by Joel Comiskey
Jesus 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.