On a December evening, another coach and I met with a church that was in despair. We first met with the pastor who was discouraged and questioning whether or not he should remain as pastor of this failing church. It was revealed to us that this once thriving congregation now had maybe 15 in worship on Sunday mornings, including children. Even in the pastor’s short tenure, people were leaving. Things looked grim. Within two months the reserve funds would run out and income would not equal debts.
We met on this December evening and coached the congregation (about 10 in attendance) attempting to encourage them to explore the possibilities for the future and the blessings God had laid in their lap. We led them to discover their strengths as a congregation and to brainstorm the possibilities in front of them. Then we challenged them to enter into special times of prayer for the next four weeks. These prayer times would need to be different, deeper than normal.
Four weeks later we received a call from the pastor, reporting of what had been happening at the church. They had been meeting on Sunday evenings in someone’s house for special, concentrated times of prayer. God was moving. Their Sunday morning attendance in the most recent three weeks had risen to 45. That’s a 300 percent increase – tripled! He went on to share several great things happening in the congregation. Rather than despair, the pastor had an air of excitement in his voice this time.
I recently received a photo of that church’s fellowship hall decorated for a Valentine’s banquet. The photo was full of people. The room was bustling with activity. What made the difference in only two short months?
These results were not because the other coach and I were superstars. We’re not. Well, I guess I should let the other coach speak for himself, but I’m no superstar. What we did was ask questions that guided the church to think in a different direction than they had been used to. The difference was made when the pastor and congregation got back to the spiritual roots of focused prayer and a new mindset. A new attitude toward God’s service.
Coaching as a leadership style is not about ambition, pride, personality, talent or giftedness. It is about believing in others enough to do what you can within your power to help that person perform at his/her best. Successful coaches instill in others, over time, the desire to always strive for improvement, even after their time with the coach has ended. Every one of us is given coaching opportunities throughout our lives. What will you do this week to become an effective, people-building coach?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.