I recently attended a 3 day workshop on coaching. Christian coaching is a process of mentoring that consists mostly of asking questions and allowing the coachee to come up with their own discoveries and goals. There are two things I really love about coaching:
- The emphasis on trusting the Holy Spirit to to be the one at work transforming.
- Coaching is a process that empowers the coachee to set their own growth goals – a great reminder that I don’t have to have all the answers.
Coaching is a great tool to add to our tool belts. The seminar was focused mostly on peer-to-peer coaching and how to use these skills in informal settings. The big questions now in my head revolve more the application of these skills to my own ministry context – working with youth. How can we use the principles of coaching, and the art of powerful questions, in youth ministry? What is the role of formal coaching in our work mentoring youth?
Most long term youth workers have spent time considering what makes a “good question” during group teaching times. It’s a big topic – probably best to spend a whole blog post talking about that alone. In the context of coaching, we talked about asking “powerful questions” and the risk of asking open-ended questions. We have probably all experienced the crazy tangents that can happen in small groups – and even large groups – when an interesting question derails the whole discussion.
If we really believe that personal discovery is more powerful than being told the right answer, it seems to follow that we should strive to set our kids up for personal discovery. Instead of teaching them the right answers,we should be learning to ask powerful questions that lead them to think their own way through to those answers.
Parents and Coaching
The principles of coaching might provide some valuble tools for parents, especially as they work through changing relationships with their kids. Coaching speaks to kids the message I have confidence in you. It makes lots of space for positive feedback and recognition. Although parents may never formally coach their kids, the techniques can be used to help their children think through their decisions, the consequences and, and setting their own goals.
Formal Coaching in Youth Ministry
I think one of the most vauble roles of formal coaching in international youth ministry would be as a transitions coach for students who have graduated and are moving back to their passport countries. Think about all the changes that happen January to January – preparing to leave the host country, graduations and farewells, a summer break, and then moving into uni and settling into a new life… How valuable would it be if we intentionally coached our students through this process? Not just being intentional about checking in but also giving them a dedicated hour of our time – to listen to them, and give our assurance that they have within them the resources needed to set and meet goals. Coaching actually works well over skype, and many professional coaches actually prefer to use skype. For students in transition, this means that the coaching can remain a constant during the months leading up, during, and after the move.
One of the factors that Fuller Youth Institute has identified as helping highschool students make a success transition to college or university is continued contact with their highschool youth leader*. How much more valuble would this be for international youth like the ones we work with? They are not only facing the challenges of the transition from high school to college but also the extra pressures of an international move, and entering a “home” country they may not feel at all at home in.
What about you?
What experiences have you had either formally or informally coaching teens? Either as a youth leader or parent?
*A note: I am currently studying at Fuller Theological Seminary. The Urban Youth Ministry program I am doing was created by Fuller Youth Institute. A concept they have spent a lot of time looking at is “sticky faith” – helping students build a faith that lasts beyond high school. More resources here.