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.
At CMM, we want the Gospel of Jesus to be at the forefront of your sphere of influence. So, we coach and train CMM Coaches to work in the field with fellow ministry leaders as they develop strategies to spread the Gospel in their context.
For several weeks, one of CMM’s key partners for Gospel Coach training, Dave Whitehead, has challenged us with articles about the reasons to support urban church planters. Dave is the Coaching Catalyst for Redeemer City to City, New York. He was kind enough to contribute again this week. Here are his thoughts about how Gospel Coaching works in his context:
“In my first article, The Best Athletes Have a Coach, I talked about the importance of planting churches in urban areas. In my second article, “Sometimes We Struggle in Ministry,” I talked about how we coach urban church planters.
In this installment, I want to explore what the church planter experiences when they have a coach to walk alongside of them:
1. They are given time to think important things through.
The high pace lifestyle of urban areas overwhelm many people. Add to that starting a new church and you have a combination that makes many leaders more reactive than proactive in their leadership style.
Yet Gospel Coaching gives people the time to think things through. Gospel coaches are trained to ask more questions than make statements, and this gives the leader the mental space they need to process their opportunities/challenges and how to handle them. In a day of constant distractions, an hour to simply think things through is a gift.
2. They are given perspective to know what to do next.
The famous leadership writer Steven Covey said: ‘Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.’ Most pastors are bombarded with urgent requests, but in order to take a community forward a pastor needs to know how to see the important things (which are rarely urgent). Coaching helps the pastor see beyond the current cries of attention to that which really counts in their ministry. This perspective is crucial in order to lead others well.
3. They are given clear steps that will take them and their community forward.
Another good thing about Gospel Coaching is that every session ends with specific, measurable, and aspirational goals that have deadlines and desired outcomes. Yet the Gospel Coach doesn’t stop with a goal; the coach also explores what issues come up as goals are accomplished. This awareness provides many gospel moments that help leaders process their successes and failures through the good news that God gives us in Jesus Christ.
There are many more things that happen that we coach urban church planter. We find that having a foundation in the gospel more than achievement frees us to achieve more than we would be motivated toward on our own. Isn’t that the paradox of the gospel? When we lose our life we gain it. When we look at the important things that we need to address through the lens of the gospel we experience our need for Christ and his great provision at the same time; we can have a productive life that is dependent upon God’s mercy. We can lead with confidence in HIS ability and not our own.”
Remember: You don’t have to face the challenges of your ministry alone. A Gospel Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way. He’s been there and done hard things. He cares about you, your wife, and your family and can speak truth.
Click here to learn more about Coaching for Church Planters, Pastors, and Ministry Leaders today!
I have been coaching Church Planters full time since 2000. During the first years, I developed Gospel Coaching and the C.R.O.S.S. Coaching conversation so that I could remind each Planter of the importance of the Gospel in planting a Christ-centered, missionally engaged church.
I’ve found that there are about 10 key dimensions to every Church Planter, whether planting in a major urban USA city, a growing suburb, mercy neighborhood, or in a city in Cuba. Every Church Planter can and should be aware of these keys so that they can stay on top of the their game. Ok, I know this is not a game, but you get the idea.
This is your calling, but it is also your craft, and you’d better stay focused. No matter how simple you want church planting to be in your life, it is complex. But, no matter how complex it gets, there is a great degree of simplicity to it.
In the Church Leader Inventory (the assessing tool we operate and use in all our coaching and assessing), the First Dimension, among the ten church planter leadership dimensions, is Integrity.
The folks that did the research said Integrity was the most important because, I think, they knew character makes up for skill deficiency, but powerful skills will never make up for weak character.
First, we focus on inner heart qualities. Not because people will follow you and you will grow a big church. People do follow men with deep inner strength and they will listen to someone who has both feet firmly planted. But we should be leaders with strong inner heart character because that is what the Gospel is doing in and through us.
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!