Coaching in Churches - Part 1

Today I'm going to address a much-debated topic that will put coaching in churches into perspective and will aid your discernment so you can make choices that are right for you. 

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on coaching in churches. In Part 1 we'll talk about discernment and in Part 2, we'll hear from experienced leaders who have seen coaching in action first hand within the church.

Today as life coaching as a profession approaches the 50-year mark, many pastors and leaders are still unfamiliar with it. I hope to change that with this article.

Lack of information and little spare time to learn about it have resulted in slow adoption of coaching in some churches. Additionally, a good number of leaders assume that counseling will bring essentially the same results.

There are significant differences between coaching and counseling and I covered these in a recent post, Differences Between Life Coaching And Counseling; They Work Hand-In-Hand.

Over the years, I have seen some resistance to the idea of coaching in churches, although the resistance has lessened of late. There are a few good reasons for resistance. Here is a list of the more prominent issues but it's certainly not exhaustive.

Reasons church leaders have been slow to adopt coaching:

  • It could be that the church leadership or pastor knows that coaching as a profession began in new age circles and discernment tells them it as suitable only for a new age or secular audience, not the church.
  • Perhaps the pastor has seen some denominations bring in secularly trained and certified coaches and feels their methods don’t suit the faith perspective he wants to impart to his flock.
  • Some pastors / church leaders are afraid of diluting their message or losing control of their organization with unfamiliar teaching.
  • Others simply have not had adequate time to learn what coaching is and how it can benefit them and their congregation.

You may be surprised to hear me tell you the issues above are legitimate, justifiable and understandable. They are a priority for those who are in tune with the Holy Spirit and His leading. Our goal is to bring people closer to Christ, not create confusion and doubt in their faith walk.

This is not that

I want to be really clear that there is such a thing as scripturally-correct, bible-based life coaching and it is found at this school. We offer a hybrid of coaching that is NOT the same as what many think of as life coaching. So much is different, that if someone has had traditional, secular coach training, they'd have to start over because our foundation and motivation are different than secular coaching. We would not, could not coach someone to seek selfish goals or objectives that contradict God's law or plan.

Below I will explain what led to my development of the curriculum we refer to as Christian Coaching 2.0. But first some background.

There are secular organizations that certify and accredit life coaches and offer programs with Christian titles. Do your homework, inspect their curriculum and if it's not God-honoring at its core, DO NOT bring their coaches into Bible church leadership (unless your goal is to create inner conflict, confusion and deterioration of your members’ faith, which I presume it's not).

Someone who considers themselves Christian yet is trained with secular or new age precepts, affiliations or credentials is not a Christian life coach by our definition. That coach training and ours are completely different from each other.

Has the time arrived?

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."
2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."
2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

Sincere church leaders would never want to mix their message with something that would pull their members away from God. And I assure you secular / new age coaching would because its foundation says that each person knows the perfect answer from within. Each person is treated somewhat like a demi-god with no moral barometer. Their life choices shouldn't be questioned and the clients perfect as they are. [Read: God is optional and even seen as a crutch in some circles.]

Back around 2003, when I began teaching coaching, most people had never heard of it. So every time I spoke with someone, I had to demonstrate coaching in order for people to understand it.

This academy and our graduates believe God is in control and that He offers the best answers. Only by leaning on God’s opinion can we live the kind of life that honors our Father in Heaven. Amen?

When I was looking for coach training back around 2000, I could not find a Christian program that I considered to be God-honoring. Of the few I could find, even if it had a Christian title, typically it contained secular or new age philosophy and psychology with scripture sprinkled in to make a believer comfortable. A Christian who lacked maturity in the faith may have accepted this training but not someone with spiritual discernment.

"My local church has a team of counselors along with several life coaches. This is a resource used at the discretion of our pastor. Depending on the need, he refers the member to the appropriate team member.

I myself am part of the team. I serve as a deaconess and worship leader in the church but also in the capacity of life coach.

I chose PCCCA for my education because of its foundation in Christ. Apart from the Lord I can do nothing. It has been a wonderful experience as I submitted to the teaching for Life Coach and later supplemented my education with your PCCCA counselor certification program as well.

Thank you for your service to the Kingdom of God. The program ministered to me and reminded me that in Christ we have all we need. Indeed HE is the Great Counselor!

Certified Christian Life Coach & Counselor
Elizabeth M. Rodrigues
Clifton, NJ

These circumstances are what led me to develop the hybrid of Christian life coaching we teach at PCCCA now. I knew in my heart that if I needed this, certainly others did too. The beautiful thing about our training is that it never changes. It is based on the timeless truth of God's word that is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And it works because God's word works. It is in fact the most powerful coaching available to mankind!

PCCCA life coach training begins with scripture, the truth of God’s word and models Jesus’ teaching at it’s foundation … rather than adding scripture after the fact to validate some other type of worldview. If you are looking for the real deal, you have found it. It’s here at PCCCA.

Here are a few things you need to know about Christian life coaching here at PCCCA.

  • “Coaching” itself is a method of communication. The questions a trained coach presents to the client, help that person process their thoughts and feelings. Our trained coaches redirect the client to scripture if they are looking for an opinion. The coach leans on insight from the Holy Spirit and may pray with and for their client. The coach is free to share their insight upon agreement with the client.
  • Our hybrid of coaching is led by the Holy Spirit and based on the truth of the scriptures of the Holy Bible.
  • We follow the example that Jesus gave us, by asking questions to motivate and inspire the coachee to seek God’s heart and purpose for all decision making and actions.
  • Coaching sessions follow my F-L-O-W model, as described in detail in the textbook I wrote, Christian Coach Handbook, Essential Guide to Spirit-Led Coaching and Business Success (available at Amazon.com and most major booksellers).

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved,
a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed,
accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.
~ 2 Timothy 2:15 AMP

When prospective students contact the academy, we often recommend their pastor / leadership person reviews our course content prior to endorsing the program for the student. I want our training philosophy to be completely transparent. I consider this is a major reason so many churches and ministries confidently sponsor their members or leaders to attend PCCCA. They can trust our course content to agree with scripture. (The student is free to use their preferred translation of the Bible.) With no denominational doctrine added to the program, the dual-certification Christian Professional Life Coach training is suitable for any Bible-believing student.

In Part 2 of this message coming next week, Coaching in Churches Part 2 – Everyone Wins, you’ll hear from experienced and senior church leadership, with their views on coaching in churches.

I’d love to read your comments on this topic.  Please post them near the bottom of this page.

© 2020 Leelo Bush PhD, All rights reserved.

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