Coaching of Congregations
Rev. Mike Bonem
Mike Bonem is a Christ-follower, consultant, coach, author, husband, and father. He loves to help churches and ministries, and their leaders, reach their God-given potential. Mike is the author of four books on ministry leadership including Leading from the Second Chair and Leading Congregational Change. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a breadth of experience in ministry and business, including 11 years as an executive pastor, consulting with Fortune 100 companies, and leading a start-up business. Mike and his wife, Bonnie, have been married for over 35 years and have four adult children.
Mike has coached pastors, ministry leaders, and congregational leadership teams for over 15 years. His coaching focuses on leadership, change, and addressing complex challenges. Mike’s approach is to ask insightful questions that can generate new awareness and lead to the discovery of creative solutions. He is credentialed through the International Coaching Federation as an Associate Certified Coach.
Rev. Dr. Marty Dunbar
Rev. Dr. Marty Dunbar has been a catalyst of change and innovation throughout his ministry. He has the gifts of ideation, vision, and taking complex things and making them simple. Marty’s ministry background started with the privilege of serving as the Pastor of Students and then Pastor of Innovative Ministries in a suburban church that rapidly grew in the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s (300 to 8500 members). As a young pastor, he developed innovative processes and systems and built ministries to fit a traditional Methodist culture. Next, his time as Preaching Pastor for Modern Worship and Executive Pastor in Tyler, Texas, gave him the experience of working with a stagnant and very traditional downtown congregation. The innovative implementation of new processes and systems helped foster growth in all areas. Since 2015, Marty has served a turn-around church in Northwest Houston. This experience has been challenging to change the stagnant culture of this prominent and large neighborhood church. As a result, the Catalyst Culture has fostered change, growth, and a new vision for ministry. Over the first five years, massive differences and improvements happened to the leadership and staff structures, deconstruction and reconstruction of ministry, and the implementation of a discipleship structure for children to adults. Marty understands what is essential for pastors and congregations regarding being an innovative movement for God.
Rev. Dr. Marty Dunbar believes the calling of a church is to be a movement of God, not a monument of God. The definition of a Catalyst is an agent of change. In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that can cause a difference in the rate of a reaction without itself being consumed. His approach to Coaching Congregations is to help pastor(s), staff, and leaders become agents of change in their particular ministry context. Creative Innovation is essential to creating a movement of God. Marty believes to be a part of a movement of God; we must be a movement of God. To be a movement of God means we personally and corporately need to let God change us. A Catalyst Culture gives pastors, a church, and their staff a chance to thrive through change and create a movement of God. The implementation of a Catalyst Culture is different depending on individual congregations.
Rev. Dr. Aleze M. Fulbright
Rev. Dr. Aleze M. Fulbright is an ordained elder in who is a person of conviction with a personal mission statement to Encourage, Equip, and Empower all people to live on purpose and live out their God-givenness, with her underlying values of Faith, Fire, Focus, and Fruit. Dr. Aleze approaches coaching (as an ICF Associate Certified Coach) as a conversation partner, ready to ask the hard questions, explore new possibilities, and hold persons accountable for their discoveries to yield fruitful outcomes.
In my previous roles in Leadership Development, I have enjoyed the opportunity to journey alongside congregations steeped in conflict, but also with congregations who are looking to discover their purpose. I take an active listening approach, an intentional means for congregation to take ownership of solutions and an accountability for outcomes. I value being able to check in and follow up with congregations regarding processes that yield fruit.
Rev. Michael Gienger
Rev. Michael Gienger is an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He received his undergraduate degree in Religion, concentrating in Christian Ethics, from Baylor University, and his Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Michael has been serving as co-pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Galveston, Texas since 2014. Central is a hybrid church plant/revitalization that is making space for hopeful skeptics and the spiritually homeless through a generous orthodoxy and focus on justice ministries. Michael's top five CliftonStrengths include strategic, ideation, intellection, connectedness, and futuristic.
Michael helped Central UMC successfully navigate a season of (re)planting, transforming the church from a dying congregation to a thriving community. Michael can help guide congregations through a similar "resurrection" process, helping communities discern what God might be calling them to in their next season.
Rev. Dr. Janice Gilbert
My goal in life is to glorify God by using my gifts and serving others. I enjoy helping others see possibilities in changing times.
I am a Certified Christian Life Purpose Coach with an extensive background in pastoring, education, and counseling (past 25 yrs.) who loves seeing others discover and utilize their gifting as agents of change. I believe it is pertinent that leaders are supplied with the necessary tools and strategies needed for effectiveness. As such, I believe God has given each of us the grace to serve in the world.
I have authored serval books designed to enhance and support spiritual development and encouragement “Spiritual Stolen Identity: Recovering your Identity”, Prayer Manuals along with several devotionals. (Effects Christian Life Coaching)
My experience as Pastor, Consultant-Coach, Educator and Writer has prepared and equipped me to help others with development of systems, structures, organization and strategies for change and effectiveness for Clergy and Congregations.
Serving the Church/Congregation is about learning what it means to be the expressed image of God, (Imago Dei) extending his love to others, experiencing their faith together especially in such unprecedented times. My coaching hopefully with help to support congregations in realizing this love of God launching effective fruitful ministries that demonstrates this love.
Rev. Matt Neely
I am a Pastor in the Texas Conference currently serving as the Lead Pastor at Good Shepherd UMC in the Cypress-area of Houston. Over the last 25 years in ministry, I have had the privilege of serving Jesus at some amazing churches as Senior/Founding Pastor, having successfully planted a church in League City called The Watershed (UMC), and having served as lead Pastor of Parkway UMC in Sugar Land (before coming to Good Shepherd UMC). I have also served as an associate pastor in some incredible churches – Memorial Drive UMC, Clear Lake UMC and Faith UMC – Richmond. It has been an amazing journey so far! I have been married to my very best friend, Ginger, for 22 years and counting. We have 4 kids and a grandson who keeps us young and busy!
I have served small, medium and very large churches in the Conference, learning from some of the very best Sr. Pastors around and serving alongside some of the most creative associate pastors on the planet. I have experience both consulting with churches and leading churches I have served through difficult times, financial distress, and have helped churches recapture their ability to make disciples who make disciples of Jesus. My highest passion is helping churches live into their unique vision and direction as a church.
Dr. Jeff Springer
An educator for 34 years, a former Texas High School Head Football Coach and eleven-year veteran of the public-school classroom. Jeff is formerly the Principal at The Magnolia High School (2002-2016). In 2013 he was selected as the State of Texas TASSP State Principal of the year. Besides founding Spring Strategies LLC, that provides educational executive coaching, Jeff also served as the Minister of Men at Wildwood UMC, is a University Student Teacher Supervisor, and is also the founder of Suit Up Ministries, a nonprofit men’s ministry.
Jeff attended Abilene Christian University where he played on the 1977 National Championship Football team, received his Bachelor of Arts in Teaching from Sam Houston State University, and obtained his Masters of Sports Administration from the United States Sports Academy. In the spring of 2020, Jeff completed his Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Transformational Leadership from Concordia University.
Dr. Jeff Springer is passionate about raising DADs and helping them see their value. Jeff loves being a husband, DAD, and a grandfather. He is always seeking ways to acknowledge men, striving to be the Daily Active Devoted DADs God calls them to be. Jeff who resides in Montgomery, Texas, has been married for 40 years and has two children, and three grandchildren.
What brings us together? Whether you're looking for coaching or culture change, we take a deep dive into understanding your organization's story from top to bottom, unearthing opportunities to take note of in the journey to revitalization. The distribution of our diagnostic tool, PLAY, allows us to ensure our goals are aligned to create a meaningful transformation.
Rev. Dr. Steve Stutz
The Rev. Dr. Steve Stutz is an ordained Lutheran minister who has served rural/small town congregations in west Texas, as well suburban/inner city congregations in the metro Houston area. He has worked extensively with clergy and congregations of the Texas Annual Conference in a wide variety of consulting roles since 2014. He is a certified church consultant through the Society for Church Consulting and teaches at the Houston Graduate School of Theology.
Coaches help clergy clients trust their deep inner wisdom and knowledge of the context in which they are serving and set clear and accountable outcomes, while encouraging them along the way. Essentially, coaches help clergy stay focused on God-sized goals and lead with courage and resilience. Dr. Stutz is a certified coach through the Coach Training Alliance and is member of Houston Coaches (an ICF charter chapter). He has worked with UMC clergy in the Texas Annual Conference (individually and in cohort groups) since 2017.
