In fact, Ed Stetzer has noted, “Church planters who met weekly with a coach led churches that averaged twice the size of those with no coach.” (read more)
Recently I was discussing the benefits of coaching with some pastors. As we talked, I realized that they had a totally different perspective on coaching than I did. They felt that a coach was an expert who would instruct the church planter what he should do next.
I explained that I saw providing insight and instruction as the role of a mentor or consultant. My approach to coaching is distinctly different (explore the DeVries Coaching Approach). When I coach, I allow the church planter to set the agenda and ask questions to help identify what the Holy Spirit is leading to be accomplished.
How Coaching Benefits Church Planters
Roy Shinn, church planting pastor of The Promise Church in Riverside, shares this testimony of his experience:
Church planting is not something that I intuitively get. And so when I set out to launch The Promise Church in Riverside, CA, coaching was an indispensable part of getting church planting. I was blessed to be offered a coaching relationship with Pastor Dave Devries through our denomination The Missionary Church. We talked on the phone twice a month and met up when we could. Through our sessions I received benefits I would not have had otherwise. One was the direct access I had to someone’s years of wisdom and experience in ministry. And unlike help from a church planter’s blog or website, it was experience and wisdom applied directly to my specific context. After catching up a bit, Pastor Dave would always put the ball in my court by asking what I would like to talk about that day, and what I expected to get out of the meeting. Letting me set the agenda like that always ensured I left the meeting with a headful of tested ideas and challenging questions for my ministry. Access to this kind of applied wisdom and experience has saved me from more than one detour into the wilderness. It’s kept me focused on our vision of making disciples and serving the community.
Another benefit was the natural accountability that came from the regularity of the meetings and the coaching relationship. It kept my feet to the fire of God’s will more than once. Pastor Dave was fond of always following up my bold declarations of “I’m going to do this in order to achieve this,” with “by when are you going to do it? Give me a date.” His gentle inquiry kept a firm pressure on my mind to get things done; like setting up a newcomer follow-up system and getting my membership class material together. I’m deeply grateful I was able to have one of the most effective resources for church planters out there, the personalized support and guidance of a coaching relationship. Not many have had the opportunity, and as one who has, I say it’s worth it.
The Promise Church
Roy identifies two key benefits of coaching:
1) Focused conversation on his agenda
2) Natural accountability to take steps to move forward
Certainly every church planter would benefit from personal coaching!