Multiplication Obstacles

By Mario Vega

The two major obstacles to cell division are the lack of evangelism and the lack of leaders. When cell members neglect the evangelizing dimension, they will soon find themselves trapped by internal dynamics that will make them forget about the lost.

The evangelistic aspect is lost when the cell is seen only as a fellowship meeting or a meeting to focus on spiritual growth. Those two elements are important but must be balanced with evangelization. If evangelism is neglected, the cell will lose vitality and will not multiply.

Cell evangelism provides the possibility of new conversions, thus making it possible for the cell to grow and eventually multiply.

Evangelism, however, is only part of the equation if the cell is going to mutliply. The other important element is the multiplication of leaders. The multiplication of cells depends on the multiplication of leaders. Without new leaders, there is no multiplication. For this reason, evangelism must be connected to leadership training, which results in the formation of new leaders. Effective cell churches establish clear leadership training that continues from conversion to development of new leaders. In this way, both leaders and cells will multiply.



Obstáculos para la multiplicación.

Los dos grandes obstáculos para lograr la multiplicación celular son la falta de evangelismo y la falta de líderes. Cuando los miembros de una célula descuidan la dimensión evangelizadora pronto se encontrarán atrapados por dinámicas internas que los harán olvidarse de los perdidos.

El aspecto evangelizador se pierde cuando la célula es vista solo como una reunión para tener comunión o para la edificación de los cristianos. Esos dos elementos son importantes pero deben balancearse con la evangelización. Si el evangelismo es dejado de lado, la célula perderá vitalidad y no se multiplicará.

El evangelizar provee de continuo elemento humano que se coloca en contacto con el evangelio y, de esa manera, la posibilidad de nuevas conversiones y de crecimiento numérico de la célula se incrementa.

No obstante, la maduración de la célula es solo una parte del panorama. El otro elemento importante es la multiplicación de los líderes. La multiplicación de las células depende de la multiplicación de los líderes. Si no hay nuevos líderes, no hay multiplicación. Por ese motivo, el evangelismo debe estar conectado con la Ruta del Líder y ésta con la formación de nuevos líderes. De esa manera, se establece un flujo que va de la conversión al liderazgo. Así, se multiplicarán tanto los líderes como las células.

Encouragement for Dallas

by Jeff Tunnell

I am traveling today and short on blog writing, however I will encourage you to click on the JCG website link to our “Day with Joel Comiskey & Mario Vega” and look at the details for February 25 & 26, 2011 in Dallas.  We want to see you there!  Great deal on the hotel and ground transportation to/from the airports is included.  Please take a few moments to review what is offered.

Hindrances and Helps to Cell Multiplication

JOELOne of the most controversial words in the cell church dictionary is multiplication. Some embrace it while others resist it. This month on the JCG blog, we’ve been exploring cell multiplication and trying to discover its meaning. During this last week of November, we want to explore the hindrances to cell multiplication. I have a cell lesson on this theme entitled, “Cell Multiplication: Hindrances and Helps.” I invite you to download this PowerPoint. Here’s the gist of it:

Hindrance: multiplication mandates (e.g., “all cells must multiply in nine 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 and context (last week’s blog).

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. Buy Michael Mack’s book, Burnout Free Small Group Leadership. I love Mack’s emphasis on establishing a core of three people.

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.).

Feel free to download the entire PowerPoint.



Target Date – Prepared Leaders – God’s Timing

By Michael Sove

If you want to multiply your cell it is very important to set a target date for multiplication.  I have found that if you do not have a date, even if that date is a year from now, you will not take the necessary steps to prepare your cell for multiplication.  Right now I’m targeting April 2011 for my cell to multiply.  We have just moved out of my home to a host home that has additional space to grow over the next few months.  If the cell becomes too large we will break up into two groups that will meet within the same house until we are ready to multiply.

Currently I have 14 people in my cell.  We have grown from 4 to 14 in the last three months by praying over the open chair and inviting people weekly.  But a target date and a large cell doesn’t lead to automatic multiplication.  Leaders also need to be prepared.

