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Is the Church Ready for the “Pastor-Coach?”

October 26, 2013

In the decade of the 1990’s the title on my card read:  “Jeff Caliguire: Senior Pastor.”  After 4 years in college, 4 more years of seminary education and a whole resume of internships in different parts of the country, I had the opportunity to serve for almost a decade in that capacity.

Was I a success in that?  Honestly: I don’t know.

Maybe I missed that class, but I don’t think I was prepared for how hard I would find it to wrestle with these questions once I  served as a “pastor.”It’s this:”WHAT IS PASTOR-SUCCESS?”  “What does it mean to pastor?” “How do I know if someone has been”pastored” or not?”  Even if they attend services, did “it” work?  Are they good?  Have I helped them in the way I should?

It’s difficult for most of us to measure tangible success, I get that.  But  take this “measure it challenge” to pastoring and it goes to a whole new level!  How do you quantify someone’s “spiritual growth?” Do they turn a new color?  Do they speak a different language?  Do they quit drinking, smoking, texting while driving and dirty dancing?  And since it’s so difficult to quantify, it became easier for most of us “pastor-types” to measure those more “tangible” things like church size, church attendance,  church budgets,  number of staff, maybe groups, or if we had them to cool factor of our “contemporary services.”

So, having a Masters in Theology, I at least learned I should ask the question: What did Jesus do?   How did he “pastor?”

Hmmmm…. Look into Jesus model of leadership and “pastoring,” and doesn’t take a degree to notice:  Jesus seemed more concerned about a very different metric than most of us.  Not size, attendance, program or building.  No: instead Jesus was more concerned about advancement of something He called the “Kingdom” in, through and around people.  He wanted to build passionate and purposeful people who came fully alive to what He called “abundant life.”

Jesus “pastoring goal” was not get people to just be moral, volunteer more time  or make it without difficuluty into “retirement” (in heaven or in Florida!).  Instead, He wanted to empower people to a powerful way of life.  NOT more “religious” and institutional participation,  but 24-7 abundant life people who got their purpose of existence clear:  They knew they were  put on this planet to

1.  Love God wholeheartedly.
2.  Love people wholeheartedly.
3. Love themselves wholeheartedly*

*Sidenote: Jesus knew they could never get the first two if they didn’t  love themselves! And isn’t that  what gets most of us into trouble in every other relationship by the way.. not loving ourselves?

These real people would have such a spiritual vibrancy, grace and vitality that others would also be attracted and want to ask:  “What makes you different?”  “Why do you love your work?”  “Why are you so real?” “Why are you NOT addicted like the rest of us?”  “Why are you not into judgement and condemnation like most people ?”  “How do you forgive that way??”

SO if that’s the case: What should “pastoring” at least include?   

In the past few years, I have come to believe that one of the most significant missing tools from the Church’s “leadership and people development arsenal” is something Jesus was expert at. It’s this:  Coaching.  That’s right,  coaching.  Coaching if defined as “empowering players to win in their game.” At it’s best, coaching equips “players” to succeed in their field of endeavor.

Look at Jesus through the lens of the best “pastor-coach” ever.

He certainly taught large gatherings.  But, most of His teaching was really more akin to coaching.  Small groups and one on one.  Think about it.  Jesus:

  • Spent long time blocks WITH a small team….  He was fully present to them and on their turf.
  • Showed up in their places of work and cared about how effective they were in the fishing industry. Problem solved.
  • Cared about healing for NOW… not just about their spirit after they died.  (physical, emotional, relational, spiritual…)
  • Helped them do THEIR WORK IN THE WORLD… didn’t just recruit them to do religious work.

Who does that in any major way today?  At least in anything connected or seen as Church?

My belief is that many in younger generation of “non-church-goers” have rejected the “traditional mindset” of “church” for good reasons. They don’t need another institution trying to get them into their program.  However, might they be incredibly welcoming and hungry for the work this kind of “my agenda-free pastor-coach?”   Might they welcome Jesus-type of people and leadership development?   Might they welcome “Church leadership” that’s there to equip them… not “get” them to attend programs, services and the like?

Here are the skills and job description of the pastor-coach:

1. Hear their stories.  LISTEN.  

Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.”  The first work of the “pastor-coach” would be KNOW THEM by listening to people share their stories, the good, bad and the ugly.  Don’t we all crave (and Love!) those who will authentically and attentively listen to our stories?

2. Recognize God’s story in their stories. 

If God is active in our life… then He is active in our lives.  He shows up and teaches us through life lessons, experiences and activities.  A pastor-coach would help others see those patterns and begin to act upon them.

3. Unlock their best gifts and skills.

The message of the pastor-coach: “You have an incredibly vital role to play in “ministry!”  It may or may not be “ministry in a local church.  In fact, it’s probably not!”  And when you utilize your gifts, you will feel alive and others will be served!  Problems will be solved!  Needs will be met… including your own to be able to make a meaningful contribution in your lifetime.   It’s a win-win!

4. Heal them or point them to places of healing.

And yes, some of this healing is physical, but most of this healing is about the wounded “emotional intelligence” inside those who have been abused, misused, abandoned, rejected and judged.  Healing coaches could offer them supernatural breakthrough and a community of others with healing gifts and abilities.

5. Help them see a God-Vision for their work and life.

This vision involves seeing the “good life” as the life of adventure, serving others, caring for family and really enjoying deep fun and friendships. It involves seeing themselves as generous givers and not takers.  It involves seeing the work they do as “sacred” and not “secular” whether it’s working in a church, a restaurant, a factory or the corner office of a corporation.  And it also means being able to dream again if that ability has been broken or stolen…. even if by “church people.”

6. Help them overcome the snags, setbacks and grow faith, instead of fear along the way.

A pastor-coach cares about the spiritual and inner world of those they coach.  They expect the person the walk with (not over) will run into challenges and experience roadblocks.  They don’t abandon those they coach at this point, instead they walk even closer.  They care even more.

7. Empower them to make a good living in their calling… or make tents.

The pastor-coach cares that those they serve gain abundance to be able to do what they do and give back so others can as well so others can experience this kind of pastoring as well.   Will those who experience this kind of pastor-coaching become wealthy?  Very likely!   And why not?  But, since some callings are not as easily paid, some will need to “make tents.”  This means they will find other ways to fund their real calling…. (and for older people, this can very well be through investing wisely or even receiving social security!)

Will this be an easy change for most churches?  No.  But will it be worthwhile, revolutionary and world-changing?

What do you think?  Is the Church ready for the pastor-coach?

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