A couple weeks ago, one of CMM’s key partners for Gospel Coach training, Dave Whitehead, challenged us with an article 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:
“As we saw in the first article the reasons to support urban church planters is great. Today we will address how we approach coaching church planters in urban areas.
The density and diversity of the urban landscape is exciting from an outside view, but for those who live in the urban environment, it is challenging. One of the first things a coach to urban church planters has to understand is who they are addressing and what context that leader is serving with their church plant.
As an example: I live in New York City, of which the writer E.B. White wrote,
‘There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter—the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last—the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements.’
This is true of most urban environments and the planter has to be keenly aware of their own story and to whom will they actually connect with. A coach has to be aware and trained to help the planter understand the complexities of the neighborhood they are trying to reach. This kind of cultural awareness is vital to coaching a church planter in urban areas.
The next thing is the competitive nature of urban areas. An urban coach needs to know how to keep the planter rooted in the gospel as he is bombarded with activities and events that will distract his congregation from spiritual growth. An thriving urban area has something going on that is exciting (and exhausting) every day of the week.
Lastly, the urban coach needs to keep the planter focused on working with the high level of turnover that occurs in urban areas. Few people see themselves in the city for the long haul. As a result, many urban churches experience up to 40% turnover in their leadership team every two years! This can be a brutal experience that makes a leadership development track essential if they expect to survive more than 4 years.
The issues addressed here are also in suburban churches, but the urban environment exacerbates these challenges in ways that planters are often not prepared for. As a result, we train our coaches to be ready to walk alongside the urban leader in ways that will help the church plant and the leader flourish in the fast pace of the city.
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!
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!