5

How Cell Groups Work

Overview: Chapter 5, How Cell Groups Work, essentially communicates thoughts about the cell group approach from what is learned from Dr. Cho's Church for use in other countries.

What do you call a cell group? This is a concern, and some Churches have meetings to come up with unique names. To some extent, you are what you call yourself. To illustrate, if you called yourself a "Fun Group" it would be more difficult to encourage participants to be serious about evangelism, Bible study, prayer and spiritual nurture. Any name is okay but be careful not to limit your groups. A "Bible Study" group may think they are to only study the Bible. A "Prayer" group may consider prayer as their only purpose. A "Share" group may be only concerned with sharing, etc..

Cell Group is descriptive of being a part of the body since we are part of the body of Christ. Our body grows by the division of cells, which happens to also be the way Dr. Cho's Church grows, by the division of cell groups. Nourishment is provided through the cells of the body and this is also true of the cell groups regarding spiritual nourishment. Through cell groups, people can be part of the body of Christ receiving personal love and having the opportunity to be obedient to Jesus' command to make followers. Although I may refer to them as cell group leaders or section leaders, as they are called in Dr. Cho's Church, their role is really the role of a Pastor and it is probably more appropriate to refer to the leaders as Pastors of a Home Church group.

As previously mentioned, cell groups were started in Korea a little over 100 years ago by Methodist missionaries as Wesley class meetings. Descriptions regarding the original Wesley class meetings around 1740 in England indicate a strong similarity with those of today. The weekly meetings were comprised of many diverse groups such as all men, all women, young married couples and others. Their meetings always involved Bible study, prayer, offerings and thanksgiving. John Wesley stated, "They began to bear one another's burdens and naturally to care for each other." Also, their spiritual growth benefited from these meetings. A hundred and sixty years later when American Methodists missionaries introduced the meetings to Korea, God continued to bless people through the small group approach.

Dr. Cho made cell groups famous throughout the world. Apparently not influenced directly by Wesley, Dr. Cho was led by God to institute cell groups after reading the reference to, "the church that meets at their house" (Romans 16:5), and "to the Church that meets in your home" (Philemon 1:2), in association with mentions of meetings in homes in Acts 2:46. Dr. Cho's emphasis on cell groups results in many people believing that cell groups are the only cause of the growth of Dr. Cho's Church. Because of this, many Pastors have started cell groups with varying degrees of success. Cell groups are definitely a key ingredient to growth but they are not an answer by themselves. There are several key ingredients to growing a Church with prayer (as discussed in the previous chapter) and cell groups as two of the ingredients.

The cell group system will be examined from a hypothetical approach and will carry you through the analysis, which happens to graph identically to Dr. Cho's growth rate. This will be referred to as the "Cell Growth Rate". When visiting Dr. Cho's Church in Korea, people often get a chance to visit a "cell group". The Korean people are so kind and concerned that they treat you nicely that rarely does a foreigner get to see an ordinary cell group. One "typical" cell group meeting, that I attended as a participant of the Church Growth International Conference, had moved their regular meeting time from Friday to Saturday to accommodate the conference. Rather than the regular 4 or 5 people, there were 28 people present, including 4 men (normally men and women are not at the same meetings). I was able to identify at least 2 section leaders, 3 senior deaconesses and almost everyone else was a cell group leader (they don't go anywhere without their cell group leader purses). An outsider returning home would wonder how they could ever live up to the cell group standard and probably become discouraged.

In forming a cell group, it is important to start with a leader who is your strongest worker and will cooperate 110%. Select leaders who will take the time and are eager to share how good Jesus is and who will work for the spread of His kingdom. The group may be all of one gender or mixed but they should be a compatible, cohesive group. You may start with 1 leader and one group however for illustration purposes, lets start with 24 faithful people or 1 leader with 8 people in 3 groups. Each leader should select an assistant with the Pastor's input who desires to be a leader. Each group is encouraged to have a goal of adding at least 1 new person every 2 months or 6 new people a year. The weekly teachings will be provided each week by the Senior Pastor to the leaders who make an effort to not stray from the teaching.

A possible Home Church structure that a Pastor may determine could be as follows:

Praising - - - - - 1st share how God has blessed each person recently - - - - -Introduce new members

- - - - - - - - - - -and praise God for them - - - - - - - - -Sing a song praising God- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 15 minutes

Preparing - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Opening prayer - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -2 minutes

Teaching - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Bible reading and teaching - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -25 minutes

Planting - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Give thanks for the offering - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -2 minutes

Loving - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Receive prayer requests and pray for them - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 14 minutes

Concluding - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Closing prayer - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 minutes

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60 minutes

The leader should try to hold the meeting to 1 hour. At the close of the meeting there can be time of fellowship with some refreshments that can be furnished on a rotating basis. The offering should be counted and recorded by the leader with the assistant responsible for turning it in to the Church. Understanding that God blesses our giving should be an important consideration when selecting people for leadership.

A Formula for Growth

The following suggested guidelines may help in evaluating the growth of the cell groups.

