By Dino Senesi
An unexpected phone call from Jeff Christopherson, then the North American Mission Board (NAMB) vice president of the Northeast and Canada regions, provided a needed break in my day. I had never met Jeff but knew of him by reputation. The topic of our conversation was church planter coaching. And much to my surprise, Jeff was inviting me to pray about being part of a new coaching initiative.
NAMB was experiencing revolutionary change. Part of the change included a stronger commitment to church planting and a health church planting process. The goal was to push back lostness in North America; the challenge was to send and send well.
Unique church planting
Fast-forward to Edmonton, Alberta, more than three years after Jeff’s phone call, to March of 2016. The room was full of 35 enthusiastic pastors, planters, strategists and lay leaders at a one-day Coaching Map. The Coaching Map provides coach orientation and equipping. The agenda for everyone in the room was to make disciples and develop leaders more effectively. Church planters and church planting wives would benefit from this gathering of new coaches.
The Canadian context presents unique challenges for church planters. Coaching helps a planter address those challenges. Jason McGibbon, lead planters of Hamilton Fellowships, said, “Many planters are not coming from large existing churches or systems. Finances, support and voices of encouragement or accountability may not be in place. Coaching can help fill in some of those gaps.” McGibbon is NAMB’s coaching champion in the Greater Toronto area. In addition to being a coach, Jason helps develop coaches for the rapidly increasing number of new churches in Toronto.
Dan Morgan moved from the role of professor to learner at the one-day Coaching May in Calgary in March. He also recognized another challenge facing planters. “Long distances between churches create isolation,” said Morgan, professor of church planting at the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Coaching helps “break the cycle of ‘stuckness,’ rather than letting church planters and their plants plateau and experience frustration.” Morgan is also the new churches team leaders for the Canadian National Baptist Convention.
Deliver great coaching to every church planter
Church planters are pathologically disappointed. Disciples will never be made fast enough, the church will never grow large enough and the gospel influence on a community will never be inclusive enough. This is true in any church planting context. A sense of discontentment with the way things are is part of what God uses to stir a passionate sense of calling to a city or community.
Jeff Christopherson wrote in his book, Kingdom Matrix, “Darkness’ strategy has always been simple: let all strugglers struggle alone.” As church planters move into your community, it is mission critical that they never confront darkness alone. Every church planter and church planting wife needs a great coach alongside them to listen, care and encourage.
The Coaching Map held in Edmonton, Toronto and Calgary were only the first steps. Two-month peer coaching assignments were made at each Coaching Map for new coaches to practice coaching each other. During these events, many of the coaches will be assigned to coach church planters before the end of the year through this streamlined process. Quality coaching requires a long-term commitment from the coach and the planter.
Mauricio Botello, church planter from King’s Church in Toronto, caught the vision for coaching. “I need a coach, and someone needs me as a coach. Coaching is a powerful tool for leaders and church planters, helping us accomplish the purpose of God in our lives,” said Botello.
Dino Senesi is the director of coaching for the Send Network at the North American Mission Board.
*This article originally posted in Horizon, the publication of the Canadian National Baptist Convention. Learn more about Horizon here.
Published February 28, 2017