6 Coaching Questions for Developing Leaders

Coaching picNothing is more important than to the mission of Jesus than to disciple and develop leaders. If you are responsible for the care and development of leaders – staff and volunteers, use these six questions as a basic agenda for any one-on-one coaching conversation and you will see them grow and flourish.

Here are six questions in order that you should ask when meeting. Let me briefly explain the brilliance behind each one of these six questions:

1) “How are you?”

Remember at the heart of effecting coaching is a relational investment. It may sound cliché, but it’s still true: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” You should begin every coaching conversation by checking in to see how the person you are coaching is really doing.

2) “What are you celebrating?”

Every meeting at Community begins with some form of this question. Often it’s stated like this: “Where are you/we winning?” Whether it’s a one-on-one meeting, a group meeting, a staff meeting, or a temporary task force, we begin by celebrating how God is at work in our life, ministry, and church.

Moving from “How are you?” to “What are you celebrating?” keeps the tone of the meeting very relational and positive. It’s tempting to quickly focus on what’s not working or what is broken. This question starts the conversation focused on where the leader is feeling successful and then you get to affirm their efforts.

3) What challenges are you facing?

You might be thinking, “Finally we get to something productive.” Yes, the previous questions are very relational, but if it helps any, remember that when it comes to coaching the relationship really is the task. This question gives your leader an opportunity to talk openly about what is not going very well in his group or team.

4) How will you solve those challenges?

Once a leader has disclosed some areas where he or she may be experiencing some challenges with his life, group, or team it is tempting to quickly move into “fix-it” mode and try to solve the problem for them. There are times when a leader will need your insight and wisdom. However, the best way you can serve a leader is to help them tap into the wisdom and insight God has already given them to deal with whatever situation they are facing. Spend the most amount of your time on this question. It is the coach’s role to draw those answers or solutions out of the leader.

5) How can I help you?

Finally, we get to the question we’ve wanted to ask. This is an important question, but if you never get to this question because the leader has already come up with an action plan as you walked through the previous questions, considers yourself an extremely effective coach. But there are times when a coach needs to step in and offer whatever assistance is necessary to help a leader in need. So if the leader doesn’t know how they can solve the challenges they face, offer them wisdom and guidance from your own experience.

6) How can I pray for you?

The best way to wrap up a coaching conversation is to ask the leader how you can be praying for him or her. It is also a great opportunity for the coach to ask the leader for prayer. This is one way a coach can help the leader know that this relationship is mutually beneficial. After the leader has had a chance to express some areas where they are in need of prayer, take a few moments to pray for the leader and reassure them that you will be praying regularly.

The dreamExponential by Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson Book of God is not for the church to be led by a one-man show, but that it would be a great team led by great coaches. Use these six questions and you will be a great coach and develop a great team who can accomplish great things for the mission of Jesus.

(These 6 coaching questions appear in chapter 8 of Exponential: How You And Your Friends Can Start A Missional Church Movement.)


Exploding Old Scoreboards


Keeping Score book cover finalGrowing up in Chicago, I remember a couple famous scoreboards.  There was a scoreboard at the old Comiskey Park where my White Sox played when I was a kid – I loved it!  Every time someone hit a home run the scoreboard would explode with fireworks.  There is also the scoreboard at Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs.  It’s one of two remaining scoreboards that are still hand-turned.  It was installed in 1937 and is still waiting for its first World Series win! 

Another scoreboard I remember is the one on the sanctuary wall of the little rural church my Grandpa and Grandma attended in Farber, Missouri.  That scoreboard, like all the other scoreboards, was there to tell us if the home team was winning.  Winning, according to that church scoreboard, came down to a couple key measurements: Attendance this week versus last week; and Offering this Sunday versus last Sunday.  As long as both were increasing, then the church was winning.

Here’s my observation: Most churches are still using a scoreboard similar to the one used in my grandparents’ church.  Now, I doubt your church is still using the wooden “register of offering and attendance,” but maybe it lives on a program passed out on the weekends, or is plotted out on an Excel spreadsheet, or is accessible on the church website.  What most churches are measuring is still the same: How many nickels and how many noses—offering and attendance.  In Comiskey Park fashion, we need to explode the old scoreboard!  Why?

