Joel Comiskey's Ph.D. Dissertation

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Chapter 9 : Cell Multiplication

This dissertation was submitted to the Fuller SWM faculty in March 1997. On May 02, 2000, I made some minor changes, which will be reflected in RED font.

This chapter will examine the phenomenon of cell group multiplication and how it occurs in the case study churches. In these churches I noticed two distinct types of cell multiplication. I will call the first type "cell planting." This methodology takes place when a cell leader starts a new group from scratch (likened to pioneer church planting). This was the primary style of group multiplication at MCI and AGV.

I will call the second type of cell multiplication the "mother-daughter approach." This is when an existing cell group oversees the creation of a daughter group by providing people, leadership, and a measure of personal care (this is likened to mother-daughter church planting). This was the primary style of cell multiplication at AMV and MCE.[1]

La Misión Carismática Internacional

I do not believe that one can understand the cell system at MCI apart from cell group multiplication (cell planting). One only has to look at two huge banners that hang down the front part of the church. In October 1996, when I first visited MCI the two huge banners said, "10,000 groups by December 31, 1996." Since they surpassed the 10,000 cell group mark in January, 1997, there are two new banners which now say, "30,000 groups by December 31, 1997." The vision for cell group multiplication in this church is contagious.

Everyone is a Potential Cell Leader

César Castellanos told me that the goal of the church is to make every member at MCI a cell leader. As mentioned previously, the goal of every cell leader is to find his or her twelve disciples (to be a disciple one must also lead a cell group). Because each cell member is supposed to plant a cell group, there is not a long waiting process required to raise up new leadership.[2]

Leadership Rewards for Multiplication

Successful leadership is clearly measured in this church. In other words, successful leaders are those who have planted a number of new groups, have raised up new leaders to lead other groups, and are now leaders of leaders. If one has been successful in doing this, and is now training leaders, that person receives a promotion in the church. Most likely he or she will be asked to come on the pastoral staff. If that does not happen right away, at least there will be clear, positive recognition from within the church.

Examples of Successful Cell Leadership

To illustrate how this process takes place, I have chosen two examples of successful cell group multiplication at MCI. Both of these people have both multiplied their own groups as well as successfully raised up new leadership.

Luis (Lucho) Salas

In June, 1994, Luis (Lucho) Salas started his first cell group. That cell group grew to thirty persons. In September 1994 his cell gave birth to a daughter group. However, beyond simply multiplying the group, Salas also made disciples among those thirty and raised them up to lead their own groups. By February 1995, less than nine months later, Salas was overseeing fourteen groups whose leadership he had discipled and developed. These groups were all developed under the department of worship. Pastor César Castellanos saw his progress and asked him to become part of the pastoral team. Therefore in October 1995 he left his groups under the care of others while he began his ministry directly under César Castellanos.

In January 1996 Salas started from scratch once again (since he was no longer under the ministerial department of worship). He began a new cell group which, in just one month, grew from ten to sixty people. That large group gave birth to several daughter cells and just three months later there were four groups with a total of eighty people. By August 1996, the small groups had increased to forty-six, an average of more than two per week over a five-month period!

While these groups were multiplying, Salas was busy training his twelve.[3] From among the eighty people and with the help of his twelve disciples, new potential leadership begin the required training training course (see Chapter 8). During my first visit to MCI in October 1996 Salas had 144 leaders in training with firm plans to open dozens and dozens of new cell groups (as this point, Luis has some 600 cells under his care).

What is the secret of his success? I ate dinner in his house, and he showed me list after list of possible contacts hanging on his bulletin board. He told me that he literally meditates on those lists of names and dreams of new contacts from both within the church and without. He eventually invites the people from his lists to become cell members and eventual cell leaders.[4]

However, there is a price for such great success. In October 1996, Salas personally was leading two cell groups, teaching his weekly leadership training school on one night and his discipleship group on another night, leading the morning prayer service, practicing with the worship group, and leading worship on Sunday morning. He, like many others at MCI, has meetings just about every night of the week.

Freddy Rodríguez

Freddy Rodriguez is another example of someone who has captured the vision for cell multiplication. In 1987, he became a convert and disciple of César Fajardo, the head youth pastor at MCI. Within three years he had found his twelve disciples. Those twelve sought and found twelve more and the process continued. As of March 1997, he was responsible for more than nine hundred cell groups (Rodriguez currently has some 1500 cells under his care). He continues to meet with his original twelve every week, as well as with about five hundred of his leaders on a weekly basis.

Successful Leaders are Able to Teach

For the most part, the seventy leaders under the direct care of Pastor César Castellanos teach the cell training classes. However, cell leaders who have been very successful in leading their own groups and raising up new cell leadership are often given opportunities to teach the leadership training classes. With over one hundred of these classes taking place during the week, new trainers are always needed.

The Key to Cell Multiplication: Leadership

At MCI, if a cell group does not multiply, the responsibility is placed on the leader. Pastor César Fajardo told me that if the group does not multiply rapidly, they often change the leadership.[5] They believe that the key to successful cell multiplication is leadership. I was told that the leadership at MCI do everything possible to keep the groups open. Only under unusual circumstances will they close a group. Again, it seemed clear to me that cell proliferation was more a result of raising up new leaders to lead brand new groups than a result of one cell giving birth to another cell.

Encouragement to Lead Several Groups

There is plenty of room at MCI for zealous leaders to serve. Leaders are encouraged to take on as many groups as possible. Ricardo, a youth cell leader, leads four cell groups and oversees five more. While working towards making his twelve disciples, he still has to lead most of the groups. However, his goal is to eventually delegate leadership of those cells to others.[6]

Christian Community Agua Viva

AGV serves as an example of a church that has been frustrated with their present system and has thus readily accepted another system which seems to offer more success. Because the church has only recently restructured their system, only time will tell whether or not this new methodology is the right choice.

Struggles with Multiplication

Pastor Capuro confessed to me that it has been difficult to give birth to new groups. He found that the Latin people like to stay together. Although they were obviously successful in using the mother-daughter approach (from eleven to 450), Pastor Capuro feels that the new methodology will be less painful and more fruitful.[7]

Emphasis on Planting New Cells

The new emphasis is on planting brand new cells rather than practicing mother-daughter cell multiplication. From now on the majority of new cells will be pioneered. However, the one who plants the new cell group will remain under the care of his original cell leader. The process is supposed to continue on down the line. Pastor Capuro is convinced that this will take away unneeded layers of administration and will speed up the proliferation of new groups.

