Church planting is at the heart of the great commission and also drives cell ministry (Matthew 28:18-20). When Jesus told his disciples to make new groups of disciples, he was implying that new local churches would be established and not that one local church would grow larger and larger.
I rejoice when a cell church grows to mega-church status, but I also realize that megachurches are the exception, rather than the rule. The vast majority of cell churches will be smaller and should be encouraged to continue to make disciples through cell church planting.
When a pastor wants to keep the disciple-making process within the confines of his own local church, there’s always the danger of division. Why? Because leaders who feel called to plant churches will feel hindered and might eventually break loose to fulfill their calling. How much better for the lead pastor to encourage church planting, additional training, discovering the call of God, and then receiving a proper send-off from the mother church. A person who has led a cell, multiplied it, and supervised the new leaders should be encouraged to pray about being a missionary or church planter in order to extend God’s kingdom. Will all plant churches? No, but many more will if they are encouraged to do so.
I remember with joy my church planting seminar in the Vine Church in Goiania, Brazil in 2011. This church actively encourages leaders who have multiplied cells and supervised them to plant new cell churches all over the world. Rather than being threatened by new church plants, pastor Aluizio Silva encourages them. This attitude has not only helped the mother church grow exponentially, it has also extended God’s kingdom throughout the world. Steve Cordle, JCG board member and lead pastor of Crossroads UMC, has the vision to plant 100 churches in the years to come. As I write, Steve is giving a church planting seminar in Germany. Steve desires to give away his ministry through multiplying church plants.
While visiting Hong Kong a few years ago, I talked to a Chinese cell church planter in Bangladesh. He was showing me charts and graphs of his church plant in Bangladesh. When inquiring further, I realized that before accepting the missionary call to Bangladesh, he had multiplied cells and become a supervisor in Grace Community Church (Ben Wong) in Hong Kong. He was simply repeating in Bangladesh what he had already accomplished in Hong Kong.
I believe that the Lord of the harvest is looking to raise up more church planting pastors and missionaries today. Cell church ministry offers an exciting platform to raise up church planting pastors and missionaries.