Raising prepared leaders needs to become your number one focus if multiplication is to become a reality.  Multiplication has everything to do with how many people are in the training track.  In my cell right now I have three people ready to enter training.  My basic training process contains eight lessons and supplemental reading and people can enter the process at any time.

Since we are entering the holiday season I’m also realistic that training will be slowed over the next five weeks.  I’m also away on a mission trip to India in January, which will be a good time for those in training to work together to facilitate the cell while I’m away.  During February and March these individuals will complete their basic training under my observation.

So even with prepared leaders it will still come down to God’s timing.  I want to make sure we launch with teams and not individuals, so I will also be looking at who they have prayerfully recruited to be part of their core team.  Maybe two of these leaders in training will take the existing cell while I take a few and go to plant another cell.  The third person in training has the vision to plant a women’s cell and if she can raise a core team of a few individuals she will be released to plant a new cell as well.

So that is my dream for multiplication but I will be praying and following the Holy Spirit’s lead for the appropriate moment to multiply.  For me in our context, multiplication within a year is an achievable target for cells.  I have a date, I’m preparing leaders and I’m seeking God’s timing in the process.

What are your current plans to multiply?


Don’t Discard Anyone!


by Mario Vega

Joel Comiskey has written on other occasions about the time it takes to multiply cells from one region of the world to another. He has spoken that in Latin America it takes six months aproximately for a cell to mature and multiply while in Europe it might take two years.

Everyone should know their particular context in order to avoid developing excessive expectations when setting their multiplication goals. On the other hand, it’s important NOT to set the bar too low.

Regardless of the time in each context, the big question remains: what do you do with those cells that do not multiply? Some believe in closing cells that don’t multiply. Our position at Elim is that you must not discard any leader and should not close any cell. If multiplication is not happening, it is because something is wrong that needs to be fixed. The problem might be the leader, the cell’s internal dynamic, or some other problem.

It is the coaches’ task to examine and identify the problem and offer solutions. Jesus never discarded anyone for incompetence. Rather, Jesus helped the person to be competent. No one should be discarded or set aside in cell ministry. It is not about getting rid of the weak links but of making them strong links. We must not subtract strength but add strength. There is room for everyone in the Kingdom of God and Jesus will not cast out anyone.

Situations like sin can lead to dismissal of a leader for a time of restoration. But even during the period of discipline, restoration is taking place. It is a period of support to move forward later on with renewed strength.



Translation in Spanish

¡No deseches a nadie!

Joel Comiskey ha escrito en otras ocasiones sobre el tiempo que toma la multiplicación de una célula de una región del mundo a otra. Ha hablado que en Latinoamérica toma un aproximado de seis meses para que una célula madure y se multiplique, en Europa ese tiempo es de dos años.

Cada quien debe ubicarse en su contexto particular para no desarrollar expectativas excesivas a la hora de fijar sus metas de multiplicación, pero tampoco para establecer plazos demasiado laxos.

Independientemente del tiempo en cada contexto, la gran pregunta continúa siendo: ¿qué hacer con aquellas células que no se multiplican? Algunos han respondido que se deben clausurar. Nuestra posición en Elim es que no se debe desechar a ningún líder y no se debe cerrar ninguna célula. Si la multiplicación no se está produciendo es porque algo anda mal. Puede ser que el problema sea con el líder, puede ser que sea con la dinámica interna de la célula.

Pero esas dos cosas son remediables. Es tarea de los supervisores el examinar e identificar las debilidades. Luego, deben esforzarse por suplir los elementos que hacen falta. Jesús nunca desechó a nadie por incompetente, les ayudó a ser competentes. En el trabajo celular nada se debe desechar. No se trata de deshacerse de los eslabones débiles sino de convertirlos en eslabones fuertes. No debemos restar fuerzas sino sumar. Todos caben en el Reino de Dios y Jesús a nadie hecha fuera.

Situaciones como el pecado pueden conducir a cesar a un líder por un tiempo de restauración. Pero aún eso, es tiempo de restauración. Es un período de ayuda para luego seguir adelante con nuevas fuerzas.

