I recently met with Ben Ingebretson, Director of Planting for the United Methodist and Moravian Churches and Author of the recently released PLANT LIKE JESUS: The Church Planters Devotional. I am excited to share his thoughts on the dynamic of supervision and coaching with you.
What are your top strategies for supporting church planters?
Church planting is risky business. Some seasons feel like you are traversing the mighty Niagara on a thread. Strong currents of challenging culture, powerful personalities, swirling strategies, trials and tribulations can sweep a planter off course and down-stream. For most planting movements managing that risk is a critical task. We do not expect an entirely safe place to pioneer the Kingdom (see Matt. 25:14ff) rather, we use methods that help us manage the risk. Supervision and coaching roles that work together are one way to boost plant potential as we move out across the currents.
How do these separate roles work together?
Supervision has an “agenda” usually calling for regular reporting and general oversight. Typically, supervision comes from a primary sponsoring agency. It could be a network planting leader or the parenting church pastor. They usually have an interest in overseeing three primary concerns:
- that the plant is on track and accountable to the intended mission and vision
- that the planter be healthy and ethically responsible and
- that the plant attain fiscal sustainability.
Coaching, by contrast, is that “Barnabas” support to the planter that comes alongside with skills that help them work their plan. They help focus the energy, hold the planter accountable for the planter’s goals and maintain confidentially where the planter may need to disclose personal struggles.
Supervisors and coaches sit in different seats on the bus. When they play their parts well, they reduce risk and elevate potential progress. When they synergize, the benefits can be even greater.
What does supervision and coaching synergy look like in practice?
The secret to supervisor/coach synergy is alignment. Keeping everyone “on the same page” usually requires that the supervisor, in partnership with the planter, regularly keep the coach abreast of the priority and immediate concerns of the project.
Laura is developing a new faith community in her sub-division. Every two months she meets with her supervisor and treasurer to report on progress and together they set the priority goals for the next two months. She then shares those with her coach so they are fully aware of the expectations of those to whom Laura is accountable. That alignment reduces any potential for “agenda friction” by giving the coach added insight into the project and the expectations Laura is attentive to. The supervisor, coach and planter are aligned and the risk is reduced.
Walking out the relationship between supervisor and coach requires that the supervisor and Laura agree on their most pressing goals at regular intervals and then bring the coach “into the loop”. It also requires the coach to stay in the Barnabas chair and not drive toward the supervisor’s goals but instead come alongside the planter to help them reach those goals. At times it may require that the supervisor, planter and coach all meet together to wrestle with the mighty Niagara they are crossing.
How important is the supervision and coaching dynamic?
Progress in church planting rarely comes without seasons of significant challenge and peril. When the supervisor and coach align their work together while remaining in their separate roles the potential risk is reduced and the potential for reward is raised.
The Church Planting Journey- This book is a comprehensive guide for the church planter. You will find wisdom, systems, and processes that can help you launch well while sustaining your unique vision and call.
The Church Planter Assessment- Are you thinking about church planting or are already in the process? The Church Planter Behavioral Assessment is a valuable tool. To learn more about how you can be assessed email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Coaching 101 Handbook- this resource is designed to help leaders apply the practical principles introduced in Coaching 101 and begin the journey of becoming a more effective coach. You will gain a deeper appreciation of the coaching process as you understand the model outlined in these pages.
Upcoming Fuller DMin: Leading for Healthy Growth
Are you ready to plan for healthy growth?
Especially during these challenging times, it’s important that we zero in on the essentials. The program focuses on missional discipleship, transformational leadership, and fruitful ministry.
Together, these components create a simple ministry flow that results in healthy ministry growth, flourishing churches, and communities reached with the gospel. We’ve put together a cohort that helps you live into each of these areas in turn.
If you’d like more information on the cohort, you can find it here.