Effective Coaching: Throw Out the Rule Book

joelby Joel Comiskey

I’ve been coaching pastors since returning from Ecuador in 2001. My journey in coaching pastors can be summed up by the title of John Maxwell’s famous book, Failing Forward. When I first started in 2001, I figured pastors had hired me to tell them what to do. I thought coaching meant consulting. I soon discovered that my know-it-all approach was wearisome and didn’t work long-term. So then I read a bunch of books on coaching and changed my stance to the “therapeutic listener.” When a pastor asked my opinion on a topic, I would turn it around saying, “What do you think?” or “what would you do?” Listening and well-placed questions certainly enhanced my coaching, but the pastors weren’t satisfied. After all, some simply lacked knowledge on how to transition or how to lead a cell group. They needed information. coach

I became fruitful in my coaching ministry when I developed my own coaching style based on reading, experience, and practice. One key discovery can be summed up by the phrase “Throw Out the Rule Book.” I realized that each pastor was unique, and I needed to adapt my coaching to meet the needs of the coachee, rather than following someone else’s rule book. Some needed more listening and encouragement while others expected teaching and information. I came across a quote from an article in ESPN that really resonated with this truth. Writing about Federer’s approach to coaching (the great tennis champion), this article in ESPN said, “In today’s game, most players put great stock in having a full-time dedicated coach. The role of a coach can vary from tactician and strategy expert to psychologist, travel agent, babysitter, substitute parent and best friend, and often is comprised of all those facets.” From constant feedback and evaluation from the coachees, I can know if I’m effectively coaching that particular pastor or cell champion.

In June 2009, Ben Wong gathered a handful of pastors and leaders in Los Angeles to talk about coaching. We shared our varied experiences, and by the end of the day, we decided to join forces to write book on coaching. The book is due in October 2010 and the title is “You Can Coach: How to Help Leaders Build Healthy Churches through Coaching.” I will be the editor of this book and will also write a couple chapters. One chapter will be entitled, “Throw out the Rulebook.” The other authors will include Ben Wong (Hong Kong), Timothy Tu (Taiwan), and Sam Skaggs (U.S.). All of us are actively engaged in coaching pastors and leaders.

Here’s a question for you: What’s your opinion about the concept  “throw out the rulebook?”


Service in the Cell Church

marioby Mario Vega

I’m writing this blog right at the end of the welcome service for the people who will carry out “a privilege” in our church. This is a solemn worship service that takes place once every year. Today’s service had an attendance of approximately 4,000 people. Everyone of the 4,000 are involved in one of our service areas. What are all these people doing?

Some work as deacons and deaconesses in the adults’ church building. We also have deaconesses for the Babies’ Church. Besides we have deacons and deaconesses for the Children’s Church. The deacons and deaconesses that serve in the youth services have to be added too.

Another group of brothers and sisters work as the Protocol Committee. They are responsible for ensuring the comfort of those attending the celebrations and to serve them properly.

Another committee is the Mass Media Committee. They are responsible for receiving the contributions for the support of our radios and television channel. We should also mention the Support Committee, which is in charge of receiving the offerings that leaders have collected in their respective cells.

There are other service areas such as library, youth, women, counselors, prisons visits, and visits to orphanages. In addition the church has 13 musical bands, ministries of social projection, sound and audio recordings.

It is important to remember the fact that to execute any of these privileges it is an essential/required condition to be a cell leader. While contemplating these thousands of brethren set out to serve during 2010, I can only thank God for giving to His Church such a large number of servants. To Him be the glory!



Sirviendo en una iglesia celular

Escribo este blog cuando recién termina el servicio de bienvenida a las personas que desempeñarán algún privilegio en la iglesia. Este es un culto solemne que se realiza una vez cada año.

El servicio de hoy contó con la presencia de unas 4,000 personas involucradas en distintas áreas de servicio. ¿Qué hacen tantas personas dentro de la iglesia?

Unos trabajan como diáconos y diaconisas en el local de adultos. También tenemos diaconisas para la iglesia de bebés. Además tenemos diáconos y diaconisas para la iglesia infantil. Hay que añadir también a los diáconos y diaconisas que atienden los cultos de jóvenes.

Otro grupo de hermanos y hermanas fungen como Comité de Protocolo. Ellos son los encargados de velar por la comodidad de las personas que asisten a las celebraciones y atenderles de manera adecuada.

Otro comité es el de medios masivos. Son las encargadas de recibir las contribuciones para sostén de nuestras radios y el canal de televisión. Hay que mencionar también el comité de Apoyo. Éste es el encargado de recibir las ofrendas que los lderes han colectado en sus respectivas células.

