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June 7, 2010

6 Questions to Ask in a Coaching Relationship

Dave Ferguson explains how "Coaching Conversations" help equip lay leaders.

At Community Christian Church, we value a culture that commissions each man, woman, and child for an outreach effort that they feel God has called them to fulfill. Part of that culture involves what I call “leading with a yes,” because as a pastor, I regularly get approached by people who ask whether their outreach idea is worth pursuing. By saying yes when they come to us with a worthy idea, we give them the affirmation they need to move forward.


But that doesn’t mean our “yes” guarantees them funding from the church, or the hands-on assistance of staff leadership. It’s just not always possible. When I’m asked how we train people to pursue their ideas, given these limitations, I tell people we error on the side of relationship, meaning we ask people to have relationships: an apprentice that they are developing and a coach that is developing them. If we can put someone into a coaching relationship, be it weekly or monthly, then that helps give needed support for various ministry efforts.

Community has developed a coaching model that guides both sides, whether it’s a staff member overseeing a lay leader, or a pastor overseeing a staff member. Part of that model involves the coach asking these six questions each time they meet with the leader they’re overseeing. We find these “Coaching Conversations” help develop these leaders, and they significantly enhance the experience for everyone involved:

1) How are you doing? This immediately opens the door for the person to share what is happening in their life. If their child is driving them up a wall, they’re not going to be ready to tackle the work at hand. Asking this question provides an opportunity to address distractions.

2) Where are you winning? This gives the person a chance to celebrate, even brag, about the things going right.

3) What are your challenges? This is where “coaching” begins. You allow the person to self-identify the problems they need to address, which essentially means you help them begin to coach themselves.

4) What are you doing about it? This is the most important question. When someone spells out a challenge, it’s a natural tendency to tell them what to do about it. We shouldn’t do that for them; you want them to learn to coach themselves.

5) How can I help you? This tells the person we care, and that we’re willing to provide leads, connections, and—if appropriate and possible—resources that push their efforts forward.

6) How can I pray for you? This reinforces the role of the Lord in all of our efforts, and invites Him to cover all of the things discussed leading up to this point.

I use these six questions when I am coaching a church planter or a brand new small group apprentice leader. So, if you are responsible for the care and development of leaders use these six questions as a basic agenda for any one-on-one coaching conversation and see your leaders grow!

Dave Ferguson is the Lead Pastor of Community Christian Church, an innovative, multi-site, missional community that is passionate about helping people find their way back to God. Community has grown from Dave, his wife and four friends to thousands of Christ-followers meeting at 11 locations. Community was recently recognized as one of the most influential churches in America. He is the author of The BIG IDEA and the recently published Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement. He serves as an Editorial Advisor for BuildingForMinistry.com.

Related Tags: leadership, office, outreach, pastors, planning, staff, stewardship, Teamwork, training, volunteers


Yes, coaching questions are powerful, soul-searching opportunities to get right to the heart of the matter.

And while it's great to have an in-house coach, most ministry leaders would benefit from having someone whose services are off-site, confidential, and totally objective.

A well-trained ministry coach will partner with the leader, offering ongoing accountability, relevant resources, and authentic encouragement.

An effective coach will have the ability to ask the hard questions that lead to deep soul reflection, paving the way for continued spiritual formation and development of a healthy life balance in the midst of the endless demands of service.

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