Bethel International

joelI’ve had a great time this past week ministering in New York and New Jersey. I just finished ministering 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.

Comments?

Joel

TRANSLATION IN SPANISH:

He disfrutado un tiempo maravilloso ministrando en Nueva York y Nueva Jersey. La segunda semana estuve ministrando en el Ministerio Bethel Internacional pastoreado por Byron y Rosa Straube en la ciudad de Newark, NJ. Byron comenzo en el año 2001 sin saber que estrategia usar. Habia sido un creyente apenas siete años antes de comenzar a pastorear a tiempo completo. Jesus le mostro la estrategia celular y comenzo la iglesia con una celula. Unos años despues sintio la necesidad de unirse a una red the iglesias, y se unio al concilio pentecostal, Iglesia de Dios. Aunque el Pastor Byron se identifica con la Iglesia de Dios, tambien es un lider apostolico que ha dado lugar a su propia red de iglesias.

¡De una sola celula en el 2001, Bethel ha crecido a 400 celulas y a 4000 personas en la iglesia madre (9 iglesias satelites), y tambien ha plantado 10 iglesias mas a nivel mundial! Amo esta iglesia porque levanta lideres de entre si. Con solo un excepcion que conozco, cada uno de los pastores a tiempo completo en Bethel se convirtio en una celula de Bethel. Ellos entonces siguieron el mismo proceso.

Ir por el camino de entrenamiento (Retiro de 3 dias(Encuentro), escuela de lideres, y re-encuentro. Han creado su propio material) Hacerce sub-lider Hacerce Lider celular Multiplicar la celula varias veces

El fruto y el caracter tienen todo que ver con ser un pastor; la Nacionalidad no importa (2 son de Ecuador, 1 de Mexico, 2 de Honduras, 1 de Guatemala, etc.)

El ministerio hispano en los E.E.U.U es como trabajar entre las Naciones Unidas. Cada pais y cultura es representada. Pero lo que une todas estas varias nacionalidades en Bethel es Jesucristo y una vision compartida para penetrar la nacion con celulas que se multiplican. Vision es muy importante.

Hable cada noche por dos horas. ¡El Jueves por la noche, Byron anuncio a los 800 lideres y sub-lideres presentes que la meta nueva en el año 2010 es de ir de 400 celulas a 800 celulas para el mes de Octubre 2010! Yo creo que lo lograran.

La vision de Byron va mas alla de levantar grupos celulares. Su pasion es multiplicar nuevas iglesias tambien, y anima a sus lideres a que sueñen con plantar iglesias.

La vision del ministerio celular al nivel mundial se puede resumir con las palabras de Cristo cuando dijo: “A la verdad la mies es mucha, mas los obreros pocos. Rogad, pues, al Señor de la mies, que envíe obreros a su mies.” (Mateo 9:37-38). Bethel esta cumpliendo con el latido del corazon de Cristo de querer levantar un ejercito de lideres para recoger la cosecha.

Comentarios?

Joel

Evaluating Cell Ministry

mario
by Mario Vega

Others have mentioned the importance of setting goals in cell ministry. However, goals are not just statements of expected results. They are also a measuring parameter that turns out useful for evaluation. At Elim, in addition to setting goals each quarter, we evaluate the goals to make sure they have served their purpose.

The first stage of evaluation is done every week. The leader and the cell nucleus evaluate the last week’s performance in relation to the goal. Each week, the supervisor conducts another evaluation with the leaders of the sector.

Finally, the zone pastors evaluate with their supervisors what took place. At the same time, every week each pastor hands over their evaluation report to the District pastor and this is always in relation to the goals they have set.

At the end of each quarter every Church of the Elim Christian Mission conducts an evaluation of their work. The third week after the end of each quarter of the year an evaluation of the entire Mission is conducted. The Branch Churches from each country send their data to El Salvador. In this way, we have an overview every three months of how Elim is doing worldwide and whether or not the growth targets are being achieved.

This evaluation system allows us to draw the maximum benefit of setting goals. If targets are only set but are not evaluated, many of the benefits are lost.

Comments?

Mario

Spanish translation:

Evaluaciones del trabajo celular

En otras ocasiones se ha mencionado la importancia de utilizar metas para el trabajo celular. Sin embargo, las metas no solamente son una declaración de lo que se pretende alcanzar. Son también, un parámetro de medición que resulta útil para la evaluación. Por ese motivo, además de fijar metas para cada trimestre. En Elim evaluamos el trabajo en relación a esas metas.

