What does it take to be a missional coach? What sets missional coaches apart from any other kind of coach? This week I’m doing a series on the five missional coach competencies—one per day. These represent the areas that a good missional coach must be competent in, over and above the competencies all quality coaches must possess.

You have been assigned by your denomination to work with Josh, a planter in his 20s. He feels disillusioned with traditional church and says he wants to plant a new kind of church, something completely different. When you try to engage with Josh to help him put words to his vision, he reacts strongly against the vocabulary choices you’ve made. “You just don’t understand,” he sighs. You’ve never planted a church like this—things are different now. I don’t want something that boxes people in. I want to create something that frees them. We don’t just want to play church and have a service. We want to live out the gospel in real life ways… ways that make a difference. You’re used to traditional-type churches and traditional-type people. No offense, but I don’t think someone like you is going to be able to help me.”

This is where competency #2—credibility and connection—comes in. Working with missional leaders, you will virtually never have credibility just because of your role; you’ll need to have some form of incarnational missional experience. It raises credibility in the eyes of the person you’re working with. If you’re completely divorced from that world, you don’t believe in it sufficiently to be believed in the eyes of the other person. It’s true that good coaching skills can go a long way, and you don’t have to do everything in the missional spectrum, but having had some personal experience allows you to express empathy and show that you’re relevent– even through the questions you choose to ask. People can smell the difference between a book learner and someone who has learned from experience. If you don’t have any track record at all of missional living, this is probably not an area where you should coach. Not because you couldn’t, but because of the effect on the people you’d be working with.