Coaching: Stay close to Jesus

I overworked one spring to the point of exhaustion. I didn’t faithfully keep my day off, didn’t take care of my body, and eventually caught bronchitis. Yet I had a commitment to do a small group seminar in Greece during this same time period. While in Greece, I did my best to teach and consult each day, but I barely had enough strength to keep going. And each night I suffered long hours of wheezing and coughing. Has something similar happened to you?

I’ve learned the hard way that I need to pace myself to succeed over time. Coaching is helping a leader stay focused and balanced in life. If you’re going to help someone else, you first need to help yourself.

And the first place to help yourself is by receive coaching from the King of Kings. As He enriches you, you can pour out what you receive to others. Romans 15:5 says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As the God of endurance and encouragement fills your heart, you can then effectively minister to others.

I’m convinced that the most important book I’ve ever written is called An Appointment with the King. I believe in Appointment with the King so much because it focuses on how to have a daily quiet time with God, getting know His person, His Word, and His presence. In the quiet time, we worship the King of Kings, listen to His voice, and receive direction for our day. I’m convinced that the most important discipline of the Christian life is spending daily quality time in His presence.


Counsel about Making a Transition to Cell Ministry

If you read last Wednesday’s blog, you’ll noitice that I talked about a new hunger for the radical middle. I illustrated this hunger by a particular church that realized they needed to get back on track after reading Cell Church Solutions. Since I’ll be coaching this church for the next six months, I met with the senior pastor and board to decide on the next course of action.

One of the board members was so hungry for change, he just wanted to go for it immediately. I appreciated his zeal because I have a similar personality. Yet, I also have learned, as many of you have, that it’s super easy to start small groups–even 100s of them. Yet, it’s much more difficult to establish a long-term cell group system. Unless the senior pastor and staff are modeling it, cell ministry usually falters over time. .

I suggested that the senior pastor lead the staff in a prototype for at least two months. I then suggested that each staff person lead a turbo type pilot group for four months that consisted of key lay people who were willing to lead an open cell. After the four months, these key lay people would pair off two by two to open their own cells. The senior pastor and staff could start leading a normal open cell (3-15 that meets weekly outside the church building for the purpose of evangelism, community, and discipleship with the goal of multiplication) at that time.

I recommended that then, and only then, the church make an announcement about the new cell church vision.

I was very impressed with the urgency/passion level among the key leadership. They really wanted to become a cell church. I’m seeing this same passion more and more, not just in majority/third-world chruches, but also in the western world.

According to Jim Egli’s research, coaching is even more important than training to assure long term success. I’ll be covering the topic of coaching in my next few blogs.

Just a reminder that we at JCG do offer coaching for those who are transitioning to the cell church strategy or planting cell churhces. We would count it a privilege to serve you.



Helping Leaders be Disciplers

Steve Cordle 

In his excellent post this week, Rob Campbell prompted us to think through the way we develop leaders.

In that vein, how do your group leaders see themselves? Do they view themselves as facilitators of a meeting? As care-givers for group members? As representatives of the church?

This question is important, because leaders act according to the way they see themselves. For example, if they see themselves only as facilitators of meetings, they probably won’t be doing a lot of evangelism or connecting with members between meetings. The result will be a weak group.

In the the healthiest groups the leaders see themselves as disciple-makers, and they usually have a plan. They know who they want to encourage through the Equipping Track, and they know who they are developing as an apprentice. If they have no plan, they are probably just leading meetings.

Here are a couple of ways to help leaders see themselves as disciple-makers:

1.Speak about disicple-making in coaching times. Share from the scripture and your own experience. Help them see disciple-making is a commission from God and not just a requirement of the church.

2. Encourage the leaders to personally disciple their apprentice. Give them a format to do this (Neil Cole’s Life Transformation Groups are a great vehicle for this).