Emphasis on Lower Level Supervision

Juan Capuro now meets weekly with his key zone leaders in order to disciple them. These leaders do the same thing with those cell leaders who are under their charge. Eventually, the goal is that the cell leaders will encourage those in the group to plant new cell groups while at the same time remaining within the mother cell group. Those who plant new cell groups will continue the same process.[8]

La Misión Cristiana Elim

MCE is the premier example of cell growth through multiplication. In just ten years, they have grown to over 5,400 cell groups (average of twenty-one people in each cell group) with a cell group attendance of over 115,000 people. The key to cell growth and multiplication at Elim seems to be a combination of clear goal setting, team planning, and excellent leadership follow-up (both through statistical control and the Jethro System).

Mother-Daughter Multiplication and New Plants

The goal of this church is to penetrate the entire city with the gospel. MCE does this through a combination of mother-daughter cell multiplication as well as cell plants to penetrate new areas.[9] Pastor Jorge Galindo told me that out of the 5,400 cell groups probably about 1,000 were cell plants, while the other 4,400 were the result of mother-daughter cell group multiplication. MCE is willing to start new cell groups by any means possible. In fact, when Elim first started their cell ministry, they opened new groups extremely rapidly, without as much concern for the qualitative aspects of the cells. They now are also interested in assuring that the groups are strong in quality.

Unique Aspects of Cell Multiplication

The remarkable cell growth at MCE has a lot to do with the rapid spread of the cell groups. There were at least two aspects of this system that are worth noting. First, there are no closures at MCE. They do everything possible to keep groups alive.[10] Second, MCE waits until there are twenty adults attending a given cell group before multiplying. They strictly follow this rule unless the house is too small or the new daughter team is at a particularly high state of high readiness. Third, MCE multiplies the nucleus before multiplying the cell. Expansion of the leadership team is one of the major goals of the Thursday night planning meeting. Great care is given to prepare the new nucleus that will guide the daughter cell group.

Reasons for Success

Throughout Latin Ameica MCE is known for is success of multiplying strong cell groups. From my observations, there are at least four reasons for the multiplication success at MCE.

Goal Setting

Cell multiplication goals are made each year for each zone. The goals are simple. Each zone should double the number of groups, the number of attendance, and the number of conversions and baptisms. These goals are then divided by four to arrive at a trimester goal. Due to the "healthy competition" that exists between the pastors with regard to reaching those goals, there is a high degree of motivation to grow.

Team Planning

The Thursday night planning meeting for the team leadership seems to be a key factor behind the growth of the cell groups and the eventual multiplication. On Thursday night, strategies are developed to reach new people, visitation is planned, and the multiplication of the cell group is envisioned. It is during this planning session that the new team begins to take shape.

Organization

The statistical follow-up of every meeting provides the pastors and supervisors the opportunity to analyze the progress of each cell group. It also motivates the leaders to continue to reach out. Beyond the statistical data is the smooth functioning Jethro system which provides help and training for the cell leaders. These two aspects of the cell system help the cells maintain a growth rhythm.

Evangelism

The most effective form of cell outreach at MCE is through friendship evangelism. Leaders instruct their groups to make friends. After winning their confidence, they invite the person to the meeting. The goal is for the person to receive Christ and eventually become a member of the church. Other forms of cell evangelism are also practiced (e.g., door-to-door visitation, movies, dinners), but MCE has discovered that the most effective form of cell group evangelism takes place among family, neighbors, and friends.

El Centro Cristiano de Guayaquil

CCG should be commended for their rapid growth. In 1992 to 1996 CCG grew from sixteen cells to the present 1,600, an average of 396 new groups per year! (CCG currently has 2000 cell groups).

Starting New Groups Versus Multiplication

The cell groups at CCG are supposed to give birth within six months (Smith 1995:24). This is the goal of every cell leader. However, in reality, the vast majority of new groups are formed from scratch rather than from multiplying existing groups.[11]

Lack of Cell Leaders

On an average, every leader directs two groups at CCG (approximately 1,600 cell groups and 800 leaders). CCG does not always wait for the leadership to naturally emerge from the mother-daughter cell multiplication. Rather, if someone is willing to open his or her home for a cell group, frequently, the zone pastor will ask one of the existing cell leaders to direct the new group or will seek leadership from an existing cell group.

Reasons for Rapid Spread of Cell Groups

The spread of these small groups is truly amazing. There are several important reasons for the extension of these small groups.

Goal Setting

Each zone leader makes specific goals concerning the number of new cells, attendance in the cells, conversions, and baptisms. Each year new goals are made in conjunction with district pastors and are submitted to Pastor Smith for final approval. Every trimester there is a statistical analysis made (based on percentages) to demonstrate to the leader how close he is to reaching the goal.[12]

Evangelism through the Cell Group

More decisions are made for Christ in the cell groups than in the church services. I was told that those who receive Christ in the church service normally have already been prepared by the cell groups. Before starting the cell ministry, CCG administered a complete Evangelism Explosion program. Although CCG still hosts an Evangelism Explosion clinic each year, the church has now adapted Evangelism Explosion to its present cell ministry. All of the cell leaders are encouraged to take Evangelism Explosion and the Evangelism Explosion visits are delegated according to the zones in each district.

It is important, I think, to note that leading someone to Christ is not the ultimate goal of the cell leader. Rather, the goal is to lead that person to baptism. In fact, no one in the church can be baptized unless he or she is part of a cell group. Baptismal applications are brought to the church by the cell leader and not by the applicant.

Visitation

Zone pastors make approximately forty visits each week. This amounts to about 920 weekly visits by the zone leaders to cell members, new converts, and visitors. The zone pastor is always alert to the possibility of opening a new home for a cell plant, multiplying an existing cell group, or recognizing emerging leaders. Many of the new groups start as a result of the diligent visits by zone pastors.[13]

Elevation in Ministry

Elevation in ministry at CCG is largely based on success at starting and leading cell groups. Most of the zone pastors and district pastors at CCG have their present position due to past success. Thus, the hope of many present superintendents and cell leaders is to one day reach the position of zone pastor or district pastor.

