Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders

I began coaching in 1988.

Since then, I have logged well over 10,000 hours: coaching leaders at virtually every level of church life: pastors, church planters, network/denominational leaders, missionaries & ministry leaders. I’ve worked with leaders locally, nationally & internationally on 5 continents. That is around 330 hours annually – for 30 years.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to coach leaders to start all kinds of churches & pioneer disciple-making movements. Leaders who have been instrumental in raising up leaders, making disciples & starting new ministries. Missional leaders who understand the force when the DNA of multiplication is integrated in the very essence of everything that they do – releasing control into God’s hands!

Recently, while on vacation with my family & working our way down the coast of California, I reflected on the last three decades. My wife, Gina, says that when she read the book entitled “The ONE Thing – Sometimes it’s the only thing you do. But it’s always the ONE Thing that delivers extraordinary results” by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan; that it reminded her of me. That may or may not be true; but I do believe that my primary focus of coaching missional leaders & training coaches to empower missional leaders for the last 30 years, provides a unique opportunity to glean insights, that are worth sharing.

For this reason I would like to share lessons that I’ve learned from coaching the most amazingly gifted, truly faithful & hard-working leaders serving in the Lord’s Church today.

Lesson #1 – Discern the will of the Father

This could be taken as an arrogant statement OR simply what we as followers of Jesus are called to do on a moment-by-moment basis: Abide in Christ (John 15:4).

Recently I was training leaders in the coaching process in Malaga, Spain. We met in a Technology Park where 730 businesses office – from Google, Oracle & Micro-Soft to the one-man, sole proprietor. I was asked to meet the park’s Executive Coach and share our experience in coaching leaders.

As we explained our different approaches to coaching I highlighted the distinctive advantage as a follower of Jesus, in coaching leaders. Simply put, as I understand the literature of secular coaching, the coach relies on intuition when discerning the next step in the conversation vs. Christian coaches, who rely on the direction of the Spirit of God. The still, small voice that sometimes echos in our spirit. I’m not sure how that translated cross-culturally; but my friend acknowledged that this would be an amazing advantage, if this truly was the case.  This has opened a conversation to explore what it means, to be a follower of Jesus, who happens to coach leaders.

Discerning the will of the Father suggests that we submit our will to His, listen and obey.  This is the central teaching of Jesus.  The more we do this ourselves, the better we are able to help others.  Coaching missional leaders is a spiritual discernment process embedded in the best practices of making disciples.

How does a leader Abide in Christ?  For every person that has an answer to this question, you will find as many answers.  Here is how I Abide in Christ.

  1. Exercise.  As I swim, run, bike or hike – I listen to that still small voice and in many instances, discern a key insight for my day ahead.
  2. Reflect.  I think about the upcoming conversation I will have with a leader and ask for the Lord’s wisdom to prevail.
  3. Submit.  I take the posture of a servant who does the will of the Master.

Those might seem superficial or simplistic, but over the last 30 years these habits have served me well.  Of course there are seasons when I have been diligent with the spiritual disciplines of silence, Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, service, etc.  But these three are the most consistent, by far.

Hard to believe that 30 years have passed.  Right now is an important time to reflect as one chapter closes and another opens.  How are you capturing the lessons the Lord is teaching you from your experience?

Next week I will share other lessons that I’ve learned as the Lord has allowed me to partner with leaders who are making a significant contribution to the work of cultivating disciple-making movements & planting churches around the world.

COACHING TIP – Take the time to clarify the coach agenda

COACHING TIP – Take the time to clarify the coach agenda

How many times have you launched into a conversation that did not have a clearly defined outcome in mind?  I’ve found that 80% of the success of a coaching appointment is determined in the first 5 minutes.  It is during that phase when the coach helps a leader define what they want to achieve.

Here are three questions you can use to help leaders focus:

  • What do you want to focus on today?
  • What would you like to leave with from today?
  • What would a “win” look like for you today?


How to expand your coaching knowledge base.

How to expand your coaching knowledge base.


It’s not often that I endorse a coaching event, but the World Business & Executive Coach Summit (WBECS) is unique!  You get to learn from over 50 of the most brilliant minds and successful coaches in one place.  For those of us in ministry and see coaching as a tool to develop leaders, it is like going to the Global Leadership Summit (WIllow Creek Association) to hear from experts in related fields – but on the topic of coaching.

