Thursday Review: Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl, TransforMissional Coaching

A review of Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl, TransforMissional Coaching: Empowering Leaders in a Changing Ministry World, B&H, 2008. purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US

Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl, church planting coaches and trainers with Church Resource Ministries [] believe that coaching is key to the development of missional church offering a relational basis of learning to a new breed of post-modern church planters. They draw on coaching techniques from the worlds of sport and business, but emphasise the need to coach people in an holistic way so that coaching is not just about results, but about character development. The book offers simple, easy to use tools for leaders beginning to think about coaching others. Each chapter opens with brief snapshots of real life coaching. The book provides a good introduction to coaching, but if you are already familiar with coaching techniques then the book may not offer much that is new.

Coaching, as we see it, enables transformation, which in turn leads to missional ministry. Great coaches come along-side leaders so that leaders can be transformed into the image of Christ and join Him on His redemptive mission. (7)

The book opens with Ogne and Roehl developing Robert Webber’s three paradigms of evangelical churches:

Church Traditional Contemporary Missional
Mission missionary seeker services engage culture
Leader preacher or chaplain CEO visionary missional leader
Equipping classes and seminary seminars coaching and mentoring
Representative Bill Graham Bill Hybels, Rick Warren ???

Traditional Evangelicals: 1900 to 1980, pastor and programme-centred, traditional in worship style, represented by Billy Graham.

Pragmatic Evangelicals: 1980-2000, boomers who make great use of media, technology and innovation, megachurches, contemporary, performance-orientated worship, represented by Bill Hybels and Rick Warren.

Younger Evangelicals: 2000 onwards, deconstruct and reconstruct ministry, aversion to performance and programmes in the church, preferring to emphasize the development of authentic Christian community. No one leader has risen to prominence.

Attitudes to Mission

Traditional Evangelicals: A few went, a few more gave, and others prayed.

Pragmatic Evangelicals: Everything is about evangelism, focus on church growth, mostly through the ‘seeker service’.

Younger Evangelicals: ‘Seek to engage the culture by caring and relating to individuals on their own turf’ (13).

Leadership Model

Traditional Evangelicals: Pastor or priest. ‘Most often the pastor is a chaplain who makes visits; gives occasional counsel, performs weddings.’ (15)

Pragmatic Evangelical: The CEO of the church

Younger Evangelicals: Missional church ‘requires a new kind of leader, a leader who engaged the surrounding culture for the sake of the gospel. In that sense he is a cross-cultural missionary … this new pastor leads by doing’. (16)

Model of Equipping

Traditional Evangelicals: Trained leaders in Bible and theology at Bible colleges, seminaries and Sunday schools.

Pragmatic Evangelicals: Trained in specific strategies and models of ministry (e.g. seeker church), often through short-term, focused, and practical seminars.

Younger Evangelicals: Equipping is ‘just in time’, ‘on the job’, ‘on the internet’ (19), coaching can be particularly useful because it is ‘on the job’ and adaptable in any context.

The purpose of these comparisons is clearly to position coaching as the equipping model for missional church. I must confess I am wary of this. I do not discount the value of coaching, but let us not get carried away. There is no substitute for teaching people the word (through a whole variety of means). This must be the substantive content of any equipping.

Ogne and Roehl repeatedly argue that traditional approaches to can focus too much on performance and effectiveness. Coaching needs to be ‘holistic’ in the sense that it includes character development as well as results. ‘Coaching is no longer about effective ministry programs and results. It is about healthy and effective ministry leadership’ (29). Often ‘doing’ ignores ‘being’, developing skills becomes more important than shaping character. ‘The results of that kind of imbalance are seen by only a few at first – usually by the leader’s family. Later, if not recognised and intentionally addressed, the imbalance can become so great that the leader loses his or her footing and falls’. (171) So Ogne and Roehl offer a model with ‘4 Cs’:

  • clarifying his or her call to ministry
  • cultivating personal character
  • able to create authentic community
  • connect with the secular culture

Perhaps the weakest chapter is the chapter giving a biblical mandate for a coaching model. The mandate from the Old Testament is the example of Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro (with no consideration given to the hermeneutic issues involved or recognition of the dangers of example theology), and references in the wisdom literature to helping one another (Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). The New Testament case is built on the variety of words used for instruction and training. Ogne and Roehl particularly highlight Paul’s use of the word ‘equipping’ in Ephesians 4:11-12.

All this evidence rightly builds a case for helping one in the Christian life and training people for ministry. What it does not provide is a mandate for the non-directive model of coaching espoused in the book. Quite the opposite. The biblical examples given suggest directive instruction through the word. The leaders of Ephesians 4 equip by teaching the word – their ministries are all word ministries. Does this invalidate coaching? I don’t think so. Not everything we do needs a direct mandate form Scripture. If, within a biblical worldview and shaped by biblical wisdom, there are things we can learn from the business world then let’s do so. And spare us the proof texts! It is sufficient to say that the Bible exhorts us to encourage and equip one another for ministry through the word and coaching is one tool (among others) that we can use to this end. But, as I said earlier, let’s not get carried away and miss the centrality of teaching people the word of God and shaping their lives through that word – a very directive activity – albeit one which is conducted humbling in a mutually discipling community!

Tomorrow I’ll blog some highlights of Transformissional Coaching.

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4 thoughts on “Thursday Review: Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl, TransforMissional Coaching

  1. Many of the most innovative thinkers I know are not younger evangelicals but people who have been around for a long time so the term younger evangelicals may be an inaccurate description

  2. Pingback: Highlights of Transformissional Coaching « Tim Chester

  3. Tim,

    You said the weakest chapter is the chapter giving a biblical mandate for a coaching model. Are they using ‘coaching’ as semantics for discipleship? They state that great coaches include life together with coachee, want the best for the person (ie gospel living), providing options/resources (eg. instructing from the Bible) and accountability.

  4. No, I wouldn’t say they equate coaching with discipleship (or training). If they did then it would be an equally strange biblical rationale for discipleship (albeit for different reasons). They assume the usual fairly non-directive approach to coaching. The most you provide are options, but not biblical direction. I’m not opposed to this (as long as discipleship, training, Bible teaching and so are also happening), but I think it is in the category of wisdom rather than biblical norm.

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