When Rev. Nathan Visker, pastor of Ferrysburg Community Christian Reformed Church in Spring Lake, Mich., wanted his church to become more missional, he took advantage of coaching services available from Christian Reformed Home Missions in the Great Lakes region.
“One of the great outcomes of the coaching relationship has been the development of specific initiatives,” said Visker.
Rev. Jeff Boersma, a church planter in nearby Muskegon, Mich., was Visker’s coach.
A truck delivers food to neighbors in Ferrysburg Community Church’s parking lot.
Boersma met with Visker to help identify where God was already working and to take those ministries to a new level. This included a letter writing ministry to prisoners, a meals program for a nearby neighborhood, and specific times of congregational prayer for discernment. “Jeff helped me identify the steps that needed to be taken to see these initiatives through,” said Visker.
Boersma, who has been a coach for seven years, describes coaching as a process guided by the Holy Spirit of coming alongside ministry leaders or teams to help discern God’s call for their life, leadership, and ministry.
Benefits of coaching include discovering resources, creating a space for listening to the Holy Spirit, being affirmed as the expert of one’s own context, deepening conviction about what God wants, and receiving encouragement in a confidential relationship.”
Goals are set at the beginning of the coaching relationship to help guide the process.
At McBain CRC, one of Rev. Jaclyn Guikema Busch’s professional goals was evangelism. Through a coaching relationship, Busch was able to recognize current outreach opportunities in her everyday interactions.
“My coach and I prayed together that I would see and seize opportunities. The next time we talked I told him of two opportunities to share the gospel that I had had in the previous month. One was at a coffee shop with a stranger. Another one was at a funeral, talking with a grandchild of the person who had died,” said Busch. “Coaching helped me see through my problem to a solution. It has been wonderful to have a coach to vent my heart and focus my mind on solutions to problems in life and in ministry.”
Coaching is available for leaders and congregations, and some churches may qualify for funding assistance with a Sustaining Congregational Excellence grant.