Assimilation / Formation

coach-tunnell   Jeff Tunnell

My son taught me how to fish.  We attended a brief class with local lake-district personnel. They gave us some primary instructions, gave us poles and tackle boxes filled with stuff useful for fishing, issued our licenses and off we went.  Following the instructions received, our excitement grew at the prospect of actually catching a fish as a trophy of our learning!  In suprisingly short order, we pulled a nice rainbow trout from the water. Holding it carefully we removed the hook, smiled in triumph and then asked… what do we do with it?  No thought had been given to the next steps necessary for actually keeping it.  Dumbfounded by our combined ignorance, our new friend left in a hurry.

As fishers of men, we should give some thought to the differences between ‘assimilation’ (catching) and ‘formation’ (keeping)?  When Jesus attracts one of His children to Himself, a cell-based church must have a strategy in place to assimilate them into Christian community and begin a process of spiritual formation for this newly established life in Christ.  Without doubt, the Holy Spirit is the guide for the new believer’s success in both of these processes and it is likely (and my hope) that He used the members of a cell to befriend and evangelize this person.

Randy Frazee in “The Connecting Church” offers: “The church must be careful not tot confuse an assimilation strategy for church involvement with a spiritual formation model for community building. Both are necessary, but they are very different. An assimilation strategy defines how one gets involved in the life and programs of a church; a spiritual formation model defines the essential outcomes the church is attempting to get working into the lives of its members.”

I admit, I have confused the two along the way.  For example, keeping records of how many are in cell groups is an easy shift from keeping attendance on Sundays.  But I must keep an eye on the continuing spiritual formation process in each of those lives as well.  Having a pre-determined strategy, normally referred to as a training or equipping track, is a must.

What do you think?

“A Beggar, A Digger, and A Steward”


by Rob Campbell

In Luke 16:1-13 (take time to peruse this text), we see a beggar, a digger, and a steward. A beggar’s motivation is survival. He wants to make it through another day. A digger’s motivation is success. He’s digging for gold. He’s on an insatiable journey to “make it big” and “turn a deal.” A steward’s motivation is significance. She wants to leave behind a legacy. She wants to invest in souls and the kingdom of God.

The story teaches us that we must give an account to God for our stewardship. Stewardship is much broader than how we manage and allocate money. It also includes the management/allocation of our time, influence, expertise, abilities, and resources. Speaking of resources, the use of one’s resources is a test of values, character, and heart. Further, the management of one’s resources is a preparatory lesson for other responsibilities before God.

Indeed, life is an exercise in stewardship.

David displays to us a majestic heart of a giver in 2 Samuel 24:10-25. He refuses to give something to God that doesn’t cost him something personally. The root of this reality is worship (a continuous preoccupation with God). In other words, he refuses to worship God on the cheap. The result of his gift is acceptable unto God (see 1 Chronicles 21:25-28).

Beggars beget beggars. Diggers beget diggers. Stewards beget stewards. A cell leader who doesn’t steward well probably will beget a cell leader who doesn’t steward well. I wonder what the cell members might be like in such a reality?

Leadership is modeling.

May your cell and church family experience Acts 2:43a, 44, 46b: “ A deep sense of awe came over them all… They shared everything they had…They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need…They shared their meals with great joy and generosity.”



The Case for Large Cell Churches

joelby Joel Comiskey

Last Friday night, I challenged the 1000+ participants at the cell church conference at La Misión Cristiana Moderna in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands to go beyond one big church and plant a multitude of churches. I thought the lead pastor (Ángel Manuel Hernández) would receive the challenge with joy. However, I ate dinner with him afterwards, and he said to me, “God wants me to continue to grow a large church here in Fuerteventura before we actively engage in planting new churches.” I responded, “But it’s much better to plant new churches because cell church is all about raising up new leaders–not just at the cell level but also at the pastoral level.” He shot back, “As an Assembly of God denomination, we’ve already planted many, many smaller churches that have yet to make a powerful impact on the Canary Islands. In a large cell church, we are having a far greater impact.” We went back and forth.

I had to admit that La Misión Cristiana Moderna has uniquely impacted their island as a large church. Patrick Johntone in Operation World (2003) wrote about all eight of the Canary Islands saying, “Among the 1,630,000 inhabitants are but 3,600 believers in 75 small churches and fellowships — most being on the two larger islands and over half being Assemblies of God.” Fast forward six years since Johnstone wrote these words and in just this one church on one island there are 200 cells and 1300 people in those cells and celebration. The island’s mayor often comes to the celebration services, the church has a powerful social outreach, and the church’s size stirs believers to openly express their faith in a very secular, Catholic atmopshere.

Lately, I’ve been so completely immersed in church planting literature that I haven’t thought too much about growing a large cell church. In the last five years, the cell church pendulum has swung away from promoting large cell churches to church planting. I’ve heard lots of criticism, in fact, about the tendency in the cell church movement to promote mega, mega cell churches. And I’m sure some of that criticism was directed toward me because in the earlier days I exclusively promoted and wrote about these very large cell churches.

Have we now swung too far the other way? Is there a case to be made for huge cell churches? Look at Mario Vega and the Elim Church. Elim’s size allows it to wield a special influence in El Salvador. For example, the government of El Salvador recently asked Mario Vega to pray a seven minute prayer in congress (check it out). The size of Elim (100,000) gives them a powerful voice in the country. The same is true with David Cho and Yoido Full Gospel Church.

