Coaching is essential for a sustained missional community movement. If you are committed to decentralized discipleship, you must make ongoing investments in leaders. We call this coaching—a process of pulling out what the Holy Spirit has already put inside a person.
A coaching structure for ongoing leadership development and encouragement is one of the substantial differences between a church that decentralizes leadership and disciple-making and a church that centralizes leadership and disciple-making.
If you are a leader within a missional community, you will likely need to be coached. Why? Because your community and leadership are unique. The training and resources available to you as a leader are fundamentally important to preparing you to lead forward; however, those resources don’t help you process through your unique community, calling, and leadership in real time. That is where coaching comes in. Coaching helps leaders process where they are and move toward their calling to make disciples.
However, coaching is not something you sit back and receive. It doesn’t work that way. You have to put effort into being coached. You have to come prepared, come willing, and work while you’re being coached.
As a leader, preparation for coaching means thinking and praying through your community, the people, stories, mission, and current activity. As you reflect on your community you ought to ask: Where are we stuck? Where am I confused? What are the areas where I’m not sure I know what to do? What are the areas where we know what we want to do, but don’t do them? In other words, think about the things you are unsure of.
A simple way to prepare is to follow these three steps.
• Spend time thinking about what God is currently leading you to do but remains fuzzy. Write those things down.
• Make a list of 3-5 things you and your community are struggling with or has opportunities you don’t know what to do with.
• Spend time thinking and praying about each item.
You want to come to a coaching appointment ready to talk about the things you or your community are struggling to obey and things your community wants to do but doesn’t know how. Come to coaching with issues, topics, opportunities, and burdens that remain incomplete.
Good coaching requires the leader to come open-minded on what could be next. Come into a coaching conversation expecting the Holy Spirit to be present and speaking. Come willing to grow in clarity on what God is leading you towards. This is a posture of the heart that is prepared to be stretched, challenged, and encouraged to walk in the things God has prepared for you—not necessarily what you’ve planned.
Come to the coaching conversations with honesty, vulnerability, and risk. The most dangerous thing you can do is come with half-truths portraying optimism and saying, “everything is great” when things are not great. This isn’t dangerous for the coach; it is dangerous for you. If you cannot be honest with others about the struggles, opportunities, and realities of their community, you will be creating an environment where you don’t face what’s real. Be careful, what you do will multiply, so learning to address the hard things is what it’s all about. If you don’t feel safe to share the reality with your coach, make that part of your conversation.
Work with the Coach
Good coaching conversations are a collaborative effort. As the person being coached, you will have to brainstorm, think through your community on the spot, listen to the questions, and explore possible solutions. You have to trust yourself to lead the conversation to what is most important.
Working with the coach means thinking of yourself as the expert on your missional community and allowing the coach to be a coach. Don’t put the coach in the role of consultant.
Often coaching conversations break down when the leader doesn’t want to go through the process of discovering for themselves their own next steps. The person being coached becomes lazy, in a sense, and simply wants answers given to them.
You may want to jump ahead and ask the coach for their opinion, but be patient. There is certainly a time and place for this. However, as you are coached allow yourself to dig deep and prayerfully look for next steps.
Grow Up in Christ
You are being discipled through this process. Through coaching, you are actively working through issues and learning how to work with others to follow Jesus in the ways God gifted you. This is exciting!
Check out this new resource, How to Be Coached to dive deeper.
How have you seen coaching conversations support your community’s disciple-making?
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