The Send Network Church Planting Blog

The importance of coaching with Dino Senesi, featuring George Ross

February 12, 2018 by Send Network

Dino Senesi, director of church planting at the Send Network and George Ross, Send City Missionary for New Orleans, talk about benefits of coaching. The three main benefits are discovery, development and discernment. Listen to this two-part series for practical takeaways in coaching and church planting.

Visit to find more resources from George Ross.

Dino Senesi is the Send Network coaching director at the North American Mission Board. Dino leads the team that provides leadership for creating indigenous coaching systems to help serve and develop church planters. He is the author of Sending Well: A Field Guide to Great Church Planter Coaching. In this podcast, Dino helps trainers develop confidence and competence in asking transformational questions that truly shape souls. 

1. Before you listen to this podcast, take this simple self-assessment. Use the following scoring scale. 

1 - Never. 

3 - Rarely. 

5 - Sometimes. 

7 - Usually. 

10 - Always. 


___ When I ask questions, people know that I have no agenda except their best interest.

___ I know how to ask questions that help others minister not only from their heads but also from their hearts.

___ Before I train, I think through and rehearse some fail-proof, “go-to” questions in case I get stuck as a trainer.

___ I have mastered the art of asking short questions.

___ I am a question “collector.” I know where to go to find good questions that I can put in my personal training tool kit.

___ Your total


What does this score tell you about your need to grow in your competence and confidence as a great question-asker?

2. Listen to the podcast featuring Dino Senesi. 

3. Dino mentioned that he was a born talker and teller—that when he was called to preach, he felt he was called to talk, not listen! That’s likely true for most of us as trainers of church planters. Put an X on the line below that best defines you right now.


talker/teller                                                                                    listener/asker



Draw an arrow to where you would like to be. What’s one change/habit you could make/form to help you become the kind of trainer who listens and asks so that you can create the kind of environment that fosters a learner’s self-discovery?

4. When asked how he first became aware of the transforming power of great questions, Dino told the story about how his one-time executive coach, Bob Logan, asked the kinds of questions that opened up a window inside of Dino. He said that Bob’s questions helped him realize that he was ministering out of his head and not his heart. Dino began to see that asking the right questions can “create a sacred space” where the trainer “gets out of the way and the spotlight is on the learner.” Think back. Describe a time when someone asked you a question(s) that touched your soul deeply and, perhaps, changed the trajectory of your life. What’s a tweetable principle you can articulate from that experience? 

5. In our Train the Trainer Retreat, we introduce the 5 Hat Question Pathway. 1) The Fisherman pathway. 2) The Reporter Pathway. 3) The Physician Pathway. 4) The Pilot Pathway. 5) The Construction Pathway. Dino said that his favorite pathway might be the Pilot Pathway: “What’s next?” followed by “Why is that important to you?” What’s at least one go-to question you could write down that you will use in each of the 5 pathways? 

6. Dino mentioned a few of his go-to questions and approaches.

  • What’s next?
  • What’s motivating you?
  • What’s your biggest question?
  • I’m stuck.
  • Let’s think about some options.
  • And what else?

Which of these would you most like to add to your training tool kit? How do you think adding that question/approach might help you as a trainer? 

7. Dino mentioned several resources that have helped him ask better questions: 

Coaching Questions, by Tony Soltzfus 

50 Powerful Coaching Questions, by Keith Webb

40 Questions to Help You Coach in Deep Water, by Dino Senesi

Peer Coaching Guide from the One Day Coaching MAP

Sending Well: A Field Guide to Great Church Planter Coaching

Which of these resources will you acquire and use to help you refine your skills as a question-asker?

8. Dino mentioned some “deep practice” opportunities for us to consider to help our growth:

  • Read from the resources listed above and collect questions from them 
  • Listen for trigger words in conversations to help you formulate questions
  • Use “what?” and “how?” to create your own questions
  • Develop a relationship with someone where you discipline yourself to only ask and not tell
  • Practice asking questions with your spouse and your children/grandchildren’
  • Which of these will you put into play immediately to help you grow?

9. Take some time to reflect on the experience of listening to this interview with Dino. Ask yourself, “What have I learned? What am I seeing that needs to be different, so I can ask questions that shape the souls of others? What is one personal practice that I need to implement? How do I need to adjust or add to my Traits of a Great Trainer?" 

Write down your answers. Tell someone—a team member, a fellow trainer, or your Regional Send Network Trainer—about the changes you want to make. Ask them to pray with you and encourage you. Now, develop a strategy— next steps— to make those changes a reality. 


Introduction: Thank you for joining us on The Coaching Podcast. As part of the Send Network, we are passionate about equipping church planters to live out the call God has placed on their lives. Join us as we talk through healthy coaching practices and why every church planner needs one. Here's your host Dino Senesi.

