Once upon a time, pastoral visits involved reading the bible to people, praying for them, and perhaps sharing communion with the grieving, the sick, or the distressed.

The world of pastoral care underwent a significant paradigm shift when insights gained from psychology and counselling were integrated into pastoral care training. As well as providing spiritual resources of prayer and scripture, pastors began to intentionally utilize pastoral listening. Through the discipline and grace-filled gift of listening, comfort, release, clarity and new insights can emerge. This has breathed a helpful dynamic into the spiritual ministry of pastoral care.

I’m happy to go out on a limb and claim that coaching training provides the skills needed to embark on a paradigm shift in exercising Christian leadership. It is a paradigm shift that sits perfectly with Churches of Christ ethos on the priesthood of all believers; the belief that fruitful ministry emerges from the Spirit of God stirring up spiritual gifts in individual believers, and the dreams and power for mission and ministry in congregations. It provides a way forward for church leadership teams who feel reserve about the sometimes mechanistic (and not infrequent American cultural bias) of much “leadership and management” teaching. There is an alternative to paralysis on one hand and macho visions imposed on a congregation on the other… and that is discernment and obedient action facilitated by the simple skills of coaching.

Through a process of good questions and good listening, coaching enables individuals (or leadership teams) to think through an issue carefully, develop a plan of action, and evaluate progress on an ongoing basis. Rather than remaining stuck in navel-gazing (a sometimes necessary but always incomplete step toward change) coaching always facilitates obedient action… the essence of faithful discipleship.

I have been involved in coaching leaders for a number of years now, but I continue to be delighted (and amazed) at the amount of clarity, positive action and momentum that can be unleashed by simple coaching processes. At times coaching facilitates a person to do less, but to be more strategic in what they do, and to function in a healthier and more sustainable fashion. I find it a most joyous ministry to facilitate greater fruitfulness in others through Christian coaching.

Interested yet?

Some people are “natural” intuitive coaches, just as some people are natural pastoral carers. However, just as naturally gifted pastoral carers can become more fruitful though pastoral training, even “natural” coaches can become far more effective through specific coaching training. Those clueless about coaching can become effective coaches with relative ease, provided they have some capacity to listen to others.

I’m delighted to recommend NOVO’s coaching training as both Christ-centred and highly professional, and I’d invite all ministers and church leaders to find out more about how coaching can transform their ministries in fruitful ways. See here. Remember that Churches of Christ members can have a 50% discount on Workshop One, and a 25% discount on other workshops. (the next one is on the 1st of September). I’d also love to hear your comments, feedback, and pushbacks!


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