Multiplication: More and Better Disciples through Small Groups

By Joel Comiskey, free teaching videos on leading small groups    

When I first started studying small group ministry, I thought that the group’s main goal was fellowship, having a great time together.

But then I started studying small group-based churches around the world and noticed that their small groups evangelized and multiplied. I realized that multiplication was an essential factor in dynamic small groups and small group-based churches.

I wrote the book Home Cell Group Explosion and Leadership Explosion to describe what I witnessed. 

Yet, I also noticed a danger. It was possible to multiply too rapidly and lose the quality. Some churches and leaders were so focused on the goal of multiplication that the group gave birth before it was truly ready. Sometimes the pressure to reproduce drove leaders to multiply weak cells.

Admittedly, I have done this on various occasions. I was overly interested in fulfilling the goal of multiplication to the detriment of producing quality disciples to lead the new groups.

I now believe that making disciples who make disciples needs to be the primary motivation of small group ministry, including multiplication. Making disciples is the primary focus in my definition of a small group:

Groups of 3-15 people who meet weekly outside the church building for the purpose of evangelism, community, and spiritual growth with the goal of making disciples who make disciples that results in multiplication.

Notice the goal of this definition is to make disciples who make disciples. The goal is not to multiply the group. I heard one famous cell church pastor say, “Healthy cells multiply.” So what makes a healthy small group? Those groups that are producing disciples. But how does this happen?

In my book Making Disciples in the 21st Century Church, I describe how cell-based churches make disciples, both from the standpoint of the small group and the small group system.  

On the group level, disciples develop through:

  •  Community
  • Participation
  • Evangelism
  • Multiplication

On the small group system level, disciples mature through:

Jesus desires new healthy cell groups, which translates into more and better disciples. As group members exercise their spiritual muscles and develop new disciples, Christ’s church will flourish and multiply. For the month of June, pastors and leaders will write twenty blogs on the topic of how multiplication helps the group to make more and better disciples. If you’d like to receive these blogs in your email inbox, please click here. We’ll cover:

  • June 06-12: Biblical base for multiplying more and better disciples (the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few)
  • June 13-19: Healthy cells multiply. What to look for in healthy cells that are ready to multiply. 
  • June 20-26: Myths and truths of cell multiplication (e.g., cells must multiply in six months, only one way to multiply—mother-daughter, etc.). Feel free to share your own journey.
  • June 27 to July 03: Multiplication that leads to greater leadership responsibility. Some who have multiplied cells will become supervisors, pastors, and church planters. How can we encourage leaders to think beyond the multiplication of one cell to become coaches and pastors?