Gospel Coach: book review (sort of)

This week I picked up a copy of Gospel Coach by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood because it was cheap for the Kindle and looked like a book I would find helpful/valuable. It didn’t take me very far into the book to know I was going to like it. I’ve always had a few problems with various explanations of discipling/mentoring/coaching/training because of the way they separated each of those roles. It just never resonated with me and the success I find in my discipleship ministry.

In the introduction they explain how authors Stanley and Clinton define these different kinds of mentoring relationships in their book The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed in Life. Apparently they explain that there are three types of mentoring-type relationships: the discipler, the spiritual guide, and the coach. The discipler “entails a relational process in which a more experienced follower of Christ shares with a new believer the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus Christ.” The spiritual guide “is a godly, mature follower of Christ who shares knowledge, skills, and basic philosophy about what it means to increasingly realize Christlikeness in all areas of life. The primary contributions are accountability, decisions, insights concerning  questions, commitments, and direction affecting spirituality.” The coach, however, “provides motivation and imparts skills, encouragement, and application to meet a task or challenge.”

What Thomas and Wood propose is is that leaders/pastors need a “Gospel coach” who will do all of those things. You can read more by getting a copy of the book yourself (it’s still discounted for Kindle as I’m writing this). I appreciate this because it’s more what I do when I’m discipling and people generally compliment my discipleship skills. It’s nice to finally find someone that’s telling me what I’m doing is a good method.

Going deeper

My husband and I recently had a conversation about spiritual gifts as we were talking about a teaching I had heard this past weekend at a conference put on by our church. John had an illustration that was really helpful. He said that our spiritual gifts often are acted out so naturally that we forget that it’s supernatural. He gave an example of his son who comes rushing over to him with a glass of water and spills it. How you naturally respond to his son probably indicates your heart. Do you encourage him to try again? Do you instruct him on how to do better and not spill the water? Do you hug him and empathize with him because he’s all wet? However you respond may be an indicator of your spiritual gifting.

As I was sharing this with my husband and the conversation shifted to two separate conversations we had with Andy. Willy realized that Andy teaches to influence because leadership is his gift. Willy teaches to teach because he has the heart of a teacher.

In my conversation with Andy he stated frankly, “If you’re looking for consensus, you’re not leading.” My natural internal response was, “I’m not sure I really desire to lead. I can do it, but I don’t know if that’s really my heart.” I then wondered what was my heart in leadership and in my job? As Willy shared his insight about why Andy teaches versus why he teaches, I realized my perspective: I teach because I desire to see wholistically mature disciples of Christ. When I teach my girls, I want them to be well-rounded emotionally and spiritually mature people. I want them to know how to walk by faith, rely on the spirit, do evangelism, disciple others, but I also want to counsel them to a point of emotional maturity so that they can be the best disciples and leaders they can be. 

This is why I find a tool that a coworker developed called the False Hopes Testimony Worksheet so useful and powerful. This tool helps reveal a person’s false hopes/idols, it reveals the things they crave and vie for. As they wrestle with this it helps me to know what to target as I model to them how to preach the gospel to themselves, where they need to be surrendering to God, how I can coach them in living the Spirit-filled life. BUT, it also is a tool to help them in evangelism as they learn to share their testimony, and as they learn to decode other people’s cravings and longings so they can more effectively preach the gospel to others.

Anyways, this is all to say that I like the book Gospel Coach as far as I’ve read it (I feel affirmed!), and that I have a better insight into what makes me tick as a Christian and campus staff.

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