The post-it note prayer that was hanging from his computer screen declared the prayer and promise, “I will serve you to the end and you will provide for me.” This past Wednesday at 5:05pm marked the end of Steve Ogne’s life and ministry.
But the impact of his life and ministry will continue through not only those he loved and served as a husband, father, family member, and friend, but also through the thousands of church leaders he empowered to multiply disciples, leaders, and churches around the world.
There is no question in my mind that Steve accomplished his life-long vision for
“training 10,000 leaders, influencing the start and strengthening of 1,000 new churches that will make at least 100,000 new disciples of Jesus.”
But you won’t be able to see the metrics because most of his ministry was that of a humble, behind-the-scenes mentor and coach.
He was a rare leader of leaders. A teacher of teachers. A coach of coaches. Yes, he was often on the platform as a teacher and speaker around the world. And he was a great author. But he knew and followed the Master’s method like few men I’ve ever known–pouring his life into the lives of emerging church leaders of the next generation. And most often doing that face-to-face, on the phone, or over a video conference. It’s no surprise he’s been called the “Father of Ministry Coaching.”
I first met Steve in the 80’s when he worked with Bob Logan at CRM fueling church planting movements in the USA and abroad with cutting-edge resources like the Church Planters Toolkit and the New Church Incubator. We began to work together in the 90’s. Just before writing this I put his name in my computer search engine and 657 documents surfaced, not counting photos and hundreds of emails, including:
- His many handouts for church planters we distributed at the annual GCA church planter training conferences around the country
- Church planter training curriculum we had written and taught together. Much of it not finished.
- Personal notes from hundreds of hours of phone conversations over the years, usually called “Ogne Call Notes” with a date. I just reread one from June 28, 2013 that referred to his oldest son getting married and his youngest son coming home from college for the summer and how his wife, “Janie” was doing well on the school board, etc.
- A document he wrote for me in 2007 describing how to lead a church planter training exercise correctly–that I’d been doing incorrectly for a long time.
But my richest memories with Steve were not during the conferences and seminars we would teach together. But usually afterwards, especially when we were on the road and staying in the same hotel after a long training conference day had ended. I have vivid memories of our last time like that when he ordered his hot tea and we debrief not just the long day but our long time since we’d been together.
Recently, on my way home from the seminary where I teach, I suddenly realized how long it had been since Steve and I talked. So I just called him. That warm, familiar voice was good to hear. But it sounded more faint and weak than normal. We talked for almost two hours—mostly about his long-term, horrific battles with sickness.
And yet somehow, even in his weakness, he managed to do the old “Ogne Judo Flip” on me and begin asking me deep, penetrating questions that exposed my greater need for Christ and then point me to Him. At the end of our conversation, my last one with him, we both agreed it was finally time for him to start mentoring and coaching me (both ministry and LIFE) more formally with a real appointment schedule. We laughed about how many hours of free coaching I’d stolen from him over the years because we were friends and worked together. I agreed.
It deeply saddens me now that I don’t have that opportunity. But I’ll be forever grateful to God for Steve and the profound impact he had on my life and ministry. The world lost, the Church lost, and I lost a humble, faithful, wise, ever-plodding man of God with a God-sized vision for Christ and His Kingdom. I pray now that I might be one of many who help carry his torch to the next generation–resting as he did on the prayer and promise, “I will serve you to the end and you will provide for me.”
Steve Ogne Memorial Service
Friday Oct 23rd, 10:00AM
Calvary Community Church
5495 Via Rocas, Westlake Village, CA 91362
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a benevolence fund in Steve’s honor. Checks may be made to MCWR, 484 E Los Angeles Ave. #228, Moorpark, CA 930121.
Please note “Benevolence Fund” in the memo line. The family plans to continue his ministry and work to finish his last few writing projects.
PS: Steve’s last book, co-authored with Ken Priddy and published in March 2015, is called the “The Leadership Development Ladder: Developing Missional Leaders in the Church” In the video below (31:37), Steve gives an overview of his model of developing missional church leaders–one of the greatest needs in the church today.