What is a Certified Mission Coach?


A certified mission coach is a missional leader who:


  • is effectively engaged in a coaching ministry,
  • understands and has mastered the art of mission coaching, and
  • has successfully met and fulfilled the established requirements of coach certification from the Center for United States Missions.


These requirements include:


  1. Intensive training in the art of coaching
  2. Nine Coach Mentor Sessions under a Certified Coach Trainer
  3. Effective and assessed coaching relationships
  4. Evaluative coaching feedback from coaching clients while in training
  5. Positive coaching capacity results measured through a Coaching Assessment
  6. Development and implementation of a Coaching Excellence Personal Development Plan


If you are serious about the mission of Jesus Christ (Missio Dei), then you will discover tremendous support, accelerated missional results and increased missional capacity by having your own mission coach. You are invited to contact any of the certified mission coaches and explore their interest and availability in serving as your personal coach.


You are encouraged to explore synergy and negotiate fees directly with the Certified Mission Coach of your choice.


A coach is someone who has been where you want to go . . . and is willing to help you get there. Like Barnabas in the New Testament, whose name means Son of Encouragement, the coach comes alongside mission field workers (church planters, missional pastors, missionaries, evangelists and church revitalization leaders) and bring to them encouragement, support (especially through prayer), mission strategy stimulation, action-planning for results, and Kingdom accountability. In simple terms, a coach is one who comes alongside a person or team in order to help them discover God’s agenda for their life and ministry, and then serving the Holy Spirit to see that agenda to become reality.

Network Coaches

Rev. Cliff Bira


Coaching Specialty: Mission Planters, Missional pastors, Pastors working through Church Revitalization, Discovering and organizing life around God-given Life Purpose, Personal Spiritual Development, Leadership Development


Rev. Cliff Bira is married to wife Carolyn – a Director of Christian Education for 30 years. They have two grown and married Children – Hannah & Bethany and one grandchild. Since 1984 Rev. Cliff Bira has served as Senior Pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church. He has also served as Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Osceola, Iowa (1981-1984) He is also currently serving in the office of Circuit Counselor in the Michigan District. In his present congregation he also serves his community through the Flushing Community Outreach Center, various joint Christian community outreach efforts in past years and as a pastoral leader among churches in the Flushing Community. He has also served as past president and founding member of the Rotary Club of Flushing.


He attended University of Wisconsin – Whitewater (1972-1976) from which he received a Bachelors of Science Degree in Economics. He received his Masters of Divinity degree from Concordia Theological Seminary – Fort Wayne, Indiana (1978-1981)


He has received additional training through the completion of the Beeson Institute For Advanced Church Leadership and receiving additional training through the Pastoral Leadership Institute. Rev. Bira has also been named as a team leader for PLI International for Latvia & Lithuania beginning August, 2008. He has attended Basic Mission Planter Training as well as serving as an assessor for the Church Planter Assessment Center of the Center for U.S. Missions. His personal greatest passion is helping people to discover, develop, and live out their God-given Life Purpose.

Rev. Eric R. Wenger


Coaching Specialty: Apprenticing Disciples, Multiplying Leaders, Missional Communities, Church Planting

Eric serves as Lead Pastor with RAIZED in Green Bay, WI.  He and his wife, Carrie, have four children.  They enjoy building relationships through service in their community and by participating in a variety of athletic endeavors.  Their family is thankful for the growing mission team in the Green Bay area that is “living all-out with Jesus” together.


The Wenger family was sent to the Green Bay area by Community of Life Lutheran Church-Oregon, WI in August of 2013 to start a RAIZED (missional) community with the vision of their new gathering of disciples forming a church planting church.  By God’s grace, the first RAIZED Community grew and has birthed on several occasions.  On September 25, 2016, RAIZED was officially launched.  The great news is that they are already working on another new mission planting opportunity!


After receiving his BA from Concordia – St. Paul (1993) and his MDiv from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis (1997), Eric has been privileged to grow as a mission leader in multiple settings.  He taught theology and coached athletics with Lutheran High School Northwest in Rochester Hills, MI, served with Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Greenville, WI as Associate Pastor focusing on outreach and assimilation, was the Pastor of Discipleship and Growth with Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in Fitchburg, WI, and planted Community of Life where he later became the Lead Pastor.


Eric is passionate about making disciples, multiplying servant leaders, birthing missional communities, and planting churches.  He enjoys reading, playing sports, coaching sports, serving as a Mission Coach with the Center for United States Missions, and being part of an adventure.  One of his most excited adventures right now is serving as Executive Director with The 2:47 Network, which is a growing church planting network that he co-founded.

Rev. Dr. John M. Hirsch


Coaching Specialty:  Church planting; Established pastor


Rev. Dr. John Hirsch, a native Texan, and his wife, Kathryn have been blessed in their marriage with two daughters and five grandchildren.


After receiving his BA from the University of Texas in Psychology, John earned his MDiv from Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, IL. He then earned his MA in Educational Psychology at Eastern Michigan in 1982 and his DMin at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan in 1999.


Most recently, Dr. Hirsch served for 20 years as Director of Congregational and Worker Care in the Texas District. Previous to that, he was a Missionary-at-Large in Brighton, Michigan. He then served for 22 years as the pastor of Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Brighton, Michigan while also serving as Lutheran Visitation Pastor for LC-USA to the V.A. Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


His leadership roles and responsibilities have included serving as Circuit Counselor, Chairman of the Commission on Ministerial Health in the Michigan District, and serving two terms as Vice President in the Michigan District. He has also been an instructor of Michigan Lutheran Ministries Institute.


