No Room for Church Competition
Overseed connects pastors focused on revitalization with seasoned coaches from churches that have collaborative vision for advancing the kingdom of God. Our coaches seek and nurture partnerships across denominational lines. They share resources and learn from one another, firmly believing that the Church is one body with many members. We need each other, now more than ever.
Matt Thornton at Christ Community Church (CCC) in East Taunton, MA is an Overseed coach. Located in southeastern Massachusetts, CCC is a vibrant congregation of people from about 48 surrounding towns, various religious backgrounds, numerous cultures and walks of life missionally seeking to reach their area with the gospel of Christ. In 2013, Overseed launched a revitalization pastor cohort at CCC in partnership with their Pastor, John Lloyd. After serving on CCC staff for eight years, Matt was named Lead Pastor a year ago. He continues the good work John began, including coaching a cohort of local pastors along with Overseed president Jim Harrell. Jim is also a member of Christ Community Church.
Matt has a passion for discipleship, evangelism, and equipping people to following God’s calling on their life. He felt a call toward full-time ministry for many years, a call that ultimately led him to earn a Master’s degree in Urban Ministry Leadership from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and to join the CCC team.
Helping to revitalize local churches is part of CCC’s larger strategy for advancing the Gospel in their region. Matt noted that “there is no room in New England for church competition. There are too many people to reach. There are people who will come to faith at other churches besides CCC, churches that might be smaller or have different traditions, and CCC wants to encourage people to learn to live like Jesus, wherever that may happen. We want to keep that the main focus, not counting nickels and noses, not growing our own ministry alone.”
The CCC leadership understands that, as a large church, they must practice faithful stewardship over all their resources including their influence. They are intentional about encouraging other church leaders, collaborating on outreach, and sharing resources like CCC’s talented property management team. If another church needs help with repairs or landscaping, CCC sends a team to lend a hand. If churches impacted by Covid-19 restrictions need help with recording or streaming their Sunday services, CCC shares tech resources. They also want to celebrate what’s happening locally for the Gospel so they promote events at other churches in the community.
Matt is intentional about making time in his schedule to be in real relationships with other pastors, to learn from each other. He partners with Jim Harrell to co-lead a monthly 3-hour revitalization cohort for nine area pastors.
Matt emphasized the importance of a group of local pastors being united, on mission together to reach their area with the hope of the Gospel. The Overseed cohort helps pastors move beyond the common challenges of leading a faith community. Matt noted that “talking it out with fellow pastors helps you move beyond the problem. It doesn’t allow bitterness to take hold. We help each other learn to live like Jesus.”
Matt has seen the Overseed cohort model evolve from a student/teacher experience with a coach speaking from a podium to a more conversational model that includes peer discovery and collaborative idea sharing. The coach askes each pastor to specifically work on one area of the discipleship process at their church. Then, the coach and cohort offer feedback, suggestions, encouragement, and personal experience. It helps everyone in the conversation think of situations at a different level. Also, each month a pastor presents a situation they are challenged by and collaboratively the group helps to develop an action plan for moving it forward.
The CCC cohort is diverse with many denominations represented, yet pastors sit together focused on the same thing. Matt said his growing edge as a coach is “to dial back how I think things should go and let others learn by doing. I give feedback and practice humility.” Matt joked that “Jim helps keep me humble by giving me feedback on my own sermons!”
All ministry is relational and shouldn’t be competitive. We are in this together! When asked what satisfies him as a pastor coach, Matt said “it’s the mutual strengthening that happens at the end of the cohort time. It’s the encouragement of seeing other pastors’ progress, seeing growth happen.”
Overseed’s ministry model is built on partnerships with kingdom-minded, collaborative churches like Christ Community Church. Join us!