Multiplication Journey

by Jeff Tunnell

Friends,  on our journey in building cells and multiplying them we have fallen into the trap of adopting someone else’s rules for closing cells that do not multiply within a certain time frame.  Hearing comments like, a baby can be born in 9 months so surely we can multiply a cell in that amount of time, seemed to make sense at the time.  But when faced with a sincere and healthy leader who has been shepherding people that move away, or have economy driven schedules with multiple jobs that do not fit into the cell meeting schedule, it becomes difficult to close the cell based on non-multiplication!

Frequency of multiplication must rest upon the health of the cell, its leader and an ability to sustain the multiplication.  Many other good factors should exist beyond a simple timeframe such as, benchmarks of maturity, available supervisors/coaches, support systems in place, accountability to leadership and new souls being won to Christ, presenting the need for additional cells.  Time alone has not been a good benchmark for multiplying cells.  I agree with the attitude that if a cell has not multiplied in a certain timeframe that we should examine why, spend time seeking God for insight and guidance to correct the weaknesses that may exist and regroup for the next season.  Let’s keep cells open and functioning for the right reasons.

Frequency of Cell Multiplication

JOELby Joel Comiskey

How long does it take to multiply a cell group? I’ve heard this question repeated over and over. And I always answer it the same way: It depends on the soil.

Some countries are experiencing revival and multitidues are coming to know Jesus Christ. In these countries, cells readily reap the harvest, train new leaders, and multiply quickly–perhaps in six months. Other places are hard and difficult. It takes a long time to see conversions and even longer to prepare new leaders. Werner Kniessel the pastor emeritus of a well-known cell chuch in Switzerland told me it took at least two years to multiply cell groups in his church. In some unreached areas of the world it takes longer. While multiplication should guide the cell forward, I don’t believe the multiplication date should be pushed in a canned time frame: “all cells must multiply in nine months, etc.”

What if the cell doesn’t multiply in a certain amount of time?” I talked to one pastor who said, “Everything that has life has a cycle. As you study the cell, it must give life. If you keep a cell that is not multiplying, it will die. The choice is life and death.” This particular pastor gave their cells one year to multiply. If it didn’t multiply in that time period, the church would shut down the cell.

I don’t believe in shutting down cells for failure to multiply. When a cell group, however, becomes cancerous and dysfunctional, closure is the best policy. But such decisions should stay within the upper circles of cell leadership. It’s unwise to teach or promote cell closure (“multiply or close”) to cell leaders and interns, because this places undo pressure on the cell leader and cell group. It’s hard enough for a lay person to multiply a cell without the added burden of “possible failure.” While some can handle this kind of pressure, others will avoid cell leadership because of it, thus preventing future leaders from volunteering. For example, cells in one church I visited were stagnating and failing to attract new leadership, and several cell leaders attributed this pattern to the possibility of cell closure. While closure may be necessary at times, this should not be the norm. And certainly no cell should be closed before every possible avenue to multiply the group has been exhausted.



Leader Readiness Checklist

by Steve Cordle

As Mario said in his blog, groups don’t multiply, leaders multiply. When do you know the new leader is ready? Here’s one possible checklist for your consideration:

  1. The apprentice has been doing everything that a group leader does for at least a month, and that is going well. The old leader has successfully modeled for the apprentice the healthy practices of a small group, and has handed-over those things to the apprentice
  2. The apprentice is in a good place spiritually. His/her relationship with God is strong. There are no serious personal dysfunctions.
  3. The people in the group look to the apprentice for spiritual guidance, and the apprentice has influence with them
  4. The apprentice “buys into” the church’s vision.
  5. The apprentice has invited at least one person to the group who has stayed in the group. (Group leaders must be able to successfully invite new people, or their groups probably will not grow.)
  6. The group has had some recent visitors. In other words, the group currently has some growth momentum
  7. The group has at least 8 regular attenders
  8. Each new group, after birthing, will have a host home.

What ideas do you have for a readiness checklist?


