Friday, September 18, 2015

Can a coach help a bivocational minister?

What does a bivocational pastor do when it seems nothing he or she does makes a difference? This was the issue confronting one of the pastors I coached for my DMin project. This pastor was a seminary graduate who had served several years as a fully-funded pastor before becoming bivocational. He was frustrated that he was not able to provide leadership to his church, and he felt that his ministry had made very little impact on the people in the church, especially the younger people.

As we went deeper into what had been accomplished in the 2 1/2 years he had served as pastor I was amazed at what he had been able to do. His impact on that church had been far more than he realized. I began to remind him of the things he had shared with me that had been done since his arrival as pastor. As I affirmed the significance of his ministry he immediately became encouraged and expressed optimism about his future dreams for the church.

In future coaching sessions this pastor was much more focused on the future. He developed a preaching schedule which he shared with me, looked into furthering his education, and began to discuss the need for the church, and he, to become more evangelistic oriented.

It is easy for ministers to become discouraged at what we feel is a lack of results from our efforts. During such a period in my own ministry I met with a more seasoned pastor who reminded me that ministry is often two steps forward and one step back. Things don't often happen as quickly as we might prefer, and sometimes it is difficult to see that what we are doing is making any impact on the lives of others. It is in those times that we need someone to come alongside to clear away the fog and reveal to us the good that our ministries are accomplishing. Often, that person is a coach.

My DMin project was "Coaching Bivocational Ministers for Greater Ministry Effectiveness." That project was later turned into a book,The Art and Practice of Bivocational Ministry: A Pastor's Guide. As part of the project I coached five bivocational pastors, but the book records the stories of ten pastors I have coached over the years and the results of those coaching relationships. Most were bivocational; a couple of pastors were fully-funded.

Chances are you will find some of the challenges you are facing in those stories, and the solutions these pastors found might be the answers you're seeking. Coaching is a powerful tool to help a person move forward in his or life and ministry, and having a coaching relationship with an experienced coach can be life-transforming. But, if you cannot have such a relationship, this book may be the next best thing. You'll find that you are not alone in the struggles you face, and that there are solutions to every challenge.

After reading the book, if you feel that having a coach for a period of time would be beneficial, contact me. As I am retiring from my judicatory role at the end of the year I will be taking on more coaching relationships in 2016. Perhaps we can work together to help you move forward in your life and ministry.

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