Category Archives: Coaching

The Six Core Competencies of Pastors (Part 0)

core_competencies_imageMy husband, Dr. Jeff Luther,  is the director of a medical residency program.  That means he trains new medical school grads on how to be amazing Family Physicians. He has done this for over 20 years.

I like his world.  I like hanging out with those who run the larger hospital and hearing how they focus their people, assets, and knowledge to make a difference for patients and for their community.

Last year we were in Kansas City at the bar of the historic Rieger Hotel and Jeff was talking to me about the “six core competencies” for physicians.  These are the core behaviors in which they train new physicians so when their three-year residency ends, they are ready for the world in which they will serve.

The core competencies for physicians from the ACGME are:

Professionalism– Carrying out professional responsibilities, including acting ethnically & caring for a diverse population.

Patient Care– Providing care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective.

Medical Knowledge– Having strong medical knowledge and applying this knowledge to patient care.

Communication– Effective communication with the patients,  families, other providers (nurses, doctors, etc) and the larger system.

Practiced Based Learning and Improvement– Embracing an ongoing commitment to evaluate care in light of new and evolving evidence through lifelong, self-generated learning.

System Based Practice- Connection with and commitment to the larger healthcare and community systems and the use of their resources with a focus on providing excellent value.

I have thought about what he shared since then and it has me thinking…what are the core competencies for pastors in today’s world?

Coming up with core competencies (CC) is nothing new.  Just google it.

Here were a couple lists I liked:

Core competences of future global leaders: Creative Direction, Inspiring Commitment, Effective Decision Making, Empowering Others, Continuous Self-Development.

CC for leaders: Social Intelligence, Interpersonal Skills, Emotional Intelligence, Prudence, Courage, Conflict Management, Decision Making, Political Skills, Influence Skills, Area Expertise.

Over the next couple weeks I will share what I see as the six core competencies for pastors. I invite you to come up with your own list and share your thoughts too.




On The First Day of Your New Appointment

Over the last 3 years I have spent a lot of time in our churches. I have heard stories which have taught me what is working and what isn’t-as new pastors begin. Here are a couple quick thoughts (cause it’s a busy day) on the first day of a new appointment.

1. You were not sent there to fix them. Even if the church is in crisis and they know it (which most don’t) don’t start with fixing what is wrong. Attendance down? Money down? Building falling down? You will be tempted to jump in, but don’t. Why? Honestly, you don’t know enough to know what to do. If you jump in to fixing them you will build anxiety, do the wrong thing (see #2) and start your new appointment on shaky ground. Turn to key leaders to fix things that must be given attention in those first months, let their wisdom, not your history, guide you.

2. This is not your former church. Sure, it may be in a similar community and yes, it is a UMC but it is not the same church as your last appointment. You will need to learn who they are before you can do anything genuinely helpful. And, don’t say, “At my last church we…” -no one wants to hear it. This is not your last church and much of what you know won’t (sadly) work here. The upside is you will get to learn new skills and grow!

So what can you do?

3. Spend the summer getting to know them and letting them know you. Have opportunities to gather together. Have fun. Laugh. Ask them friendly questions. Share your story and show them you don’t take yourself too seriously. Build relationships and make a good first impression. Even if this move wasn’t your idea don’t let them know it. Be positive, loving and above all trust in God’s unfolding. Keep a list (you will use it in #5) of your learnings as you listen, listen, listen.

4. Pray and Focus on the Basics. Begin with a renewed focus on the basics, including prayer. For churches to become more vital they need to be places of spiritually growing people. Sadly, the reality is many of our churches are not grounded in the basics. Start here not only for them but for you – prayer will ground you as you begin in a new community. Use your own prayer and Bible study time this summer to process any grief, regrets and learnings from your previous church.

5. Schedule a Fall Staff and/or Key Leader Retreat: Some folks will ask about your vision for the church. Let them know that you are spending the summer listening but that once fall comes you will be gathering with key leaders to put together a plan for the following year (for this year that would be 2017). During your summer of listening you will figure out who needs to be at the retreat and what some of the issues are. New Ministries can help by sharing demographics and helping you assess the church, just email us at

It’s July 1! May God’s great love in Jesus Christ open hearts in the church and community for a long and successful ministry!


Life Hacks – Get A Coach

beatiful-scenarioLife Hacks – Get A Coach

I am almost finished with my course work to get my coaching certification. Coaching in all its forms (life, executive, health, etc.) is a growing field and folks from every background (medicine, mental health, ministry, business) are getting trained in coaching.

I became interested in coaching when I moved from full-time local church ministry to house church ministry in 2011. Friends began calling me, asking if I could help them deal with life balance, the local church and relationships. I love to help and so I jumped right in. Soon though I realized that I would benefit from training and started classes.

Even with my change of ministry roles (I now work as the Director of New Ministries in Southern California and Hawaii), coaching has continued to stay essential in my work. I use coaching skills as I work with churches that want to grow and new faith communities who are figuring out how to connect.

So what is coaching? In its purist sense, a coach facilitates (through questions and discovery) a client’s journey to realize what matters to them. Out of that, the coach helps the client set and meet their goals. Coaching helps the client move in the direction the client has set through accountability, encouragement and brainstorming.

This is the key: The client is not coming for therapy or advice but comes to the relationship as “creative, resourceful and whole.” I see those I work with as healthy people who want to move forward in their life and work and my role is to help them live into their goals.

Not all coaching happens in this purist sense. Many coaches are not certified; they may not have any training. Or, they may have more of an advice-giving style. There are also a large number of coaches who have been practitioners in a field (like ministry, business) who now do coaching. These all have benefits and as I explore coaching I find different situations require different skills.

But here is the most important thing I have learned: the coach’s role is not to tell the client what to do.

This is because of two truths. First, the client is the expert on his or her life and church. As a coach, I see only a piece of the client’s life. Second, people do not tend to carry out someone else’s insight, even if it is correct. What a client will carry out is his or her own insight. This is why giving advice is seldom fruitful. People need to come to their own realizations.

Knowing these two truths shapes what I do in coaching. My role is to listen, to ask questions and to work with those I coach so they might discover the direction to go. My role is not to say, “do this” but to help those being coached to put the pieces of life together and see the next steps.

What I love in coaching is that through listening and asking questions I can help others see connections, opportunities and themes in life. This is hard to do on our own as we often find ourselves too close to see clearly. Like the fish who doesn’t recognize the water in which it swims, we can be too close to see what is right in front of us. Coaching, at its best, helps people see where they are and imagine and live into who they might be.

Currently I am taking a class on executive coaching. Most everyone in the class is working with small business owners so I get to do some translation to the local church context. But what I am learning is that no matter what world we move in, coaching can help us become more aware, more focused and more faithful.

Do you need a coach?