Monday, September 20, 2010

Coaching and Discipleship

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to make a brief presentation about peer coaching to the deacon body of our church.  Last spring, we used Tony Stoltzfus’ peer coach training material to help eight participants develop skills to help each other grow.  Half of those continue to meet as peers for coaching.  We are planning to offer this training again in the coming weeks.

I explained to the group that the basic concepts of life coaching overlap with what we seek to do in disciple development. Coaching is a complex process, but it basically involves four things.  First, coaching affirms a person’s ability to make changes in his or her life.  Second, coaching identifies a person’s strengths and areas for development.  Third, coaching helps a person set goals and plan action steps to reach those goals.  Finally, coaching provides accountability as a person seeks to achieve his or her goals.

In the process of developing Christian disciples, we also seek to do four things.  First, we recognize a believer’s desire and ability to live a life than honors God.  Second, we encourage the believer to identify the gifts that God has given him or her and ways to grow in the use of those gifts. Third, we help the believer to develop the disciplines and practices to become what God wants that person to be. Lastly, in Christian community and peer relationships, we can provide the believer with accountability on the journey of Christian discipleship.

The similarity in the two processes leads me to believe that coaching approaches and techniques can help us grow as disciples.  The step that is most challenging in the coaching process is the one in which the church so often falls short in disciple development—accountability.  Knowing what to do is not the problem.  Most of us already know more than we are practicing.  What is lacking is accountability.  The church can provide that in many ways—small groups, Bible study classes, covenant groups, etc.—but a peer coaching relationship can be one of the most effective.

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