I’ve been a church planter for 11 months…and I’m still alive. Second only to the holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing of King Jesus, I attribute this astounding fact to one thing—my coaches.
I have four of them. I know, it sounds like a crowd. But it really isn’t. I knew going into this that I would need men around me to speak truth into my life. I knew I’d need men who were willing to offend me for the sake of my soul, my family, and my church. And I knew these kind of men shared one thing in common—they were busy.
Their work load posed two problems. First, I would have to convince them that adding my church planting plight to their growing ministry burden was actually worth it. Second I had to make it easy for them to mentor me.
To solve my first problem I decided on a schedule that required no more than 1 or 2 hours a month from them, sometimes less. I asked the chairman of my temporary committee—Don Ward—to talk to me twice a month, every first and third week. The other three men—Ed Dunnington, Mike Sharrett, and Jason Roberts—I scheduled on off weeks from Don. The result is that I get an hour on the phone with an experienced church planter at least once a week.
That schedule solved my first problem. But the second problem still remained. How could I make it easy for them to mentor me? I decided to do two things.
First, I asked the men to specifically focus on counseling me in their own areas of pastoral strength . I had chosen these men because of their diversity of gifts. One of them focuses on the general health of the church plant. One of them focuses on the health of my own soul and marriage. One of them focuses on my preaching and vision casting. And the last one focuses on how our church plant is engaging Culpeper. Each of them can ask me whatever they want, but I told them I wanted them to play to their strengths. It would be easy for them.
Second, I told them I would come with questions. During the month I write down questions I might have for each man during our scheduled phone call. Sometimes we deviate from my questions but we always have something to talk about. If it’s a hard day for my coach and all he can do is pick up the phone, he doesn’t have to worry about setting the agenda. I come with questions ready. It’s easy for him.
If you’re a church planter coaching is requisite. But even if you’re not a church planter, mentoring is a time honored tradition that has fallen out of practice within the PCA. Think of a few guys or maybe just one guy whom you respect and ask him if he’d take a phone call from you once a month. Make it easy for him.
If more of us opened up our lives and ministries to coaching and mentoring it would be more difficult for us to hide our ministerial laziness and sin in the impenitent and unexamined shadows. We are Presbyterian after all. If we aren’t encouraging, rebuking, praying for, and laughing with one another in ministry then what good is our polity?
I’m living proof. Literally. It’s been 11 months and I think I might just make it.