1. Each cell group is encouraged to love and nurture into the body of Christ 6 people a year.

2. Ideally a cell group could start with 8 members and split when it reaches 12 or more. The splitting involves a need for sensitivity as bonding may have resulted which would create a reluctance to change.

Year - - - # of groups - - - # of members at start of year - - -ideal growth

1 - - - - - - - - - 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 24 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 18

2 - - - - - - - - - 5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 42 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 30

3 - - - - - - - - - 9 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 72 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 54

4 - - - - - - - - 15 - - - - - - - - - - - - 126 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 90

5 - - - - - - - - 26 - - - - - - - - - - - - 216 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 156

= = = = = = =45 = = = = = = = = = 372 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

At the end of 5 years there are 45 cell groups with 372 people involved. If your Church started with 30 people, that was super growth. If you started with 100, people have been absorbed and it is still excellent growth. Realistically, not everyone will be active. Change is encouraged with prayer and teaching. Remember that Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" John 6:44 (NIV). The Holy Spirit draws people in God's timing which may not be our timing. At the beginning of year 5 with 26 cell groups, it would help to have 3 section leaders over 8 groups each.

These section leaders would be experienced cell group leaders. They would try to visit each cell group as often as possible and would be a big help to new groups with new leaders. Each section leader would have one meeting a month with the cell group leaders where the Pastor would provide a teaching. Often times when a person is in need they may turn to their cell group leader who would turn to their section leader if needed who then could turn to the Pastor if necessary. Again it would facilitate ministry if the cell group leaders were called Pastors. They could be ordained at some point and even help with weddings, etc..

The Second 5 Years

Year - - - - - - - - - Cells - - - - - - - - -Begin - - - - - - - - - Growth

6 - - - - - - - - - - - 45 - - - - - - - - - - 372 - - - - - - - - - - - 270

7 - - - - - - - - - - - 77 - - - - - - - - - - 642 - - - - - - - - - - - 462

8 - - - - - - - - - - 132 - - - - - - - - - 1,104 - - - - - - - - - - - 792

9 - - - - - - - - - - 228 - - - - - - - - - 1,896 - - - - - - - - - - 1,368

10 - - - - - - - - - 391 - - - - - - - - - 3,264 - - - - - - - - - - 2,346

= = = = = = = = 673 = = = = = = = 5610 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Notice: using the same formula for grow as described above, which resulted in 18 new people the first year, we now have 5,610 people with 673 cell groups. THIS IS HOW THE "CELL GROWTH RATE" CAN GROW A CHURCH.

With this type of growth, there would be approximately 84 section leaders by now. All are serving God and the Church will be adding paid staff such as Associate Pastors, music people, youth, education, etc.. All of the support staff will not replace the vital function of the Shepard of the flock role which the Pastor, Associate Pastor, Section Pastor and Cell Pastor provide. Personal home visitation both with new people and people in the Church in need is essential. How large can you grow? Stay in prayer and let God continue to guide you. Remember the goal Jesus gave us, "Go and make followers of all people in the world." Matt 28:19 (ICB). This seems to be the goal that the Inchon Church understood when they wanted to make their entire city part of the body of Christ.

6 More Years with the CELL GROWTH RATE

Year - - - - - - -Cells - - - - - - - -Begin - - - - - - - - -Growth

11 - - - - - - - - 673 - - - - - - - - 5,610 - - - - - - - - - 4,038

12 - - - - - - - 1,158 - - - - - - - - 9,648 - - - - - - - - - 6,948

13 - - - - - - - 1,991 - - - - - - - -16,596 - - - - - - - - -11,946

14 - - - - - - - 3,425 - - - - - - - -28,542 - - - - - - - - -20,550

15 - - - - - - - 5,891 - - - - - - - -49,092 - - - - - - - - -35,346

16 - - - - - - 10,132 - - - - - - - -84,438 - - - - - - - - -60,792

at the end of 16 years = = = = 145,230 - - - - - - - - - - - -

Is this really hypothetical? NO! - Dr. Cho encourages each cell group leader to bring in 6 new people a year. Many will bring in more than 6. If the average was only 3 new people, then after 16 years there would be 3,513 people which is still respectable growth. Dr. Cho's Church grew at the "CELL GROWTH RATE". When it reached 500,000 members it had only 6.3% of the city's population of over 8 million. Comparing that to Inchon's 1.5 million population they would have 94,500 people or Tulsa, Oklahoma's 800,000 population - 6.3% would be 50,400 people. Encouraging 8 people to bring in 1 new person every 2 months can result in 145,230 people in 16 years.

Home - Pastoring is the finest guidance in the world - Believe the Bible the way it is written
About the Pastor of Jesus Center - Translations - About our Church - Our Wedding Ministry
Book-Hebrew is essential to know Jesus

For the title page and contents, Chapter 1 Setting the Stage, Chapter 2 Only in Korea?,

Chapter 3 Winning a Country for Christ, Chapter 4 Prayer That Moves Mountains,

Chapter 5 The Weapon at Work, Chapter 6 How Cell Groups Work,

Chapter 7 100 Days in Inchon, Appendix: Written Interview Comments