Coaches, Cohorts, and “Plural Leadership”: Three Things I’m Noticing About New Worshiping Communities

I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently talking with¬†leaders of new worshiping communities, 1001 New Worshiping Communities denominational staff, and entrepreneurs building¬†networks to recruit and support leaders for new worshiping communities. I’ve noticed a few things.

The most obvious thing I’ve noticed is that coaching is central to this movement. Everybody is either providing or receiving coaching, or both. Coaches work in person and online with people discerning and building new worshiping communities, and they focus on everything from evangelism to fundraising (“partner development”). If you’re considering starting a new worshiping community, get a coach.

Cohorts are also a big deal. Peer learning is the norm in the networks of new worshiping community leaders I’m spending time with. Learning from a coach is great; learning from other leaders, though, is better. Some of these cohorts gather locally. Some are playing with online cohorts that meet with Skype or Google Hangouts.

Also, it seems like plural leadership is valued more highly among people doing new worshiping community work today than executive leadership. We seem to have moved from an era of the lone visionary church planter whose core skill set is communication and persuasion into an experiment with leaders who thrive in partnership in collaboration and whose skill sets center more on invitation and coordination.

One more thing. “Bi-vocational” ministry may not save the day. That surprises me. I expected to hear a lot more emphasis on new worshiping community leaders supporting themselves with non-church employment as a new kind of leadership norm. But the people I’m hearing from, at least so far, are still pretty committed to full-time vocational ministry, so they are building communities that can support full-time staff. I’m encouraged by that.

What are you noticing?