Other professional training that Rev. Dr. Hirsch has participated in includes Clinical Pastoral Education at Jacksonville State Hospital, Jacksonville, IL and advanced training at the Presbyterian Medical Center in Denver, CO. He has participated in various seminars in pastoral care and counseling and conflict resolution through Peace in the Parish, the Alban Institute, and Bridgebuilders – Mennonite Peace Center. He has been trained as an LCMS Reconciler, certified as an administrator of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, certified as administrator of the Birkman instrument, and certified as a Church Planter Coach. He is also a member of Coach Approach Ministries.


The Network is honored to include Rev. Dr. Hirsch as one of our coaches.

Mr. Dan Haupt


Coaching Specialty: Spiritual, Career, Relationships, Ministry


I grew up dreaming of being a life coach.  NOT!  So how did I get here?  Every person is influenced by their life story and experiences, their relationships with people, and their passions.  I am no different.  I have an accounting degree and an MBA.  I have worked for a variety of organizations – large and small, for profit and nonprofit.  In my professional career, I’ve experienced both success and failure.  At one point in life, I had a challenging and great paying executive position, a wonderful wife, three great kids, a dog, and our dream house.  I was living the “American Dream”!  And yet, there was something missing.  I had a “void” deep down inside of me.  I was smart enough to know that the void would not be filled by a better paying job, a different wife, more kids and dogs, or a bigger house.


With some introspective searching, and the help of some close friends, I found the only thing that would fill the void: faith in and a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It was a life-changing discovery.  I went back to school to get a degree in ministry, changed careers and jobs (have worked in and with churches since 2001), and have been on an adventurous and fulfilling journey ever since.  If you are wondering, I still have the same wonderful wife, three kids, a dog, and now four awesome grandkids!


One of the things that changed dramatically for me was going from being task and money oriented to being people oriented.  I have become fascinated by people!  Every person has a story, and I am driven by a strong curiosity to hear them.  Yet, in the midst of listening to those stories, there is one common theme – every one struggles with something in their life.  Their dreams have been crushed or they have one or more broken relationships or they are stuck in a job they don’t like or they are struggling with a deep question or they are struggling with their faith or __________ fill in the blank with your struggle.


I have experienced many of those same struggles, and received some coaching that not only helped me get through my struggles, but opened my eyes to the power of coaching.  I have a passion to use my experiences, training, and tools to walk alongside others to help them discover God’s agenda for their life. If you would like to explore what it might look like to receive some life coaching, please contact me.

Mike Sojka


Coaching Specialty: Executive, Business, Church Planters, Life, Pastors


Mike started Leadership Innovations in March of 2015, a unique coaching business with a virtual platform that employs both male and female coaches. Possessing 12 years of certified coaching experience, Mike served within the LCMS as an Executive, Church Planter and Campus Pastor coach, in addition to serving as an assessor for the Church Planter Assessment Center of the Center for U.S. Missions.


Before entering the ministry, Mike was a teacher/coach for 10 years (5 years at the high school level and 5 years at the university level), who then served ministries in Cincinnati, OH and Long Island, NY. Mike was a church planter in Fargo, ND, and went on to become the head of Northern Plains Evangelistic Association, a church planting organization, for 16 years. Mike was involved with a non-profit that educated family businesses and dabbled with becoming a financial advisor, but you will have to give him a call to hear the rest of that story. Mike received a B.A. from Wartburg College, an M.A. from the University of South Dakota, and an M.A. from Cincinnati Bible Seminary.


A catalyst is an individual whose speech, mannerisms, enthusiasm and energy cause others to be friendlier, enthusiastic, energetic, strategic, and action-oriented. A catalyst is also a person who precipitates change. Mike says, “I personally want to partner with aspiring leaders as a catalyst through coaching/consulting, guiding individuals, organizations & businesses that are seeking a new level of leadership excellence!” One of Mike’s clients puts it best:


Mike’s coaching has been extremely valuable to me as a church planting leader and as a person. He has a very unique ability as a coach: he knows when to ask the right question and when to stretch me as a leader. I am grateful for his willingness to use his strengths and insights to make me stronger and a more ‘dialed-in’ leader. A great example of his ability to ‘push’ was when he asked me recently, ‘Why not? What’s stopping you?’ That’s what a good coach does as they inspire those they coach to grasp hold of their potential!  ~ Lance (Church Planting Executive)


Mike and his wife, Patricia, currently reside in Moorhead, MN, enjoying the close proximity of both their sons and two grandchildren, who also live in the area. Mike is a voracious reader (interested to hear what is on your book shelf), avid North Dakota State University football fan (National Champions, 6 times in the last 7 years), recent Philadelphia Eagles fan (because of Carson Wentz, a former NDSU Bison QB), and occasional coffee snob, who enjoys the gym, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, biking, kayak fishing, and hunting. Mike looks forward to assisting you in the very near future!

Shelli Haynes


Coaching Specialty: Christian Educators, Leadership, Marriage & Family, Relationships


I am a DCE who has been blessed to serve God in His church throughout Southern CA for twenty years! I LOVE people and have a heart for those who are serving and their families.  I graduated from Concordia University in Irvine (DCE / BA Religious Studies) and hold a MA in Family Ministry from CUNE.  I am a lifelong learner and have had opportunities to grow through various committees, public speaking events, and coaching certification!


I am wife to Travis (high school Math teacher) and mama to two high school age daughters.  We live in Anaheim and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this stage of life.  I am a huge SF Giants baseball fan and enjoy sports of all kinds.  My favorite place to rejuvenate is Newport Beach!


My mission is to serve God by equipping and encouraging those I meet to live the life God has blessed them with.  I love walking beside people as they seek to bring increased health and wellness to their lives, ministries, and families!