Q.What is coaching?

A. Coaching is a collaborative relationship which deepens understanding for the purpose of implementing more effective actions. While coaching for pastors is relatively new, the concept of coaching is not. Athletic, music, acting and fitness coaches have been encouraging and training others toward greater effectiveness for hundreds of years. Without their coaches, most of the heroes and stars of these fields would never have reached their pinnacles of effectiveness and success. The methods used by these coaches are similar for our Ministry Advantage coaches: encouragement, specific guidance for change, objective and direct feedback, friendly accountability, training on "best practice" techniques and tools - until the next level of effectiveness for Christ is reached. Coaches never call to "just talk." Coaches explore, challenge, encourage, probe, suggest, facilitate, praise, focus, direct and stimulate, but never just talk. The goal of every coaching session is to implement specific strategies and actions that will lead your church closer to its full redemptive potential.

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Q. Why should a church invest in more leadership training?

A. Your church may have already invested a great deal in training and leadership development. Church staff members often attend seminars, workshops, and may even continue their formal education. The question then becomes: What do you do with the ideas from all the workshops, seminars and classes? Leaders leave good workshops with the best of intentions; however, the daily demands of ministry can hinder application and the best of intentions are often put off, and sometimes forgotten. A coach can help you break that cycle by helping you develop specific implementation plans that insure incremental progress is achieved. Some in your church may not understand the need for developing these kinds of leadership skills and processes or the need for you to have a personal coach. It won't be long however, before the obvious benefits of this process are evident in the increased effectiveness of your leadership and the ministries of the church.

Q. Why should a pastor or church "depend on" a coach

A. Some pastors believe they should "tough it out" alone, or that with "God on their side" they have all they need for success. With that mindset, working with an organizational leadership coach may be seen as a sign of weakness, or fostering continued dependency on man. The pastors who have participated in this coaching process can tell you this is simply not so. A coach is not a crutch. A coach will not do the work for you, or drag you somewhere you don't want to go. A coach is like having a leadership development expert on staff at your beck and call. Your coach empowers, inspires, challenges, questions, teaches and facilitates--you do the work, continue to rely on God to give you wisdom and bless the results--and you and your church experience the rewards.

Q. Is coaching just for pastors or churches with problems?

A. Absolutely not! While it is true that this coaching process can provide the answers to many leadership issues and "problem situations," it should not be seen as something reserved just for problem solving. This coaching process can give successful pastors and churches the strategic knowledge and implementation tools needed to take the next step in effectiveness for the Kingdom, AND the skills and strategies to head off potential problems BEFORE they happen. Coaching is about long-term effectiveness in building prevailing churches.

Q. Is having a coach like having a counselor

A. Not really. A coach is an encourager, instructor, challenger, and a facilitator for positive change. A counselor is typically trained to deal with problems or the pains of the past and help others overcome them. In addition to some "strategic problem-solving" a coach focuses on maximizing the redemptive potential of your church-in attaining a level of ministry effectiveness that has previously seemed unattainable. Having a coach is like having a climbing guide when you are trying to scale a high peak. As you climb, you work together, assessing the conditions, planning the route and executing the next steps and evaluating progress. A counselor may be trained in behavioral psychology, but a coach is trained and experienced in the tools and processes to hold your hand and guide you every step of the way to the next peak of effectiveness.

Q. Is coaching confidential?

A. Yes. It is indeed often lonely at the top. Some pastors are wary of "outsiders". We understand that talking openly with a coach is a huge leap of trust. So our Ministry Advantage coaches seek to build an environment of trust, confidentiality, and safety for the pastor being coached. Our coaches understand the need for complete confidentiality whether the subject is regarding personal, professional, or church information. But most importantly, because our coaches are dedicated to you and the success of your church they understand the significance of trust in developing this kind of relationship. 

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Q. Does coaching ever "not work?"

A.Yes. As pastors well know, whenever you are in the business of helping people, there will be potential problems. The issues that can interfere with successful coaching relationships and experiences generally fall in one of three categories; lack of time, lack of a teachable spirit (ego), and lack of congregational readiness for change. However, when these issues are openly discussed before entering into a coaching relationship, they can be short-circuited and even turned into strengths before the actual coaching process begins. Because of this, openness and straight talk are important prerequisites in the pre-enrollment process.

Q. How do I know if I am ready for coaching?

A. Provide honest answers to the questions in the Coaching Needs Assessment. If you feel strongly about the majority of the issues presented in this assessment tool, we recommend that you get a coach. Before we agree to open a coaching relationship with you, we will conduct an additional phone interview to make certain you and your church are ready for this process and that clear expectations are established.

Q. How are coaches selected and trained?

A. Ministry Advantage only selects coaches who have demonstrated high levels of organizational leadership knowledge and experience, then we provide an intensive training and certification process on the unique systems and approaches of Ministry Advantage. Our coaches also receive ongoing training and performance feedback from management and clients and they are continually striving to improve their effectiveness.

Q. How does MA measure "success" and insure quality?

A. As soon as each pastor enrolls we establish a clear baseline of current reality in critical focus areas along with specific goals for improvement. At Ministry Advantage, we measure our success by whether each pastor is making consistent progress toward aligning every component of their church toward accomplishing those God-honoring goals that will maximize its redemptive potential. Throughout the program we conduct periodic Quality Assurance Interviews with each pastor to ensure that we are working on the right things in the right way with each unique church.

Q. What is a typical coaching season like?

A. Coaching sessions typically begin with a brief discussion and agreement on priorities for the session. Then your coach will give specific input and direction on the organizational leadership and design work you have done since the last session and discuss the next steps of implementation. You can expect powerful clarifying questions, focus, fine-tuned planning and implementation tools, and friendly accountability. Your coach will help you set realistic expectations and support you through each step of implementation. At the end of each session, you will agree on specific implementation task to be done next and any documentation to be submitted to your coach for review prior to your next coaching session.

Q.How can I justify the financial investment?

A. In churches that already have a shortage of money, the investment to fund this process could be considered a stumbling block. Ministry Advantage is best viewed as an investment in the redemptive potential of your church. Some Ministry Advantage clients have quite literally told us that this process saved the ministry of their church and finally gave them the practical help they needed to become the redemptive center they had always dreamed of becoming. If your church is looking at this as another program or just another expense rather than a wise investment in developing the effectiveness of your church, you should not enroll.

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