Proverbs 20:5 tells us “the purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out”.
Think about this word picture we are being given by the author. There is a deep well of purpose (calling) within the inner person of our being (heart) that needs to be drawn out. A person would be wise to regularly slow down to draw out the ideas, creativity, reflections, strategies, and action that God has already placed within us.
This is the role of coaching in the church.
In other words, coaching leaders is less about drawing up the X’s and O’s you want someone to execute in your offense (a common misconception), and more about coming alongside of a leader with a water bucket to draw out what God has put in. Coaching is about coming alongside a leader to help God lead them forward.
This is why I love Keith Webb’s definition of coaching:
Coaching is an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person to fully live out God’s calling.
Coaching church leaders is first and foremost about empowering leaders to live out the things that the Holy Spirit is calling them to do in obedience to Jesus’s command to make disciples.
This is why I believe we must prioritize coaching church leaders if we want to effective at making disciples who make disciples.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to equip and empower disciples of Jesus for ministry. In fact, in John 14:26 Jesus tells us that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to remind us of everything that Jesus taught– not a “Know it All” coach or pastor. I believe the Holy Spirit is regularly speaking to and empowering leaders for ministry through a variety of means… sometimes they just need help slowing down to reflect upon on what he is saying and doing in their midst. This is why all leaders need regular coaching. Coaching helps us listen to, reflect upon, and act out what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do in ministry.
How often and what types of leaders need coaching?
Personally I think everyone needs someone in their life helping them slow down and listen to God. But not everyone needs formal coaching. At Redeemer we provide regular coaching (monthly) for all of our missional community leaders. Missional Community leaders are deacon level leaders for us. They are leading a group of 10-20 people that is often a mixed bag of mature disciples, immature believers, and not-yet believers. This makes all of our groups very different, with some being more complex than others. Because every missional community is made up of unique people and they each have a unique vision for mission, coaching is critical. We’ve found that coaching is just as important (if not more important) than training for our leaders. MC leaders need the regular, on-going conversation to help them think through what God is up to in their groups and how they need to respond. What I find as I coach our leaders is that God is giving them Holy Spirit-inspired direction, solutions, and corrections (he has put it all within them), I just need to help draw it out through coaching conversations. Other types of leaders within the church that need regular coaching are staff members, ministry leaders, and church planters. Anyone who is leading others will benefit greatly from coaching.
Disclaimer…coaching is not the same thing as shepherding or training.
A mistake that people often made in regards to coaching leaders in the church is that they think that coaching can supplement shepherding or training. It cannot. Coaching compliments, and in many ways heightens the pastoral care and leadership training we should be providing to leaders regularly.