The Power of Mission Coaching

By Mike Ruhl   |  September 1, 2016

In their excellent book Flight of the Buffalo, James Belasco and Ralph Stayer assert:  “Thinking incrementally is an American disease.”  Perhaps our early upbringing conditions us to think that way.  As children our parents encourage us to eat just a little bit more broccoli … and with a little bit more effort, your can turn that B+ into an A. 

Now while thinking incrementally is not inherently bad, it does result in thinking that has no mission and certainly lacks vision.  Thinking incrementally can also mean that a mission leader will tend to begin with the old, tired strategy and its methods … and still attempt to move toward a new vision and mission – but continuing to drag along many of the problems and limitations of his present leadership paradigm.

That familiar scenario is a fitting description of why the Center for United States Missions places such a high premium on the need for competent and courageous mission coaching for church planters, missional pastors and mission leaders.  We like to define a coach (or mentor) as … someone who has been where you want to go – and is willing to help you get there.  Much has been written about the powerful coaching that Joseph Barnabas (his name means Son of Encouragement) brought to the Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys.  Surely Barnabas played a significant role in encouraging Paul to move beyond incremental thinking (simply lead a few more mission starts) … to expand his mission and vision to launching new missions throughout the then-known world!

A competent coach is more than someone who is under-employed or retired – and who has lots of free time on his / her hands.  Coaching competency grows significantly as a result of training, mentoring and evaluated experience in the fine art of mission coaching.  Therefore the mission coaches that are trained and certified by the Center for United States Missions all have navigated successfully a one-year coach training process which includes (1) Reading current and multiple books about the art of coaching (2) Intensive training and practice of coaching skills in interactive triads (3) A six-month coaching internship with two coaching clients (4) Written feedback on coaching skills and impact from coaching clients (5) An Online Coaching Assessment which yields feedback and measurement of capacity in 9 coaching competencies and 55 coaching micro-skills and (6) Training to conduct online coaching conversation using the CoachNet Online Coaching Tool.

The Center for United States Missions maintains a network of trained, experienced and competent mission coaches who are available for mission-coaching ministry to Mission Leaders, Church Planters and Professional Church Workers and Lay Missionary Workers.

I would like to take this opportunity now to introduce you to three of our newest Mission Coaches – all of whom are available to enter into a formal coaching relationship with church planters and mission leaders anywhere in the continental United States, Canada – and even beyond. 

Rev. Chad Elfe is a young entrepreneurial, husband, father and pastor.  His first assignment as a pastor was the planting of a new church in Lake Saint Louis, MO.  He has experience starting, handing off, and closing new ministries.  Currently he resides in Green Bay, WI and is helping launch a new church there called Raized.  His passions include raising mission leaders, developing new outreach endeavors and networking people in the community.  Chad has ventured into the world of bivocational ministry working as a service advisor throughout the week full time and also serving as an associate pastor.  He is ready to help you discover and develop your plans for life and ministry.  Feel free to contact Chad to begin a coaching adventure to become all God has made you to be.

Coaching Specialties: Missional Communities, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Vision Casting and Development, Neighborhood Analysis and Bivocational Ministry

Faith Rattei serves at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church & School, Edina, Minnesota as their Community Outreach Director.  She and her husband Andrew live in Saint Paul, MN.  They enjoy helping dying things see new life:  plants, computers…and churches.  After receiving her certification as a Director of Christian Outreach (DCO) from Concordia University, Saint Paul (2002), she was privileged to lead the re-launch of New Life Church - Lutheran (formerly known as Shepherd of the Fields Lutheran Church) in Hugo, MN.  In 2013, she accepted a call to St. Peter’s where she has been developing a “Missional Small Group” ministry from the ground up while developing a mission mindset within the congregation and faculty of St. Peter’s Early Childhood Education Center.  This is being done through intentional community engagement and missional living coaching.  Faith also works one on one with individuals and couples, especially around the area of finances, to help them take their next step in their financial journey so that they can focus more on their relationship with God and sharing Him with others.

Coaching Specialties:  Church Health, Church Re-Launch, Mission Mindset Development, Financial Health

Rev. David Maki is currently serving as Pastor of Gathering Place in Arden Hills Minnesota and Campus Pastor at Trinity First Lutheran School in Minneapolis. He has served churches in Wisconsin, Indiana and Tennessee. He graduated in 1982 with a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne Indiana and completed missional training from Pastoral Leadership Institute. Dave has led a Karen (Burmese) congregation and done ministry among numerous ethnic groups. He has led training in missional development, small group leadership and evangelism. Dave is married to Debra and is blessed with three sons, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren. He was born and raised in New York Mills, Minnesota and attended Concordia University in St. Paul. He enjoys hunting, fishing, riding motorcycle with Deb and foreign mission experiences.  Dave explains his passion, “We live in a time of incredible opportunity for the church to reach a dying world with the life giving message of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  

Coaching Specialties - Ethnic Ministries, Revitalization, Spiritual Transformation, and Missional Visioning.                                                             

If you – or someone you know – would benefit from an encouraging mission coach to walk alongside you and support you in moving beyond incremental thinking in and for the Kingdom of God, contact the office of the Center for United States Missions and explore the opportunities.


Moment Extras

Questions for Discussion

1. What areas of your personal life and ministry life could be enhanced through a relationship with a competent coach?

2. How did the coaching (encouragement) ministry of Barnabas prove to be such a blessing to the Apostle Paul?

3. What do you see as the preferred qualities (mannerisms and relational skills) which are found in the kind of coach you would allow to come alongside you in your ministry?

4. How have you multiplied your ministry by coming alongside other pastors and congregants as a Mission Coach?

Resources You Can Use

Mission Coach Certification Training is being offered at the Minnesota South District office in Burnsville, MN on September 19 and 20. Although registration is closed, for more information, please visit our website by clicking here.

Mentoring Church Planters is being offered at Bethany Lutheran Church in Austin, TX on September 26 and 27. Please register by September 15 – for more information, visit our website by clicking here.

Five famous business leaders share their personal stories, crediting a mentor or mentors, on The Power of Mentorship.

See the Center for U.S. Missions Certified Coach Network for available coaches.



Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website:

Center for U.S. Missions – Contact Information 

Email us at: | Rev. Dr. Peter Meier, Executive Director;  | Rev. Michael Ruhl, Director of Training;  | Kathy Meier, Coordinator;  | Mil Behnken, Office Manager;