The Vineyard has always had a heart and desire to help and encourage church planters and to set them up for success. So let me ask you this: have you ever had somebody in your life who really knew how to ask great questions? Who knew how to draw out of you the kinds of things God was already doing in your life, but you couldn’t figure out a way to verbalize? Have you ever had someone in your life set aside time just for you, dedicated to helping you succeed? Someone who poured care and attention into you, so that you would not only grow more skilled in overcoming challenges, but that you would also grow and mature as a person?
These are the people who help us grow and move ahead faster and better than we could on our own. But, unfortunately, they are few and far between. Many times we don’t feel like we have the time or resources to find and establish that kind of relationship with someone. And we’re probably not even sure exactly what to look for, even if we did. But church planting is a tough job, and we could all benefit from a relationship like this in order to do it well.
To that end, Multiply Vineyard has put together a coaching system to make coaches readily available to all our church planters. As of April 2012, we began offering consistent, high-quality coaching to all church planters for two years. And it’s free.
To give you a little context, this is different than what we’ve done in the past in a few significant ways. Before we chose to modify the system, we had coaching for church planters, but it wasn’t very structured or formalized. It was a bit more like mentoring—if you were stuck, or something bad happened and you didn’t know what to do, you called your coach, who would probably give you some good advice and pray for you to get you going again.
While this wasn’t necessarily bad, it wasn’t a very consistent or methodical system. Coaches didn’t have specific training on how to coach and weren’t assigned based on what the planters needs were.
That changed when we discovered Bob Logan’s coaching model. Logan is the author of Coaching 101, and a member of the Logan Leadership Team. The process he developed is one that we’ve seen help strengthen people’s leadership skills and make them more effective as they follow what God is calling them to do. We know it works—it’s a proven method. So we began working with Bob, and with his help and blessing have adapted and tailored the system specifically for Vineyard church planters.
In this new system, our coaches go through rigorous training over 9 months to learn how to be effective coaches. Our team of trained and experienced coaching leaders works closely with coaches to make sure they are equipped to do the best possible job with the people they are coaching. Each coach is regularly assessed to make sure that he or she has learned and is consistently using these new skills. And we make sure they have ongoing accountability and development opportunities to ensure they are properly using the skills we have taught them. We want to make sure that our coaches are consistent and trustworthy.
Here’s how it works. When you request to be coached, we’ll ask what kinds of things you would like to achieve via a small application. Then, we’ll give you a couple of coaches who you get to interview or do a sample session with to see if it’s a good fit. You probably won’t know the person who is coaching you already—we’ve found it works best when you and your coach don’t have any preconceived ideas about each other.
Once you’ve selected your coach, you will meet with him or her once a month via phone call or skype. Prior to your meeting each month, you’ll log into a website our coaches use to ask you questions that will help you prepare for your session so you can make the most of your meeting time together. These are usually very open-ended questions to help you identify your goals, priorities and concerns for each month.
In the session, you’ll talk over the questions and your coach will help draw out of you what you want to achieve and how you can best go about doing it. This is the big difference between coaching and many other forms of mentoring. A mentor usually pours into you—advice, ideas, instructions. A coach’s main job is to draw things out of you. They listen to what you say and help you identify what your goals are, what God is doing in your life, and how you can best respond to God and achieve your goals.
We have found this to be tremendously helpful. And our need for coaching isn’t something we ever really grow out of. Some of the best leaders in our movement meet with coaches regularly. Everyone can benefit.
We’ve found that since we put this new system in place, both church planters and coaches have benefited enormously from it. Jason Verduzco, a planter based in Spokane, WA, was skeptical of giving his time to coaching at first. But after experiencing our model, he revised his opinion: “Let me assure you that this relationship is purely one-sided. Your church planting coach is there for you and you alone. To see you built up, to see you encouraged, to see you equipped, and to help you succeed in the things God has in store.”
At a recent coaching training session, many of the coaches also said that learning how to be a coach has helped them in all areas of life and ministry. They were excited to see the coaching methods bring about transformative change in the people they coached. We’ve heard things like, “this has changed the way I pastor, the way I lead, the way I interact with my kids and my spouse.” It seems to be a life-transforming experience for coaches just as much as it is for church planters.
So, give coaching a try, if you haven’t already. At this point, about 60% of our church planters have tried coaching, and everyone who has tried it has stuck with it. But we would really love to see 100% participation. It is an incredible value—you’re getting something that would cost you hundreds of dollars a month for free. Take advantage of it.
Because the bottom line is, you might be able to get along fine without a coach. In the words of our coach consultant, Jen Bertsch, “You can muddle through when trouble arises, but do you think that God really wants us to muddle when there is someone available to come alongside us and make the way a little clearer? That’s what coaching is about. It provides a place of strength, wisdom, and healthy self-assessment that helps you get through things better than you could on your own.” So if you haven’t already, let us set you up with a coach. You can contact our coaching administrative assistant, Katelyn Masyga at [email protected].