pastor who struggled with his cell church recently came back from a G-12
conference saying, “I was a
blind man without vision before the conference. Now I can see, and what I see
excites me; we are pressing on with what God has put on our hearts. . . in
G-12 vision is spreading. Bethany World Prayer Center, one of the most
prominent cell churches in the U.S., has decided to fully implement the G-12
model, and its pastor, Larry Stockstill, is now a member of César
Castellano’s international group of twelve.
Community Baptist Church in Singapore has also decided to commit to the G-12
model. During their February 2002 G-12 conference with pastor César
Castellanos, FCBC officially "dismantled" the geographical
segmentation of cells according to districts. Just like Bethany World Prayer
Center, they are now using a system of homogeneous networks. Faith Community's
senior pastor, Lawrence Khong, has a vision to plant one hundred thousand
cells in the next ten years. Pastor Khong has also become a member of pastor
César's International group of twelve.
Pastor Khong gave the following reasons for the change to the G-12
G-12 provides long-term relationships
and leadership training.
Evangelism is disciple-making, not
just a one-time event.
Homogeneous groups are stronger than
Every person can lead a cell group.
Colin Dye, pastor of the ten thousand-member Kensington Temple Church in
London, England, is totally committed to the G-12 strategy. He believes that
every church should follow the G-12 vision.
He says, “It represents for us today the restoration of true apostolic and
governmental authority and spiritual effectiveness to the body of Christ on
likely your church also needs a jump-start. I believe that you can fine-tune
your cell church vision with the G-12 strategy. But I want this book to be
more than a quick-fix. My prayer is that it will clarify fuzzy areas and help
you to take the next step in your cell church transition.
first book, Groups of Twelve: A New Way to Mobilize Leaders and
Multiply Groups in your Church, described what is happening at
International Charismatic Mission in
current book will take you beyond the last one. I’m writing this current
book for two major reasons:
first book was an in-depth case study of ICM in Bogota, Colombia. The first
six chapters described ICM’s vision, values, cell groups, G-12 system,
training track, and multiplication success.
am writing this book because some did not read beyond the description and
thought I was prescribing ICM’s model, when in reality I was encouraging
application of the principles that the second part of the book emphasized.
Some people felt I was promoting the need to adopt the entire G-12 package.
Consider one person’s response to my first G-12
About six years ago, our church moved from PBD [program based design] toward cells and implemented 5X5. After struggling with that format, our pastor began looking for something more for us. He encouraged cell leaders to read your book and eventually that "system" was adopted exactly as it was from the first half of the book, and the leadership struggled to move our cells into that direction. . . The first six chapters of your book describe how ICM has organized and the rest of your book provides wisdom about what can be learned from ICM and applied in other places (the principles). . . how many people do you know read only the first half of the instructions and think they have it?
This book will not be describing ICM or how to implement their exact model. Many churches are already doing that. This book is designed to help you to implement the guiding principles of G-12 to your unique situation.
understanding of the G-12 system has been evolving since I wrote the last
book, and I’ve learned so many new, practical lessons since then that I felt
compelled to write them down.
are you to write a book on G-12?” a pastor might ask. Only God fully knows
the answer to that question. I can only look back on the positions God has
blessed me in and see the milestones on the cell journey that finally led me
to study ICM in-depth.
journey toward understanding the G-12 model first began in 1975, when I began
leading my first cell group. Each week, friends and family gathered to apply
Scripture. In 1983 I planted a church in downtown Long Beach, California and
implemented David Cho’s cell group philosophy. In 1991, In
1991, as a missionary in Quito, Ecuador, I began a cell group ministry among
university students at El Batan Church that exploded to include the rest of
the church. In 1994, my wife and I, along with two other pastors from the El
Batán church, planted a daughter church called the republic church.
1995-1997, I did my doctoral thesis on the cell church movement worldwide,
which included ICM in Bogota, Colombia. In 1996, as part of my research, I
spent ten days living inside International Charismatic Mission in an extra
room they converted into an apartment for visitors. That first visit initiated
a yearly pilgrimage to ICM in Bogota to introduce others to the G-12 concept.
