A Word for Self-Professing Christian Leadership Goo-Roos

Over the last five years of pastoral ministry I cannot count the number of times a man with a card passed his information to me about coaching me in leadership. As a pastor who pulls his Bible out in a public place — for instance a cafe like Starbucks or Panera — I’m an instant target for those who are looking to coach others. But rarely have these people ever met the litmus test I give for Christian Leadership Goo-Roos.

It’s a five question process that I use to measure whether the person is qualified to lead not just me but also others. On more than one occasion, I’ve asked this person: how long have you been doing this? Usually, I hear that they just started. That’s a red flag, but it’s a common one.

Let me tell you, if you can’t answer these five questions for the person you wish to coach, then you probably shouldn’t coach that person. If you can’t answer these questions at all, then you might want to rethink being a self-proclaimed Christian leadership goo-roo. They really are few and far between.

Here are my five questions with explanations:

1) Have You Led Longer Than I?

Though I’ve only been a full-time pastor for five years, I’ve served in Christian Leadership for fifteen years over all. I’ve served in a number of capacities. I served as the GM of Campus Dining Services at Dallas Seminary for five years while putting myself through seminary. Meanwhile, I functioned as a ministry head of a Jr. High Youth Ministry for five years and completed a number of internships now over my career.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn. Though Christian leadership is part of my DNA, I know I’m a limping leader. So much so that I wouldn’t pretend to say that I’m a goo-roo in leadership. I look to men like Al Mohler — who served as an editorial director and now as the President of the largest seminary in the world — to mentor me in leadership. I look for people with much greater capacity to lead, like Matt Perman, who is an expert in productivity.

If that’s the case for a guy who’s been leading at some capacity for fifteen years, then I think any person who intends to create a career out of Christian leadership consultation should think long and carefully about this commitment.

Age really doesn’t have anything to do with this. Perman is much younger, maybe only a few years older than I, whereas, Mohler is much more mature than either Perman or I. What counts is how long you’ve been leading and at what capacity.

If you’ve been a Christian Leader for fewer than five years and have not led a large organization, then you might not be the leadership goo-roo you think you are.

2) Are You Educated?

If you’re coaching someone in leadership, I’d like to think you have a Masters of Arts or maybe even a Doctorate of Ministry in this discipline. That seems to be a reasonable expectation. These days seminaries have leadership tracks in their graduate programs. I still don’t really know what that means, and if I ever would have studied that track in graduate level education. But these leadership tracks exist; those who think that leadership is their gig should consider pursuing these educational tracks.

Regardless of proper education, leadership goo-roos should be widely read and studies in the area of leadership. If they don’t know who Robert Clinton is, I’d be concerned. At the same time, reading John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Al Mohler, and Matt Perman does not necessarily make you a leader. I’ve read all those books, and like I said, I’m a limping leader at best. Longevity and presence in leadership is far more critical than reading a few books.

3) Are You Still Leading?

Leading longer and being more educated is big, but nothing is bigger than still leading. I’m always leary of consultants who are not presently leading. You have to be exceptional as a leader or in a unique transition to successfully make a long or short-term career as a leadership coach. If coaching is not something you are doing on the side, but it is your full-time gig, then you might be out of the leadership game. This, in my mind, makes you not qualified to coach leaders.

However, if you’re like my pastor, who is committed to coaching young leaders, while he pastors, then you might be the right kind of coach. That’s exactly why I’m I am doing my church planting internship where I’m doing it; Joe Thorn is the right kind of leader for me.

4) Are You Asking for a Fee?

I think coaching leaders is something leaders do, and charging a fee is not the way to do it. Older pastors should just lead younger pastors. Older non-for-prof leaders should just lead younger non-for-prof leaders. Leadership training needs to be more organic and less mechanic.

If someone walked up to me tomorrow and said, “Hey you served in youth ministry for a baker’s dozen years. Would you coach me in youth ministry?” I wouldn’t hesitate to exuberantly say, “Yes!”, and to do it for free. Of course, I’ve only got time to do one or two of those, which is precisely what my pastor does himself.

Few people have the time to sit down with a leadership coach let alone write a check to one as well. Most of us can build in a little margin to read a $10 book like Leaders Who Last by Dave Craft, Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler, or What’s Best Next by Matt Perman. Not many of us have $50-100 to cough up for a half-hour coffee with someone, especially if that person spends more time just chatting it up then focusing on leadership development.

5) What Is Your Leadership Presence?

Are you known publicly for leadership. Do you have a thriving, active multi-platform social media network? Do you have a written presence? Do you blog? Do you contribute to recognized Christian print or digital media? Do you go to conferences and keep up with what is going on not just in your niche of leadership but also the wider evangelical cultural environ? If I went to conferences and talked to my friends about you, would you be a known commodity? What would people say?

These are important considerations to ascertain whether a person is a qualified Christian leadership goo-roo.


Quite honestly, anyone can walk into a room or sit across the table from you with sticky notes, a marker board, and help you chart out your leadership or organizational vision. Anyone who has read a book or two can do this. It doesn’t take much to be a self-proclaimed leadership goo-roo.

