Talking With People Who Get It
Matt Furr is passionate about the mission of God in New England. He’s the Lead Pastor of CenterPoint Church in Concord, NH and, for the past three years, has coached an Overseed pastor cohort with Mark Warren of Grace Capital Church in Pembroke, NH. They are both intentional about creating a safe space for the ten cohort pastors to ask hard questions, wrestle with challenges and grow in faith.
When asked about coaching during the pandemic, Matt quickly replied “people are tired of connecting on zoom and just exhausted from it all. Everyone is living in crisis mode, so everything feels like a crisis. People are scrambling. It’s hard to prioritize normal things because there are so many distractions.” Yet, he knows connecting with pastors is worth it. People are hungry for it. So, he and Mark have tried connecting the cohort through texting, a Facebook group, in-person gatherings when they can, and praying for one another. Matt commented, “honestly, it’s been hard to keep up during Covid. Coaching is about listening and paying attention. Fly-bys really don’t do it!”
How can a coach be intentional during Covid? Matt laughed “best-laid plans…, right?! Church leaders are now spending tremendous amounts of time on short-term issues due to pandemic regulations. The exhaustion for church staff is real. Focusing on the soul of the pastor is critical right now. In the safe space of a cohort, we can talk about being healthy pastors and we’re intentional about how we talk about struggles.”
Asked what he has learned as a pastor coach, Matt commented “that I can only do so much. I am not friends with my limits. I’m working on that. Part of God’s invitation to me is to trust Him more. I’m also learning to find grace with myself. Coaching is an invitation to graciously trust.”
Pastors have to invest in self-care and ministry partnerships. Matt said “it seems counter-intuitive that you have to stop working so you can be better at your work. We must work on ourselves. We can’t be present for others unless we do that. Self-care is the gift we give ourselves, our families, our congregations and our communities.”
He noted that co-coaching with Mark has “been phenomenal! We have a growing friendship. We both pastor in the same area so we had met before, but it was Overseed that brought us together to co-lead a NH pastor cohort.”
The NH cohort is looking at the relationships a pastor needs to navigate ministry and stay healthy amid the stress of change. Leadership is grueling. Matt noted that “Cohorts give pastors space to talk about the real world. As pastors, we are asked to pay costs that are unique and very hard. It really helps to talk with people who get it.”
Their cohort will be reading a book on adaptive leadership called Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change by Tod Bolsinger. “When reflection and relationships are combined into a life of deliberate practice, leaders become both stronger and more flexible. As a result, these resilient leaders are able to offer greater wisdom and skill to the organizations they serve.”
That is Overseed’s goal. All to the glory of God.