Worldwide Cell Churches
Even though your church isn’t among the largest churches in the world, the good news is that you’re still part of the largest Church in the world–the Church of Jesus Christ. Granted, it can be humbling to see the amazing growth overseas–where the largest churches are located–while not experiencing that same growth closer to home. In the CCS May and June issue I want to stimulate your expectancy level by highlighting key principles from five of the largest churches in the world.
In this issue I’ll cover prayer and penetration. In the June newsletter we’ll look at spiritual freedom, everyone a minister, and church planting.
Adopt the principles of these churches and you will see great things happen in your own life and the life of your church. Jump in the fray and allow the Holy Spirit to empower and direct you.
Yoido Full Gospel Church
Known for fervent prayer
In 1964, six years after starting the church, David Cho collapsed of exhaustion. On his sickbed, God showed him that he was acting like Moses, trying to do everything himself. God stirred him to raise up a movement of lay leaders to help share the load. 25,000 cell groups later, the laity has propelled this church to become the largest in the history of Christianity
On Sunday, April 06, 1997, I tried to physically count how many were attending the church. I had heard so many varying reports of church membership (ranging from 500,000 to 800,000), I decided I wanted to know how many actually attended. I started at 5:30 a.m. and completed my count at 8:30 p.m. (I wouldn’t recommend doing this!). I counted 253,000 people attending that Sunday in April (eight years later, I witnessed the same crowded worship services).
Yet it wasn’t until the next day, April 07, 1997, that I understood the power behind this great church. I walked into the main sanctuary at 5:30 a.m. and saw 3,000 prayer warriors interceding before God. “Give us Korea for Your Son Jesus,” they cried.
Prayer has made this church great. Prayer empowers the 25,000 cell groups to reach out. Prayer gives passion to the people.
That same day I took one of the buses that leaves the church every half-hour to take the faithful to prayer mountain, a converted cemetery (picture on left). As I walked through prayer mountain, I heard the muffled prayers coming from 100s of underground prayer caves. 10,000 prayer warriors pass through prayer mountain each week. The atmosphere is super charged with life-giving expectancy that comes only through answered prayer.
Church growth methods and techniques have some value. The problem with them is that they don’t change hearts. Only God can sustain true church growth. Only God can bring revival. Sustained prayer is the truest and most Biblical formula to grow a church.
I believe in God’s sovereignty. Yet somehow in God’s great wisdom, He’s chosen to bless those who utterly depend on Him through prayer. The question I ask churches around the world is: Have you made prayer the main thing? Yoido Full Gospel Church has. The fruit is obvious.
Elim Church, El Salvador
Known for penetrating the city through multiplying cell groups
The title of my book about this church describes it perfectly: Passion and Persistence: how the Elim Church’s Cell Groups Penetrated an Entire City for Jesus. Passion, persistence, and penetration summarizes this church.
Elim is a bread and butter church. They’re not flashy and shiny, like a brand new car. They just do it. They get the job done. They are passionate and persistent. The passion comes directly from solid Biblical teaching and Holy Spirit empowerment. Then they persist in evangelistic penetration to reach lost souls for Jesus until it works.
God has created a new culture at Elim, quite unlike the Latin communities around it. Elim is extremely organized.They’ve seen God’s wonderful order in Scripture and believe that God wants them to accurately measure what’s happening in their midst.
Elim, for example, can show you every Tuesday morning exactly what happened the previous week in cell attendance, conversions, baptisms, people visited, and those trained.
Elim’s main goal is to penetrate the city through multiplying cell groups. These cells win neighbors and prepare new leaders to reap the harvest.
Jose fina López, for example, was a Jehovah’s Witness, that just happened to live next door to an Elim cell. Her neighbors befriended her and lovingly invited her to their group, but Josefina refused, remaining true to her cult’s calling. The cell multiplied and formed another one down the street. Then it multiplied again—this time behind her house. The neighbors of all three cells tried to love and serve Josefina, inviting her to their groups, but she managed to resist them. She noticed, however, the joy, the vibrant singing, and especially their changed lives.
Finally Josefina decided to attend the cell behind her house, using the excuse of wanting to taste the dessert. God used the leader to clearly present the gospel message and the Holy Spirit did the rest. God transformed Josefina, and she was baptized. The members of the cell offered to help pay her legal fees, so she could officially marry her husband. Just fifteen days after her conversion, Josefina opened her home to host a new cell, which has now multiplied four times.
Elim’s powerful example has stimulated many churches to start multiplying cell groups outside the church building. We can’t just expect people to come to church in the building. We must take the church to them. God has used Elim to develop a church without walls that penetrates into every corner of the community and raises up harvest workers to continue the process. The principle of evangelistic penetration through multiplying groups offers exciting possibilities to fulfill Christ’s great commission.
- In May I taught at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York . One student said, “The class was incredible. It reached the soul and something within just knows this is great stuff.”
- Please check out the promotional material for my upcoming equipping track. And please pass it on. The actual books will be available in September.
- On August 23, the Cell Church Solutions board will meet with Bill Easum to map out future expansion. We believe the time is ripe for CCS to grow.
- Check out the new look on the CCS Web site and let us know what you think.
- CCS offers coaching both in English and Spanish