Q3: What support do planters need? (Coaching)
“Coaching a church planter is the best way to bring wisdom, perspective, accountability, and encouragement into the church planting process.” Gene Wilson, Craig Ott
''You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them...'' 2 Tim. 3:14
A number of effective church planting networks have adopted the motto ‘no planter plants alone’.
Coaching is different from mentoring. In mentoring one “pours into” a leader from their experience and wisdom. In coaching one tends to ‘’draw out’’ of the leader. Church planting coaches believe the leader they are coaching often has the answer 'in them' but cannot find the answer on their own. Good questions and the opportunity to reflect and discuss things in a ‘safe’ relationship makes coaching a somewhat different posture used with leaders, one that helps them grow in different ways than mentoring. Coaching is a strategic means to support and encourage church planters.
Dave Whitehead of Redeemer City to City compares church planting to chemistry rather than math:
A chemical compound is made up of different elements. Change one element and you have a different compound. The social makeup of the launch team, the leader’s family, the neighborhood, and even the expectations of the sending agency are major elements that influence the effectiveness of a church’s launch. Learning how to handle these elements — and many more — is a delicate dance that can’t be taught in a classroom. It has to be navigated in the field.*
Some advantages of providing coaching for church planters:
It reduces attrition, reducing the number of leaders leaving the ministry.
It encourages deeper learning and development according to many studies.
It provides a form of accountability which is supportive more than authoritative.
If done well, it provides support for the planter's spouse and family as well.
Coaching is personalized, taking into consideration the differences between leaders and their circumstances, church planters and their church plants.
Coaching is a skill, combining active listening with posing good questions in such a way that leaders are able to see themselves and their situation with greater clarity, finding renewed vision, clearer direction, and better understanding. As a skill, it is difficult to learn by simply reading a book. It is best learned by being taught, practicing and receiving feedback, and growing in the skill through ongoing development. Coaching church planters is perhaps best done by those who have already planted a church, but that is often a luxury. Having a good coach with no church planting experience is better than having no coach at all.
* Retrieved April, 2020, https://medium.com/redeemer-city-to-city/why-is-coaching-church-planters-important-11e65b29e7b7