La primera instancia de evaluación se realiza cada semana. El líder evalúa con el núcleo de la célula el desempeño de la semana anterior en relación a la meta. Cada semana, el supervisor realiza otra evaluación con los líderes que pertenecen a su sector. Finalmente, los pastores de zona evalúan con sus supervisores y líderes el trabajo de la semana. Al mismo tiempo, cada pastor entrega cuentas a su pastor de Distrito cada semana y siempre en relación a las metas que se han establecido.

Al final de cada trimestre toda iglesia de Misión Elim realiza una evaluación de su trabajo. La tercera semana después de finalizado cada trimestre del año se hace también una evaluación de toda la Misión. Las iglesias filiales envían sus datos a El Salvador desde cualquier país donde se encuentren. De esa manera, podemos tener un panorama de cómo marcha la Misión cada tres meses y saber si las metas de crecimiento se están alcanzando.

Este sistema de evaluaciones permite sacar el mayor provecho posible al establecimiento de metas. Si las metas sólo se establecen pero no se evalúa, se pierde mucho de la riqueza que se puede obtener de ellas.

Doubling Up

rob
By Rob Campbell

www.cypresscreekchurch.com

In Dave Browning’s book, Deliberate Simplicity, he writes about “doubling up.” Let me paraphrase his thoughts.

As we venture into a new year, I believe Browning’s suggestion is timely.

Dave writes, “An exercise that every pastor should engage in regularly is to take out a piece of paper, write at the top, ‘My Ministry at Double the Size,’ and then start to bullet out what that would look like.”

“Would it require an additional service? Additional staff? Reorganization? A different meeting place?”

“Once you know what it would look like, you have ideas about what it will take to get there from here. A key question to always be asking is, ‘How can I serve twice as many people as I presently do in the coming year?’”

“The story Jesus told of the talents implied doubling as an expectation: The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more’”. Results certainly may vary from the story. We plant and water and God gives the increase. But in our planning and preparation, we should be getting ready for a 100 percent return on investment.”

May your work in the Lord’s vineyard produce great gains for the kingdom of God!

Comments?

Rob

Culture and the Cell Church

marioby Mario Vega (filling in for Joel Comiskey who is ministering in New York).

As a result of last week’s blog, Mike Mack asked about the main differences between the Salvadorian and American culture.

I’d like to point out two important elements:

First of all, the Salvadorians are much more open to relations with their neighbors. All people know each other, greet one another, children play together in the street, and people frequently visit (sometimes for no apparent reason).

Second, the Salvadorian culture is highly religious and shows openness and respect for the Bible those who teach it. Churches are at the top of the list of the institutions that generate the highest confidence.

Obviously, this does not mean that the cell model can not work in the American culture. All it means is that the soils are different. And becuase of this, the expectations of results will should not be the same.

The cell model comes from the New Testament. Consequently, it is part of the gospel and of being the church of Jesus Christ. The principles are universal and not peculiar to a specific culture. The truth of God is the truth in every place. The seed will bare its fruit in its season, according to the type of ground where it was planted. Although in some cultures more effort is needed, the work must be accomplished with the certainty that the Word will not return to Him empty.

Comments?

Mario

Translation in Spanish

Cultura y principios celulare

En ocasión de mi blog de la semana pasada, Mike Mack pregunta cuáles son las diferencias principales entre la cultura salvadoreña y la estadounidense.

Puedo señalar dos elementos importantes: primero, los salvadoreños son mucho más abiertos a las relaciones con sus vecinos. Todas las personas se conocen y se saludan, los niños juegan juntos en la calle, las visitas son frecuentes y, a veces, sin mayores motivos.

Segundo, el salvadoreño es altamente religioso. Muestra apertura y respeto hacia la Biblia y a quienes la enseñan. Las iglesias se encuentran en el primer lugar de las instituciones que le generan mayor confianza.

Obviamente, esto no significa que el modelo celular no pueda funcionar en la cultura estadounidense. Lo único que significa es que los terrenos son diferentes. Las expectativas en cuanto a resultados no pueden ser iguales.

El modelo celular es el de la iglesia del Nuevo Testamento. Consecuentemente, es parte del evangelio y de el ser iglesia. Los principios son universales y no peculiares de una cultura específica. La verdad de Dios es verdad en todo sitio. La semilla producirá su fruto en su tiempo, de acuerdo al tipo de terreno donde fue plantada. A pesar que se necesite mayor empeño en ciertas culturas, se debe trabajar con la seguridad que la palabra no volverá vacía.

