The Essence of Coaching (pt. 1): Cultivating Transformation

Hey Friends! This week we start a new series about Lifegroups, specficially coaching Lifegroups. In this series I am going to be working around what Bill Donahue and Greg Bowman call the “Essence” of Lifegroup Coaching.


The Essence of Coaching – Cultivating Transformation

So recently I have been reading some stuff about coaching, specifically a book by two pastors at Willow Creek: Bill Donahue and Greg Bowman. The book has been really helpful for me so I want to share some of the stuff that I have been learning with you. Hopefully it helps!

As we go into this next quarter and year of coaching its important to stop and ask ourselves, what does it take become an effective coach? Better yet we should ask ourselves what is the heart behind this whole coaching thing that we are trying to figure out? Over the next few days/weeks I want to highlight some core elements or fundamentals of coaching. The first fundamental is that coaches embrace a culture of transformation.

As small group leaders and coaches our desire is to see people grow in Christ, we want to see them “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of fullness in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) If this isn’t your passion then you are in the wrong business. This is the vision that the apostles had for their followers, for instance Paul in Galatians 4:19 says that he suffers pains like those of childbirth until Christ is formed in them. Also in all of his epistles he is always talking about how he prays incessantly for these churches to know the height depth and width of Christ’s love for them so that they might become more like the Son. So you get the point… our desire is to see transformation. This is a super important fundamental to instill into the people that we are coaching because their Life Group will likely reflect the values we have emphasized in our coaching meetings.

Now as coaches we might run into some difficulties… some Life Group leaders will lose focus when it comes to moving people towards transformation in Christ. Some might approach Life Groups as merely a social gathering or merely a time to learn. These groups will not move into the direction we desire for them, namely personal growth that leads to greater faithfulness in whatever context God has placed them. So as a coach you will need to redirect them and help them focus at the task at hand: creating opportunities to encounter Christ so that transformation might occur.

Before we even approach the task of helping our leaders foster transformation we need to really believe that God is the one who changes lives, not us. We don’t make people grow and people can’t make themselves grow, that is Jesus’ job.  Our responsibility (and the responsibility of LG leaders) is to pray, encourage, and challenge those we are shepherding. Point them to Jesus! Exalt him, make him bigger, more beautiful, and more glorious in their eyes and change will happen! Consider 1 Corinthians 3:6-7: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives growth.”

So once again the point is: God simply asks us to create environments that nurture growth.

 So here is how we can do this in our coaching relationships:

  1. Modeling: What you do and how you do things will likely be the way that those under you end up doing things as well.  (1 Cor 11:1)
  2. Words: Your words are so important. They have the power to build up or tear down. So use your words to encourage and build up. Have ICNU conversations! Always point them to God’s grace in Jesus!
  3. Prayer: This is obvious. Pray for the people you coach. For some reason God has made it so that our prayers are effective. If we don’t pray we are missing out in what God wants us to partner up with him to do in the lives of these leaders.
  4. Listening: This skill is easily overlooked. Listen to your leaders more than you talk at them. Listening to your leaders will show that you actually care for them as people, not just as leaders under you.

Some Questions to Reflect On:

  • Who has been your most influential model for leadership?
  • How do you see yourself leading like them? Unlike them?
  • Of the four tools mentioned above (modeling, words, prayer, listening) which ones do you lean towards? What steps could you take to grow in the other areas?

Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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