A Coaching Culture
Many pastors and leaders like the idea of coaching as part of the very fabric of how they do ministry–they want it to permeate their whole discipleship and leadership development process. They would like it if everyone had a coach. Yet few manage to make that happen. Why? What’s needed? Here are four essential elements for building a coaching culture.
Element #1: A committed leader…
…who is committed to coaching
If you want a culture of relational coaching to permeate your ministry, it requires your personal involvement. That may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how often leaders believe they can help something take root in their ministry by talking about it instead of by participating in it. The senior leader needs to model personally what they want their people to be doing. In the case of coaching, that means two things: they need to be doing coaching and they need to be receiving coaching.
Is the senior leader coaching others? People watch their leaders to see what is actually important. When leaders talk about coaching but don’t do it, people invariably interpret that to mean, “Coaching is a nice idea, but not very important.” As leaders, we demonstrate what is important by how we live and how we choose to spend our time… not just what we talk about.
…who is being coached
The other important issue is whether or not the senior leader is being coached. A leader that is truly committed to coaching is not only doing coaching, but receiving coaching. If you want your people to value and receive coaching, you need to receive it as well. There is an inherent hypocrisy in saying others need coaching but I don’t. Coaching can double or triple your effectiveness. Do you believe that? If so, why aren’t you receiving coaching?
As senior leaders, we need to live out our priorities on a personal level– by giving and receiving coaching– not just by promoting coaching as a good idea. That’s the essential first step in creating a coaching culture.
Element #2: Vision…
…that is clear and compelling
Many times, leaders will express the desire for a coaching culture in their church or ministry, but–if pressed–have only a cloudy idea of what that would look like if it actually happened.
As a leader who wants to establish a culture of coaching, there’s no substitute for visioncasting. You need to cast a clear and compelling vision of what a coaching culture would really look like when it is fully lived out. People need to be able to see it, taste it, see it in their mind’s eye. Here’s what that vision looks like for Christina Roberts, co-lead pastor at Foundry414.
- They take seriously that God can speak clearly to each person when they have someone coming alongside them to help listen.
- They offer coaching to…
- every newcomer coming into church to help them navigate their discipleship and involvement.
- people in their family life.
- those who wish to become involved in incarnational ministry.
- all of their ministry apprentices to continue developing them in their gifts and skills.
- They are committed to having enough coaching capacity so they can offer coaching to everyone who is serious about wanting someone to come alongside them to help them grow.
…that empowers others
Another important point of visioncasting for a coaching culture is to underscore the benefits for people. They need to understand the benefits coaching will bring… concrete examples of how it will make a difference. Michael Gatlin, senior pastor of Duluth Vineyard, talks about how much coaching has impacted the quality and scope of pastoral care at his church. People are empowered with the confidence to come alongside others in times of need and to work on their issues together. That kind of motivation is essential– people need to see the benefits.
Element #3: An investment in raising up coaches
But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ — Luke 14:28-30 (NLT)
Many leaders want to train and develop more coaches, but when it comes time to do so, they balk. They don’t want to invest the time or money required to do it. There is a cost to building a coaching culture. If you want to create a system-wide culture of coaching, you need to invest in a long-term process for making that happen: Start small, go deep, think big. Leaders often overestimate what can be accomplished in one year, and underestimate what can be accomplished in three years. If you think long-term—and are willing to count the cost—you can build in capacity for future growth. In this way, you can get the job done and develop people in the process.
Element #4: A clear and reproducible method
Now you need to make it as easy and clear as possible for other people to follow the process and engage in coaching themselves. In a word, you need to create a reproducible method. Unless you have a clear and reproducible method, you have the era of the Judges, where everyone does what is right in their own eyes. That produces hit-and-miss results at best. Instead, how can you standardize the process, making it clear for your people what you want them to do?
One key to standardizing the process in a way that makes it reproducible is to link basic coaching practices to key ministry results. For example, if our goal is to live and love like Jesus (result), how are our coach training practices moving us toward this goal in tangible ways? Make the link explicit so you can be intentional about it.
Embracing—and consistently practicing—the four elements listed above can help you create a solid coaching culture within your ministry organization.
Becoming Barnabas is the starting place for ministry coaching. It provides clear, biblical reasoning for coaching as well as the basic theory of ministry coaching. When you have a few people committed to learning to coach in a ministry setting, the Barnabas Ministry Training Kit is a downloadable, turn key course that will provide you and others with quality coach training. Learn more HERE.
Maybe your vision is bigger or more nuanced. The Christian Coaching Tools team would love to come alongside you to help you develop a customized, reproducible coach training process. Learn more HERE.