In SEND U, we have been promoting coaching as a means of personal development, and as a help for those in mission leadership. But coaching is also used extensively in supporting church planters, and this was the context that first sparked my interest in coaching back in 2007.
The following article comes from the December 2011 edition of Dr. Bob Vajko’s Help in Planting and Multiplying Churches newsletter. Dr. Vajko is a church planting consultant with TEAM International, and he and his wife Noreen served as church planters in France for 29 years and then 7 years in Australia.
Question: Why is coaching church planters so important? Let me give you four reasons:
First, coaching a church planter gives the one planting a new church outside help and resources. Having a coach mentoring enables the church planter to be resourced by someone who has had both experience and knows some of the resources available. In my own coaching experience with church planters I have both recommended and given to them books and resources that they did not know existed. Also a good coach will learn from the person who is being mentored from his own resources and works. I have appreciated learning from people I am coaching about what they have learned and resources that they have. A good coach using the GROW model (What are your goals, present reality, options, and will) should be able to give the person being mentored some options through his own experience or reading that will help to see options.
Second, coaching church planters enables them to think and bounce ideas off of someone who is objective in thinking from outside of the church plant. Church planters need someone to talk to regularly who can enable them to this objectively about their church plant and its context. Almost all church planters get so involved in and with the church being planted that they have a difficult time seeing certain objective facts. An effective mentor will be asking questions about what is happening and help the church planter to work more effectively. In some cases, church planters can become so emotionally involved and discouraged that they feel more than know what is real.
Third, research shows that church planters who are mentored are much more effective in planting and growing new churches than those without a mentor. Listen to Ed Stetzer’s words:
Church planters tend to be self-starters and often think of themselves as self-sufficient. That personality type is often resistant to the advice of others –thinking, if I listened to other people, I would not be planting the church in the first place. But planters who miss out on the benefit of coaching miss out on a tremendous help throughout the ministry journey. My analysis of more than six hundred church planters shows there’s even a significant numerical value to having a mentor or supervisor (Stetzer 2006, 102).
Fourth, having a mentor may make the difference as to whether the church plant survives or not. church planters can simply get so discouraged that they just want to “throw in the towel” and go do something else. A good coach can help a church plant to not die on the vine by helping the church planter to persevere when things get rough. And they will!