pent09 Why we don’t use cell groups

Why we don’t use Cell Groups
The Church Growth Methodology of Cell Groups

By David Cox
[Pent09] v1 ©2005
You may free reproduce this tract for non-profit purposes


• It isn’t the biblical model nor example.
• It is for personal glorying and Blasting.
• It doesn’t permit the proper Leadership formation.
• Promotes women in Leadership over men.
• It removes the local pastor as example.
• It steals sheep from other churches.

There is nothing wrong with having Bible studies in homes, but as long as those teaching are fully qualified. Bigness for bigness sake is wrong. When this growth means teachers and leaders are installed without concern about their testimony nor their doctrine, this becomes a sinful situation.

Where did this system come from?

Cell groups are a relatively recent phenomena, being promoted by David Yonggi Cho, the South Korean Pentecostal pastor, and Cesar Castellanos in Bogota that uses a similar method based on Jesus and his 12 apostles to disciple and reproduce. With Castellanos, the group limit is 12 (thus called G12, or Group of 12), but he got most of his cell group ideas from Cho (which uses 15).

Behind all of this, we see much of the same system as is used in the Roman Catholic Church, where wicked pastors wished to control the believers with hard and cruel methods as God warned us (Eze 34:4; Nicolaitans Rev 2:6, 15). They sought to extend their domination, using unbiblical methods to control other churches, by inventing the papacy.

The Biblical Model

God’s only biblical method is founded on groups of God’s people organized into what is called “churches”, not “cells”. First the Bible presents that NT believers have “Christian liberty” (1Co 8:9; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 2:4). Every believer is a minister before God and has their ministry before God. All believers get their authority from the Scriptures, and they are individually taught by the Holy Spirit. Apart from that, God has established people with spiritual gifts in each church, and one of those spiritually gifted people is called a pastor. The existence of pastors and the submission of members to these pastors is a clear NT teaching (Heb 13:7, 17Obey those who have the rule over you”, 1Co 16:15-16). The pastor is who “governs” the local church (1Ti 3:5). Equally clear is the existence of false, bad ministers among us who are marked by their disrespect of individual Christian liberty, and would seek to enslave the brethren under their control (Gal 2:4false brethren… that they might bring us into bondage”; 5:1stand fast therefore in the library wherewith Christ hath made us free”).

We should understand that the Bible presents the pastor as an expert in the Bible who is constantly (weekly on Sundays) giving spiritual food to the members of the church (Acts 20:28feed the flock of God”). He is the principle spiritual “feeder”. The pastor is always seen as a part (member, participant, and attendee) of the church where he ministers.

God has given us abundant warnings and exhortation about these leaders of the local church so that they do not abuse their position of authority (1Pe 5:1-3; Eze 34:2-10). Even though it is the pastor who “governs” the church (1Ti 3:5), we never see pastors as being prominently mentioned by name in the epistle salutations, nor obviously lording over the flock in Acts. The NT doesn’t even identify by name a single pastor. The key point of leadership should be understood in this, that the pastor is the local example for the flock of God, being one of the flock, and existing as a member among the flock. As leader, he should not seek to impose “lordship” control over the brethren (1Pe 5:3), even though his ministry is governing and feeding.

God has placed a dynamic that keeps the balance in all this. First the pastor has to fulfill the biblical requirements. He cannot be pastor until he has these qualities living in him. Those who do not qualify according to 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1, are not to be pastors, leaders, nor the principle Bible teacher (the “spiritual feeder of the flock of God”). The Pastor has to be a good example of Jesus Christ demonstrating the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2Cor 10:1). Moreover, being in a position to handle church funds, God places the requirement of not being covetous, which addresses the problem of avarice. This is by the requirement that he be a person who has renounced riches (and their power, control and glory) as the priority and goal of his life (Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.) This is to protect the flock of God. This last requirement directly addresses those pastors that would use the ministry to enrich themselves (Mt 6:24; 23:25; Prov 30:7-9), with the idea that these are building their own personal empires using the ministry to do it (1Tim 6:5, 9), or they are placing churches and brethren outside of their local church where they are pastors under their “governorship” and control. The way God has designed this dynamic, the brethren should always support the Gospel minister working full time among them (1Cor 9:13; Gal 6:6), and this is dependent upon his prior qualification (a testing) and constant maintaining of these ministerial requirements. Clearly mentioned repeatedly are warnings against covetousness and avarice. If he at some point doesn’t qualify, he should step down voluntarily or be forcibly removed from office and ministry.

The Problem with Cell Groups

Once we have a firm grasp of understanding these dynamics of the ministry as God has placed them, then we understand the important role of pastor as the local example of Christ (living these requirements before entering, and maintaining them while ministering). Within this, God has placed individual Christian liberty for all, and forcing the brethren is replaced with a living local example of Christ for them to imitate. Cell groups and denominational systems both want to remove the church leaders to a non-local position, and they are replaced by people who clearly “ARE NOT PASTORS” (because they don’t even pretend to meet the biblical requirements), and the real leaders can live the sinful life as they want. When the local leaders and teachers fail in their example of Christ, they defend their position and office saying that they are not pastors, so they don’t have to comply with the requirements.

Also the system of cell groups is one of evangelization and church growth that breaks the biblical model and precedent. They use the cell group meetings to draw in new people to their church by friendship in an open and relaxing environment of people’s homes. Despite whatever they propose, the majority of this “evangelism” is directed at churches of like faith, which makes this simple sheep stealing. The concept of true “evangelism”, where a person believing a false religion is explained the gospel, and he converts to Christ, is foreign to cell groups in general. Also the concept of that new convert breaking with his old religion and church to now attend traditional services is foreign to cell group thinking. You can be a member of a cell and stay in your old church. The motive of cell groups is control and sheep stealing from churches of like faith like their own.

Cells groups in churches are of recent origin. There are two strong proponents, Korean Pastor David Yonggi Cho, which is of Pentecostal origins, and he uses them as an auxiliary to his regular church. Each cell has about 20 people and then they divide. He pulls in many people regularly attending other churches by his weekday cell groups, trying to pull them away from their churches.
The form used and promoted by Claudia and Ceasar Castellanos imitates Jesus and his twelve appostles. They build their cells until they have 12 and then split. They use methodologies like the AAs in which a spiritual experience (seeing a vision) is provocked by means of fasting and activities.

The most astounding element of cell groups is their very rapid growth, and their success at building large numbers in their groups. Cho tries to keep his cell groups at 15 adults, and divide them every 6 months. But is this good? When this type of growth happens in our bodies, we call it cancer, and have a doctor excise it from us as unwanted, dangerous, and just “not normal” for the growth and maintenance of our bodies. And within cell groups this “norm” likewise causes great problems. The leaders of cell groups are not usually very well trained. The system itself cannot produce qualified Bible teachers in such a short time-span, and to bring someone into the group and make him a leader in only a matter of months is just not healthy. God addresses this in 1Tim 3:6, where God prohibits a spiritual feeder from being a novice, which is inexperience in the ministry, lacking a substantial time of personal study and growth into spiritual maturity. Again the issue of the minister’s personal example comes to bear against cell groups.

For Pentecostales like Cho, this is no problem, because they have moved away from the basic doctrines of Scripture into emotions, and they have replaced Bible doctrine with “the spiritual gifts.” Doctrine for them is only a means to defend their misplaced emphasis on emotions, using gifts as the vehicle. Likewise Cho follows Pentecostalism’s attitude towards allowing women to minister equally beside men, despite the Bible’s prohibition of women teaching men (1Tim 2:11-12). Cho has 50,000 cell groups (94% led by women). The Bible model is slower, and more time is devoted to personal growth before a brother is placed in a leadership-teaching role, and men are required.

Cho’s membership numbers are also twisted and false. He says he has 850,000 members, but a Baptist preacher went to see this for himself, and the auditorium of Cho’s church holds only 13,000 people, and it was only 70% full that day (9,000) he visited. With 6 services a day (many return for more than 1 service though), that is only 54,000 people on a Sunday. Supposedly there were 30,000 more seeing via satellite, and he counted another 20 satellite churches for their addition of another 50,000, way short of 850,000. Their principle claim to fame is numbers (that it works in church growth), and this is even in dispute by their inexact descriptions of their own results.

The Problems of David Yonggi Cho

Apart from being Charismatic, Cho has other problems. His doctrine is aberrant and not biblical. He teaches that salvation does not end with Christ’s suffering on the cross, but that Jesus had to go to hell to suffer (be tortured by demons) three days, until God the Father could take it no more and had to rescue him. He also believes that through faith (as a power, not as the object of Jesus’ death on the cross), every believer can become a god in himself. He looks in the mirror and say “Hello God.” Even his own denomination couldn’t stomach this Hinduism, and rebuked him, threatening expulsion. His Buddhist and hinduistic beliefs are rampant among his teachings.

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