Dear pastors and ministry leaders,
I’m an old athlete! In high school I participated in football, basketball, baseball, wrestling and track. I wish I’d played on the golf team because golf is my chosen sport in the current phase of my life.
Throughout the years I’ve been trained and supervised by multiple coaches with quite different levels of expertise and coaching styles. Many of them emphasized conditioning and discipline, believing if you get in shape and know your plays to the point you run them efficiently and consistently, you will win ball games. Quoting the great Vince Lombardi, my football coach often told us that Fatigue makes cowards of us all! His philosophy was often realized in the fourth quarter of games when we were still going strong while the other team faded into exhaustion.
Many lessons from my days as an athlete carry over into my role in church leadership (don’t worry I’m not planning to ask pastors to run wind sprints!). Several years ago I read Brad Adler’s book, Coaching Matters. It documents ten of the all-time best NFL coaches, taking into account such achievements as championships won, highest winning percentages, and innovations introduced by the coaches to the game. It was the innovations that most intrigued me. Coach Vince Lombardi created the Green Bay Sweep where blockers are overloaded to one side of the line to open big holes for running gains. Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry created the 4–3 defense still in use today. San Francisco Forty-Niners coach Bill Walsh is known for having probably the most innovative offensive mind—his version of the West Coast Offense changed the game with its emphasis on passing over running, shotgun formations, and no-huddle hurry-up plays. Part of the beauty of football is the continued evolution of the game through the introduction of innovations like these.
As in the development of athletes, coaching is of great value in the development of ministers of Jesus Christ. For that reason, CAD’s ministry coaching services, coordinated by Anthony Mullins, is a key part of our “high support” commitment to pastors and ministry leaders. Rather than being “architects of innovation” our certified coaches help new and established pastors, interns and church planters discover for themselves the innovations that will help them journey forward in ministry. In particular, our coaches help ministers prepare for and execute significant ministry shifts—changes in strategy involving sustainable innovation. Our coaches also provide lots of encouragement—cheering on our ministers as they go through the tough stretches that come with ministry (particularly in times of change). We believe that coaching is essential to help these men and women know they are not alone.
Recently, we made our coaching services more widely available. We believe doing so will pay huge dividends as we journey forward together. Our coaches have been certified through a training process led by Anthony. Each coach is skilled at listening, then asking the right questions to help the ministers being coached process the goals they seek to accomplish. Question-oriented conversations help coachees come face-to-face with the uh-oh’s and ah-ha’s they are encountering in their ministry journey. This helps them see their challenges and opportunities from different perspectives, leading to the real payoff, which is making space for the Spirit to be heard clearly.
In my first year as CAD Director, I attended a week-long leadership seminar at Duke University. There I rubbed shoulders with new denominational leaders from other Protestant churches. It was comforting to see that we all face many of the same challenges and opportunities. The best thing that came from that week for me was connecting with a psychologist who evaluated our 360º review during the seminar. She agreed to coach me through the remainder of 2014 and into 2015. Her listening ear and ability to ask the right questions was a huge benefit to me. I encourage any of you reading this to consider if being coached would be beneficial to you at this time in your ministry. If you’d like to learn more about our coaching services, I urge you to contact your regional pastor or Anthony Mullins. To read more about our coaching services in a previous issue of Equipper click here.
Listening with you for the voice of the Spirit,
PS: Our annual GCI-USA Internship Program orientation is taking place this month in Durham, North Carolina. Please pray for our interns as they enter into or continue on with their journey in GCI. If your congregation would like to help support the Internship Program in its work to develop future GCI leaders, please donate to the GCnext Fund (click here for information about the fund and ways to donate). Thanks for your support!