Jesus painted clear visions, provided precise instructions, issued absolute orders and demonstrated single-hearted devotion to His mission. The urgency of bringing people to Christ and of multiplying churches requires coaches who do the same.
Coach with single-minded purpose. Westerners often find it hard to agree and focus on outcomes, as individuals seek personal interests and preferences. Younger adults often lack purpose aside from enjoying friends and sensory stimulation. Thus, Western coaches and those whom they influence often fail to press for verifiable outcomes, and trainees doubt their churches’ willingness to take vigorous action. Instead of simply doing what Jesus commanded, they seek better materials, financial security, believers’ maturity, cultural sensitivity to perceived enemies, advancing their own careers and their organization’s reputation. To keep churches multiplying, assertive coaching keeps workers focused on Christ’s commands, encouraged by faith, motivated by love, and planning with God-given wisdom. Coach those who are called and gifted to plant churches or cells, and let those with other gifting do what they do well.
Appoint elders, do not elect them. Some churches are so chained to Western, democratic processes that popular election of elders replaces the Scriptural norm. Pastoral candidates must give campaign speeches so that church members can elect one and reject others. Some churches’ bylaws stipulate a certain number of shepherding elders, regardless of how many the Lord has gifted as shepherds. Their bylaws also dictate how long to serve, as though God’s gifts disappeared at the end of their elected term!
Let apprentice elders practice shepherding before being installed as “official.” Christ’s apostles started churches and appointed elders who exhibited shepherding ability and other qualities (Tit. 1:5). Where few qualify as elders, today’s apostles must also teach, train and correct until some qualify. Teaching often aims more to define words precisely than to make workers out of raw human material. Coaches must affirm biblical standards for leaders and bring trainees up to those standards. Only lay hands on those that qualify to commission them, while coaching apprentices that are not yet qualified yet who provide more and more pastoral care. Push new trainees into the swimming pool – at the shallow end. Then coach them as they learn to swim in the deep, as Jesus and His apostles did.
Empower leaders by delegating your authority to them to shepherd their flocks. If you merely teach them, you enable immature men or carnal men to grasp power and dominate others. If you adopt merely cultural standards for leaders – such as advanced degrees, business acumen, affluence or political shrewdness – then you are already well on the way to apostasy. Coach new leaders by serving as a model for them to serve Christ and their flocks; Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Modeling initiates coaching chains in which one person empowers another who does the same for others, and so on.
Enthuse elders; do not discourage them by demanding perfection. The commands and promises of Jesus and his apostles remain the most powerful motivators to obedient faith. If we present both the challenges and rewards of biblical leadership, trainees who know and love Christ will respond enthusiastically. Paul asserted in Ephesians 4:11 that God gives pastors and teachers to congregations. He always does, sooner than later. Coaches must identify them, enthuse them, appoint them and coach them until they are effectively coaching others in turn.
Look for new workers among people close by. Jesus said to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to raise up workers. When we do so, he does so. Most workers come from a local population, not from distant lands. Jesus walked with his rough-hewn disciples, shared His authority with them, sent them to do ministry, listened to their reports, and gave new instruction that met current needs. Should we do any less?