Methods of Cell Multiplication

joelby Joel Comiskey

In the early days of the cell movement, everyone talked about mother-daugher cell multiplication because that’s what David Cho was doing in Korea (half the group leaving to form another cell when reaching fifteen people). The problem with waiting for the number “fifteen” was twofold: 1. The number would often fluctuate from week to week. 2. Members who didn’t want to multiply would leave the group at about fifteen people.

Then the cell church world learned about new ways to multiply, such as cell planting (two or three hiving off to form a new celll). The cell didn’t need to wait for a certain number to multiply. Rather, it simply needed to have a trained leader. Thus, training and the development of leadership became the new emphasis.

More recently I’ve been emphasizing “mother leader multiplication,” because I believe it’s often the best way to jump-start a stagnant cell group. This method is actually very simple. The mother cell leader leaves behind a prepared facilitator while he or she launches out to start a new cell, either by him or herself or with one or two cell members.

Of course, there are other ways to multiply cells. Jay Firebaugh, a veteran of cell ministry, has developed a proven cell multiplication method, that is an adaptation of the mother-daughter strategy:

  • Prenatal (weeks #1, 2 and 3)
    • Have new leader, host, and a few members selected who will start the new group.
    • Talk about the upcoming birth and why it is important.
    • Divide the group for ministry time. Have the new team go to different parts of the house.
    • It is important that the new team develops social relationships during the week (phone calls, social contacts, etc.).
  • Birth (week #4)
    • Meet as separate cells but in the same house.
  • Postnatal
    • (weeks #5, 6 and 7)
      • Meet as two separate cells in two different locations.
    • (Week #8 – one month after birth)
      • Meet back together for a reunion. This should not be a formal meeting but a time of fellowship and enjoying one another.
    • (Week #9, 10, and 11)
      • Meet as two separate cells in two different locations.
    • (Week #12 – two months after birth)

What about you? Share the multiplication method that has worked well for you?


2 thoughts on “Methods of Cell Multiplication

  • Mike Mack has developed a method that works well at his church and a number of other churches who have taken the model from a little book he published through TOUCH on eliminating leader burnout last year.

    In a nutshell, the model is patterned after Jesus and his deep, missional relationship with Peter, James, and John. Groups are formed with a core team approach where there is a core team leader and three core team members. All four gather regularly to pray for the group and each member and dialog about how to invest in fringe members, give away responsibility to regular members to help them see and embrace their potential as future team members for new groups, and so forth.

    To get your head around it from a more traditional paradigm, imagine launching a cell group with three interns and the leader having less of a visionary role and transferring more of it to the three interns so all four feel a very strong sense of ownership in the group where the leader is the point person for the core team and group with the pastor.

    Within four to six months of group life, the core team leader encourages each of the three core team members to develop deeper friendships with three group members with the goal of sending them out to plant a new group the same way they began.

    I like this model far more than the leader apprentice/intern model because it begins with three future leaders committed to doing their part to lead the current group. It really pulls the weight of leadership off the core team leader because it’s carried by four persons, not just one, and interest in core team participation is typically much higher than apprenticeship/internship because it’s a group activity and not seen as overly time-talent-ability threatening.

    This is yet another way (the best for some if it works, but not for others) to create a healthy environment where planting strong new groups is a natural byproduct of the discipleship process.

    If anyone’s interested, the intro and first pages of Mack’s book can be downloaded here:

  • Randall, thanks so much for sharing about Michael Mack’s findings. I’ll have to read up on what Mack says. I have a lot of reading to do this December (my reading month!). I believe I have that book, but if not, I’ll be ordering it. . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *