“Being coached in disciplemaking has greatly impacted me as a person, as a pastor, and even now in retirement. Soon after my coaching experience began, God awakened me to be His disciple through daily meditation and journaling through the Word, along with intentional discipling. A distinct change took place within me. I now wanted to share and live my faith in Jesus so that my family, friends, and folks within my congregation—even future generations—would come to know Him.”
These are the words of Pastor Warren Reichert, a spiritual leader whose life and ministry were transformed through coaching (more from him later). How did this happen?
As representatives of Navigator Church Ministries, our primary role is to help churches grow intentional disciplemaking cultures that produce disciples who reproduce disciples. A great, biblically rooted vision. A daunting, overwhelming task. How and where to begin?
Sometimes we start with a key laborer, other times it’s with a ministry leadership team. We love it when we have an opportunity to start with the pastor. As pastors consistently and personally model a disciplemaking lifestyle, over time, the life-transforming fruit of their intentional disciplemaking investment will take deep root and bear lasting fruit within the church’s culture.
A newly formed Lutheran denomination (North American Lutheran Churches) asked The Navigators to help them disciple their pastors so their pastors could then lead disciplemaking movements within their respective congregations. That same year, a pilot program was begun in Ohio with five initial churches. I was assigned two older pastors (ages 60 and 62) to coach and disciple.
Admittedly, I had significant doubts as to how this would work. How would two long-term pastors, nearing retirement, ever be willing to learn a completely new ministry paradigm? O, me of little faith! These pastors were amazing! Teachable, responsive, and so faithful—pastors who became disciples who, today, are making disciples. Pastor Reichert shares more about his disciplemaking journey:
“Before coaching, I thought disciplemaking basically involved going through a program. But every program we had tried just seemed to fizzle and fail. Through coaching, I learned by experience that programs do not make disciples—people do! I was discipled in how to prayerfully and relationally walk alongside others to help them become “self-feeders” on God’s Word; how to apply His Word in everyday life and relational challenges; and how to encourage one another in the life-giving steps of daily obedience. Over the next four years, as the original few disciples began to catch on, they began to pass these concepts to others. By God’s grace, disciplemaking has taken root and is bearing fruit . . . now into the future generations of my former church.
“In June 2017, I retired from full-time pastoral ministry . . . but not from disciplemaking! In my new community, I am weekly discipling a young pastor as well as beginning to meet with an area pastor who wants to know how to become a disciple and to make disciples within his own congregation.
“When folks heard of my retirement, they would tell me, ‘Now you can just kick back and relax.’ But I asked myself, What do I want to pass on to family, friends, and others before I pass on? The answer: to follow Jesus and make followers of Him as I go, wherever I go. This is the way I now intend to live as long as God gives me breath.”
How encouraging! God turned my investment in these two men into movements that will, by His grace, continue to produce disciples for spiritual generation after generation.