El Amor Viviente

AMV is an exciting example of the effectiveness of cell group multiplication. In September 1996 they opened 200 new groups simultaneously. The new goal is to reach the 1,000 cell groups by 1997.

Unique Aspects of Cell Multiplication

Among the case study churches, AMV is an example of creativity and effectiveness with regard to mother-daughter cell multiplication. There are several aspects of their cell multiplication methodology that are unique to this church.

Simultaneous Multiplication

Cell groups at AMV multiply at the same time and normally on a pre-determined date each year.[14] There are various reasons for focusing on one date to multiply. First, the top leadership is able to think and plan together more concretely concerning future goals. Second, the training of new leadership teams can take place at the same time in the church. Third, leaders of sectors, zones, and districts are able to consolidate their time and energy by focusing on one particular time period of multiplication. Fourth, there is great support for the new cell groups when they open together, so that weaker groups will not fall through the cracks. Fifth, the church can better focus its attention on prayer and support when there is simultaneous multiplication.

Multiplication at Ten People

For a long time, AMV waited until the group had fifteen people before multiplication. However, experience has taught them that it is difficult for a group to maintain an average of fifteen people over a long period of time. Therefore, a few years ago the leadership decided to change the number to ten.[15] If the group only has seven to nine people attending regularly, the supervisor will often ask the leader to make specific evangelistic goals to reach new people.

Team Concept

It is not sufficient simply to have ten people attending regularly. In order to multiply, the mother cell group must have a new team in place that is ready to form the nucleus of the new group. This team consists of at least three people: the leader, assistant leader, and treasurer. Without these three people in place, it is not possible to give birth at AMV. Another requirement is that a new home is found where the new cell can meet--within the particular zone and area.

Relationship with Mother Church for Two Months

The mother-daughter concept of cell group multiplication is prioritized at AMV. The director of the cell ministry, Dixie Rosales, said that the mother-daughter concept of cell multiplication is the reason why the cell groups have maintained such high quality. He believes that one group must take responsibility for the health of the new group if the new group is going to succeed.[16]

At AMV, when a massive multiplication takes place, the newly formed cells meet on Tuesday night for the first three months. For these three months, the leadership team in the mother cell group which meets on Wednesday night also attend the meeting of the new cell group in order to offer support and encouragement.[17] After three months, the new cell groups switch their regular meeting time from Tuesday to Wednesday night and thus become official cell groups.

Counseling and Assessment for Two Months

When there is a massive multiplication, continual counseling and assessment takes place for the first two months. Every other Thursday night, the entire team (leader, assistant, and treasurer) meets with its immediate supervisor to receive edification from the Scripture, prayer, and counseling.[18] Along with the section supervisor, the district pastor and the zone pastor must also attend these assessment meetings.[19]

The Multiplication Process

At AMV there is an entire process for starting new groups, and it is not taken lightly. Normally, the process of cell multiplication begins at least five months in advance. Thus, the cell leader must work hard to raise up new leadership from within his or her group. He must encourage them to be baptized, take classes of discipleship, and participate in the life of the cell group. The following points illustrate the step-by-step process of multiplication.

Step One: Goals for Multiplication

The process of planning for new groups begins with the cell leader. First, he or she communicates the goal for multiplication with the area supervisor. Second, the area supervisor reports to the zone pastor who in turn reports to the district pastor. Third, the district pastor meets with the director of cell ministry to assess the number of groups that can multiply. The head pastor ultimately gives the final approval concerning how many cell groups will open.

Step Two: Finding the House and New Leadership Team

One of the main goals for the leader is to find a house in the same area which will provide an acceptable environment. However, the cell leader is not alone in this process. First, his leadership team, which consists of at least three to five members, all work together in the multiplication process. Second, the supervisor meets personally with each leadership team on a monthly basis. One of the main objectives for these meetings is to discover, stimulate, and prepare the cell team to give birth to a new group.

Step Three: Selection of the Leadership Team

It is important to remember that a new group cannot start unless there is a leadership team consisting of leader, assistant leader, and treasurer.[20] Therefore, it is the constant goal of every group to form a new leadership team that will in effect serve as missionaries to open up a new growth group.[21]

Step Four: Interviews

About the third month before the mass multiplication, each new leader is interviewed by the district pastor. A series of questions are asked about the person's devotional life, marriage, available time for the church, and personal attitudes. The reason for the interview is to assure that the leader will remain strong under pressure and that the cell group has a good chance of surviving.[22]

Step Five: Training and Presentation

During the fourth month, there is a special training session for the new leadership team. This training session is specifically designed to meet the needs of the new leadership. The training covers such topics as: how to lead the lesson,[23] how to evangelize, how to develop the worship, and how to confront problems in the group. Before the cell groups multiply, the leadership teams are presented before the church. The whole church prays and fasts for the success of the new cell groups.

Step Six: Cell Group Evangelism

In the fifth and final month, there is an intense effort to evangelize in the area in which the new growth group will open. The new leadership team, members from the mother group, and oftentimes the area supervisor evangelize the neighborhood together.[24]

Finally, the day comes for the groups to open. The stage has been set and great care has been taken to assure the success of the new group.

Step Seven: Assessment

For the first three months after the birth of the new cell groups, the new cell teams meet with their new supervisors and zone pastors for prayer, encouragement, and counseling. This is an essential time for the leadership to receive vision and help.

Elevation in Ministry

Elevation up the leadership ladder in cell group ministry depends on several factors.[25] However, one factor that is clearly distinguishable is that personal success leads to greater responsibility.[26] Every person with whom I talked who now occupies a position of top leadership in the cell ministry is there because of past success in multiplication and leadership.[27]

Summary of the Five Churches

The cell-based case study churches manifested various patterns concerning cell group multiplication. It is important to remember that unless all five churches manifested the same characteristic, I did not include it in my own analysis.

Similar Cell Multiplication Patterns

There are several similarities that are helpful in understanding how cell-based churches proliferate their cell groups:

  • Rapid reproduction of cell groups
  • Emphasis on quantity
  • Non-closure of all groups

Emphasis on Rapid Reproduction of Cell Groups

Although different in their method of multiplication, all of these churches were primarily concerned about cell group evangelism. This was the clear focus of the cell ministry in each church. The cell vision was outward focused. Group fellowship was always present, but it was more of a by-product than the major goal. Evangelism that resulted in conversion and group membership was always the primary goal. Static, non-growing cell groups were simply unacceptable (at MCI, rapid multiplication of cell groups was a leadership requirement). In each church, the new cell leader immediately knew his mission--cell reproduction.

