Familial vs. Military

by Jeff Tunnell

“Relational structures” is one of our four cornerstones in building the kingdom of God.   Jesus personifies and demonstrates that reaching the world with the Gospel and expanding His Father’s soveriegn rule in every part of the world started with relationships.  I believe it will end there also.

A familial model of ministry starts with placing value on the person, while a military model begins with the making the person a tool to serve the larger army’s purpose.  A relational structure embraces the person and acknowleges growth toward a commonly desired achievment while the military structure only rewards the person if they reach the objective satisfactorily.

More could be contrasted on the two models.  I would offer that we must love people and use things; not love things and use people.  Our coaching structure will reflect one of these two approaches, which is yours?

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.



Coaching at Central Assembly

jonby Jon Hamilton

[I, Joel, would like to introduce, Jon Hamilton, our guest blogger and cell champion at Central Assembly in Vero Beach, Florida. I spent several days at Central Assembly a few years ago and was very impressed by the way God used Jon to help design a very effective cell system]

Americans are entrepreneurs.

So when Central Assembly (Vero Beach, FL) began transitioning into a cell model in 2004, we looked for ways to allow leaders to build cell networks that helped them create a spiritual legacy and a pride of ownership. To graduate a disciple from the training track and them remove him from the mentor who raised him up seemed likely to remove a key motivation from cell leaders.

We ultimately found solutions in a model very similar to what Joel Comiskey proposes in his book “From 12 to 3.” To date, our “family trees” have multiplied 150 cells (some are 4 generations deep)  and hundreds of new converts have completed our discipleship track.  We bore fruit in motivating new disciple makers and today Central is fully a cell-based church.

Recently we began to notice that communication of important information was becoming less sure the deeper the generations go. Excellent cell leaders who pastor disciples well and repeatedly multiply cells are not always communicating adequately over time as they coach the daughter cells. However, we do not want to remove the entrepreneurial motivation by simply reassigning their disciples.

To help with this, we are launching a “cluster coaching” strategy. Within each family tree, specialist coaches will meet regularly with small groups of cell leaders and the leaders they have multiplied. We plan to maintain the pastoral oversight/relationship lines while adding specialized coaching meetings to ensure adequate communication at each level.


Jon Hamilton, cell champion

Lead pastor is Buddy Tipton


Coaching from the Trenches

by Michael Sove

When I began the journey into cells the most talked about coaching structure was the Jethro model.  This is broken down into leaders of tens (cell leaders), leaders of fifties (zone supervisors) who cared for up to five cell leaders and leaders of one hundred (zone pastors) who cared for two zones.  Finally you would have those who led up to one thousand (district pastors).

Most of us who were starting out only experienced the first few levels of this coaching structure.  I learned quickly that moving effective cell leaders into the role of coaching without continuing to lead a cell was counterproductive.  I found out that staying in the trenches so to speak was good for both the coach and those they were coaching.  Not only could the coach relate to the problems the cell leader may be facing but he or she could also use the victories they were experiencing to inspire those they were trying to coach.

I believe every person is a potential cell leader but I also realize not everyone will lead a cell.  In the same way I believe every cell leader has the potential to become a coach but not all will.  Because I start with that belief the most natural coach for a person birthing out of a cell is the cell leader who has spent much time with them and has built a relationship with them.  So that is what we try to do.

I have found that the average cell leader can care for 1-3 other leaders as well as leading their own cell.  I have also found that a person on staff can care for up to 12 leaders and do a good job with it while leading a cell.  We have found it healthy to ask people to continue to lead a cell at all levels of the coaching structure.  Staying in the trenches keeps all leaders in touch with everything a cell leader faces.  Having this experience adds credibility to their coaching as well.

I also think it is important to flexible in your coaching structure.  Some leaders have a larger capacity to coach more people than others.  The most important thing to ensure in your coaching structure is that everyone is cared for at all levels.

What has worked for you when it comes to caring for leaders?


The Balance between Action and Care in Coaching

MARIOby Mario Vega

The supervision system in Elim Church is the Jethro Model. We received this model from the example of Pastor Cho’s church in South Korea. In the beginning of our transition to cell church, we did not have a precise understanding of the responsibilities of the coach, so we had to concentrate primarily on visiting the cell groups.

The coach was supposed to visit the cells under his/her care each week. The emphasis was on the quality control of each group. The coach had to make sure that the teachings were being properly imparted, that enough guests were present in the cells, and that the cell agenda was followed precisely. Although the coach’s role was almost exclusively focused on activity and results, I have no doubt that this was a key factor that brought great dynamism to our work.

From Joel’s teachings, I think we should make adjustments in regards to the care that the coach gives to his/her leaders. But this should not distract us from the emphasis on effective execution, which has been a hallmark for us here at Elim. The key lies in having a balance. On one extreme, it’s possible to emphasis the care of the leader to the point of actually neglecting the execution and quality control. Things will work better when both aspects are held in balance.




La acción y el cuidado como elementos de la supervisión.

El modelo de supervisión en iglesia Elim es el Jetro. El modelo lo recibimos del ejemplo de la iglesia del Pastor Cho en Corea del Sur. Dado que al principio no tenamos una definición precisa de las responsabilidades del supervisor, la tarea se concentraba en el trabajo de campo.

Se esperaba que un supervisor pudiera visitar cada semana las células bajo su responsabilidad mientras se encontraban en curso. El énfasis se daba en la eficacia con la cual se realizaba el trabajo. El supervisor se aseguraba que las enseñanzas se estuvieran impartiendo apropiadamente, que la asistencia de invitados fuera aceptable, que se siguiera el programa de la célula, etc.

Aunque no se puede negar que la labor del supervisor estaba centrada en la actividad y los resultados, no tengo la menor duda que ese fue un factor que imprimió gran dinamismo a nuestro trabajo.

A partir de las enseñanzas de Joel, creo que debemos hacer ajustes en lo que se refiera al cuidado que el supervisor debe tener de sus lderes. Pero, eso no debe desviarnos del énfasis en la ejecución eficaz del trabajo. La clave se encuentra en obtener un balance. Porque el otro extremo también es contraproducente: el énfasis en el cuidado de los lderes mientras se descuida la ejecución del trabajo. Las cosas marcharán mejor cuando ambos aspectos encuentren su equilibrio.