I was talking with a pastor and network leader from Kampala, Uganda. His church has planted 8 other churches/campuses and they’ve also started 70 missional communities. As we were getting to know one another he discovered that I had previously planted two churches.
Despite the wonderful multiplication that has already occurred under his leadership he said they’re constantly learning and wondering how to expand their church planting efforts. At this point Pastor Moses asked me, “What are some of the greatest lessons you learned in those experiences.”
My immediate response was, “Church planting is no joke and I realized how important the role of a coach is.”
In Monrovia, Liberia, which was my first church plant, I vividly remember sitting on numerous occasions thinking, “I know there’s something more or something else I could/should be doing, but Lord, I just don’t know what that is.”
That was deflating for a “get ‘er done” type of guy like myself. Because most of my life I relied on what I knew and I worked to accomplish the task however possible. Not knowing what to do was not a feeling I was used to and it didn’t sit well. I wished that I had had someone to walk with me through that journey to encourage me and speak wisdom into my situation from their own experience.
I’ve been on staff with NewThing for two years now and one of the things that I love most about the organization is the emphasis on apprenticeship and coaching. Both are core values for us that we believe are vital within the sphere of multiplication ministry.
And as I’ve spoken with more and more pastors in Africa it has quickly become clear that this is not just a North American need – it is a need felt with church planters across the globe. Many pastors throughout Sub-Saharan Africa are simply looking for coaching, mentoring, and training. “Walk with me through some of these issues on the ground” OR “Help me understand what this church planting thing should look like” are phrases I hear often. They’re super willing but they’re hitting barriers because they are unsure what the next step is.
As my Dad always says, “We only know what we know” and there is no place where that is truer than in the arena of church planting.
We often lament the success rate, or lack thereof, of church plants. We talk about what a shame it is that another church didn’t make it. But, what if instead of looking at what didn’t happen we step in and try to keep it from happening again in the future? What if we decide we will no longer talk about the problem but we’ll be proactive in being a part of the solution?
I firmly believe that many, MANY church plants would have kept their doors had only the leader only had a coach to encourage them, inspire them, and equip them to move forward. As I mentioned earlier, church planting is no joke but if we are connected to a leader that has gone before us it can make such a drastic difference.
If you’ve planted a church in the past take it upon yourself to find a church planter, or numerous planters, to begin coaching. All it takes is an hour a week.
If you’re a church planter, do not start the process of planting until you’ve found a church leader willing to walk alongside of you throughout.
If we connected more planters with coaches I assure you that we’d close less church plants.