Emphasis on Quantity

All of these churches were unashamed to promote numerical church growth and the numerical cell growth. There was no hidden agenda or attempt to mince words. These churches proclaimed their growth goals before the congregation. Both CCG and MCI used highly visible banners or signs on the inside front wall of the church.

All of these churches made clear goals at the church level and at the cell level. They were unashamed about setting bold goals for growth and keeping their members informed about those goals.

Non-Closure of all Groups

None of the churches intentionally closed their cell groups. Although I had read about cell churches around the world which close groups that fail to multiply, this certainly was not true of these five Latin American cell churches. Rather, these churches went to great lengths to keep all of the cells functioning.

Differences in the Cell Multiplication Process

While all of the churches were highly committed to the proliferation of their cell groups, their methodology varied. The three major differences involved:

  • Cell planting verses cell multiplication
  • Mass multiplication verses spontaneous multiplication
  • Degree of Emphasis on cell health before multiplication

Cell Planting Verses Cell Multiplication

Perhaps, it is in this area that multiplication philosophy differed the most among the case study churches. MCI was almost entirely committed to planting new cells from scratch. Although there still is some mother-daughter cell multiplication, it is not a major emphasis at this time. AGV is now following the pattern at MCI, partly due to the struggles with mother-daughter multiplication in a Latin context.

On the other hand, AMV exclusively multiplied their cell groups through the mother-daughter method. They have discovered that cell groups fare much better when there is a responsible mother present.[28] Although MCE plants new cells and practices mother-daughter birthing, the vast majority are brought about by the latter method.[29]

Mass Multiplication Verses Spontaneous Multiplication

Four of the cell churches multiplied their cell groups at any time and on any day of the week. Interestingly, AMV set a particular multiplication date (usually once a year), and then would perform a mass mother-daughter multiplication.

Degree of Emphasis on Cell Health Before Multiplication

Some of the churches were far more concerned about creating strong, healthy cell groups, while other churches seemed to focus primarily on rapid multiplication. CCG and MCI fell into the latter category. The cell groups were produced rapidly, without a lot of thought concerning how many were in the cell, whether or not there was a cell team, or whether the cell was properly mothered. In these two churches, the goal of rapid proliferation seemed to outstrip quality care.[30]

On the other hand, MCE and AMV multiplied cells rapidly, but did a better job at maintaining excellent quality. This is partly due to their high degree of team emphasis.[31] At AMV a cell group cannot multiply unless there is a new leadership team. It was also the only church that set a distinct time period for the groups to solidify before multiplying.

Questionnaire: Cell Multiplication Factors

The primary motivation for this questionnaire was to discover key variables associated with cell group multiplication. Because the questionnaire was administered specifically to cell leaders, most of the findings relate to leadership patterns (Chapter 8). However, the questionnaire also revealed other associations such as homogeneity, social status, and gender issues as they relate to cell multiplication. For this reason, the questionnaire in its entirety will be covered in this chapter.

Administration of the Questionnaire

Before administering the questionnaires, I obtained permission from those in authority. Normally, the cell leaders would fill out the questionnaires while I was present (e.g., in a cell leadership training meeting).[32] I tried to make the anonymity issue very clear to the respondents, telling them that there was no place for them to write their name. I urged them to answer the questions as honestly as possible. I tried to make the questionnaire clear and easy to follow, knowing the educational level of some of my respondents. While they were filling out the questionnaires, I made myself available to answer their questions.

Limitations of the Questionnaire

I purposely tried to disguise the dependent variables (cell multiplication questions) by placing them at the end of the questionnaire and by not announcing the importance of these questions. However, this proved to be a limitation for two reasons. First, those respondents who took more time felt pressured at the end, due to lack of time, and thus some respondents skipped over the last questions.[33] Another reason for the missing data was that these questions were harder and required more thinking, and thus some decided to leave them blank. If I were to do it over again, I would explain these dependent variables more clearly and placed them near the beginning of the questionnaire.

Description of the Questionnaire Respondents

A total of 424 cell leaders filled out a questionnaire. Table 35 gives some descriptive background of these leaders.

Results of the Questionnaire

The key questions (dependent variables) are questions twenty-seven (whether the group had multiplied), twenty-eight (length of time for a cell to multiply) and twenty-nine (number of times the cell had multiplied). All of the other questions (independent variables) will be analyzed according to their correlation with these three questions. I did not consider a correlation significant unless the probability level was .05 or lower.

TABLE 35
DESCRIPTIVE DATA FROM QUESTIONNAIRE

COUNTRY RESPONSE

Colombia-60

Ecuador-139

Perú-58

Honduras-75

El Salvador-92

GENDER

54% male (228)

44% female (187)

CIVIL STATUS

46.7% married

43.6% single

SOCIAL CLASS

11.8 % identified themselves as poor

33.0% identified themselves as middle lower class

41.7% identified themselves as middle class

8.5% identified themselves as middle upper class

AGE

33 years old (average age)

EDUCATION

12.5% elementary

50% high school

30.3% university

2.6% graduate level

LENGTH OF TIME AS BELIEVER

4.5% six months

8.5% one year

13.4% two years

11% three years

62% over three years

DEVOTIONAL TIME

63% spent between one half hour and one hour in daily devotions

16% (68 leaders) spent more than 11/2 hours in daily devotions

PRAYER FOR GROUP

70% prayed daily for their cell group

PREPARATION

39% (164) leaders prepare 0-1 hours each week for their lesson

42% (178) spend 1-3 hours

CONTACT

22% (94 leaders) contacted members of their group eight or more times per month

ASSISTANTS

20% did not have an assistant

32% had one assistant

27% had three or more assistants

Question Twenty-seven: Whether the Group Had Multiplied

This was a very straightforward question, "Has your group multiplied yet?" There were only two responses, yes or no. Out of the 424 respondents, 269 said yes (sixty-three percent), 128 said no (thirty percent), and twenty-seven left the question blank (6.4%).

