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.)


Proactively Starting Over

Caleb at CalvinXC camp 2016This story is mine

I just drove back from Grand Rapids after dropping my soon-to-be college freshman son off at Calvin College for cross-country camp. Even though Caleb has no plans to come home till his birthday in October Sue and I agreed to tell ourselves we were just dropping him off for cross-country camp and not really college. Why? I think it is our way pretending he is still at home till we drive back up to Grand Rapids next week to “officially” move him into his dorm. Denial sometimes works.

On the three and half hour drive from the suburbs of Illinois to western Michigan Caleb and I chatted the whole time. Of course we talked about running, cross-country and the exciting prospects of his new team. We also talked about college and how he welcomed the academic challenge. And we spent about thirty minutes admiring and critiquing President Obama’s summer Spotify playlist as we listened to it in the background.

It was somewhere near the Saugatuck exit I asked Caleb, “Since you are starting this new chapter in your life are you planning to do anything different?” He paused and then thoughtfully listed several items that he would start anew. I could tell that he had given it some thought. It wasn’t my question that prompted his response; it was going to college that caused him to think about what he wanted to start over.

Starting-Over_spine-3dIt was on the drive back home that I thought about my conversation with Caleb and hit me, “Hold it, we don’t have to wait till we have a crisis to start over. We don’t have to wait until things fall apart. We can proactively start over at any point in your life!”  My experience is that most of us wait for the disaster: loss of job, a divorce or getting dumped, an unexpected illness, the crisis of faith or a financial collapse before we consider starting over.  But it was seeing college as a new stage of life that prompted Caleb to decide he could start over!

In our new book, Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets we help people see that regrets are not a place to get stuck, but a prompt to start over. But it was in this car ride with Caleb that I realized that we don’t have to wait for regrets; we can start over anytime we want. The twelve-step movement cleverly reminds us, “You can pick your bottom.” Your bottom doesn’t have to be a disaster, a crisis or a total melt down. We each have the ability to proactively decide to start over. It was the prophet Jeremiah who graciously points out, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God mercifully offers us the opportunity every morning to start over!

With this lesson from Caleb, the twelve-step movement and the prophet Jeremiah in mind, here are 20 times we can all use to proactively start over…

Stages for Starting Over: Life is often thought of in chronological stages. Each of these stages is an moment when you can proactively start over.

  • Start of junior high
  • Beginning of high school
  • Freshman year of college
  • Start of your 20’s 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 100!

Celebrations for Starting Over: People love to celebrate marker events in our life. And when we celebrate these significant days it is also an opportunity to proactively start over.

  • A birthday
  • Wedding
  • Birth of a child
  • Anniversaries

Events for Starting Over: There are big events that occur over a lifetime that bring significant adjustments. These big events also bring the occasion to proactively start over.

  • New Job
  • Promotion
  • A new neighborhood
  • Attending a new church

Rhythms for Starting Over: Your life is lived out with certain rhythms. These rhythms are days, weeks, seasons and years. With the start of each rhythm is an excuse to proactively start over.

  • Each morning
  • Every Sunday
  • Every new season
  • The New Year

Quiet Times for Starting Over: It is often during a time of solitude and slowing down that we pause long enough to reflect on what needs to change. These quiet times are a space in time for proactively starting over.

  • Prayer
  • Worship Service
  • Retreat day
  • Vacation

G.K. Chesterton put it best when he said, “Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” Don’t wait for a crisis, for life to fall apart or even to hit bottom! Be proactive! You can start over starting today!!

Leave me a comment and I will put your name into a drawing for a FREE ARC (advance reader copy) of Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regret.  Leave me a comment letting me know which of these 20 you have used as an opportunity to start over and tell me how it worked out?


Exponential – Now Translated Into German!

Exponential (German)Five years ago Jon and I wrote, Exponential: How You And Your Friends Can Start A Missional Church Movement to share in simple, back-of-a-napkin instructions how God had worked through COMMUNITY and NewThing to grow an amazing church and catalyze a movement of reproducing churches!  I’m excited to announce that Zondervan is now publishing Exponential in a German edition!  Thanks to the leadership of Luthar Krauss on January 18-23, 2016 I will be in Schwabisch Gmund and then Dussledorf, Germany for the public release of the German edition of the book and to teach church leaders in two consecutive conferences on Exponential. While this is the first time the book has been officially published in a language other than English, I have had church leaders and church planters send me copies that they have translated on their own into several languages including Russian, Albanian and Spanish. This caused me to reflect and ask, “Why does the interest in a book we wrote five years ago continue to grow both domestically and globally?” A few thoughts came to mind…

Exponential principles are simple. The consistent compliment I get from people who read Exponential is something like this, “Thanks for making challenging topics so simple and for making me believe I could do it.”  Throughout the book we take complex issues like leadership development, artist development, multi-site, church planting and network creation and spell it out in simple and reproducible language.  To make the point, we illustrate each of these ideas by showing how they can be explained literally on the back-of-a-napkin.

Exponential principles translate into any context.  The reason they translate into any context is not a testament to the authors but where the authors got the content. Everything in Exponential is based on Jesus vision for a church that was founded on movemental ideals. Everything in Exponential is based on how Jesus apprenticed his first followers and the example we see in the early church.

