I am in a series of posts on coaching, specifically as it applies to missional communities. The posts in this series are:
Basic Coaching Questions
In addition to providing a grid to interpret and counsel, we also have a standard conversation template we have found to be very helpful for coaching.
How are you doing?
Beginning with this question sets a tone of relationship and care, rather than simply getting down to business. The answer to this question also helps you to know what tenor to take in the conversation. If someone is discouraged, then you can focus on encouraging them in the gospel. If someone is neutral, use it as an opportunity to inspire them. If someone is really doing well, then use the conversation to challenge them provide some new direction.
What are you celebrating?
Listening to the answer to this question helps you understand two things. First, it helps you identify and encourage the leader in what things are currently going well. Secondly, what people celebrate tends to indicate what they value. If an individual consistently talks through the excellency of relationships within the group, but rarely celebrates outsiders participating in community, they likely value intimate relationships above mission.
What challenges are you facing?
This question also gives two perspectives on the individual and the group. First, where sinners gather, there are always challenges. If there isn’t a response to this, or they are consistently shallow challenges, it is likely the group isn’t pursuing the vision for missional community particularly well. Second, this question is also indicative to where there are misplaced values within the community. If “dealing with children” is consistently a challenge, it’s likely that there is an overemphasis on the meeting and a lack of valuing demonstration of a missional community to children.
What are you doing about those challenges?
This question is vital because you first want the leader to address the challenges on their own and present creative solutions before the coach chimes in. Ownership in leadership is expressed through problem solving…resist the temptation to solve problems for a leader!
How can I help you?
This questions helps you respond in a constructive way and meet any needs of the leader or the community. It is also an opportunity to listen for both the strengths and weaknesses of the leader. If they are consistently requesting articles or books, it’s likely they are a learner and predominantly lead through teaching, for example.
How can I pray for you?
Finally, you can care best for a leader by committing to and following up with prayer. Additionally, this question helps identify particular areas of concern that the leader has which may not be skill-based issues. Often here is where a leader will reveal a deep issue that is plaguing their community or express concern for an issue that needs to be addressed by an elder or pastor.
This conversation pattern has been tremendously helpful for me in coaching missional communities, leading ministry teams, and in many circumstances where I’m just getting to know someone. They aren’t foolproof, but it’s a really helpful template to follow!