When You Become a Cell Church Model

Church Leadership

by Joel Comiskey

Fall 2011

I’ve written a lot about the importance of values and principles in building strong models (see appendix below). Pastors need to need to promote biblical values and time-tested principles to the congregation, cell leaders, and leadership team. The goal for each church is to become a model in its own culture, context, and network. Yet, when we use the word “model,” we often envision Yoido Full Gospel, Bethany, or Elim.

First, a model doesn’t have to be a huge church. Smaller cell churches can also be models of health, personal transformation, and evangelism. Numerical growth is relative to location, receptivity of the culture, etc. I’ve done seminars and consulting in Spain. In mainland Spain, a church of 8-10 cells would be considered a model cell church. In more restricted places around the world, model cell churches might be much smaller.

Second, focus on health as the foundation for growing a model cell church. I like one of the principles from Randall Neighbour that goes like this: “Multiplication is the visible sign of discipleship and spiritual health.” This one phrase should guide you in developing an effective cell ministry.

Third, not all large cell churches are models. In fact, there are several large cell churches that I will never promote. Why? Because the church has a castle-building mentality and is trying to promote themselves. When a church becomes an example cell church that others are stimulated to follow, the pastor and church should never act like they have the only true model. Rather the pastor should promote the values and principles that made them a model! Elim is a good example of being able to look beyond their own example in order to promote worldwide cell church principles. We’ve learned from Elim that the keys are passion, penetration, and persistence–not following their exact structure.

As you follow biblical values + time-tested principles, you will grow into the church that God wants you to be and others will be encouraged by your example.


I’ve listed below the common patterns or principles that I observed in the eight largest worldwide cell churches. The first four are the most important, in my opinion.

  1. Dependence on Jesus Christ through prayer.
  2. Senior pastor and leadership team giving strong, visionary leadership to the cell ministry.
  3. Cell ministry promoted as the backbone of the church.
  4. Clear definition of a cell group (weekly, outside the church building, evangelistic, pastoral care/discipleship, clear goal of multiplication).
  5. The passion behind cell ministry is evangelism and church growth.
  6. Reproduction (multiplication) is the major goal of each cell group.
  7. Cell and celebration attendance expected of everyone attending the church.
  8. Clearly established leadership requirements for those entering cell ministry.
  9. Required cell leadership training for all potential cell group leaders.
  10. Cell leadership developed from within the church itself, at all levels.
  11. A supervisory care structure for each level of leadership (G-12 or 5×5).
  12. Follow-up system of visitors and new converts administered through cell groups.
  13. Cell lessons based on pastor’s teaching to promote continuity between cell and celebration (although flexibility might be given to meet the needs of specific homogeneous groups)
For further reading on this topic: Comiskey’s book Cell Church Solutions: Transforming the Church in North America highlights key cell church principles that can move churches beyond the model. Buy HERE or call 1-888-344-CELL.