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Coaching for Joe Plumber

Jan 29th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching and the Church

Coaching for Joe the Plumber

By Russ Rainey, Ph.D.

Will the local church accept the coach approach to leading and disciple-making? Friends have heard me rant for several years about “Why aren’t Christian coaches using their coaching skills in their own local churches?” So, here’s my shot at having an influence on that, and I hope that you and I together can help bring the coach approach to the attention of church leadership for what it really is – an outstanding methodology for leadership and personal growth which knows no equal in the usual discipleship programming of the local church.Don’t get me menlaughingwrong — it’s not that coaching is not being discussed at all by those responsible for spiritual growth in our churches. In fact, pastors are beginning to catch on to the personal benefits of receiving coaching. Such experts on ministry as Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary are exhorting young pastors to take advantage of coaching themselves and to use a transformative coaching approach in their ministry and leadership duties. Even mega-church pastor Andy Stanley pulls no punches about a pastor’s personal need for a leadership coach to continue effective ministry and leadership. His book Next Generation Leader is a strong endorsement of coaching for the cutting edge minister.

So, this is great, and just a very few years ago I would not have imagined pastors pursuing coaching. If we’re seeing some acceptance of coaching amongst those who lead our churches, that’s fantastic! But here’s my beef: where are the advocates for the average “Joe the Plumber” Christian being offered the same benefits of Christian life coaching? After all, George Barna reported in Growing True Disciples that, “A majority (55%) of the adults who indicated their interest in hearing advice on how to improve their spiritual life also said that if the church matched them with a spiritual mentor or coach, they would be more likely to pursue the changes suggested to them.”

Who in the church world is coming to the conclusion that anyone who wants to mature in their faith should be able to receive one-on-one coaching for personal and spiritual growth? If no one comes to mind, that’s not surprising. But wait, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Are you aware that Willow Creek’s Reveal study came to the conclusion that coaching / mentoring is just what the doctor ordered to keep the most mature members of our churches going and growing instead of falling out the back door of the church? It’s true – I’m not kidding — if you haven’t gotten a copy of Reveal, go to the Willow Creek Association website and order this eye-opening study so you can read this for yourself. Or, check out my summary of the study, especially for its emphasis on coaching.

I will be very interested to hear your comments about this study and what this might mean for the future of coaching in the local church. So, chime in here with your comments about the study, about how coaching might be used in the church, about any experiences you or others are having in using coaching in the church, about resources you’ve discovered that are being developed for this purpose, and about anything else you think to be helpful or interesting on this topic.

Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s a train of Christian change experts headed right at the heart of the church. Jump on board…

Russ Rainey, Ph.D., 817-479-3231,

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