Coaching Structures Are Like Scaffolding

joelby Joel Comiskey

Both the Jethro Model of coaching (5×5) and the G12 structure have strengths and weaknesses (check them out). It’s also interesting that the largest cell churches in the world use both structures and have seen God do amazing things. Jon Hamilton blogged last Friday about  how Central Assembly has adapted my own G12.3 coaching structure (check out the basic concept behind it) and seen God work mightily.

It’s good to have a structure and to even envision the expansion of cells into that structure. However, the coaching cell structure is more like the scaffolding that helps in the building process. You would never hear a construction worker remark, “Wow, look at my beautiful scaffolding.” In the same way, it’s strange to hear a cell church glorying in its incredible scaffolding. Yet, this is exactly what has happened in certain cell churches. They want you to think that their scaffolding is so marvelous that it will give you instant results. Don’t believe it.

In Ecuador, constuction workers often used trees or branches for scaffolding. In other places around the world, the scaffolding is quite sophistifcated. The one common trait about scaffolding, however, is that it is supposed to serve the building process and not the other way around.

As cells evangelize and multiplication takes place, more scaffolding is needed and its helpful to have a creative way to expand your coaching network that creates ownership (Jon Hamilton’s blog). If you’re planting a church and starting with a single cell, the lead pastor will coach all new groups until coaches are needed. So yes, it’s great to have an idea of what type of coaching structure you will grow into. Always remember, however, that the content of coaching is far more important than the coaching structure. Be willing to adjust your coaching structure to meet the needs of your own congregation, rather than trying to fit leaders and cells into your coaching structure.



9 thoughts on “Coaching Structures Are Like Scaffolding

  • Thanks Joel for this well written reminder that puts the structure in the right place as supporting and not the most important focus in coaching. I too have found the G12.3 structure as a very adaptable structure. Thanks

  • Excellent analogy, Joel. It’s not about the scaffolding!

    You know, I rarely hear about G-12 any longer. Might be the types of pastors with whom I’m working now, but it seems as if this structure-focused model has played itself out.

  • Thanks, Randall, and Michael.

    G12 has certainly fizzled out in the U.S. and Latin America. However, it’s still RED HOT in the Philippines and Singapore, due to Lawrence Khong’s commitment to G12 (one of the last mega cell churches to continue to submit to Bogota). I believe Khong does seminars in the Philippines.

  • Thanks for this week’s tip. It is so relieving to hear that we are on the right path by me as the pastor overseeing our first 7 groups. I have 2 volunteer people who are leaders but oversee three groups each and I take care of the new plant group. I will strongly consider your 12.3 principle as it answered many of my doubt and weaknesses of the 5×5 model. Also the scaffolding comparison really made me understand my experience from the mistakes I’ve lived and gone through. Thanks and God bless!

  • love the analogy. here in our church some of our leaders are fearful and dont understand the importance of being flexible, so we accomplish less than expected. i personally enjoy reading it keep up the good work

  • Hi Frnd,

    As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a rope tied to their legs. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

    “Well”, he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were. The powerful and gigantic creature has limited its present abilities by the limitations of its past.

    Like the elephants, how many of us go through life holding onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before? How many of us refuse to attempt something new and challenging because of our so called MINDSET?

    Your attempt may fail, but never fail to make an attempt……….


    CHOOSE not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past…….

    Thanks for listening,


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