The next step was to try to determine the significant patterns related to those who said yes versus those who said no. First, there was no significant relation between country, gender, social class, age, civil status, education, salvation, number of outside meetings, gifting, personality, or homogeneity and whether the leader had multiplied the cell group.

On the other hand, the statistics did show that there was significant correlation between cell multiplication and the number of assistants in the group, number of visitors in the group, and the cell leader's devotional life, prayer life, visitation, and goal orientation. Table 36 outlines those relationships.

TABLE 36: FACTORS CORRELATED WITH CELL MULTIPLICATION

ASSISTANTS

No. 8

More assistant leaders, higher rate of multiplication,

r = -.11, p< .036

DEVOTIONAL LIFE

No. 11

More devotional life, higher rate of multiplication,

r = -.16, p< .001

PRAYER

No. 12

More prayer, higher rate of multiplication,

r = .11, p< .019

LESSON PREPARATION

No. 13

More lesson preparation, higher rate of multiplication,

r = -.13, p< .009

CONTACTING MEMBERS

No. 14

More contact with members of cell group, higher rate of multiplication, r = -.13, p< .007

VISITATION OF NEW PEOPLE

No. 16

More visitation of new people, higher rate of multiplication,

r = -.19, p< .001

EXHORTATION TO INVITE PEOPLE

No. 17

More exhortation to invite new people, higher rate of multiplication, r = .16, p< .001

NEW VISITORS IN GROUP

No. 18

More new visitors in the group, higher rate of multiplication,

r = -.18, p< .001

MULTIPLICATION GOALS

No. 19

More clear multiplication goals, higher rate of multiplication,

r = .23, p< .001

According to these findings, it is imperative that cell leaders prepare themselves spiritually and intellectually, engage in visitation, instill an outreach orientation in the group, and have specific goals for cell multiplication. It is not possible to say that one of these aspects is more important than the other. However, taken together, they provide the cell leader with needed information about how to successfully multiply the group.

Question Twenty-eight: Length of Time to Multiply

This correlation is based on question twenty-eight which asked the cell leaders how long it took to multiply their cell group. There was a significant relationship between the length of multiplication time and the particular country, F (4,203) = 4.33, p< .0001. For example, in Honduras it took an average of thirty-nine weeks to multiply the group (mean = 39.5 ± 22.0), whereas in El Salvador it only took an average of twenty-two (mean = 22.4 ± 26.5) and Colombia only took an average of eighteen weeks (mean = 18.1 ± 18.3). Table 37 adds clarity.

TABLE 37: CELL GROUP LENGTH AND MULTIPLICATION TIME

AVERAGE LENGTH OF CELL GROUP IN EACH COUNTRY

Ecuador

Colombia

El Salvador

Perú

Honduras

44 weeks

48 weeks

62 weeks

75 weeks

116 weeks

AVERAGE LENGTH OF CELL GROUP AMONG ALL FIVE COUNTRIES: 68 weeks (1 year and 3 months)

AVERAGE TIME TO MULTIPLY CELL GROUP IN EACH COUNTRY

Colombia

El Salvador

Ecuador

Peru

Honduras

18 weeks

22 weeks

24 weeks

28 weeks

39 weeks

AVERAGE LENGTH OF TIME TO MULTIPLY CELL GROUP: 26 weeks (6 months)

Just as important as what this question did say was what it did not say. For example, the statistics showed no correlation between time that it took to multiply a group and gender, civil status, age, occupation, personality, or gifting.

The statistics did indicate that educational levels were significantly related to multiplication length, F (4,199) = 3.03, p< .0187. An elementary educated leader took forty weeks to multiply his group (mean = 40.3 ± 43.8) versus twenty-two weeks for a high school educated leader (mean = 22.3 ± 19.0).

The study showed multiplication length was significantly related to the number of times the group met outside the normal cell meeting, F (4,197) = 3.58, p<.007. Those leaders who did not meet with their group outside the regular meeting took significantly longer to multiply than those who gathered their group occasionally for outside activity. It is interesting that Colombia rated significantly higher than any of the other countries with regard to number of outside meetings, F (4, 14.2) = 21.5, p< 0.000.

Homogeneity was also significantly related to the time it took to multiply a cell group, F (4,162) = 7.67 p< .0001. Those leaders who said that there was a medium level of homogeneity in the group (mean = 24.4 ± 24.1) took significantly longer to multiply their group that those who indicated a high level (mean = 11.0 ± 11.6).

The study also indicated that newer Christians tended to multiply their groups faster than those who had been believers for a longer period, F (4,201) = 1.99, p< .094. Those who were believers for more than three years (mean = 29.3 ± 28.9) took an average of twenty-nine weeks to multiply the group versus those who were believers six months (mean = 5.8 ± 2.8) and took an average of only six weeks (Figure 11).

FIGURE 11: SALVATION AND MULTIPLICATION LENGTH
TABLE 38: FACTORS CORRELATED WITH MULTIPLICATION FREQUENCY

ASSISTANTS

No. 8

More assistants, higher the frequency of multiplication,

r = .28, p< .001

TRAINING

No. 10

More knowledge/training, higher the frequency of multiplication,

r = .21, p< .001.

DEVOTIONAL LIFE

No. 11

More time spent by a leader in devotions, higher the frequency of multiplication, r = .25, p< .001.

LESSON PREPARATION

No. 13

More time spent in lesson preparation, higher the frequency of multiplication, r = .11, p< ..038.

CONTACTING MEMBERS

No. 14

More times the leader contacted the members of the group, higher the frequency of multiplication, r = .21, p< .001.

OUTSIDE MEETINGS

No. 15

More times that the leader met with the group outside the regular cell meeting, higher the frequency of multiplication,

r = .17, p< .001.

VISITATION OF NEW PEOPLE

No. 16

More that the cell leader visited new people, higher the frequency of multiplication, r = .24, p< .001.

EXHORTATION TO INVITE PEOPLE

No. 17

More the leaders exhorted the group to invite new people, higher the frequency of multiplication, r = -.14, p < .007.

NEW VISITORS IN GROUP

No. 18

More visitors in the cell group, higher the frequency of multiplication,

r = .21, p< .000.

MULTIPLICATION GOALS

No. 19

More clarity about multiplication goal, higher the frequency of multiplication, r = .-17, p< .001.

