Category Archives: church

Coaching In Ministry

coaching in ministryThere is no question that the ministry landscape is undergoing significant change. If you went to seminary more than 10 years ago the nuts-and-bolts ministry training you received is becoming less relevant and less effective with each passing year. People’s engagement with the local church in terms of  attendance, serving, and giving no longer resembles the “twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday,” tithing-multiple-committee-member model from just a decade or two ago. Churches seem to be universally challenged with how to guide people toward greater ministry engagement. For many of those churches they need look no further than how they equip and empower their volunteers and ministry leaders toward meaningful ministry. In Coaching In Ministry, coaching pioneer Keith Webb charts a course that will help ministry leaders navigate this changing landscape.

I have received significant training and encouragement through Keith’s training programs and his previous work – The COACH Model for Christian Leaders. He has quickly become my primary resource for all things coach related. His latest book continues to teach, challenge, and clarify my understanding and use of coaching in ministry. I highly recommend Coaching in Ministry to anyone involved in ministry leadership. (Full Disclosure: Keith Webb provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Keith begins this short book with a concise working definition of coaching:

“an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.” (p. 21)

He further explains:

“Coaching focuses on people’s learning rather than us teaching. Coachees (those who are coached) are in the driver’s seat. They choose their own goals, reflect deeply on their current situation, think through their options, and decide their next steps. All the while, the coach actively listens and asks reflective questions, supportively challenging limited beliefs and behaviors.” (pp 21-22)

Later Keith describes coaching as,

“a non-directive conversation in which the coach asks a person questions to prompt reflection into what God is saying to that person. The coaching process empowers that person to develop custom solutions for his or her problems or goals.” (p. 37)

One of the primary strengths of Coaching In Ministry is that it can serve as an introduction and call-to-action for the importance of coaching in ministry. I will order several copies to share with my staff colleagues and board members. I will also use this book when inviting ministry leaders to consider my coaching services. If you are unfamiliar with coaching (or think you already know what coaching is) reading Coaching in Ministry will bring further clarity to the immense value of coaching.

Unfortunately, many leaders still operate under the disingenuous definition of management as ‘the art of getting people to do what you want them to do while thinking it was their idea!’ Many of those same leaders think that coaching is ‘asking questions until you get the coachee to give you the answer you want!’ The lack of authenticity in both of these approaches destroys any potential for long-lasting growth and effective leadership development.

It is so much more fulfilling to hear a coachee formulate a solution to a challenge they are facing that they thought of themselves rather than reluctantly agreeing to try the solution you gave them! Coaching has enabled me to equip more people for effective ministry than any training program, class, or leadership development program I have ever used. Keith clearly and concisely establishes a solid foundation for biblical coaching that honors God, equips and empowers the coachee, and strengthens the church.

Finally, Coaching In Ministry will introduce you to: The Question That Moves People to Action. Keith claims this one question will,

“help get people into action that is non-threatening and open enough to work in just about any situation.” (p.78)

But you will have to read the book yourself to find out what that question is. I think it’s well worth the modest price of the book!

4 Ways Coaching Is Like Good Jazz!

optimized-maxW950-jazz4I started playing the trumpet 50 years ago! While I’m a better classical trumpet player (I prefer playing from sheet music), I’ve always liked listening to jazz. It’s one of the truly American music forms. Recently, I discovered that listening to jazz actually makes me a better coach. Here’s how.

Improv. In jazz the melody is always there but sometimes it’s hidden behind a little free improvisation. You’re never really sure where the music is going because the musician doesn’t really know either! He’s free to explore different combinations, progressions, and resolutions. Every version of the song is different. Coaching conversations are very similar. There is a main focus to the conversation but there is freedom to explore combinations and the final resolution will reflect the uniqueness of the person being coached. No two conversations are the same.

Players. Most jazz groups are small – individuals, duets, trios, 5-piece, etc. While there are big jazz bands some of the best jazz sound comes from very small groups. Coaching takes advantage of the uniqueness of the individual to create successful pathways and solutions. In christian coaching that duet between the coach and the person-being-coached includes the Holy Spirit – the perfect 3-piece combo!

Movement. There are times while listening to jazz that you just have to move along with the music. You might tap a finger, a foot, or even both feet! There’s no reason to fight it. Enjoy the beauty of the rhythm and harmonies in the moment. Close your eyes if you want to. In coaching we refer to this as “dancing in the moment.” It’s what happens when the person-being-coached “leads” into new territory with a reply to a question and the coach “follows” his or her lead with more questions. The conversation is not choreographed – it happens with both spontaneity and purposefulness – and movement is created.

Resolution. Every piece of jazz ends a bit differently but most often there is a sense of resolution that just feels right. Often it evokes a nod and a smile. Coaching can evoke much the same response. A sense of resolution. A nod of agreement and direction. A smile that a plan is in place that will bring about change and growth – even anticipation for the next set (coaching conversation).

