Hey Coach

Coaching is on the rise in the church—with a focus on encouragement instead of commands.

The coaching movement in recent years has jumped off the sidelines of sports and is making an impact in both the corporate world and the church. It is made up of an exciting group of results-driven people who live to spur others toward a God-given goal, purpose or destiny.

Coaching is a hot trend. According to the Harvard Business Review, the number of people entering the coaching field has skyrocketed. Estimates project that at least 10,000 work in the corporate industry alone. The International Coaching Federation boasts 5,000 members in more than 36 countries.

Joseph Umidi, founder of the Christian coaching organization Lifeforming Leadership Coaching aims to train more than 10,000 spiritual life coaches in the next 10 years. But does this trend have a biblical basis?

The Biblical Model


One of the most prominent examples of a coach in the New Testament is Barnabas. Barnabas offered support, encouragement and accountability to the leaders of his day.

It appears Barnabas withdrew from prominent leadership in the New Testament church. Most scholars believe that he did this in order to coach and mentor others. He was an excellent coach who nurtured many into leadership in the kingdom. Coaches do the same today. They come alongside others at opportune times and sustain them during transition and change.

The basic premise of the coaching philosophy states that your own insight is more powerful than someone telling you what to do. Malcolm Knowles (known as the father of adult education in the U.S.) states, "What adults learn on their own initiative they learn more keenly and permanently than what they learn by being taught."

In light of such findings leadership models are changing rapidly—from directing to influencing, from controlling to modeling, and from bossing to coaching. After all, didn't Jesus model this style of servant leadership?

Most leaders have a tendency to produce followers rather than leaders. They give advice rather than ask questions. Instead of fostering growth, they produce dependence. Coaching cuts that cord of dependency and releases people to think on their own. Notice Jesus' method: He asked questions to provoke thought and produce change.

The Relational Factor

At the heart of good coaching is relationship. Coaching goes beyond surface interactions and connects with people on a deep level while providing guidance on issues that matter to them. For the most part, coaches are not experts. They are simply caring, competent individuals who come alongside others and offer support, encouragement and accountability for growth.

A good coach enables others to discern what God is saying. It's not as though coaches never give advice—they simply understand that real transformation occurs through meaningful relationships, experiences and spiritual discernment. Coaching relationships are extraordinary, life-changing partnerships.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is using the coaching movement as a tool to reshape the 21st century church. When it comes to approaching postmodern society, the coaching model gets it right by nurturing the creativity of individuals rather than conforming them to a one-size-fits-all Christianity.

John Chasteen is a certified professional coach and trainer with Lifeforming Leadership Coaching. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.

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