A few months ago, The Center for Healthy Churches launched a beta-test of a new ministry offered to clergy who were starting a new pastorate. Designed to maximize the first 100 days on the job, CHC offered specialized coaching to the new clergy using sound theology, relevant congregational dynamics, thoughtful context analysis and an emerging understanding in organizational culture regarding the importance of a strong beginning.
Features of the approach include regular coach calls with a seasoned minister who has previously navigated successful transitions, utilization of a “ten, ten-day blocks of time” to focus the 100 days upon relevant and necessary issues, guidance on the first 14 sermons of the new minister, and a variety of additional features that emerge in individual contexts.
We asked six of the clergy who experienced the First 100 Days Coaching by CHC© to help us evaluate their experience and offer upgrades and improvements to the process. Here are some of their comments.
We asked if they had made a previous pastoral transition, and to compare their experience with this program.
Barrett Owen, the pastor at FBC Waynesboro VA said: “The difference is night and day. It took months in my earlier employment to feel like I had a compelling work rhythm. This time around, thanks to the First 100, I hit the ground running. I established meetings with committees, key leaders, held lunches, learned the history, and developed a healthy relationship with other staff at a much faster pace. I credit this rhythm to the conversations with my coach.”
Joel Campbell, the pastor of FBC High Point NC, said: “Making the shift from being an Associate Minister, to Senior Minister was a major transition for me. So many of the duties and expectations are different and demanding. My coach helped me to focus on what really matters in ministry, which are the relationships within the congregation.”
We asked if there were any surprises along the way.
Emily McGee, pastor at FBC Winston Salem NC said: “I was surprised at how quickly my coach and I developed a close relationship of mutual affection and honesty. I felt I could speak my mind in an unfiltered and honest way, and that was invaluable during the early days of this work.
I learned that I know more than I think I do, and that I have instincts for the pastorate that I wasn’t even aware of. My coach helped me to root deeply into my gifts as a minister that have developed over a lifetime, and connected those with this unique calling as pastor which felt so new and scary, particularly early on in my ministry here.”
Courtney Allen, pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Richmond VA said: “I’ve always appreciated the coaching model as one that assumes the coachee has the answers/next steps, and the coach’s role is to lead the coachee to those insights. In this process my coach helped me take the “view from the balcony” on some significant issues in the congregation and work through conflict in a healthy way. My coach also gave me some congregational processing tools that were a tremendous help as my congregation moved through creating a new youth position and dealing with parental anxiety. The congregational tools and assistance in prioritizing tasks of ministry have been invaluable. “
We asked in what ways the new minister felt supported and/or challenged?
Stacy Nowell, the pastor at FBC Huntersville NC said: It was always very helpful to know that if I got in a pinch and could use some sound advice, my coach was just a phone call away. I cannot underscore how helpful it is to have “wise sage” on speed dial. I could count on both their experience and judgment to offer me quality advice and practical suggestions.”
We asked if the pastors would offer an endorsement of the First 100 Days Coaching model?
Randy Shepley, pastor for FBC Newport News VA said: “The First 100 days Coaching model helped me prayerfully prepare for my start as the senior pastor in my new setting. The value of a sounding board with gifted pastoral and leadership experience cannot be overstated during the critical first moments of a new pastorate. The First 100 days coaching model gave me coaching, leadership, encouragement, and sound counsel as I moved forward in my new pastoral calling.”
Barrett Owen said: “The First 100-Day Coaching is like a crew chief in a NASCAR race. You’re the driver going around in circles trying not to mess up. Your coach is in your ear helping you understand the car, when you need to pit, and how to navigate turns. You can drive a race car without a crew chief, but you won’t get the most out of yourself or the car. The First 100-Days Coaching makes you feel more confident when sitting behind the wheel. Ministry requires you to make quick decisions and fast turns. It’s really nice to have seasoned minister in your ear guiding those decisions.
Courtney Allen said: “Starting a new pastorate with the First 100-days coaching helped me sort through what was most important during the early and overwhelming days of ministry in a new place. This coaching experience brought both support and challenge in ways that I appreciate. Ultimately, some of the critical junctures of my earliest days of leadership and ministry were supported and formed by this coaching relationship. What I gleaned from the first 100 days coaching experience was invaluable as I navigated unfamiliar waters and built relationships in a new ministry setting.”
Joel Campbell said: “My coach is a wonderful minister and coach. I told someone recently that he is a great coach because he has a genuine love for God and the church, and he wants to see it grow and thrive. I look forward to the Center For Healthy Churches being a part of the growth at First Baptist Church of High Point.”
Emily McGee said: “In a period of intense personal and professional transition, my experience with a CHC coach was necessary and of infinite value to me as I began my work as a pastor. Time and time again, my coach brought a stabilizing and empowering influence to my work, even when I felt unsure and fearful in my new role. I have benefited in countless ways from our work together, and I credit a successful first year in the pastorate in large ways to my dear coach and friend!”
The First 100 Days Coaching is beneficial for those who have never pastored previously, as well as experienced pastors who are making a transition to a new setting. The process works extremely well with other staff positions, in addition to Senior Pastor. Fees are set at a reasonable rate in an effort to make this ministry available to all who are interested.
If you would like to learn more about the value and potential benefit of The First 100 Days Coaching© by The Center for Healthy Churches, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-970-3578.