Improv. Players. Movement. Resolution – all key elements of a good jazz selection and of a good coaching session. Listening to jazz is making me a better coach!

Ready to move into your own coaching conversation? Contact me today. Let’s get started!

Four Secrets of Successful Ministry Leaders

Leaders-Managing-CrisisLet’s face it. No matter how good we think we are as leaders we all know we can do better. Here are four quick secrets that will unlock your leadership:

1) Take Risks. Successful ministry leaders take risks. Church planter/Lead Pastor Marlan Mincks says, “What God has for us is never realized in safety. It’s only realized in risk.” You can sit around and wait for ever thing to fall in place on it’s own or you can take a risk and go for it! I asked an “elephant in the room” question at a board of directors meeting once that ended up with us relocating our ministry center from Chicago to Orlando. If I’d kept my mouth shut the opportunity to move would have been lost for good.

2) Read. Pastor Rick Warren writes, “If you want to be a growing leader…keep reading. It’s the only way to stay out front.” [Read More] The two best book I’ve read in recent months are “Overrated” by Eugene Cho because it challenged my views of missions and justice [Review] and “What Radical Husbands Do” by Regi Campbell because of its clarity and directness in my most important leadership role.

3) Get assessed. Succesful ministry leaders invite assessment of their ministry and leadership skills. Author David Olson has created a FREE online leadership assessment that accompanies his book: Discovering Your Leadership Style. It’s worth the 5 minutes of your time. sixstyles.org
 
4) Get Coached. Neil Tibbots of Leadership On-Ramp ranks the coaching of church planters as even more important than their assessment. An assessed but uncoached church planter is unlikely to successfully plant a church. A good coach can help you develop as a leader and chart a course toward continued ministry success.
 
Contact me today and let me help you get started making significant progress toward unlocking these secrets in your own ministry.
 
joedonaldson@icloud.com

I’ve Got Your Back

IveGotYourBack-400px

With “I’ve Got Your Back” James Galvin has produced one of the most helpful resources for leadership development that have hit the marketplace in recent years. He very wisely avoided the typical textbook format here.

Galvin begins by challenging some worn leadership principles that have produced what he calls Follower Abuse at the hands of incompetent, disempowering, manipulative, or toxic leaders (p. 49). He suggests that we can respond to follower abuse by avoiding leadership roles, perpetuating the cycle of abuse, hiding behind servant leadership, or developing our unique potential (p. 50.)Do we really need another leadership textbook? And perhaps more important, would we read it? Galvin asked that question early on and determined to publish a work that is both significantly helpful and eminently readable. The story he developed successfully delivers the content he wants to convey without getting buried in the pages of a textbook.

Perhaps the central thesis of Galvin’s leadership manifesto is found in these words spoken by Jack – the main character in this story:

“When you’re a leader, you lead followers. If you know how to follow well, then you know what good followers need. If you don’t know how to follow well yourself, you won’t be able to help others follow well.”

To lead well you must understand how to follow well. There are three types of followership:

Type I – Following God – which is eternal. Galvin says that we are unable to follow God fully.

Type II – Following inherited authorities – which lasts a lifetime. We are required to follow them.

Type III – Follow Human Beings – which is temporary. Following them is a choice.

(for the full chart see page 82.)

The core of his content is summarized in a few simple charts that are woven into the narrative. These charts should become part of your office decor or journal for frequent future reference.

If you have ever struggled to lead well or have experienced follower abuse from those leaders in your life (and who hasn’t?) then this book is just what you need to make sense of the mess and to bring clarity to the confusion you are experiencing. Second chair leaders will find this to be very helpful as they seek to follow their first chair leaders well – even when they don’t lead so well! If you aspire to move up from the second chair you would do well to master the technique of following well before you make such a move. I plan to utilize this material with the men’s groups and ministry teams that I lead.

You might explore tenthpowerpublishing.com/ivegotyourback for more helpful resources.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of posting a review. No expectation for a positive review was communicated or implied.

Let’s Talk About Coaching!


Are you looking for a coach? Do you know what a coach does and what you can expect in a coaching relationship? Do you know the difference between coaching, consulting,counseling, and mentoring? Here are some answers to those questions.

First some definitions. According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), coaching is defined as:

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Creative Results Management (CRM) defines coaching this way:

“Christian coaching is an on-going intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.”

And Linda Miller and Chad Hall submit this definition in their book, Coaching for Christian Leaders:

“Christian coaching is a focused Christ-centered relationship that cultivates a person’s sustained growth and action.”

This simple chart might help you understand the difference between coaching, consulting, counseling, and mentoring.

If this description of coaching sounds interesting to you I invite you to contact me. I’d be happy to explore with you how epic coaching can help you get unstuck and go further faster.

