8 Key Factors For Pastors Considering Establishing Coaching Practices

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More and more professionals use leadership coaching to help them strengthen their effectiveness in their vocations. Over the last ten years or so, pastors have been inundated with invitations to be coached, with many doing just that. We at Pinnacle Leadership Associates coach pastors from many different size churches and various denominational backgrounds every week. Sometimes those pastors are so moved by their coaching experience, they themselves grow interested in serving as a coach. We see their interest as very good news; indicators that the power of coaching draws others toward the coaching profession.

While the interest of pastors in moving into coaching is encouraging, there are specific considerations to engage before making the decision to launch a coaching practice. Over time, we’ve watched (and coached) plenty of pastors who have made, or are making, this move. Observing their process has sensitized us to the pivotal factors involved. We hope the following list saves others effort and perhaps costly unforeseen mistakes, while positioning pastors for effective discernment regarding coaching.

  1. Purpose/Calling – Reflect on why you are interested in becoming a coach. Do you have the kinds of gifts which contribute to effective coaching? How much might coaching be another expression of your calling? How much might coaching be part of your life purpose; an expression of why you are here on this revolving planet? What part of your interest is financially driven? What part of your interest is about building security through an additional vocational outlet? Then, what do your answers mean to you?
  2. Capacity – Reflect on your current work week. If it’s full (whose is not?), then identify the negotiable parts? What might you lay aside in order to take up coaching? By capacity, we are restricting this word to time in particular. How willing and able are you to make time in your week, laying aside other activities, to provide coaching?
  3. Initiative – By now, the coaching field is nearly saturated. We can’t tell you how many coaches are trained and ready, yet are unable to create a client list. So this means successful coaches are people with high initiative. They are able and willing to do the cultivation work necessary to develop clients. Pastors would do well to consider how much initiative (directed, extroverted energy) they have available for developing their coaching practice, while maintaining initiative in their congregational ministry.
  4. Effective Working Agreement With One’s Church – There is nothing good about starting coaching on the side without the church’s agreement or blessing. Before investing significant time and money into the training process, explore your congregation’s openness to you adding coaching to your portfolio. They will want to know if you will coach disciples from your congregation, what the fee arrangement will be, where you will do your coaching, and especially how your coaching work advances or detracts from the mission of this congregation. Prepare well before initiating this dialogue.
  5. Training – There are many fine training outfits available. As you consider your training options, visit the International Coaching Federation’s website, looking at their list of accredited training organizations. These are not the only training programs who can provide credentialing-ready training, yet they are representative of quality training. The ICF does not provide training, instead functioning as the credentialing body. Others, with counseling licenses, may want to pursue the Board Certified Coach credential which requires less training, given their counseling skills which easily transfer to coaching. As you look at training, you will naturally assess your time and financial capacity for becoming a trained coach.
  6. Solo Practice Versus Joining A Group – Many factors influence this decision, though the second and third factors listed here are primary. After determining your capacity level along with the initiative available for coaching work, then you are positioned to decide on going solo or joining an established coaching group. In general, only those with high capacity and initiative will be effective at establishing a solo coaching practice. Solo practices include additional skills like website development, newsletter creation, forms development, billing and collecting fees along with everything else involved in business ownership.
  7. Confidentiality – Most pastors have some level of training around confidentiality, or have learned its significance through experience. Yet, when moving into coaching, pastors discover layers and nuance regarding confidentiality which they have not been required to consider. Reflect on your ability to resist the urge to talk openly about coaching experiences in sermons, social media, and in casual conversation. Our organization has received new coaching clients who abandoned their former coach after seeing the content of their coaching session on Facebook.
  8. Location For Your Coaching – The transportable nature of coaching is wonderful. Coaches work from traditional offices, home offices, church offices, outdoor settings, and coffee shops (to name only a few potential locations). A major factor in this decision is whether you will provide in-person coaching, phone coaching, or video-based coaching. Many of us provide coaching by each of these modalities. A primary consideration which needs to be part of your working agreement with your congregation is whether you will do any coaching from your church office, either in-person or by phone.

Though there are others, we have found these 8 factors are critical for pastors assessing their interest in becoming coaches. One other, which nearly goes without saying, is for a pastor to have a coach. I guess we are assuming this is the case, stoking the interest of pastors toward coaching in the first place. Nevertheless, engaging a coach who can help one consider these 8 factors, and then certainly if one decides to launch a coaching practice, dramatically improves the likelihood of success.

We hope these 8 factors will contribute to your discernment about your relationship with coaching. For those who discern becoming a coach is not their calling, you have done good work by carefully considering the factors involved. For those who discern their calling includes becoming a coach, blessings on the journey as you pursue this life-giving way of serving in Christ’s kingdom.

NOTE: Myself, and our team at Pinnacle Leadership Associates, regularly coach pastors in so many ways. Feel free to contact me at markt@pinnlead.com, 803-673-3634 (Pinnacle President), or our Coaching Coordinator, Ircel Harrison, at ircelh@pinnlead.com.

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