Each year they bring together world-class experts and sought-after coaches who you’d usually have to pay thousands of dollars for to hear them speak at conferences and events.

At WBECS during the Pre-Summit, you get to learn from them (live!) at absolutely no cost.

Whether you coach church planters, pastors, network leaders or missionaries – you will benefit from the content you glean from the experts in diverse fields.  I am committed to develop my knowledge base on coaching, as well as developing you and your knowledge base.  It is really fun to draw upon new insights from let’s say, the neuro-science of coaching; then apply it to coaching church multiplication leaders.

You can register for as many online classes as you like and they even upgraded the event this year with focused Round Tables, Implementation Mastery Sessions and more exciting opportunities to learn and engage.

Click here to learn more and secure your spot before the most popular sessions are full!


Gary Reinecke


Coaching Question for May 2017

Coaching Question for May 2017

To continue on the theme of disciplemaking movements this year, I propose a guiding question for you and those you coach:

How can you engage a person to take a step forward, who is searching for something more in life?

Reflect on that for a moment.

  • Who do you know in that space?
  • How would you answer this question for yourself?
  • Who are you coaching that needs to ask this question, of the people they are developing?

I look forward to reading your response below.

How to unlock creativity?

How to unlock creativity?

A few months ago I was visiting Stanford University.  During my stay I enjoyed a lecture by Dr. Tina Seelig on Creativity.  As I listened, I reflected on how the process she described related so well to coaching.

In fact, the more I listened, the more I could see the natural connections.  She described her Innovation Engine.  It is made up of two components: the Interior (those things we control) & the Exterior (those thing the environment dictates).  Three areas make up each component that are intimately connected as seen in the mobius strip.


  • Attitude
  • Knowledge
  • Imagination


  • Culture
  • Resources
  • Habitat

When you coach a person you are tapping into their ability to think differently than they normally think.  That is why you are coaching them in the first place.  If they could do it alone then they would not need you.

Not too long ago I was meeting with a leader who was stuck.  She wanted to reflect on the next season of life and work, but was unable to get there on her own.  Through asking questions and helping her reflect on where she sensed God calling her to do, she made a significant adjustment in her vision.  She ended-up downsizing her ministry which eventually led to a new assignment altogether.  What might seem like a straight forward process is oftentimes confusing when you are the one in transition.

Here is a TED Talk entitled Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Selig to give you a framework for creativity so that you can coach more intentionally in this area.

Assess your Creativity & Innovation Quotient

Assess your Creativity & Innovation Quotient

Walt Disney was a Creative.  In his book “The Wisdom of Walt: Leadership Lessons from the Happiest Place on Earyh” by Jeffrey Barnes writes about the dream Walt had of creating a place for his girls to play while sitting on a bench in Griffith Park.

Griffith Park, the ‘Central Park of Los Angeles,’ allows both proximity and perspective.  It is nestled high on a hill that sits between downtown L.A., Hollywood, and the Disney Studio in Burbank.

It makes me wonder how ideas come to people.  Walt was reflecting, thinking, day-dreaming!  Then he began to wonder.

“There should be a place where children and parents can have fun together.”  And in that moment, the dream of Disneyland was born.

This is the beginning of a wonderful journey that eventually led to a family-friendly theme park, like not other on the planet.  The author continues:

Have you ever done that?  Have you ever been sitting somewhere, doing ‘nothing,’ and suddenly, an idea comes to you?  An idea “pops” into your head, and your imagination begins to run wild with possibilities.  Suddenly, you, like Walt, have a dream.

I believe, along with Dr. Barnes  that each of us has the capacity to dream, be creative, innovative.  Creativity & Innovation can be nurtured, developed, groomed.  There is always room for improvement but the innate ability to think differently than others, is part of our make-up; that is, being made in the image of God.

  • Have you wondered how to develop your creativity?
  • Are you aware of the skills that facilitate innovation?
  • Where would you start if you were interested in growing your creativity & innovation quotient?

A good place to begin is the Innovation & Creativity Profile (scroll down the page to the Creativity menu).  You will learn about the 8 skills that facilitate the capacity to dream.  And identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you can begin your journey.

Leadership Tip #4 – Think Outside the Box

Leadership Tip #4 – Think Outside the Box

Correct me if I’m wrong – but the image above represents a picture that many of us have in mind when it comes to creative  & innovative thinking.