Cell Group Definitions

Jeff Tunnell

Recently I spent one-half of a day with a cell church pastor and his leaders for coaching and encouragement.  One part of our conversation was focused on having a good definition for their cell groups.  M. Scott Boren in “How Do We Get There From Here” states: “Without a clear definition, cell group leaders become confused, pastors lack a clear standard for measuring group success, and groups will be more likely to develop cancerous habits.”

Joel Comiskey Group has published the following definitionA group of three to fifteen people who meet weekly outside the church building for the purpose of evangelism, community, and spiritual growth with the goal of multiplication.

While our definitions will vary and contain personalization for each congregation, they should reflect these vital elements: penetration of the surrounding population, regularity in meeting, being in community with others, spiritual maturing and multiplication.

This is a ‘basic’ building block for cell churches and I am wondering if you would be willing to post yours today?  If you don’t have or know the definition for your cells, just state that in a quick comment as well.

Missions in India

michael
by Michael Sove (filling in for Rob Campbell)

The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.  I just returned from 16 days in India working with the Pastors of Jesus Holy Church Ministries.india God is doing a great work among them.  I had both the experience of being in the Capital City of Hyderabad in Andrha Pradesh as well as the remote regions around Giddalur.

Everywhere I went I saw a hunger for God.  People would sit for hours just to hear His Word.  I was able to share many messages with the people as well as share cell church principles in certain settings.  Many people opened their hearts to the Lord as well.

These Pastors are doing a great job with very little resources.  I am so privileged to be able to mentor them and encourage them any way that I can.  Two observations I made while among them.  They really need a model for discipleship and to understand friendship evangelism.

Pastor Samuel from Giddalur has access to 60 villages and has really transformed some villages that were completely Hindu and now have a strong Christian presence.  He averages over 600 in his weekly worship and on New Years day had over 1000 in attendance.

The Indian people really understand their need for God and what really impressed me is that no one would leave a service without asking for prayer.  The team and I spent hours praying over people.  If any of you would like to get involved in India please contact me and I can connect you with this ministry or can partner with you to help them reach their nation for Christ.

Comments?

Michael

Helps and Hindrances of Cell Multiplication

joelby Joel Comiskey

I’m writing from Phoenix, Arizona where I just finished a cell seminar among the Pentecostal Church of God denomination. One topic that was very well-received was entitled “Multiplication: Helps and Hindrances.” I first gave this lesson one-year ago at the 2009 Day with Joel and Mario and have been perfecting it ever since.Here’s the gist of it:

Hindrance: multiplication mandates (e.g., “all cells must multiply in six months”). The bottom line is that cells don’t multiply in a uniform set time period.

Help: understand the soil and context. The multiplication time period depends on the receptivity of the country. Werner Kniessel, pastor of a growing cell church in Switzerland, told me that it takes at least two years to multiply a cell group in Switzerland becuase of the hardness of the soil.

Hindrance: the mentality that multiplication equals “the numbers game.” Many cell members and leaders don’t want to hear about multiplication because they think the pastor is simply wanting church growth when talking about multiplication.

Help: promote multiplication as a health factor. The reality is that groups that don’t multiply tend to stagnate and become unhealthy. Cell multiplication equals cell health.

Hindrance: lack of equipping focus. Many churches never multiply groups because they don’t have a way to prepare new leaders to faciltate the new groups.

Help: emphasis on leadership training (disciples who make disciples). A clear emphasis on leadership training is the most important element in multiplication.

Hindrance: lack of vision and direction.Some churches don’t give any direction or forward momentum to their groups.

Help: promote the vision of cell ministry and plan multiplication based on who and where a person is in the equipping process. The best way to set goals in the cell church is to determine who will graduate from the training track and then to set multiplication goals accordingly.

Hindrance: too little focus on the nucleus. Leaders can easily feel burned out by the lone-ranger mentality. .

Help: remind people that the nucleus–not the cell–multiplies. Biologically, the nucleus, not the cell divides. Effective cells concentrate on the health of the cell nucleus (team) who in turn will give birth to a new group.

Hindrance: one person leading more than one cells. This is a big problem in majority world countries when trying to reach “the goal.”

Help: the essence of cell ministry is making disciples who make disciples. Cell minsitry is a leadership strategy and the cell is the best atmosphere to produce disciple-makers. The primary goal, therefore, is more leaders rather than more cells.

