Coaching World Issue 18: May 2016 - Page 22

When coaching clergy, it is important not to limit the focus to congregational goals and outcomes, but to offer to coach the whole person in all aspects of their lives. That might mean supporting clergy as they design actions to maximize their time (scheduling several meetings on the same night instead of a different one every night, doing sermon preparation from home one day a week), establish boundaries (reserving Saturday as a family day unless there are weddings or funerals scheduled, limiting email engagement after 7 p.m.) or establish healthy habits (getting up early enough in the morning to go to the gym or take a walk). Ironically, another area that many clergy have a hard time valuing with consistency is some form of personal spiritual discipline, such as daily devotions or time for study and prayer. These disciplines keep religious leaders rooted in their relationship to God and grounded in ministry. In coaching sessions with clergy, we’ve brainstormed ideas such as praying for their congregation during morning walks, uploading a good sermon to listen to while driving, sitting in total silence with God for half an hour, and even dancing to praise music while fixing dinner. 22 Coaching World COACHING THROUGH O R G AN I Z AT I O N AL CHANGE In increasing numbers, clergy find themselves feeling the pinch between shrinking memberships with diminishing resources and the expectation that their congregations grow. In order to grow, those congregations need to change. Most seminary-trained clergy were not taught how to successfully lead a volunteer organization through major transformation and to influence lasting shifts in underlying organizational culture. Yet that is exactly what is now necessary for faith communities to stay relevant to new generations, adapt worship styles to varied participants and connect meaningfully with the surrounding community. Over a nine-month period I coach groups of pastors using content-rich material applicable to their leadership with themes such as increasing vitality in worship, developing lay leadership and enhancing small-group ministry. In these group-coaching sessions, they watch a professionally produced video on the theme, are coached as a group for 1 ½ hours and are then coached individually on applying each theme in the context of their ministry. The Emergence of Peer Coaching Networks Increasingly, clergy peer coaching networks are emerging within Christian denominations. The networks are comprised of selected pastors who have completed coachspecific training. Often, their coach training is paid for or subsidized by the denomination, and the coaching is provided at little or no cost. These networks are creating a culture of peer coaching among United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and the Church of Scotland, to name a few. Experienced coaches can support the coaches in these networks by providing coaching supervision, mentor coaching or ongoing skill development. Significance of Faith Tradition As with many other realms of coaching, occupational affinity and familiarity with context can be influential factors in selecting a coach. However, clergy most often engage a particular coach because they already know the coach or they have been given a positive referral from others. That coach might be a member of their faith community, a neighbor, or a friend of a friend. A person eager to coach clergy should not apply self-imposed limits on the clergy they coach. The preexisting relationship is the driver as much as whether the coach happens to also be a clergy person or from the same faith tradition. Adjusting Expectations Like coaching provided in other sectors of the nonprofit world, clergy coaching often comes at a bargain. Limited budgets mean hourly rates that are $75 to $100 less than comparable Leadership or Executive Coaching engagements in the for-profit sector. Most coaches who focus their practice on clergy do so as an extension of their own faith practice, and their primary motivator is making meaningful impact rather than making a great deal of money. As a coach who principally works with faith-based leaders, I’ve found this work to be enormously satisfying. It is not just the work of “doing,” and accomplishing goals, but also about “being”—deep life fulfillment. To coach from this perspective makes coaching not just sacred work; for me it is, in fact, a holy vocation. Clergy need excellent coaches who are well t rained and willing to bring a commanding impact. Perhaps you will be one of them.