Ministry Coaching is a new word in my vocabulary. Well, not exactly.  I have had athletic coaches and even musical coaches growing up. But in terms of ministry, it was difficult for me to understand how, exactly, one could be “coached.” Do you have a person in uniform on the sideline of your church pews as you preach, blowing a whistle, yelling out instructions? That might get a little distracting.

And yet, coaching has always been a part of the Formission strategy for pastoral and leadership development. It was coach trainer John Caplin who first clarified the concept for me.  According to John:

“Coaching is about focusing, supporting and challenging an individual to clarify their goals, reach their potential and move to a greater level of effectiveness and fulfillment.”

Coaching is client-driven. In other words, it is done at the pace desired by the client, focusing on the goals of the client. The entire construct is driven by asking good questions, and assuming that the client is “creative, resourceful and whole,” able to solve their own problems with proper support and intentionality.

From a Christian perspective, coaching assumes that the Holy Spirit within the client is infinitely able to provide them with the path towards solving their problems and seizing their opportunities. Success does not rest on the coach’s expertise. The coach is not an advice-giver, but a process facilitator.

Post-training in January 2019, I began my coaching journey by humbly asking some of my peers in different parts of our province if I could “practice” coaching with them on a three-session commitment. Eight decided to take the plunge with me, some of whom will undoubtedly become coaches themselves when the next training is offered.

Though practicing coaching was a learning experience for me, I think the fruit of coaching has been evident in the lives of those who have begun the journey.

Here is a testimonial from one coachee:

“I’m probably like most other Pastors out there who have 20+ years of ministry experience.  Though we are open to change, we tend not to jump all over new ideas or systems immediately. We watch and wait until we either feel it’s sound according to our understanding of Scripture, or we see its fruit being lived out in a life and/or a congregation.

Some time ago, Jeremy approached me on the subject of coaching: Not to coach him (I’m one of his ministry mentors), but that he would be a coach to me. After spending five years with Jeremy as qualified staff personnel working beside me, and as a trusted friend, I had no reservations about jumping on board. Here’s the deal – I always desire to grow and I admittedly can always learn from someone younger than myself.

After having come through our commitment, I can only give a positive shout-out of affirmation of the benefit of having a coach. A coach is someone who listens and is a trained individual who asks the right questions at the right time. As you answer those questions, you find yourself to have not only gain further insight into your own ministry challenges, dreams and aspirations, but fruit and productivity will be a sure outcome.

What once was in print in my heart and mind concerning disciplines and discipleship has subsequently become more practical and here it is – INTENTIONAL taking the ministry God has given you to the next level.

Try it out. You won’t be sorry. I wasn’t!”

I am deeply grateful to the early adopters who were willing to learn alongside me.  This year I am looking forward to seeing more pastors seize the free opportunity for coaching provided by Formission, some becoming coaches to their own high-priority ministry leaders in their churches and among their colleagues.

If you are a pastor and interested in being coached, feel free to contact the Formission Director:  jnippard@paonl.ca or book a session in our free app.

About Jeremy Nippard

Jeremy Nippard is the Director of Formission with the PAONL. He has been in full time ministry for 11 years and lives in Paradise, NL with his wife Cheryl and kids Christyn (9) and Carter (7). He is passionate about discipleship and loves to see leaders and churches becoming healthy and missionally engaged.