What is a Certified Mission Coach? 

A certified mission coach is a missional leader who:

  • is effectively engaged in a coaching ministry,

  • understands and has mastered the art of mission coaching, and

  • has successfully met and fulfilled the established requirements of coach certification from the Center for United States Missions.

These requirements include:

  1. Intensive training in the art of coaching

  2. Nine Coach Mentor Sessions under a Certified Coach Trainer

  3. Effective and assessed coaching relationships

  4. Evaluative coaching feedback from coaching clients while in training

  5. Positive coaching capacity results measured through a Coaching Assessment

  6. Development and implementation of a Coaching Excellence Personal Development Plan

If you are serious about the mission of Jesus Christ (Missio Dei), then you will discover tremendous support, accelerated missional results and increased missional capacity by having your own mission coach. You are invited to contact any of the certified mission coaches and explore their interest and availability in serving as your personal coach.

You are encouraged to explore synergy and negotiate fees directly with the Certified Mission Coach of your choice.

A coach is someone who has been where you want to go . . . and is willing to help you get there. Like Barnabas in the New Testament, whose name means Son of Encouragement, the coach comes alongside mission field workers (church planters, missional pastors, missionaries, evangelists and church revitalization leaders) and bring to them encouragement, support (especially through prayer), mission strategy stimulation, action-planning for results, and Kingdom accountability. In simple terms, a coach is one who comes alongside a person or team in order to help them discover God’s agenda for their life and ministry, and then serving the Holy Spirit to see that agenda to become reality.


Our Coaches

Rev. Cliff Bira

Coaching Specialty: Mission Planters, Missional pastors, Pastors working through Church Revitalization, Discovering and organizing life around God-given Life Purpose, Personal Spiritual Development, Leadership Development
Email: cbira@comcast.net
Phone: (810) 240-1445

Rev. Cliff Bira is married to wife Carolyn - a Director of Christian Education for 30 years. They have two grown and married Children - Hannah & Bethany and one grandchild. Since 1984 Rev. Cliff Bira has served as Senior Pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church. He has also served as Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Osceola, Iowa (1981-1984) He is also currently serving in the office of Circuit Counselor in the Michigan District. In his present congregation he also serves his community through the Flushing Community Outreach Center, various joint Christian community outreach efforts in past years and as a pastoral leader among churches in the Flushing Community. He has also served as past president and founding member of the Rotary Club of Flushing.

He attended University of Wisconsin - Whitewater (1972-1976) from which he received a Bachelors of Science Degree in Economics. He received his Masters of Divinity degree from Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne, Indiana (1978-1981)

He has received additional training through the completion of the Beeson Institute For Advanced Church Leadership and receiving additional training through the Pastoral Leadership Institute. Rev. Bira has also been named as a team leader for PLI International for Latvia & Lithuania beginning August, 2008. He has attended Basic Mission Planter Training as well as serving as an assessor for the Church Planter Assessment Center of the Center for U.S. Missions. His personal greatest passion is helping people to discover, develop, and live out their God-given Life Purpose.

 

Rev. Dr. Peter Meier

Coaching Specialty: Church Planting, Missional Leaders, Rural Ministry, Urban Ministry
Email: peter.meier@cui.edu
Phone: (952) 221-0362

Prior to joining the Center for US Missions on July 1, 2013, Peter served in the Minnesota South District, LCMS, as Executive Assistant to the President (2005-2006), and Assistant to the President for Missions (2005-2013). He served as Senior Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church and School in Mayer, MN from 1982-2005.

Peter was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Frederick and Helen Meier, October 6, 1956. His parents were Lutheran Educators. He attended Mt. Calvary Lutheran School, Milwaukee Lutheran High School, and Marquette University. Following graduation Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, IL, he received his theological degree and Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1982.

His Doctor of Ministry degree was granted in 2011 by Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana upon completion and successful defense of his dissertation, “Missional Leadership in Lutheran Schools: A Key Component in Lutheran Schools as Mission Outposts.”

Peter is married to Kathy, Coordinator at C4USM and also a Mathematics teacher at Mayer Lutheran HS; they are blessed with three married children, and three grandchildren. Peter and Kathy enjoy spending time with their family, reading, biking, camping, kayaking and the outdoors. Peter’s life verse describes his greatest joy and passion, “Living and sharing the Life that is truly Life,” (1 Timothy 6:19).

 

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Rev. Eric R. Wenger

Coaching Specialty: Apprenticing Disciples, Multiplying Leaders, Missional Communities, Church Planting
Email: ewenger@livingraized.com
Phone: (920) 393-3532

Eric serves as Lead Pastor with RAIZED in Green Bay, WI.  He and his wife, Carrie, have four children.  They enjoy building relationships through service in their community and by participating in a variety of athletic endeavors.  Their family is thankful for the growing mission team in the Green Bay area that is “living all-out with Jesus” together.

The Wenger family was sent to the Green Bay area by Community of Life Lutheran Church-Oregon, WI in August of 2013 to start a RAIZED (missional) community with the vision of their new gathering of disciples forming a church planting church.  By God’s grace, the first RAIZED Community grew and has birthed on several occasions.  On September 25, 2016, RAIZED was officially launched.  The great news is that they are already working on another new mission planting opportunity!      

After receiving his BA from Concordia – St. Paul (1993) and his MDiv from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis (1997), Eric has been privileged to grow as a mission leader in multiple settings.  He taught theology and coached athletics with Lutheran High School Northwest in Rochester Hills, MI, served with Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Greenville, WI as Associate Pastor focusing on outreach and assimilation, was the Pastor of Discipleship and Growth with Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in Fitchburg, WI, and planted Community of Life where he later became the Lead Pastor. 

Eric is passionate about making disciples, multiplying servant leaders, birthing missional communities, and planting churches.  He enjoys reading, playing sports, coaching sports, serving as a Mission Coach with the Center for United States Missions, and being part of an adventure.  One of his most excited adventures right now is serving as Executive Director with The 2:47 Network, which is a growing church planting network that he co-founded.       

 
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Rev. Dr. John M. Hirsch

Coaching Specialty:  Church planting; Established pastor
Email:  johnhirschconsulting@gmail.com
Phone: (512) 522-1511

Rev. Dr. John Hirsch, a native Texan, and his wife, Kathryn have been blessed in their marriage with two daughters and five grandchildren.

After receiving his BA from the University of Texas in Psychology, John earned his MDiv from Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, IL. He then earned his MA in Educational Psychology at Eastern Michigan in 1982 and his DMin at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan in 1999.

Most recently, Dr. Hirsch served for 20 years as Director of Congregational and Worker Care in the Texas District. Previous to that, he was a Missionary-at-Large in Brighton, Michigan. He then served for 22 years as the pastor of Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Brighton, Michigan while also serving as Lutheran Visitation Pastor for LC-USA to the V.A. Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

His leadership roles and responsibilities have included serving as Circuit Counselor, Chairman of the Commission on Ministerial Health in the Michigan District, and serving two terms as Vice President in the Michigan District. He has also been an instructor of Michigan Lutheran Ministries Institute.

Other professional training that Rev. Dr. Hirsch has participated in includes Clinical Pastoral Education at Jacksonville State Hospital, Jacksonville, IL and advanced training at the Presbyterian Medical Center in Denver, CO. He has participated in various seminars in pastoral care and counseling and conflict resolution through Peace in the Parish, the Alban Institute, and Bridgebuilders – Mennonite Peace Center. He has been trained as an LCMS Reconciler, certified as an administrator of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, certified as administrator of the Birkman instrument, and certified as a Church Planter Coach. He is also a member of Coach Approach Ministries.

The Center is honored to include Rev. Dr. Hirsch as one of our coaches.

 

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Mr. Dan Haupt

Coaching Specialty: Spiritual, Career, Relationships, Ministry
Email:  dan@thealley.org
Phone: (651) 395-9274

I grew up dreaming of being a life coach.  NOT!  So how did I get here?  Every person is influenced by their life story and experiences, their relationships with people, and their passions.  I am no different.  I have an accounting degree and an MBA.  I have worked for a variety of organizations – large and small, for profit and nonprofit.  In my professional career, I’ve experienced both success and failure.  At one point in life, I had a challenging and great paying executive position, a wonderful wife, three great kids, a dog, and our dream house.  I was living the “American Dream”!  And yet, there was something missing.  I had a “void” deep down inside of me.  I was smart enough to know that the void would not be filled by a better paying job, a different wife, more kids and dogs, or a bigger house. 

With some introspective searching, and the help of some close friends, I found the only thing that would fill the void: faith in and a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It was a life-changing discovery.  I went back to school to get a degree in ministry, changed careers and jobs (have worked in and with churches since 2001), and have been on an adventurous and fulfilling journey ever since.  If you are wondering, I still have the same wonderful wife, three kids, a dog, and now four awesome grandkids!

One of the things that changed dramatically for me was going from being task and money oriented to being people oriented.  I have become fascinated by people!  Every person has a story, and I am driven by a strong curiosity to hear them.  Yet, in the midst of listening to those stories, there is one common theme – every one struggles with something in their life.  Their dreams have been crushed or they have one or more broken relationships or they are stuck in a job they don’t like or they are struggling with a deep question or they are struggling with their faith or __________ fill in the blank with your struggle.