1997, I returned to the church I co-founded in Quito to help give direction to
a new cell church vision. The Republic Church exploded to over 275 cell groups
and 1300 people attending cells. In 2000, I left the pastoral team and began
to minister to other churches in Quito to help them make the cell church
transition. Since I was living and working in Ecuador as a missionary with the
Christian and Missionary Alliance, I had ample opportunity to apply what I saw
invited members of Pastor Castellanos's G-12 group to minister in our church
and give advice. Even so, we at the Republic Church were not content with
copying someone else’s model. We wrestled with how to apply G-12 principles
in our context. We wanted to developed our own G-12 vision.
as a family [BME1] recently
helped start a cell church in Southern California, and I’m coaching five
additional pastors in the Southern California area who are transitioning to
the cell church model. In each of the churches with whom I’m currently
consulting, I’ve discovered the need to apply G-12 principles in a slightly
different way because each church has a distinct culture, and each church is
at a different place in its journey.
of these differences, I've realized the need to adapt G-12 principles to each
of their unique environments. One size does not fit all. No two churches are
exactly the same, and thus each requires a different starting point.
believe strongly in G-12 principles, but I am first and foremost an advocate
of the cell church. Notice this order: first I encourage churches to become
cell churches, then I teach them to fine-tune their cell church experiences
through G-12 principles.
A lot of the
initial confusion about G-12 groups comes from the terminology used. I think
it’s always better to use a phrase that gives immediate clarity, rather than
one that demands a definition.
a team of cell leaders. I would encourage you, in fact, to use team
gathering or leadership group instead of G-12 group.
Cell Group: a group of 4-15
people that meets weekly outside the church building for the purpose of
evangelism and discipleship with the goal of multiplication.
Cell Church: a church driven by cell
groups and where celebration and cell are equally important.
ICM: the International Charismatic
Mission, located in Bogota, Colombia. This is the cell church that originated
the G-12 leadership care structure.
Castellanos: the founding pastor of ICM and the one who initially received the
This book is
divided into four major sections. Chapters 1 through 5 explain how to apply
the G-12 model in a simple and understandable way. This section will define
the G-12 strategy and help both pastors and lay leaders to apply it. Section
two, Chapters 6 through 8, examines key values of the G-12 strategy, including
prayer, Encounter Retreats, and the belief that everyone can facilitate a cell
group. The third section, consisting of Chapters 9 through 11, lay out the
practical nuts and bolts of the G-12 strategy, explaining homogenous networks,
G-12 material, and the G-12 meeting. The fourth and final section, Chapters 12
and 13, applies G-12 principles to a wide variety of churches and church
situations. There is also an appendix, in which you will find sample G-12
several different ways that this book can be used:
1. Start at the beginning and
read the entire book to gain a complete understanding of how to use and apply
G-12 principles in your church.
if you are confused about how to apply G-12 principles in a particular stage
of development, skip to chapters 12 and 13.
3. Read through the book with
other leaders and coaches and discuss what you are learning.
From these G-12 principles, I have developed a church structure that I call the G-12.3, which will be fully explained in Chapter 3. Such a structure has proven to provide more flexibility in various settings. I developed this adapted G-12 structure while working with the pastoral team in Ecuador. Subsequently, I have helped many churches small and large apply G-12 principles through the use of the G-12.3.
G-12 strategy has become a powerful tool to refine the cell church worldwide.