Exponential principles are being used around the world. I’ve seen the principles of Exponential used by church leaders in contexts as diverse as South Korea, Kenya, United Kingdom, Belarus, Philippines, South Africa, Australia and more. What we thought was God’s unique work in Chicagoland has proved to be how God works around the world.

If you haven’t read Exponential or you would like a copies for your team, you can get it HERE.


Todd Rhoades Interviews Jon & Me About Our Hopes For “Finding Your Way Back To God” Book.

Todd Rhoades of Leadership Network spent a few minutes interviewing Jon and me about our new book ,“Finding Your Way Back To God.” During this engaging conversation we discuss the 5 awakenings, the 30-day wager, how other churches are using the book as a church-wide teaching series and our hopes and dreams for how it could reach thousands and thousands of people. Listen and learn…


That’s Exactly Why We Wrote “Finding Your Way Back To God.”

Three different times in the last couple days I felt my heart begin to race with excitement!

The first was a conversation via text with a pastor friend who told me that a young couple in his community had been given a copy Finding your way back to Godof  Finding Your Way Back To God and they were in church for the very first time on Easter. He was texting to thank me and tell me that as he looked out into the audience on Easter morning he could see them sitting there with tears in their eyes. That young couple is finding their way back to God.

The second conversation was through Facebook with a buddy of mine who had given away a copy of Finding Your Way Back To God to a friend.  After reading only one chapter his friend called and said, “This book is all about me!  Can I go to church with you on Sunday?”  Then my buddy told me, “Dave, thanks for writing this book; this is the second friend this month who read your book and asked if they could go to go to church with me!”

Mark HowellAnd thirdly, I got an adrenaline rush while reading Mark Howell’s review of Finding Your Way Back To God!  Why? After reading the book Mark wrote this in his review, “One of my favorite things about Finding Your Way Back to God is its built-in potential to be used as an “I’ll read it with you” resource.  If you have a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or a family member that you’ve been hoping and looking for ways to help them take a step toward God, this is a book you need to know about.” YES!!!

I was telling my wife, Sue about this last night and she said, “It’s starting to happen, isn’t it?”  Yes it is. This book is helping people find their way back to God! That is exactly why Jon and I wrote this book.

Read it.

Share it.

And hpftwbtG!


“Finding Your Way Back To God” – Phase II: Delivery

The publication date of the book was set for February 24th, 2015 – and that meant there was much to do in the delivery phase of this new book. I had intentionally chosen to wait several years to write this “Finding Your Way Back To God” until I felt like the book could get the kind of marketing horsepower behind it that an important topic like this deserved. When we got the news from the mother company, Random House in New York that they were excited about the project and would get behind it and support our publisher WaterBrook Multnomah we agreed it was time to write the book.

2a. Landing pageJon and I both created new websites to create a platform for marketing this new book. Jimi Allen and Chris Rudd of Bureau Gravity led the way in this creative effort. In addition, they created this landing page that you see to your left. The landing page would serve as the first stop for anything someone wanted to know about the “Finding Your Way Back To God” book. It included links to free samples, endorsements, free church resources and more!

2b. Ed StetzerWhile we were working on websites our publisher was creating an “advance reader copy” (ARC) of the book for us to distribute to influencers and potential endorsers. For about five months whenever I spoke to a group of church leaders the ARC of “Finding Your Way Back To God” would accompany me as a handout. Here is my buddy, Ed Stetzer, who you see holding an ARC of “Finding Your Way Back To God” was kind enough to invite me to Church Planting Leadership Fellowship. This is a gathering of the most influential church planting leaders in the country. I got to talk about movement-making and tell the Community Christian Church and NewThing story. At the end of my talk Ed gave a plug for our new book designed to help people find their way back to God –  which he explained as the motivation behind all that we do!

2c Shock! ARCAnother one of the groups that received our free ARC of “Finding Your Way Back To God” were leaders of our NewThing tribe. Here are Rob Wegner and Brian Phipps poking some fun at us by pretending like it was a shocking “tell all” book. I kept telling our team, “it doesn’t matter if you write a book if nobody reads it.” So, with that in mind, Jon, myself and WaterBrook Multnomah did all we could to prepare for the delivery of this new book.


“Finding Your Way Back To God” – Phase I: Conception

1a. Jon, Kopp and meWhile “helping people find their way back to God” has long been my personal mission statement and the mission of the church I lead; the writing of the book, “Finding Your Way Back To God” began here.

You may recognize the two guys on the outside (Jon-left, me-right) but the guy in the middle was a huge help and influence in the conception of Finding Your Way Back To God. David Kopp was our friend, mentor and editor through this process. Starting about seven years ago, David would call me once or twice a year and ask, “Are you ready to write Finding Your Way Back To God?” After one false start five years ago we agreed to do start the process in 2013. This picture is of Jon, David and myself in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago after Kopp flew in to spend a couple days with us to get this book started in the right direction.

