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Coaching has been one of the most valuable skills that I have gained in the last 15 years since I graduated from seminary. I was first exposed to coaching during my Doctorate of Ministry course work at Fuller Seminary. Bob Logan, then the head of CoachNet International Ministries, was the instructor for a course called “Raising and Multiplying Leaders in your Ministry.” In this course, we got a brief exposure to the art of coaching and how to use the skill when working with emerging leaders, staff, committees/teams, and even family members. I was convinced at that point that coaching was was extremely powerful in almost any situation where people want to increase in their effectiveness and vitality. Since that time, I have been increasing my skills and training to become more effective. When I was called to the Synod Executive role with ECO, I knew coaching was something that could have a profound effect in the life of our movement. If we could create a coaching culture, I knew we could grow in effectiveness. To that end, John Terech and I recently received additional accreditation through the International Coach Federation (ICF) which is the primarily regulating group for coaching.
The term “coaching” is used broadly and sometimes with a variety of meanings, some of which are not consistent with the ICF definition of coaching. Coaching, according to ICF, is the process of coming alongside of a person or team to facilitate change and help them reach their goals. Rather than a mentor or consultant who tells the individual what to do, the coach starts with a posture of asking powerful questions and engaging in active listening to help a person or team clarify their vision and direction, develop their strategy, uncover obstacles, identify necessary resources, and design their accountability. The wonderful thing about coaching is that it is not a hierarchical type of relationship. The client, or person being coached, is in charge of the agenda and action plan. The coach creates the environment where the best thinking can occur. I have almost always employed a coach to work with me and have found it an invaluable resource.
I have also trained dozens of coaches and continue to do so. Those that engage in coach training and seek to employ it in their ministry contexts find that their staffs, lay leaders, and teams become much more equipped to fulfill their roles in such a way that is not highly dependent upon the leader.
In ECO, we have offered coach training every year and are going to be doing so again right after our national gathering this January. The coaches who have been trained in the past are utilizing their skills in their ministry contexts as well as being hired to coach in a variety of settings. These settings include:
- Coaching for first call pastors. We have all heard and seen the statistics about people leaving the ministry within 5 years of starting. Having a coach can help a new pastor achieve greater success and satisfaction in his or her first call. ECO is paying for half of the cost of these coaching relationships.
- Coaching for ELI participants – ELI has recently become a ministry of Flourish. However, even before Flourish took on ELI, our coaches have been hired to coach the pastors of these churches as they seek to help their elders become spiritual leaders.
- Coaching for MAGs – It is my firm conviction that a Missional Affinity group will be greatly enhanced through the use of a coach. A few MAGs are beginning to realize this potential.
- Expanding into part-time coaching practice – Some of our coaches have a particular area that they want to specialize in coaching and are coaching outside clients for supplemental income.
It has been great to watch God at work in the lives and ministries of our coaches. In the next few weeks there will be a few blogs from some of our coaches about how coaching has helped them in their ministries. I encourage you to read them! Also, if you think being a part of this next round of coach training would be of interest to you, or if you would like to explore the possibility of having a coach work with you, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my assistant Sarah Van Lant at Sarah@eco-pres.org. Together we will become even more effective for the Kingdom as we strive to reach our goal of building flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ!