From One Generation to the Next


by Mario Vega

The 23rd Church Growth International Conference of Seoul Korea’s Church has finished. As always, Pastor Cho shared the Word of God with more than 1,500 participants from 63 countries in the underground Paul Chapel. In this conference, his message focused on the topic of faith. He shared several personal experiences in which he made clear that his life has been a “living crucifixion” to bring blessing to other people.

He shared publicly that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, but that he is confident that God is healing him. As evidence he raised his hands and showed everybody that he has no longer the tremor that characterizes the disease. This detail is indicative of how his whole life has been: keeping to himself his diseases, conflicts and difficulties in order to stand behind a pulpit and share a message of hope, healing and blessing.

As Abraham was invited by God to see the stars way beyond his own tent, Dr. Cho invited all those present not to stay within the limits of their own tents but to look toward God’s stars. He ended his message saying, “Get out of your tent. Look at the stars. Choose one and pursue it.” He then said a prayer of blessing for all of us who were present.

As he concluded his prayer, the attendees spontaneously stood up and cheered Pastor Cho with an unending applause that did not allow the master of ceremonies to continue with the program. After a couple of tries he decided to let the ones present continue with that symbolic and improvised tribute to the father of modern cell movement.

That same night, after thanking the Board of Directors’ members of CGI (Church Growth International) for their presence, he said good bye stating that this has been one of the best conferences. Many of us who were present agreed with him.

Pastor Cho is now 74 years old and is the Pastor Emeritus of Yoido Full Gospel Church. The official Pastor now is Rev. Young Hoon Lee who has been a member of the church since his conversion in 1964 (when the church had 4,000 members). Pastor Lee has taken over most of Cho’s responsibilities. Among them are the financial management and leadership of the church. Pastor Lee preaches also in the Sunday schedules that previously corresponded to Pastor Cho who now preaches only once in awhile.

Pastor Lee’s great challenge is to set new goals for the largest church in the history of Christianity. Not such an easy task. What else could be expected from a church like Yoido? At the same time, God is not limited and with this in mind, we can wait patiently for what God will do through Pastor Lee..

Despite being the world’s largest church, the transition from the founding pastor to one of his disciples has occurred smoothly without upheavals–evenn though human logic says that a man like Pastor Cho can not be so easily replaced. Was the process helped by the discipline and remarkable respect shown by Koreans? Or perhaps it was the slow, democratic process they used to transition the leadership. What do you think?


translation in Spanish:

De una generación a la siguiente.

Finalizó la 23ª Conferencia Internacional de Crecimiento de la Iglesia en Seúl Corea. Como siempre, el Pastor Cho compartió la palabra de Dios con más de 1,500 participantes originarios de 63 pases en la subterránea Capilla Pablo. En esta conferencia su mensaje estuvo centrado en el tema de la fe. Compartió varias experiencias personales en las que dejó en claro que su vida ha sido un continuo vivir crucificado para dar bendición a otras personas.

Compartió públicamente que padece de Parkinson pero que confa en que Dios le está sanando. Como prueba levantó sus manos ante todos y mostró que ya no tiene el temblor que caracteriza a la enfermedad. Este detalle es una muestra de cómo ha sido toda su vida: callar sus enfermedades, conflictos y dificultades a fin de colocarse detrás de un púlpito y compartir un mensaje de esperanza, sanidad y bendición.

Al igual que Abraham fue invitado por Dios para ver las estrellas, mucho más allá de su tienda, invitó a los presentes a no quedarse en los lmites de sus propias tiendas sino a ver hacia las estrellas de Dios. Terminó su mensaje diciendo: ‘Sal de tu tienda. Mira a las estrellas. Escoge una y sguela.’ Luego hizo una oración de bendición por todos los que estábamos presentes.

Al concluir su oración, los asistentes se pusieron en pie espontáneamente y aclamaron al Pastor Cho con un interminable aplauso que no permita al maestro de ceremonias continuar con el programa. Después de un par de intentos decidió dejar que los presentes continuaran con ese simbólico e improvisado homenaje al padre del movimiento celular moderno.

Esa misma noche, al agradecer la presencia de los miembros de la Directiva de CGI (Crecimiento de la Iglesia Internacional) se despidió diciendo que esta ha sido una de las mejores conferencias. Muchos all presentes estuvimos de acuerdo con él.

El Pastor Cho tiene ahora 74 años de edad y es el Pastor Emérito de la Iglesia del Evangelio Completo en Yoido. El Pastor titular es ahora el Rev. Young Hoon Lee quien es miembro de la iglesia desde su conversión en el año de 1964. Es decir, cuando la iglesia rondaba sus primeros 4,000 miembros. Muchas de las responsabilidades del Pastor Cho ahora recaen sobre el Pastor Lee. Entre ellas, el manejo financiero y dirección de la iglesia. El Pastor Lee también predica en los horarios dominicales que antes correspondan al Pastor Cho y éste se limita a predicar en los horarios de los invitados.

