Coaching is essential for a sustained missional community movement. If you are committed to decentralized discipleship, you must make ongoing investments in leaders.

If this is true, and, if every leader needs to be coached, you will need to multiply coaches. You probably can’t coach all the leaders in your care and even if you can today, you won’t be able to in a year or two when they have all multiplied. Therefore, we have to not only become proficient coaches ourselves, but identify, train, and release new coaches into this role. This is the next level of investing in leaders: multiplying coaches and developing a structure for that to happen. This requires some aspect of knowing what you are looking for in coaches and creating a process for people to start coaching with excellence.

Identifying Volunteer Coaches

This first step in implementing movement-wide coaching, is identifying people who would make good coaches. I’ve often been asked what makes a good coach and what is their profile? Is there a personality type? The truth is, I’ve seen excellent extrovert and introvert coaches. I’ve also seen some fantastic artistic creatives as coaches and wonderful systematic engineer coaches. I’ve found it is best to look for particular strengths when looking for coaches regardless of perspective and personality. Here are the top three strengths I’m looking for in addition to the raw coaching skill discussed in a previous post:

1. Maximizer

This person loves to get the most out of everything. They want to take things–but mostly people–and help them experience their full potential. A maximizer will continually nudge someone forward and help them press on. This is a crucial quality in a coach. Symptoms of maximizers: they can make $5 for lunch go a long way, they are always finding ways of developing themselves, they get excited about anyone who is trying something new and taking forward steps in their calling.

How do you know someone isn’t a maximizer? If they enjoy tearing other people down. If they find flaws in things instead of opportunities. If they focus on what is missing more than they focus on what could be.

2. Catalyst

A catalyst is someone who ignites situations. They like to dream with people and get things going. They hear a new idea and immediately begin brainstorming how far that idea could go and imagine what the first few steps might be.  Overall, their excitement and encouragement throws fuel on the fire of an idea or calling.

3. Process Oriented

This is another way of saying patient. A good coach has the ability to know there is a long way to go from where someone is today and where they want to be. A coach can see the distance and not crumble under it or attempt to speed it along. Instead, a good coach is someone who enjoys the journey as much as the arrival. You can see this quality comes out in the way they diet.

A Volunteer Coach’s Role Description

After you have identified potential coaches, you have to ask them to step into a defined role with defined expectations. Below is what I share with potential coaches who are processing this role and contribution in our church.

A Missional Community Coach will likely have experience leading a missional community and be committed to the vision of seeing missional communities flourish in the gospel and share mission. They will have a working knowledge of the resources and tools accessible to leaders. They are not ‘better’ or the “boss”; they are  equipped and released to come alongside leaders and help them move forward. Even though they may have advanced experience, they are not mentoring, not consulting, and not counseling. Coaches are not experts but servants fluent in the gospel. In Bread&Wine, we ask for a one year commitment, with space to reassess each year. Here are the regular expectations we have for volunteer coaches:

  • Meet with the leader(s) you are coaching once or twice a month, depending on the experience and needs of the leader(s).

  • Help the leader(s) write their own Leadership Development Plan once a year. Use it as a template for your coaching conversations.

  • Pray for the leader(s) you are coaching and their communities. It is usually helpful to track specific prayer requests in a journal or smart phone. Also, many leaders have found it helpful to set-up reminders in the calendars for this.

  • Keep track of your coaching conversations using our google drive coaching tool. This takes about 10 minutes following a coaching conversations and help you and other coaches track where these conversations are going.

  • Participate in ongoing coaching trainings (twice a year), MC leadership huddles (quarterly), and annual leaders’ retreat.

Equipping & Releasing Process

Once you’ve identified and invited potential coaches, you will need to equip and release them into the role of coaching. Below is the general outline for equipping and releasing coaches within Bread&Wine. Some coaches will come to this role with more experience and confidence, others less. Therefore, this isn’t a hard and fast “curriculum” but is general outline bathed in wisdom and best practices.

  • Attend the basic Coaching Training.
  • Read Coaching 101 by Bob Logan and the Bread&Wine Coaching manual (which is this series of posts).
  • Sit down with an experienced coach to discuss what has been learned and talk through coaching tools.
  • Evaluate your capacity for coaching leaders. Answering these questions:Have three coaching sessions with another person who is getting equipped in coaching. Split the time between you for both being coached&coaching, and receiving&giving feedback. 25 minutes for coaching, 5 minutes for feedback and then switch.
    • Is God asking me to coach leaders during this season?
    • How many leaders do I have capacity to coach?
    • What are the times that will work well for me to coach leaders? What type of leaders would be best for me to coach?
  • After this process, you will meet with the elder who oversee coaching to discuss the leaders you will be assigned to coach.
  • Start coaching! As you have questions and concerns, stay in contact with your elders.
  • Attend regular leader meetings and trainings.

Continue Learning

The goal is that leaders from a diversity of contexts will be able to start coaching with confidence and awareness. Continue reading or subscribe to the blog to be updated with each new installment.

Brad A. Watson serves as a pastor of Bread&Wine Communities in Portland, Oregon where he develops, coaches, and trains leaders to form communities that love God and serve the city. Brad is passionate about helping people live lives that reflect their belief and hope in Jesus. He lives in southeast Portland with his wife and their three kids.