The amazing growth of ICM in Bogota, Colombia has generated a great deal of
excitement because of the simple yet powerful strategy God gave them. If and
when this excitement moves a church to respond, that church typically follows
one of two paths:
Follow the entire G-12 model
examples of this approach are Harvest Assembly in Virginia Beach, Virginia,
the Christian Center in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Kensington Temple Church in
England, and Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, Louisiana. These churches
follow the G-12 model in its entirety, doing it exactly like ICM does it in
Bogota, Colombia. [BME3]
Apply the guiding G-12 principles
abound of churches that have chosen to follow G-12 principles, rather than
adopt the entire model. In my last G-12 book, I dedicated two chapters to
highlight twelve case study churches. Of those twelve, ten adapted the G-12
strategy to their particular situation, applying the underlying principles
rather than the entire model. Two examples I did not include in my previous
book are Cypress Creek Church in Wimberley, Texas and Liverpool Christian Life
Centre in Liverpool, Australia (greater Sydney area).
churches have chosen to follow the entire ICM model. This approach is summed
up by pastor Larry Stockstill who when talking about the G-12 model said:
you try to Americanize everything, it will not work. There is no reason
whatsoever to alter what you see. We’ve been around that mountain for a long
time. There is no reason to alter what you see in the Word and in the pattern.
As you implement, you will immediately see the results of it. If you don’t,
you’re not going to see any results.
For Bethany, this means following the exact configuration of Bogota, training track, emphasizing twelve as God’s chosen number, and the same care structure. God is blessing Bethany in an amazing way and helping them to reap the harvest like never before.
Harvest Assembly in Virginia Beach, Virginia
is another church that has followed the G-12 model in its entirety. One of the
staff members said, “We
understand that we must accept the whole package, that
we cannot pick and choose.” Mike Osborn,
the youth pastor, has made over thirteen trips to Bogota, vacationed
personally with pastor César Castellanos, and received step-by-step counsel
on how to proceed. Harvest Assembly does the exact same Encounter Retreats,
the School of Leadership, and the follow-up system as ICM.
Christian Center of Guayaquil, Ecuador faithfully followed the classic 5x5
model and had grown to become the largest church in Ecuador. Even so, when
pastor Jerry Smith witnessed the explosive growth in
asks all cell leaders to commit themselves to three meetings per week. Each
cell leader meets with his or her G-12 leader (first meeting), meets with his
own G-12 members (second meeting), and leads an open cell group (third
meeting), just as they do at ICM. CCG has also patterned its leadership
training after ICM in Bogota. It holds similar Encounter retreats and their
school of leadership is identical lasting nine months and having three
CCG has radically changed to embrace ICM's G-12 model.
Me t ro Church International, located in Su n d e r l a n d , England, is led
by Ken and Lois Gott. This is also an ICM G-12 church. In 1998, Pastors Ken
and Lois met Pastor César Castellanos at the Assembly of God
national conference in Prestatyn,
Chile, the IPETRI, an independent Pentecostal church , represents ICM. Senior
pastor, José Rivas, identifies himself as International
G12 of César Castellanos. He wrote in a conference brochure, “One
of the first things we learned in the vision was: you must adopt; not adapt.
We must not forget this premise. To adapt the vision reveals pride, vanity,
and self-sufficiency. Pastor Castellanos says this: ‘why should we try to
re-invent the wheel, when it’s already been invented.’ He is
who choose to follow this approach usually:
Establish a covenant relationship with
Bogota to follow the G-12 system in its entirety. More recently, ICM had asked
people to sign a written agreement with ICM to follow the system exactly. This
written agreement allows churches to use ICM’S material.
Follow the exact same training track,
School of Leaders
Promote the number twelve as God’s
Become part of the ICM network of
churches, which normally includes multiple trips to Bogota each year.
churches will follow the ICM model in its entirety and do it successfully.
These churches are sold on the G-12 vision, and believe that God has anointed
ICM in a special way and thus willingly submit to ICM’s covering.
If you choose to go this route, you may want to visit an ICM G-12 church and read the literature that promotes this approach (e.g., Rocky Malloy’s Groups of Twelve: Launching your Ministry into Explosive Growth, César Castellanos book Leadership of Success through the Group of 12, the first six chapters of Joel Comiskey’s book Groups of Twelve).
