Cell Church Growth Factors

joelLast week I was talking to Jeff Barbiera, founder and lead pastor of Grace Christian Church in Howell, New Jersey. Jeff was born and raised in the soilarea, and he remembers as a kid when all the neighbors went to church on Sunday. “Now it’s a ghost town,” he told me. Planting a cell based church in New Jersey is a challenge. The gound is hard. Yet, I love Jeff’s passion. He and the elders recently went on a planning retreat, and they came back with the following vision statement: The long-term vision of Grace Christian Church is to become the premier grace-centered, cell-based church in the Northeast. Grace Christian Church now has nine cells and 120 people attending worship. I’m excited about the future prospects of Grace Christian Church. Yet, the soil is hard and growth will take time.

I was on the phone with another pastor last week–Alejandro Ochoa Pérez. Pastor Alejandro and his brother, Carlos, lead a church called “Jesucristo es la Vida Eterna” (Jesus is eternal life) in Tabasco, Mexico. I spoke in this church one year ago and reported on the fact that they had 400 cells groups at that time. Alejandro told me last week that they now have 550 cell groups! The soil in Tabasco is ripe for the harvest (you might remember that Tabasco experienced a devasting flood one year ago).

Both churches are doing an amazing job at training/coaching leaders, promoting the vision, and preaching the Word. Both are 100% committed to the cell philosophy and vision. Yet, the ground is so different in both places.

I’m convinced that cell church principles work everywhere. Growth rates, however, vary considerably, depending on the receptivity factors (soil).

The more I go on this cell church journey, the more committed I am to follow cell church principles and then to watch God work in His timing.



Joel Comiskey

p.s.: right now I’m flying to Hong Kong for the CCMN conference (Cell Church Mission Network). I’ll be speaking on Simple Church Planting. Everyone at the conference will receive a copy of my new church planting book. More on next week’s blog.

3 thoughts on “Cell Church Growth Factors

  • “The long-term vision of … Church is to become the premier grace-centered, cell-based church in the Northeast.” If God fulfills this vision, then all the other cell churches will have to remain something less, even if “premier” means two or three stagnant cells. In order for this vision to become reality, the … Church must focus, not on what it wants to become for its own satisfaction, but on how God wants to bless the city. The vision must grow to include 1000s of families and lost folk coming into intimacy with God through lovingly obeying Messiah Jesus.

  • I agree that each takes it’s own time, even within the same community, but different oikos’. Some groups are reached quickly and adapt quickly (not normally the Christians), and others take much time, and some just explode. Our young adult life group maintained about 5 members for 6 months and then within a month it went to 16 and has begun the multiplication process. It just took a little while for that original 5 to get the vision.

    God Bless
    Pastor Chris

  • Growing a church is not about speed. It’s about efficiency. It’s about how fast you go with the resources at hand and how well you overcome the environmental factors against your church. Every church has different resources, is at different stages of development and operates in a different context. Therefore I find it quite amazing that church leaders keep looking at what happens elsewhere and try to compare their performance with a church somewhere else (eg different soil). Church leaders should be looking inwards and compete against themselves. How well are we doing? How can we improve? What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? What is the way forward? How can we get more from the little plot that we are farming on at the moment……

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