“Would coaching actually help church leaders in measurable ways,” I asked myself. “Would it be worth their time? Would leaders invest money to make it happen?”
Then the kicker: If we did promote this, we would need first to experience coaching ourselves.
“What is coaching going to teach me at this point in my life,” I smugly wondered. At 60-plus, I had years of schooling, a Doctor of Ministry plus 27 years of pastoral experience and a decade of national and binational ministry.
In 2020, my third year as USMB executive director, I connected with pastors struggling with discouragement, exhaustion and declining effectiveness. Don Morris, the Mission USA national director, immersed himself in the grassroots realities of church planting and renewal ministries. He, too, encountered burned-out pastoral staff fighting the urge to bail. Encouragement dwindled to a low ebb.
Don and I agreed to find a way to ramp up the resilience and effectiveness of church leaders. He found Ministry Coaching International (MCI), a life and ministry coaching initiative specifically for church leaders adapted from the gold star Building Champions approach and format.
Digging into MCI, we learned about Greg Salciccioli, a respected coach, consultant and keynote speaker with Building Champions, the folks who coach the Chick-fil-A restaurant company. Sensing God’s leadership and an opportunity to support church and ministry leaders, Salciccioli founded MCI. He authored The Growth Guide as an anchoring manual and its partner, an Excel program called Ministry Action Plan (MAP), as a journal to record several Big Hairy Audacious Goals as well as action items, insights, visions and plans, providing measurable accountability.
Our digging revealed that the One-On-One Coaching System offered two helpful self-evaluating inventories, one providing feedback on natural behavioral tendencies and how we behave in the context of external expectations and a second measuring emotional intelligence.
A review of The Growth Guide showed the first chapter would invite us to take stock of priorities, health, family, friends, finances, service and faith. The second and third chapters would facilitate clarifying a ministry vision and ministry plan. The fourth would measure administrative efficiency, effectiveness in management and offer insights and systems to ramp up those capacities by “mastering workflow” and eliminating dropped balls.
We’d partner with a skilled, spiritually sensitive coach. Our coach would not function as a subject matter expert consultant, nor a teacher-instructor, nor an older wiser mentor, nor a counsellor unpacking the past. Our coach would partner as a supportive ally and prayer partner, with a high level of discernment and trained to ask powerful questions to “coach through the gap” between present realities and a preferred future.
“Sign me up!” I said, as did Don and others we invited. The experience helped me beyond expectation. The smugness I had felt became embarrassment, erasing my skepticism. I became a better follower of Jesus, under-shepherd, husband, father and friend. I learned a ton and became a more efficient and effective leader.
After we had experienced this partnership, several of us became certified so that we could offer valid coaching to leaders in our USMB family. USMB LEAD Coaching is a live opportunity. It helps in measurable ways. It is worth the investment. Just ask the 24 coachees who have experienced the journey. Or ask Don. Or me.
Ed Boschman serves as the head coach for the USMB LEAD Coaching initiative and gives leadership to a national team of trained LEAD Coaches and helps facilitate connections with those coaches. He is the USMB representative to the International Community of Mennonite Brethren and served as the USMB executive director from 2007 to 2014.