We’ve tried to tell people what to do and it hasn’t paid off. After a decade of doing pastoral care, I can tell you, people are not interested in doing what you tell them to do. Anything they leave your office claiming they will go do has a minimal shot of getting accomplished. This can be for multiple reasons, but one of them is they have not identified their intrinsic motivator to make a change. They are extrinsically motivated to do it because I said they should, or I said the Bible says to do this or that. And extrinsic motivators just don’t stick. If someone has not captured a vision for WHY they want to take action or how their lives will be benefitted, then the action step is going to fade away, without very much resistance. The Christian Coaching Model helps this greatly, and it’s why we have built our whole Life Coach Training program around it.
Gary Collins wrote a fabulous book called Christian Coaching, and it is he has a whole chapter on Coaching in Churches / Spirituality. Collins acknowledges the risk of untrained people trying to do coaching and causing more harm than good. In contrast, it is exciting to imagine how coaching can revolutionize the church experience! He references Tony Stolfzus, an author and coach who has equipped tons of Christian Coaches and says his passion is “helping leaders see and engage God’s purposes in every situation.”
Tony suggests we should have clear definitions of what coaching is or does. For example, one he uses a lot (according to Gary Collins in Christian Coaching) is “Coaching is a discipline of helping people grow without telling them what to do.” (Collins P286) I can get behind that! The art of asking powerful questions and listening to what people are saying (and not saying) helps people get unstuck or grow forward in transformational ways.
When I think about what coaching can do in the church, I get super excited. I imagine the benefits of so many types of people getting equipped. I want to be part of training:
- small group leaders with basic coach skills so they can dig deep and grow together
- frontline teams who meet people on Sunday mornings, so they can have “sticky conversations” that truly connect people
- marriage ministry leaders who work with couples and walk with them as they heal and move forward
- care and prayer teams who talk with hurting and stuck people
- mission teams so that they can make a powerful impact on the people they share the gospel with
The difference between coaching and Christian coaching is who is steering the ship. With coaching, we can help people get where they want to go…which seems super satisfying until you explore getting them where GOD wants them to go. It is a true privilege to stand in the gap and walk with people as they connect with who He is and what He has for them next.
A key component to Christian coaching is to remain in step with the Holy Spirit as you coach. God is already at work, and it is critical not to push your own agenda on a coachee but rather let God navigate the path. Sometimes a person will take a faster path, a slower path, or a completely different path than you would! That’s the joy of each of us being such unique beings. I welcome you to explore this Christian Coaching world to see how it might transform how you live your life and do ministry.