Myths and Truths: The Cell Church Doesn’t Work

Evangelism and Multiplication

by Joel Comiskey

2012, the following article is from Comiskey’s book Myths and Truths of the Cell Church.

Myth: The Cell Church Does Not Work

Many pastors see cell church as a strategy that might work in other cultures but not in their own. This is especially true in the western world. One church leader from North America wrote to me, “I was with a group of pastors the other day. One of the pastors, who is a church planter, said that cell ministry is not working in the American culture and it’s been generally set aside here in America. It works in other cultures, just not here.” Many pastors echo the concern that cell church might work over there but not here. It’s easy to look at the growing cell churches in other cultures and conclude that it won’t work in my context.

Truth: Cell Church Brings Health, Life, and Growth

Most pastors want more church growth than they are currently experiencing. Yet, in many places around the world there’s a decline in spirituality and church growth in general. In the western world, this decline has been taking place slowly but surely for many years. David Olson’s book, The Crisis of the North American Church, highlights the decline of church attendance in North America. Europe is even in a worse state. Ministry in the western world is hard.

The cell church strategy reminds church members that it’s not enough to come to church on Sunday, hear a message, and then repeat the process the next week. Cell ministry helps members to live out the message during the week, be accountable to a smaller group of believers, and receive training to become a disciple-maker.

The good news is that cell churches have a better chance of surviving in resistant climates and actually growing more than non-cell churches. Natural Church Development did a worldwide study that used twenty million pieces of data to compare growth rates of cell churches with non-cell churches. The study found that cell churches grow 2.5 times faster than traditional churches and are healthier according to the eight NCD health factors.

NCD applied the same data specifically to North America, and the results were the same. The study showed that cell churches overall scored significantly higher in all areas than non-cell churches. This study provides statistical evidence that cell churches—whether in North America, Europe, or Africa—grow both in quality and quantity.

This information gives hope to those who have doubted that the cell-church strategy could bring qualitative and quantitative growth to their churches. For those planting a church or whose congregation is in transition from a conventional church to a cell church, this study is a reminder that cell church ministry will actually provide a boost to celebration worship, church planting, and overall growth (see appendix about this particular NCD study).