At first glance, the G12 story both amazes and inspires: The disheartened former pastor of a tiny congregation in South America receives a miraculous call from God to evangelize and disciple the world. In the years that follow, ministries based on his model sprout on five continents as churches large and small adopt the cellular vision of multiplication through the government of 12. To the masses being swept up in its momentum, the movement appears divinely ordained — and virtually unstoppable.
But to fully appreciate the impact of G12, consider this: For over six years we have received cries for help from pastors and Christian laypeople across Latin America who have paid dearly for their churches’ adoption of the G12 model. Some have had their faith ruined or thrown into confusion; others have suffered psychological damage. Churches and families have been torn asunder, and entire denominations have been thrown into upheaval.
Lest there be any doubt, we must begin by stating clearly that evangelism, discipleship, and personal sanctification are given tremendous importance in Scripture and are too often (and easily) neglected by evangelical churches. But when any of these is taken to unbiblical extremes, it can provide a pretext for manipulation and abuse.
The following overview and analysis are based on the writings of the movement’s founder, Cesar Castellanos Dominguez, and on interviews with people from a variety of churches and denominations who have taken part in G12 Encounters in Colombia and six other countries of North, Central, and South America. It is not meant to be exhaustive.
In Part 1, we offer a simple description of how G12 operates. In Part 2 [not yet published], we will analyze some of the movement’s problematic doctrines and practices in the light of Scripture.