There are at least two problems with the current scoreboard:

1. It is entirely possible for a church’s attendance to be growing, while the kingdom of God is shrinking! 

Right now, there are more people attending church on any given weekend in the United States than ever before! We could conclude that U.S. church attendance is growing and therefore we must be winning, right?  Wrong!  While there are more people attending church than ever before, a smaller percentage of the total population in every state in the country is attending church than ever before!  If we are content with that, we will never accomplish the mission of Jesus.

2. It is entirely possible for a church’s attendance to be growing, but the impact of the church is shrinking. 

The second problem is that, even if church attendance numbers were increasing faster than our country is growing, that stat completely ignores other vital statistics in which God is interested.  I believe God is interested in a neighborhood’s crime rate, the percentage of people living below poverty level, the high school graduation rate, home ownership and more!  Church attendance says nothing about the social metrics of our communities.  And church attendance says nothing qualitative about the lives of the people in our churches. A growing church attendance does not promise that people are growing spiritually.  An attendance graph that is up and to the right does not guarantee that people are faithful in following Jesus and displaying the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.

Missiologist Ed Stetzer put it this way: “We must start counting more than baptisms, butts and bucks!”  I absolutely agree, and I’m ready to light the stick of dynamite under the scoreboard of any church that only measures attendance and offering.  We can do better than that and we must!

Excerpt from the recently released Keeping Score: How To Know If Your Church Is Winning, a FREE ebook by Dave Ferguson


The Jesus Mission

Reach Restore Reproduce[1]

Over the last 18 months at COMMUNITY we have made strategic moves in order to mobilize all (yes, we mean ALL) our people for mission.  Part of that process has been to clearly articulate in a simple way our mission and how we will carry it out.  The mission is “helping people find thier way back to God” and the way we will accomplish it is throug the 3 R’s. What is below is the script from a voice over I did for a video to explain in a concise way the Jesus mission at COMMUNITY.

MISSION:  At COMMUNITY we have accepted the mission of Jesus and simply say it like this: “helping people find their way back to God.”  This mission is made up of three tasks:

REACH.  First, we must reach people far from God. The Western Church is observing a dramatic shift from a Christian culture to a post-Christian one.  It is now suggested that 60% of the people we want to reach will never enter the doors of our current forms of church.  If that is true, we then need to allow our imaginations to be profoundly shaped by the biblical notion that God is sending us as He sent Himself in Jesus.  Matthew 28 says to “Go!” and we are challenging ourselves to be the church who will reach people who are far from God.

RESTORE.  We must also restore God’s dream for the world. A common perception among pre-Christians is that Christ-followers talk about poverty and justice issues, but that we don’t do much to address those issues.  But Jesus expects us to change that perception.  “He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.”  (Luke 4:17-18) It is our mission to be a people who restore God’s dream for the world.

REPRODUCE.  We must then reproduce the mission in others. If we are called to go to “Jerusalem…Judea…Samaria… and to the ends of the earth,” we have to find a new way of counting that results in rapid reproduction and exponential growth.  This new math counts on you and your friends to start a missional church movement.  Every movement starts with one person.  When you and your friends follow the biblical example to become apprentices of Jesus, (2 Timothy 2:2) the result can be the beginning of a missional church movement.  Through these apprenticeships, we will reproduce the mission in others.

That’s the Jesus Mission. Now go.


CityLife Church – A Reproducing Church Down Under!

DSC00836 I had a great time working with Mark and Nicole Conner and the CityLife team for two days in Melbourne, Australia.  They are definitely world class leaders with tremendous passion and gifting.  We spent most of our time talking about the organizational changes needed once you get beyond 3 sites.  We also spent a great deal of time talking about how they can further implement the BIG IDEA. And we ate alot!!

While it was impressive that CityLife is the second largest church in Australia with an average attendance of 5500; what was more exciting is that it is now a reproducing church!  In the last three years CityLife has added two more new sites; plus planting a new church with dreams for continually reproducing.  If you dig deeper you will discover that this church, like most successful reproducing churches has an infrastructure of reproducing small groups with 88% of their people in small groups.  Outstanding! I look forward to partnering with CityLife in the future.  It is so inspiring to see what God is doing all over the world to bring about a movement of reproducing churches.


A Leader I Admire – Kirsten Strand

Kirsten Strand in SunWe have a very strong leadership culture at Community so I am fortunate to be surrounded by lots of very capable and highly competent leaders. And one of those amazing leaders is Kirsten Strand our Community 4:12 Director.  Over the last six years Kirsten has led a tremendous shift in the culture of Community making us more compassionate about justice, passionate about the poor and has created a longing in us to see under-resourced communities transformed.  In short, she has helped us become more like Jesus.  Kirsten is a leader that I really admire!  Today, the Naperville Sun had an article featuring her as “one of the best and brightest and up-and-coming leaders.”  So, check out this article and get to know a leader I really admire.


