Three Great Coaching Questions for Pastors and Sunday School Directors

Wednesday 10th December, 2008

Business, sports, and church teams are often able to be successful with less talent when they have great coaches. Coaches bring out the best in individual team members. They help team members realize and develop their strengths and strive for personal excellence. Coaches also help the group to work together. They help the team strive for goals together. Coaches help the team define, prepare for, and pursue a win.

Sunday School teachers and workers need coaches too. They need someone to encourage them. They need to be challenge and stretched to give God their best efforts. Teachers and workers need someone to help them to pray for and work together to accomplish Kingdom goals. I have written about coaching before. I have talked about the importance and process of coaching before. Check out the following blog entries (which offer just a taste):

I recently read a series of blog posts by Carter Moss that contained three small group coaching questions that also work great for Sunday School leaders. His blog posts include Coaching Question: #1 -- How Are You?, Coaching Question: #2 -- What Are You Celebrating?, and Coaching Question: #3 -- What Challenges Are You Facing?. I want to encourage pastors and Sunday School directors to care enough about your teachers and workers to ask them these questions 2-4 times per year. Carter's questions are in all capitals followed by my commentary:

  • HOW ARE YOU? Avoid diving into "business." Take time to care. Take time to listen to teachers and workers. Ask questions out of genuine interest rather than an agenda. I like what Carter sa id, "Relational development is the core of coaching out of which everything else will grow. As we invest relationally with leaders, we are given an entry point into their lives – and that is what we as coaches are to be most concerned about – the leader’s life"Listen for prayer requests and personal concerns. Don't hesitate to stop in the middle to pray for a "heart" issue or concern. I was tempted to add the word, "really," on the end of the question. In other words, don't settle for the "weather report" of how they are doing. But don't "force" them to be honest and open either. When they know you really care, they will be even more willing to be open.
  • WHAT ARE YOU CELEBRATING? There are two sides to this question. What are teachers and workers celebrating personally? What is something good that has happened in family, school/work, and life? Notice the passion as they share. Remember to follow up when it would be appropriate. But this question also begins to turn the corner toward talking about the class. What is happening in the lives of class leaders and members that the class is celebrating? Is someone close to accepting Jesus? Is a leader ready to step up or out? (Carter's blog post offers many great questions.) What goals have been accomplished or progress has been made? How can you tell? What projects have been completed?
  • WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING? You may even want to get out a piece of paper here to write them down. There could issues on which the teacher/worker needs assistance and prayer. Don't be afraid to ask questions to get a better understanding of the challenges. As Carter put it, "Encourage your leaders to look honestly at their ministry and personal leadership and name those things that aren't working or could be improved." Many hurdles can be handled with help. Try to lead them to identify responses to the challenges. Some solutions are simple. Some will take time. If an issue is shared confidentially, don't write it and don't share it. Your response here is crucial. If you become critical or agitated, they will stop sharing honestly.

Can you see the potential that is possible from using these questions with your teachers? Can you see how thirty minutes to an hour invested in each teacher/worker could lead to better relationships and greater effectiveness? What could you do to begin taking steps in this direction? In larger churches, age group directors would need to share some of the responsibility with pastors and directors for coaching teachers and workers. Coach Sunday School leaders. Be revolutionary!

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