Question Twenty-nine: Number of Times That Group Multiplied

Question twenty-nine asked the cell leaders how many times that they had multiplied their group since becoming the leader. Twenty-five percent (107) said that they had not multiplied their group, twenty-three percent indicated that the group had multiplied one time (100), twelve percent indicated they had multiplied two times (fifty), eleven percent indicated that had multiplied three times (forty-six), while twelve percent (fifty-three) said that their group had multiplied four or more times. This question is important because it goes beyond whether or not the group had multiplied to determine what factors were significant for those leaders who continually multiplied their group. Table 38 highlights these multiplication factors.

The correlations coincide exactly with what was discovered under question twenty-seven in the following areas: number of assistants, training, devotional life, lesson preparation, contacting members and newcomers, exhorting group to invite friends, number of visitors in the cell group, and goals for cell multiplication. This question did show a positive correlation between salvation and cell multiplication and the number of outside meetings and cell multiplication while question twenty-seven did not.

Conclusion

This statistical study has demonstrated a consistent statistical relationship between a cell leader's success in multiplying his or her group and the time spent in training, devotions, preparation, and visitation (members and newcomers). It also clearly showed that the number of assistants, the goal orientation of the leader, and the number of visitors that the leader is able to attract to his cell group, all play a significant role in whether or not that leader will successfully multiply the group.

In all of the case study churches, the primary focus of the cell group is evangelism and outreach. The cell ministry in these churches were unashamedly church growth oriented and were not hesitant to set clear numerical goals. At the same time, certain cell ministries seemed to do a better job in producing qualitative, long term cell growth. We discovered that focusing on the cell team was the key way to assure cell health, while giving birth to dynamic daughter cells.

ENDNOTES

[1] CCG practiced both mother-daughter cell multiplication and cell planting, although it appears that their primary method is to plant cells from scratch.

[2] I was amazed to see almost three-fourths of the 6,000 young people raise their hands to indicate that they were receiving training to be small group leaders.

[3] Salas allowed more than just his twelve to meet with him on a weekly basis for in-depth discipleship.

[4] I also noticed a list of specific goals that Salas had made for each month of 1996/1997. It is no wonder that Pastor Castellanos often uses Salas as an example of amazing cell group multiplication.

[5] There is no set time for a group to multiply at MCI, but according to my questionnaire, it takes an average of 41/2 months.

[6] Ricardo's example is very common at MCI. I could not believe it when one of the budding leaders among the professionals told me that he planned to personally lead twelve groups, while he slowly delegated them to his disciples. Although many of the cells are weak and small, the emphasis on multiplication helps the leader to develop important skills, evangelize friends and family, and care for the church at large.

[7] Although Juan Capuro was more negative about past multiplication, one of the other key strategists and zone leaders at AGV spoke very positively to me about past multiplication.

[8] The restructuring process has not yet reached down beyond the cell leaders. For this reason, everything is still theoretical. Because no one could yet speak from experience, I received some conflicting explanations about how the system will work. One person told me that those who plant the new cell groups will stay with their original cell group. Another person seemed to say that the cell leader will meet separately with the disciples in more of a leadership meeting atmosphere.

[9] The main reason to plant new cell groups is when a new neighborhood is targeted. Because there are no other cell groups that could easily multiply in that area, it is often better to look for those who would be willing to open their homes and then provide a trained leader to start a new group.

[10] I was told by one of the zone pastors that it was a "sin" to close a group.

[11] One leader gave me the figure of eighty percent (starting from scratch) versus twenty percent (multiplication). However, exact figures were not available. Although some cell groups do close at CCG, there is not a strict timeline for closure of the group if there has not been a multiplication. I was told that everything possible is done to keep the group going.

[12] Each week the district pastor analyzes the progress of each zone pastor based on the zone pastors' yearly goals. The zone pastor does the same with the superintendents and the superintendents encourage the cell leaders.

[13] I had the privilege of going on one of these whirlwind visitation tours in four, very poor neighborhoods in Guayaquil. I was very impressed by the dedication of this particular zone pastor.

[14] This is not to say a group cannot multiply beforehand if it is ready to give birth. However, these new births are the exceptions. I was told that only about ten percent of the new groups open at various times during the year. They purposely wait for one year because they believe that the cells need a period of solidification. There have been entire years when the focus is nurture as opposed to multiplication and thus, no groups multiply.

[15] Some groups might have more than ten. The point is that when there is an average of ten people, that particular group is a prime candidate to multiply.

[16] When new cells are planted from scratch, frequently no one takes responsibility for the new group.

[17] Obviously, this is quite a commitment for the mother cell group to commit to two meetings for three months. However, the leadership team is encouraged to meet on a rotating basis. For example, if there are five members on the leadership team, perhaps three will attend one Tuesday evening and two the next Tuesday evening.

[18] A strict order which is found in their manual is followed during these counseling/assessment times.

[19] I was told that the reason why the district pastor and the zone pastors must be present is to serve as examples.

[20] The director of the cell groups told me that he might allow a group to start if there is a combination of leader and assistant or leader and treasurer. However, he told me that there needs to be at least three members present to start the new group.

[21] Actually the name "missionaries" is often given to the new leadership team.

[22] Because of this in-depth process of leadership preparation before multiplication, I was told that only one of every ten cell groups fail. That is excellent.

[23] For those initial three months, the new groups follow specific material called, "The Victorious Christian Life." These lessons are planned for twelve weeks and cover topics designed to teach faith, obedience, confession, trials, prayer, and the Word of God.

[24] Cell groups at AMV are taught to reach out to their neighborhoods and communities. There are several ways that this evangelism takes place. First, the entire zone might plan an evangelistic activity (e.g., movie, special speaker) Second, the cell group might reach out to the neighborhood through some special type of outreach (e.g., invitation to Mother's Day celebration or a special dinner). However, these special group events must take place on another night other than Wednesday night. On Wednesday night, the group must follow the normal cell group format.

[25] Such factors might include the person's time commitment, spiritual commitment, or calling of God.

