Church planters most resistant to coaching may need it the most
by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — When Jeff Eddings, a coaching associate with 1001 New Worshiping Communities, talks about its coaching network, he begins by referencing Scripture from Philippians 1:3-5, where the apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi, “ I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.”
“There are so many good reasons to participate in coaching — and to have a coach,” he said. “A coach can really help a presbytery and a new worshiping community work.”
All of the 1001 network coaches have new worshiping community experience and have worked with presbyteries. They can help guide the process and be a connection between presbyteries and new worshiping community leaders.
The general presbyter of the Presbytery of Baltimore, Jackie Taylor, is a coach who has seen how valuable it is for pastors of new worshiping communities to have someone to talk to about some of the day-to-day and week-to week challenges of their pioneering work.
“Coaches can also come in to assess the context of the particular new ministry — before it is formed,” she said. “That way the leader has a better understanding of what might or might not work at the very beginning.”
According to the Rev. Princeton Abaraoha, who works with African Intercultural Ministries as part of his position as a field staff member for Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, coaching encourages one to come alongside another to help the person become aware of any blind spots in their ministry — an important gift. He says that “Jesus was a coach too,” because Jesus answered questions with questions that “created an awareness in those he was walking and talking with.”
1001 coach Colin Pritchard, who pastors First Presbyterian Church in Victor, N.Y., started a new church plant years ago — almost entirely in isolation. He calls the coaching relationship “an extraordinary opportunity to be in connection” and says he would “desperately seek the resources that are available now” through the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement.
“The folks most resistant to coaching are probably the people who need it most,” he said.
To Tedder Hugus, both giving and receiving coaching is “the gift of health, well-being, fullness and shalom.”
“It’s the gift of choosing alignment with God’s self and community,” she said.
For Steinberg, Missing Peace “would not be” without the benefit of coaching. It was critical for her to verbally process her ideas — and to know that she was not alone. As a coach, she almost feels like she’s a midwife.
“They don’t actually do the work of birthing,” she said, “but they do coach you through it. They do help you breathe and see what you already actually know you need to be doing. It’s a gift.”
One of the things Eddings says he loves about the 1001 coaching network is the diversity of coaches they work with, which include Latino/a communities, Vietnamese, Asian, Korean, African and Middle Eastern.
While working with all these diverse ethnic groups, the coaches work interculturally — and are learning from each other.
“Having a coach is having a partner in the gospel work,” said Eddings. “Our coaches work with new worshiping community leaders, teams, presbyteries and commissions. We’re available at every level of development for the new worshiping community.”
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