Multiplication Journey

by Jeff Tunnell

Friends,  on our journey in building cells and multiplying them we have fallen into the trap of adopting someone else’s rules for closing cells that do not multiply within a certain time frame.  Hearing comments like, a baby can be born in 9 months so surely we can multiply a cell in that amount of time, seemed to make sense at the time.  But when faced with a sincere and healthy leader who has been shepherding people that move away, or have economy driven schedules with multiple jobs that do not fit into the cell meeting schedule, it becomes difficult to close the cell based on non-multiplication!

Frequency of multiplication must rest upon the health of the cell, its leader and an ability to sustain the multiplication.  Many other good factors should exist beyond a simple timeframe such as, benchmarks of maturity, available supervisors/coaches, support systems in place, accountability to leadership and new souls being won to Christ, presenting the need for additional cells.  Time alone has not been a good benchmark for multiplying cells.  I agree with the attitude that if a cell has not multiplied in a certain timeframe that we should examine why, spend time seeking God for insight and guidance to correct the weaknesses that may exist and regroup for the next season.  Let’s keep cells open and functioning for the right reasons.

Frequency of Cell Multiplication

JOELby Joel Comiskey

How long does it take to multiply a cell group? I’ve heard this question repeated over and over. And I always answer it the same way: It depends on the soil.

Some countries are experiencing revival and multitidues are coming to know Jesus Christ. In these countries, cells readily reap the harvest, train new leaders, and multiply quickly–perhaps in six months. Other places are hard and difficult. It takes a long time to see conversions and even longer to prepare new leaders. Werner Kniessel the pastor emeritus of a well-known cell chuch in Switzerland told me it took at least two years to multiply cell groups in his church. In some unreached areas of the world it takes longer. While multiplication should guide the cell forward, I don’t believe the multiplication date should be pushed in a canned time frame: “all cells must multiply in nine months, etc.”

What if the cell doesn’t multiply in a certain amount of time?” I talked to one pastor who said, “Everything that has life has a cycle. As you study the cell, it must give life. If you keep a cell that is not multiplying, it will die. The choice is life and death.” This particular pastor gave their cells one year to multiply. If it didn’t multiply in that time period, the church would shut down the cell.

I don’t believe in shutting down cells for failure to multiply. When a cell group, however, becomes cancerous and dysfunctional, closure is the best policy. But such decisions should stay within the upper circles of cell leadership. It’s unwise to teach or promote cell closure (“multiply or close”) to cell leaders and interns, because this places undo pressure on the cell leader and cell group. It’s hard enough for a lay person to multiply a cell without the added burden of “possible failure.” While some can handle this kind of pressure, others will avoid cell leadership because of it, thus preventing future leaders from volunteering. For example, cells in one church I visited were stagnating and failing to attract new leadership, and several cell leaders attributed this pattern to the possibility of cell closure. While closure may be necessary at times, this should not be the norm. And certainly no cell should be closed before every possible avenue to multiply the group has been exhausted.



Leader Readiness Checklist

by Steve Cordle

As Mario said in his blog, groups don’t multiply, leaders multiply. When do you know the new leader is ready? Here’s one possible checklist for your consideration:

  1. The apprentice has been doing everything that a group leader does for at least a month, and that is going well. The old leader has successfully modeled for the apprentice the healthy practices of a small group, and has handed-over those things to the apprentice
  2. The apprentice is in a good place spiritually. His/her relationship with God is strong. There are no serious personal dysfunctions.
  3. The people in the group look to the apprentice for spiritual guidance, and the apprentice has influence with them
  4. The apprentice “buys into” the church’s vision.
  5. The apprentice has invited at least one person to the group who has stayed in the group. (Group leaders must be able to successfully invite new people, or their groups probably will not grow.)
  6. The group has had some recent visitors. In other words, the group currently has some growth momentum
  7. The group has at least 8 regular attenders
  8. Each new group, after birthing, will have a host home.

What ideas do you have for a readiness checklist?