Downloadable version of chart:  coaching chart

God Wants You To Be Holy

Every once in a while you hear about a book that someone reads every year. Screwtape Letters, Elements of Style, My Utmost for His Highest, or The Complete Calvin and Hobbs.  The Hole In Our Holiness will certainly make the annual reading list for thousands who take following Jesus seriously.

Kevin DeYoung makes the case for a holiness deficit in the N. American church with three penetrating questions:

1) In Romans 16.9 Paul writes, “Your obedience is known to all.” DeYoung asks, “Is this even what you want to be known for? (p. 12)

2) Based on Rev 21-22 heaven is a holy place. DeYoung asks, “If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever?…..You would not be happy there if your are not holy here.” (p. 15)

3) Are we Great Commission Christians? “The Great Commission is about holiness. God wants the world to know Jesus, believe in Jesus, and obey Jesus.” (p. 16)

What follows is a thoughtful book on our responsibility and the necessity of our cooperation in the pursuit of holiness and the inherent perils in that pursuit. He addresses the importance of understanding the gradation of sin: “When we can no longer see the different gradations among sins and sinners and sinful nations, we have not succeeded in respecting our own badness; we have  cheapened God’s goodness.” (p. 72). When we get complacent in the pursuit of holiness DeYoung warns “…some Christians are stalled out in their sanctification for simple lack of effort. …. And they need to fight, strive, and make every effort to work out all that God is working in them.” (p. 90)

Chapter 7 is an important and profound treatment of the doctrine of our union with Christ. This chapter alone is worth the modest price of this fine book! Here’s just one example of DeYoung’s pointed and powerful writing: “In effect God says to us, ‘Because you believe in Christ, by the Holy Spirit I have joined you to Christ. When he died, you died. When he rose, you rose. He’s in heaven, so you’re in heaven. He’s holy, so you’re holy. Your position right now, objectively and factually, is as a holy, beloved child of God, dead to sin, alive to righteousness, and seated in my holy heaven – now live like it.” (p. 105). That will preach! And it will provide great encouragement to those who struggle to live up to their calling every day.

Toward the end of the book DeYoung clearly identifies the importance of personal holiness: “We think that relevance and relate-ability are the secrets to spiritual  success. And yet, in truth, a dying world needs you to be with God more than it needs you to be “with it.” That’s true for me as a pastor and true for you as a mother, father, brother, sister, child, grandparent, friend, Bible study leader, computer programmer, bank teller, barista, or CEO. Your friends and family, your colleagues and kids – they don’t need you to do miracles or transform civilization. They need you to be holy.” (p. 145).

It’s a short trip from holiness to legalism and we are often either very eager to make that trip or take just 1 or 2 wrong turns and end up at a destination that is not where we intended to go. What DeYoung writes in The Hole In Our Holiness can be very prescriptive and preventative in keeping us on the road to holiness. Don’t miss the last paragraph. It might be the most powerful paragraph in the entire book!

As a coach and second chair leader I recommend this book to all who want their lives to reflect the reality of their union with Jesus Christ. Personally, I found this short book to be filled with balanced and accurate interpretations of what the Bible teaches on the topic of personal holiness. The thoughtful reader will find plenty of encouragement and challenging motivation from it. And if you don’t have a book that you read annually, I would encourage you to make The Hole In Our Holiness that book.

This. Changes. Everything!

It was a seminal moment for me.

I recently attended a week of CORE coaching training put on by the good people of CRM. In a group of 30 active and aspiring coaches we were pulled, pushed, and stretched into a new way of helping people discover what God is already doing in their lives and how he is already speaking to them. Simply put it was the finest training experience of my life!

For most of us (and certainly for me) whenever we are in a group discussion or review we always want to offer our solutions. After all, our vast experience and superior knowledge on the subject is just what the other person or the group needs at the moment! It was nice of them to ask your opinion because you certainly have one!

Coaching isn’t like that. At the heart and soul of coaching is the art of asking questions that guide people through a process of self-discovery to a solution that they design and choose. The coach doesn’t offer solutions, tell about their own experience, or tell them what they “ought” to do. The goal in coaching is for the coach to speak only 20& of the time! The strength of this process is that people are much more likely to implement a decision that they made themselves than a decision that is forced on them.

Throughout the week we had several practice live coaching sessions with other group members. These were usually limited to 15-20 minute sessions while an actual coaching session is more likely to last anywhere from 45-90 minutes. But I was amazed at how much coaching could be accomplished in such a short period. It was one of those practice sessions that changed everything.

I was in a coaching triad where we did a ’round-robin’ series of three coaching sessions Each member of the triad had a turn as a coach, a coach, and an observer. It was a 20-minute session of epic life transformation! That got my attention. I left that training committed to pursuing coaching as a central component to my ministry and life. I’m already in the process of inviting several people to enter into a coaching relationship that will help them make some important life decisions and achieve some significant goals in life and ministry. I’d be happy to talk with you about how a handful of coaching sessions could be beneficial to you, too!