Tag Archives: self-discovery

The place of Christian Coaching in youth ministry

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:

  1. The emphasis on trusting the Holy Spirit to to be the one at work transforming.
  2. 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.

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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Leading Youth, TCKs, Youth Resources


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When chameleons grow: TCKs and the Arts

Haikaa Yamamoto is a Japanese woman born in Brazil who also spent significant time in the US. She was interviewed by the examiner in relation to her upcoming music project “Work of Art” which features a song recorded in 19 languages. I found some of her comments about her TCK experience to be poignant and worth sharing/discussing.

During my teens and early adulthood, I really had no idea who I was or where I belonged. I developed a sort of Chameleon like personality that would adapt depending on the setting.

Those of us who work with TCKs have seen this “Chameleon like personality” on numerous occasions. It is a natural mechanism which many TCKs turn to in their search for identity and just trying to make life go more smoothly. Most of the TCKs I’ve met could fit in easily with adult company, many were expressive listeners who put others at ease, and were great at welcoming others with warmth.

This is often interpreted by adults as a sign of maturity and a well-rounded person secure in their own self-image. I disagree. I think that a TCKs ability to relate on a surface level has very little to do with their emotional maturity and the development of their personal sense of identity. TCKs learn to mimic behaviours in order to fit in. It’s a survival skill for those who bounce from place to place, or those who are required in interact in a variety of environments.

It was a tiring form of existance and after some time, I decided I wanted to know who I was regardless of where I was. I wanted to develop characteristics that I could take with me and that would serve me regardless of the environment that surrounded me. I realized that values such as generosity, fairness, honesty and emotions like love, happiness and courage were what really mattered to me.

I love watching TCKs undergoing journeys of self-discovery – what do I believe? who do I want to be? what matters to me? For many, the journey is precipitated by (yet another) move – especially those starting college, or those who move in late high school.

I believe that one role of TCK youth worker is to help spark this journey of self-discovery. I believe that one of the most beneficial things we can do for TCKs is encourage them to explore their unique identity – separate from where they live, what their parents do,  where they are “from”. This can be a difficult journey, with many deep questions arising. I think it helps for teens to explore this when they are in a “safe” place – with family and well-developed friendship and youth leaders (mentors) in place to walk through it with them.

For some, of course, the safe place happens after they leave home and strike out on their own. For others, home is comfortable enough that such a journey seems like a lot of unnecessary effort. In either case, maintaining mentoring relationships from a distance can help. I have spent a LOT of hours talking with TCKs via skype, IM, email and facebook as they process their identity in a new an unfamiliar place, far from the comforts of home and family. I feel so deeply for them as they struggle, and rejoice jubilantly as they begin to come into their own.

I think that being an artist had a lot to do with my search for who I am. During my  “Chameleon” era, I think I grew very numb because the only way I could change so much my personality was by hiding my feelings or by not feeling at all. And when you sing, you can´t not feel. You can learn all the vocal techniques in the world but you can´t be taught to feel. It was a very intense process of acknowledging, accepting and discovering who I really was. I think that being an artist has given me the perfect stage for growth and self-acceptance. It has taken me completely out of my comfort zone and I almost gave up several times but then it would chase me in my dreams and later become songs and lyrics etc.

I found this very interesting. A lot of TCKs I know are devoted and talented artists – painters, photographers, videographers, musicians, dancers and a host of other fields. I wonder if expression of the self through art aids them in the process of self-discovery and personal growth.

My own chosen artforms (music and painting/drawing) certainly helped me through a difficult period of adjustment upon re-entry to Australia at the start of grade 11 following two years abroad. I turn to artistic expression in periods of introspection and emotional growth – and it helps me.

I wonder if the arts should be deliberately encouraged (as a form of expression, not something to excel at) among TCKs both abroad and when returning?


Posted by on February 7, 2011 in Leading Youth, TCKs


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