Multiply Vineyard isn’t the only area of the Vineyard to offer coaching for pastors and church planters. The other two groups, Missions and Healthy Church Development, are also offering pastors, partnership leaders, and church planters the opportunity to meet with a coach, usually for 6 months at a time. All three teams are also seeking out and training up new coaches to address the growing need for this particular kind of help and encouragement in leaders’ lives.
We asked the coaching coordinators from these other teams to explain for us how they have been seeing coaching change the movement. They all had some pretty encouraging things to say:
Darrell Evans—Coordinator for Coaching, Vineyard Missions
In the Missions team, we’re going into our fifth year of offering coaching. I started with the first group with the Missions team, so I’ve been a part of it from the very beginning. We started in partnership with Logan Leadership. Bob Logan brought in a four year plan, that we have actually accomplished. Now we’re strategizing together to continually discover how we can serve the Vineyard movement.
In coaching, our goal is just to help you recognize what God’s doing in your life, and help you respond to God. Steve Ogne says it like this: “Coaches help people develop their God-given potential so that they grow personally and make a valuable contribution to the kingdom of God.”
So at Vineyard missions, we’re not doing anything different than Multiply Vineyard or Healthy Church Development is doing. We’re just creating a safe place for our partnership leaders to talk about whatever they want to talk about, so they can continue to develop. We’re there for the leader. They decide what they want to talk about, they set the tone, they do the work. We just ask open-ended questions to help them discover what God is saying to them, and whatever that solution might be.
In Missions right now, we have a whole loop of leaders that are going through transition. Our baby boomer leaders, all of us are in transition right now, including myself. What does the future look like? What does God have for us? Coaches really help us think those things through. So coaching is a very valuable ministry in the life of the Vineyard that help us think things through at every level. And now we’re in a place where we’re trying to create a coaching culture in the life of the local church, as well as at the leadership level.
The whole idea of just being an encourager, and using some open-ended questions—for example, when you do a project, and you come together to debrief afterward—that is coaching. What worked? What would you change? How could you do it differently? That’s coaching. This kind of culture creates a deeper level of relationship, which I think is important. It also creates a greater sense of connection in the movement.
But here’s another aspect that doesn’t get talked about as much in the movement. When you have a coach, you’ve got somebody praying for you. Somebody praying for what’s going on in your world, praying for you to discover what God is doing in your life. And that is important.
Mike Turrigiano—Co-coordinator for Coaching, Healthy Church Development
Healthy Church Development is one of the three arms of the Vineyard, along with Missions and Multiply Vineyard. Healthy Church really is about coming alongside our pastors of churches that are 150 people or less. The Vineyard has other resources for churches that are larger—they have different needs. So we focus on churches that have 150 people or less, which is the majority of churches in the Vineyard. And we come alongside our pastors who have already been out there a while. And many of them feel alone, many of them feel under-resourced, and overwhelmed at times. So we come alongside our pastors that are already out there pastoring their churches, and we help them in various ways. Most of them are problem solving, trying to figure out how to develop their churches. Others have personal needs. How can I develop as a person, as a pastor? They have different activities and events or projects that they need some help with to project and to plan.
However, a lot of pastors are resistant to help, especially if they’re struggling. We tend to compare ourselves—how big our churches are. Usually church size is THE criteria of success, unfortunately. So many of our pastors walk around feeling like they’re not good enough, and so they don’t respond well sometimes when you offer them help, because they’re afraid they’re going to find out what they’ve been feeling all along, that they’re not good enough. And so they resist, they don’t want the proof that “I’ve always been a failure.” That’s a real life struggle.
Well, coaching takes a more positive approach to helping pastors. Rather than saying “we know what you need. You’re a failure. We’re going to come in and we’re going to fix you,” we come alongside you to help. We have the attitude that, “God is working in your church. God is speaking to you and to your leaders and to your church. We want to help you figure that out. The answers are in you and the Holy Spirit partnering with you.” And I’ve found that pastors respond to that well, because it’s very relational. What I like about coaching in general is that it is very relational.
And the people I’ve coached have been all across the spectrum. Take, for instance, a brand new regional leader that was just taking over. And imagine that, a regional leader getting coached. They were stepping into this huge role of responsibility, and they didn’t know where to begin. So this was like a life preserver for them, just to help them think things through. And then along those lines, I got to coach a young associate pastor, who is about to take over a fairly large Vineyard church, and he’s not even 30 years old yet. He was sure of his call, but coaching was there to help him sort things out and not panic. And then there was a lay leader in one of our Vineyard churches, a business man. He was sensing that his business and his ministry are supposed to go together. How’s that supposed to work for him? And so I coached him for six months, working through how his business is his ministry. That’s how he’s serving the kingdom and his church. So I guess what that shows you is how broad and how helpful coaching can be to everyone, no matter where they’re at.
And the best thing about it is we’re offering it for free. These guys don’t have to pay a dime. This is why we’re part of the family. This is why I pay my 3%. It is a two way street, you know. People pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a series of coaching, and we’re offering it for free. I think that’s wonderful.
John Reichart—Co-coordinator for Coaching, Healthy Church Development
One of the unexpected benefits of rolling out coaching across the country, in my case in the Healthy Church silo, is that apart from the coaching, real friendships were being formed between us who were coaching and the coachees.
One guy who had just come out of his second year of planting and had not been assigned a coach by Multiply Vineyard because that had not come on board yet, said “man this is so great. I don’t feel alone anymore.” He’s in a big territory, and the area and regional leaders can only do so much. The onus is on that pastor to ask for help. And if you’ve got a little pride in you, you don’t want to be asking people for help too quickly or too frequently, and giving people the idea “I don’t know what I’m doing.” So when a coaching relationship has been offered, as we’ve seen it roll out now, that’s a surprise benefit of feeling connected to the wider movement. And that does a world of good. At the next regional conference, they’ll feel like, “yeah, I’m part of that. I’m in. I’m not just on my own.”
Another real gain in the coaching process as we talk to people is helping them to look at their failures as well as successes. There’s so much to gained from being thoughtful about what didn’t work and why. So let’s demystify it and take the fangs out of it. And then lets talk about what else we can try. What else we can learn; who can hold us accountable.
That’s a really satisfying place to be, but it’s also a very vulnerable place. The coachees have to have a high degree of vulnerability. Everyone wants to look good. No one wants to look like a bozo. So you present your best foot forward. That’s human nature. But there’s some point when you have to come clean and confess: “You know what? I’ve been coming to the meeting every month with my area pastors, and I’ve been shooting the breeze with y’all, but I am really scared we’re going to go down, and I’m fearful every week whether it’ll unravel totally. I don’t know what to do. I’ve had these people criticizing me, it’s gone deep, and…” wow, that gets really personal. And so the coach helps the coachee respond in a healthy way to that at a heart-soul level.
Coaching is often pitched in the literature and in our training as more on the performance side of things. It’s needed to help you follow through with your calling and see your church become healthier. And it is all of that, but it also lets you know that you are not alone in the fight. We are together.
And we are all immortal souls. We’re heading toward paradise with Jesus, or we’re heading to separation and darkness and hell. But we want to go in a good direction. And that’s about heart to heart, soul to soul, friendship. It’s less about success. Churches come and go—some of Paul’s churches that were planted don’t exist any more. They’re not there. But the souls, the lives, the relationships that were formed throughout all those churches are precious in God’s sight. And so I’m seeing that coaching really fits us as a movement. It’s good, and it should be rolled out, and we should all avail ourselves of receiving coaching as well as giving it.
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