Several months ago I was invited to serve as a coach at the 2019 Children’s Pastors Conference. An application was required along with a professional reference, a personal phone call, and a training webinar. The training is extraordinarily thorough because the Coaching Sessions at CPC are one of the highest-rated experiences at CPC.

CPC attendees are invited to signup for a 30-minute appointment with an experienced ministry leader of their choice through Signup Genius. Each coach has listed several areas of expertise or profound experience. The attendee completes a form to clarify some questions or a direction the attendee wants to go during the session. The Coach listens as the attendee begins to explain their situation.

Melanie Hester, Community Development Specialist for International Network of Children’s Ministry, explained in the coaches’ training webinar the difference between mentoring and coaching. Mentoring is typically a long-term, mentor-driven arrangement. Coaching is driven by the one being coached for a shorter season of time. As a coach, my role is to engage in active listening, and then ask really good questions as I assure the one being coached that he/she has everything they need to be successful.

At the close of the coaching session, specific goals along with a couple of key action steps would be written down. These action steps would be specific, measurable, attainable (lofty enough to inspire), relevant (personally applicable), and time bound (include a period of time for completion…90 days or by Easter/Summer). My favorite question in this exercise was to ask the one being coached, “Who will be your champion in your world to help you in prayer and accountability?” This question always elicited a smile as a dear friend-in-the-Lord would be named by the kidmin champion being coached.

In the course of three coaching sessions, I met three amazing women. The first one I knew and have an ongoing relationship with. The second had just been hired the Friday before. The third was a young woman in an American-Chinese church. Two of the three were United Methodists. The most common statement I heard was, “Where do I start?” Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint, but hardly a time for baby steps. So what giant leap do you take first? Each kidmin was different…and it was a beautiful thing to see them encouraged by the end of the coaching session.

There were more than 100 such coaching experiences going on in three separate time frames in one humongous room. We were assigned a numbered table with two chairs on two sides of the table: one for a person and one for all the stuff they were carrying. With five minutes remaining, a horn was blown. An evaluation was completed by the one being coached as well as the coach to be turned in at the end of the coaching session. Every person I saw leaving the tables had a huge smile on their faces. At the end of each coaching session, it appeared the one being coached received exactly what they’d hoped for.

Coaching is what we do when we take the phone call, answer the email, and ask the questions. Coaching can talk you off the ledge as well as push you to your limits. The best of the best have coaches: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and all those amazing Olympic athletes. If we seek to be the best communicators of the gospel and kingdom builders for Jesus, taking advantage of a coaching opportunity and reaching out to a coach every now and then can only make us better.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11