The G12 Missions Model

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  • The G12 Missions Model

    The G-12 model was developed by Colombian César Castellanos, pastor of the International Charismatic Mission, in I think 1998. It was first modeled in Bogotá, by César and his wife Claudia after Castellanos had a vision from God instructing him to implement this structure of cell groups of 12. Castellanos developed the G12 strategy after visiting with Pastor David Yonggi Cho, who had successfully implemented a cell-group structure in the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea. With about 1,000,000 members reported in 2007, Yoido is the largest Protestant Christian congregation in the world.

    I understand the G12 model works this way: a pastor trains 12 people to be cell leaders. These cell leaders are each responsible for discipling 12 others in a cell group, usually with a minimum number coming from the community and not from within the church they attend. After a specified time, and after certain strict requirements are met, these cell members then become leaders themselves, and start their own cells. Thus, the membership of the church is multiplied, and the message of the Gospel is taken into the community.

    Obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong with this cell model. Churches worldwide are constantly seeking to discover the right balance of model and ministry to be effective in their communities, and this is yet another method they can use. However, the teachings that often accompany this model are what need to be questioned. However, the Great Commission left to us by Christ was not to create numbers in bulk for purpose of numbers as an end, but to develop disciples according to truth, even if small in number or slow in growth.

    The unbiblical aspect of this model is varied. Each member of the group is asked to start his own cell--either separately or with one or two others that he has brought to the cell. When the cell member converts into a cell leader, he continues to meet with his original cell leader, either in the normal cell group or in a separate discipleship meeting. The oversight of each new cell is given to the founder of that cell. What normally results after a multiple mitosis is aberrant Christian groups. There is what is called the “Government of 12” which provides a rulership or hierarchy among the discipler and disciple. Further study shows that it is indeed pyramidal in structure with the discipler emerging as the pinnacle of authority over his expanding base of twelve subordinates.

    One also needs to consider the founder Cesar Castellanos himself. Castellanos is part of the charismatic New Apostolic Reformation, which is doctrinally unsound. This movement believes that God has raised up present-day apostles to continue the work of the original apostles of Scripture and that these present-day apostles are in charge of overseeing the work of the Church on earth. They are associated with phrases such as "name it and claim it," the "Toronto blessing," "word faith," "signs and wonders," and "health and prosperity," all unbiblical teachings. Castellanos borders on believing that God gives them post-canonical revelation, including the G12 vision.

    Leaders of the G12 movement have also made a number of questionable statements, such as, "The model of ministry based on 12 is the most effective means of obeying the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to win disciples and of growing the Church" (from a brochure for a G12 conference being held in India in 2003). Also implied by G12 leaders is that Government of 12 is what God is doing now, and that if you're not on board with G12 you are opposing God. None of this, however, can be supported by Scripture. Dividing a church into cells of 12 cannot even be supported by Scripture. What we do find in Scripture is that the Church is likened unto a body—many parts make up the whole, each part just as necessary as another (1 Corinthians 12). The Church is led by elders, served by deacons, and filled with believers. How each individual church is to govern and organize itself is left open to interpretation and supposition by Scripture.

    The facts are, not all are called or gifted to lead groups. Nor are all spiritually mature in their walk to lead in purity or correct doctrine. What becomes of this is a relativism that is plaguing the modern church. Where everyone can develop their own idea of God’s truth honed from their personal world view, not according to the final authority of the Word of God. This teaching is typical of those who have lack right training or maturity in the faith. The G-12 multiplication process does grow numbers, but at a price of watered down and often corrupted Christianity that departs from the foundational precepts of Biblical standards and teachings.

    What has resulted in the last 15 years from this model is an explosion of mega churches among the New Apostolic Reformation and Purpose Driven churches, but ones lacking biblical truth and a leadership model according to the pastoral epistles in the New Testament. As one pastor said "Every person that has called our ministry with concerns about G12 has either called to complain about it, enquire about the abuses that are occurring in it, or ask how to get their loved one out of it" Whereas it has developed into a cult-like status of their way is the only way, wherein many are and have been "spiritually abused.” It is charismatic and involves control principles sometimes known elsewhere as "shepherding." The secretive, manipulative weekend “Encounters” have been especially controversial, with allegations of undue psychological pressure and spiritual abuse.

    Churches that willingly become part of the G12 are expected to fully be committed and not to attend or consider program elsewhere. Those who become part of G-12 hold to God’s anointed ICM in a special way and are instructed to submit to ICM's (International Charismatic Mission) covering. Submission to your authority (leader) comes naturally once you have accepted the vision. People have been accused of things they have not done and told that if you don't support the vision then you won't grow in God. This manipulation seems to be an inherent aspect of the G-12 model. Become part of the ICM network of churches, which normally requires multiple trips to Bogota each year. It has been reported recently, ICM has asked people to sign a written agreement to follow ICM's system exactly. This written agreement allows churches to use ICM's material. The training includes: Pre-encounter- Encounter Retreat - Post-encounter- School of Leaders.

    From those who have left, they detail the G12 format as man-centered as are most of the similar growth gimmicks in the church growth movement. It’s not developed from the Bible or something we could deduce from study of the Scriptures. The G12 vision / movement simply isn't found within the pages of the Bible, nor are many teachings its proponents espouse. This is where the true danger lies. As a church-growth model, G12 seems to have worked for many churches, but its association with doctrinally corrupt teachings leaves much to be desired for those intent on retaining Scripture, and not man's teachings, as the sole measure for one's life.

    Before a person considers joining the G-12 model or any other movements like it, they need to look into what they are actually practicing and who are their affiliations. This strategy of cell church is being used by many of the apostles to set up their church government since it is an easier means of control. Does this mean a cell church model of meeting in homes is wrong? Of course not, yet we should be aware of how it is being implemented and what is it associated to. While Christians should have zeal to accomplish what God asks it is just as important fulfill our service according to God's precepts detailed in Scripture.

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