Effective Cell Churches Offer Excellent Care for Their Leaders

By Joel Comiskey, check out Joel’s book Coach

I often recommend Jim Egli and Dwight Marble’s book, Small Groups, Big Impact. The authors conducted their research among three thousand small group leaders in twenty countries and wanted to know why some groups grow and why some cell churches do a better job than others. They discovered that growing small group-based churches prioritize prayer, practice pro-active coaching, and establish a culture of multiplication.

Yet, when all three of these activities were analyzed together, coaching was the key factor.

Jim Egli writes, “Of all the questions on the survey, one emerged as most important. That question asks small group leaders: ‘My coach or pastor meets with me to personally encourage me as a leader.’ Leaders that respond with ‘often’ or ‘very often,’ have groups that are stronger in every health and growth measure!” (Jim Egli and Dwight Marble, Small Groups, Big Impact, Saint Charles, IL: Churchsmart Resources, 2011, p. 57.)

Most churches fail because they don’t see coaching as critical. They don’t prioritize coaching in their budget, nor do they take time to learn how to coach. They might even downplay the significance of coaching in their rush to start new groups. The research of Egli and Marble reminds us that a healthy system of coaching keeps the cell church healthy and moving forward. Healthy cell churches disciple the disciple-makers.

The only way for a pastor to go beyond himself is to follow the pattern of Jesus: concentrate on the disciple-makers who will then pastor the multitude. Why? Because they will provide care for the rest of the church.

This was the same principle Jethro communicated to Moses after seeing him serving as judge from morning until evening (Exodus 18:13). Jethro said to Moses, “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). Moses needed to concentrate on the leaders who would then care for leaders until each member in a group of ten would be pastored.

Although the word coaching is not used in Exodus, the principle is the same. Jesus pointed the way by discipling the disciple-makers. The essence of coaching is discipling a few who in turn minister to others. Coaching in the cell church ensures that those who are discipling others are also receiving discipleship. Effective cell coaches zero in on the particular needs of each leader through listening, teaching, encouragement, and strategizing. Effective coaches care for the person’s spiritual, emotional, familial, and personal needs.

For the month of September, experienced pastors will write twenty blogs on the topic of discipleship through coaching. If you’d like to receive these blogs in your email inbox, please click here. We’ll cover:

  • September 05-11: Biblical base for coaching. We’ll talk about biblical illustrations of coaching in the example of Jethro, Barnabas, Paul, Timothy, and so forth.  
  • September 12-18: How coaching keeps the cell system working properly. Effective cell churches minister to those who are ministering to others. They provide the leadership care necessary for leaders to continue to effectively minister.        
  • September 19-25: Key coaching principles. We will cover key coaching principles common in cell churches worldwide.  
  • September 26-to October 02: Fine-tuning the coaching experience. More and more coaching is happening online, although face-to-face interaction is also very important. We’ll talk about key coaching principles.