Dino Senesi: Welcome to The Church Planter Coaching Podcast. My name is Dino Senesi and I am the coaching director of the Send network. Today we have with us George Ross. George Ross is the Send missionary in New Orleans. And so, how did I do on that George? Did I say New Orleans okay?

George Ross: You did okay. You did okay.

Dino Senesi: So very good. I love New Orleans and spent a lot of years down there and I love what God's doing with you George. But I just have to talk a little bit about the city of New Orleans, what do you love most about living in New Orleans?

George Ross: Absolutely, the culture. New Orleans is said to be an island in the south with French and Caribbean influences, the most laidback city in the world and I love the culture of the city.

Dino Senesi: Are you a Saints fan?

George Ross: I am a Saints fan. I was a Saints fan before I moved here actually. I moved from north Mississippi outside of Memphis, Tennessee and there are not a lot of options in that neck of the woods. So, I've been a Saints fan for a long time. It worked out well.

Dino Senesi: Yeah, there's a ton of Mississippi Saints fans because you really don't have a lot of options out that way. And if you live in New Orleans and you're not a Saints fan, you better hide somewhere because every man, woman and child seems to be one.

George Ross: Absolutely, and then Archie, so Archie Manning is Mississippi's favorite son, so that's another connection there to the Saints.

Dino Senesi: It's all crazy and win or lose, there's some tenacious Saints fans there and I'm still one myself, even in Carolina country. So I love that. Okay, so what's your favorite place to eat in New Orleans?

George Ross: Favorite place to eat is New Orleans Food and Spirit. My favorite place to eat.

Dino Senesi: Now, where is that George? I'm trying to place it.

George Ross: It's a little bit more of a local place. It's an area called Bucktown. So it's the Lakeview, Bucktown area. It's right next door to Orleans Parrish. It's just a local place and they serve some incredible seafood and just have great, great food. So, if you go in there, you won't see a lot of tourists but you will see a lot of locals. Really good place to eat.

Dino Senesi: I got you. What do you usually get?

George Ross: I usually get red fish. It's a great meal. It's got a crawfish sauce on top of it. Really, really good.

Dino Senesi: Yep. Sounds typical. And I'm sure a low calorie, healthy treat.

George Ross: It is low calorie if you just get the fish but I get the pasta and the sauce so I ruin it.

Dino Senesi: But you work out a lot so man, you make up for it right?

George Ross: I try to.

Dino Senesi: Very good. I love the story of your family and gosh, it's so ingrained in everything that you do, even in some of your coaching, and everything else but it's very unique. You enjoy your children, talk just a second about your family and maybe something you love to do together in New Orleans.

George Ross: Sure. We have a family of six. So, we have been foster parents for two years. And we adopted in March of this year. It's been a journey that was very difficult at times, very sanctifying journey. But we adopted two children here in New Orleans and they are part of our forever family. So, we're just so very grateful to the Lord for that, grateful to be a part of that picture. My family is very active. We actually love doing stuff outdoors. So here in New Orleans, in the summer time, that gets a little difficult with the heat but we love anything outside. We can camp, we canoe, a lot of kayaking around here so we do fishing around here. We have a very active, outdoor family. We also love the movies. If there's a good movie, we're going. We've already seen Spiderman Homecoming and my kids give it all a thumbs up.

Dino Senesi: Okay. Well that's important. That's better than reading online reviews. Let's hear some great reviews. Really good.
George Ross: Absolutely. Great movie.

Dino Senesi: So you're a Send Missionary. And I would think that most people listening would probably know what a Send Missionary is, but I'm sure there's some that wouldn't. So talk about what your role is in reaching the city of New Orleans.

George Ross: Really, four primary things for me right now. One, we put together a strategy, a plan, to have a church planting initiative here in the city. So we worked on that when we first got here and we want to see churches planted in neighborhoods all across New Orleans. The second thing that I do is help mobilize churches. The churches out in the south, or even farther outside the south, we've got some coming as far, right now as Ohio working in the city. So churches that are partnering in the city, we're trying to mobilize them in prayer, participation and provision. The third part of my job is planter support and planter support has to do with the coaching, with the planter support for the planter himself and the planter's family, the spouse. My wife is very engaged in that. Joy and I are active in planter support. Then the fourth part of my job is I'm very involved in Send Relief here as well. So, we're trying to see Send Relief initiatives, get some traction, take root here in the city. And I'm involved in that as well.

Dino Senesi: Wow. And I think there'd be a lot of great opportunities for Send Relief in a city like New Orleans.

