The Goal of Making Disciples

joelJesus gave marching orders to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. He told them to go and make new disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). He also gave them the promise that he had all authority and would be with them always (vv. 18,20).

In my twenty-one years of working in cell church ministry, I’ve concluded that the essence of cell ministry is to make disciples who make disciples.

When a person becomes a new believer, he or she learns how to live in community with other believers in the cell. Then he discovers his gifts and uses them in the cell (priesthood of all believers). Eventually he participates in group evangelism. When the group gives birth, he can participate on the new leadership team or lead the group that stays behind.

When I’m coaching pastors I encourage them to make an annual goal of new cell groups. Granted, cell multiplication is simply one step in the process. In fact, Mario Vega once said, “Multiplication is the visible sign of discipleship and spiritual health.” Even though the goal of new groups is the most concrete, visible one, it’s a really a step in the process of making disciples.

I’m coaching one church planter who desires to go from one cell to two in 2012. He has a lot of work to do to make this happen. I’m coaching another pastor who envisions growing from his current 340 to 400 cells by the end of the 2012. This same pastor didn’t multiply any groups in 2011 because he wanted to refine the training track, build up his existing groups, and prepare for the future. Another pastor is set on going from 10 to 12 cells in 2012.

All three of these pastors are working hard in cell evangelism, training, and coaching. They are simply on different stages in the cell journey.

Setting goals for new groups is a delicate, painstaking process. A lot depends on the health of the church, how many are in the training track, and the vision of the pastor. Some churches need to first inspire their current cells to reach out and evangelize before they can launch new ones.

This month, on the JCG blog we will be exploring different aspects of goal setting. Experienced cell church pastors will write 20 blogs on the topic of goal setting throughout the month of February. We’ll cover:

  • Week 1 (February 05-11): setting goals based on making disciples who make disciples. Cell groups are leader breeders. I believe the key goal is to make disciples who make disciples which results in new groups.
  • Week 2 (February 12-18): how are disciples formed in the cell. It’s not just about forming new groups. The process begins at conversion. Disciples are formed in community, exercising their gifts (priesthood of the believer), group evangelism, and forming part of a new team.
  • Week 3 (February 19-February 25): how does a pastor know how to set a goal of new groups? Various ways include: how many will graduation from the training track, health of the church, degree of receptivity of culture, whether the church has just gone through a lot of new births (might need more rest), etc..
  • Week 4 (February 26-March 03): the balance between quality and quantity. It’s possible to err on one side or the other: too fast or too slow. Some pastors have little vision and allow their groups to stagnate. Others set goals too high and multiply unhealthy groups.

What is your goal this year? Perhaps, you don’t believe in setting goals. Tell us why.


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Spanish blog:

La Meta de Hacer Discpulos

Por Joel Comiskey

Jesús les dio órdenes de marcha a sus discpulos antes de ascender al cielo. Él les dijo que vayan y hagan nuevos discpulos (Mateo 28:18-20). También les dio la promesa de que él tena toda la autoridad y estara con ellos siempre (vv. 18,20).

En mis veintiún años de trabajo en el ministerio de la iglesia celular, he concluido que la esencia del ministerio celular es hacer discpulos que hacen discpulos.

Cuando una persona se convierte en un nuevo creyente, él o ella aprenden a vivir en comunidad con otros creyentes en la célula. Entonces descubre sus dones y los utiliza en la celula (sacerdocio de los creyentes). Se participa en el evangelismo de grupo. Cuando el grupo da a luz, se puede participar en el nuevo equipo de liderazgo o liderar el grupo que queda.

Cuando estoy entrenando a los pastores, les animo a hacer una meta anual de nuevos grupos celulares. Por supuesto, la multiplicación celular es simplemente un paso en el proceso. De hecho, Mario Vega dijo una vez: “La multiplicación es el signo visible del discipulado y de la salud espiritual.” A pesar de que el objetivo de los nuevos grupos es el más concreto que se ve, es realmente un paso en el proceso de hacer discpulos.

Estoy asesorando (coaching) un plantador de iglesias que quiere ir de una celula a dos en 2012. Él tiene mucho trabajo por hacer para que esto suceda. Estoy asesorando a otro pastor que contempla cada vez más de sus actuales 340 a 400 células por el final del 2012. Este mismo pastor no multiplicó los grupos en 2011 porque quera perfeccionar la pista de entrenamiento, acumulo los grupos existentes, y preparar para el futuro. Otro pastor puso meta de pasar de 10 a 12 células en el 2012.

Los tres de estos pastores están trabajando arduamente en la evangelización de células, formación y entrenamiento. Son simplemente en las diferentes etapas y lugares del viaje de la iglesia celular.

Establecer metas para los grupos nuevos es un proceso delicado. Mucho depende de la salud de la iglesia, cuantos están en la pista de entrenamiento, y la visión del pastor. Algunas iglesias tienen que inspirar primero a sus células actuales para llegar a evangelizar antes de que puedan poner en marcha otras nuevas.

