facebook script

Can't find something?

We're here to help.

Send us an email at:

[email protected]

and we'll get back with you as soon as possible.

Coaches keep dreams alive

right questions are key to dreams

Coaches training begins next week. This is a great opportunity to enhance your personal and professional life while helping others by asking deep-diving questions to encourage new perspectives.


Senior Content Editor, Michigan Conference

The Michigan Conference, with the leadership of Naomi Garcia, is hoping to train and credential a “pool of coaches.” These coaches will help individuals and congregations to move into a healthier and more purposeful life and ministry.

Naomi explains, “In today’s world, pastors, ministry staff and church leaders find themselves poorly equipped to affect the kind of culture change needed.  Leaders are expected to enable new dreams for their congregations despite shrinking budgets and changing demographics of our neighborhoods. It leaves them feeling overwhelmed, overworked, ineffective, insecure, isolated and alone.”

How does coaching help overcome those daily barriers to effective ministry? Two trained coaches – Patty Dennis and Sarah Hescheles – respond.

Both women became familiar with coaching at a two-day training offered a year ago by leaders of the Michigan Conference Office of Congregational Vibrancy. Patty, who spent 20 years in public education, says, “it was enlightening that I didn’t have to have all the answers or solutions. The role of the coach is to ask deep-diving questions so that the individual can develop plans for change.”

Sarah, principal and owner of Restoring Waters Consulting, appreciated the “collegial support and common growth” experienced during the training. “The debriefings sought to encourage and enhance people’s skills, not tear them down for failing to do something right. Together we learned and grew,” Sarah explains.

While the term “coaching” brings athletics to mind for many, coaching in this context has nothing to do with sports. Nor is coaching the same as other more familiar activities such as mentoring, teaching or spiritual direction.

Sarah brings coaching into focus. “In my experience, mentoring, and teaching are typically outside wisdom coming in – a mentor guiding the mentee and a teacher imparting knowledge with an intent to increase understanding and/or specific skill capacity.” She characterizes spiritual direction as an “explicit focus upon seeking the divine within.” By contrast, “Coaching empowers the coachee to seek and discover their inner wisdom around a topic or situation.” A transformed perspective enables the coachee to become more intentional with his or her words and actions.

Patty has a similar description of coaching saying, “These other roles imply that the mentor or teacher or director has a special set of skills, education, or gifts to impart.” Coaching differs as it “helps individuals discover their special gifts, challenges, or education that will allow them to move forward.” She adds that coaching inspires insights and actions that “are much more likely to be successful because they are personally generated rather than suggested by a professional.”

Both Patty and Sarah say that being coached was a helpful experience for them. “I felt greater ownership for the direction and progress in my life,” Patty remarks. “Coaching helped me be more accountable and honest with myself.” Sarah says being coached helped her create and articulate boundaries and increased her self-awareness, self-compassion, and trust. She adds she now “communicates with increased clarity about what I need and how I would like family, friends, and colleagues to support me” in fulfilling those needs.

Out of their own experiences with coaching, Sarah and Patty encourage others to take the training. “I highly recommend it,” Sarah says. “Even if, after going through it, a person does not believe coaching is a good fit, there is potential for profound personal growth.” For her, coaching provided a “mindset shift” that enabled her to “ask different questions of myself when struck, frustrated, wrestling with or celebrating life.” This enhanced both her personal and professional life and increased her ability to “be present with people in the moment and walk alongside them.”

Patty states, “Training is money well spent.” The skills she has gained through coaching have helped her in all aspects of life, “as a professional, spouse, parent, sibling, and friend.” Patty attests that coaching is truly life-changing. “How many times have we spent hours giving advice to people, mapping out a plan of attack, only to have them do nothing or very little?” she asks. “I have spent many hours doing that. Now I am guiding and directing personal reflection and commitment, which has a greater likelihood of success.”

It’s not too late to sign up for training as a coach. Part 1 Basic Training will be offered in two online settings that begin next week: Tuesday (October 8) and Thursday (October 10). Coaching Instructor Naomi Garcia says this about coaching: “Coaching is a cooperative partnership in which a coach supports a coachee to uncover the idea, thought or belief that holds everything in a stuck place.” Effective coaching helps crippling frustrations of the past give way to attainable goals for the future. New perspectives inspire new actions.

To become credentialed as a First Tier Coach, 16 four-hour sessions are completed online. The cost is $1,145.

Is coaching worth the effort? Sarah Hescheles certainly believes so. She concludes, “Coaching helps me grow my ministry around life-giving energy and passion. It keeps dreams alive and not cast aside in the busyness of life.”

Last Updated on January 9, 2023

The Michigan Conference