Okay, I’ll admit it; one of my all-time favorite bands is the Eagles. When Gwyn and I go to Cabo San Lucas, we drive to Todos Santos to have lunch at the Hotel California. There must be at least a dozen or so “Hotel Californias” all claiming to be THE Hotel California made famous by the Eagles. Now the Eagles themselves would be the first to admit their memories have been clouded by their use of certain substances and excessive libations. So even they don’t know for sure which one is the real Hotel California. But the one in Todos Santos works for me because about every thirty minutes or so the sound of the Eagles singing Hotel California escapes the bar and envelopes the dining area and lobby.
One of my favorite Eagles’ songs is Frail Grasp on the Big Picture. The recurring refrain is a series of variations on:
“Frail grasp on the big picture
Light fading and the fog is getting thicker
It's a frail grasp on the big picture”
Two recent experiences have caused me to reflect a bit on the coaching and mentoring phenomena. There’s no doubt that coaching and being coached has become so common that they are the “in thing” these days.
Coaching and Mentoring in North America
I just spent three days on retreat with the staff of a church dealing with a variety of ministry issues related to growing past their current plateau of 1,200 in worship attendance. At one point we were reviewing the hot trends in the church of North America over the past 70 years. Among other things we talked about the centralization of denominations, the Christian education (Big Sunday Schools) era, the Jesus movement, the rediscovery of worship, and the ensuing worship wars. We noted today’s trends of church planting, community engagement, multi-venue, multi-site, coaching, and mentoring.
We noted that each hot trend had a life span of about 30 years. We talked about how some of the hot trends were nothing more than fads while others have had a more lasting impact on the church even though they can no longer be considered one of today’s “in things.” One staff member asked me if I thought coaching and mentoring were just another fad. While answering I was recalling my recent experience in Latvia.
On any road, it’s always good to know where the potholes are. That pothole you didn’t see can ruin a perfectly good tire, knock you front end out of alignment or even damage your suspension. While potholes are bad, sink holes are worse. In February 2014, a sink hole opened up beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky and eight Corvettes, including two highly prized ZR-1’s were swallowed up. You don’t even have to be a Corvette lover to know that’s really bad!
The highways of ministry are full of potholes. The journey is always smoother when we have friends, mentors and coaches who help us avoid them. Ministry leadership potholes are best avoided, but while painful and temporarily debilitating, they are seldom fatal. Ministry leadership sink holes are another thing. They often swallow up not only reputations but sometimes whole careers. From recent headlines, just two words: Ashley Madison.
On-line Coaching Cohorts
A cohort is a group of companions and supporters who share common interests and activities. A cohort might consist of people who fill the same or similar roles; like Lead Pastor, Executive Pastor, Staff Pastor, Denominational Executive, or Board member. A cohort might consist of people in similar situations or facing a common issue, transition, life situation or initiative. These cohorts might be dealing with declining attendance or giving, the need to align staff and ministries with the current Mission and Vision, or launching a new ministry initiative.