New Hunger for the Radical Middle

I sense a new hunger for the Radical Middle. Churches are looking for solutions, not rhetoric. They’ve had enough talk about how cell church is the only way that God is working on earth and how the rest of the church is “off the wall,” etc., etc. Pastors and leaders are tired of the theory and negative language. Yet, these same churches long for the New Testament heartbeat of a church dedicated to house to house ministry–not a watered down version of cells. These same pastors and leaders long for a return to simplicity that would make pastoral ministry meaningful. They’ve long-ago lost the zeal for the programmed based church, but they really don’t know what to do. 

My book Cell Church Solutions was not the miracle best well seller I longed for (of course, I was hoping it would sell more copies than the Purpose Driven Life book!). Yet the book is making a huge impact on churches that have read it and graped the message of the Radical Middle.

For example, I had one church call a few weeks ago, earnestly wanting to meet with me. The pastor, staff, and board had all read the CCS book. This church actually started ten years ago with a vision for cell church and attended some dynamic cell church conferences at the time (including one by Neighbour and one by Laurence Khong). Their mission statment still read: Empowered by the Holy Spirit, as one new people, God’s holy people,we envision _[name of their church]_______by the year 2020
Advancing into a multicultural cell church of 1000 joyfully transformed members.

What happened? Well, as the years passed, they slowly, subtely watered down the cell vision with meta type groups (you know, the idea that anything could be called a small group). They found themselves with a hodgpodge of groups that were scattered and inconsistent. The groups were more like a program than the heartbeat of the church.

But they now wanted to get back on track. When I met with them, I felt the passion coming from the senior pastor and board. They all wanted to move ahead and retake their original vision.

On Friday’s blog, I’ll share with you some things we talked about.



Basepath to Maturity

The book of James was written by the half-brother of Jesus.  James was not a believer in Christ during Christ’s earthly ministry.  When the resurrected Christ appeared to James, he became a believer and a leader.  As a matter of fact, he became the key leader in the Jerusalem church.  Paul calls James “a pillar of the church” (Galatians 2:9).  Tradition teaches us that his nickname was “camel’s knees” because of the enormous amount of time he spent on his knees in prayer.  He literally had calluses on his knees!

The book of James has been called the “Proverbs of the New Testament.”  I have heard this book’s main theme referred to as “Christianity in Overalls.”  It’s hard-hitting and practical.  Key words include “works” and “faith.”  In James, these words are not contradictory, but complementary.  James is not just writing about faith and works, but a faith that works.  He mentions the word “maturity” at least five times.  This word can also be translated as “complete” or “perfect.”  Here are the marks of the mature:

A person who is positive under pressure (James 1:2-4, 12)

A person who is sensitive to others (James 2:1-8, 14-16)

A person who has mastered the mouth (James 3:2-11)

A person who is a peacemaker, not a troublemaker (James 4:1-12)

A person who is patient and prayerful (James 5:7, 11, 16)

The reason I mention these marks of maturity warrants an explanation.  Most healthy cell churches have an equipping track or a “basepath to maturity.”  How a cell church implements this basepath to maturity varies throughout the world.  My hunch is that the specific ingredients of such an equipping track is not near as important as the relationship developed between mentor and protege (discipler and disciple) as they journey down this basepath.  In other words, the cell church wants to emphasize relational discipleship.  Here’s why I mention this to you.

Certainly, there are myriads of other marks of maturity in the scriptures.  But, you would have to admit– the five marks of maturity cited above sure do sound, feel and look like …. JESUS.  As of late, I’m giving some thought to how I might make these five marks of maturity foundational in my church family’s equipping track.  What cell church pastor would not want his/her cell leaders to be “marked” accordingly? 

A few questions that should stimulate some discussion within this blogging community:

How would you describe your church family’s basepath to maturity?

Do you change it occasionally?

Are you satisfied with the intended outcome?

Love to hear from you.

In closing, be careful not to use the marks of maturity as a template for others.  That will certainly lead you down the road of judgment.  Consider them through the lens of personal introspection.

Blog on!