Church Growth via Cell Groups is a short explanation of why the use of cell groups for growing a church is not biblical.
Church Growth via Cell Groups
Definition of a Cell Group. See also David Yonggi Cho
Definition of a Cell
A “cell group” is a smaller unit of the larger church group. If you want to think of it in a larger scale, it is like an individual church within a denomination. Cell groups typically meet in people’s homes within the weekdays (not usually on Sundays), and they are basically home Bible studies. Each group is normally or loosely 12 people (following Castellanos thinking) or 15 (following Cho’s thinking). Cho’s method has 2 leaders, a basic leader and their assistants. Cho’s methodology comes from Cho’s thinking (Pentecostal, Word of Faith), and they accept women leaders in either of these leadership positions.
Cho (from South Korea) and Castellanos (from Colombia) are the two principle proponents of Cell Groups for Church Growth.
In most incarnations of the cell group methodology, all of the people in the in cell should be inviting new people into the study group constantly, and reproduction on a group level should happen at 6 months or less. Whenever the group passes 15 members (Cho’s method), the group can then split with the the assistant leader taking one group and the leader staying with the other. Their logic is that Jesus chose 12 apostles, and we should be multiplying by the same methodology. So they chose a small group and concentrate their efforts in that group, and in a less manner with their entire church.
The obvious question with this logic is where does the Bible talk of the 12 apostles of Paul, or John, or Peter, etc.? None of the followers of Jesus thought that this was what Jesus wanted for them in their ministry, nor did these apostles and church leaders ever teach anything similar to this. The 12 inner circle was simply dropped after Jesus.
On the one hand, Jesus is God, God incarnate, so yes he had an inner circle of closer disciples that were to be entrusted with giving inspired Scripture to all mankind and then all further inspired Scriptures was to be stopped with that result. Paul was probably the exception, being an apostle of the churches, not an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also not all 12 Apostles wrote a book or any part of the Bible, only some.
So simply looking at this, what was the example of the early as far as discipleship? It was not to form a fixed number of inner disciples that was to rein over the rest, but put the church leadership up for a general process before the men of God of the church and a church validation or vote.
What is biblically wrong with Cell Groups
The Form and Pattern is not Biblical
In most cases, people involved in cell group churches will not listen nor seriously consider any criticisms against their movement. They hold David Yonggi Cho as anything from a divinely inspired saint, to a reincarnation of Jesus himself. But the short of all of these Cell Group patterns is that it is not biblical, and this is not the form and pattern that God has given us in the NT to do the work of God. That being the case specific problems should be identified.
Women teachers and untrained leaders
Another problem with cell group practices is that the leaders are pulled up from the people in those groups. It is a difficult and arduous preparation when a man wishes to enter the ministry, especially to teach and preach. Within these cell groups, their members are drawn from gullible people in other churches, and they go to the cell groups during the weekdays but on Sunday usually their own church. What this forms is a disloyalty to their own churches.
The purpose for this is so that the cell group proponents can count these people as “members of their church” when in fact most of the cell group participants don’t think of themselves as members, or much less as under the administration and discipline of that church. So this is a deception so that the cell group church can boast of sometimes 20 or 30 or 100s of factors greater their attendance than the number of people showing up on Sunday mornings. Therein lies the reason people like this system.
The practice of Cho for example is that women are allowed to preach, teach, and lead these small group discussions because technically “they are not preaching in the church.” But the command is that they not preach or teach. These people add “in the church”. The preaching and teaching prohibition is for women not to preach or teach doctrine or spiritual things when adult men are present. This rule is fragrantly broken by small study groups.
See also: Tract David Cox – Pent05 Is it correct for women to preach, teach, or lead?