Southern Baptist Church Planting–a Case Study

joel I talked last Wednesday about Centro Cristiano Nueva Vida–a Southern Baptist church plant that started in Miami in 2002 and has continued to grow in both quality and quantity. The church has grown to thirty-seven cells, approximately 200 worshippers each Sunday, and they recently planted their first daughter church.

I had the privilege of preaching in the church last Sunday and there were a few things I really liked about the church.

First, pastor Pedro Saavedra is a student of the cell church. He’s not afraid to research growing cell churches around the world and “steal the best with pride” (even through some of those growing cell churches are different from his own denomination). He’s used material from Ralph Neighbour and others with the goal of adapting such materials to his own context. He’s also sought out cell church coaching to fine-tune what he’s doing.

Second, the church exudes passion. I loved the way the Sunday celebration started with passionate prayer (much like the way Koreans pray all together). CHURCHPLANTINGThe worship and preaching was passionate. Remember that this is a non-Pentecostal Southern Baptist Church, yet the passion was very reminiscent of my experiences at the Elim Church (and who said that Southern Baptist Churches can’t lead the way in passion for Jesus Christ!).

Third, the church is willing to work hard. Cell church ministry demands sacrifice and few are willing to pay the price. Pastor Pedro opens his home for cells, training, and supervision. Pedro’s wife, Isabel, is the lead guitar player in the worship group, leads a ladie’s cell, and is truly Pedro’s number one encourager. As I ate dinner with the Saavedra’s and their key coaches, I reminded them not to be weary in well-doing. I told them that hard work for Jesus is the New Testament/kingdom lifestyle and to simply press ahead for His glory. CCNV is leading the way in Southern Baptist circles because they’re willing to pay the price.

Fourth, they have a well-laid out cell church structure: the cells goals are clear, the equipping track is well-known, and every leader is coached by a trained supervisor. Pastor Saavedra even goes over the cell lessons with the key leaders each Sunday evening.

Although cell church is a great startegy, it’s not an easy one. It requires sacrifice and grit. Jesus has to birth the strategy within because He’s the only One that can sustain us to press on.


Joel Comiskey

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