Hay otras áreas de servicio como librera, juventud, mujeres, consejeras, visitas a penales, visitas a orfanatorios. Además la iglesia cuenta con 13 grupos musicales, ministerios de proyección social, sonido y grabaciones de audio.

Es importante señalar que para ejercer cualquiera de estos privilegios es condición indispensable ser un lder de célula. Al contemplar estos miles de hermanos decididos a servir durante 2010, no puedo más que dar gracias a Dios por entregar a su iglesia tan gran número de servidores. ¡A él sea la gloria!

No More Bowling Alone

Jeff Tunnell

I am blogging from the local bowling alley today while attending a Cell group birthday party for a six-year old and his friends.  Moms and dads are here from 2 cells and lots of fellowship is occurring.  The moms naturally cluster with the babies that are too young to participate in the sport and the dads are hanging together (no doubt solving the world’s problems) as well as coaching the active bowlers.  No specific exchange concerning the word of God is scheduled here, simply living out one of the simple celebrations of life together in HIS kingdom.

Relational structures are one of my ‘big four’ because growth and maturing take place in a caring environment.  The other three are; having a grace bias, holding a spiritualistic-biblical worldview and understanding the kingdom of God.  Looking at the life and ministry of Jesus I see Him operating in and through relationships; talking, teaching, modeling, eating, walking, attending events (weddings and marketplaces) and ministering together with His disciples.

My ministry training occurred ‘on-the-job’ in a program driven church within the North American culture.  Fortunately, I have some good balance from my out-of-country mission experiences and a super-dose of cell church learning, too.  However, I still find it hard to summarize that being here at the bowling alley is ‘ministry’!  I am comfortable with the summary, but know that the standard view from the body of Christ is that I should be at a desk, or a hospital, or a home visit, DOING something called ministry as defined by hundreds of years of formal practices by clergy.

As we prepare to depart, following the gift opening and snacks for hungry children, one of the other dads approaches and says, “I’ll see you tomorrow night at cell group.”  I sense the sincerity of relationships forming, ministry moving in a good direction and opportunity to worship coming up.

I may give my desk away!

Three Questions about the Cell Church of the Future

By Rob Campbell


As a team member of Joel Comiskey Group, I think often about the future of the cell church. Would you be so kind to answer the following three questions?

1. Do you believe teens and people in their twenties embrace the cell church model?

2. How would you see the cell church model changing to attract teens and twenties?

3. Do you believe in two decades or so, the cell church model will be seen as antiquated and/or obsolete? Please explain.

This blog conversation should be interesting and enlightening. Please join in.



Can These Dry Bones Live?

joelMost of you reading this blog have also read my February newsletter entitled
“Can These Dry Bones Live?” (if you haven’t, please check it out HERE). In that newsletter I talk about God’s heartbeat to convert hearers into warriors through penetrating cell groups. God never intended church members to only sit and soak. Ephesians 4:11,12 tells us that God has raised up gifted leaders to prepare the laity for works of service. I saw this truth in action during my last seminar in Newark, New Jersey at Bethel International. What a mighty army of cell leaders! I came back from that seminar inspired and a renewed vision for cell church ministry.

In the past, I’ve tended to over-magnify culture. “We’re just individualists in North America (and Western world), so it won’t work in the same way,” I’ve found myself thinking. Yet, the Bible, not culture, needs to guide all that we do or say. The community, one-another ministry, and group orientation that I saw at Bethel among the Latinos is actually Biblical culture. God has placed in the Latino culture (and many other cultures) a more biblical trait of community and unity, and He wants to change us to conform to that biblical pattern. Granted Western culture also has many wonderful, biblical traits, such as diligence, organization, adherence to law, etc. God wants to instill those traits in other cultures which might lack them. Again, the Bible, not culture, must dictate all we do and say.

My excitement lately is that cell church is a biblical model of raising up leaders. God is behind it. Yes, a church must make adjustments and be willing to pay the price (e.g., coaching meetings, training, leading cells, etc.), but there are many hungry souls who are willing to pay that price. I’m encouraged to run with those who are passionate with the vision, rather than allowing the doubters to weigh everyone else down.

God wants us to learn from the worldwide cell church, test everything by the Word of God, and ultimately pray that our ministries would fulfill the prayer of Jesus: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). God is ready to blow on the dry bones in our chruches and convert them into a mighty army for His glory. Are you ready to participate?