Este mes, en el blog JCG vamos a explorar los diferentes aspectos de la fijación de metas. Pastores experimentados de las iglesias celulares van escribir 20 blogs sobre el tema de fijar metas durante todo el mes de febrero. Vamos a cubrir:

  • Semana 1 (febrero 05-11): Estableciendo objetivos sobre la base de hacer discpulos que hacen discpulos. Los grupos celulares son criadores de lderes. Creo que el objetivo principal es hacer discpulos que hacen discpulos que se traduce en nuevos grupos.
  • Semana 2 (febrero 12-18): ¿cómo se forman los discpulos en la célula? No se trata sólo de la formación de nuevos grupos. El proceso comienza en la conversión. Los discpulos se forman en la comunidad, el ejercicio de sus dones (sacerdocio de los creyentes), la evangelización de grupo, y que forman parte de un nuevo equipo.
  • Semana 3 (febrero 19 a febrero 25): ¿cómo un pastor sabe cómo establecer una meta de nuevos grupos? Varias formas son: ¿cuántos se gradúan de la pista de entrenamiento?, la salud de la iglesia, el grado de receptividad de la cultura, si la iglesia ha pasado por un montón de nuevos nacimientos (puede ser que necesite más descanso), etc.
  • Semana 4 (febrero 26 a marzo 03): el equilibrio entre calidad y cantidad. Es posible equivocarse en un lado o el otro: demasiado rápido o demasiado lento. Algunos pastores tienen poca visión y permiten que sus grupos se estanquen. Otros fijan metas demasiado altas y los grupos se multiplican poco saludables.

¿Cuál es su meta este año? Tal vez, usted no cree en el establecimiento de metas. Dinos por qué.


6 thoughts on “The Goal of Making Disciples

  • Dear Joel,
    I’m from Bayridge Alliance Church in Kingston, Ontario. I met you at Newmarket Alliance Church on Sept. 25, 2010. At that time, our church had 9 cell groups. Now we have 17. We don’t really do anything for a training track, except with 2 youth cell groups which are using the Live books. I don’t know how to incorporate a training track in cell groups when we have people at different stages of spiritual growth all meeting in cell groups. Could you give me some advice.
    Betty Marshall

  • Love goals. Love the quote: “If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there”. Goals are so important to know where you are going. We planted LifeNet in Belize almost a year ago. I’ve spent almost year leading a leadership cell – in 6 weeks we will multiply it 3 ways. We also have a young adults NET Group (ages 17-25 that meets on Thurs. It has exploded and due to ability to get to homes – we meet at my house (50 in my living room) and meet for 45 min and then meet in 6 peer led NETS for 45 min. This is working well. Some are beginning to form their own focus to reach out and see each other as a group outside of Thurs. nights. Our goals is to have 11 cells in 2012 — currently at 7 with 2 more in 6 weeks. Our church started with 13 the first months and now run over 70 in Sun. celebration. Just baptized 9 last Friday. Leadership development is a must and this is why we have spent so much time. I am coaching a lot. Still have many questions for the Lord this year about how we will take certain steps — but things are going great. Belize is a very evangelized but nonexistent discipled nation. Discipleship here is defined by a Sunday sermon. A cell concept is very new here, but the young are embracing and excited. Belize is a very young nation with so much potential. 2012 — HERE WE COME…

  • Somos una iglesia celular desde hace 10 años, al presente tenemos nuestra celula madre y 24 celulas de mujeres, varones, jovencitas y jovencitos, en este 2012 estamos estableciendo en la escuela biblica infantil todo el trabajo de ser discipulo para hacer discipulos, pero veo que estamos lentos, aunque hemos hechado raices en areas fundamentales, como reconocimiento de autoridades, comunion entre el equipo y ahora queremos duplicar las celulas, estare atento a su ayuda de febrero, ya que estamos en un pueblito pequeño de 4500 habitantes y no disponemos cerca a nadie para que nos guie, Muchas gracias por su blog.
    Daniel Melegatti
    Pastor Centro Cristiano Gracia de Dios
    Santa Isabel, Santa Fe, Argentina

  • I agree that multiplying disciples is essential, and one measure is multiplying groups. In the ministry of multiplication, how much focus should we place on prayer? Seems to me, that we should have clear prayer goals first.

  • Joel,

    I’ve already used these two quotes multiple times since reading. Great stuff. I’m in a bit of a re-inventing and re-focusing time on cells–so this series of articles seems timely.


    Joel – “In my twenty-one years of working in cell church ministry, I’ve concluded that the essence of cell ministry is to make disciples who make disciples.”

    Mario Vega once said, “Multiplication is the visible sign of discipleship and spiritual health.”

  • great to see the enthusiasm for this newsletter / blog. Alan, prayer is critical in both the goal making process and in seeing those goals fulfilled! Betty, congratulations on your cell progress! If you have people at various stages in their spiritual growth, you could ask them to go through the training track with their cell leader (1 on 1, 1 on 2, etc.). Often before or after the cell is a good time. The member can individually read the lesson/lessons and the cell leader could coach the person through it (or even another mature member could help in the process)

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