Peter Wagner used to say that longevity in the pastorate is one of the most important characteristics of healthy, growing churches. I certainly saw this truth played out in Lorain, Ohio this weekend, where I conducted a cell seminar at House of Praise. This church was born out of the charismatic renewal movement in 1976. Spanish speaking Catholics (mainly from Puerto Rico) were born again and began meeting together. As they read the Bible, they became uncomfortable with Catholic doctrine and eventually started a church under the leadership of Iluminado and Luisa Marrero. Gilbert Silva, a second generation hispanic, was born again in the church in 1979, married Eileen, the pastor’s daughter, and in 1991, Gilbert became the lead pastor of the church. The church is now 80% English speaking–a great example of the second generation gracefully taking over the church. There is still a Spanish service, but the majority now are more comfortable in the English language. In 1999, the church began their cell transition (highly influenced from Bethany), and they now have 60+ cells.
I love this church! You can feel the health. The cell church vision has made a solid church even better. Even though Lorain county is depressed economically, the church is growing rapidly (1000 people in three services) and recently planted a daughter church in Cleveland. The new growth has mainly come from whites, blacks, and other ethnic groups. The church asked me to do this cell seminar because they need to add 50+ cells to keep up with the celebration growth.
The state of the church in North America is not good, and thus, it’s so exciting to witness such a great example of health and church growth. Thank you, Jesus!