by Joel Comiskey
When John Wesley died in 1791, he left behind a church of 10,000 cell groups and 100,000 members. Cell groups were so important to the Methodist Church that a person could not enter the celebration service unless he or she showed a ticket that proved he or she was in a cell group during the week. God transformed people through Wesley’s structure of cell, bands, and celebration. Many believe that God used Wesley and the Methodist movement to save England from spiritual, moral, and even physical destruction.
Yet, the emphasis on cell and celebration died out 100 years after Wesley’s death. Why? A Ph.D. students explored this question and determined that the main reason the Methodist cell structure died was by allowing the cells to become too large. Instead of maintaining the intimate size of approximately ten people, the cells grew to 30, 40, or more and eventually became Methodist churches. The cell/celebration strategy disappeared because the cells grew too large.
Transformation takes place in a small group atmosphere. Even timid people can share in a group of 3-15 people. When the group grows larger, only extroverts are confident enough to express themselves. At the same time, cells must evangelize and reach out to unbelievers and unchurched people. So how can a cell grow larger while maintaining intimacy? The only way is through multiplication. Cell groups must multiply to stay faithful to the mission of intimacy and growth through outreach.
When you think of cell multiplication, do positive or negative thoughts come to your mind? Why do you think it’s important for a cell to multiply?