Obviously, these metrics that I’ve used for myself are pretty superficial. But that’s how it goes at first. A leader’s character and credibility is measured over time. Up until that time passes, I have to lean on other’s words. But I’m just warning you, very few people are truly qualified to make a career out of being a Christian leadership consultant. Anyone can print up some business cards on vista print and start a wordpress site, few can make it last.

In 2013, during my year of transition from youth ministry into church planting, I met Dave Jewitt. Dave is a local Christian leader and coach in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He met all of my criteria.

He coached me through his curriculum, Your One Degree. He’s created a network of coaches, men who volunteer to lead other men to develop biblical purpose. Jewitt, though not so much trying to help people lead, as he helps people find their one purpose, played an invaluable role in my life for a few months. I’m forever grateful for him, and his generosity to give time and interest in a young leader.

Dave is able to do what he does because he has a board of directors that fully fund his ministry. He’s been elevated to his role of leadership because he selflessly helped many men over the course of twenty years. Those men give him the freedom to shine at what he does.

Those kind of leadership coaches are rare. There is certainly a place for them in Christian culture. But for the most part, all us other limping leaders need to create margin and capacity to develop leaders as we go. That’s the best way that we’ll help the next generation of Christian leaders.

View-Worthy: 7.29.14


Muslim Converts to Christianity, Deeds & Salvation, How to Stop Sinning, Scholarship and Blogs.


Warren Cole Smith. The Rising Tide of Muslim Converts to Christianity. (WORLD)

If you spend any time keeping up with the news, you know that radical Islam is a significant and destructive force in the world. David Garrison, does not disagree with that assessment, but he says it’s only part of the story. There is also a revival in the Muslim world, Garrison says. He believes between 2 and 7 million former Muslims have converted to Christianity in the past two decades, and he has impressive research to back up his claim. He documents his findings in his book A Wind in the House of Islam.

Garrison has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and spent more than 25 years as a missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Missions Board. I had this conversation with Garrison in Atlanta at the recent International Christian Retail Show.

Deal of the Day

Engaging with the Holy Spirit: Real Questions, Practical Answers by Graham A Cole $0.99

Book Review

Michael Kruger. The Question of Canon. Reviewed by Coleman Ford.


John Piper. Three Ways Our Deeds Relate to Our Salvation. (DG)

One effect of close attention to Scripture is that sweeping generalizations become problematic. This is notably true of the way our works (including our attitudes and words and behavior) relate to our salvation.

David Murray. How Do Sinners Help Sinner Stop Sinning? (Christianity.com)

Christians are not only called to repentance but are also called to call others to repentance. This is often one of the hardest tasks in the Christian life. How do we approach someone who is sinning in a way that will help lead them to repentance?

Larry Hurtado. Scholarly Work and the “Blogosphere”.

I’ve been puzzled in recent days by some readers whose comments suggest that they expect that sound scholarly analysis of serious historical questions can be conveyed persuasively in blog-postings and/or replies to comments.  There seems to be some notion that they shouldn’t have to read books and articles, plow through the data, etc.  So, they ask a question; I respond briefly and point them to some book or article for fuller and more adequate discussion; but then the responses sometimes suggest the folk posing the questions really can’t be bothered.  Yet they often seem to have firm opinions on the issues involved, challenging me to dislodge them to their satisfaction.  So, I think it’s well to try some clarification of things here.


Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

“Keep company with the more cheerful sort of the godly; there is no mirth like the mirth of believers.” Richard Baxter


Final Thoughts on Sola13

Sola13 was an outstanding conference. If you missed the conference, worry not. I’ve live blogged each of the sessions for your enjoyment. You can get the best of the content in about 30 minutes of reading.

Sola13 Live Blog Introduction and Session 1 Sola Noel Heikkinen

Session 2 Ad Fontes Kevin DeYoung

Session 3 Sola Fide Matt Chandler

Session 4 Sola Gratia Leonce Crump II

Session 5 Solus Christus Stephen Um

Session 6 Sola Scriptura Albert Mohler

Session 7 Soli Deo Gloria John Piper

If you wish to hear the entire 7 hours of audio, Sola13 will be releasing that audio content later this week at there website, sola13.com.

Here are my 3 takeaways from this conference.

1. The Church needs these kinds of conferences. During the last few years I have traveled to many conferences but all of them have been geared to pastors. This is the first conference that I went to that target a lay audience. Every speaker preached their sermon with this in mind. People left having engaged the Scripture, educated on the reformation, and enlivened by the gospel. Churches dream of delivering this kind of training to their people. I hope that Sola13 finds a way to reproduce itself in every region of the United States. Every Christ-foller should have access to this kind of experience. Perhaps they could have a circuit to hit other regions of the US in the coming days.

2. Pastors need these kinds of conferences. As a pastor it was a thrill to observe how the teaching had an immediate impact on people. As I furiously live blogged the conference, I was able to capture how the audience responded to what preachers preached. I was able to listen in on people’s conversations between sessions. I got to watch people get excited about their faith. I observed their interest in the bookstore, consideration of seminary, or even church planting. It warms pastors heart to see how the Body of Christ respond to solid biblical exhortation.

