“When you relate to a person as a faith coach, you participate in the work of the Spirit by coming alongside people as an advocate and helper.” – Hall, Cooper, and McElveen in the book Faith Coaching
Have you ever had a one-on-one conversation with anyone about your personal spiritual journey?
Discipleship is a very hot topic in the church world today. After many years of using membership as the main target, we are beginning to see churches focus more on making disciples and less on making members. This is a wonderful trend and I hope this is the start of a revival throughout churches everywhere.
There are many spiritual disciplines which will help people grow closer to the image of Christ: reading the Bible, serving others, financial giving, prayer, observing the Sabbath, attending worship, sharing the faith, involvement in a small group, etc. However, I believe we are missing a critical element in most church discipleship ministries. . .
Discipleship Coaching – the ministry of meeting with individuals one-on-one in order to help them take the next steps on their spiritual journey.
Please don’t misunderstand, I think there is tremendous value in all of the spiritual disciplines – AND people certainly grow as disciples in small groups, classes, worship services, and lots of other settings. I just think we are missing a very important piece of the puzzle without one-on-one conversations.
When I’m working with a church on creating a new discipleship process we always include coaching. As a certified coach, I will provide some basic coach training along the way. Here are the qualities I recommend looking for in potential discipleship coaches:
- A Christian mature enough on their own walk to be able to provide guidance to others.
- An active listener. Someone who can discern quickly the meaning behind what people are saying and hear God’s Spirit in each believer.
- An encourager. A person who sees the best in people. Someone who can challenge others to use their Spiritual Gifts, heart, abilities, passions, and experiences in the Kingdom.
- A committed member of the church who is familiar enough with the church to be able to connect someone to the appropriate leaders or ministry areas in order to grow as a disciple in all areas of their spiritual life.
One of the best things about discipleship coaching is that it works no matter where a person is on their spiritual journey. For someone new to the faith this can be a safe place for them to ask questions and focus more on the next small step and not be overwhelmed by how far they think they feel they need to travel. For a person who has been in the church for years, but may feel “stuck” this can be a conversation about trying new things and breaking out of their old patterns. No matter where we are on our spiritual journey, there is always a next step.
Another great thing about discipleship coaching is that it can be done in any size church. All you need is at least one person to get started. So no matter what size congregation you have, you can start helping people grow as disciples.
In the past few years I’ve had an opportunity to have dozens and dozens of discipleship coaching conversations with people. Each one is different, but there are two big things I’ve learned that I will leave with you to think about. First, none of the people I’ve talked with have ever had a one-on-one conversation with anyone about their personal spiritual journey. I bet the same is true in your church. And second, every single one of them struggles with reading the Bible. They all had the desire, but there was something getting in the way. How about everyone in your church? When is the last time you taught on reading Scripture? Are you just assuming everyone is in God’s Word?
Here are some suggested next steps:
- Read the book, Coaching for Christian Leaders: A Practical Guide by Linda J. Miller.
- Read the book, Stride: Creating a Discipleship Pathway for Your Church by Mike Schreiner and Ken Willard.
- Contact Ken Willard to see about adding Discipleship Coaching to your church’s discipleship process. Ken@L4T.org
- Order a Discipleship Coaching participant workbook from Ebay.
- Pray about who might be the right person to invite as your first discipleship coach.
- Be sure to invest in their training to ensure they are ready to help others.
- Check out my church leadership online webinars at: www.leadership4transformation.thinkific.com
You don’t have to try and do it alone. Ken can walk with you and your church as he has with many other churches to provide coaching, training, encouragement, resources, and support along the way. Together we can do it!
Let’s take a step in that direction today!