Coaching for Discipleship and Leadership Development

For leadership development and discipleship, coaching may be the missing tool for ministry leaders. Leadership development is the expansion of a person’s capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes that facilitate setting direction, creating alignment, and maintaining commitment in groups (Van Velsor et al., 2010). Discipleship is the moral transformation of an individual to reflect Christ through a deeper relationship with him. Ministry leaders can increase the success level of their efforts to accomplish these two vital pieces to advancing the Kingdom of God through the use of coaching.

Coaching may be the most important format for training and growing disciples in the missional church of the future (Ogne & Roehl, 2008). Through coaching, an individual is approached holistically by valuing personal authenticity, character and relational connection with the larger faith community (Tangen, 2010). Through the process of listening and truth-telling, coaches are able to clarify, reflect, and request that certain actions be taken (Williams and Davis, 2007), but there is little commanding and instructing. This allows the coachee to arrive at decisions through the course of the process, own the decisions being made, and grow in confidence, understanding, and effectiveness (Van Velsor et al., 2010).

A relationship with Jesus is a personal endeavor fostered in a community of fellow believers (Rom. 8:38-39). Too often the current approach to this relationship with Jesus is wrapped in church attendance, church volunteerism, and adherence to church initiatives. Though these are important, more important is how an individual approaches, interacts, and communes with Jesus Christ. Coaching provides an avenue for leadership development and discipleship by challenging constraints, exploring new possibilities, and ensuring accountability (Ting and Hart, 2004).

Can leadership development and discipleship be intertwined, or do they need to be approached separately?


Ogne, S. L., & Roehl, T. (2008). TransforMissional coaching: empowering spiritual leaders in a changing ministry world. Nashville, Tenn: B & H Pub. Group.

Tangen, K. I. (2010). Integrating Life Coaching and Practical Theology Without Losing Our Theological Integrity. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, vol. 3(iss. 12), pp. 13–32.

Ting, S., & Hart, E. W. (2004). Formal Coaching. In The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development (2nd ed., pp. pp. 116–150). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Van Velsor, E., McCauley, C. D., Ruderman, M. N., & Center for Creative Leadership (Eds.). (2010). The Center for Creative Leadership handbook of leadership development (3rd ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Williams, P., & Davis, D. C. (2007). Therapist as life coach: an introduction for counselors and other helping professionals (Rev. and expanded, 2nd ed). New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

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