The Angel Oak and You

Rick Kirchoff, a Clergy Coaching Network Coach

Large southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) near Charleston, South Carolina

On John’s Island, near Charleston, South Carolina, there is a live oak that is 400-500 years old. Some even think the tree could be as much as 1,500 years old.  It is called the “Angel Oak.” It is 65 feet high, has a diameter of 160 feet and covers 17,000 square feet.

The Angel Oak has survived countless challenging events: hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, lightning strikes, damage and human interference. It was severely damaged by Hurricane Hugo, but it has recovered.

One thing you can’t see in the picture is that there are a number of metal poles, steel cables and support braces that are in place to help this tree grow and to keep it from getting so big and heavy that it brings itself down.

Building a strong spiritual life and being sustained in ministry, requires support as well.   We all need people who will encourage us, lift us up and support us in growing into all that we can be.

Who are the people who provide support and encouragement to you?

We hope that you are surrounded by loving friends and trusted colleagues who help you be healthy, resilient and hope-filled.

Finding a coach may be one of the best gifts you can give yourself in strengthening your ministry.

At Clergy Coaching Network we partner with pastors and congregational leadership teams in a thought-provoking and creative process designed to inspire them to maximize their ministry and fulfill their mission in the world.

If you’d like to know more, reach out to us by clicking on the contact tab.  Or you can go to our website:

Eight Traps That Can Derail a Ministry in the First 90 Days

Rev. Dr. Teresa Angle-Young


Starting a new ministry appointment? Coupled with the excitement of a move to a new church, there is often some anxiety. How do you start off on the right foot, and ensure the best possible outcome of ministry success? Following are eight traps that can derail a pastor in the crucial first 90 days in a new role:

  1. Failure to clarify expectations. While the formal job description lists expectations, there are also informal expectations that aren’t put on paper. Be sure that you know what your leadership really expects from you. Often churches are guilty of not even having a job description for a pastor, so be sure you nail down the expectations for what the church will see as success.
  2. Failure to understand your new District Superintendent (if you are United Methodist) or other judicatory and his (or her) style and needs. The first 90 days is the time to build a strong relationship with your new DS, Staff Parish Relations Team, Vestry, etc. What makes them excited? What irritates them? How can you best adapt to their communication and decision-making style?
  3. Not building credibility and trust with staff and key lay leaders. Each person is different. The first 90 days is an important time to assess your team and set strategies to engage both paid employees and volunteers.
  4. Being perceived as eccentric. Take time to learn the culture and fit in. Of course, you want to be YOU, your authentic self, but each church has a culture, and you do not want to be seen as an ill-fit.
  5. Aligning with the right players. The first 90 days gives you the opportunity to understand the informal power structure in the church. Who has insider information? Who can best help you navigate the sometimes tricky waters in a new assignment?
  6. Step on political landmines. Unless you are specifically expected to go after sacred cows in the church, tread wisely during your first 90 days. This is a time to observe, gather information, and understand the existing structure.
  7. Taking abrupt action without taking the time to learn. Give yourself enough time to observe and understand why things are the way they are.
  8. Failure to continue to develop. As Marshall Goldsmith’s book title says, “What got you here won’t get you there.” During your transition period, be humble enough to identify new skills you may need, knowledge you may have to acquire, and relationships that will help you continue to progress in your ministry.

To learn more about making effective transitions, contact us, and be sure to use our free “Ministry Success Assessment” tool by clicking here.

Beginnings — A Clergy Coaching Blog

quotes-Clergy-Coaching-NetwWelcome to the Clergy Coaching Network Community

Our goal on this blog is to share resources, to encourage discussion about key issues impacting clergy and congregations, and to equip clergy and church leaders for transformational leadership in the congregation.

In addition, we hope that many of you will consider employing one of our excellent coaches. On this blog we will introduce many of our coaches and feature some of their thoughts about congregational transformation.

You can learn more about us at and you can apply for coaching at