar contribution within a 12 months period. Since the church’s attendance of brethren involved in the cell work is 70,000, it was enough if each one of them could find two people within twelve months to give a ten dollars contribution.

And God completed this miracle. Within twelve months, the money was gathered. A year later we went back to meet again on the property, but this time we met to give thanks to the Lord for having made the miracle come true. This happened between 2007 and 2008.



Translation into Spanish:

Otras metas.

Además de la metas de crecimiento también se pueden establecer para los líderes de células otro tipo de metas. Sé que no todos están de acuerdo en recoger ofrendas en las reuniones de células. Pero, siguiendo el modelo del Pastor Cho nosotros sí lo hacemos desde el principio de nuestro trabajo.

Siendo una iglesia con casi ninguna persona adinerada no nos queda más remedio que trabajar, algunas veces, con metas económicas para los líderes. Nuestra fortaleza no reside en tener algunas personas con grandes posibilidades económicas sino en tener muchas personas con pocos recursos.

Cuando tuvimos la necesidad de comprar un nuevo terreno para la construcción de un auditorio más grande necesitábamos reunir un millón y medio de dólares en doce meses. Tal cantidad era un imposible. Así que llevamos a unas 50,000 hermanos al terreno que pretendíamos comprar, oramos y le pedimos a Dios que hiciera el milagro de darnos ese dinero.

Además, establecimos que cada líder lograra encontrar 20 personas que diesen una donación de diez dólares en un plazo de 12 meses. Teniendo en cuenta que la asistencia de hermanos comprometidos en el trabajo celular es de 70,000 en nuestra iglesia, bastaba con que cada uno de ellos encontrara a dos personas en doce meses que dieran cada una la aportación de diez dólares.

Era una auténtica meta: un objetivo, comprar el terreno; en un tiempo, los siguientes doce meses. Al pasar ese tiempo. El dinero se había reunido y el milagro se completó. Un año después volvimos a reunirnos de nuevo en el terreno solamente que esta vez para darle gracias a Dios por haber hecho el milagro realidad. Esto sucedió entre 2007 y 2008.


coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

Aprill 22, 1984, (Easter Sunday 25 years ago), was my first service as Pastor of Big Bear Christian Center.  Two weeks before that, on the day we announced my appointment to the congregation, the Lord sent an out-of-town minister who spoke to me prophetically:  “I have made you a dreamer.”  As the words entered my mind, I formed a picture of my dream for the church that I had been part of since 1971.  In my mind’s eye I saw a local elementary school that I was “dreaming” for as a ministry center.  In fact, I had been driving through its parking lot regularly to reinforce my dream.  As my hopes rose to meet this prophetic moment in faith, I believed that God was about to confirm that my dream would become a reality.  What a foundation for my new pastorate!  But…

Then the prophet added, “But, I am going to do something even bigger than what you have dreamed!”  At those words, my mental image of the school vaporized.  I could not imagine anything bigger than me leading this congregation into a building that was outlandish and impossible for such a small group of pe0ple.  So I asked HIM to establish HIS dream in me.

These many years later I have come to understand more clearly.  God can reach my community exponentially through cell-structured evangelism and multiplicaiton!  The buildings exist; homes, offices and yes, even schools.  But God is not restricted by needing buildings BEFORE reaching people.  HE has been gracious to me in reshaping my “dream” to embrace one that includes healthy cells that multiply.

As I quietly celebrate 25 years as Pastor of one church, I am amazed at HIS faithfulness!  Onward to the next 25!

Evaluating the Health of the Cell Church (Part Two)

by Rob Campbell

This is part two of a three part posting on “Evaluating the Health of the Cell Church.”   Please see last week’s blog post and make sure to read the excellent comments.

Here’s part two:

We do not deny that these are valuable pieces of growth  (see last week’s post). 

We do see the need for keeping these kind of statistics, but we choose to look at a different set of qualities to measure health.

What a Healthy Cell really looks like:

• Atmosphere of edification and encouragement.
Is this group consistently edifying and encouraging each other? How?
• Accountability brought on by transparency and vulnerability.
Is this group regularly transparent and vulnerable?  Does that transparency lead to increased accountability?
• Growing relationships among members and deepening relationship with Jesus evident by increased personal growth. 
Has the majority of this group experienced personal growth over the last six months? What does that look like?
• Willingness on the part of cell members to teach each other from personal life experience and a willingness to be taught by others
Is this group teachable?  Do they regularly learn from each other? How?
• Everyone feels welcomed.
How is this group welcoming people?
• Mindset of serving the community among members.
What specific way is this group serving the community?
• Leaders who are active listeners, careful facilitators, and true lovers of people. 
Do you see this leader talking less than the group, asking probing questions, loving people unconditionally? How is this love demonstrated?


