DiscipleShift – High School & College Coaching

In his book Discipleshift Jim Putman uses a sport illustration to explain two distinct approaches to discipling people. Even though its directed at pastors its true of any ministry position, whether you are a movement leader, lead pastor, small group leader, or apprentice. Check out what he has to say:

“The problem is that church leaders are looking for already-developed leaders. They don’t see the potential in their midst because its not yet visible. In my first book, Church is a Team Sport, I used an analogy of the difference between a high school coach and a college coach. A college coach goes all over the country looking for developed and talented players, then he offers them scholarships to come and play for him. But a high school coach needs to get his players from within his own district… If you want to win at the high school level, you must create a program that develops an athlete from the kids program to the junior high level and finally to the high school level.

Most pastors I know act more like college coaches. They are focused on looking for developed players rather than developing people in their own church because they are too busy playing every position on the team to develop anyone.”

Putnam is saying that there are two distinct approaches to leadership development: 1) Look for the best people and grab them when they are ready to lead and 2) See potential in a person before they have ever led and pour out your life into them. The first calls for little investment and little work. You get quick results and short term success. The second involves a lot of investment and possibly a lot of disappointment when the people you are walking with don’t live up to their potential. Two ways. One easy one hard. Looking at the way Jesus walked with the 12 disciples which one do you think is Jesus approach? I think the answer is pretty clear.

Here are some questions for you to think about:

  • In your own leadership journey which type of development have you experienced? The College Coach approach or the High School Coach approach?
  • In your own community (Life Group or Community Group) who are you developing?
  • Do you have a College Coach approach or High School Coach approach to developing leaders/apprentices?



Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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