“Isn’t coaching for people who have problems?” ministry leaders often ask.
Recently, I found myself thinking about this question, its answer, and the implications–the potential and promise coaching holds for the local church.
The truth is coaching isn’t about healing; it is about growth.
To illustrate the benefits of coaching and what it looks like in the local church, consider the stories of three leaders, all of whom have given me permission to share.
The Power of Coaching in the Local Church
Three leaders were stepping into senior pastor roles for the first time. None of them had much experience with coaching, but each of them asked me to coach them around their new roles.
The first leader, who had been on staff at another church for 16 years, felt God calling him to a senior pastor role. We helped him locate a suitable first church, discussing common challenges senior pastors face — church finances, health, vision, and strategic direction, to name a few.
The church he went to had these problems and more!
Aware of the challenges he faced, he asked me to coach him. We coached around many of these challenges, and in the first year, the church grew from 20 to 75 regular attendees.
Through coaching, the pastor and leadership team defined a clear vision and direction for the church and effective kingdom ministry is now the norm. This pastor credits coaching for giving him and his leadership team the confidence they needed to make solid decisions. His coaching continues today.
The second leader, who went to a larger church, struggled with similar problems. Conflict and division ran rampant, and the pastor decided to change some of the church staff. The pastor was able to make difficult decisions with confidence because he had processed it not only with his coach but also with his leadership team.
In just one year, his church grew from 100 to 200. He continues coaching to this day. At this point, you couldn’t pay him to give up coaching.
“If anyone ever doubts the power of coaching, send them to me!” he says.
The third scenario was unique. The pastoral candidate was told that if he pastored the church correctly, there was an excellent chance that the church would split.
His reply was amazing, “If you will coach me through it than I will do it!”
The church split a year into the process, but now it’s healthier and growing again. He recently wrote a testimonial that said if not for coaching, he would not be in ministry today. This leader is grateful for learning how to manage conflict resolution. And, as you might guess, his coaching continues today.
Three first-year leaders . . . one doubled his influence, one quadrupled his influence, and one survived disaster and is increasing his health and influence.
Clearly, there are powerful things happening with coaching in local churches.
If you’re a coach, consider investing in a local leader and his or her ministry. And if you’re a pastor, prayerfully think about partnering with a coach for your health and the health of your church.
You won’t regret it!