Evangelism and Multiplication
by Joel Comiskey
When I wrote Home Cell Group Explosion eighteen years ago, I believed and taught that multiplication guided cell ministry and deserved the first priority. However, over the years, I’ve noticed problems with prioritizing cell multiplication.
Some churches, for example, multiplied leaderless “ghost groups” to reach their year-end goals, only to see the groups quickly wither away. Others allowed one cell leader to facilitate more than one group in order to produce more numbers. This strategy multiplied cells, but they were unhealthy cells and disciples were not developed.
In 2011, I heard Mario Vega teach about multiplication as primarily a health factor. He talked about focusing on the health of the group and then used the phrase, “healthy cells multiply.” It was a “eureka moment.” I realized that that the focus should be on cell health that resulted in multiplication.
My understanding deepened when I wrote my 2013 book Making Disciples in the Twenty-first Century Church. I concluded in that book that the goal of cell ministry should be making healthy disciples which results in multiplication. In other words, multiplication is the byproduct of having a team of disciples ready to start a cell. When those disciples are formed, cell multiplication can take place.
In Making Disciples I answer the question “when is a cell ready to multiply?” My answer is when a team of disciples has been formed. But how? Through the cell and the cell system. The cell is essential to form disciples through community building (practicing the one-anothers), priesthood of all believers (everyone participating), group evangelism, and leadership development. The cell system is also intimately involved in making disciples through the discipleship equipping, the weekly celebrations, and coaching the new cell leaders.
I believe that the over-arching motivation for cell ministry is to make disciples who makes disciples. Multiplication is the result of making disciples, not the primary goal. The cell, in reality, is just the context or the place where a team of disciples grows and matures. And yes, we needs lots of cells to fulfill Christ’s great commission.
I do believe that a church should make goals for new cells, but in reality, I’m referring to goals of making new disciples. When I coach pastors, I guide the pastor to envision new disciples formed through the cell and cell system. Throughout the year we dream and plan toward the goal of new disciples leading cells. Yet, I never coach pastors to multiply cells hurriedly just to fulfill church goals. I know from experience that disciple-less cells quickly wither away and can even negatively affect the cell system long-term.