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Value of coaching explained

Coaching training ahead

High-quality coaching is coming to the Michigan Conference. A 16-week online training experience begins in October. Here’s how you can benefit.


Senior Content Editor

Naomi Garcia, Associate Director of Congregational Vibrancy for The Michigan Conference, is a certified coach now serving on the faculty of Coaching4Clergy. The Michigan Conference has become a satellite for Coaching4Clergy, a global training company that equips leaders of congregations for guiding God’s people in their spiritual journeys. “Coaching4Clergy equips pastors with the understanding and skills to be an effective leader, and to compensate for the missing skills they were unaware they would need.”

At this time Naomi welcomes all who would like to become coaches to join her for a 16-week online training experience that begins this October and finishes next May. Naomi hopes to prepare a pool of coaches. The price of the training is $1,145.

Is the significant investment of dollars and time worth it? Three persons in The Michigan Conference who have experienced the coaching process say, “Yes!”

Fruits of coaching

The Rev. Molly Turner, retired, was introduced to coaching by Naomi Garcia in 2013, who invited her to the Coaching4Clergy training. “It was a fascinating week of training, and I was excited that this would be one of the tools that the Vital Church Initiative would be able to offer to pastors in the midst of changing times,” Molly remembers.

Turner describes the experience and why it was helpful. “I soon realized,” she says, “that by using well thought out questions, the person who was coaching me was able to get me thinking differently on how to approach a particular concern that day.” A teacher, counselor, or mentor might offer specifics of what had worked for them in a situation. “By contrast, the coach was working with me about what my answers and my approaches might be.” Molly says that was eye-opening. “I felt much better with my being able to find the way forward myself rather than someone telling me what might work,” she says. 

To those laypersons and clergy who might be considering the coaching training that begins next month, Molly says, “I have found it to be an extremely valuable life tool. The training can help not only in church settings but in many other life and work situations as well.” Seeing things in new ways is at the heart of the coaching experience. “As the coachee, I found focusing on a matter differently could help me identify at least one step forward I could take to work on it.” Further, there’s a joy in “a process that allows me to be accountable for doing my own work,” she observes.

In her work as a coach, Molly Turner has seen persons, “feel better about themselves as they try new and unique approaches to their ministry.” She concludes, “Coaching is a life skill and allows persons to help others as well as being helped themselves.”

The Rev. Lisa Batten is the Young Adult Initiatives Coordinator for The Michigan Conference. She experienced the training while a Wesley Director at Western Michigan University. Naomi offered coaching instruction to each campus minister at that time. Initially, Lisa was surprised to learn that coaching is not the same as spiritual direction or pastoral care.

She stresses the importance of attitude. “There is a willingness needed by the one being coached, to be vulnerable, open, and receptive to what might happen,” Lisa says. “Often, in coaching, the presenting issue is not the whole issue or even the issue at all. So, the one being coached needs to come with a spirit of curiosity and a growth mindset.”

The process involves asking the right questions. “Coaching allows the one being coached to get out of their own way so that they can find the answer that they already have, to see what is before them, all through open-ended questions,” Batten explains. “The coach pays attention to the whole response of the one being coached to draw out what is needed to move forward.”

Recalling her own training as a coach, Lisa reflects, “First, the coach helped me figure out how I was getting in my own way. Sometimes the answer I was seeking was right in front of me!” Questions posed by a coach helped her “learn how my actions, behaviors, root reactions got in the way of where I was trying to go or what I was trying to do.” She believes a coach helps others gain clarity. 

The Vital Church Initiative (VCI) brought the value of coaching alive for the Rev. Joel Walther. The pastor of Goodrich United Methodist Church says, “I’ve worked with a couple of coaches in that process and in different avenues of the life of the church.” Like Molly and Lisa, Joel understands that questions are key in coaching. “Coaches as the questions that you don’t see yourself sometimes,” he says. “They are someone on the ‘sidelines’ who can see the whole game when you are sometimes focused on your ‘position.’”

He goes on, “Coaching doesn’t direct, it asks questions that seek to bring out the best in a person by helping them see what they already have and how to execute it.” While teaching involves thinking about new ideas and information, coaching is about thinking in new ways. “Sometimes we are so deeply involved in life,” Joel notes, “that we have a hard time being objective. An outside observer helps.”

On a personal note, Walther sums it up this way, “Coaching has helped me in times when I’ve felt stuck to get unstuck through new ways of thinking. At times when I feel scarcity, what I learned helps me to see what is already there so that I can move forward.”

Sign up now

Taking 16 four-hour sessions of instruction meets the requirements for credentialing as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coach Federation.

These class sessions for the 2019-2020 ministry year will be offered on both Tuesdays (starting October 8) or Thursdays (starting October 10).

The total cost is $1,145. This includes the online instruction and purchase of necessary resource material (Managing Transitions by William and Susan Bridges.)

Why make this commitment? Joel Walther says, “It’s really about what you can do to do your job best.”

Molly Turner also offers encouragement. “I have found both in times of being coached or in coaching, that this can be a deeply spiritual process. For me, the time of preparing is a time where I invite the Holy Spirit to guide us, that we might be receptive to God’s direction.” 

“When I have coached others, there is often an AHA moment, when they discover what they already know,” Lisa Batten concludes. Become certified and you may inspire some AHA moments.

Questions? Contact Naomi Garcia 517-347-4030 x 4092 or [email protected].

Last Updated on October 31, 2023

The Michigan Conference