I have experienced many of those same struggles, and received some coaching that not only helped me get through my struggles, but opened my eyes to the power of coaching.  I have a passion to use my experiences, training, and tools to walk alongside others to help them discover God’s agenda for their life. If you would like to explore what it might look like to receive some life coaching, please contact me.

 

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Rev. David Maki

Coaching Specialty: Ethnic Mission Work
Email:  makifamily4@gmail.com
Phone: (260)-450-3246

David Maki was born in New York Mills, Minnesota April 7, 1955 to Melvin and Marylee Maki. After graduating from High School he attended Concordia University in St Paul, Minnesota. While in college he was in chapel choir, played soccer and volunteered at a crisis counseling center. It was there he met Debra Monson and they were married August 26, 1978. He graduated from CSP with a BA in sociology. He graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne in 1982 with an MDiv. He has three sons, Ryan (Tessa) in Eau Claire, WI, Matt (Jen) in Oviedo, FL, and Joel in Fort Wayne, IN. God has blessed him with two grandchildren, Tanner and Harper in Oviedo.

He has served congregations in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Indiana. He has experienced the mission field in England, Slovakia, Ethiopia, Russia, and Mexico. His passions are reaching people with the Gospel, riding his Honda, fishing, hunting and fixing things.

 

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Mike Sojka

Coaching Specialty: Executive, Business, Church Planters, Life, Pastors
Email: msojka@leadinnovate.com
Phone: (701) 428-1191

Mike started Leadership Innovations in March of 2015, a unique coaching business with a virtual platform that employs both male and female coaches. Possessing 12 years of certified coaching experience, Mike served within the LCMS as an Executive, Church Planter and Campus Pastor coach, in addition to serving as an assessor for the Church Planter Assessment Center of the Center for U.S. Missions.   

Before entering the ministry, Mike was a teacher/coach for 10 years (5 years at the high school level and 5 years at the university level), who then served ministries in Cincinnati, OH and Long Island, NY. Mike was a church planter in Fargo, ND, and went on to become the head of Northern Plains Evangelistic Association, a church planting organization, for 16 years. Mike was involved with a non-profit that educated family businesses and dabbled with becoming a financial advisor, but you will have to give him a call to hear the rest of that story. Mike received a B.A. from Wartburg College, an M.A. from the University of South Dakota, and an M.A. from Cincinnati Bible Seminary.

A catalyst is an individual whose speech, mannerisms, enthusiasm and energy cause others to be friendlier, enthusiastic, energetic, strategic, and action-oriented. A catalyst is also a person who precipitates change. Mike says, “I personally want to partner with aspiring leaders as a catalyst through coaching/consulting, guiding individuals, organizations & businesses that are seeking a new level of leadership excellence!” One of Mike’s clients puts it best:

Mike's coaching has been extremely valuable to me as a church planting leader and as a person. He has a very unique ability as a coach: he knows when to ask the right question and when to stretch me as a leader. I am grateful for his willingness to use his strengths and insights to make me stronger and a more ‘dialed-in’ leader. A great example of his ability to ‘push’ was when he asked me recently, ‘Why not? What's stopping you?’ That's what a good coach does as they inspire those they coach to grasp hold of their potential!  ~ Lance (Church Planting Executive)   

Mike and his wife, Patricia, currently reside in Moorhead, MN, enjoying the close proximity of both their sons and two grandchildren, who also live in the area. Mike is a voracious reader (interested to hear what is on your book shelf), avid North Dakota State University football fan (National Champions, 6 times in the last 7 years), recent Philadelphia Eagles fan (because of Carson Wentz, a former NDSU Bison QB), and occasional coffee snob, who enjoys the gym, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, biking, kayak fishing, and hunting. Mike looks forward to assisting you in the very near future!

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Shelli Haynes

Coaching Specialty: Christian Educators, Leadership, Marriage & Family, Relationships
Email: shellihaynes@gmail.com
Phone: (909) 226-3179

 I am a DCE who has been blessed to serve God in His church throughout Southern CA for twenty years! I LOVE people and have a heart for those who are serving and their families.  I graduated from Concordia University in Irvine (DCE / BA Religious Studies) and hold a MA in Family Ministry from CUNE.  I am a lifelong learner and have had opportunities to grow through various committees, public speaking events, and coaching certification!

