If you had a choice between helping your current pastor stay on and continue to grow in her or his capabilities as a leader or for your church to go through a lengthy search process, which would you choose? I think most of us would choose the former. The departure of a pastor usually entails a period of grief, seeking an interim, going through some congregational self-assessment, putting together a search committee, vetting candidates, selecting a person and then getting that person on the field. It is a trying process and an expensive one. I have never seen a church grow during an interim period.
One way to keep your pastor and help him or her become more effective is to employ a professional coach to work with your leader. This is an investment that will benefit both the pastor and the congregation. Coaches can help a pastor in a number of ways.
First, the coach can be a safe sounding board as the pastor exercises leadership in the church. The coach provides the pastor with an opportunity to reflect on how her or his actions may impact the health of the congregation. The coach can also help the pastor discern the best resources and strategies to facilitate church growth.
Second, a coach can help the pastor as he or she leads and supports other staff members. Few pastors have had the responsibility of supervising other professional ministers and this is not usually taught in seminary. A coach can assist a pastor to develop and exercise good staff leadership, benefitting all concerned.
Third, the coach can help the pastor discover and pursue ways to develop new skills or hone old ones in preaching, pastoral care, teaching, and administration. One pastor of my acquaintance employed a coach specifically to help her to expand her preaching skills.
Fourth, the coach can work with the pastor to establish a healthy life and work balance, knowing where to draw boundaries and protect time for personal renewal and family. Of course, there are coaches who specialize in spiritual formation, time management, and personal health. A pastor may seek the services of such a specialist.
Pastoral leadership is not an easy task. Congregations can assist their pastors to thrive and stay with the help of a coach. This is a “win-win” for all concerned.
To learn more about leadership coaching, contact Ircel Harrison.