What do you think? What is the place of mega cell churches? I do believe that even the huge cell churches need to engage in church planting. Pastor Angel told me that he’ll eventually plant churches and in fact, they’ve already planted their first daughter church on another island. And Elim has planted some 150 cell churches all over the world.

I’d like to hear what you think. . .


Adjusting the Cell Church Strategy


by Mario Vega

Last week I wrote about the need to make adjustments in the cell model according to the peculiarities of each church. Steve Cordle requested some examples of the adjustments that we have made in El Salvador to fine tune our original South Korea model.

One of the first adjustments we made was the addition of a weekly planning meeting that precedes the cell meeting. In the planning meeting the Christian core of the cell participates in detailed planning of the cell meeting. The core reviews the previous week’s work and then assigns responsibilities for the new week.

Another adjustment was to reduce the time of the training course for new leaders. In Pastor Cho’s case the training course lasts two years. In El Salvador the growth dynamics are much faster which led us to adopt a training course that lasts six months.

We have adjusted the most when it comes to growth goals. We started with a goal of 100% for each quarter. Subsequently a goal of 100% for the year was adopted (not sustainable year after year). Thus, we now assign goals according to the saturation level of each geographical area.

The above are examples of adjustments that have made Elim’s model a very particular case. But there are also adjustments we made in order to resemble to the Korean model. Last year, we adopted for the first time the goals for a five years term. Pastor Cho sets new goals for his church every quinquennium. So today, in El Salvador, each Pastor works with a one-year goal term without losing sight of his quinquennial goal.

Each adjustment has been made in response to a local circumstance. There are methods that work both in Korea and in El Salvador, such as establishing annual and quinquennial goals. But there are other methods that would not work in El Salvador, such as a two years training course. However, the cell work principles are cross-cultural and timeless.

Any comments?


Ejemplos de algunos ajustes.

La semana anterior escrib sobre la necesidad de hacer ajustes en el modelo celular de acuerdo a las peculiaridades de cada iglesia. Steve Cordle solicitó algunos ejemplos de ajustes que hemos hecho en El Salvador con respecto al trabajo que se hace en Corea del Sur.

Uno de los primeros ajustes que hicimos fue el añadir una reunión de planificación semanal que antecede a la reunión celular. En la reunión de planificación participa el núcleo cristiano de la célula con el objeto de planear los detalles de la reunión celular, revisar el trabajo de la semana anterior y delegar responsabilidades para la nueva semana.

Otro de los ajustes fue el de reducir la duración del curso de entrenamiento para nuevos lderes. En el caso del Pastor Cho el curso de capacitación tiene una duración de dos años. En El Salvador la dinámica de crecimiento es mucho más veloz y eso nos llevó a adoptar un curso de solamente seis meses.

El elemento que mayor cantidad de ajustes ha tenido es el referido a las metas de crecimiento. Comenzamos con una meta del 100% para cada trimestre. Posteriormente se adoptó una meta del 100% para el año. Hubo un tiempo en que asignamos las metas de acuerdo al nivel de saturación de cada zona geográfica.

Los anteriores son ejemplos de ajustes que han hecho del modelo de Elim un caso muy particular. Pero también hay ajustes que hemos hecho con el fin de acercanos más al modelo Coreano. El año anterior, adoptamos por primera vez las metas a cinco años plazo. El Pastor Cho establece nuevas metas para su iglesia cada quinquenio. De manera que hoy, en El Salvador, cada Pastor trabaja con una meta a un año plazo sin perder la perspectiva de su meta quinquenal.

Cada ajuste se ha hecho respondiendo a una circunstancia muy local. Hay métodos que funcionan tanto en Corea como en El Salvador, como el establecer metas anuales y quinquenales. Pero hay otros métodos que no funcionaran en El Salvador, como un curso de entrenamiento de dos años. No obstante, los principios del trabajo celular son transculturales y atemporales.

¿Algún comentario?

Social Outreach through Cells


by Michael Sove

Eph 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”SOVE

I want to tell you about our God who has gone beyond what I could ask or imagine.  Suresh Gumma has been praying for a vehicle for his ministry for five years.  He is located in Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, India.  I met him through this web site and have been mentoring him in cell ministry for about a year now.  I want our cell groups to have a heart for the nations, so I have been asking our cells to adopt pastors like Suresh for prayer, ministry and possible mission trips.

I visited Suresh and his ministry in March and saw first hand the needs as well as the potential in his church as well as the branch churc+hes in his state.  So I began to pass INDIAprayer requests on his behalf through the International Cell Church Prayer Network which I coordinate, as well as through the cell groups of our church.  We have been honored to provide funds for Bibles as well as help support some of the branch church pastors with financial gifts but what happened next still boggles my mind.

One night after visiting a cell group I was approached by a cell member who ask me if Suresh could use a vehicle and if something like that could really help his ministry.  To make a long story short, within two days this gentleman provided the funds for a brand new seven passenger vehicle for this ministry in India.  This will greatly expand the ministry possibilities of Suresh.  The blessing also impacts me as I take annual mission trips to the area.  I will not have to take public transportation or rent vehicles for these mission trips.  God gets all the Glory!CROWD

When you pray for others you gain God’s heart for them, and when you have God’s heart for them, the possibilities are endless!  I want to encourage you to give your cells a vision for the nations.  If you are reading this and would like to pray for or participate in the International Cell Church Prayer Network you can contact me at for more information.