By Joel Comiskey, Planting Churches that Reproduce
The essence of cell ministry is empowering disciples to take the next step in leadership. Jesus said to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and exemplified his words by sending them into the houses (Mattew 10; Luke 9 & 10).
Many pastors are ready to empower lay people to lead and supervise cells but are unwilling to send out those leaders to plant churches. Instead, they are preoccupied with growing their one church larger and larger.
The command of Jesus to make disciples implies church planting worldwide. Jesus is so concerned that he scattered the Jerusalem church through persecution to plant new churches. Acts 8:4 tells us, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Church planting resulted from missionary preaching.
I’ve been speaking for the last 19 days in Brazil, where I’m writing this blog. I spoke at large and medium size churches. Some were excited about missionary church planting, and others were not. One example stands out: Emerson Alves. He has a large church in Abaetetuba, Brazil, but he has also planted 260 churches up and down the Amazon River since he came to Jesus. These are large and small cell churches that are focused on reproduction.
He was inflicted with polio when he was eight months old and has been crippled ever since. By fifteen years of age, he regained minimal walking capabilities (not more than one hundred yards). His former mentor discouraged him from pastoring because of his limitations, but while he “waited” to be ordained, he planted ten churches, which forced the denomination’s hand.
Video of Emerson and church plant: https://youtu.be/uxIy1qxO3nQ
Video of Emerson and church plant: https://youtube.com/shorts/tt2sSbn_Ui0?feature=share
Throughout our time together, Emerson constantly talked about the lostness of people and the need for new church plants. “Over there is a neighborhood controlled by the gangs. We have a church in that area, but we need more.” Jesus also had a heart for the lost, telling his disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the labors are few (Matthew 9:36-38).
As I spoke at his church, I used him as an example of empowerment. Later at dinner, I asked him why more pastors are unwilling to empower leaders to plant churches, and he said, “I don’t know.” Emerson didn’t want to criticize others, but many pastors fear losing people, power, and money. Yet, sending fruitful cell leaders to plant new churches fulfills the great commission and will ultimately bless the local church, like in the case of Emerson.
What is hindering you today from launching new churches? Check out the articles on cell church planting here.
Remember my book, Planting Churches that Reproduce.