El gran reto del Pastor Lee es el de establecer nuevas metas para la iglesia más grande en la historia del cristianismo. Cosa nada fácil. Pues, ¿qué más podra esperarse de una iglesia como la de Yoido? Solamente el saber que para Dios no hay lmites es lo que nos hace esperar con paciencia lo que el trabajo del Pastor Lee traerá como fruto.

A pesar de ser la iglesia más grande del mundo, la transición del Pastor fundador a uno de sus discpulos se ha producido sin sobresaltos ni conmociones. A pesar que la lógica humana dice que un hombre como el Pastor Cho no puede ser sustituido tan fácilmente. ¿Será la disciplina y notable respeto que muestran los coreanos? ¿O será el procedimiento bastante democrático y pausado que se utilizó? ¿Qué piensa usted?

Coaching for Clarification

coach-tunnell    Jeff Tunnell

This morning I sat in Joel Comiskey’s living room for a coaching session with my staff.  We are finding clarification for moving ahead in cell-driven ministry.  In sharing my excitement with others, about re-entering a coaching commitment, it was suggested by some that I know enough to accomplish this coaching myself and probably don’t need to meet with Joel.

HOWEVER, times like these are inestimable in value.  We desire the “give and take” of conversation and accountability in ministry.  Sitting with an “expert” who is objective about our situation provides an unbiased view of how well we are connecting to cell principles.  Another benefit is the coach’s grasp of knowledge we do not yet “own” and his ability to guide us to its application.  Where we are weak, he presses us to grow by reading authors who have tackled the difficulties we are facing.

Returning home (we travel 3 hours to connect) we have projects to work on together that will forge our strength as a team, reading assignments that will bring further discussion and goals to set which will lead to progress in fruitful ministry.

How are you connected in coaching?  Do you have a resource to draw from regularly?  Is this blog site a help to you?  Would you like me to “chronicle” our journey in coaching over the next few months?  Let me know.

The Power of Invitation


By Rob Campbell

Andrew was a disciple of Jesus Christ.  The scriptures teach us that Andrew was the first of Jesus= twelve disciples.  Notice John 1:40-42: AAndrew, Simon Peter=s brother, was one of the two who heard what John [the Baptist] had said and who had followed Jesus.  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon [Peter] and tell him, >We have found the Messiah (that is, Jesus Christ).=  And he brought him to Jesus.@

In scripture, Andrew is known as the Ainviter@ who brought his own brother to meet Jesus.  Further, he is the disciple who brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus.  Think of the ramifications of his invitations.  Think of his brother=s enormous experience with Christ and his impact throughout the New Testament and even today.  Think of Andrew=s simple recruitment of a young boy to offer all that he had so that Christ might perform a miracle in the midst of thousands gathered to experience the living Messiah.

My friends Ryan and John are much like Andrew.  Because of their passion for Christ, God has given to these men a deep passion to see God change lives.  This is their heartbeat: Allowing others to experience a change of life through the touch of Jesus Christ.  Ryan, John and Andrew are synergists, connectors.  They are not flaming evangelists prowling around condemning the Alost@ to hell.  They look like Jesus who was a Afriend of sinners.@  These men were not and are not independent flyers, soaring through the lands seeing who they might target and Apick off@ all in the name of Jesus.  They are a part of a teamB the body of ChristB the church today.

There is another exceptional quality that bears mentioning concerning Ryan, John and Andrew.  They love their fellow man.  They live out Christ=s second greatest commandment of loving one another.

Love God and others.  Be an inviter.



Resistance in the West Toward Cell Church?

joelby Joel Comiskey

Most of you know that I wrote the book The Church that Multiplies to focus on the cell church in North America. In that book I highlight key principles that are essential for cell church to work in North America and the western world. We all know that cell church is exploding in the majority world, but what about the West? I attempt to answer that question in CTM.

Just yesterday, someone who read the book wrote me saying, ”

I’ve been reading your book “The Church That Multiplies” and have found it very inspiring and informative as I research the cell and house church movements. My goal is to plant a network of house based churches in the near future, starting with one in my own neighborhood. I did find one thing somewhat interesting in your book, and wanted to get your perspective on it. In the final chapter you list about 40 churches who have successfully embraced and implemented the cell church strategy. I decided to check out the websites of some of the churches, and was startled to find no mention of “Cell” church on the very first two sites I visited! Seems like some of these former “Cell” focused churches are now going the way of focusing on growing the big church through programs and ministries, and have lost their vision for making the cells the primary focus. Seems like some of these former “Cell” focused churches are now going the way of focusing on growing the big church through programs and ministries, and have lost their vision for making the cells the primary focus. My question is – is this indicative of a trend in the USA? If so, any idea why? Is it becoming too “hard” to do real cell church ministry? Or, perhaps some leaders are now being drawn to a more conventional “grow the big church with lots of programs” model?

