Can Coaching Help Your Church Meet the Challenge?
Leaders – whether local, global, church or denomination or judicatory, clergy or lay leaders – all face overwhelming demands these days and find it frustrating if not discouraging. Most persons in any leadership role are faced daily with doing more with less, choosing priorities that are most meaningful and moving from talk to action. Coaching is about all of this.
Coaching empowers, challenges and creates environments and conversations that move coachable persons and organizations from where they are to where they want to be.
I'm constantly amazed, with a coachable person or group and a skilled coach, how much quality action can happen in a very short period of time and without an overwhelming amount of energy. What a gift to stressed-out leaders and organizations that face expectations that are overly unrealistic and yet present.
Christian coaching also offers an incarnational element to ministry during tough and celebratory times. Having the full presence and attention of a coach, who is focused on you and your goals and desires, brings a partnership and encouraging force that many need these days to face fears and push through challenging goals.
Learning to be fully present and tune into the client is a large and vital part of all excellent coach training programs. Learning to trust the Spirit in the midst of the relationship while listening to what is said and what is not being said brings fuel for a powerful coaching relationship. Learning to show up and be fully present in a coaching conversation is a focusing and empowering element that moves persons from just talk to action that is intentional and meaningful for them.
The impact of Christian coaching can be summarized by some of the shifts and skills it calls forth. Moving from "telling" to "asking" is far less judgmental and far more empowering to help persons discover how the Spirit is moving in their life and frame it in ways that move them into their destiny.
A coach approach diffuses power struggles and builds ownership since the agenda is always that of the client. The threat of some outsider telling you something to do that you really do not want or desire is not an issue in coaching. The coach approach is all about discovering and building ownership of the ideas that move you forward.
Another powerful impact is moving from talk to action. Lord knows most churches and leaders need to move from talking to action. Coaching also provides an environment where alignment can happen between the disconnects in ministry (challenges) and alignment that strengthens leadership, influence and impact of pastors and congregations.
I really believe that Christian coaching can fuel believers and churches to live into the doctrine of priesthood of all believers, which as Baptists, we declare as a foundation stone for our history and heritage. Findley Edge, my mentor and former seminary professor, often declared that Baptists have talked this doctrine to death and he longed for the day we would act on it. Maybe today is the day.
Eddie Hammett is the church and clergy coach for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina and the author of "Making Shifts Without Making Waves: A Coach Approach to Soulful Leadership."