MentorNet # 20
Myths and Facts about Church and Cell Reproduction

Copyright © 2004 by George Patterson and Galen Currah

Our mentoring and training expose us to many ideas and practices that have proved helpful to someone, somewhere at some point in history. Some of these have become widely accepted with time. However, these may not be universally applicable, and must be tested with Scripture and compared with observations from diverse fields.

Myth #1: "To start a new church or cell the church planters must leave an existing church body."

Fact: In most church planting projects around the world, few workers permanently leave their ‘home’ church or cell.

Myth #2: "To start a new church or cell you have to ‘hive off’ a substantial number of members (‘critical mass’) from a mother church to form the core of the new body."

Fact: In the church or cell reproduction that we have observed, except in urban America, that is seldom the case.

Myth #3: "The job of an evangelist is not done until the new believer is established in an existing church or cell group."

Fact: The problem is with the word ‘existing.’ In rapid, healthy church or cell reproduction, workers bring new families into an existing group only as a last resort. Their first goal is normally to build a new cell (or church in a pioneer field) around the newly-believing family.

Myth #4: Where churches and cells multiply rapidly, it is always necessary for new believers to find and make new friends soon within the congregation.

Fact: The problem is with the word ‘new.’ In the church and cell reproduction that we have observed, new believers have old friends who come into the new church or cell with them.

Myth #5: "It takes lots of money to start Christian churches.

Fact: Although it may take money to send and support non-tent-making missionaries, churches that require no building or paid clergy will be self-supporting from the start.

Myth #6: "You need a free, democratic society with freedom of religion, to start Christian churches.

Fact: Throughout history and round the world today, except in traditionally-Christian areas, most churches start under hostile conditions.

Myth #7: "You need highly educated and trained church planters to start quality churches that will be doctrinally sound and long-lasting.

Fact: Experience and scientific studies alike have shown that, for church planters who are educated far beyond the people they work with, the higher educational level more often than not hinders church growth and reproduction!

Myth #8: "The impulse weakens as it passes from a mother church to daughters, granddaughters, etc.…

Fact: Every strong, healthy church alive today is a far descendent of the first church at Jerusalem.

Myth #9: "You need a strong doctrinal base before a church can be strong enough to reproduce.

Fact: You need a church that lovingly obeys Jesus by making new disciples, to reproduce.

Myth #10: You need a strong ‘home base’ first, that is, strong churches, before you can start new churches, extend into new social groups or penetrate new geographical regions.

Fact: The longer a congregation waits, the harder it will be to reproduce.

Myth #11: You need a permanent church planting team with good relationships among its members, in order to reproduce churches.

Fact: There are no permanent apostolic teams in the Bible, and most new churches are started without formal teams.

Myth #12: There are already too many churches.

Fact: About a third of the world’s population has no church for people of their language and culture, and there is no major society that does not need more churches, or churches that are more relevant to today’s generation.

Myth #13: Church multiplication is a fad and a fetish of missionary agencies.

Fact: Continually starting new churches is the most effective way to evangelize a society and to make disciples of its population.

Myth #14: If we start too many churches, then many of them will only die prematurely.

Fact: Wherever we start many new churches rapidly, the rate of survival is far higher than where missionaries have, out of caution, kept the pace moving slowly.

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