The church’s strength is founded upon more than 3,000 years of tradition, ritual and wisdom. But sometimes unlikely tools and new ways of thinking come along that allow God’s people to grow in different and interesting ways. Recently, the Baltimore-Washington Conference embarked on building a culture of coaching that empowers clergy, laity and congregations to find the motivation and abilities within themselves to become all that God intends for them to be.
Such claims may sound hyperbolic, but the concept of personal coaching, which began in the early 1990’s, is being used in the BWC in a systemic manner that allows pastors to receive coaching that builds on the idea that “who you are at your best, is who you are.” In addition, the Revs. Chris Holmes, superintendent of the Annapolis District, and Rod Miller, director of connectional ministries, have piloted a new coaching program for district superintendents throughout the denomination; and Bishop John Schol has cast the net even wider by offering coaching training this fall to interested pastors and lay people throughout the conference.
The results are still coming in and are subjective at best, but at the first of the regional coaching trainings, the feedback was encouraging. “Today I learned that I mentor people to become like me, pastor people to become like Christ and I coach them so that they can become the best that they already area,” said the Rev. Paulette Stevens of Emory Grove UMC in Gaithersburg.
The Rev. David Argo, superintendent of the Washington Metropolitan Region, agreed, adding, “Coaching multiplies our efforts to equip disciples who can transform the world.”
Coaching, explained the conference’s consultant and trainer, Ron Renaud, consists of conversations that are shared between a coach and a client, which build a relationship that serves the client. Coaching enables clients to determine and achieve personal goals. It begins with the assumption that clients are whole, not broken or needing to be fixed, elicits from them what they need and holds them accountable.
At the heart of good coaching, Renaud said, is listening, affirmation, curiosity, powerful questions, getting to the essence or bottom line, issuing a request or challenge and accountability.
After only a few sessions, the enthusiasm of the lay and clergy people taking the five training sessions is igniting possibilities within local churches. “We have to ask ourselves,” Renaud challenged the participants, “do we want to underwrite mediocrity or do we want to underwrite excellence?”
It’s a good question. For those thinking about coaching conversations, or self-examination, Renaud offers several other “power questions.” Among them: “What do you want? What is needed right now? What will it take? What must be? What is missing? What is your dream?”
Good questions all – and ones the church and its people will benefit from by asking themselves.
For more on Renaud’s insights into coaching and to learn more about his philosophy of “uncompromised achievement,” check out Ron’s blog.