Our vision is to see people in tough places flourish through one to one mentoring. We believe God cares deeply for the marginalized in society and our mission is to join in with Him to help people flourish emotionally, socially, economically and spiritually.
We are faith-based but not faith-biased and seek to benefit people no matter what their religion, race, disability or sexual orientation. We try to model Christ-centeredness, grace, care, trust and interdependence within our team and with others. We often partner with other organisations for the benefit of the community.
Origins and Operation
Now an international operation, COACH was initially developed in Australia by New Peninsula Baptist Church in 2003 and piloted in 2004. It has since been evaluated twice by Monash University. Mission Australia purchased the COACH program in 2013 and continued its expansion across Australia. In December 2015, an 80% stake in COACH was purchased by Crossway Baptist Church. By 2016, COACH had over 700 mentors supporting more than 550 families with 1000 children plus over 100 young people.
COACH is operated by Crossway Baptist Church internationally and Crossway LifeCare within Australia. Wherever possible we partner with local churches and agencies. For example, in the UK we partner with ROC (Redeeming Our Communities) and in Australia we have a national partnership with Mission Australia.
Currently there are 39 church organisations licensed to offer COACH and over 60 churches providing mentors.
COACH Network Team
Rev Toby Baxter – Director and Co-Founder
Toby established his first mentoring programme in 1998 and has specialised in developing mentoring programs for vulnerable groups since then. He has trained over 900 mentors and coaches in the UK and Australia, co-founding COACH and a similar program in the UK. Toby has over twenty five years’ experience in community ministry and social work, with a focus on the juvenile justice and drug and alcohol sectors. He has management experience with the Department of Human Services and Southern Health’s Alcohol & Drug Services. He is a qualified and registered social worker in Australia and has just completed a Masters of Practical Theology at ACOM / Sydney College of Divinity. Toby enjoys going on wild adventures with his family and running marathons.
Mark Matthews – National Training and Technical Manager (Australia)
Mark has worked in the social welfare sector of Melbourne for 30 years. He holds diplomas in social science and business and is trained in providing professional supervision and counselling. Mark’s work has involved providing direct casework to clients, leading teams of social work and health professionals in service provision, and being instrumental in designing, developing and managing major crisis accommodation centres and housing programs across Melbourne. Since 2007, Mark has been responsible for the ongoing development of the COACH Community Mentoring program. Mark currently leads a community church in Rosebud (Victoria) that is offered to people who don’t feel they could easily fit within a mainstream church.
Sam Hearn – National Training and Technical Coordinator (Australia)
Sam is currently a Councillor for the Mornington Peninsula Shire, and has just finished 5 years serving as the National Director of SURRENDER Australia – an organisation that creates partnerships and hosts events across Australia to engage Christians in local and global mission and justice activity.
Prior to this he served for 4 years as a Mission and Ministry Coordinator with New Peninsula Baptist Church. He also has worked as a Lecturer and a Consultant around organisational vision and strategy development.
He is one of the leaders of Jigsaw, a missional community shaped church that is based in his neighbourhood of Tanti Park. He is also the Chair of Tanti Park Social Enterprises, an organisation he co founded to operate the HomeGround café and provide vocational training and placemaking alongside disadvantaged youth.
He holds a Bachelor of Psychology, a Master of Arts in Leadership, and is a graduate of the Arrow Leadership Program.