We just finished a 3 day training with men and women from California, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Plus, we had international trainees join us from Holland, Australia, and China. Why are people coming to Gospel Coach Training in the first place?
Coaches who think strategically and who can help pastors, church planters, and ministry leaders stay focused on Jesus gaining a great reputation in the community will potentially have a longer range of influence than coaches who do not. Gospel-centered coaching is designed to assist the church in making plans to help connect lost people to Christ through various means of missional engagement, to build up leaders in spiritual formation and community, and to become transforming agents of God’s graciousness in the city, region, and nations of the world.
Although there may be innumerable benefits from a gospel coaching friendship, here are at least four major benefits:
1. The healthy pastor or church planter and his family
As the pastor or church planter learns to appropriate the gospel to his own heart, to his family relationships, and the church, he will be spiritually renewed day by day.
C.H. MacIntosh, a British pastor in the 1800s, suggested the ongoing need of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit for the pastor:
"The true secret to all ministry is spiritual power. It is not man’s genius, or man’s intellect, or man’s energy; but simply the power of the Spirit of the God of the Gospel. . . . It is well for all ministers to bear this ever in mind. It will sustain the heart and give constant freshness to their ministry. A ministry which flows from abiding dependence upon the Holy Ghost can never become barren. If a man is drawing on his own resources, he will soon run dry. It matters not what his powers may be, or how extensive his reading, or how vast his stores of information; if the Holy Ghost be not the spring and power of his ministry, it must, sooner or later, lose its freshness and its effectiveness. How important, therefore, that all who minister in the gospel. . . should lean continually and exclusively on the power of the Holy Ghost! He knows what souls need, and He can supply it. But he must be trusted and used. It will not do to lean partly on self and partly on the Spirit" (1869:214).
2. The healthy relationships among the leaders
As a pastor, church planter, or ministry leader disciples others with gospel-renewal truth, and emerging leaders are trained in dealing with their lives with the gospel, the leadership will be unified, dealing maturely with one another in love. Lovelace writes that without the gospel, many church members and leaders will fail either to engage themselves in the church or to move into deeper relationships with one another:
"Sometimes with great effort [most church members] can be maneuvered into some active role in the church's program, like a trained seal in a circus act, but their hearts are not fully in it. They may repeat the catchwords of the theology of grace, but many have little deep awareness that they and other Christians are “accepted in the beloved.” Since their understanding of justification is marginal or unreal—anchored not to Christ, but to some conversion experience in the past or to an imagined state of goodness in their lives—they know little of the dynamic of justification. Their understanding of sin focuses upon behavioral externals which they can eliminate from their lives by a little will power and ignores the great submerged continents of pride, covetousness and hostility beneath the surface. Thus their phariseeism defends them both against full involvement in the church's mission and against full subjection of their inner lives to the authority of Christ" (1979:204-205).
3. The healthy relationships in the church body
As the pastor, church planter, or ministry leader relates to others with the gospel (living as the “chief repenter” before the church), preaches and teaches the gospel, and leads by the power of the gospel, the people will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. The benefit to the community
A pastor, church planter, or ministry leader who lives by grace, along with members who are learning to grow in grace, will have a positive influence on their relationships with their neighbors and the culture around them.
Is it time for your church or ministry to seek the wisdom from a Gospel Coach?
Have you ever thought, “I think I might have taken this church as far as I can? Maybe I need to leave and let the next guy take it to the next level?”
If you are in (or have been in) the critical 5-7 years post launch of your church I suspect you have. I completely understand the why for thinking this way. In fact, there may be many reasons.
Some Planters experience discouragement. The church you now lead is not the one you envisioned six years ago. You had hoped for people to be more engaged, committed and generous. You thought there would be more conversions to Christ. People you loved and helped have left.
For other Planters it is just plain tiredness. Let’s face it. Starting a church is hard work. For some it’s the new challenges of managing people and things that have to get done. Maybe you are better at vision and ideas, and managing people is boring and difficult for you.
I suspect that you are probably in the weekly grind of sermon and services prep, and there’s little margin for thinking and visioning. You grab ideas here and there from podcasts or articles in Church Planter Magazine, but you don’t have time for thinking and praying.
So what can a Planter do?
First, get a Gospel Coach.
Our friend, Omar Ortiz said, “I first began using a Gospel coach during a very difficult season of ministry in church renewal. My coach helped me to have a renewed sense of purpose and direction in my ministry. More than that, however, my coach helped me to see my own need to repent of sinful patterns in my life. He helped me to move beyond simply paying lip service to applying the gospel to my life and actually led me there. Gospel coaching has been one of the most profound experiences I have had in ministry.”
Your health and the health and thriveability of your family is most important.
Today, more and more churches see the value of forming ministry teams who work together toward a common outcome. Search for “Team Ministry books” at Amazon.com and you will find over 300 titles. You can find practical help for doing ministry as a team or working with teams in the church through a variety of sources.
Since many of us were raised in an educational system that thrived on working in groups, you might have experienced a close relative of teams. Work groups are similar, but not the same as teams. You most likely have been part of a small group that studies together. Again, it is similar but not the same.
Most of what is in the marketplace about team ministry is utilitarian in nature. It is as if the whole purpose of team ministry is to get some job done in the best, most efficient way.
Remember, you don’t have to be alone in ministry. At CMM, we believe every pastor, church planter, ministry leader, and missionary is created to thrive in ministry. Click here to download your FREE eBook “Team Building for Beginners” today!
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!