I wrote him back saying,

Great insight and thanks for this probing. I’m always open to remove and add churches that no longer fit and will check out the ones you mentioned. However, I don’t have the impression that pastors are streaming to one programmatic model or another, like I did several years ago. Yet, I also know that ministry is very, very hard in the  Western world. Church attendance is going way down. Pastors are attracted to gimmicks to boost the numbers. Cell ministry requires down-to-earth discipleship and some churches start with this vision in mind, but then grow weary when people move and church members resist it. So much boils down to the passion and vision of the pastor. One of the churches you mentioned truly had a great cell vision, but then became consumed with the building program and soon afterwards the lead pastor retired. Thanks again. You’ve jogged my thinking. . . .

Now it’s your turn. What would you say if this person sent you the same question? Do you see a certain trend in the North America and the West in general? Do you get the impression that leaders are being drawn into the program-based model in recent times?

[p.s.: Randall Neighbour’s excellent book, The Naked Truth about Small Group Ministry, exposes a lot of the recent faulty thinking toward holistic small group ministry in North America. Please buy and read this great book].


The Key to Yoido Full Gospel Church’s Growth


by Mario Vega

I’m writing this blog from Korea where I have been invited by Pastor David Yonggi Cho to the 23rd Church Growth International Conference which takes place from the October 21-26..

Every time I come to Korea, I visit the Prayer Mountain. I have noticed that of all the people that register for the Conference, relatively few visit the Prayer Mountain. Most people want to see the impressive church building in Yoido and listen to Pastor Cho preach. But you won’t get a complete picture of this phenomenal church until you visit the Prayer Mountain.

An hour away from Yoido, the Prayer Mountain in Osanri is a key to understand the growth of the world’s largest church. Since March 1973, the Prayer Mountain has been open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to all the people who desire to go to pray and fast for one or more days.

Despite the fact that this year I visited the Prayer Mountain a day before the Conference started, I found approximately three thousand people praying in the place’s main auditorium. Another large number can be found praying in the “grottoes of prayer” (tiny single rooms where you can only be on your knees).

The passion of these Korean believers is very noticeable when they pray. They do it with all of their strength and, literally, with all their voice. One lady explained to me that she was completing a 40-day fasting, drinking only water.

Pastor’s Cho personal grotto is in the middle of the trees. He comes to pray every week–especially on Saturdays to prepare for his Sunday sermon.

Why is Pastor Cho’s church the largest church in the world and its outreach impossible to match? You will not find a complete answer without going to Prayer Mountain. It’s only at Prayer Mountain that you’ll understand the incredible prayer power at Yoido and how prayer is a key element in the church’s growth.



Translation in Spanish:

La clave del crecimiento de la iglesia de Yoido.

Escribo este blog desde Corea en donde me encuentro invitado por el Pastor David Yonggi Cho para la 23ª Conferencia Internacional de Crecimiento que se desarrolla del 21 al 26 de octubre.

Cada vez que vengo a Corea visito la Montaña de Oración. He observado que de todas las personas que se inscriben en la Conferencia son relativamente pocas las que visitan la Montaña de Oración. La mayor parte de personas desean conocer el impresionante edificio de la iglesia en Yoido y escuchar predicar al Pastor Cho. Pero, no se puede tener una visión completa del fenómeno hasta visitar la Montaña de Oración.

A una hora de camino desde Yoido, la Montaña de Oración en Osanri es parte clave para entender el crecimiento de la iglesia más numerosa del mundo. Desde marzo de 1973 la Montaña de Oración se encuentra abierta las 24 horas del da los 365 das del año a todas las personas que deseen ir a orar y ayunar por uno o más das.

A pesar que éste año visité la Montaña de Oración un da antes de que iniciara la Conferencia, encontré un aproximado de tres mil personas orando en el auditorio principal del lugar. Otro número indeterminado se encontraban en las ‘grutas de oración’: pequeñsimas habitaciones individuales donde sólo se puede estar de rodillas.

La pasión de los coreanos es notable al orar. Lo hacen con todas sus fuerzas y, literalmente, con toda su voz. Encontré a una señora que me explicó que estaba terminando un ayuno de 40 das bebiendo solamente agua. En medio de los árboles se encuentra la gruta personal del Pastor Cho. Él llega a orar todas las semanas, especficamente los das sábados, para prepararse para su sermón del da domingo.

¿Por qué la iglesia del Pastor Cho es la más numerosa del mundo y por qué su alcance para ser imposible de igualar? Éstas preguntas no encontrarán respuestas completas si no se va a la Montaña de Oración. All uno conoce el tipo de espritu de oración que envuelve a ésta iglesia y ese es el elemento clave para su crecimiento.