Sunday, August 19, 2007

Maybe it's a generational thing?

Yesterday I went to an introductory meeting regarding coaching. It seems to me that coaching is the new buzzword in our conference (perhaps elsewhere - the presenter sure made it sound like coaching is the new thing in corporate settings as well). There were a group of 50 or so clergy and laity from the Northwest Plains and Maumee Watershed Districts who gathered to hear about it.

The big idea is that the leadership wants 1 coach per 3 churches. This would help each church in finding and taking the next steps toward becoming a vital disciple-making center for transforming the world.

So far, so good.

The ideas sounded good - though the leadership did not really give any biblical basis for coaching (the Maumee Watershed DS read the scripture about Moses and his father-in-law Jethro, which isn't really about coaching unless you stretch it a bit). The premise is that a coach will come alongside a pastor or a church to help them figure out what to do next and how to do it. The coach doesn't have the ideas - the coach just helps the pastor or church come up with what they think the next step should be.

I think this is "hot" now because of our postmodern culture - a culture that mistrusts the "guru" approach but appreciates a "fellow traveler" approach. A culture that doesn't want to be told what to do, but that believes we already know what needs to be done (with some pressing).

I personally love the idea.

The day went downhill (in my opinion - it's my blog, after all) when the focus moved from coaching to the "Re-focus" and "Natural Church Development" (NCD) programs. One of the main things the districts want is people to coach churches and pastors through these two programs. Is it a generational thing, as well, that makes me distrust these programs? I've read and studied the NCD materials (this was what my cluster focused on last year - the cluster that got disbanded as both our leaders were chosen to participate in the pilot flight of Re-focus), and I think it's full of good evaluative information. But I'm not sure it does anything further (though possibly the districts will help). And maybe this is where coaching comes in. I'm not sure.

But I feel pretty cynical about following someone else's program - though I don't mind borrowing aspects of it. The same thing that attracts me to coaching seems to be what I don't like about programs - I don't want to be told what to do! This was one of the problems I had in the transition at my last church - the retired pastor let me have full reign in my area (for good or bad) and was totally hands off. The new pastor and I seemed to have the same destination in mind, but he was completely hands-on (and tended to micromanage). This, coupled with the two of us choosing different routes to get to the same place, was a recipe for disaster.


Todd M said...

We did the NCD surveys at Sidney First UMC and for the most part they just affirmed what we already believed to be our strengths and weaknesses. However, it was still good to have that affirmation before we started the visioning process we are now involved in.

The surveys are pretty inexpensive ... I do think they are a good tool.

Jeff Greathouse said...

Very Interesting ..