Discipling, Mentoring, or Coaching (part 4)


There has been a definite increase in coaching networks. I don’t know how new these are, but they definitely are getting more attention. Most involve a fee, some a substantial fee. This is what brought the question up that began this series of posts.

Let’s start with what coaching is: formal and intentional arrangement where one person who has achieved shares lessons learned and principles with 1 or more persons. This is usually with set time frame and agenda.

Of course, the purpose is for all involved to grow and become more effective and skilled. Most people have their first experience in a coaching relationship when they start playing sports as a child or take formal music, dance, or other lessons. Like everything else, this is very positive for some and negative for others and everything in between. It’s doubtful that many would argue that coaching is not a valuable and worthwhile endeavor. In ministry, it has potential for significant impact.

The questions asked and discussions held are rarely about the validity of a successful pastor or ministry leader hosting a coaching network. The discussion is usually about the cost and whether or not that is a good thing. In fact, the original question asked if coaching networks are replacing mentoring. Hopefully they are not.

As already stated, mentoring is something that every leader should be doing on a regular basis. It is a matter of gratitude and generosity.

Coaching is different. Many of the leaders holding networks are in great demand for their time. This is a way of passing on what they have learned and their experiences in a way more personal than conferences or books. It opens up that opportunity for those who are not in their normal and immediate circle of influence.

The cost has several functions. A few of those would include making sure individuals are serious about the opportunity, make sure people don’t waste the leaders time, compensate the leader and/or ministry for the time and effort involved, raise money for a specific endeavor or cause, as well as ensure the quality of the experience. This is not a problem. We must remember that we pay to go to conferences, which is a form of coaching. Those are short experiences with usually very little interaction between presenters and attenders and can cost as much as some  coaching networks. Not to mention, many of the speakers can make more money speaking at a conference than they actually receive from the cost of the network and with less time commitment.

Are there some that are taking advantage of this and charging exorbitant amounts? Of course. Are there some that have allowed this to replace their obligation to mentor? Surely. Are there those who are seeking out the big names only as fans and not developing real relationships within their own networks? Absolutely. Humans are involved, so there are problems and abuses and issues with these arrangements.

Coaching networks have a valid place in the world of church leadership and there is nothing wrong with a leader charging for his/her time. Anne Jackson wasn’t making any accusations with her original question, she was starting a legitimate conversation and opening up dialogue that was quite appropriate. Everyone involved needs to stop and think through their motives and reasons for each of the relationships in their lives. As leaders, we must be sure that we are honoring God first and foremost with our actions. Leaders need to be the example in generosity and gratitude. This includes their time and energy. Those seeking out high profile and very successful leaders need to make sure they are doing it for the right reasons.

Every follower of Christ as a responsibility to disciple others as together they each grow closer to Christ. Every leader should be freely giving their experience knowledge away to others in mentoring relationships as well as being mentored. Leaders who have the track record and resources to host a coaching network are wise to do so and increase their effectiveness as they help others to do the same.

Feel free to jump in to this discussion. What are your thoughts?

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