We were nearing the end of two days of training in Portland when I noticed Gary gazing out the window. While the rest of us discussed what a shift to a coach approach would mean to ministry, Gary seemed lost in his own world. His participation in the class had been very normal up until this point, so I was a bit perplexed by his sudden disengagement.
I approached him at the next break and asked him what was on his mind. “This is either going to change everything or kill my ministry,” came his cryptic reply. “Pretty strong options,” I said, “what do you want it to be?” Soon we were neck-deep in a discussion about how and if coaching should become a part of Gary’s role as pastor. As other students returned from break, their welcomed eavesdropping evolved into a full class discussion
The topic of how coaching can bless the local church made for an excellent ending to the class that day, and Gary walked away with fresh ideas for serving Christ and the congregation. Since that day with Gary, I have witnessed many other ministry leaders wrestle with what coaching is and how it might impact the way they serve.
In fact, I too have faced the question. I became acquainted with coaching while planting a church and I learned first-hand the power coaching can have on a local congregation. Through my own experience and by witnessing the marvelous ways others have used coaching, I know that coaching can produce powerful and positive results in churches.
Let’s get one thing clear before discussing all these powerful and positive ways coaching can help churches: coaching is not a silver bullet solution, and it certainly is no replacement for the mysterious and essential presence of God’s Spirit. What coaching can be is a fresh way of relating and conversing so that a church can create new possibilities, take new and intentional actions, and reach new places in the journey toward serving Christ and His world.
The reason Pastor Gary and many of us struggle with coaching is that it is so different from how we typically serve and believe we add value. Most ministry leaders think their strongest assets center on what they know and how well they can tell people what to do. Coaching assumes essentially the opposite: that our strongest role is to draw out from others what they know and help them tell themselves what to do.
The Impact of Coaching for the Local Church
I’d like to take some time and explore the value of coaching as a tool for ministry in the local church. It’s not the only tool that we should be using, but it is a valuable one. And it’s a tool that more of us should be aware of.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore the following topics. So stay tuned.
- What Is Coaching? (And how is it different from mentoring, discipling, and counseling?)
- The Impact of Coaching for Pastoral Care, Evangelism, and Discipleship
- The Impact of Coaching for Teams, Committees, and Boards
- The Impact of Coaching for Leading and Managing
- The Impact of Coaching for Conflict, Preaching, and Small Groups