“What is coaching and how is it different from mentoring?”
“How do you define coaching?”
These are common questions I am typically asked when I tell people that I lead a ministry for coaching leaders. Coaching may be a modern word and unused in the church, but the practice of coaching is not new. Coaching is regularly used in business, education, fitness, medicine, finances, and in what some call “Life Coaching.” There are as many definitions of coaching as there are books and seminars on coaching.
Gary Collins explains the background of the word coach: "In the 1500s, the word coach described a horse-drawn vehicle that would get people from where they were to where they wanted to be. Many years later, in the 1880s, coach was given an athletic meaning, identifying the person who tutored university students in their rowing on the Cam River in Cambridge. That use of the word stuck and coaches become known as people who help athletes move from one place to another. Over time the word also became associated with musicians, public speakers, and actors who rely on coaches to improve their skills, overcome obstacles, remain focused, and get to where they want to be."
Collins defines coaching as “the art and practice of guiding a person or group from where they are toward the greater competence and fulfillment that they desire.”
In their book, Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed in Life, Robert Clinton and Paul Stanley suggest there are six types of relationships that are keys to having life success: discipler, spiritual guide, coach, counselor, teacher, and sponsor. Regarding coaching, they write, “Coaching is a process of imparting encouragement and skills to succeed in a task through a relationship” (1992:76). They helpfully explain that a “key to good coaching is observation, feedback, and evaluation. An experienced coach does not try to control the player (or mentoree), but rather he seeks to inspire and equip him with the necessary motivation, perspective and skills to enable him to excellent performance and effectiveness.”
From these varied definitions, we see that a coach is someone who has a relationship with another person whom he or she encourages and assists in developing the skills necessary to advance in a particular area.
Coaching a church leader includes encouraging, equipping, and empowering him/her with the necessary skills and competencies for leading others in a local church or ministry.
Gospel-centered coaching, however, adds another dimension noted by Thompson as “…continual gospel renewal and character deepening.”
Coaching by the gospel is an approach that moves beyond the outward, methodologically-driven process, to the motivational level of the planter. A gospel-saturated coach is in relationship, using varied appropriate means as the situation demands with the leader. The gospel-oriented approach to coaching a leader is biblically sound and theologically rich.
What is Gospel-centered coaching?
C.R.O.S.S. Coaching is an intentional gospel conversation with focused discussions about a leader's Relational, Personal, Missional, and Spiritual like (RPMS). For a leader in a local church or ministry role, it is a process of imparting encouragement and skills in order to succeed in the task of leading, renewing and strengthening others in the church, in the context of a gospel friendship.
We can clearly see from Scripture that coaching leaders and emerging leaders was a fundamental activity in the lives of various leaders. It was one of the pathways in how they did ministry. These godly men understood that one of the keys to the formation of missional communities and churches was the ongoing coaching of new leadership.
Remember, the gospel not only has power, it is the power to bring about renewal, change and growth, individually, and corporately. Let the gospel do its work through a coaching relationship.
At CMM, we believe every pastor, church planter, ministry leader, and missionary is created to thrive in ministry and they deserve to have a gospel coach alongside them as they ministry. No matter what leadership role you have, we suggest getting a CMM C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. You don’t have to pastor, plant or lead alone. A CMM C.R.O.S.S. Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way.
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!