Last 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 area, 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 PÃ©rez. 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.
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.