We must always remember that pastor César
Castellanos and his team in Bogota have
reached their current success by constantly adapting. ICM began its ministry
by totally following pastor Cho’s cell system. For example, ICM organized
small groups geographically throughout Bogota, just like pastor Cho did in
pastor Castellanos reflected back, however, he acknowledged that the early
system needed fine-tuning because he had failed to adapt it to his own
cultural context. ICM plodded along from 1986 to 1991, hoping for success but
sensing that something was missing. Their cells grew, but they grew very
slowly. By the end of 1991, there were only seventy cell groups.
was in 1991 that pastor Castellanos heard from God about G-12 principles and
began to adjust his cell system to meet his church’s unique needs. Since
that time, the International Charismatic Mission has been changing
continuously. I’ve witnessed startling, radical changes from 1996-2002,
having personally visited most of those years.
remember in 1997, I saw César Fajardo, the ICM youth pastor, busily preparing
for a youth Encounter Retreat. I asked him if we could use some of his
Encounter material. He told me that he would gladly give it to me, but that
the Spirit of God was giving them such fresh illumination that as soon as they
wrote something down, they would receive new insight and thus need to change
it. As a result, he had nothing to give me.
the founder of any given model understands the principles/values behind the
model. There is complete liberty to change the model when the need arises.
Those who follow one model completely, on the other hand, often don’t
possess the same creativity.
believe, in fact, that if you copy someone else’s model in its entirety,
there is the danger of always being several steps behind, which will force you
to play “catch-up.” For example, if you try to copy ICM’s model, what
will you do when they change? Will you have to go back to ICM and re-learn
their new adjustments? (and in this situation it’s even more difficult since
they speak a different language and come from a different culture).
need to be sensitive to your church context, to where you are in the
transition, and to the receptivity of your people. Trying to place an entire
model over your church could be disastrous, especially is it does not fit
have a tendency as pastors to follow the latest anointing, the latest church
growth model. One pastor believes that ICM had a special ability to transfer
God’s anointing to others and this explains their success. He encouraged
pastors to get under their “anointing,” so that it might trickle down to
is it so simple? One cell church pastor described the current situation like
in Europe and North America, who are struggling with being successful, might
believe that if we only will find the right thing, we will have the
breakthrough that we so badly desire and that we see happening in other parts
of the world. This creates some kind of "wave-hopping." From Power
Evangelism to Willow Creek to spiritual mapping to Toronto Blessing to
Larry Kreider said, “We must fervently pray that our visions and goals are
birthed by the Holy Spirit, not copied from the latest church appearing to be
As I’ve studied cell churches around the world, I’ve noticed that they
follow specific foundational principles, common to all of them, while adapting
those principles to their own context.
teach cell seminars around the world and teach G-12 principles under the cell
church strategy. My cell seminars are filled with G-12 principles, but I’m
not teaching the G-12 model. Rather, I teach a cell church strategy that has
been fine-tuned by G-12 principles.
ongoing burden is to find cell church principles that apply in any culture, so
I’m eager to accept the best G-12 principles within the cell church
strategy. The whole cell church philosophy has united the body of Christ
across different cultures and denominations. We’ve been able to network with
one another, encourage one another, and learn from one another.
received an e-mail from a church representative leader who had previously
invited me to speak at his church but then changed his mind, deciding that he
would not have me come speak at his cell seminar after all. He wrote:
“The primary reason is in the last couple of months that we have been
chatting we have decided to move aggressively towards a G-12 model and really
consider the impact that has on our church.
That being the case we feel that any presentation of the cell model of
ministry may be a touch premature for us.” 
wrote him back saying: “I was
just wondering how you differentiate the G-12 model from the cell model. Are
you saying they're two different models? If so, where did you pick up that
they're not the same?"
the general confusion has come from the misconception that cell church meant
following a particular oversight and support structure–like pastor Cho’s
Jethro model that is organized around geography (some call this the 5X5
model). If this was ever true, it was only because of the lack of alternative
worth remembering that cell churches that follow distinct care structures have
also grown very rapidly.
