Wow! I have anticipated reading this book for some time now. My anticipation was met and surpassed. The principles and the plans laid out by Scott Thomas in this book are remarkable. They are remarkable for how insightful they are, and how simple they are to live out. Gospel coaching someone is not rocket science. It does take some consistency and some willingness to really get to know another person and to a desire to lead them further into maturity in Christ.
This book is dripping with solid practical advice and that starts in part 1 where Thomas lays out the foundations of Gospel Coaching. The beginning of this foundation is that every church leader needs a coach and every church leader needs the Gospel. I have heard it said that we can never graduate from the Gospel and Scott Thomas really fleshes out this truth in chapter two. The foundation also involves exploring the fallacies of performance-centered leadership inside the church, how that relates to stress in the ministry and examining the only real cure for ministry stress. This section closes by taking a look at three area in which we all need to examine our life; spiritually, personally, and missionally.
Part 2 explores what it means to coach as a shepherd leader. Pastoring people really does require that we shepherd people and to do that well, we need to know them, feed them, lead them, and protect them. We cannot feed, lead or protect without knowing someone. To try to do so will only result in heartache and failure. It all begins by knowing people and knowing them well. Then we can feed them, and we feed them with the truth of God’s word. We also lead them, we lead them to maturity in Christ, and along the way we protect them. One of the key things I learned about protecting well as a shepherd is that it is more about being gentle with the sheep than it is about shooting wolves.
The final section, part 3 gets really practical with how coaching sessions work. Included in this is something called The Gospel Life Plan, which I recommend everyone to do. It is all about planning and looking at where God has called you in your personal, spiritual, and missional lives, examining your goals under those callings, determining your action steps to meet those goals, and how you are going to steward things in your life to make it happen. This section also takes you step by step through how to coach. The book ends with a remarkable set of Appendices. The book is worth its price for the Appendices alone.
I recommend this book to all of those in ministry, but don’t let it be one of those books you buy, skim and put on the shelf. This needs to be one you pour through again and again and really live it out; doing so will produce much Gospel fruit.
I did receive this book free from Zondervan for the purpose of reviewing it.