Rev. Harry Vein
I have served in the Texas Annual Conference for the past 40 years, beginning ministry at my home church, Chapelwood UMC in Houston, I have also served FUMC Cleveland, FUMC Brenham, Cypress UMC and Faith UMC in Spring. Through my years of ministry, I have served on the Conference and District Boards of Ordained Ministry and was the Dean of Local Pastors School for the Annual Conference for 4 years. My greatest joys surround my family and people that I have connected with over the years.
As I serve as a coach for pastors and congregations, my desire is to transform lives to transform the world. Along with almost 40 years of experience in ministry, I have completed over 60 hours of classes from Coach Training for Leaders. I am also a member of the International Coaching Federation and will soon become an Associate Certified Coach within the IFC. I look forward to coming alongside pastors and congregations to help them grow to become even more effective in making disciples for the transformation of the world.
Rev. Dr. Steve Wende
Dr. Steve Wende is a native Texan, with degrees from the University of Texas, Yale Divinity School, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Of special relevance to the Ministry Specialist project is that his work at Princeton focused especially in the areas of leadership development, organizational growth, and role effectiveness. After serving smaller churches in south Texas, Steve went on to serve as pastor of University UMC of San Antonio for 21 years and First UMC of Houston for 15. He is married to Dr. Karin Wende, a church historian and Biblical scholar. They are the parents of Michelle Gebhart, who lives with her family in Virginia, and Rev. Meredith Mills, who lives and ministers with her family in Houston. Steve is now retired and enjoys traveling with Karin, spoiling the grandkids, and coaching pastors and leaders seeking to grow their ministries for the Kingdom.
Steve’s special concern is for those working through transitions in ministry, such as those experiencing a church expansion, a pastoral change, a financial crisis or a new congregational vision. Often, this means coaching the pastor or other leaders. It can also mean giving basic information on leadership development, role differentiation, team building and healthy change procedures not only to clergy, but also to staff and laity. Steve’s training and experience includes everything from leadership workshops to personal coaching to guiding lay leaders through change and systemic restructuring. Over the years, however, he has learned that along with any information given, his best approach as a coach is through supportive listening, learning, and encouragement. His goal is to walk with pastors and churches in a way which applies ministry best practices to the real-world dynamics, personalities and challenges involved in their setting, and to do so in a positive, effective, and uplifting way.
Rev. Dr. Tommy Williams
Rev. Dr. Tommy Williams is Senior Pastor of Trinity UMC in Beaumont Texas. Tommy has served growing congregations in rural, county seat, multi-cultural, and large urban contexts throughout the Texas Annual Conference for over 25 years. His experience includes leading an 11-million-dollar capital campaign, growing children ministries, outreach with refugees and at-risk youth, sports ministries, health ministry, and supporting the creation of non-profits birthed out of the congregation. Tommy’s doctoral work centered on the intersection of faith and public life exploring how a church becomes active in the welfare of the communities where they are serving. The Williams family have enjoyed being foster parents and other community involvement wherever they serve. In their off time they enjoy time at their family land in the woods of East Texas.
I believe in gifts-based ministry. Through facilitating a process of conversations with lay people we uncover the gifts God has already given every church and leverage those for kingdom ministry and growth. Rather than wishing we had certain things we focus on what God has given the church and get creative with how we offer those unique gifts in ministry. This process takes ideas to action.
Rev. Fred Willis
Raised in the UMC, I started ministry working with youth while in college before being ordained in 1997. Since then, I have been a pastor both in rural East Texas churches as well as communities along the Gulf Coast. Most recently I have been serving in the suburbs of Katy. This has exposed me to a wide variety of settings and cultures for ministry in our Conference.
Besides my work in Youth and Camping Ministry, I have spent a time in the Methodist Healthcare System of Dallas as a Chaplain, completing 2 credits of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), received certification as a Pastoral Counselor through Krist Samaritan Counseling Center, and was trained by Coaching4Clergy, learning to stand alongside Pastors.
Most recently, I was one of original members trained to bring the Vibrant Church Initiative to our Annual Conference, spending several years walking alongside clergy while coaching the congregations. One of my biggest passions is to help congregations discover their own way to make Disciples and take Christ into their own unique settings.
Congregations are families with their own traditions and cultures, but that does not always lead to effective ministry. When coaching congregations, it is important to help them understand their own unique settings. From there, there is great joy found in helping laity discover their own distinctive way of reaching their community.