1b. 6 Awakenings...?We interviewed about twenty-five people who described their journey as “finding their way back to God” so we could hear their story and see if we could find a pattern.  We finally settled on the “5 Awakenings” as the path for someone to find their way back to God. But early on we struggled with how many awakenings and what words we should use to describe them. This is one of the early back-of-a-napkin drawings that included six awakenings and wording that is quite different than the final product.

1c 1,2,3 post its Some good friends of our parents loaned us their condo near the lakefront in Chicago for a week so we could get a lot of writing done. It worked!  Jon and I hunkered down and worked five eighteen hour days, and made a lot of progress. This is one of about ten giant post-it sheets covered with little post-its outlining the book. This post-it shows the first three chapters of the book. If you look close and have read the book, you can see that some of our ideas made the final edit and others did not. This kind of brainstorming lots of ideas made sure that we also got the best ideas. I would use this process again.

1d. manuscript notebookIt was after that week in the Chicago condo that Jon and I had a yellow notebook of more than 60,000 words titled “Finding Your Way Back To God.” This version of the book also had twenty-two chapters. We thought we were done. Wrong!  After a few more edits to make this book as readable as possible we eliminated about 15,ooo words and seven chapters. It was tough saying good-bye to all those word, stories and idea, but the book was better off for it!


Get FREE “Can I Find My Way Back To God?” Booklet By Asking!

Book Can I Find My Way Back to God by Dave Ferguson and Jon FergusonWith the upcoming publication (2.24) of Jon and my new book, Finding Your Way Back To God, the publishers have been encouraging us to do some marketing.  Go figure!?! Since I don’t really like selling stuff, how about if I give something away for FREE? One of the really cool ancillary products that we have created is a 60-page booklet, Can I Find My Way Back To God?  It is designed to give to a friend, neighbor, co-worker or a first time attender at church.  Just for fun (and since I don’t really like selling stuff!) I will give away a FREE copy of Can I Find My Way Back To God to the first three people that ask me for it in person.  I will be traveling over the next few days, but if you just come up to me and ask for it, it will be yours for FREE.  Deal?



Catherine’s Story – Finding Your Way Back To God

Finding your way back to GodThis past weekend at COMMUNITY I heard another amazing story of someone finding their way back to God. I’m convinced that God redeems our pain and uses our stories to help other people find their way back to God. One of the purposes of this website is to share stories. Here is Catherine’s story…

I was born and raised in the Catholic church ~ my parents had me baptized when I was an infant; I made my first communion when I was in elementary school; I attended Catholic school for junior high but when it came time for me to be confirmed in high school, I made the first individual decision concerning my spiritual journey and chose not to go forward with my confirmation. I stopped going to church except for attendance on holidays and set my eyes on the ways of the world. I didn’t know Jesus. I knew very little about the Bible and the little that I knew was scary and sad. I believed that God was angry, vengeful and mean. I didn’t love Him and I didn’t believe that He loved me. I believed that when bad things happened to me it was because He was punishing me for being a bad person but I had no idea what I had to do to be a good person in His eyes. I viewed God from a place of guilt and fear rather than from a place of love and grace. Confused, lonely, exhausted and very angry, I gave up on trying to please God. I decided to focus my time and energy on pleasing myself and spent the next two decades locked in battle with a vicious enemy that almost cost my life and I was miserable every step of the way!

During that time, I became addicted to prescription medication. I suffered a near fatal illness. I lost my law license and a law practice that I had build from the ground up. I miscarried twins. I was married and divorced three times. My driver’s license was revoked. I was forced to file bankruptcy a couple of times. I engaged in illegal and immoral activity. I had very few friends and my family relationships were extremely strained. I spent a great deal of energy trying to make everyone think my life was awesome ~ trying to make the outside look perfect while the inside was a cold, dark, desolate disaster. I was incredibly lost. I was completely alone; I hated myself and attempted to take my own life, convinced that nothing could change me, nothing was ever going to be better or different. I was worthless, hopeless, unlovable and beyond repair. I was never going to be able to please God and I was never going to be able to please myself. My life was filled with darkness and despair and I truly believed I would never be able to find my way back to the light.

But God brought that light to me. He strategically began to place incredible, loving, light filled believers directly in my path. Without even realizing what was happening, I literally woke up one glorious day and found myself surrounded by love, grace, unconditional acceptance and His light! God filled my life with believers who were committed to loving me unconditionally until I was able to love myself. These people included my husband, my stepmom and my Dad. It was like they held hands with God and each other as they formed a circle with me in the middle. They created a space that was safe and loving and showed me God. I don’t know any other way to explain it but God is in each one of them and His love, His grace and His light comes from each of them and flows to me. I have been delivered from that desolate, despair and my life has been transformed through God and He did that for me because He believes I have value and He loves me!!

Today, I have friends, I have close family relationships, I have financial security and I have recovery. I have been given a new life and a second chance that I did not deserve. I am committed to using that gift from God to bring that hope and renewal to others who may be in the same place that I came from ~ I am proof that with God…all things are possible!!

On February 24th a new book, Finding Your Way Back To God by Jon Ferguson and myself will be published. This book will include dozens of inspiring stories of people finding their way back to God. If you would like to pre-order a copy of this book for yourself or a friend, you can click HERE.


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