[26] For example, I spent most of my time at AMV with Dixie Rosales, the present director of the entire cell group ministry at AMV in Tegucigalpa. He started as a member of a cell group in 1986. He soon became assistant cell leader and then was asked to lead a new cell group. Eventually that new cell group gave birth to four more cell groups. Soon Dixie was asked to be the pastor of an entire zone, which had twenty-five cell groups. Because of his success as a zone leader he was eventually asked to direct the entire cell ministry.

[27] I was amazed that all of the district and zone pastors held full time jobs! They are not paid by the church, although they have incredible authority in the church. They truly are the church pastors.

[28] This church seemed to produce the healthiest cell groups of all those studied.

[29] I was also very impressed with the cell groups at MCE. Since they require an attendance of twenty people before multiplying, I discovered that MCE normally produced strong daughter groups. CCG is a hard church to classify since its cell manual emphasizes mother-daughter cell multiplication, but in reality, the vast majority of their groups are planted from scratch.

[30] At the present time, the cell quality at AGV seems to be healthy, but they have now transitioned to follow the MCI model which emphasizes the "cell plant" philosophy.

[31] MCE the cell teams meet weekly to plan and strategize, while at AMV they meet monthly.

[32]The exception was Perú, where the head pastor distributed the questionnaires to those cell leaders who were present at one of the Sunday morning worship services.

[33] Three hundred thirteen people (seventy-three percent) filled out question twenty-five (length of cell) and 111 did not; 397 people (ninety-three percent) responded to question twenty-seven (multiplication-yes/no) and twenty-seven did not; 336 people (seventy-nine percent) responded to question twenty-eight (length of time for group multiplication) and eighty-eight did not; 356 people (eighty-four percent) responded to question twenty-nine (number of times of multiplication) while sixty-eight did not.

APPENDIX A :QUESTIONNAIRE: ENGLISH AND SPANISH

PERSONAL INFORMATION

Important: Only choose one box under each question

  1. Country identification
    • Colombia (1)
    • Ecuador (2)
    • Perú (3)
    • Honduras (4)
    • El Salvador (5)
  2. Gender of the leader
    • Masculine (1)
    • Feminine (2)
  3. Social level
    • Poor (1)
    • Middle lower class (2)
    • Middle class (3)
    • Middle upper class (4)
  4. What is your age?

    _______

  5. What is your civil status?
    • Married (1)
    • Single (2)
    • Divorced (3)
    • Separated (4)
    • Living together (5)
  6. What is your occupation?
    • Blue collar (1)
    • White collar (2)
    • Professional (3)
    • Teacher (4)
    • Other (5)
  7. What is your level of education?
    • Elementary (1)
    • High School (2)
    • University (3)
    • Graduate level (4)
    • Other (5)
  1. How many assistant leaders do you have in your group?
    • 0 assistant leaders (1)
    • 1 assistant leaders (2)
    • 2 assistant leaders (3)
    • 3 or more assistant leaders (4)
  2. How long have you known Jesus Christ?
    • Six months (1)
    • One year (2)
    • Two years (3)
    • Three years (4)
    • More than three years (5)
  3. How much Bible training have you received?
    • Less than the average cell member (1)
    • Same as the average cell member (2)
    • A little more than the average cell member (3)
    • Much more than the average cell member (4)
  4. How much time do you spend in daily devotions? (e.g., prayer, Bible reading)
    • 0-1/2 hours (1)
    • 1/2 hour (2)
    • 1 hour (3)
    • 11/2 hours (4)
    • More than 11/2 hours (5)
  5. How much time do you spend praying for the members of your group?
    • Daily (1)
    • Every other day (2)
    • Once a week (3)
    • Sometimes (4)
  6. How much time do you spend each week preparing for your cell group lesson?
    • 0-1 hours (1)
    • 1-3 hours (2)
    • 3-5 hours (3)
    • 5-7 hours (4)
    • More (5)
INFORMATION ABOUT CELL GROUP LEADERSHIP
  1. As the leader of the cell group, how many times per month do you contact the members of your group?
    • 1-2 times per month (1)
    • 3-4 times per month (2)
    • 5-7 times per month (3)
    • 8 or more times per month (4)
  2. How many times per month does your group meet for social occasions outside of the regular cell group meeting?
    • 0 (1)
    • 1 (2)
    • 2, 3 (3)
    • 4, 5 (4)
    • 6 or more (5)
  3. As the leader of the cell group, how many times per month do you contact new people?
    • 1-2 times per month (1)
    • 3-4 times per month (2)
    • 5-7 times per month (3)
    • 8 or more times per month (4)
  4. How many times each month do you encourage the cell members to invite their friends to the cell group?
    • Each cell meeting (1)
    • Every other cell meeting (2)
    • Sometimes (3)
    • Not very much (4)
  5. In the last month, how many visitors did you have in your cell group?
    • 0 visitors (1)
    • 1 visitor (2)
    • 2-3 visitors (3)
    • 4-5 visitors (4)
    • 6 visitors (5)
  6. Do you know when your group is going to multiply?
    • Yes (1)
    • No (2)
    • Not sure (3)
  7. In your opinion, which of the following areas helps you most in the your cell ministry?
    • Personality (1)
    • Biblical Training (2)
    • Spiritual commitment (3)
    • The gifts of the Holy Spirit (4)
    • Pastoral care (5)
  1. What is your primary spiritual gift?
    • Gift of evangelism (1)
    • Gift of leadership (2)
    • Gift of pastoral care (3)
    • Gift of mercy (4)
    • Gift of teaching (5)
    • Other (6)
  2. In your opinion, what is the most important reason why some cell groups are able to multiply?
    • Effectiveness of leader (1)
    • Hard work of the group members (2)
    • The location where the group meets (3)
    • The material that the group uses (4)
    • The spirituality of the group (5)
  3. With regard to your personality, which of the following is your tendency?
    • Introverted (1)
    • Extroverted (2)
    • Neither (3)
  4. With regard to your personality, which of the following is your tendency?
    • Relaxed (1)
    • Anxious (2)
    • Neither (3)
  5. How long has your cell group been functioning? (weeks that it has been in existence)
  6. What is the level of homogeneity in your group? (e.g., similar race, social class)
    • Very high (1)
    • High (2)
    • Medium (3)
    • Low (4)
    • Very low (5)
  7. Has your group multiplied yet?
    • Yes (1)
    • No (2)
  8. How much time did it take for you to multiply your group?
  9. How many times has your group multiplied since you've become the leader?
    • 0 times (1)
    • 1 time (2)
    • 2 times (3)
    • 3 times (4)
    • 4 or more times (5)

