6 Coaching Questions to Develop New Leaders in Your Church Blog Feature

By: Patrick O'Connell on May 30, 2018

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6 Coaching Questions to Develop New Leaders in Your Church


When I shared "The Five Steps of Leadership Development," you may remember numbers 1-4 ended with “We talk.” People always ask, “What do we talk about? What do I talk to these leaders about?” Let’s walk through six simple questions to go through in a coaching relationship with new church leaders. I’ll use Tony as my apprentice example.


1. How are you doing?

The first thing I ask Tony is, "Man, how are you doing? How is your marriage? How is your wife? How is your career? What are the things you're dealing with? What are the challenges that you're facing?" I just want to give him an opportunity to talk and express himself as well as give him the opportunity to express how God is blessing his life.

2. What are you celebrating?

Maybe work stinks. Maybe Tony’s marriage is struggling, but what can he celebrate? There's got to be one thing. I'm trying to help that leader hang on to that piece of it. Of course, not everybody is in those dire straits, but if they are, eventually everybody can point to something they're celebrating.


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3. What are your challenges?

More often than not, this could be ministry-specific. Tony and I have to be really good friends, and he would have to really trust me to share some stuff about what he's dealing with, but in the meantime, maybe he says, "Patrick, I don't know if I've got what it takes to be a small group leader. You keep saying that you see this in me, but I just don't see this in myself. Why do you say that? Let's talk about that. Let's work on that together." It’s an honor for him to share his personal feelings with me, and for me to be there for him.

4. What are you doing about it?

I don't want to try to fix anything for Tony, and that's why I ask, “What are you going to do about it?” As an example, a really scary thing for a lot of new leaders is they don't want to pray aloud in these groups. I always find that interesting. So Tony says, "I really don't like to pray aloud." I ask, “What are you going to do about it?" and he might say, "Maybe I should pray more, so I get more comfortable with praying."

5. How can I help?

My response is, “Sounds good to me. Let's do it. How can I help you hold yourself accountable to that?” Again, these aren't complicated things, but they're intentional because at the end of the day, I want to see Tony thrive. I want to see Tony become an agent of peace in the Kingdom. I want to release Tony to become all the potential that God's built into him. I always offer to help in any way I can.

6. How can I pray for you?

Lastly, I'm always asking my apprentices, "How can I pray for you? What can I be doing?"

If you simply ask these six coaching questions, typically it’s an hour-long conversation that goes really fast, especially if you like each other and you've got some chemistry. I’ve found this to be a simple but very effective tool in leadership development.


Patrick O’Connell is passionate about helping people start new things for the Kingdom. A man who didn’t grow up in church, he dabbled in atheism and was a committed agnostic for many years. He eventually found his way back to God. O'Connell helped plant a network of churches in Kansas City, and it was there that he began coaching and training church planters. He wants to leverage his knowledge, experiences and understanding of church planting and Kingdom to help people find and follow Jesus. Today he does this as Director of NewThing. Patrick has served in the U.S. Army, graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and received a Master in Missional Church Movements from Wheaton College. He’s married to Nancy, and they have three kids. He likes to run, read, and hang out with friends and family.


About Patrick O'Connell

Patrick O'Connell is the Global Director of NewThing, a catalyst for movements of reproducing churches. He is passionate about helping people start new things for the Kingdom. He's married to Nancy and they have three great kids. He likes to run, read and hangout with friends.