What is a coach?

It takes a lot of people to help a church planter/leader succeed. Church planters and leaders need someone who can mentor them. They need counsellors. They need people who will sponsor them financially, people who will pray for them, and peers who will grow with them.

The Christian leader needs so many relationships that Fuller Seminary professors Paul Stanley and Robert Clinton identify a “constellation of relationships” every leader needs to succeed in their ministry. Each relationship plays a vital role in the life of a leader in order for them to finish the race well.

So what exactly is a coach and how does coaching fit into this constellation of relationships?

A coach helps you assess your situation and work out how to improve your skills, knowledge, motivation and deal with any enemy issues. The coach then enables you to take the necessary steps to accomplish what God has called you to do.

Your coach will engage you in an intentional Gospel conversation with focused discussions around your relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life.

What can you expect your coach to do?

Your coach will engage you in an intentional Gospel conversation with focused discussions around your relational, personal, missional, and spiritual life. Each time you meet you will agree on some objectives and strategies to work on between coaching sessions. The coach will also spend time with you in prayer and is not so much interested in telling you what to do but helping you work out what to do next.

Coaches are not primarily

Counsellors. A counsellor can be helpful when someone is struggling with some current or past event that prevents him or her from functioning in the healthiest possible way.

Trainers. A seasoned trainer can help others learn and practise a specific skill or methodology so that they can become more effective in one or several areas of ministry or life.

Consultants. A consultant comes into an organisation to determine where the most significant challenges or opportunities for improvement might be and then makes specific recommendations to overcome those challenges or implement those improvements.

Mentors. A mentor shares what he or she knows with someone less experienced. The mentor’s past can illuminate the other person’s steps. A mentor has succeeded in certain aspects of ministry or life. By imparting what he or she has learned, the mentor helps others to avoid pitfalls.

Supervisors. Whereas a mentor is a resource for wisdom in specific situations, a supervisor is responsible for the church planter’s project on the whole. A supervisor is basically the planter’s overseer or boss. The coach does not replace your boss. With this understanding in mind, it’s difficult for a supervisor to be an effective coach for a church planter or any leader under their charge.

A coach provides a safe environment for you to admit that, despite all the training you have received, you may not know what to do next. A coach has no direct authority over you; therefore you have nothing to lose by confiding in a coach. Trust in the safety of a coaching conversation is key to the success of coaching. A coach cannot be a spy for the sending organisation.

What can you be doing for your coach before each session?

  • Pray for your coach
  • Pray and ask God to empower you to change
  • Review the objectives and strategies set
  • Consider what issues you may need to raise
  • Be honest about your own heart and the issues you are facing
  • Respect your coach by being on time and being prepared

Taken from “Whitehead, David, Coaching , (pp.22ff) Redeemer City to City, 2018.” and “Harkavy, Daniel S.. Becoming a Coaching Leader (pp. 37-39). HarperCollins Leadership. Kindle Edition. “