Church Health – Conclusions from What I Have Learned in Pastor’s Coach

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Article by P. Marie Shaw

I have learned much from Pastor’s Coach ministry coaching in the areas of church leaders and church health, and can even look back on my own history to see where these teachings could’ve made a significant impact! I was saved at age 16, and filled with the Holy Spirit at age 18, in 1970. The house church in Seattle where I was Spirit-filled quickly became a church that had a building program every summer to accommodate the many hungry people being attracted to it, and to the associated Bible College, from all over the US, and even from Norway and Greece. I attended the Bible College full-time for 4.5 years of undergraduate studies, and one year of the two-year Master’s class studies. It was common to hear the Bible College teachers exhort us to “Take notes and study the material well enough that you could teach it.” Our students started Bible studies in far-flung communities, and even satellite churches as far away as Kansas and Illinois.

Our pastor had a true teacher’s gift, (but not as much of a pastor’s heart—no one got ‘warm fuzzies’ from him). He worked as an engineer at Boeing for many years, and while riding the bus back and forth to work, he spent his time, among other things, comparing up to 30 different translations of the Bible. For the 19 years I attended, each Sunday school, Sunday morning sermon, Sunday evening sermon, and Friday night sermon was an hour long “meal” of strong meat, so we were familiar with every book of the Bible, as well as church history, typology, etc. In Bible College, we learned about Greek manuscripts and how to use Greek reference works so we could do in-depth Greek word studies on our own.

In all this, I don’t remember ever hearing that we needed to have apostles and prophets “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;“ Eph. 4:12. I didn’t recieve ministry coaching. Isn’t it strange that I do remember very well being taught about verse 13, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith…to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” We had one pastor, with no associate pastor. And this pastor was a great teacher. Plus, we had one evangelist on staff for maybe 10 of those years. But what about the other two gifts? These five gifts together were all “given at the same time, for the same purpose, and until the same time,” as Michael Brodeur likes to point out. Our church was blissfully ignorant that we were not “firing on all cylinders” without all the ascension gifts. Oh, by the way, our pastor had no one he was accountable to; no one who was welcome to speak into his life. Is it possible that our church of 3,000 people would not have “gone off the rails” in the 1980’s if we had had all the gifts in operation? Yes! Is it possible that hundreds of divorces, which hurt children as well as adults, could have been avoided, instead of blamed on God? Yes! Is it possible that 1,000 Bible College students, instead of a handful, could have gone on to mature teaching and pastoral ministries instead of being derailed? Yes!

The five gifts are all needed because they are all different from each other, and each of them manifests an aspect of Jesus Christ that the others cannot. Jesus was definitely an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, and a teacher during His ministry on earth. The church of Jesus Christ still needs each one of these ministries until the body of Christ is completed.

This is the heart of Michael Brodeur’s ministry. But his teaching goes far beyond just that. I have been fascinated at the depth of his knowledge and experience in church planting, church growth, and church health. I am so thankful that I have been exposed to this more-than-excellent teaching and coaching. I believe that I will be drawing on this guidance much more in the future.

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