One of the primary characteristics that defines pastors of healthy growing churches is that they are willing to accept help from the outside. Growing churches have growing pastors. Coaching is one of the most effective ways to accept that help on a regular basis. Coaching stretches you to achieve goals you may never have considered.
I see three kinds of coaches that every pastor should have to be effective for the long haul.
Pastors need a ministry coach.
Since planting a church, one of the most helpful practices I’ve found is to have monthly sessions with a church planting coach through Multiply Vineyard. I find that I am more focused and I have accountability to follow through on commitments I’ve made. I have someone who will empower me to do what the Holy Spirit is telling me to do within my church leadership responsibilities. My coach encourages me, prays for me, and celebrates with me. They help me navigate areas of ministry where I feel stuck or discouraged. A coach will help you work on what’s important and avoid just getting stuck in it.
The Vineyard has a growing network of coaches that you can connect with. For more information, email [email protected]
Pastors need a spiritual coach.
We’ve all seen or heard enough moral failure stories in the church to realize it’s very possible to be successful in ministry, yet be spiritually unhealthy, at least for a short time. Or to be in such a flurry of activity in your ministry, that you neglect to slow down and actually hear God’s voice. A spiritual director is someone who comes alongside you and helps you to see where God is at work.
I remember one evening when I was in Bolivia after a successful night of ministry in a remote part of the city. Two people had given their lives to Jesus, people were getting healed physically and emotionally, and prophecy was flowing. I was feeling pretty good about myself.
The next day as I opened my bible, Jesus spoke to me from Luke 10. In the passage, the disciples were so excited that they could cast out demons, but Jesus tells them not to rejoice in their successful ministry experiences, but to rejoice that their “names are written in heaven.” In other words, our joy does not come from what we do, but from who we are in Christ. Whether we’re feeling successful or not, we can always rejoice in our relationship with God as our Father in Christ.
My spiritual director is the one who reminds me of this life-long lesson that Jesus taught me that night in Bolivia and helps me work through that in the midst of the daily work that does not always feel so fruitful. They help me listen to Jesus, quiet myself, and remind me of what’s important when I so easily forget. He helps me pay attention to what God is doing in me so I can serve my church from a place of rest and spiritual abundance.
Pastors need a physical fitness coach.
When John Wimber said I’m just a fat man going to heaven, I don’t necessarily think he was recommending extra handfuls of cheese dip in between meals. Being a pastor requires more than just spiritual health and focus in ministry. If we want to serve others effectively, we need to be physically healthy.
I’m not planning on retiring from being a pastor. I’d be happy to die in the middle of preaching a sermon or praying for a sick person. To experience fruitful longevity, we need to take care of ourselves. I’ve also noticed many people seeing spillover from their intentionality in physical disciplines into their spiritual disciplines and work habits.
I do CrossFit, because coaching is built into the experience. There’s always a way to improve your fitness and in a well-run gym, coaches help you do that. A great step is to just do something for your health, and I’d recommend not trying to do it alone. Perhaps taking the time to consult with a nutritionist, a doctor, a chiropractor, massage therapist, or a fitness instructor would be a good idea in your routine. If we’re in this for the long haul, we need to prepare for it.
There are other types of helpers and coaches a pastor could have too. These are just some that I’ve found to be a worthwhile investment for myself and my church. As people who want to cultivate healthy, multiplying churches, we know we need to invest in ourselves, but we don’t always do it. I’d recommend that every church that has the ability to do so to set aside funds to provide their pastors with the coaching they need. I certainly believe the overflow into your local community will be worth it. What steps could you move towards today in all areas your health?
Native to the Philadelphia area, Rich is excited to impact his region with the good news of Jesus through the local church. After stumbling across the first official service of a Vineyard church plant in college almost 20 years ago and subsequently helping plant a church in West Philadelphia, Rich dove into the world of pastoral ministry as an associate pastor at Blue Route Vineyard in Media, Pennsylvania. Seven years later, joined by an excited and committed bunch, he and his family launched Conshohocken Vineyard Church. In his free time, you are likely to catch him at the local CrossFit box or spending time with his family.