Hindrance: lack of variety in multiplication. In the olden days, cells had to use mother-daughter multiplication.

• Help: provide different options for multiplication. Other multiplication options include cell planting and the leader starting his or her own group.

Hindrance: no evangelism in the cell. It’s hard to multiply a cell without new people coming to the group.

Help: stir each member to reach out. everyone in the cell needs to be reaching out in preparation for multiplication.

Hindrance: equating evangelism with cell multiplication. Some think that cell evangelism equals cell multiplication.

Help: multiplication entails a number of other disciplines. Multiplication embraces a number of other disciplines (e.g., group dyanmics, pastoring, raising up a disciple, etc.).

If you’d like to download this PowerPoint, press HERE.

Comments?

Joel

Common Purpose Defines Direction

jeff
by Jeff Tunnell

www.bigbearchristiancenter.org

Leading a group of people in a purposeful direction requires thought, prayer, planning and, forgive the redundancy, purpose. ‘What’ and ‘why’ are necessarily determined prior to ‘how’. What is our God-given purpose, and why is it important? When these answers are discovered and agreed upon at the leadership level, decisions about ‘how’ we will get to the desired end can be selected.

I was recently re-reading “The Connecting Church”, by Randy Frazee in which he offers, “The first step you must take toward creating community and implementing your common purpose is to decide that the central mission of the church is to develop disciples.” This type of conclusion about purpose will narrow the activities and programs that are given priority all year long. Superfluous activities can be eliminated altogether when you define your purpose and discontinue trying to ‘do everything’ (often accomplishing less because of diluted capabilities and weakened resources).

Strong purposes provide directional insight. They assist us in seeing our weaknesses, which can lead us to resources outside of ourselves, such as coaching or reading or seminars.

I pray none of us will try to ‘go it alone’ this year. Let’s work together, strengthen one another and encourage our friends on this blog. Utilize the various JCG articles and recommendations as a regular resource to supplement your team. Sign all your leaders up for the blog and monthly newsletters. You can even follow Joel on Twitter.com

Comments?

Jeff

Don’t Wait on the Brick

rob
By Rob Campbell

www.cypresscreekchurch.com

“Don’t Wait on the Brick”

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and spun the Jag back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown. He jumped out of the car, grabbed some kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?!!” Building up a head of steam he went on. “That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?!!” “Please, mister, please. I’m sorry, I didn’t know what else to do!” pleaded the youngster. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop…”

Tears were dripping down the boys chin as he pointed around the parked car. “It’s my brother,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.” Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat.

He lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be okay. “Thank you and God bless you,” the grateful child said to him.

The man then watched the little boy push his brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long walk back for the man to his Jaguar….a long, slow walk. He never did repair the side door. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

God whispers in your soul and speaks to your heart. Sometimes when you don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a “brick” at you. It’s your choice: Listen to the whisper — or wait for the brick.

“Be still [quit striving] and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

Comments?

Rob

Fine-tuning Your Cell Vision

joelby Joel Comiskey

Reading books sharpen our vision and help us to stay on the cutting edge. I have a list of recommended books that I encourage pastors to read to fine-tune their cell vision.

I just added another one recently by Joseph Hellerman called When the Church was a Family. Hellerman is a professor of New Testament at BIOLA University in La Mirada, CA. This book is a radical call back to the New Testament way of doing church as a family. Hellerman shows how the culture of the New Testament was group oriented, rather than individualistic. They understood Christ’s call to become the family of God and in fact, the New Testament Church lived out Christ’s call. Hellerman does a great job of critiquing the church today. Listen to his words:

You might try what I did on a Sunday morning some time ago. I preached a sermon entitled ‘why Sunday A.M. is Not the Church’ in which I compared early church family values and practices with the way that we do church on Sunday morning. The application was challenging but quite straightforward. I proceeded gently but firmly to inform my people that many of them–some of who had attended on Sunday for years–had never been to church! Then I encouraged them to begin going to church, that is, to start attending one of our home-group settings where they could cultivate the kind of surrogate sibling relationships that God intends for his children to enjoy with one another (p. 178).

Hellerman believes that the New Testament church prioritized their relationships with each other (the family of God) before their own nuclear families. He then exhorts us to do the same because he believes the Bible teaches this .

I disagree.  I believe God wants us to prioritize our own nuclear families above the local church, and I think there is biblical precedence for this as well.

Overall, this is a great book, and I would encourage you to read it.

Comments?

Joel