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Coaching at Ponte Vedra Presbyterian Church

Jun 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching and the Church Guest Posts

church-buildingIt all started when Robert Brown, an insurance agent in Ponte Vedra, Florida, had a brief experience with a Christian Life Coach as a part of a stewardship program in which his church was participating.  Robert fell in love with this idea that others in his church could grow in their discipleship and stewardship through a one-on-one, supportive relationship that was not based on telling but on asking.  He not only had a vision, he got the ball rolling and now his church has an official coaching ministry approved by the pastor and the elders of his church, and they will begin their second round of coach training this Fall.

 If you asked Robert about the journey to having a successful ministry, he would probably include the following aspects: 

  1. Champions – Robert and his wife, Lynette, are true champions of coaching because they experienced it for themselves.  They personally understand the paradigm shift from telling to asking, and they have experienced personal change through a coaching relationship.  It is not enough to explain coaching to a pastor and staff – you need champions to forward the cause.  Robert and Lynette have exerted a positive influence on the pastor and staff, they have recruited other capable lay leaders, they have hosted small group experiences that promote coaching, and they keep the ministry high profile at their church in any way they can.
  2. Permission from the Top – Ponte Vedra Presbyterian Church is led by Pastor Richard Cooper, a progressive leader who understands that his members need more than great sermons, small groups, and service opportunities.  Richard “gets it” that true transformation requires a plan of action, outside support and accountability to prove sustainable.  Having the pastor’s support for a new coaching ministry is absolutely necessary, as those who have tried to start a ministry from the “bottom up” would tell you after a disappointing experience and some hard feelings.  Pastor Richard blessed the newly trained coaches in a formal manner as a part of their Sunday morning services.  The church knows they are for real.
  3. Involvement of Church Leaders – Robert and Lynette and their pastor went to work early on to recruit other capable leaders within the church to be involved with the first coach training group.  The result was six other bright, loving and well-respected servant-leaders who have taken every opportunity to expose the rest of the church to the new coaching ministry.  This group includes a staff member and her husband who love personal discipleship, an elder and his wife who lead a small group and youth ministries, a professional counselor and teacher, and a successful business man who generously lends the church his time and expertise.
  4. Competent Coach Training – the team at PVPC brought in a certified Christian coach trainer to provide 20 hours of experiential training over a number of weeks.  Training was later replaced by continuing education, supervision and strategic planning for ministry implementation.  All of this took place over a six month period of time.
  5. Great content plus coaching – the coaching ministry influenced the entire church to study material related to God-given life purpose in their small groups.  This challenged many to not only consider a new perspective but also to have the privilege of working with a coach to make sure they are moving toward their personal calling and mission.  What a great way to introduce coaching to the church!
  6. Integration with existing church values – PVPC puts a high value on helping new members find a place of service within the body, community or wider kingdom application.  Coaching was a natural fit with this value, and now the coaching ministry is helping new members understand their God-given purpose and calling through classes that also encourage people to utilize personal coaching to discover their strengths, gifts, passions, and personality and put those assets to work for Christ.
  7. Sustainability versus a fad – the PVPC coaching ministry is thinking about the future.  What has been done to date has been exciting, but they are considering how to expand the influence of the ministry to affect the entire church culture.  That means offering additional training opportunities and eventually having their own coach trainer team so the church will “own and operate” the ministry from the ground up.

As the coach trainer who has the privilege and blessing of working with the PVPC team, I can tell the reader (on a purely selfish level) that THIS IS A BLAST!!  Please try this with your church, and if not there, somewhere else that is ready to receive the blessing.  You’ll receive a blessing, but more importantly, you will leave a legacy in that church that will provide ongoing blessings until Jesus comes back.

By Russ Rainey, Ph.D.,   russr@courageousgrowth.com,   817-479-3231

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