Coaching for Congregations Seeking Vitality

Guiding Principles

The Church is the body of Christ on earth – meant to be the tangible expression of God’s love and kingdom – to which God has given gifts – her life, identity, calling, resources, and ministry. Congregations and leaders have most of what they need to thrive. The challenge is to clarify and pursue a desired future based upon the resources present while neutralizing or transforming obstacles. The role of a coach is to facilitate that clarity and support those doing the work of transformation. Success can not be externally defined, nor is it an abstract notion removed from the people, practices, and places of ministry. The journey is often time consuming and lengthy – and it is rarely easy. The good news is that the heavy lifting is done by the Holy Spirit as all parties move toward maturity and faithfulness. Healthy and maturing leadership can not make a church grow, but its lack can certainly prevent a church from growing. Likewise, we can not make others do anything, but the more healthy and mature we strive to be, the more likely those around us will also move toward wholeness, and the organization with them.

Four sets of coaching relationships

  • Coaching with the pastor
  • Coaching with the core leadership – i.e. people of position and power (7% of AWA)
  • Coaching with larger group of leaders – board, elders, deacons, ministry heads, teachers, etc
  • Coaching with the whole congregation

Six Sets of Questions

1. Questions regarding history

  • Chart the history of the church through significant periods, identifying the following for each:
    • Who were the key leaders, pastoral and lay?
    • What was happening financially
      • % budget to salaries, programming, facilities, and outreach
      • Trends in each of these categories – increasing or decreasing?
      • Trends in income vs expenses – positive, negative, or flat
      • What were the key ministries during each period?
      • What were the stated mission, vision, and values in each period?
  • What preliminary conclusions do you draw?
  1970-1980 1980-1990 1990-2000 2000-present

2. Questions regarding context

  • Describe your current context:
    • Who lives within a 2, 5 and 10 mile radius of the church?
      • age, gender, income, vocation, ethnic background, language, religion, education level, hobbies
      • What else is within those areas?
        • MAP: Schools, shopping centers, recreation – public (parks & rec); recreation – private; sports facilities; arts facilities; other churches/religious groups
      • What percentage of your congregation live within those three circles? How are they similar or different from their neighbors?

Questions of everyone

  • How long have you been a Christian?
  • How long have you been a disciple?
  • How long have you been here at this congregation?
  • What is the gospel?
  • What would you do here if there were no obstacles and you couldn’t fail?
  • What do you see as the congregation’s greatest opportunities?
  • What do you see as the congregation’s greatest obstacles?
  • What one thing can the congregation do now, this week, to move toward greater vitality?
  • What one thing can you do now, this week, to move your ministry toward greater vitality?

3. Questions of the Pastoral Leadership

  • What is your vision for your own ministry?
  • How do you understand yourself as called, gifted and commissioned?
  • What is your SHAPE for ministry?
  • What aspects of ministry give you the most energy, joy and peace?
  • What aspects of ministry are most difficult for you, do you try to avoid, trip you up?

4. Questions of the Core

  • In what ministry/leadership roles have you served?
  • How would you describe the congregation in three paragraphs, 1 for the past, 1 for the present, and 1 for the future. Try to limit this to 300 words total.
  • What is your hope for the future of the congregation

5. Questions of the Congregation

  • What is the most important ministry of this church?
  • What 10 words would you use to describe this congregation?
  • Are the congregation’s best days behind or ahead?

6. Questions of the Community

  • What needs to you have in your life with which you’d could use some help?
  • What do you know about the church on the corner of ________ and ________?
  • What contact have you had with them?
  • If you could tell a church something they should change, what would it be?
  • How can we pray for you?

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