A Missional Incarnational Leadership Guide

This week I had a chance to share some coaching pointers with some great leaders at the New Thing Network. As the church is changing, so leaders must change and the coaching questions we used to use may not fit the life, tensions, or reality that many leaders now face. I coach to incarnation not just proclamation. I coach to community and cultural engagement not just tasks of running a church of weekend Sunday experience. Every leader gets lost and blind in their own world and sometimes the most powerful way to influence leaders is by asking the right questions. Jesus did this and it changed history so consider browsing through this list and make some suggestions. Someday this might be a great list that we can all share. I am giving you four key aspects of a leaders life that must be coached for a true missionally incarnational leader must be: Deep in Character, Clear in Calling, Culturally Savvy, and Able to Lead Inclusive Community.



  • What are you anxious about this month, this last week?
  • How much are your concerns stressing you out? How is that showing up? Anger, withdrawal, harsh words, criticalness or any moments of depression that you can’t dig out of?
  • Is anyone being hurt by the stress level in your life? How can you apologize this week to those you’ve hurt?
  • What are you hearing from God about these concerns?
  • Have you been regularly finding a place of silence to hear from God?
    What do you think He is saying to you about your marriage, your heart, the balance of leading people vs. leading your family?
  • How are you dealing with battles of your mind? Purity? Pornography? Do you need some help with this?
  • Have you felt any undue pressure to lie, or try to prove your worth to anyone this last month?
  • Have you been speaking well and praying for other pastors in your city?
  • What have you been reading for your own encouragement?
  • Do you feel like God loves you this month? Do you feel like He wants to give favor to you or do you feel like he wants to discipline you? Why?
  • Where do you feel dark spiritual forces hassling or attacking you? Have you specifically exposed these issues and asked people to pray?
  • Do you feel you have real friends right now? Who? Why or Why not?
  • What things have made you the saddest this last month?
  • What things have made you laugh and find joy this last month?
  • What are you afraid of right now as we talk?


Here you are coaching through the intersection of real life and divine calling and roles.

  • Are you taking care of the one body God has given you? What are you doing to stay healthy?  If not, what are your plans to get going?
  • Is your spouse feeling “close” to you in your calling right now? How can you include them more in what you are doing? Do they want to be included more or protected more from your ministry calling?
  • Are you helping them find and pursue their passions while you pursue your own?
  • How often are you having time together without any ministry talk? What fun things have you done together this last month?
  • What types of conversations and experiences have you had this month with your children? What have you planned for this coming month?
  • Are you making choices with your finances that keep you moving toward freedom or bondage?  Any choices you want to run by me at this point?
  • Are you being mentored in any specific area of your life right now? What would you love to get help in?
  • Are you feeling motivated and excited to wake up every day? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel confident or alone in leading the people God’s given you?
  • Are there any aspects of your life that you feel must change in order for God to keep growing your influence or leadership?
  • If you were God, what would you absolutely tell me as your coach, that I should ask you about
  • What are you most excited about? What is giving you life and joy right now?
  • Do you feel that God’s word is alive to you or are you a bit dry this month?
  • Who are you hanging out with that inspires you toward better living?
  • Describe what your “Sabbath” is right now? Is that working? If not, do you see any way to make the happen?
  • Have you been consistently pre-planning your week or have you been more “responding” to the apparent pressures that come to you?  How will be making time to get intentional with your weekly schedule?
  • Where have you been wasting time?


Here you are coaching for their ability to engage the lost culture with the Gospel.

  • Do you know the names of all your neighbors? If not, what can you do this month to get to know them without being a dork?
  • Are you doing any recreation, hobbies, or school functions with the intent to make friends?
  • Tell me about some good conversations you’ve had with lost friends this month? Have you made any plans to invite them deeper into your lives or go deeper into their lives?
  • How could you bless the children of the people you’re meeting?
  • Have any of your lost friends invited you to anything this last month? Did you go? How did it go? Any plans to thank them by inviting them to something cool?
  • Have you done anything this last month that you may need to apologize for to a lost friend? Maybe not being more helpful to them? Saying no to an invite they gave you?  Maybe being gone when something bad happened to them?
  • What are you finding is always good news to your lost friends? Have you made any plans to be good news? What is that?
  • Have you taken much time this month to exegete the needs of your community? Have you talked to any school employees, city workers or government officials? How can you make that happen or begin to help where they expose need?
  • How many parties have you thrown or gone to this last month?
  • What types of non-profits are working in your area that you could help out with and support?
  • Have you been able to share much of your story to a lost friend this month? How did that go? Any follow up?
  • Are you showing patience with the people around you or have you overstepped any lines the culture is giving you lately?
  • Have you helped serve anyone this month?
  • How are you praying for the people around you? What does that look like? Has God led you to do anything unique for a friend?
  • Have you invited any new friends to anything this last month? What was it? How did that go? Any next steps?
  • Are you and your spouse in the same stride in how much time you’re giving to lost folks? How many times a week or evenings have you been opening your home?
  • How many of your 21 weekly meals have you been sharing with people?
  • How have you been engaging the culture with those in your Christian community?
  • Do you feel that your Christian community is trustworthy to bring any new friend to? If not, Why and how can you mentor your community toward inclusiveness and trust?
  • Have you been advocating for any people this last month?
  • What common space, coffee shops, pubs, etc. have you been hanging out in consistently? Have any interesting relationships started to form?


Here you are coaching for their ability to lead people toward God and his church.

  • What are you doing to help nurture the lives of the Christians who are with you now?
  • Are there any people in your community right now that seem to be struggling or fighting against what you feel God has led your community to do or be? What do you think God is asking you to do to address the problems?
  • Are any non-believers moving toward your community or in their faith with God? How do you envision integrating them into your “Christian space and rhythms?”
  • How are you feeding the sheep right now?
  • How are you teaching the sheep to feed themselves and each other?
  • Are the experiences that your Christian community participates in causing them to be less or more consumeristic? Less or more selfish and self oriented? Less or more individualistic?
  • Has anything come up this month that is a concern for you regarding the growth or missionality of your Christian friends? What are your plans to help them grow through this?
  • Is the DNA of your community clear? How do you know?
  • Describe how the spiritual activities your people have done this last month have displayed the DNA?
  • Where do you think you may be doing things that go against the DNA of the gospel?
  • How much time are you spending with Christians vs. Non-Christians? How would you assess the rest of your community on this question?
  • How are you leading your people beyond just head knowledge or doctrine but into action?
  • Have you had any weird or awkward conversations between your saint’s and unchurched sojourners? How have you helped navigate that?
  • This last month, do you feel more like a “doer” of the ministry or an “equipper”?  How can you get closer to the equipper? What could you give up or give to someone else to do? What is keeping you from doing that?
  • How are you managing the tension of working in your vocational job and your calling to lead people?
  • Has your community locked into any specific areas of need or found some relational causes to be a part of? Describe how that is being lived out.
  • What do you feel you should protect your community from? What do you feel you should expose your community to this month?
  • What conflicts have come up this month in your community? How are you leading them through this? How are you dealing with judgements and frustrations some might have with you this month?
  • Out of all the false or immature critiques of your leadership, what elements of truth might God still want you to acknowledge and grow in?


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Hugh Halter

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

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