What Would You Like to Talk About? The Power of the Coaching Question

Deb Winters is a faculty member of Coaching4Clergy, and one of our trainers. In addition to coaching and coach training, Deb is also a seminary professor at Palmer Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Deb has taught coach training at Palmer on several occasions, receiving rave reviews from the student, faculty and alumni.

In this blog post Deb addresses the value of coaching skills for the new and seasoned pastor; in particular, the value of a well-placed coaching question.

What Would You Like to Talk About? The Power of the Coaching Question

I was working in my church office one day when our secretary buzzed to see if I had time to speak to a member of the church. I did and invited the member into my office. After listening for half an hour to a situation about our church and how things were being handled, I thought the conversation was drawing to a close. Then the member said to me, “Well, Pastor, what I really wanted to talk with about you was…!”

I can’t tell you how many times that happened in my ministry before I took my first coaching course.  I have always envied Jesus’ ability with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Within two short questions, Jesus had her engaged in a discussion about living water. With the next statement they were discussing her marital relations, and within two more statements the Samaritan woman is running to tell everyone she has met the Messiah!  Jesus is my hero! Within a matter of two questions and three statements he has gotten to the heart of the matter and the Samaritan woman is off and running with her action plan!

Val has been blogging about the power of a well-placed and well-worded question, and I have seen it firsthand. With my own coaching skills in place, I now know that when someone comes into my office I need to set up what we call the coaching agreement, asking them, “What is it you would like to talk with me about? What do you feel needs to be done about your situation? ” Instead of spending so much time trying to figure out what the problem is and what needs to be done, all I need to do is ask them! 9 times out of 10 people know exactly what they want to do and just need help figuring out what their next step is.

I have become convinced of the need for every pastor, ministry staff and church leader to learn the art of coaching. To that end my action plan has become to make sure that every seminary student is offered coach training. I offer a course in basic coaching skills every year at Palmer Theological Seminary at Eastern University, and our next class will be in the Spring of 2012. It is a graduate level course and is accepted as continuing education credits. If you are interested in finding out more about the coaching course or about coaching at the seminary level, please feel free to contact me at deb.winters@coaching4clergy.com.

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J. Val Hastings

J. Val Hastings, MCC, is the Founder and President of Coaching4Clergy, which provides specialized training for pastors, church leaders and coaches. Val is the author of the book The Next Great Awakening: How to Empower God’s People with a Coach Approach to Ministry and the e-book The E3-Church: Empowered, Effective and Entrepreneurial Leadership That Will Keep Your Church Alive. Val currently holds the designation of Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, the highest coaching designation.

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