Here’s something I’ve learned: When you’re doing coach training, don’t try to train them in an application area (e.g. coaching for church planting, coaching for discipling) at the same time you’re training them in basic coaching skills. If you try to have people learn the content area at the same time as the coaching skills, what sticks is the content area. They get the content, but not the coaching abilities.
It’s much better to first learn good coaching, and then learn how to apply it to a particular ministry area. When we rush ahead to meet the felt need before laying the groundwork, we sabotage ourselves. Walk before you run.
Let’s say you have some coaching skills, but you want something to help you put those skills together—a way to be intentional, systematic, and consistent in your approach to coaching. For those who aren’t naturally organized, the best thing out there is having a structure to hang your skills on. With this kind of organizing principle, you can develop a rhythm that helps keep you on track during your coaching sessions.
Below is a general flow for any given coaching session, along with some basic process questions that can help you organize your thinking. You’ll have to make adaptations of course, but this structure can provide a general outline for most of your coaching sessions. I call them the 5 Rs.
A skilled surgeon operates on many levels at once. She understands how to use each of the instruments and for what purpose. She has mastered certain basic techniques such as making an incision and suturing a wound. But she also needs to be able to see the big picture: What is the purpose of the operation? How do the individual skills and techniques need to fit together and in what order? She needs to know how to apply the right tool at the right time in order to accomplish the purpose of the operation.
So you’re trying to come alongside missional leaders and coach them toward effective ministry. One church planter in his 20s doesn’t seem to trust you at all. He feels disillusioned by church and reacts angrily against certain vocabulary choices you’ve made. “You just don’t understand,” he says. Another young man you’re coaching seems to be making a difference living missionally on a personal level, but he doesn’t seem willing or able to create any kind of structure beyond discipling each person himself. “I want it to be organic, and not become all programmatic,” he says. A woman you’re coaching wants to devote more time to missional ministry, but feels financially stuck and saddled by debt.