Church Planting, In-N-Out Burger, and Peer Coaching

When I planted Lake Hills Church in Castaic, California over 20 years ago, I was invited into a monthly lunch gathering with several church planters. The group included church planters in two denominations: Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the Missionary Church.

Every month we met at In-N-Out Burger near Ontario airport on Vineyard. If you’ve been to In-N-Out you’ll understand why we chose to meet there. (And if you’ve never had a double-double animal style, you may wonder why we kept meeting there.)

For me, it was typically a 90-minute drive to get there. And it was definitely worth the long drive and traffic to make the trip every month.

There were eventually six pastors in our peer coaching group (although I didn’t fully understand then that we were a peer coaching group). Each one drove a good distance to be there – from Castaic, Palmdale, Apple Valley, Moreno Valley, Nuevo – and Murrieta.

Each month we’d share what was going on in our family life, personal life, and ministry life. We’d tell stories, encourage one another, exhort each other, and pray for one another. I learned so much about church planting and pastoring just by listening to their stories. I’d steal a few good ideas, get some advice on how to break through the next barrier, and share my own learnings to help them.

It was an incredible blessing to belong to a group like this!

Frankly, I don’t know if I would have survived those early years without this intense community of practice. Even years later, whoever I see Tom, Doug, Roger, Steve or Ned, I’m immediately grateful for the support and encouragement they each provided to me as we ate lunch together at In-N-Out.

I’d like to encourage you to join a peer coaching group with others in ministry, especially if you are planting a church. A monthly gathering for lunch for a couple hours will prove to be invaluable to your personal and professional development. Even if you have to drive 3 hours to make this happen — believe me when I say, “It’s worth it!”

What would it take for you to start or join a group like this?

If you are part of a group like this — you already are experiencing the benefits. If you are not, I wonder what it would take for you to start something like this?

It doesn’t require much structure or leadership. Here’s all you need to do:
1. Choose a date to meet for lunch each month (i.e., the second Tuesday every month).
2. Choose a location to meet for lunch each month (I recommend In-N-Out if there is one near you).
3. Invite three friends to join you and ask them to come prepared to share life.

That’s all you need to do. And the benefits will astound you!

The benefits of joining a peer coaching group are amazing!

There are so many benefits to meeting with a group of church planters. Here are a few to consider:

  1. You will feel that you are not alone.
  2. You will get some great insights on how to move forward.
  3. You will learn from the mistakes of others.
  4. You will share from your own pain – and begin to experience greater healing.
  5. You will be challenged to personally align your life and ministry with His mission.

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. – 1 Thess 2:11-12

Today’s Missional Challenge

Pick a time and place and invite three friends (who do what you do) to meet and share monthly. If there is an In-n-Out anywhere near you – start there.

Author

Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
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