Welcome to another session of Lunch and Learn.
In this episode, Kenny interviews the founder and CEO of Courage to Lead, Shawn Lovejoy, tackling issues on coaching leaders to be the best shepherd for their God-given flocks.
Tune in as Shawn and Kenny discusses how pastors and ministry leaders attain strength and courage to lead.
KENNY: Good day everybody, Kenny Jahng here for another installment here. We’ve got a special treat today. Shawn Lovejoy is with us. Thank you so much for being with us today, Shawn.
SHAWN: Hey, it’s an honor man. Thanks for having me.
KENNY: We’ve been talking about this in the pre-interview chat, but everyone has come across your name. I think you have been a veteran of the industry. You have worn so many different hats. And I think it’s a pleasure to talk to you today because drawing on that wisdom and experience and seeing how church, the whole landscape has changed and evolved more through the years, I think you have a very unique perspective to the table, especially from a church planting background, from a pastoral, actual practitioner background, and actually as a coach. Why don’t you give some people here today the 60-second elevator picture of your experience and what you’re doing today with Courage to Lead.
SHAWN: Well, first of all, you called me a veteran which is basically calling me old and I’ll try to be not offended by that. But, you know, I love you. I didn’t have some experience and if anything, I have been around in ministry longer than a lot these days. I’ve coached hundreds of pastors, ministry leaders. So, it’s just a common trend that I see overtime and it keeps me awake at night. You know, I’ve started a church, grew a mega church, started coaching pastors in a ministry called, churchplanters.com. You know, I’ve talked about that. Then, two years ago, I’ve coached leaders full time. I mean it’s a wiring, it’s a gifting, it’s a calling all my life. I was a good player but I am a better coach, Kenny. That’s the bottomline. You know I love what I am doing. I was made for this. But, it’s not just about me. What we’re doing in couragetolead.com is we scale the ministry a church of any size can get one-on-one coaching. There’s a lot of ministries out there. They’re doing consulting and coaching. Much of that, let’s be honest in large group settings is content delivery. You can download content anywhere but, you still need a place to talk through the specific tensions in your context that keep you awake at night and that’s what we try to provide.
KENNY: Let’s sit on that for a little second. I think there is a big confusion out there what consultant versus coaching is versus what education is in terms of webinars, etc. Your vision for coaches is very specific even the parameters as to the participants and the dynamic of that relationship. Can you share a little bit about that? Because I love how you see that happening for the pastor that is involved that needs that type of support.
SHAWN: Yes, so, we worked our church through various consultants and processes. You know, our church is always better for it, downloading content. I have coaches and mentors in my life. That’s the nearest analogy is that of a mentor that I could specifically walk-through personalized tensions that I feel. And i saved my life. It saved my ministry. One of those conversations inspired, and frankly it was more practical. Especially as your church grows larger, conferences and content delivery is very limited in its effectiveness. I need specific help for my context where I am at, and the church level in life stationed we’re in today. That’s what we try to provide. A consultant works through the process. A coach walks along with the player. That’s what we try to do.
KENNY: How does that differ the one-on-one coaching from the group coaching models that’s popping everywhere at this point. You see that in the marketplace, it’s coming into the non-profit and church space. In terms of relative effectiveness, I think there’s a place for everything. But, in terms of relative effectiveness, how do you measure that?
SHAWN: I participate personally in several coaching networks. And I think they provide networking opportunities. You know, the friends you make in those situation are powerful. The churches that you learn from that lead those in their ministries, their experiences, their backgrounds are I think so valuable, the content you receive from that. But, I just don’t have the time nor do that group coaching. I‘ve lead group coaching network. Nor do I have the time to be buckled up in one person. And we help you deal with your worship leader. It’s always the worship leader. I’ll tell you right now, Kenny. It’s always the worship leader. No. I am just kidding. You know, we don’t do anything less than 6 months. It’s one-on-one. Every coach gives their cellphone number to their client during that time. We’re basically on-call.
KENNY: How often is the meetings, the official meetings?
SHAWN: Every month. Either live or in person. You know, we utilized technology such as this, we sit down. And that proximity and consistency over time builds a relationship. It eliminates what I call “the BS factor”. Can I say that on your podcast? So, you know that we get beneath the skin, we get real with each other. Sometimes, I’ll stop the ministry and say, “Stop selling me on your church. I am not going to join. If it was that good, you wouldn’t need me.” Let’s get real with each other and let’s talk about what’s up under the hood. Time and consistency does that. What’s gratifying to me as a coach is over 6, 9, 12 months, we’re actually able to see fruit. We’re actually able to make a difference. A marked difference on a ministry and a church. And that’s what we love to do.