I am wife to Travis (high school Math teacher) and mama to two high school age daughters.  We live in Anaheim and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this stage of life.  I am a huge SF Giants baseball fan and enjoy sports of all kinds.  My favorite place to rejuvenate is Newport Beach! 

My mission is to serve God by equipping and encouraging those I meet to live the life God has blessed them with.  I love walking beside people as they seek to bring increased health and wellness to their lives, ministries, and families!

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Charessa Koontz

Coaching Specialty: Marriage and Family Ministry, Youth Ministry, Leadership Development, Small Group Ministry, Church Planting, Outreach, Strategic Planning, Leading from 2nd Chair.
Email: ckoontz@trinityama.org
Phone: (804) 317-2999

Charessa serves as the Family Life Minister with Trinity Lutheran Church, School and Child Development Center in Amarillo, Texas.  She and her husband, Eric, have five beautiful girls with amazing gifts, personality, and servant hearts.  Charessa and Eric have a passion for family and youth ministry as they serve their local community and beyond.  Some of their greatest moments in ministry together as a family have been in service to those in need.  They also enjoy spending time with friends, family and being on the road in their RV on various adventures.

The Koontz family accepted the call back to their hometown in June of 2015 after much prayer and consideration. The Holy Spirit laid on their hearts the need for a merger between two of the area churches and Charessa had experience in multi-site/revitalization ministry.  By January of 2016 a five year strategic plan for ministry was developed, an exploratory team between the two congregations was formed and town hall meetings were being put together for a vote.  In May of 2016, the two congregations voted to merge and to move forward with the training of an SMP candidate to relaunch ministry at the multi-site in the winter of 2018. 

Charessa has served in various churches in Texas, Virginia and Georgia.  She has also served on two District LCMS Boards for over 8 years.  She received her BA in Communications/DCE from Concordia-Seward in 2001 and her MS in Family Life in 2007.  She is proud to be a Certified Family Life Educator through the National Council on Family Relations and to have worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Mediator for the Juvenile Domestic Relations Court System.

Charessa has coached and taught in her various ministries with a school.  She has written 3 Advent Devotional Series and served as a keynote speakers at various conferences.

Charessa biggest passion in ministry is the importance of storytelling.  As a former radio personality, she knows the importance of telling the greatest story ever…how God has impacted your life!   

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Matt Behrens

Coaching Specialty: Relational Discipleship, Micro Church, Self-Leadership, Parachurch Ministry, Leading Youth & Young Adults, Second Chair Leadership, Campus Ministry.
Email: matt@cornerstonebuda.com
Phone: (512) 966-4339

Matt Behrens has been helping others grow through personal interaction, powerful questions, and processed experience for over 20 years. He has experience as a ministry leader in outdoors ministry, youth and young adult ministry, campus outreach, established churches and church plants. As measured by attendance and budgets he has experienced both success and failure in ministry, and he continues to be reminded that healthy ministry and healthy leaders are measured by other markers.

Matt currently serves as pastor for Cornerstone Church, a growing network of house churches around Buda, Texas; he is missionary to students at Texas State University (San Marcos, TX) and he coaches other teams and leaders. All of these roles flow from his personal mission to facilitate conversations around the gospel which grow disciples and disciple makers.

Matt has been married to Sherrah for over a decade, and they have two young children - James and Lucy. Their family mission is to discover the fun and adventure in following Jesus together. They love to celebrate what they’re discovering with friends and family.

Matt loves to mountain bike, road bike and occasionally rock climb. He gets to do those things when he’s not building with Legos or reading children’s books.

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Rebecca Rust

Coaching Specialty: Missional Communities, Missional Life, Church Plants, DCE Ministries, Ministry as a Pastor’s Wife.
Email: rebeccarust@me.com
Phone: (314) 420-9423

Rebecca is a certified and rostered DCE and is married to Jason, the sole pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Ruidoso, NM. They have two children and love spending time as a family exploring and adventuring outdoors!

Rebecca spent nearly 10 years, serving as a DCE at a parish in St. Louis, MO. After sensing the Holy Spirit’s call to live out the missional life she and Jason had so often talked about, she left parish ministry and began building relationships through community efforts in their neighborhood. She and Jason actively integrated missional communities into their church-plant until God sent them to Shepherd of the Hills in Ruidoso, NM in 2014.

In 2003, Rebecca graduated from Concordia University in Irvine, California. In 2011, she completed KINDLE (a continuing education for DCEs with a focus on fostering and multiplying Christ-like servant leaders). After moving with her husband to Ruidoso, Rebecca sought out her missional coach certification with the C4USM.

Rebecca is passionate about living out God’s unique story in and through her by walking with the people God has placed in her midst.