Growing and Multiplying Teams for Effectiveness

By Michael Sove

Over the last fifteen years I have learned much about starting and multiplying cells.  Much of what I learned was through mistakes.  The least effective way to multiply is to focus on one apprentice as you grow the cell.  Then when the cell is regularly over 12-15 people, the leader and apprentice talk through who should go with which leader and the cell gets divided into two.  This very seldom works well and feels more like a split than a birth to those involved.  The other problem with it is that you tend to launch a leader and not a team.  This is a quick way to burn out a leader.

My favorite way to multiply a cell is to begin with the end in mind.  Cell ministry requires teamwork so I no longer launch a cell with a solo leader.  I ask the leader to launch with a core-team (3-4 people who will share the leadership of the cell).  As the cell launches with a core team and begins to grow, each of the core team members will be praying for their own core teams as they are working with the current team and being discipled and trained so they in turn can disciple and train those who will be entrusted to their care.

Will all core team members become leaders?  Maybe not, but they will continue to function on teams which is very important to the health and growth of any cell.  Right now in my current cell, my wife and I are working with three other core team members, a couple and a single.  We are discipling and training these individuals in all aspects of cell life and leadership.  We all share the main responsibilities of the gatherings as well as the habits practiced outside the gatherings, like inviting new people and contacting and caring for those in our cell.

When they are trained and have demonstrated faithfulness and I have targeted other core team members, I will birth out of the cell with my new core team and leave the bulk of the people to my original core team.  One of the most important things that I have learned over the last fifteen years is that I can birth out of a cell with a small core team much easier if we are meeting in a host home other than mine.  If we are meeting in my home it is much harder to birth because it requires sending people out from my home.  It’s not impossible but seems to take longer and is much harder to do.

Growing teams and multiplying teams has proven to be much more effective in the long run.  What is your favorite way to multiply a cell?


Leaders and Cell Multiplication

by Mario Vega

The usual form of cell multiplication in Elim is mother-daughter multiplication. From a mature mother cell, there is a multiplication to make way for a new daughter cell with a new leader and core.

Through years of experience, we at Elim has established the norm that each leader must only have one cell group (in the past, some led more than one cell) and that each cell must recognize their respective leader. With this norm in mind, Elim’s emphasis is on leader multiplication rather than cell multiplication. Again, our focus is on the multiplication of leaders, which results in the multiplication of cell multiplication. In one sense, cells do not multiply. Leaders multiply.

These are the same reasons why in our statistics, the number of cells do not registered anywhere. Elim only counts the number of leaders. We do collect information on cell attendance, conversions, and baptisms in water.

As mentioned before on this blog, the Leaders Route (equipping track) is fundamental to the multiplication of leaders. The mentoring work is also vital to consolidate Christians as new leaders. These are the keys to cell multiplication.


Mario Vega

Translation into Spanish:

La multiplicación de lderes y de células.

La forma usual de multiplicación celular en Elim es la de madre a hija. De una célula madura (madre) se produce una multiplicación para dar paso a una nueva célula (hija) con un nuevo lder y parte del núcleo de la célula madre.

Nuestra norma es que cada lder debe tener bajo su responsabilidad una sola célula y cada célula debe reconocer a su respectivo lder. Desde esa premisa, ninguna nueva célula puede llegar a existir sin tener un lder designado. Por ese motivo, nuestro énfasis se encuentra en la multiplicación de los lderes antes que en la multiplicación celular. Nuestra concentración es en la multiplicación de los lderes, la multiplicación celular vendrá por añadidura.

Otro ministerios lo han expresado en los siguientes términos: las células no se multiplican, son los lderes los que se multiplican. Esta forma de decir las cosas es muy absolutista. No obstante, transmite una verdad. Es la verdad de la importancia que tiene la multiplicación de lderes para que las células, a su vez, se multipliquen.

Estas son las mismas razones por las que en nuestros controles estadsticos no se registra en ningún lugar el número de células. Solamente cuenta la cantidad de lderes. Otros datos que recogemos son la asistencia, las conversiones, los bautismos en agua.

La Ruta del Lder es fundamental para lograr la multiplicación de lderes y el trabajo de los mentores es vital para consolidar a los cristianos como nuevos lderes. Esas son las claves para la multiplicación celular.