The 5x5/Jethro model that originated with pastor Cho’s structure in Korea
catapulted that church to become the largest church in the history of
Christianity. Dion Robert, senior pastor of the Works and Mission Baptist
Church in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, developed his own oversight and support
structure and grew to 120,000 with 21 other nations touched by their
cell churches that admire the G-12 model take the best G-12 principles and
apply them to their individual settings. I’ll be highlighting G-12
principles throughout this book, as well as churches who have done an
excellent job applying them.
churches following G-12 principles—as opposed to the entire model—are too
numerous to name. They have each discovered fresh ways to fine-tune their
cell-based church by using G-12 principles and values. Churches that follow
the principle-oriented approach are primarily concerned about becoming better
cell churches and are excited about how certain principles or values of the
G-12 approach can make this work.
dictionary describes a principle as “an important underlying law or
assumption required in a system of thought.”
We in the cell church movement, for example, believe the principle that
the cell is just as important as the celebration and that both of them must be
equally emphasized. We find this principle in the New Testament church. The
early church celebrated together in large temple gatherings and then met from
house to house (Acts 2:42-46; 5:42; 20:20). Later, due to persecution, this
pattern became nearly impossible and the house church movement became the norm
(Acts 12:12; Romans 16: 3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15: Philemon
2). Although we don’t have a lot of specific details about how the New
Testament cell approach looked, the principle of cell-celebration guides our
must humbly admit that none of the current cell church models are perfect. I
wouldn’t promote Yongii Cho (Seoul, Korea), Ralph Neighbour (Houston, TX),
Mario Vega (San Salvador, El Salvador), Larry Stockstill (Baker, LA), Dion
Robert (Abijan, Ivory Coast), Billy Joe Daugherty (Tulsa, OK), or César
Castellanos (Bogota, Colombia) as having the only true biblical cell church
model. The pattern, or principle, is cell-celebration. The application of the
cell church for today is varied and changes from culture to culture and church
same could be said of the New Testament teaching on worship. Paul didn’t
promote one model of worship. Rather, he laid down guiding principles for
worship in the house of God. Paul said that when someone spoke in tongues,
there should be an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:13) and that spiritual gifts
should be exercised in an orderly fashion (1 Corinthians 14:26-32). Paul’s
instructions were broad enough to apply to a variety of circumstances. Paul
set forth principles, rather than promoting exact models.
government is another example. I don’t believe there is one exact church
government model (e.g., Presbyterian, Congregational, combination, etc.).
Paul, rather, gave principles or characteristics upon which to base the choice
of leadership in the church (1 Timothy 3: 1-7; Titus 3), but Paul did not
write down step by step instructions on how to run a church.
reading this book because you want to know how to do cell church better. My
advice is to follow the common patterns or principles of the major cell
churches. In my book Reap the Harvest, I catalogued common
principles and patterns found in all of the fastest growing worldwide cell
churches. These principles include:
Dependence on Jesus Christ through
Senior pastor giving strong, visionary
leadership to the cell ministry.
Cell ministry promoted as the backbone
of the church.
Clear definition of a cell group
(weekly, outside the church building, evangelistic, pastoral
care/discipleship, clear goal of multiplication).
The passion behind cell ministry is
evangelism and church growth.
Reproduction (multiplication) is the
major goal of each cell group.
Cell and celebration attendance
expected of everyone attending the church.
Clearly established leadership
requirements for those entering cell ministry.
Required cell leadership training for
all potential cell group leaders.
Cell leadership developed from within
the church itself, at all levels.
A supervisory care structure for each
level of leadership (G-12 or 5x5).
Cell leadership promoted to higher
leadership positions based on past success.
Follow-up system of visitors and new
converts administered through cell groups.
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). [MB4]
In later chapters, I’ll be amplifying several crucial G-12 principles such
Everyone can become a cell leader.
Every leader can disciple and
supervise other leaders.
People need to be set free (liberated
from strongholds) in order to serve as harvest workers.
A clear training track must
immediately follow the Encounter Retreat.
There must be fervent prayer and total
commitment to Jesus Christ.
God is using the cell church throughout the world. The cell church strategy will constantly need refinement and adaptation to improve its overall quality and effectiveness. G-12 principles help us refine the cell church strategy—not replace it.