3. Publishers, Seminaries, and Church Planting Networks need these kinds of conferences. There are the obvious reasons for why these organization find these conferences helpful. But there are also more subtle reasons. There is something special when you get a blogger, a couple directors of admissions, a marketing representative from a publisher, and a church planter/gifted web developer together to fellowship and robust discussion about matters of the Church, seminaries, theology, ghostwriting, Nelson Mandela and Carrie Underwood singing the Sound of Music Live. Through these kinds of conferences new friendships are formed.

I’m grateful for my time of fellowship with Jared Oliphint, Stephane Jeanrenaud, Pat Daly, and Matt Heerema on Friday night. I was refreshed by my late night conversation with Michael Breznau, who kindly hosted me at this home. It was great catching up with a seminary bud. I enjoyed getting to know the guys at Crossway, Andrew Tebbe and Matt Tully. And then there was the hilarious antics of Dave Kurt and Ken Buck, two fellas who sat near me while I live blogged on Saturday.

Forming new friendships is a blessing of conferences.

Roy B Zuck Enters Glory (1932 – 2013)

Roy-ZuckRoy B. Zuck, senior professor emeritus of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary and editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, went to be with the Lord on the evening of Saturday, March 16, 2013. Family visitation and viewing time will be on Thursday, March 21, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., at Redeemer Bible Church (Fellowship Hall).

There is an excellent tribute article written on DTS’s website. You may view it here.

Also, you may view his last Chapel message, Is the Rapture Next? here.


Top Ten Books I Read and Reviewed in 2012

It was tough to narrow it down to my favorite ten books, but here is my favorite ten books I read and reviewed in 2012. This is a ranked countdown. Visit my book reviews page here to read these reviews.

10. Giving Up Gimmicks by Brian Cosby

9. Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian

8. Am I Called by Dave Harvey

7. Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

6. Servanthood as Worship by Nate Palmer

5. Modest by Tim Challies and R. W. Glenn

4. Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger

3. Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax

2. Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson

1. Note to Self by Joe Thorn


2013 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Resolved, to brush up on Greek by doing a weekly devotional from Devotions on the Greek New Testament by Duvall and Verbrugge.
  2. Resolved, to read Scotty Ward Smith’s Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel Centered Faith. I’m going to be giving away a print copy of this book on the blog soon.
  3. Resolved, to blog for quality over quantity this year. I hope to put together a couple solid interviews and book reviews a month and continue to blog about theology, family, youth ministry, and popular issues in the Church.
  4. To delve deeper in dependence on the gospel for hope.
  5. To love my family well with quantity time.

What’s Ahead While I’m Out: Next Week at jtcochran.com

This morning my wife, daughter, son and I piled into the mini-van and started our delightful journey to a magical vacation in Disney World. Therefore we will experience an intercalation of our review series on Michael Svigel’s wonderful work, RetroChristianity. I know. This is a very dispensational thing for me to do and say.

When I return from vacation you can expect to see the last two installments on RetroChristianity, an evaluation of Unit One of the Gospel Project, a review of the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones, and my review of Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson releasing from Crossway on September 30.

In the meantime, here is a preview of next weeks guest posts.

Saturday September 15th high school student Claira Hull shares about her most prized possession.

Monday September 17th author and blogger Aaron Armstrong will share about the not so glamorous life of a writer.

Tuesday September 18th blogger Nate Claiborne will disclose his strategy of applying triperspectivalism in a small group environment.

Wednesday September 19th blogger Kyle Worley will impart insights from the transfiguration pericope.

Thursday September 20th pastor Michael Breznau will provide four critiques on why a print bible excels over the use of a digital bible.

Lastly, on Friday September 21st and Saturday September 22nd, wife and mother Tammy Adams shares from the Genesis story of Joseph and her own touching story that God moves from being cool to astounding.

Look forward to these good reads and please pray for our safe travel.

August’s Featured Posts and Book Reviews

At the end of each month I like to share the most popular posts for the month. Here are the featured posts for this month. If you happened to miss any of these posts, give them a read. Sampling these posts also is a great way to decide if you might want to subscribe to my RSS feed.

Each month I also write a number of book reviews. Typically, the books I read go highly recommended by myself and others. In case you missed any of these reviews here is a list of the books that I reviewed this past month.

Flap Jack Fundraiser for Bless the Children Ministries

Post Updated: 9/6/12

On Saturday September 8th from 8-10am go out to the Applebee’s in Tulsa Oklahoma at 106th and Memorial. For $6 you’ll be able to enjoy a great meal of flapjacks and help raise money for Bless the Children Ministries. Please share with others about this event and spread the word! You can register for this event at orphanrunflapjack.eventbrite.com

To learn more about Bless the Children Ministries visit their website.

My Favorite Tweets

Occasionally at the end of the day I like to look through my tweets that I favorited and share some of them with my readers. Typically the people I favorite on Twitter are well worth a follow, so you should consider following these people. Here are some of my favorite tweets.