Empower Coaching Network: Helping Others Move Forward
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Empower Coaching Network: Helping Others Move Forward

BGAV trains coaches to empower others seeking "thinking partners" in ministry

May 16, 2023
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When you hear the word “coach,” what one person or thing comes to your mind?

I put this question to the test with 100 random people, and their answers might be similar to yours: Coach K, my football coach who yelled at me, what I do three days a week with my child’s tee-ball team, my high school basketball life, my personal trainer, Roy Williams, Tony Bennett, Nick Saban. The list goes on and on.

But coaching isn’t just for athletes.

We tend to think of coaches as people who direct our favorite team or who direct us to be our best at a sport we have chosen. Professional coaches—like myself and those whom I train—use the same skills and principles of athletic coaches to partner with a person to get them from where they are presently to where they want to go in the future.

From a Christian coaching perspective, a coach helps a person establish where they are presently in their lives and where they think God is calling them to move toward. The coach then helps them discover the action steps they need to take to where God’s call leads. Bob Dale, my esteemed late colleague and friend and leadership mentor to scores of ministers, shared a great metaphor for what a Christian coach is and does: “A coach is my 'thinking partner' who holds me accountable for forward movement.”

BGAV’s Empower Coaching Network trains people to be these “thinking partners” for others by developing a group of trained and prepared coaches who walk alongside leaders who are searching for the answers to their question about what is next. About three times a year, the network provides the Foundations of Powerful Coaching course that prepares people to use specific coaching skills in their ministry settings.

As director of the network, here are some key things I’ve discovered about what we do and what the “coachee” learns and experiences. Coaching is:

·     Present and future focused. A coachee works on moving forward, not belaboring the past.

·     Action oriented. A coachee works toward moving forward by putting ideas into action.

·     Leveraging gifts and strengths. A coachee learns to listen to the voice of God in discerning where their passions meet opportunities and works on finding open doors to pursue those.

·     Creating a space that is safe for risk-taking and transformation. As the landscape of church and ministry continues to change rapidly, a coachee works with their coach to learn new ways to listen to others and develop innovative ideas.

·     Asking rather than telling. A coachee is guided to ask others for expertise and direction from others as needed to discover his/her own answers to challenging questions and situations.

Coachees enter a rich relationship involving themselves, their coaches, and God. Every coachee approaches this relationship understanding that the coach is NOT the expert in their situation, a therapeutic counselor, a mentor to guide through a challenge, nor a director.

Great coaches have been trained to speak only 20-30% of the time and to:

·     Listen deeply to what is said and not said.

·     Observe all things happening around the coachee.

·     Ask powerful, open-ended questions for discovery and clarity.

·     Encourage the coachee in their growth.

·     Hear the voice of the Spirit working in their relationship.

·     Deliver concise, pointed messages in seven words or less for reflection and growth.

Coaching changes lives. Consider these personal testimonials from a few of our coaches:

Foundations taught me how to give others the responsibility for their own lives and decision-making by showing them that they are capable and resourceful. I went from being a “fixer” and trying to do the life-changing work for others to now being able to empower and equip others to do their own work, which leads to growth and transformation. –Amy Hall

In my case, it was the beginning of God's new call for my life and ministry. Several people acknowledged in that first class how the practice seemed such a natural fit for me. Learning the foundational practices of coaching introduced a great way to minister to people that would become most of my ministry efforts.It is the lion's share of what I do now and is most rewarding in helping people take forward steps to reaching new heights and goals. –David Peppler

For me, powerful questions have been a gateway to deeper revelation with those I'm coaching. Knowing how to ask questions that move the dial for the coachee has brought about results I didn't expect, from tears to revelation. That's the work of coaching, helping people continually lean forward. The right questions unlock so many learnings in life. –Christy Foldenauer

If you’re inspired by what you’ve read here and want to know more about how you can become a coach, contact me at ken.kessler@bgav.org or view upcoming courses.

Ken Kessler is BGAV's director of the Empower Coaching Network.