Growing and Multiplying Teams for Effectiveness

By Michael Sove

Over the last fifteen years I have learned much about starting and multiplying cells.  Much of what I learned was through mistakes.  The least effective way to multiply is to focus on one apprentice as you grow the cell.  Then when the cell is regularly over 12-15 people, the leader and apprentice talk through who should go with which leader and the cell gets divided into two.  This very seldom works well and feels more like a split than a birth to those involved.  The other problem with it is that you tend to launch a leader and not a team.  This is a quick way to burn out a leader.

My favorite way to multiply a cell is to begin with the end in mind.  Cell ministry requires teamwork so I no longer launch a cell with a solo leader.  I ask the leader to launch with a core-team (3-4 people who will share the leadership of the cell).  As the cell launches with a core team and begins to grow, each of the core team members will be praying for their own core teams as they are working with the current team and being discipled and trained so they in turn can disciple and train those who will be entrusted to their care.

Will all core team members become leaders?  Maybe not, but they will continue to function on teams which is very important to the health and growth of any cell.  Right now in my current cell, my wife and I are working with three other core team members, a couple and a single.  We are discipling and training these individuals in all aspects of cell life and leadership.  We all share the main responsibilities of the gatherings as well as the habits practiced outside the gatherings, like inviting new people and contacting and caring for those in our cell.

When they are trained and have demonstrated faithfulness and I have targeted other core team members, I will birth out of the cell with my new core team and leave the bulk of the people to my original core team.  One of the most important things that I have learned over the last fifteen years is that I can birth out of a cell with a small core team much easier if we are meeting in a host home other than mine.  If we are meeting in my home it is much harder to birth because it requires sending people out from my home.  It’s not impossible but seems to take longer and is much harder to do.

Growing teams and multiplying teams has proven to be much more effective in the long run.  What is your favorite way to multiply a cell?


Leaders and Cell Multiplication

by Mario Vega

The usual form of cell multiplication in Elim is mother-daughter multiplication. From a mature mother cell, there is a multiplication to make way for a new daughter cell with a new leader and core.

Through years of experience, we at Elim has established the norm that each leader must only have one cell group (in the past, some led more than one cell) and that each cell must recognize their respective leader. With this norm in mind, Elim’s emphasis is on leader multiplication rather than cell multiplication. Again, our focus is on the multiplication of leaders, which results in the multiplication of cell multiplication. In one sense, cells do not multiply. Leaders multiply.

These are the same reasons why in our statistics, the number of cells do not registered anywhere. Elim only counts the number of leaders. We do collect information on cell attendance, conversions, and baptisms in water.

As mentioned before on this blog, the Leaders Route (equipping track) is fundamental to the multiplication of leaders. The mentoring work is also vital to consolidate Christians as new leaders. These are the keys to cell multiplication.


Mario Vega

Translation into Spanish:

La multiplicación de líderes y de células.

La forma usual de multiplicación celular en Elim es la de madre a hija. De una célula madura (madre) se produce una multiplicación para dar paso a una nueva célula (hija) con un nuevo líder y parte del núcleo de la célula madre.

Nuestra norma es que cada líder debe tener bajo su responsabilidad una sola célula y cada célula debe reconocer a su respectivo líder. Desde esa premisa, ninguna nueva célula puede llegar a existir sin tener un líder designado. Por ese motivo, nuestro énfasis se encuentra en la multiplicación de los líderes antes que en la multiplicación celular. Nuestra concentración es en la multiplicación de los líderes, la multiplicación celular vendrá por añadidura.

Otro ministerios lo han expresado en los siguientes términos: las células no se multiplican, son los líderes los que se multiplican. Esta forma de decir las cosas es muy absolutista. No obstante, transmite una verdad. Es la verdad de la importancia que tiene la multiplicación de líderes para que las células, a su vez, se multipliquen.

Estas son las mismas razones por las que en nuestros controles estadísticos no se registra en ningún lugar el número de células. Solamente cuenta la cantidad de líderes. Otros datos que recogemos son la asistencia, las conversiones, los bautismos en agua.

La Ruta del Líder es fundamental para lograr la multiplicación de líderes y el trabajo de los mentores es vital para consolidar a los cristianos como nuevos líderes. Esas son las claves para la multiplicación celular.