Resources for Your Ministry (MAY) - Developing a Coaching Culture

Ircel HarrisonIrcel Harrison, D.Min.
Central Tennessee Site Coordinator


Executive coaching has been around in corporations for years. Leaders learned early that they needed someone who would walk alongside them and provide both challenge and support in their lives. They had the resources to hire coaches to help them along. In recent years, executive coaching has expanded to other areas of vocational life and on to life in general. Now life coaches are being trained and certified around the world with various specializations including career, wellness, Finances, organizational, and clergy.

Steve had been a judicatory leader for several years, but he was restless and felt that his gifts were not being adequately utilized. He enlisted the services of a life coach who worked with him through a discernment process. Three years later Steve is the pastor of a growing congregation, dealing with the challenges that brings and still working with the same coach. He acknowledges that he could not have made the transition to a more fruitful ministry without his coach.

Jim is a lay leader in a local congregation. He struggles to balance his family, professional, and spiritual commitments. A year ago, Jim completed a peer coach training program at his church. He learned basic coaching skills for setting priorities, developing goals, and providing accountability. Jim and his peer coaching partner started working together during this training. Now they meet together every two weeks to support each other in their personal growth and development. Both are grateful for the difference peer coaching has made in their lives.

As the stories of Steve and Jim show, coaching also has application in the life of the church for both clergy and laity. Although professionals can help church leaders deal with significant life issues, both clergy and laity can learn the coaching skills to develop disciples, leaders, and team members.

What is Coaching? In the simplest terms, “Coaching is a growth‐oriented, strategic relationship. Coaching links two peers, equals who are in distinct roles, to collaborate as thought partners and to find the way forward for the person being coached.” The person being coached is the real expert on his or her situation. Very often the person being coached already knows the best response to the challenge that he or she has identified. What is needed is a committed coach who will facilitate the discovery process, help discern the person choose appropriate action steps, and then provide support in the journey toward growth.

Coaching in the Church - The effective application of coaching principles can change the culture of a church. Such a change does not happen overnight, but if the leadership and the people are committed the results can be transformative in every area of church life. Coaching in church can impact staff development, disciple development, leadership training, team formation, and Christian education. There is tremendous potential in the membership of every church, but mobilizing people is always a challenge. As coaching principles take hold in a congregation, people will recognize their giftedness and their strengths and how they relate to the work of the Kingdom of God. This will transform both them and the church.


General Resources

- Collins, Gary R. Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality.

- Dale, Robert D. Growing Agile Leaders: Coaching Leaders to Move with Sure‐Footedness in a Seismic World.

- Harkavy, Daniel. Becoming a Coaching Leader.

- Miller, Linda J. and Chad W. Hall, Coaching for Christian Leaders: A Practical Guide

Resources for Training Church Leaders:

- Stoltzfus, Tony. Peer Coach Training.

- Tidsworth, Mark, and Ircel Harrison. Disciple Development Coaching (available June 2012)

An online Central Baptist Theological Seminary course:

The Ministry of Coaching—Spring 2013 Instructor: Ircel Harrison, DMin Coach

Training Courses Leading to Professional Certification:

- Coach Approach Ministries—‐

- Professional Christian Coaching Institute—

- Institute for Christian Life Coaching—

For more information, please contact Dr. Ircel Harrison, Assistant Professor in Ministry Praxis, or 615‐423‐8223