One of my favorite movies is Chariots of Fire. The movie tells the riveting story of two Olympic runners, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, and their quest to win gold medals in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Both are intense and fiercely competitive in their own way.
The interesting backstory is the role of their coaches. Harold Abrahams hired the famed coach, Sam Mussabini, to make him faster. Mussabini had to keep an eye on Abram’s volatile emotions, as well as the physical side of training. Liddell’s coach, Sammy McGrath, was a long-time family friend and used a personal, friendship coaching style to improve Liddell’s running. McGrath had to balance Liddell’s training with his commitment to serving Jesus and using his running for the glory of God, not personal fame. Both Liddell and Abrahams went on to win gold medals in the Paris Olympics, and their coaches played a vital role.
The Bible shows us the effectiveness of coaching. Jethro coached Moses in the wilderness (Exodus 18). He encouraged Moses but also pointed out his shortcomings. He helped Moses organize the nation Israel into groups of 10s, 50s, 100s, and 1000s. Barnabas coached Paul through encouragement and teaching (Acts 12-13). Elijah coached Elisha to replaced him as Israel’s prophet. In fact, coaching best describes the one-on-one type relationships we see in the Bible. Jesus uses the concept of discipleship in the group context but one-on-one is best understood through coaching. The idea is to come alongside a leader to offer encouragement and another perspective.
The same is true in cell churches. David Cho, the father of the modern day cell church movement said it well, “The most important role in cell ministry is that of the section leader (coach).” Cho realized that cell leaders needed coaches who could come along side to encourage, develop, care, and strategize. Those leaders without coaches who are left to fend for themselves normally fail.
Jim Egli concluded his Ph.D. research of 3,000 cell leaders in 20 countries by saying, “Quality coaching of cell leaders was the most important factor in establishing a successful cell system.” Egli looked at a number of factors but concluded that coaching was the most important.
So what can we do to prioritize coaching?
The first step is to help leaders become coaches. We need more coaches. Secondly, pastor need to be convinced that coaching is important and that it’s worthwhile to develop coaches to care for cell leaders. Many pastors don’t really catch this, and the cells don’t grow and multiply.
In the month of September, we’ll explore how to prioritize coaching and help leaders take the next step to become effective coaches. Pastors and leaders will write twenty-five blogs on the topic of coaching. If you’d like to receive these blogs in your email inbox each day, press here. We’ll cover:
- Week 1 (September 02-08): The Biblical base for coaching.
- Week 2 (September 09-15): the vision for new coaches. Pastoral vision for developing coaches is critical to make it work. Unless the pastor raises up coaches, he or she will have to do it all and the cell system won’t grow.
- Week 3 (September 16-22): Who are the coaching candidates? What are the key characteristics? Fruitfulness and integrity are two essential qualities. Multiplication and fruitfulness are key requirements.
- Week 4 (September 23-29): What do great coaches do, part 1
- Week 5 (September 30-October 06): What do great coaches do, part 2.
Please feel free to comment about your experience in developing coaches. Please feel free to share here.