Servant Leadership: Practices
Conduct: Three Interactive Leadership Models
Coaching/Team Leadership” (SL#71)

by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 1:3 - Charting Your Course
(See companion articles SL#70 and SL#72)


Model #2 Coaching/Team Leadership

Source: This model is abstracted from SkillTrack Vol. #3 - Coaching Leadership: Building a Winning Ministry Team by James D. Williams and Lloyd Elder, published by the Moench Center for Church Leadership, Belmont University, 1999, 2004.

Summary: Coaching Leadership presents and explores the fundamentals, steps, and skills applied to the practices and tasks of a winning ministry team in kingdom service. This model is reflected in 1 Cor. 3:9--“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”--1 Cor. 3:9

Coaching Step #1: Pay Attention to Fundamentals
What are the fundamentals of coaching a ministry team, the practices of Jesus as a player/coach, and your own performance as a coaching leader?

  1. Coaching leadership is an expression of the equipping ministry of Ephesians 4:7-12. Each believer is gifted as Christ has apportioned, and there is a diversity of gifts in the body of Christ--His ministry team. The twofold purpose of gifts and gifted leaders is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. . . . “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up . . .” --Eph. 4:12
  2. Jesus as a player/coach is the pattern for those who would lead like Jesus, including:

Coaching Step #2: Build a Team Spirit

  1. The church as a “kingdom team” is reflected in the church as a “company”--Acts 4:32. Other biblical metaphors complete the concept: body of Christ, household of faith, royal priesthood, holy nation, fellow citizens, people of the way.
  2. The church as “team,” or community, implies purpose, commitment, encouragement, diversity, partnership, and cooperation. Where is your ministry team in the process?
  3. Stages in developing a ministry team as a community of commitment include eight levels and processes. Those marked by an * are from Bruce W. Tuckman’s theory/model. (See Kinicki and Kreitner, pp. 204-05.)

    * Forming--a collection of individuals beginning the process of transition toward members of a group.
    * Storming--group members relying on their own ideas and resources and competing with one another as a normal process toward becoming a group.
    Conforming--some members become compliant, either to an authority or position, or to the group as a whole.
    De-forming--the group refuses to work as a team, or becomes dysfunctional, continuing in disunity and conflict.
    Informing--team members begin to open up in communication, talking and listening, moving toward one another.
    * Norming--mutual acceptance of each other as team members, developing a sense of common spirit, goal, and rules.
    * Performing--team members collaborate to focus on diverse contribution, analysis, options, decisions, actions, and results.
    Re-forming (*adjourning)--when the team’s function is completed there is adjournment and separation; or, transition around a restated vision.

  4. Building team commitment includes: using the process above with understanding, acceptance, empowerment, and a calm, purposeful presence.

Coaching Step #3: Put Your Team Together

  1. Coaches accept the challenge of dealing with people. Though Jesus is our perfect leader, as followers we are imperfect. As such, we need to be devoted to Him and His example, to one another in fellowship, and to the church as a human workshop.
  2. Ministry coaches recruit volunteers and other coworkers to pursue the congregation’s mission, vision, goals, strategies, and action plans. The coach works with team members to:
  1. Recruitment and delegation are key functions for coaching as empowerment. Given the difference in coaching/ministry situations, empowering leadership may take any one of the four “power points” from directive to democratic; such as:

[Graph adapted from Steven L. Schey and Walt Kallestead, Team Ministry (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), p. 67]

  1. Coaches train and develop team members for individual growth, teamwork, and for performance improvement. Approaches to in-service training includes:

Coaching Step #4: Execute the Game Plan

  1. Execution starts with developing a game plan and counting the cost (Luke 14:28-30). Planning consists of stating your mission/vision, asking the right questions, getting the information, and charting a course toward your new future. Planning principles for coaching leaders includes participative decision-making, calling for the wisdom of the whole team, including challenging assignments for each team member and building clearly on the mission/vision. Such planning includes flexible time frames: daily actions, operational, priority, strategic, “Prepare, prepare, prepare!”
  2. Strategic execution centers around matching the team’s capability to its opportunity; consider these components:

Coaching Step #5: Evaluate Team Performance

Evaluation should seek to answer the question: “To what level did we achieve what we set out to do?” Evaluation seeks not to attribute blame, but to take responsibility, affirm individual and team successes and improve performance.

Coaching Step #6: Celebrate Team Victories
“Well done, good and faithful servant!” --Matthew 25:23


Review the six coaching steps. Re-write them in your own words, applying each one to some area of your ministry. You will not want to overlook the majesty and joy of the after-game celebration:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.--Eph. 3:20-21

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© 2006; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership