Don’t Change for the Sake of Change

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 15:31, says, “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.”You’ll remember that I said on my blog last Wedneday:

Myth: Once you have a coaching model, stick by it

Truth: Change rapidly lest you’re left behind; always be innovating

Rick D. responded to last Wednesday’s blog in the comment section with a keen insight (you can read his entire comment on the site). Part of what he said was, “I totally disagree with you about ‘the need’ to be ever changing! . . . No, we shouldn’t try to ‘copy’ a model that God didn’t personally reveal to us. BUT, if God has personally revealed a cell-based model to you then you shouldn’t be about the business of ABORTING His vision . . .”  

As I look back on what I said, I realize that my wording seemed to indicate that I was advocating “change for the sake of change,” and thus, I appreciated Rick’s critique. Actually, I don’t believe that we should change what we’re doing just for the sake of change. If our coaching system is working for the glory of God, stick with it!

What I should have said is:Truth: Always be innovating and “perfecting” your coaching system–and if you find a better way to structure your coaching, go for it! I personally promote a coaching model I call G12.3. I even wrote an entire book on that coaching structure! Yet, I arrived at the G12.3 structure because I had the liberty to “perfect” what we were previously doing.

I believe God wants us to continually be improving and fine-tuning our coaching. Some have locked themselves into someone else’s model and don’t feel the creative liberty to improve and perfect what they’re doing. That was the main point behind my blog.



Coaching over training

by Steve Cordle

 I had the privelege of traveling with Joel Comiskey to visit Elim Church in San Salvador, El Salvador. Often regarded as the world’s second largest church, Elim had a weekly cell attendance of 120,000 adults and 30,000 children.

Since cells are the heartbeat of the church, I was surprised to discover that their cell leader training consisted of only 4 simple lessons. Then I learned about their coaching practice. When someone completes the 4 lessons and begins to lead a group, a coach attends every meeting with the leader. The coach is present every step to give the leader confidence, feedback, and to avoid pitfalls. The coach may not always be present for the entire meeting, but for the indefinite future, the coach is present at every meeting.

The principle? Coaching is more important than training. This is not to minimize an equipping track (our church has more than 4 sessions of leader training!) But it is to say that strong leaders are formed more by guided experience and personal tranference than by instruction and theory. How personal is your coaching?

The Myth of the Number Twelve

Myth: the number twelve brings life
Truth: there are many great numbers in the Bible

The Groups of Twelve strategy for coaching leaders has many great strengths. God used it mightily. One of the most negative aspects of the strategy was over-emphasizing the NUMBER twelve and teaching that a special anointing was upon that number. The number twelve is not the only number that carries great weight in the Bible. There were three disciples who had special intimacy with Jesus, Jesus was raised up on the third day, and there were three crosses at Calvary. God created the heavens and earth in seven days, the sabbatical year occurred every seven years. The day of Atonement occurred in the seventh month. Seven signified fulfillment and perfection. The number ten signifies completeness, as illustrated in the Ten Commandments. Forty is associated with God’s mighty acts in the history of Israel and the church.

On top of this, the New Testament provides no evidence that the apostles or other church leaders attached any significance to a specific number of disciples chosen in a church. In Acts, the New Testament history book, you won’t find the apostles diligently looking for twelve disciples in order to follow Jesus’ pattern of twelve disciples. In order to apply theological significance to a particular number of disciples in the church today, it is necessary for the entire bible to give witness to this practice. I find no substantiation for the idealization of the number twelve or any other number in Acts or the Epistles. In addition, it is absent in the rest of church history and 2000 years of theological development.

Follow principles and flee the “annointed number” mentality.



The Fellowship of the Mat

Four faithful friends…a paralyzed man…God’s healing power upon Jesus… and a house (with some roof damage).

The house was packed — people everywhere.  Jesus was in the house.  Four faithful friends had carried their friend– a paralyzed man– to Jesus.  I wonder how long they journeyed through the town?  A few blocks– or maybe a mile or two?  They must have experienced a little bit of frustration not being able to get into the house.  Ingenuity prevailed.

They ascended the house’s outer staircase and landed on the roof.  Quickly, they removed the tiles eventually breaking through the roof.  “Sorry for the dust and debris my friends, but we’re on a mission.”  It was now elevator time.  In this day, homes in Capernaum were– let’s just say– elevator free.  The faithful four attached ropes to each corner of the mat and meticulously lowered their friend right in front of Jesus.  What an suberb entry, eh?

Luke 5:20:  “Seeing THEIR (emphasis mine) faith, Jesus said to the man, `Son, your sins are forgiven.'”  You do see that word `THEIR,’ right?  The paralyzed friend did nothing except cooperate with the ride through town on a mat and the elevator stunt.  Yet, his sins were forgiven.  But, there’s more.

Luke 5:24:  “Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed.”  You can finish the story.  Indeed, as everyone watched, the man jumped to his feet, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.

Consider this scenario as a cell gathering.  What do you think the members present would be talking about on the way home?  Were they murmuring because the child care was haphazard… the coffee was too weak… the “talker” was back and wouldn’t be silent for more than two minutes at any given time… the worship seemed flat?  Not exactly.  “Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe.  And they praised God, saying over and over again, `We have seen amazing things today.'”  What a cell gathering!

Some questions to ponder:

When you were on the mat, who held a corner for you?

Are you holding a corner for another right now?

Is the Lord’s healing power heavy in your midst?

Are your cell members gripped with wonder and awe?

What remodeling needs to take place in order to get the hurting and needy in the room?

What mat do you need to leave behind?

As a conduit of God’s care coupled with faith in Christ, grab a corner of the mat and let’s see Him change lives.

Please comment,


The Myth of Copying a Coaching Model

Myth: Once you have a coaching model, stick by it
Truth: Change rapidly lest you’re left behind; always be innovating

It’s our natural instinct to see the success of another cell church and want something similar. God does want to reach new people and disciple them through His church. The problem is that cell models don’t bring life–they are just the outward skin of the fruit beneath. When a pastor tries to copy a model cell church, the pastor loses his own creativity.

I was in a church recently that made the mistake of trying to follow the G12 model in its entirety. People in the church were forced into a rigid structure. It felt uncomfortable. The church finally abandoned it. I tried to share with them that principles, not models, bring life, yet this church was hesitant to try again because of the failed model approach to ministry.

The founder of any model normally has the freedom to change and adapt at will, but those who copy models lose that freedom.  I believe, in fact, that we must keep innovating in order to stay relevant. If we copy someone else’s model in its entirety, there is the danger of always being several steps behind, which will force us to play “catch-up.”   For example, if you try to copy Cho’s model or Elim’s model 100%, what will you do when they change?

Discover the cross-cultural principles of the church and implement those Biblical principles, rather than the model itself.