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Getting the Senior Pastor’s Blessing for a Coaching Ministry

Jul 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching and the Church Guest Posts
Convince me...

Convince me...

How important is it to get your Pastor’s blessing up front if you hope to start a coaching ministry in your church?  It’s IMPERATIVE!!  In this coach trainer’s mind, nothing else is more important.  It is not at all wise to try to introduce something as life-changing and paradigm-busting as coaching to a congregation without the Senior Pastor’s hearty agreement.  But “selling” coaching to your pastor is not a job for the faint-of-heart.  It can be a very challenging business.  Here’s why: 

 Coaching is notoriously difficult to explain to someone who has no experience with it, and your Pastor is likely a very busy man with way too many irons in the fire to think of pursuing an extra meeting with a coach every week.  There’s a good chance that he knows next to nothing about what you mean when you say the word “coaching”.  And, even if he is familiar with the concept (because he heard about it at a conference or saw it mentioned in a book), you will have a tough time finding the words to describe it in language that he can connect with as a minister.  Explaining to your Pastor that coaching helps people deal with energy drains, un-clutter their lives, practice extreme self-care, and align their life with their values probably won’t score many points with him.

 It’s also hard to “sell” coaching to someone who has an unrecognized bias toward information-giving as the preferred pathway of helping others with personal growth.  Pastors, by virtue of their roles (preacher / teacher) and often their personality type (typically a driven leader-type), are born “tellers”, and they should be – how can people know the truth of the Gospel if someone doesn’t tell them?  Coaching, however, is about asking and listening and believing that God will somehow show up and partner with the coachee for a unique personal solution.  Try explaining that to someone who has always seen the primary task of ministry as “truth telling”.  It doesn’t compute.

 Furthermore, suggesting the start of a new, untested, hard-to-conceptualize, one-on-one, “behind closed doors”, paradigm-shifting, non content-driven ministry in a church setting that is typically high-control anyway (for the sake of quality control and liability concerns) is like pushing a parked Chevrolet Suburban up a steep hill.  That’s not even to mention the mundane church issues of competing with all the other ministries of the church for publicity, volunteers, and budget money. 

So, if you weren’t already discouraged about talking to your Pastor about coaching, you should be now.  But wait…before you mark the whole idea permanently off of your “big, hairy, audacious goal” list, let’s think about some ways of going about this that might give you a higher percentage of success.  After all, you wanted this to be “a God thing” anyway.  And, it is.

Following are some things to think through before you ever have a meeting with your Pastor.  This is not an exhaustive list – just a few ideas to get you started:

  • be sure and pray and ask others to pray about the opportunity
  • make sure you are called to do this work
  • take note of your church’s mission statement and main emphases and think about how coaching can play a legitimate role in the church
  • consider the various ministries of your church and where coaching might be a good fit
  • consult with appropriate church staff and leaders about the potential use of coaching and get their buy-in
  • find ministry partners to form a team – don’t go it alone
  • list potential coaching benefits to the church
  • list potential coaching applications and target the most likely ones
  • coach church staff and leaders and ask for testimonies afterward
  • collect documentation on the use of and benefits of coaching in both the business and church world (including articles, books, quotes)
  • connect with others using coaching in the church world and learn from their successes and failures
  • look for similar churches using coaching and also denominational “early adapters” who have adopted coaching methodologies and document their stories
  • write a proposal to do a pilot project with a limited audience to beta test the coaching approach
  • consider using some kind of well-accepted spiritual content as a “content plus coaching” approach versus straight life coaching
  • get an appointment with your Pastor and invite your partners to the discussion
  • make sure the Pastor understands that this is your gift to the church – you are not mining for potential paying clients

 If that sounds like a lot of work, it is.  But just consider the potential life change possibilities, the potential fulfillment in your life, and the potential eternal rewards such a ministry might create.  And, if you have other ideas for how to go about preparing for and presenting coaching to a Senior Pastor, please feel free to blog so the rest of us can share your thoughts and experiences.

For Dr. Russ Rainey’s coaching services to the local church, see his website

 Russ Rainey, Ph.D., is a Professional Coach and Coach Trainer.  He can be contacted at 817-479-3231 or at

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2 Responses to “Getting the Senior Pastor’s Blessing for a Coaching Ministry”

  1. adavebaker says:

    Thanks Russ, I found this to be helpful. Fortunately for me, my pastor sees this as a great fit for my spiritual giftings. I am marketing to many of the local churches, and of course am being directed to the Senior Pastor in each. Part of my “benefits to your congregation” line has to do with helping their flock to uncover their Spiritual Giftings, fulfilling God’s plan for their lives, and being effective, intentional, Christians. Of course I explain that this is done by identifying values, unlocking passions, and developing achievable visions. These are things that I am finding to be of interest to every leader that I have spoken to. Thanks again.

    Dave Baker CCLC

    • Russ Rainey says:

      It’s great to hear that your pastor is supportive of this work, Dave, and that you’re endeavoring to help other churches get a coaching ministry going. Are you doing any coaching or coach training in your own church yet? I’d love to talk to you about what you’re doing, so please feel free to connect with me offline so we can visit.

      As a person who is involved with the church and coaching, you can allow readers of this blog to learn from your experiences by blogging here regularly and letting us travel with you. We want to know about your approach, your successes and your obstacles. Thanks for sharing.

      Russ Rainey, Ph.D.

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