February 22, 2017

Coaching: Taking the Next Best Faithful Step

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On today’s Whiteboard Wednesday, Andy Bossardet, Coordinator for Equipping Thriving Congregations for the Reformed Church in America, answers the questions, “What is coaching?” and “How can coaching help you?”

On today’s whiteboard, we’re going to consider the life of your church, and entering the liminal space. “Liminal” means the space between the ‘here’ and the ‘not yet,’ or the ‘now’ to ‘where we are headed.’

To help bridge the gap, an emerging market has formed in the world – executive coaching. Executive coaching is now a $7 billion industry in the business world, and is impacting commerce worldwide. As coaching has evolved, it is hard to point to a single definition, as we see coaching morph into becoming a buzzword to describe professional advice givers, consultants, and business therapists (without counseling degrees).

When we speak about coaching in the church, we are specifically talking about a self-directed process, by which someone comes into a relationship with you, effectively listens about your situation and ideas, and helps you discover what the Holy Spirit is already saying to you. As someone enters the the liminal space, we discover that coaching has four different functions:

First, the coach helps you discover your own strengths, what you thrive at and can leverage in your own situation. In essence, a coach can help you to see how God has been faithful to you in the past and can continue that faith into the present and future.

Second, a coach can help you reconnect with your own sense of call. Too often, in leadership and ministry, we can lose our sense that God has placed a call on us, even as we deal with everyday tasks and urgent matters that overwhelm us. Stanley Hauerwas has said that when pastors are caught up in endless, disconnected daily tasks we become “quivering piles of emotional availability.” A coach can help reconnect you in this area of liminal space.

Third, a coach can provide a safe and challenging environment for you to hear and ask difficult questions. Being a church in the 21st Century is different than being a church in the 20th Century, and as we move into this uncharted territory, it is not always easy to ask the challenging questions in all situations. Your coach can provide a secure environment where concerns can be raised, and hard responses emerge.

Finally, coaching is where you discover behaviors that cause you to waiver. After all, for most of us, the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves, in our own growth and transformation. A successful coach can help you discover the behaviors, motivations, and hard issues that keep you from taking the next step forward.

Coaching will take these four functions and combine them to help you discover your plan for your next step of action in the liminal space. We can’t pre-program where we are headed in our own leadership journey, much less the leadership and ministry direction of our churches. The best faith step forward is what a coach can help you discover and process, as together you move through the liminal space and into the space God is leading you toward.

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