How to Engage Nonbelievers Using Your Coaching Skills

How to Engage Nonbelievers Using Your Coaching Skills

Have you ever applied your coaching skills when engaging with people who are far from God?

When you give attention to the most casual conversations, it’s amazing what can emerge when you approach others with curiosity and a desire to learn about them.

A few years ago, we had our neighbors over for dinner. They were a young couple who were in the very beginning stages of starting their family. They had a lot of tattoos on their arms, and our conversation naturally evolved to the meaning and purpose behind the symbols they had chosen. Near the end of the evening, I noticed that on the wife’s hand was a pyramid with an eye in the middle. I imagined there was a good story behind that one so I asked her what it means (I was genuinely curious). Without going into detail, the story involved a spiritual experience that had changed her life. This opened further conversations about their belief system and worldview.

It would have been easy for me to react or attempt to deconstruct the narrative our new friends had created around the meaning and symbolism of her tattoo. The fact remains, their story is their story. It is poor coaching to hijack someone’s story and critique it–or worse, discount it. Later, we learned that they had an interest in learning about the biblical narrative of creation through Jordan Peterson (who has recently caught the imagination of many). They were on a quest to find meaning and significance in their life, and we were simply observers along for the ride.

As a coach, how do you remain inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth?

This is how I define those ideas:

  • Inquisitive: curious to learn about the other person 
  • Receptive to change: willing to adjust to the needs of the person
  • Committed to growth: help the person take a step on their discipleship journey

It’s important to be aware of how we either help or deter a person as they explore spiritual matters. The following are 10 ways to help you stay in that space:

  1. Be intentional and approach each conversation with an open mind
  2. Be careful not to judge
  3. Be wise in the words you use
  4. Be quick to listen and slow to anger
  5. Be mindful to respond and not react
  6. Be considerate
  7. Be patient
  8. Be willing to listen even when you disagree
  9. Be helpful by summarizing what you hear people say
  10. Be energetic

In summary, a coachable coach is inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth.  Conversely, an uncoachable coach is unwilling to learn, resistant to change, and comfortable with the status quo.

  1. Where do you land?
  2. Are you a coachable coach?
  3. Do you take the necessary steps to slow down, engage, and truly listen to be inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth?

30-day Challenge:

Put the three traits of a coachable person into practice. In your next conversation with a person far from God, see if you can remain inquisitive, receptive to change, and committed to growth. Then, reflect on the difference this makes with the people you engage with in comparison to how you have engaged people in the past.



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Post Resurrection Reflection

Post Resurrection Reflection

He is risen.  
He is risen indeed!


Imagine you were among those who saw the resurrected Christ. The awe and the wonder. The utter amazement that He had risen from the dead!

You will come across people this week who are reflecting on the events of Holy Week, culminating with Resurrection Sunday. Many of them have been to church. Some watched online. Others wonder what all the fuss is about. But what about you? Where do you find yourself following the most pivotal event of our Faith?

Let’s get personal. At my stage of life I have celebrated more than my fair share of Easters. Each year is different: in the past I’ve engaged in the season of Lent in a variety of ways (fasting, for instance, to slow down and reflect on the deeper aspects of life and faith). This year my attention has been more and more on the ways in which Christ is at work in my life.  Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar place.

Here are 3 self-reflection questions to pause, reflect, and capture the profoundness of it all before you move too quickly past Easter and onto the next thing.

  1. What were the highlights of your Holy Week?
  2. What is Christ doing in your life right now that has caught your attention?
  3. What do you need to rethink as it pertains to your spiritual formation?

My reflection: most of us are moving way too fast. We are taking less time to enjoy the important things and more time trying to keep up a pace that is unsustainable. We are running hard on the treadmill of life but not getting anywhere. The psalmist says it well:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 26:10)

I have been struck by how easy it is to lose sight of this perspective. As I was riding my mountain bike the other day, each time my mind would begin to wonder I would draw my attention back to this passage: “Be still, and know that I am God.”  I wish I could tell you I only needed to do this once, but it was probably more often than I was even aware. Our minds and attention are easily distracted.

What can you do to stay focused on the work of Christ in your life?

On a grander scale, do you need to slow down? Refocus your priorities? Change it up a bit?  This might be an ideal time to take stock in what you have been given.

Slow down.

Appreciate the little things that go unnoticed throughout your daily life.

And give thanks to the One who has made all things possible.

He has risen. He has risen indeed!


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Coaching Leaders in Formation of Disciple Making Communities

Coaching Leaders in Formation of Disciple Making Communities

Many churches find it difficult to change the culture of their small group ministry from merely assimilating new people to forming disciple making communities. While not all churches share this struggle, if you find yourself in this predicament you are certainly not alone. The relational cracks, lack of focus on making disciples, and intentional leadership development in the foundation of small groups ministries are exposed when they are repurposed to become more fruitful.

Lessons learned from churches when things did no go as planned: 

I know of several churches that have transitioned from traditional small group ministries to disciple making communities. The organizational life cycle of even the healthiest churches are prone to create small group systems that establish a life of their own. Over time, if small groups are not engaged in disciple making from the inception, refocusing those groups is extremely challenging.

