What does it take to be a missional coach? What sets missional coaches apart from any other kind of coach? This week I’ll be 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.

Let’s say Gene is starting a missional group in his church and you’re his coach. So far he has only Christians in his group, but he wants people who don’t know Jesus to be a part of it. Next time Gene meets with you, he asks, “How can I get some people involved in my group who aren’t already Christians?” Instead of going immediately to strategy and method, the wise coach will rely on a principle-based perspective. One principle that might apply to Gene’s situation is that we don’t just work to serve unbelievers, we serve alongside them and build relationships with them. Another might be that the DNA once set at the beginning of a ministry is very difficult to change later.

A principle-based perspective is the most difficult of the five competencies to describe, but in short, it means two things: 1) you have to know what you’re talking about, and 2) you need to help people get past surface methods to the deeper underlying principles.

1) A good missional coach understands the basic principles of incarnational, missional ministry. That starts with an understanding of the Kingdom of God, what it means to be incarnational, and what it means to do the work God has called us to do. A good missional coach understands that all ministry goes back to the incarnation. Jesus became flesh and lived among us. So how does that then inform how we are to live and serve?

2) From there, a good missional coach needs to keep going back to the core fundamental ministry principles.  Too many people think methodologically. Because each situation is unique, and each person’s giftedness is unique, you can’t stay on the level of methodology and be effective.  It’s not just about doing service projects, but it’s about engaging culture– and there are a variety of ways to do that… including doing service projects. Another example: a missional leader might resist an “old-school” solution such as “having a daily devotional time.” However, by going a level deeper to the principle: “active engagement with God,” the coach can help the leader figure out what active engagement with God might look like in their life and ministry. It might involve music, nature, exercise, or centering prayer exercises. It might change from day to day. But the principle of active engagement with God will still apply.

Here is the core of incarnational ministry: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  (John 14:12)