by David Whitehead, Coaching Catalyst with City to City in New York
The life of a Christian leader is filled with contrasts. Being a loving shepherd while dynamically leading a congregation forward creates clashes in values that are difficult to navigate. That’s why Gospel-centered Coaching is key to the thriving of both a leader and their church.
For example, instead of just coaching someone on strategies for breaking the next numerical growth barrier (200, 400, 800, etc.), Gospel Coaching intentionally explores the leader’s motivations for reaching that number. Growing as a church is good. But instead of limiting our conversation to how to grow the church, gospel-centered coaching requires asking questions about why the church planter or ministry leader wants to grow the church. How does he think breaking the next growth barrier will change his life? What is he looking for in church growth? Due to the pressures that all church planters and ministry leaders face, what starts as a sincere desire to reach viability can easily turn into an inner quest to justify their value as a person or pastor.
As many leaders who have experienced church growth can tell you, an expanding congregation also expands the issues that need to be addressed and the costs to maintain that expansion. To have a coach who is not focused solely on growth is invaluable for helping the leader keep a gospel perspective as he faces these daily (if not hourly) pressures. A trained Gospel Coach can help the leader manage church growth without forfeiting his personal spiritual vitality.
The gospel is a great gift for leadership: we are more sinful than we want to acknowledge, yet more loved by God than we could dream. The ramifications of this truth are huge for a leader. For most of us, the mistakes we make are in obscurity, but many of the mistakes that leaders make are public for others to see. One of the great opportunities that the gospel gives leaders is admitting their weaknesses while maintaining a sense of worth. The gospel tells us that failure is not the final word––therefore, leaders can look at their mistakes with honesty while believing that Jesus will guide them into the future.
As the reader knows, this is easier said than done. The pressures to hide from or justify mistakes are great. A coach who understands the gospel can help this process of growth by exploring where the planter finds rest in Jesus. How does the planter measure his self-worth? Without the gospel, he may look to the church plant for identity, which can cause great pain and even hinder the progress of the church when things go wrong.
The gospel tells us that we are loved by God before we ever start a church plant. Therefore, God will save us from getting our self-worth from failure or success (both are different expressions of the same idol). A gospel-centered coach can be pivotal in keeping a church planter or ministry leader anchored in the gospel instead of basing his or her identity and value on the number of people who are coming (or not coming) to their events.
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. We suggest getting a Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. A Gospel Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way.
By Jim Moon, Jr., Vice President, CMM
Most of you know that through CMM, the ministry where I serve, I’ve been very involved in a church planting and renewal movement in a big island south of Florida. I can’t say much for security reasons, but I wanted to share a little in word, picture and a quote.
My last trip was amazingly good! I was super encouraged by how the national leaders are expanding the work (see stats below). Three more key towns and cities receive training this month – in spite of the challenges of transportation issues. How is Gospel Coaching impacting this island?
One key pastor told me, “I’m using Gospel Coaching in all kinds of conversations now. I’ve learned to listen better and I always have the gospel tools in mind whether it is an intentional appointment or an informal conversation. I want to train all of our pastors and wives in Gospel Coaching. Their ministries are hard and they are isolated, so we need to develop networks of Gospel Coaching all across our city, province and the whole country!”
My last trip was amazingly hard. Would you pray for my friends/colleagues who endure daily difficulties? It breaks my heart to hear their struggles in health, personal economics and powerlessness. But they challenge me when I see them trusting the Lord in ways that I/we do not. These believers on the big island depend on Jesus in prayer. They live inter-dependently. They obey the Lord. They suffer well. Lift them up!
As CMM trained leaders in the US and other countries, the Lord is moving. How? Men and women were learning the heart of Gospel Coaching – confessing sin and their need for Jesus and being empowered by what Jesus is doing and has done for them! To varying degrees, the Spirit of God wrecks and rebuilds the hearts and minds of the trainees and trainers too!
Please pray for me to trust Jesus and not my own abilities! Pray for safe travel, for my wife while I’m gone and for powerful Holy Spirit transformation of the people I encounter. And me too!
Here are 8 of the 10 fully trained, equipped and certified staff-level trainers on the big island. This photo represents 5 years of profound love, language-learning in our 50s and joyful, life-changing labor together. This year, these trainers directly impact more than 20 cities and towns with the gospel of Jesus! And they have plans to transform people in every province! Dear friends! Thank you for your prayers and support of us and them!
Below are 30 of the 55+ currently certified trainers and gospel coaches! There are another 150+ in the training process!
In the US, Gospel Coaching is growing into so many other denominations, networks and churches! In this picture of a recent training in Atlanta, there are eight groups represented from Baptist, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, and the PCA in Canada, SE Asia and Mexico. What an answer to prayer!
Remember, you don't have to face the challenges of your ministry alone. A #churchcoach #ministrycoach can help you face your struggles in a gospel-centered way. Learn more about Gospel Coaching today!
The purpose and plan of discipleship in many churches is unclear, unfocused, and unreliable. Programming will change constantly and the themes we emphasize vary wildly. It leaves people confused or exhausted, and leadership flabbergasted. What we propose is not complicated, but it does require the hard work of clarity, discipline, and consistency.
But first, let’s go back to basics and re-imagine discipleship by asking three simple questions adapted from the book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. The questions are WHY, HOW, and WHAT.
Paul May is a pastor/church planter in metro Washington D.C. Here’s what Paul said recently about having a Gospel Coach:
“My coaches didn’t just give me advice, but came alongside me as older brothers. They walked with me through hard conflict and painful losses, and celebrated with me at personal successes and when we saw God do big things. While I’ve been blessed by many godly pastors generous with their prayer, friendship, and counsel, I’ve found that having someone walk with me and remind me of the gospel continually is what has kept me married and in ministry, and I’m convinced it’s had a significant role in the fruit produced in our first and now second church plant.
“The main content of CMM coaching is how to apply the gospel to the heart of the planter. So being coached was the beginning of a journey for me of learning the A-Z part of the gospel and applying to my life in ways I didn't know I needed. Kind of like when you buy a new vacuum and you realize how much the old one sucked--or didn’t, rather. My wife and I have learned that we need these kinds of relationships in our lives continually, and it’s opened new pathways of conversation in our marriage, with our children, and with those we disciple. Gospel Coaching has helped me grow more and more towards being the spiritual leader I’m called to be, both of my household and over the household of God."
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 “Gospel Centered Discipleship” 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!