For all of you who don't ever watch banal television, you won't understand, but to every man who likes to macho up, The Deadliest Catch TV show is a surefire way to vicariously live dangerously and watch some macho men fish in the open seas.
I'm not particularly macho (not that there is anything wrong with that), and I don't regularly fish or hunt, but once my roommate, Danny, talked me into going fishing in Lake Waco. We found ourselves in a school of perch, and we pulled fish in as fast as we could bait the hook and get it back into the water. It was an exhilarating experience as we pulled in a pile of nice sized fish. What was not so exhilarating was cleaning them. However, if you catch them, but don't clean them, they just become a stinking pile of dead fish.
In the same way, it is an exhilarating thing to plant a lot of churches. However, once the "thrill of the catch" is over, you start asking some different questions: What does success really look like? What kind of score card do we keep? What if a plant isn't thriving? When is it right to help them financially and when would it disable them? How do we coach them up to become a prevailing, sustainable church? How do we challenge the planter's leadership capacity? It's a lot of fun to "catch them;" but if you don't clean them...
We have constructed a new Coaches' Handbook with this in mind. We have enlisted some godly men who are former elders to coach the first year with a select group; they also serve as a Church Plant Team with the Church Plant Training Center at Hill Country. Their experience as leaders enables them to mentor, do ministry review, and coach up leadership capacity. They will serve as the eyes and ears of the Executive Team and help maintain better connectivity with the plants and the elders. Additionally, they will serve us with a better knowledge of how to pray for the new church.
The core material covers four phases of coaching:
1. Establishing the Coaching Relationship
2. Reviewing the Ministry Plan
3. Determining Action Steps
4. Challenging the Planter's Leadership Capacity
One of Tim Hawks' familiar quotes is, "If it's worth doing, it's worth measuring." I hate the accountability this quote brings, and it is no guarantee of success, but I love the outcome -- people know how they are doing, they clearly see the Win rather than wondering where it is, and everyone can get on the same page. The Agenda is in full view!
Additionally, this "cleaning process" focuses on what the planter and his elders have hammered out: based on their ministry design, they build out a ministry plan and their coach is there to coach them up to execute their plan.
The other aspect of coaching addresses the leadership adjustments that must be made as a church moves to another phase. There are shifts in three things: mindset, time use and skills. The skills that take you to one point are not adequate for the next. The mindset that you live out every day must be adjusted: from evangelist to disciple maker to leader of disciple makers. Most leaders are not conscious of the adjustment, but often they hit the wall because of these issues. A good coach is helping a planter cultivate his self awareness and the "wall" is often a good motivator.
The thrill of even the deadliest catch has got to be followed with the dreariest of tasks: cleaning the catch! What fisherman would risk so much, and work so hard to pull in a pile of fish and leave them there to rot? The point of the catch is something far beyond the adrenaline of pulling fish out of the water. In the same way, we don't plant churches for the adrenaline rush; we plant churches so that we can renew and restore our city with the gospel. And when he inspects our catch, it won't have the stench of death on it, it will be a glorious prize.