Pitfalls to Avoid doing when Transitioning Small Groups to Disciple Making Communities:

Pitfall #1: Too much change in a short amount of time

Pitfall #2: Shortage of leaders who really embrace the vision

Pitfall #3: Lack of preparation

If you are considering making this shift in your small group ministry, here are three ways to avoid the pitfalls above:

Tip #1: Reflect on the implications

Think through the implications of transitioning to disciple-making communities. There are real seen and unseen implications that you might not be able to anticipate on your own. Recruit your most engaged people to help you navigate the right way to shift in the new direction you are asking your small group leaders to take.

Tip #2: Try a pilot and learn

Seasoned leaders tend to experiment with this more often than newer leaders. Notice that I did not say older vs. younger. Experience is the best teacher. The leaders who have seen the fruit of past attempts when they failed to observe the three pitfalls above have learned the wisdom of testing an idea before broadly implementing it.

Tip #3: Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Communication with your key leaders and the congregation throughout the process will make the journey more attractive and more fruitful for everyone involved. The most important things to keep in mind are who you need to communicate with and what you need to communicate. The amount of change you are introducing will inform how much to communicate, how to communicate it, and how often it must be communicated.

Coaching leaders who are transitioning small groups to disciple making communities:

  1. Who can you ask to help you assess your current small group ministry?
  2. What is currently working in your small groups?
  3. What is working against your vision to make disciples through your small groups?
  4. What changes do you need to make?
  5. What is a realistic time frame to make those changes?

If you are looking for resources to help you to transition your small groups to disciple making communities, here are two resources that will help you look at what is involved in the Change Management process.

Change Management Skill Builder

Change Management Effectiveness Profile



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Coaching Leaders Into Retirement

Coaching Leaders Into Retirement

I’ve worked with a number of leaders over years that have been navigating their final years in vocational ministry. This is a unique phase of life: serving in the same role for a couple of years prior to retirement is one thing; serving in the same role for a decade or two (or three!) is a different thing altogether! There is a sense of finality that has not occurred during other life transitions. It can be an exciting time. For others, however, it can be a frightening season full of unknowns.

One leader I coached into retirement found peace during his final season of vocational ministry. I’d like to share how he did that and how you, whether you’re navigating your own transition to retirement or still have several decades, can prepare for a peaceful move into retirement as well.

Discovering Peace Leading into Retirement:

  • Understanding the Lord is intimately involved throughout this time
  • Experiencing the love and support of family and friends
  • Life-giving opportunities to serve post-retirement
  • Having a financial plan that allows to maintain your standard of living

The question leaders face in this season is, “What’s next?”

In retirement, some leaders envision unplugging altogether. Others want to continue their ministry in some capacity. Others, still, will pivot into an entirely new focus. The best path for you will likely be different from the path chosen by your peers and colleagues.

Coaching leaders into retirement can be a life-giving exercise, particularly for the leader who may not have another forum to process their thinking.

Coaching Leaders Into Retirement 

Imagine this scenario: you are a lead pastor or a denominational leader. You have been serving in your role for more than two decades! Now, you are contemplating life after your transition off of ministry staff. If you have planned carefully, you have created a financial pathway that will meet your needs for the near and long-term future. Relationally, you have established healthy relationships or have a community you will be involved with once the grind of your working life slows. You might feel called into a new season of ministry that allows you to put your ministry experience to good use, empowering the next generation of emerging leaders to continue the work of making disciples, developing leaders, and investing in new works.

There is also another, less predictable scenario. The financial pathway is not as clear.  You may not have many established healthy relationships and will need to invest the effort into developing a community that will benefit you during the next season. And, you may or may not have a desire to continue in a ministry context but still need to earn money to meet your financial obligations.

Whatever your situation, here is a list of questions leaders face when considering retirement. If these hit at the core of the issues you face or have seen others face–keep reading!

Challenges leaders face when considering retirement:

  • Identity – who am I apart from my ministry role?
      • The role in which you have served bleeds into your identity and you might need to establish who you are apart from what you do. A healthier narrative is rediscovering that you are valuable apart from what you do. Making that shift can be difficult; asking the right questions can help shift your perspective and help you rediscover your true identity.
  • Significance – what will I do to make a difference?
      • After you have transitioned out of vocational ministry, it can be a challenge to find ways to still make a difference in people’s lives. The answer to this might be engaging in things that you love but have put aside for a season and need to reactivate. Hobbies, volunteering, or recreational activities can serve as ways you can add value to people’s lives.
  • Convergence – how can I leverage my experience to bless others?
      • This is where many leaders I coach into retirement focus their energies. No longer are they serving out of obligation to a job but simply to bless others.  Imagine taking the lifetime of experience you have garnered and now using that experience in a very focused way, doing only those things you enjoy doing, like writing, preaching, or training leaders.

Finishing well!

This is a wonderful time for a coach to help ensure leaders finish well! Coming alongside a leader through the season leading up to retirement and post-retirement is an honor and privilege. It is a unique opportunity to help a leader reflect on his or her life and prepare for an unprecedented transition, capturing learnings while they are still fresh in the mind of the leader.

During this season, celebrate the “wins” that God has accomplished along the journey!

The theme of Bobby Clinton’s work on Leadership Emergence Theory in “The Making of a Leader” is that few leaders finish well!  It is evident when a leader is finishing well–that leader is more in love with Jesus now than when he or she began their journey of faith, has a lifetime of life and ministry fruit to show for it, and is still going strong even until the end of their life.

The road to retirement can be rich and full of future opportunities–the right coach can help navigate that journey and walk alongside leaders in any situation to finish their journey well!



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