George Ross: There really is. And we're just touching the surface of it right now. So a lot of good things happening and we look forward to more things in the future. We have 19 GenSend students here right now that have just done a tremendous job in the city and we'll be offering that yearly. So we're excited about the opportunity for collegiate students to come and work in the city, not only with church planting but to work in the city with many of our relief initiatives.

Dino Senesi: Very good. What a great way to communicate the love of Jesus to people in New Orleans too.

George Ross: Yes, absolutely.

Dino Senesi: So let's turn the page and talk a little bit about coaching. Since this is a coaching podcast, we have to go there. So I wanted to talk a little bit about your coaching story. What got you interested in coaching?

George Ross: I went to a gospel coach conference, and I'm almost positive it was 2009 in Chicago. So that was one led by Scott Thomas. He wrote the book Gospel Coach. My wife and I went, and to be honest, we were really at a place where we were dry and tired and exhausted in ministry, and I had no idea what the conference was about. I really didn't. We weren’t even planning it. My wife actually just spent some time resting. I went to the conference. And that conference was just monumental in helping me see some things that were very much neglected in my life. One of the questions that Scott posed is: Who is shepherding your soul? So Acts 20:28 says to pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Take care for the Church of God, which He obtained with His own blood. That question that was posed to me, if we're going to be shepherds of the flock, we need to pay careful attention to ourselves. Who's shepherding you and who's shepherding your soul? And I knew the answer to that for me at that time was no one. Because of that I was really struggling. I was struggling in marriage, I was struggling in ministry and I was just struggling in life. And the Lord used that to really convict me, to challenge me, to lead me to some real areas of repentance in my life. And I made a commitment at that conference that I would never neglect myself like I had neglected myself. And I had neglected my soul. So that was a turning point for me. That was a marker. I look back, and Joy and I talk about this all the time, that was one of the most defining spiritual markers of our life and our marriage. Even though she wasn't at the conference, she talks about it in our gospel coaching conferences that we do, that that was a turning point for me where I really decided to take ahold of my life, take ahold of the fact that I'm responsible for shepherding myself and to make some strategic choices and take initiatives in that area of my life.

Dino Senesi: Well, and you talk about powerful questions and how God could use a powerful question to change the course of someone's life. So if you're a coach out there, I don't think that questions are tools or weapons or something to manipulate people with, but if you're collecting great questions that is a great one. Who is shepherding your soul? The whole idea of self-leadership and shepherding yourself is great. So as you think about that, I want you to unpack gospel coaching just a little bit more, some of the nuances. I'm familiar with the book, I've read the book but from your perspective, what unique things does gospel coach training bring to the table?

George Ross: I think in a nutshell it brings it back to the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. It makes you understand that your identity, your worth and your value is not in performance. And that is such a trap, especially for church planters. It's a trap for anyone in ministry but it's a major trap for guys in church planting. So really going back to your worth and value is rooted, is foundationally in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. And because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, you're deeply loved by the Lord. You are approved by God. You're accepted by God and even more clearly in that picture, you're adopted by God. And those truths should really give you confidence, gospel confidence and it should give you gospel courage to be able to do the ministry that you're doing and not fall into the trap of having to have people's approval and living, dying on the hill of performance. For me, that's really what I took away from that. And I'm a performance-driven guy. I function by achievement and that's an idol for me. If I could achieve something and I can get to the end of it and I can accomplish it, achievement and accomplishment are huge things that I will allow my identity to be controlled by. So that was really a challenge for me from the gospel coach workshop, the gospel coach book that you need to be faithful. And you can be faithful because you're already approved, adopted and accepted in Christ Jesus. And that was just a huge foundational shift for me.

Dino Senesi: Well, and that's a difficult balance. Even when you talk about coaching. So I want you to address that in just a second. But when you think about coaching, the method or the model of coaching can become very performance, very flesh, very goal oriented in a counter-productive way. So as a coach, which you're a highly trained coach, highly experienced coach, how do you help a planter without making, putting him, in essence, under law, putting him in a performance track?

George Ross: First of all, just the clear communication of that foundational identity in Christ, who are you in Jesus? Which also should bring great motivation. One of the things in my life, I'm an active guy. I stay busy and I love that. I am a doer by nature. But one of the things I've transitioned my doing into, I'm not doing for God to love me anymore. I'm doing because I have been really loved. And I don't think you lose your initiative or you lose your activity. You just lose the motivation behind why you're doing it. My motivation for the longest time was for people to see what I've done. My motivation now, goodness gracious, we certainly battle this every day. Our motives can get off the wrong track but I'm always keeping in front of me, my motive is because I am loved and I have been approved and I have been adopted and accepted. And I've got a life to life for the Lord and I'm going to give him all that I've got. Without abandoning my priorities of my family, without abandoning my priorities of shepherding myself. I'm going to work for the glory of the Lord because he's worth it and my life's worth it. So for me it's a shift in motives. And that's what I'm trying to get church planters to understand. What's your motives behind what you're doing? And here's the flip side of that. Sometimes in church planting and sometimes in a little bit younger generation, I've heard this phrase used many times. I'm just going to rest in the gospel. And I've had to push back sometimes on planters, say hey you're going to have get up off your rear end and get busy. You just can't live your life resting in the gospel. It's a great word, a great phrase, but we also do have to make sure we're being fruitful, productive Christians.

