Why Professional Christian Coach Training?

By Keith W.

Many in ministry call themselves a "coach" or describe their ministry function as "coaching." In Christian circles the term is often used interchangeably with mentoring or private tutoring. In the business world, the function of coaching has taken on unique characteristics that produce effective results. Increasingly, these skills require specialized coach training.

One professional coaching association describes coaching as "an ongoing relationship which focuses on clients taking action toward the realization of their visions, goals or desires. Coaching uses a process of inquiry and personal discovery to build the client's level of awareness and responsibility and provides the client with structure, support and feedback. The coaching process helps clients both define and achieve professional and personal goals faster and with more ease than would be possible otherwise."

To become an effective coach requires specialized training. This training should consist of at least for broad components:

  • specialized training to learn and practice the core coaching skills set;
  • understand and be able to function within the principles and practices of the coaching relationship;
  • experience coaching as a client, and later be mentored regarding your coaching;
  • utilize learned skills in coaching others.

A one- or two-day coaching workshop will simply not give potential coaches the instruction or guided practice they need to become effective coaches. Neither will books, internet sites, or audio recordings. Learning to coach requires getting with an experienced coach to learn and practice the art and skills of coaching. This can be done in person or over the telephone.

An Increasingly Higher Standard

More and more the people we minister to are going to read and hear about professional coaching and will ask us questions like, "Where did you get your coach training?" or "What qualifies you to be a coach?" or "Are you accredited as a coach?"

That last question brings up the topic of professional coach accreditation. The International Coach Federation is a worldwide body that set standards and ethics for the coaching industry. They created a coaching Code of Ethics and detailed 11 Core Competencies good coaches regularly practice. The ICF also accredits coach training programs and individual coaches.

Christian coaches, even those not coaching full-time, would benefit from professional coach training and from following professional coaching standards.

How Christian Coach Training Helps

Is there anything unique about Christian coach training? Yes, and for Christian organizations there are distinct advantages over secular coach training.

Introducing coaching with a Christian worldview will help organizations more rapidly instill a coaching paradigm in their Christian staff. By matching Christian values, worldview, and beliefs, coaching will be seen as a way to live out those qualities. Suspicion over whether or not coaching is a New Age practice or just the latest Western management fad will also decrease.

By way of illustration, after leading a Christian coaching workshop, a participant came to me and said, "Wow, I didn't know that coaching was for Christians too. Coaching practices sounded good to me, but until now I wasn't able to make the leap between coaching and my faith." He is not alone.

Many people learn paradigms and skills in a secular setting and then have difficulty integrating them with their faith and practice. Given enough time, most Christians can "contextualize" their secular training, but by then they've missed the advantages of immediate implementation and thus their chances of developing new behaviors is reduced.

Training in Christian coaching integrates participants' faith with their coaching skills from the beginning. They immediately apply their learning and skills when it's freshest and begin creating new habits of behavior the day they finish the training. A dynamite combination of strengths!

Coaching can express Christian values

The fact is that the basic coaching principles are very much in keeping with Christian values. Biblical passages can illustrate and reinforce coaching values and skills. For example:

  • The Holy Spirit is the real coach, John 14:15-18.
  • Listening is an important and difficult skill, James 1:19, 26.
  • Be like Jesus, ask questions, Luke 2:46-47.
  • The role of a coach is to draw out the coachee's understanding, Prov. 20:5.
  • People must think and develop holistically, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 2:52.

Better results for Christians

Demonstrating how new coaching values and skills integrate with existing Christian values and belief system will mean a higher and more rapid employee adoption rate. In other words, your employees will actually use their new coaching skills.

There will not be a dichotomy between employees' personal Christian values and practices and their newly-introduced coaching values and practices. Employees will be able to enhance and express their faith through coaching and coach training. This deep-level integration is sure to produce better results than a non-faith-integrated approach.

How I train coaches

I have an extensive ministry background, formerly as a church planter in Japan and more recently as an international leadership trainer and coach. I create training materials from a Biblical and ministry background. The illustrations I use are often from a Christian perspective. I'm familiar with secular management and training materials and freely refer to those sources as well. But it is when I connect a coaching behavior with a person's Christian value that I see his or her excitement really increase. It's natural. People want to integrate their deepest values with their new learning. Christian coaching allows that to happen naturally.

Coaching is a skill as well as a body of knowledge. It takes practice. You can't learn to do it from a book. So, in my training there is a lot of time for practice. But unlike some secular settings, coaching topics that are Christian or faith issues are welcome in my workshops. No need to hide or gloss-over the deepest aspects of life. I encourage participants to integrate on all levels: spiritual, character, family, profession, culture, community, etc. Of course, the coaching techniques I teach are completely compatible with and non-offensive to those who are not Christian.

I invite you to consider professional-level coach training with a Christian perspective. We offer the 60-hour Core Coaching Skills Certificate Program to equip coaches to effectively empower and help others. For more information use the contact us page.