House of Praise in Lorain, Ohio

joelPeter Wagner used to say that longevity in the pastorate is one of the most important characteristics of healthy, growing churches. I certainly saw this truth house of praiseplayed out in Lorain, Ohio this weekend, where I conducted a cell seminar at House of Praise. This church was born out of the charismatic renewal movement in 1976. Spanish speaking Catholics (mainly from Puerto Rico) were born again and began meeting together. As they read the Bible, they became uncomfortable with Catholic doctrine and eventually started a church under the leadership of Iluminado and Luisa Marrero. Gilbert Silva, a second generation hispanic, was born again in the church in 1979, married Eileen, the pastor’s daughter, and in 1991, Gilbert became the lead pastor of the church. The church is now 80% English speaking–a great example of the second generation gracefully taking over the church. There is still a Spanish service, but the majority now are more comfortable in the English language. In 1999, the church began their cell transition (highly influenced from Bethany), and they now have 60+ cells.

I love this church! You can feel the health. The cell church vision has made a solid church even better. Even though Lorain county is depressed economically, the church is growing rapidly (1000 people in three services) and recently planted a daughter church in Cleveland. The new growth has mainly come from whites, blacks, and other ethnic groups. The church asked me to do this cell seminar because they need to add 50+ cells to keep up with the celebration growth.

The state of the church in North America is not good, and thus, it’s so exciting to witness such a great example of health and church growth. Thank you, Jesus!




Key Components of Goals


by Mario Vega

One characteristic of cell churches is that they work with goals to achieve the multiplication and growth. But it is important to know the two components of a goal.

The first component is the target. This element answers the question “What?” What is pursued? What is wanted? This is where the pastor should set the target that wants to achieve.

The second component is regarding time, which answers the question “When?” This has got to do with the deadline date for when you want to achieve the target. Just as with the first component the pastor is one who should set the final date.

A true goal is the one that combines both elements. A great goal establishes not only what you want to achieve but also states when it will be reached. If one of these two elements is missing, it isn’t a true goal anymore. If you want to achieve a goal, but you don’t say when, you could be waiting until the next century. If you set a date, but you don’t know what you want on that date, you won’t achieve anything except to grow old.

Does your goals have these two components?


Translation into Spanish:

Componentes de las metas.

Una característica de las iglesias celulares es que trabajan con metas para la multiplicación y el crecimiento. Pero es importante conocer los dos componentes de una meta.

El primero es el componente del objetivo. Este elemento responde a la pregunta ‘¿Qué?’. ¿Qué es lo que se persigue? ¿Qué se quiere? Aquí es donde el Pastor debe fijar el objetivo que desea alcanzar.

El segundo componente es de tiempo. Responde a la pregunta ‘¿Cuándo?’. Esto tiene que ver con la fecha límite cuando se desea alcanzar el objetivo. De igual manera que con el primer componente, es el Pastor quien debe establecer la fecha final.

Una meta real es la que combina ambos elementos. Establece no solamente lo que se desea alcanzar sino que también dice cuándo se alcanzará. Si uno de estos dos elementos hacen falta ya no es una verdadera meta. Si se quiere llegar a un punto pero no se dice cuándo eso podría ser el próximo año o el próximo siglo. Si se dice una fecha, pero no se sabe qué se quiere para esa fecha no se logrará más que envejecer.

¿Tienen sus metas estos dos componentes?


Habits Are Supervisors

coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

“Habits are like supervisors that you don’t notice.”  Hannes Messemer

During the Skins game in 1987 professional golfer, Lee Trevino, hit a 6 iron 167 yards on the 17th for a hole-in-one worth $175,000 USD! (see it here) He commented that the shot “just happened”.  Not quite; I believe he had used the same iron and practiced the stroke more than 1,000 times during the week leading up to the match! He trained his entire body to perform by habit.


Dave Earley’s book, The 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders, is a well established part of our training track materials. His capture of the subject is excellent and his dispensing of the information can be transformational.  Dream, Pray, Invite, Contact, Prepare, Mentor, Fellowship & Grow are the listed habits and each one is detailed very well.  These are the habits of a leader who is relationally engaged with his/her cell group BETWEEN meetings. While it is necessary to have great cell meetings, I appreciate the guidance and coaching Dave gives us for the activities that occur during the rest of the week.  This book, along with Joel’s How to Lead a Great Cell Group Meeting, are two essentials for every cell leader.


Develop these habits and you will see great improvement in your ministry and fruitfulness. (easier than a hole-in-one!)