Dino Senesi: And our tendency is always to over focus and over emphasize and find the negative in something incredibly positive.

George Ross: That's right. That's right.

Dino Senesi: So, really good. George, this is some very rich stuff for coaches to hear, some very foundational truths that's important. Understanding even as coaches, George, we understand the why behind the what because you talked about a shift in motives. Really, really strong to say why am I even doing what I'm doing? But a coach has to say why am I even coaching? Am I coaching for recognition and applause? Am I coaching to try to get more out of somebody else? So very well said. I hope a lot of coaches get to hear what we're talking about today. I want to wrap up on one thing, and that's actually three things that are one thing. You wrote a blog and I pushed it out to a lot of people on the coach monthly and on Twitter. Three reasons why coaching's beneficial. Three reasons why coaching's beneficial. And we'll have this in the show notes. But I wanted us to review three reasons. You hit some really solid, solid important points when it comes to coaching. So you had three. The first one you had is discovery. Talk about that a little bit.

George Ross: Yeah, we always see ourselves better than we really are. I do it. I think everyone does it. Part of coaching that is huge is the discovery. You have someone else hearing, listening, watching you. And that idea of self-awareness and self-consciousness that's so important to coaching, that discovery part of that I think is just essential for guys in leadership, guys in ministry. Coaching helps you know who you really are.

Dino Senesi: Yeah, I've heard that a good coach is a mirror in the life of the person that he's coaching so if God could use us to be a mirror for someone else, that's going to be really helpful as they discover. And then reason number two why coaching is beneficial, George, you said it's because of development.

George Ross: Yeah. I think the most dangerous place we can be is when we're stagnant, we're not going forward and we're not going back. So coaching is an opportunity for development. This past year, one of the things that I try to do every year is I try to go to a developmental conference. So this past year I picked multiply training. Mack and Charles do the training for trainers, and man, that just sharpened me. I needed that really bad because I had seen myself getting a little stagnant in some of my coaching conversations. And that particular conference and workshop was just huge for me. And they were my coaches for a couple of days. So I think coaching is developmental and it's helping you grow, and it's helping you not stay stagnant and it's helping you become a better leader.

Dino Senesi: Well, and multiply training and train the trainer is just A+. It’s still making the focal point of you and your development and your growth and so that's an incredible, incredible thing that's happening in a lot of our Send Cities now and it's amazing the progress they're making. So reason number two, or reason number one, was discovery. Reason number two was development and number three, a reason that coaching's beneficial according to you was discernment.

George Ross: Yeah. My greatest, one of my greatest struggles early on in church planting, when I was younger, planting a church outside of Memphis was just impulsiveness. I always felt like I had to do it and I had to do it now. And I look back over some of those decisions that were made in my life and if I'd had a coach speaking into that, a coach really listening to what I was about to do, I probably wouldn't have made some of the decisions that I made out of impulsive thinking. That I have to do this or we're going to die. I have to hire this person or we're not going to make it alive for the church. So coaching brings that level of discernment. We have other eyes and other ears listening to what you're doing, listening to what's going on and it can offer wise counsel to you.

Dino Senesi: Really great stuff. And you guys could find this in the show notes, the three reasons why coaching is beneficial. You'll be able to find some of George's other materials in the show notes as well. We're going to talk about that in a future podcast but George, thank you so very much. Not only for coming today and giving us a few minutes, but also for all that God's doing through you and those people around you in New Orleans, a great city, a great world city where you're making Jesus known in that city. So I really, really appreciate what you're doing. And also want to remind listeners that if you'll go to you could hear an entire, just a plethora, just picked that word out of the sky, a plethora of podcasts on all kinds of topics including Send Relief, which we mentioned today. They have a great podcast. Send Network had podcasts, more than just coaching podcasts. There's all kinds of things that'll help equip you and inspire you and encourage you in what God is asking you to do where you are right now. So until the next podcast, keep coaching.

Closing Remarks: You have been listening to The Coaching Podcast, a resource of the North American Mission Board. Are you a church planter in need of a coach? Visit to learn more.

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