At Encompass, Tom Barlow developed the organizational structure for ministry coaching out of his own need for it. For years, Tom and his wife MaryAnn served as church planters in England. Their team of seven dwindled down to a team of two, and they often felt alone, isolated, and without direction.
Tom was already thinking about the idea of ministry coaching when Encompass Director Dave Guiles asked him to develop a training program that would help reduce burnout. As he thought through this task, Tom attended a ministry coaching seminar in Budapest, Hungary, and the seed of a ministry coaching program was planted.
With the approval of the Encompass board, the program was officially launched in 2013.
Simply put, ministry coaching is connecting with people, establishing relationships, empowering them to see their God-given potential, and helping them pursue it.
Doing ministry as an occupation means constantly pouring yourself into others’ lives. That can result in being drained and dry. The aim of ministry coaching is to keep that from happening. A ministry coach can pour into those who are pouring themselves out to help fill them up and give them a vital connection.
The stronger Encompass global workers are as disciples, the more fruitful they will be in making disciples. Ministry coaching makes the mission of spreading the gospel in unreached places more viable and sustainable as no global worker is left alone and unaided.
Ministry coaching is much more than a monthly “rah rah” Skype chat or coffee date. It’s an intentional conversation that’s focused on specific outcomes with the Holy Spirit guiding the process. Usually, workers in ministry roles know what they should do, but they can need help identifying the obstacles and working toward removing them. A coach doesn’t provide action steps for them, but walks with them as they set those steps for themselves.
The coaches don’t have to have all the answers and expertise. What is more crucial is curiosity and perspective. Through powerful questioning and active listening, coaches talk their colleagues through all the angles. It’s an unlocking role.
Coaching is a critical part of Encompass’ approach to missions and care for those working in the field, the heart of what it means to value individuals and empower teams. Tom and the cohort of ministry coaches hope to continue and refine this ministry in order to better prepare and sustain the goers of the future.
The coaching process for Encompass Global Workers takes a lot of openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Would you pray specifically for those in this coaching process to humbly push aside any obstacles inhibiting the coaching experience and to open their hearts to the gracious leading of God’s guidance?