ENCUESTA PARA LOS LIDERES DE LAS CELULAS

INFORMACION PERSONAL

Importante: Sólo selecciona uno bajo cada pregunta

  1. Identificación del país
    • Colombia (1)
    • Ecuador (2)
    • Perú (3)
    • Honduras (4)
    • El Salvador (5)
  2. Sexo del líder
    • Masculino (1)
    • Feminino (2)
  3. Nivel social
    • Pobre (1)
    • Clase media baja (2)
    • Clase media media (3)
    • Clase media alta (4)
  4. ¿Cuál es tu edad?
  5. ¿Cuál es tu estado civil?
    • Casado (1)
    • Soltero (2)
    • Divorciado (3)
    • Separado (4)
    • Juntado (5)
  6. ¿Cuál es tu ocupación?
    • Obrero (1)
    • Empleado (2)
    • Profesional (3)
    • Docente (maestro) (4)
    • Otros (5)
  7. ¿Cuál es tu nivel de educación?
    • Primario (1)
    • Secundario (2)
    • Universidad (3)
    • Postgraduado (4)
    • Otro (5)
  1. ¿Cuántos líderes asistentes tienes en tu grupo?
    • 0 líderes asistentes (1)
    • 1 líder asistente (2)
    • 2 líderes asistentes (3)
    • 3 o más líderes asistentes (4)
  2. ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que conoces a Jesucristo? (selecciona uno)
    • Seis meses (1)
    • Un año (2)
    • Dos años (3)
    • Tres años (4)
    • Más de tres años (5)
  3. ¿Cuánto tiempo de entrenamiento Bíblico has recibido? (selecciona uno)
    • Menos del promedio de los miembros de mi grupo (1)
    • Igual del promedio de los miembros de mi célula (2)
    • Un poco más del promedio de los miembros de mi célula (3)
    • Mucho más del promedio de los miembros de mi célula (4)
  4. ¿Cuánto tiempo pasas diariamente en tu tiempo devocional (e.g., oración, lectura)?
    • 0-1/2 hora (1)
    • 1/2 hora (2)
    • 1 hora (3)
    • 11/2 horas (4)
    • Mas de 11/2 horas (5)
  5. ¿Cuánto tiempo oras por los miembros de tu grupo? (selecciona uno)
    • Diariamente (1)
    • Día por medio (2)
    • Una vez por semana (3)
    • De vez en cuando (4)
  6. Normalmente, ¿Cuánto tiempo pasas cada semana en la preparación del material para tu grupo?
    • 0-1 hora (1)
    • 1-3 horas (2)
    • 3-5 horas (3)
    • 5-7 horas (4)
    • Más (5)
  1. Como líder de la célula, ¿cuántas veces por mes contactas a los miembros de tu grupo?
    • 1-2 veces por mes (1)
    • 3-4 veces por mes (2)
    • 5-7 veces por mes (3)
    • 8 o más veces por mes (4)
  2. ¿Cuántas veces por mes se reúne tu grupo aparte de la reunión oficial? (selecciona uno)
    • 0 veces por mes (1)
    • 1 vez por mes (2)
    • 2-3 veces por mes (3)
    • 4-5 veces por mes (4)
    • 6 o más veces por mes (5)
    • Otro (6)
  3. Como líder de la célula, ¿cuántas veces por mes contacta a las personas nuevas?
    • 1-2 veces por mes (1)
    • 3-4 veces por mes (2)
    • 5-7 veces por mes (3)
    • 8 o más veces por mes (4)
  4. ¿Cuántas veces por mes animas a los miembros para invitar a nuevas personas a la célula?
    • Cada reunión (1)
    • Reunión de por medio (2)
    • De vez en cuando (3)
    • No mucho (4)
  5. En el mes pasado, ¿cuántas visitas estuvieron en tu grupo? (selecciona uno)
    • 0 (1)
    • 1 (2)
    • 2-3 (3)
    • 4-5 (4)
    • 6 o más (5)
  6. ¿Sabes cuando vas a multiplicar tu grupo?
    • Sí (1)
    • No (2)
    • No estoy seguro (3)
  7. En tu opinión ¿Cuál el área que te ayuda más en el ministerio de la célula? (selecciona uno)
    • Personalidad (1)
    • Entrenamiento (2)
    • Compromiso espiritual (3)
    • Los dones del Espíritu Santo (4)
    • Cuidado pastoral (5)
  1. ¿Cuál es tu don principal? (selecciona uno)
    • Don de evangelismo (1)
    • Don de liderazgo (2)
    • Don de cuidado pastoral (3)
    • Don de misericordia (4)
    • Don de enseñanza (5)
    • Otro (6)
  2. En tu opinión, ¿cuál es la razón más importante para que una célula pueda multiplicarse? (selecciona uno)
    • Efectividad del líder (1)
    • El trabajo de los miembros del grupo (2)
    • Donde se reúne el grupo (3)
    • El material que se utiliza (4)
    • La espiritualidad del grupo (5)
  3. ¿En cuanto a tu personalidad, ¿cual es tu tendencia?
    • Introvertido (1)
    • Extrovertido (2)
    • No puedo decir (3)
  4. ¿En cuanto a tu personalidad, ¿cual es tu tendencia?
    • Tranquilo (1)
    • Ansioso (2)
    • No puedo decir (3)
  5. ¿Cuánto tiempo hace que funciona tu grupo semanas ha estado en existencia tu grupo?
  6. En cuanto la homogeneidad (e.g., misma raza, clase social), ¿Cuál es el nivel de homogeneidad de tu grupo?
    • Muy alto (1)
    • Alto (2)
    • Medio (3)
    • Bajo (4)
    • Muy bajo (5)
  7. ¿Se ha multiplicado tu grupo?
    • Sí (1)
    • No (2)
  8. ¿Cuánto tiempo pasó antes que se multiplicara a tu grupo?
  9. ¿Cuántas veces se ha multiplicado tu grupo desde que tu has sido el líder?
    • 0 veces (1)
    • 1 vez (2)
    • 2 veces (3)
    • 3 veces (4)
    • 4 o más veces (5)