Coaches Really Help

by Jeff Tunnell

The conversation went like this, “I am a bit discouraged in this area as it relates to our cell leaders.  Little effective coaching is occurring and the results are obvious; maintenance is the order of the day for our cells that have no real enthusiasm about evangelism or multiplication of new leaders.  We lay stagnating in the pool of mediocrity and small groups have become support groups without purpose.  We need the river of God’s life-bringing presence to flow into our pool and I seem to be the least likely candidate for ushering that into our midst because of my discouragement.”

Pastors, does this sound like you?  Cell champions, have you lost the leading edge of your ministry?  It may be due to having so much going on with transition or demands for continuing pastoral care.  The needs of a congregation press in on the pastor and traditional approaches REQUIRE him/her to perform all the regular duties simultaneously to attempting to build a coaching structure for his cell leaders.

Someone needs a friend in this scenario, but not JUST a friend.  A coach can bring some objectivity to the mix and help this discouraged leader find his way again.  This is not a time to give in or surrender but pulling back to regroup is definitely in order.  Asking some pointed questions about the spiritual life, reviewing existing goals for clarity (or reality) could be just enough to redirect this leader toward finding the personal river of HIS life-giving presence that will bring new hope and vibrancy.

Why do I need coaching?  Encouragement, accountability, inspiration and knowing someone has an interest in me and the work I am attempting by God’s life in me.  Every Paul needs a Barnabas!

2 thoughts on “Coaches Really Help

  • Jeff, while I believe active coaching can keep a cell group ministry from becoming stagnant the way you’ve described above, adding them in or motivating existing coaches to invest in leaders and visit stagnant groups is really hard to do alone.

    I know this from personal experience. I was assigned four stagnant groups at my previous church and after repeated visits to meetings and extended times of prayer and intercession with the leaders, I gave the leaders permission to dissolve their groups. No amount of “pot-stirring” on my part in meetings or time spent with individual members of these groups moved them out of complacency and their desire to do alot of nothing for God in group life.

    Temper the last paragraph with the fact that I do believe it’s worth doing and that’s why I worked so hard to support the groups and their leaders to help them see a missional purpose beyond meeting together for prayer requests, fellowship, and snack time.

    Far too often, pastors read about the role of the cell group coach and think the coach’s role is simply to support the leader of the group and that’s all the group needs… it’s been delegated and that’s that!

    Success with cells lies within the missional hearts and activities of the **members** of the groups, not solely the support of the leader and the leader’s commitment to leading a group.

    Show me a sickle-cell group ministry and I will typically find a complete lack of member support with a discipleship pathway to maturity (or a complete lack of this pathway among the members if made available), a profound lack of relational support from the staff among the members of the groups, and coaches who think their job is to encourage and support group leaders.

  • Jeff, you nailed this today. I could have said “amen” to every word, as if you had a telescope to see what’s going on among our cells. And Randall’s comment about addressing stagnancy is right on; I think there’s something Biblical about careful pruning… but we seem to avoid it as if it’s some sort of a step backward in our cell count. On the contrary, the pruning allows for the focus of our energy into those areas that can truly benefit from our energy, and the resulting growth will provide encouragement for the laggards to catch up.

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