Early in 2009, I was introduced to coaching through Dana Allin as he brought CoachNet (then under the direction of Bob Logan) into our presbytery as a way of transforming culture, deepening discipleship, and ultimately helping people reach their goals. I started training immediately and have continued with my own development as well as developing others. Dana clearly defined what coaching is in his recent blog on the subject.
That definition is important because many times we find that when people sign up to either be a coach or be coached, they think that they are starting a mentoring relationship, consultancy, or even counseling. And while in a coaching relationship, there might be some need to find those outside resources, it really isn’t what coaching is all about. Amber Ayers does a great job describing the differences in her blog. Ultimately, a coach comes alongside someone to help him or her achieve his or her goals.
A coach listens and listens well. A coach asks questions of the person to help clarify goals, action plans and thoughts related to where he or she is and wants to go. To see this clarity happen is truly amazing. In the course of an hour or less, in a coaching relationship, you can and should walk away from that session with a clear plan to move yourself along in the process of attaining whatever goal you have established. Whether it is measurable goals related to career or personal health, or growth goals in discipleship and education, a coach is there to encourage you and help you explore the best ways to get there.
The coaching process is not just for individuals but for teams as well. Recently I’ve been coaching a local church board in my area of Florida as they start to look to improve the staff/board relationship and establish their vision for the future together. It has been an amazing, transformative time. They’ve even sent one of their own to our coach training so that they can establish more coaching within their structure. I love to see this happen! It just goes to show the value of coaching and I believe that the coaching industry will grow incredibly over the next few years.
How about coaching in a Missional Affinity Group? I’m convinced that this is something that we will see more of in the future. In ECO we have MAGs that are working very well, and we have some that might need a little help in the “what are we supposed to do?” category. The 10 Narrative Questions are there as a basis to get the discussion going. But it might be that the questions do not dig deep enough into the health of the church. This is where a coach would be valuable. What are the questions that aren’t being asked? What are we doing not so well? Where can we really improve things? You can see how these questions change the dynamic. There is an added air of accountability that is ultimately the goal of the MAG.
That “third person” in the room is there to listen, ask and explore, ultimately for the benefit of the individual church, and the MAG. Goals can be set, plans can be put in place, and at the next meeting, guess what? The coach is going to ask how things are going! Accountability in action! We at ECO have said that accountability will be a huge factor in our being able to grow, trust one another, and be the church we are called to be. Coaching will play a large role in that transformative process. If you are interested in a coach coming alongside your MAG, or becoming a coach yourself, e-mail Dana or me and we’ll find a good fit for you.