Coaching 5 – Get Your Hands Dirty

coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

I’m not much on gardening, but this part is certain; you have to get your hands right in the dirt so plan on getting dirty!  Planting, tending to the growing plants, weeding and fertilizing are part of the process for healthy growth.  If you are like me, you might need some instruction on gardening and personal pointers on the practical aspects leading to success.

Coaching requires a similar involvement and attentiveness.  If I leave my cells alone, hoping they will do well, my hopes will likely be dashed.  When I finally see that growth is not happening by itself, it may be too late to start over due to lost seasonal opportunity.  So where can I obtain the instruction and pointers leading to successful coaching?

Joel Comiskey comments in his book COACH:

“I’ve learned that it’s easy to start groups. Keeping them healthy, growing, and fruitful requires ongoing coaching and development. The purpose of this book is to train coaches to help cell leaders stay healthy and fruitful. Coaching is the key to guiding leaders to succeed over the long haul. Yet those who are willing to coach other leaders often lack information on how to coach. This book provides step by step instructions on how to coach a small group leader from the initial stages of leading the group all the way to giving birth to a new one. Those who have never coached before will receive clear information on how to take the small group leader to the next level. And someone who is already coaching a small group leader will also find the eight lessons in this book invaluable to empower others to lead fruitful groups. This book is a great resource to use individually, in a small group, or in a classroom teaching setting.”

Get your hands in there and get dirty; And remember, you have to shoo away intruders to keep them from eating your produce! John 10:10

Discipleship and the Transfer of Life

By Rob Campbell

“Holistic small groups are the natural place for Christians to learn to serve others—both inside and outside the group—with their spiritual gifts. The planned multiplication of small groups is made possible through the continual development of leaders as a by-product of the normal group life. The meaning of the term ‘discipleship’ becomes practical in the context of holistic small groups: the transfer of life, not rote learning of abstract concepts” (Natural Church Development, Christian Schwarz, p. 32).

May I ask you to read that last sentence one more time? That sentence is one of the most concise definitions of discipleship in the context of holistic small groups that I’ve ever read. Ruminate of that sentence, my friend.

A few questions:

As you partner with God, how do your group members experience the “transfer of life?”

Concerning your equipping track, is it curriculum centered or seminar style? Do you equip one on one or assemble all the leaders together?

What one mistake have you made in equipping leaders that you would like to share with this blog community?



Watch the Motivation for Cell Church Ministry

joelby Joel Comiskey

I often like to go through books with the pastors I coach. With Big Bear Christian Center (BBCC), we go through one cell church book every three weeks. We review one of the books when we meet at my house every sixth week and the other one via SKYPE in the middle of the six week period. Last week we were reviewing the Apostolic Cell Church by Laurence Khong. I highly recommend this book because it’s chalked full of cell ministry insight. My only criticism of the book is that it should have been three books–one on cell church, one on spiritual gifts, and another on leadership.

Jeff Tunnell, the lead pastor at BBCC is wisely mentoring a younger leader (Rob Hasting) to take his place as lead pastor. As we talked on SKPE, I reminded Rob to watch his motivation. I warned him about the disease called “Yonggi Cho envy,” that fatal attraction to numerical success for the wrong motivation [please check out Mario Vega’s excellent blog on this topic]. We wrestled with the context of Laurence Khong’s church in Singapore which has 10,000 people as opposed to the 150 people at Big Christian Center.

I warned Rob that sometimes people leave cell churches to attend churches that only emphasize Sunday morning attendance because there are far less requirements. I reminded Rob that the chief motivation for doing cell church is theological. We do cell church because we believe we can make better disciples who make other disciples. We practice cell church because we want to live out the priesthood of all believers and fulfill the one-anothers of Scripture. Because Rob is fairly new to cell church ministry, I wanted him to make sure he understood the values and biblical principles for doing cell church ministry.

Often pastors who begin cell church practice without believing in cell church values fade away over time when confronted with obstacles. Cell church ministry has deep theological foundations that need to guide our practices.



p.s.: My next book will cover those key theological foundations for cell ministry.

Proper Motivations for Cell Ministry

by Mario Vega

When we talk about cell ministry, we often associate it with church growth. The desire for church growth may have several motivations. Some people desire growth to build a mega church and become a famous icon. And there will always be pastors who desire growth to become the Pastor with the largest number of church members in the city. Others might desire growth for the sole purpose of increasing church income. The reality is that a multitude of motivations may lurk behind the desire to grow a large church.

The fact is, however, that God will only bless those who have the right reasons or motivations. Those motivations are the desire to adopt the model that the New Testament shows for the church and the desire to live as a community that grows in fellowship, evangelism and knowledge.

Not every cell church will become a mega church, but every cell church can live the values of the Kingdom of God. Whenever a person has a sincere and pure heart, God will continue to bless such a person.

Motivations, therefore, are an essential element when referring to cell work.

What do you think of this?


Translation in Spanish:

Motivaciones para trabajar con células.

Usualmente el tema de las células se asocia con el crecimiento de la iglesia. Y el deseo de crecimiento puede tener diversas motivaciones. Existen las personas que desean el crecimiento para poder edificar una mega iglesia y convertirse en un referente famoso dentro de su área.

No faltará quien desea el crecimiento para convertirse en el Pastor con mayor número de miembros en la ciudad. Otros podran desear muchos miembros con el propósito que los ingresos económicos de la iglesia sean mayores. En fin, detrás del deseo de crecimiento pueden esconderse multitud de motivaciones.

Sin embargo, Dios solamente bendecirá a aquellos que posean las motivaciones correctas. Esas motivaciones son el deseo de adoptar el modelo que el Nuevo Testamento muestra para la iglesia y el deseo de vivir como una comunidad que crece en comunión, en evangelismo y en conocimiento.

No toda iglesia celular se convertirá en una mega iglesia; pero, toda iglesia celular puede vivir los valores del Reino de Dios. Cuando existe un corazón sincero y puro, Dios no dejará de bendecir a tal persona.

Las motivaciones son, entonces, un elemento fundamental al hablar del trabajo con células.

¿Qué piensa usted de esto?

Coaching 4: In Person

coach-tunnellby Jeff Tunnell

My friend Debbie Shuck-Mills was getting married at Duke Chapel and I had the privilege of conducting part of the ceremony.  With the rehearsal completed we traveled to the rehearsal dinner being hosted in a historic North Carolina home.  Debbie was late arriving to the dinner and this became a topic of discussion among her closest friends.  I listened in as they each told a story of when Debbie’s chronic tardiness had affected them in some way or another.

To my surprise and delight the stories all concluded with similar sentiments:  all of her friends were very accepting of her being late because she was “so very present in the moment”.  When she was with you, it was as though you were the only person alive on the planet.  She would not leave you for another appointment until she had a certainty that her relationship with you ‘in the moment’ was as full as possible.  Each one knew that she would only be late because she was pouring herself into the relationship in front of her.

Joel Comiskey’s article here on the website “Friendship: The Simple Secret of Coaching” gives us a similar conclusion from principles in Jesus’ life.  The adage ‘people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care’ is powerful insight for the coaching relationship.

As Joel says, “You must first win the leader through a caring friendship, everything else will flow naturally.”