According to the Great Commission, the mandate of the local church is to win people to Christ, enable their growth as disciples, and then equip those same disciples to launch out on their own kingdom assignments in partnership with God. This has always been a daunting task, but in our post-modern age, it has become even more difficult. It is now obvious that we have to be innovative in our efforts to accomplish these God-given tasks (Matthew 28:18-20).
“Innovative” often means a change in paradigms, and certainly the use of life and leadership coaching relationships to accomplish God’s purposes is a paradigm shift. Yet, when we learn how coaching works, we find that it strikes a chord that resonates with the very heart of God. Coaching is a way of relating to people that mirrors God’s interactions with us, and it is a thoroughly tested methodology that can effectively help church leaders and members with evangelism, discipleship, the discovery of spiritual calling and the use of spiritual gifts (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7, 13-15).
The International Coach Federation defines coaching as:
”An extraordinary and unique relationship designed to create a significant impact and sustainable results in all areas of a person’s life.” Coaches help others set goals, brainstorm options, overcome obstacles, take action, and utilize support and accountability. They do this not by giving advice but by listening, asking great questions, and by playing the role of a thought partner. Sounds like something the church should be interested in, right”?
And, we are becoming interested. In fact, here’’s what some forward-thinking church leaders and new research have to say about coaching:
“Coaching offers hope, focus, accountability, and a pathway of leadership development and discipleship for a postmodern culture – and guidance for churches struggling to be relevant in a rapidly changing and challenging world.” Eddie Hammett, Spiritual Leadership in a Secular Age
“I am recommending that churches provide life coaching for people. We need to view this as spiritual formation…If your church pursued life coaching for people… you would convince them of your enormous care for them and that the church is there for them rather than expecting them to be there for the church.” Reggie McNeal, The Present Future
“You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be.” Andy Stanley, The Next Generation Leader
The study (REVEAL) “suggests that the church provides minimal support for those who are most devoted to Christ. Since these people are the best equipped and most motivated advocates for Christ, providing them with increased coaching (emphasis mine) and encouragement could reap great gains for the kingdom.” It also determined that those who are most advanced on the spiritual growth continuum state that they have an increasing need for “someone to hold me accountable” and “speak the truth to me”. The study concludes that, “…they also seem to want a personal growth coach (emphasis mine) or spiritual mentor. That may be what would truly ‘keep them on track’ and from walking out the back door.” Willow Creek , REVEAL Study
So, what is it that makes coaching unique? Why is it effective? And, how can it help your church accomplish what God has called you to do? Coaching helps a church move:
from a program-based “assembly line” model of discipleship to a customized, individual-based model of discipleship
from a telling approach to evangelism and discipleship to a listening and asking approach (a kinder, gentler, and more effective approach)
from an informing / understanding focus to a transforming / action focus
from growth events that happen at church once a week to growth relationships that are available “just in time” for as long as it takes for real and sustainable change to happen
from a focus on the “shoulds” of spiritual growth to a focus on the strengths, gifts, passions and experience of personal spiritual calling
from viewing leaders as experts to viewing leaders as facilitators of growth
from waiting for the church to provide growth opportunities to members owning the responsibility for personal growth and going after it.
Please contact me if you or your church is interested in learning how coaching methodology can enhance your discipling efforts to fulfill the “Great Comission”.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”