KENNY: There’s a lot of people that are listening to this that’s never been in a one-on-one coaching experience. For those people, could you set it up a little bit. Do you actually hone in on one very specific project? Do you do a theme? What is it? I want my church to be healthy and vital through spirituality? How granular do you get?
SHAWN: Of course. All of these are in our website couragetolead.com. We talked about 3 gears of growth. Culture, team and systems. They’re three separate but interdependent gears. One is stuck, you’re stuck. This is why it doesn’t work. If you try to fix your children’s ministry, student ministry, run off to the Orange Conference, grab their curriculum and bring it home. That alone will not grow your church. I love the Orange Curriculum but if you don’t have the right culture, and you don’t have the right leaders in place. We overturn every rock if you will. Culture is self-leadership. It’s my own personal health and leadership style. Is that toxic? Is that healthy? What’s there? Because you have to be the culture you want to build. That’s vision. That’s values. Then, of course, team. Do we have the right leaders in the right seat on the bus for the right life station on the ministry? Because that’s constantly changing because we constantly assess. And then systems. My definition of a system is just a bridge that moves people from where they to where God wants them to be. And every church perfect structure for what they are getting now. We’ve got to help them rethink their systems and structure for growth. 6 months process. We have them assessed where they are, attack the weakest gears first and greatest tensions first and enter the 6 months and try to work it out all the way around.
KENNY: That’s smart. Got you. Now, I get this with some new coaching clients that have never had that experience before, they’re looking for justification, rationalization or really rationalize the expenditure on this resource. And it’s kind of like, you get what you pay for. It is an intensive resource. What can they expect out of 6 months like casual that they can communicate to the other leadership of their church when they’re trying to engage coaching for themselves?
SHAWN: Well, I tell leaders all the time, whatever you do, don’t come down from the holy mountain of God with your face glowing and say “God told me. So, this is where we’re going.” I call that pulling the God card. Who can argue with you with that when you say God told me? And oftentimes it’s something we ate if we’re honest, or it’s testosterone or estrogen or whatever. So, there’s power. Proverbs 15 says, success is found in the many counselors. Coaching to me provides two things. One, sometimes it provides permission. I have found out that if a guy or girl is pretty intuitive leader like they have a feeling, a sensing of the Holy Spirit of what needs to be done. They’re just afraid. They’re paralyzed by fear, and afraid to pull the trigger. Sometimes, it’s just great to hear someone else say who’s been where you need to go. “No, you’re right. You’re not crazy for thinking that.” You need permission. But, then, sometimes, you know, there’s outside perspective. And what this coaching conversations become anything else, over time, is that a reference point that gives a leader permission and perspective. And I have more confidence as a leader going forward because I have been given permission and I’ve been given perspective. Thus, the name of our ministry, Courage to Lead. If we have permission and we have outside perspective, we’ll be much more confident and courageous in our decisions. As much as anything else versus fixing something mechanical in the church, it’s much broader. It’s a way of living, it’s a way thinking. It’s a paradigm that you live your life, you speak and you lead in your ministry.
KENNY: People that are really considering, they might have some very specific challenges that are up against or they’re banging their heads against the wall because of a recurring theme in their workplace that they keep being challenge by certain things, can you help people understand what’s the best way to discern who the right coach is? There are many people out there who claim to be that they’re the solution, a one-stop shop for everything. How do you discern what a good match is between a coach and a coachee?
SHAWN: I’m glad you asked that. To me, it’s like making a hire, any other hire. It’s chemistry, it’s fit, it’s personality, you know it’s all that. It’s character, is he someone you trust? Capacity? Has this person done what they’re doing? You know this. In the ministry world, you and I have been practitioners and actually done what we’re consulting and coaching people what to do. There are those out there who have never done it and are actually trying to tell people how to do it. And I purposely, all of my coaches, I am not hiring full-time coaches and consultants. They are all practitioners who lead effective ministries. I have invested into a coach and it will always be that way. So, we’ll never tell people do something we haven’t done.
KENNY: I like that, especially in my personal experience. Being a practitioner and a consultant together, my ministry, the actual practitioner part of my life, I usually say, they are my rules, I make them up, build my own case studies, that’s my innovation lab, to be able to take best practices and transfer them over to teaching. That’s the one of the best case scenarios where you can find someone with that type of experience.
SHAWN: I agree with that. Sometimes, it’s not even right or wrong. I tell friends who are in the consulting or coaching ministry all the time, we’re not competitors, we’re collaborators. Even if you choose me today, you’re going to be 6 months, 12 months, 18 months at the max. And then, I am going to tell you everything I know. Probably before that. Then, my last conversation with you is who’s going to be your coach now? ‘Cause I pray you don’t drop off the face of the planet. Greatest mistake ministry leaders make is isolation. If they’re doing their job right, the best leaders I talk to? We’ve been through this. We’ve been through this consultant. We’ve been through this coach. Fantastic. You’re a learner. You’re exactly the type of person I’d like to invest in. Coaches and consultants to me are collaborators, not competitors. So, then it comes down to right now what I am facing, who’s the best for me? Right now, the tensions that I feel, who’s the best for me. And that’s going to change overtime. It has with me personally, you know, as I have chosen different coaches and mentors all the time.
KENNY: I love it because I think it shows a self-awareness of as a consultant or as a coach specifically you have sweet spot and that’s where you’re called to provide impact certain ministry and that you are collaborators in the kingdom. I just love that notion that you’re putting forth there. I wish that more people actually adopted that.
SHAWN: Well, I am always challenging my friends to think that way. So, maybe you and I, we can make a difference!
KENNY: Tell me about Courage to Lead specifically. When should someone pick up the phone and call you and your team here? What are the types most common or most popular areas people are coming to you for their coaching needs?
SHAWN: Well, you know this. But, I’ll say this for the public. We scale the ministry. It’s very, very important to me that we are available 24/7 to small churches and large churches. So, we have church planters that I have coached that are averaging 500 people after 34 years. They have a lot to say to a guy who has not even planted, yet, and can coach them at a very reasonable rate, one-on-one and textualize weekly, monthly coaching. The little guys win with Courage to Lead. We’re not too big to coach the little guy. 50% of churches in America average a hundred people in attendance. And it’s important to me not to forget the little guys. It’s important. In fact, if you run a hundred, you’re not a little guy. It’s the average size church in America regardless of what Twitter says. But, you know we have guys in mega, mega ministries that are also coaches of mine. The ministry scales. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lead guy, or sitting another seat on the bus. It doesn’t matter what your culture or team is. I tried to pick a diversity of coaches that I’ve coached to for years many of them at this point. I personally try to provide along the team the best fit you know for each person that comes along. They drop us a line, they tell us the size of their ministry, the scope of their ministry, the specific tensions of their faith, we schedule a call, an initial call where we just talk through with them, and we try to assess the best fit, of course, they can change coaches at any time. In 2 years of doing this, I have 1 person say, “I don’t like my coach. I want to change”. Honestly, the reviews are so great. We’ve been able to pair of people are great leaders, great coaches. I pray we’re making lives of pastors and leaders better for it.
KENNY: I know the answer to this but, you’re not focused on a specific denomination or a specific format of ministry because you’re looking at universal leadership principles, team dynamics, productivity and systems, right?
SHAWN: Yes, regardless. I have been doing this for years. It comes down to three things. It doesn’t matter. Everybody thinks our area is different. Our context is different. But, from a leadership principle, it comes down to culture, team or systems. Every church that’s growing or not growing. I am not taking the Holy Spirit out of it because the Holy Spirit creates a vibrant culture. They call it koinonia in the book of Acts. I got this idea in this book called the Bible. The Holy Spirit is part of building that culture. Whether you live with an urgency or not, day-to-day, week in, week out. Whether you’re putting people into song groups, the systems. All of that is in the Bible. It’s right there. It should never be complicated. It’s three things. We attack it. Help them it, assess them, identify it, attack the weakest gear first.
KENNY: I love it. I love that you’re thinking about ministry in culture, teams and systems. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing that wisdom with us. We hope that some of the people here are ready to take that step in the culture relationship because I know from personal experience, both sides, the coachee and being the coach, it’s such a life serving relationship if you can find a dynamic coach to help you on your journey. So, thank you for everything you’re doing in Courage to Lead, Shawn.
SHAWN: Well, thank you man. Thanks for your relationship. Thanks for what you do because you’re a genius and I wish I had Princeton somewhere in my bio like you do. If I could just say that, I am enjoying saying the name out loud. That’s the closest I could get to Princeton. You’re a genius at what you do. Thanks for staying in the ministry landscape and making a difference for the Kingdom.
KENNY: Definitely. Thanks for hanging out. ‘Til next time. Drop your comments below and we’ll even bring Shawn again, I am sure next time, once in a blue moon, we’ll have him on and ask some questions. I think one of the things that we’ve heard from you out there is that you want questions to be answered from one of these leaders that seemed to be really experts in the field and I am sure Shawn would be game for that, too. So, drop your comments and your questions and we’ll schedule a follow up call with Shawn. Thanks so much for being with us, Shawn.