Case Studies

Develop leadership in the church and create more effective leaders by:

Individual pastoral coaching:

1. A pastor I’ve worked with for some time is the senior minister of a large church, who came to me feeling like he was working all the time and getting nowhere. There had been a lot of conflict in the church, and he was frustrated and worn out. One of the things we did together was look at the specific challenges and issues in the congregation as they arose, and I coached him on how he might respond as a leader to each one, asking key questions and sometimes reframing the issues so he could see it a little differently. The biggest thing that changed for him was getting clear on what he was responsible for—to lead—and what he wasn’t—to make all the details happen and to make everyone get along. He now feels like more is happening in the church than ever before, and he can’t believe how much free time he has—and greater satisfaction in his ministry.

2. I’ve coached a pastor over the years through leadership in three different congregations. Since we all bring ourselves to our ministries, she had the opportunity to work on the same issues with each church, in a slightly different setting. She was able to answer for herself questions like: what can I learn even when church is challenging? How do I discern when to stay and when to go? How do I manage the intersection of church life and family life?

3. A pastor I coached was on the staff of a large congregation. She brought concerns about how to be a leader when she wasn’t THE leader, and how she might make a difference both in her specific area of ministry and the wider congregation without burning out. We worked together on how she might think clearly and keep her own anxiety down in the middle of congregational situations that could be polarizing. She found herself able to ride through the organizational challenges in ways that brought better outcomes both for her and for the congregation.


Congregational work:

1. The minister of one church called me because his church, like many, had a long history of strong pastoral leadership and dependence by the lay leaders on the pastor. He wanted to help foster more lay leadership initiative. I spent some time with him on the phone and in person before the leadership event, learning more about both his leadership and the history of the congregation. I spent a day with the leaders, doing some training on the elements of healthy church leadership. But the most important thing we did together was to create a space for the pastor to talk about his vision for leadership, and for them to have a conversation together about what they all might do together as leaders.

2. A relatively large church I worked with was in the middle of a significant restructuring. The pastor was concerned that the staff continue to function effectively through the restructuring. There had been quite a bit of staff change, as well, and some of the remaining staff were feeling anxious. I spent time with her helping her get clear on her own goals for how she wanted the staff to lead and function, and spent a day with her and the entire staff working together on what a well-functioning staff and congregation looks like, and how they might respond to the ongoing challenges.

3. A pastor I worked with was called in as acting pastor of a troubled church in transition. There was a long history of conflict among staff. I worked with the pastor and the key associate to help them navigate the challenges of leadership in this congregation, and manage their own relationship in a way that was productive for them and for the church. As a result of our work together, they both gained greater clarity about their role in that congregation and what they could (and, just as important, could not) do to help the church move forward.