Some leaders in the G-12 movement teach that you must choose between
ICM’s model, Cho’s model, or Ralph Neighbour’s model. The illustration
that they use is of a Mercedes Benz. You can’t replace Mercedes Benz parts
with those of a Honda. You must choose to fully go with Mercedes Benz.
I believe a better illustration would be a Personal Computer. IBM
popularized it, but any company can make a clone and even improve it. The
reason I like this better is because I believe we can use G-12 principles to
radically improve what we already have. We don’t need to buy a whole
different computer (like Apple) with an entirely different operating system.
Personal e-mail sent to me by David Oh on 2/28/2002.
David Oh, cellchurchtalk, Thursday, February 28, 2002.
As quoted by César Castellanos in Claudia & César Castellanos. Audio
cassette. How to Influence Others
(Como influir en Otros) January
2002 conference in Bogota.
As quoted in César Castellanos, The Ladder of Success (London:
Dovewell Publications, 2001) , preface to the UK edition.
Many don’t understand the G-12 system because they don’t speak Spanish.
As a missionary to Latin America, I’ve examined this church from a Latin
American perspective, having spoken to their leaders in Spanish, listened to
their tapes and videos in Spanish, and read their literature in Spanish. As
a missionary to Ecuador (the neighboring country to Columbia) for eleven
years, we transitioned our church to the cell church approach and used G-12
principles throughout the transition. Thus, we kept in very close contact
with what was happening in Bogota, Columbia.
Personal e-mail from Rene Shelton on 8/12/001.
Consider the distinctiveness of these five pastors:
A 53 year old church with 80 in attendance (Sylmar, ca).
A 70-year old church with 25 in attendance (l.os Angeles, Ca)
A 45-year old church with 150 in attendance (Escondido, ca)
An 86-year-old church with 300 in attendance
A 60 year old history church with 100 in attendance (Redlands,
I’m grateful to Rob Campbell, founder and pastor of Cypress Creek Chuch,
for introducing me to the term team gathering. Rob uses the
G-12 structure but has chosen to use team vocabulary because it fits
better with the culture of Texas.
Larry Stockstill, “Building Blocks of the Vision,” Audio Cassette,
International Cell Conference, November 2001 (Baker, Louisiana: BCCN).
I have noticed some differences between Bethany and ICM, although this might
simply be because Bethany is still transitioning to the ICM model. For
example, Bethany doesn’t separate their G-12 groups from their cell groups
as ICM does. Rather, Bethany asks their new daughter cell leaders to come
back to the normal cell group for the G-12 meeting, thus making the open
cell both a G-12 meeting as well as an evangelistic cell.
Bethany has grown from 491 cells in July 2001 to 816 cells in April 2002.
Brad ???, email
to author, June 1999.
At CCG, it takes approximately six month (two trimesters) to lead a cell
As of Friday, April 2002, the church had approximately 25 Men's cells, 50
Women's Cells, and 75 Youth Cells. The church holds Encounter weekends 3 out
of 4 weekends each month.
José Rivas, Carta Pastoral, in
the bochure for the Convención Celular (March 2002), p. 23.
Rocky J. Malloy’s book is published by Shield of Faith Ministries (Texas
City, TX, 2002). César Castellano’s book is published by Editorial Vilit
(Santa Fe de Bogota, D.C., 1999).
Andreas Pfeifer Nuremberg, cellchurchtalk, on 8/13/2001. Andreas is a cell
church planter in Germany.
“Catching the Vision,” Celebrating Cell Church Magazine (Houston,
TX: Touch Publications, 2000), p. 23.
Some are now saying that the new wineskin is the G-12 model from Bogota,
while the old wineskin is the cell church model. Is this causing more
division? If we’re following principles, we should apply the best of G-12
principles within the cell church strategy, thereby promoting unity. The
cell church strategy is much broader than one type of model (Cho model,
Mario Vega, senior pastor of the ELIM CHURCH, often sends me his statistical
reports. This is the last one I received form him before sending this book
to prin. It was dated 10/10/2001. Pastor Vega writes:
GROWTH IN NUMBER OF CELLS: