The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is doing many really terrific things to support the reboot of the denomination's coaching ministry. At present it offers free continuing education hours for those who have at least Level 1 training in the ELCA's current model of certification. Hosted by CoachNet Global, these free Zoom calls give participants opportunities to review coaching as a technology and art, and to see its application in specialty modes related to congregational needs. We have had conversations now on Stewardship, Discipleship, and most recently Congregational Redevelopment.
We began the Redevelopment conversation with a recognition that redevelopment work is a very unique and vulnerbale space. Beyond this, not everyone should coach this kind of space. Jonathan Reitz, CEO of CoachNet Global shared that he typically doesn't. As a movement starter himself, the redevelopment space is not one he relishes.
This gave us all a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our own unique contributions to coaching. We SHOULD be in some types of situations, and we should probably learn to stear clear of others. Knowing what to do with whom and when is an artifact of solid self-knowledge and wisdom born of experience.
Specialty coaching takes us into the difficult space of the "resident expert." The trainers amongst us work VERY hard to deconstruct the myth of the expert in ELCA Launch and ongoing training with new coaches. There are at least two reasons for this:
Related to this, Pastor Scott Suskovic quoted Jonathan Reitz back to all of us with, "...if you don't share your thoughts you are denying the client half of the Spirit's work in that conversation."
So we were given a rubric for sharing.
It's ok to offer insights and information. But there are FOUR provisos:
ELCA Coach Trainer
Coach Coordinator, Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod
In the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, the confluence of our relatively new coaching movement and the New Connections Campaign for the support of congregational growth, community engagement, and leadership support, was a very happy accident. The coaching movement here was already underway as New Connections was being concieved, but our leadership in the Synod Office, quickly saw how coaching could support the efforts of New Connections.
So we began to cast a vision that MetroDC Coaches and our larger coaching network could support our pastors, congregational leaders, and councils in their efforts to better and more focused leadership, mission, and growth. At present 40 + of our local leaders are engaged in coaching relationships. This is of course tremendous. At present just two congregational councils have taken us up on this offer. So there's room to grow on that particular front.
The last week of February 2019, lay leaders, deacons, and pastors, gathered at Camp Calumet in Freedom, New Hampshire, to be trained in the art and technology of coaching. In the New England Synod, they already have a movement of congregational revitalization in motion. It's called Forward Leadership (https://www.nelutherans.org/resources/forwardleadership). But in this context, they are growing a community of coaches because of the insight that to extend the power of the Forward Leadership learning journey for congregational leaders and congregations, they need the support and intentional investment of a cadre of coaches. It was an excellent training in the northeast, in a beautiful venue, with even more excellent leaders. The Spirit is definitely up to something in the New England Synod!
Personally, I'm very excited because it looks like in more and more synods across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, coaching is taking root as a tool to support our synods, leaders, and congregations as they seek to do the mission of Jesus in a culture that is pretty much post-everything.