NewThing Launches Two More Churches Last Weekend!

NewThingLogo_2008 We launched 2 NewThing Churches this past weekend – awesome stuff!

Anthem Church:  Former NewThing/COMMUNITY Leadership Resident, Matt Larson (and wife Kristen) launched a NewThing Church near L.A., CA called Anthem Church.  They kicked off this weekend with 339 people!!!  We are super proud of Matt and the whole team at Anthem!

IKON Christian Community:  Former NewThing/COMMUNITY Leadership Resident, Aaron Monts (and wife Tracy) launched a NewThing Church in downtown San Francisco, CA.  They kicked off this weekend with 100 people!!!  San Francisco’s average size for a church is 40 and IKON’s attendance on launch weekend already makes them one of the largest churches in San Francisco.  San Fran, much like our Boston plant, is utilizing a “pace yourself or slow growth” strategy; where they will be doing multiple launches throughout the year.  Eric Metcalf, NewThing Director spoke with Aaron yesterday and they are humbled to be a part of NewThing and very thankful that COMMUNITY has been praying for their new church.  He shared many stories of people who are “spiritualists”, young professionals, and people who are in church for the first time in their life – taking their first steps to finding their way back to God.



Inteverview on Catalyst Voices

Catalyst Voices – Dave Ferguson from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Got a chance to hangout last night with L.V. Hanson, Ambassador for the Catalyst Conference and head honcho of the Catalyst Road Trip.  Since he was new to Chicago I had to treat him to some Lou Malnati’s pizza.  He’s a great guy and we had a great time.  In the video we talked a lot about church planting and where Community is headed as a missional church.  If you want to read his post about our conversation it is on the Catalystspace blog titled First Full Day in Chicago and it includes some stuff on multi-site that is not in the video.


2 New Community Christian Sites Coming to Aurora!

2 new CCC sites If you have been on the Community Christian Church website lately you may have noticed that when you click on the “locations” tab there are no longer 9 locations but 11!  We are excited to announce that we are currently forming launch teams for both East Aurora and Aurora (North) Both of these launch teams have already attracted a large numbers of people and look to be big impact sites.

If you are interested in learning more about  the East Aurora site, click HERE.  If you want more info about the Aurora (North) site click HERE.


NewThing and the Carroll’s are Going to Europe!

Dave & Bill in France (2) This picture goes back a few years when Bill Carroll, Jeff Prosapio and myself went to England and France to experience and learn from the alternative worship movement in Europe.  We had heard a lot about Taize worship that started and was practiced in Taize, France.  So we left Paris and drove about 3 hours to Taize to for the experience.  When we arrived we were confused because this little village couldn’t have had more than a couple hundred people and the only church in town looked severely under-used.  The reason we were confused is because there are two Taize in France and we were at the wrong one.  The other was another 6 hours away.  This is Bill and I looking at the map and the two Taize’s in France.

Since that time Bill and his wife Rachelhave fallen more and more in love with France.  After faithfully serving at Community for the last 12 years they are getting ready to take off with the whole family to plant a church.  We are all going to miss them immensely.  Bill is a tremendously hard worker and the most tenacious recruiter and developer of artists that I have ever seen.  I am currently finishing up a book with Jon Ferguson on the reproducing church and much of the chapter we wrote on reproducing artists is from what I’ve learned from Bill.  It is a skill that all our arts directors value and that’s a huge part of Bill’s legacy.  Rachel was the founding director for CCC’s School for the Arts.  We have about 400 students in our school and it has been a huge help in us developing artists young and old.  More recently she served with the creative arts team in Kid’s City. Rachel is a super talented artist and tremendously creative leader.

At the end of this summer Bill and Rachel will take off for France and after going through language school will plant the first of many reproducing churches in Paris.  We are thrilled that they not only go with our blessing and financial support but also as a part of NewThing.  This will be the first of what we believe will be many new churches NewThing will plants in Europe.  Thank you Bill and Rachel for passionately giving yourself to the mission of “helping people find their way back to God”.  You have served us, the people in Chicagoland and God with great love and integrity.  We are so proud of you, love you very much and will be praying for you.