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.
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!