At Reachout we received this anonymous email:
I THINK THAT IT WOULD BE WORTH MENTIONING THAT SEVERAL OF THE CHURCHES THAT YOU MENTION THAT BEGAN THE G12 VISION ARE NO LONGER OPERATING IN THE G12 VISION ANYMORE, E.G KENSINTON TEMPLE, VINE CHURCH, BETHANY. INDEED CESAR FAJARDO AS FAR AS I AM AWARE IS NO LONGER IN THE G12 VISION EITHER, THESE CHURCHES ARE OPERATING WHAT THEY CALL, A P12 VISION – PRINCIPLE OF 12 VISION. BASICALLY THE SAME THING BUT THEY CANNOT CALL IT G12 ANYMORE BECAUSE THEY HAVE LEFT THE G12 FRANCHISE AS THEY REFUSED TO SIGN THE CONTRACT AND PAY THE FEES THAT MCI REQUIRED THEM TOO. I AM UNSURE ABOUT THE METRO CHURCH, BUT IT LIKE THE OTHERS HAS HAD ALL REFERENCES TO G12 REMOVED FROM ITS WEBSITE.
We are unfortunately unable to verify some of this information but the following is the result of our appraisal of the relevant websites.
It seems that G12 as a global movement has undergone some quite radical changes. On the G12 website Cesar Castellanos is mentioned as the pioneer of Cell groups of 12, but there is a carefully worded dissociation from him as the leading authority, effectively breaking the chain of 12 x 12; Pastor Castellanos no longer figures as the global movement leader and in fact a consideration of the websites listed on Cellexplosion.com shows there has been a considerable breaking up. The European group headed by Pastor Colin Dye of Kensington Temple and supported by Pastor Jimmy Dowds of Dunfermline seems to consist now of only their two churches.
On the Kensington Temple website under “G12 Cell Church” it states
“The G12 vision is proving to be a dynamic strategy by which we are fulfilling our dreams”
There is a section of the website dedicated to “Model of Twelve”. Providing that the cell church model of church organisation is accepted, there is little in this section which could be objected to on biblical grounds and in fact there is much that is of value.
A visit to the Metro Church Sunderland website, (this is the church where Ken and Lois Gott pastor), reveals that the only reference to G12 is in the email addresses of the Church officers. No trace can be found on the website of any reference to the G12 vision or to cell explosion. There is no reference either to Metro or Ken Gott on the cell explosion website.
A visit to the website of The Vine Church in Dunfermline, where Jimmy and Elmer Dowds pastor reveals no reference to G12 at all although in the page devoted to “the Vision” reference is made to the aim to make every believer a good leader of 12. The encounter meetings have been maintained with little apparent modification. There is though still reference to G12 on the cell explosion website and the Vine Church is still linked. In his address to the Discipleship Cell Explosion 2006 Conference Pastor Dowds reaffirms his commitment to the G12 vision and particularly of making every believer a leader, but a major point of his message was to rest in the purposes of God and allow compassion to drive soul-winning. Pastor Castellanos gets a mention on the Innovating People/History page where the idea of a world net is also mentioned.
I was able to check out Larry Stockstill from his website and once again there is now little reference to G12 and a careful consideration of their Global 12 Project which is the global church planting arm reveals little of the “principle of 12”. His message to the G12 conference in 2006 was scheduled to be on “A Church full of Pastors” but he was led to change that to a stirring message on faith in the Word of God.
Because Cesar Fajardo is mentioned in the above email it is interesting to note that he addressed the 2006 G12 conference. He made no mention of Bogotá or Pastor Castellanos, and his theme was an exhortation not to convert principles into laws.
The Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore is this year hosting the International G12 conference where Apostle Khong and his wife together with Pastors Cesar and Claudia Castellanos will be bringing the “Rhema” word. FCBC is the exception to the general move away from Government of 12 the website is generally unchanged, giving all the instruction about the G12 cell group system but at the same time the international profile has changed radically.
While it can be said that as a strategy for Church Growth G12 has been very successful and many have been discipled as Christians it must also be said that the number of people disillusioned with the system continues to grow, but in the main the disillusionment is connected with the rigid 12 x 12 structure and forcing every believer into the leadership role which the two British churches seem to have corrected.
The overarching concern that we have with the principle of 12 is that the biblical pattern of church seems to have been distorted in the interests of church growth.
In Numbers 20:8-12 Moses was given a specific directive to speak to the rock in order to provide water. He was disobedient and struck the rock and although there was every excuse for such a small difference between the directive and the action, the consequence for Moses was that the desire of his heart, leading the people into the promised land, was denied him. It is clear that to God obedience to His declared word is imperative and we do not have the option to make our own variations. Partial obedience may bring desired results, even miracles, but it does not bring God’s approval and blessing. The pattern of church in the new testament is not a rigid one, but specific directives are there and must not be obscured. The flexibility of the model of the church as living stones in 1 Pet 2:4-10 cannot be made to fit a rigid 12 x 12 pattern of forced growth. 1Cor 12:14-31 teaches that we are not all pastors and a system which seeks to force all new Christians to become pastors must be seen as having departed from the new testament pattern.