Four Methods of Cell Church Planting

Church Planting

By Joel Comiskey

Spring 2011

by Joel Comiskey

Whenever I do a seminar about cell church planting, I start by talking about the different concepts or strategies for cell church planting. I’ve noticed four:

  • Plant Independent Cell Churches in the Same City
  • Plant Independent Cell Churches in Different Cities
  • Plant Satellite Cell Churches in the Same City

Some churches /denominations plant independent daughter cell churches in the same city, like the Southern Baptists do all over the world. Normally, the church planter opens a cell in a home or restaurant and invites people.As the cell group grows and new leaders are trained, multiplicationtakes place. Eventually a celebration service is started once per month and when there are enough cells the frequency of the celebration increases. I highlight this simple cell church planting option in my book Planting Churches that Reproduce.

Some cell churches choose to plant only one cell church per city. The Elim Church in San Salvador is an example of this strategy. Elim does plant churches in different cities—just not in the same city. The Elim Church now has more than 120 churches in distinct cities around the world with about 200,000 attending them. Before Elim starts a celebration service in a city, they wait until there are at least five cell groups fully operating. They want to make sure the cell system is fully functioning before they go public.

Other cell churches have chosen to plant satellite cell churches that are connected to the mother church. The finances of the satellite churches, for example, are administered through the mother church, and the satellite pastors are seen as staff pastors for the mother church. Often the satellite pastors attend the weekly staff meeting, with the exception of those staff pastors who live too far away.

One caution: A senior pastor should never try to keep leaders under his control through the satellite model. Some satellite pastors may feel trapped and never able to fully express themselves as the pastor of their own church. We need to be willing to release anyone who wants to plant a church, and then do our best to assure the success of the new church.