  • a higher level of intelligence
  • an experience that triggers a new discovery
  • a last name like Jobs, Einstein or Da Vinci (does not hurt).

On the contrary, when you look closely at, you discover a muscle that, when exercised, can achieve extraordinary results.

A leader I was coaching, was contemplating ways to reinforce the missional values of his 7 year-old church.  As he brainstormed ideas, the thought of sharing stories rose to the surface.  Initially, interviewing people in the congregation, sounded like a good possibility.  When challenged to think outside the box, he pondered the power of having an “outsider” (person who had been blessed by the ministry of people from the church) share his/her experience of being on the receiving end.  The light bulb went on!  This captured“why” the church is doing “what” they are doing.  Over time, the “outsiders” inevitably explore the motive behind these selfless acts of kindness that are positively impacting the local parks, athletic teams, schools, business leaders and neighborhoods.

This idea did not come from a higher level of intelligence.  Nor was it triggered by some extraordinary experience.  By the way, the leader’s last name is Pope.  If you would like to develop your muscles, or help those you coach, check-out the Creativity & Innovation Skill Builder under the menu with the same title.  Here is the story of tranformation how the Sunnyside High School baseball team was blessed by God’s Generosity through the missional community members (Groves), anchored in Sequoia Church in Fresno, CA.

Coaching Question for April 2017

Coaching Question for April 2017

To continue on the theme of disciplemaking movements this year, I propose a guiding question for you and those you coach:

What is getting in your way, to make disciples – who make disciples?

Reflect on that for a moment.  What is your next step?  …for those you coach?

I look forward to reading your response below.

Exhaust all resources, then ask permission before giving feedback

Exhaust all resources, then ask permission before giving feedback

The conversation goes something like this.

Coach asks: “Who is doing effective ministry in your area?” 

  • Leader responds: “Everyone is struggling with the same issues.”

Coach asks: “What other models of church are you familiar with in your region or in other parts of the country?”

  • Leader: “I’m not aware of other models.”

Coach asks: “Who do you know that could introduce you to a different way of doing church?”

  • Leader: “I don’t know anyone.”

Coach asks: “Would you be open to learning about one leader who has an effective model?”

And the conversation continues.  I use that question as a last resort so that I don’t short-change the self-discovery process. The guiding principle I follow when I provide feedback is:

  1. The leader must exhaust all their resources.
  2. There is the possibility the leader could do some real damage.
  3. Permission has been given by the leader to the coach.

Honestly, the temptation to give advice is always present.  But I know deep down that “struggle” is the best teacher!

What do you do when you come to that juncture in your coaching?  Under what circumstances do you give advice?  I would love to hear what you do.

If you are interested to hear about a different approach to doing church, watch this 17 minute video with Dave Ferguson interviewing Ralph Moore.  Ralph discusses some of the tensions accompanying church planting as a movement leader.  Learn how a church committed to reproducing disciples, leaders and churches keeps the main thing, the MAIN thing!.



Management Effectiveness Profile

Management Effectiveness Profile

I have used self-assessments, 180’s (self + colleagues) & 360’s (self + colleagues + supervisor) for many years now.  It is exciting to receive the data and process this information with leaders.  Sometimes the data affirms, other times it challenges and in some situations, the information can be surprising.

Awareness is the first step to change!

Let me explain.  A number of years ago I was assessing a leader’s management style to determine if he had the skill-set to take more responsibility in supervising key staff.  He was an excellent speaker in a large, growing church.  But was unaware that his management style was driving people away.  In conversation with members of his team, they were open with their feelings which were confirmed by the data.  When I administered the assessment the leader was confident his scores would reveal his expertise in empowering his team; unfortunately, it exposed glaring weaknesses in his ability to manage those around him.  In fact, that assessment, along with anecdotal evidence, thoroughly convinced his boss that he was not the man for the job and eventually, led to his resignation.

This was NOT the intended purpose of the exercise, but it illustrates the power of a 360.  Data does not lie – it simply is!  Here are a couple of questions to determine if an instrument, like the Management Effectiveness Profile (scroll down the page to Management) could be a helpful exercise for you and those you coach..

  • Have you assessed your management style?
  • Have you helped those you coach, assess their management style?
  • How could the Management Effectiveness Profile help people in your team or organization understand their strengths and weaknesses?