Who Should Coach New Church Leaders, and How?


Who should coach new church leaders?

Legalistic perfectionist: “Theologians with at least a Master’s degree.”
Busy executive: “A wise and willing person to whom I can delegate mentoring.”
Control freak: “Only me. Anyone else would get in my way!”
Insecure leader: “I doubt my ability to mentor. Maybe we should wait a year.”
Imitator of the apostles: “Who is an experienced worker that is available?”

In pioneer fields, a good coach may be also be a learner who is only a week or two ahead of his apprentice. If a new believer begins shepherding his own family, he is already a leader by definition and likely to shepherd a new church or cell; coach him and let him begin at once to coach other potential shepherds. This perpetuates a mentoring chain.

“I’m ugly, have poor education and my tribe used to be slaves of stronger tribes.
So why would a new leader listen to me?”
(Heard in a pioneer field)

A sense of insecurity plagues many people, such as Timothy. His coach, Paul, told him to be strong with the Lord’s help, to let no one despise his youth, and to coach others.

Assure insecure people of their commissioning and gifting, as Paul did Timothy. Give new apprentices constant encouragement until they are confident.

Satan attacks mentors’ confidence. A pastor asked during worship how many of the older men would like to coach younger men, and a few timid hands were raised. Then the pastor asked how many younger men wanted an older man to coach them. Every young man’ hand shot up without hesitation!

When women asked an older lady to disciple them, she agreed on the condition that they would begin at once also to disciple other women. Some were shocked at the suggestion! They felt incapable, although they had been believers for many years and had absorbed tons of good Bible teaching!

“I lack experience.”

Who knows it all? Often workers fail to coach others, fearing making errors. The remedy is simple: coach and be coached. If you cannot handle an issue, go to your own mentor.

Paul recognized as potential trainers those who were “faithful” and “able to teach others”, 2 Tim. 2:2. Jerusalem leaders scoffed at the Galileans because they spoke with a country accent, but Jesus chose the Twelve from among these simple men and coached them.

This TROUBLE SHOOTING CHART can help inexperienced coaches get started:

Common Snags
🙁 Common Causes

🙂 Common Cures

Evangelism fails to bring people to Christ or to reach entire families.

🙁Workers lack power for evangelism.

🙂Enlist serious intercessors and share the vision.

🙂Pray for healing of the people with childlike faith.

🙂Proclaim the good news as the apostles did, relating the death and life giving resurrection of Jesus.

🙁Expatriate workers fail to bond properly with the people and their culture, spending time mainly with each other.

🙂Form task groups with workers who bond with the people and their culture and, as seen in Acts, who focus on a specific community and relate to it.

🙂Live among the people, let them meet your social needs, and learn the language without a painful accent.

🙁Expatriate workers mobilize few nationals for serious service.

🙂Form task groups mainly with nationals or culturally close persons.

🙂Aim not for permanent church planting teams but temporary task groups with a specific focus.

🙁Worship or witnessing does not fit local culture.

🙂Nationals write and lead music in their style, avoiding trying to perform.

🙂Celebrate the Lord’s Supper regularly.

🙁Workers extract converts from family and friends, overdoing the personal (private) aspect of faith.

🙂Rely on a ‘man of peace’ in a community, and work with his contacts—Luke 10.

🙂Start with heads of families–Acts 16:31.

🙂See seekers as God does–part of a social unit–not as isolated individuals.

🙁Converts fall back.

🙂Call seekers to repent, not simply to make decisions.

Baptize repentant believers without undue delay.

🙂Help converts love family and friends in practical ways.

Churches or cells fail to multiply.

🙁Leaders encourage projects only if they control them, failing to plan for granddaughter churches or cells.

🙂Model servant leadership for new leaders, outside of classrooms.

🙂Train and install new leaders faster, at least as fast as Paul did in Acts 14.

🙁Methods or equipment is too costly, high-tech or Western.

🙂Limit equipment and methods to what all potential workers in a ‘2 Timothy 2:2 training chain’ can easily obtain or grasp.

🙁Workers lack focus on a specific, cohesive society.

🙂Let the gospel flow where the Holy Spirit takes it. Do not kill a culture by mixing it with a more predominant culture in a church.

🙁Leaders fear that false doctrine or bad practices will creep in if churches multiply rapidly.

🙂Clarify that heresy comes from old, stagnant churches, not new ones. Train leaders in the biblical way and relax.

🙂Remind workers that where the apostles made disciples churches or urban cells resulted and reproduced. Teach obedience, not fear!

Legalistic rules keep new leaders from heeding Jesus’ commands.

🙁Leaders attribute more authority to human organization than to Christ, including for rules for baptism and Communion.

🙂Make disciples as Jesus said, teaching to obey His commands before all else. Found ministries on His commands, discerning between New Testament commands, mere apostolic practices that were not commanded and human traditions. Discern between the essential purpose of commands and the various external forms that their practice can take.

Apprentices fail to carry out fieldwork or studies.

🙁Coaches enroll immature students.

Enroll only leaders that qualify biblically as ‘elders.’

🙁Too many attend sessions.

Gather no more than you can listen to and help plan.

🙁Plans are too detailed or impractical.

Plan fieldwork that students can realistically do, noting specific people and places as you record their plans.

🙁Accountability is weak.

Review work done. Give recognition for good work, note current needs.

🙁Assignments do not fit current needs and opportunities.

Assign activities that fit current needs. This is easy if you use menu-based curriculum such as www.Paul-Timothy.net or www.MentorAndMultiply.com.

🙁Workers read with difficulty.

See if they can read with inexpensive reading glasses.

🙁Students work through books in a linear way, not as they need them.

Use the Study Options listed under each Activity in the Student Activity Guide to select books that fit current needs and opportunities.

🙁Books are too costly or too big to carry around to read conveniently.

Provide training books in pocket size, affordable and easy to carry around during the day. Do not bind them in larger volumes simply for the convenience of printers or secretaries.

Western funding stifles initiative.

🙁Leaders work only if paid.

Halt subsidies that create dependency on foreign subsidy.

Teach Christian stewardship.

Books or studies are unavailable.

🙁Trainers cannot get a study when a particular church need calls for it.

Set up book deposits within reach of all Trainers.

Inspect quantities of studies on hand regularly to replace low stocks.



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