One of the ELCA’s best-kept secrets has been a successful program for 20 years. Since 2002 the ELCA’s coaching ministry has been an influential and effective tool for personal, relational and spiritual growth.
“Coaching engages the skills of deep listening and powerful questioning as we accompany individuals on the journey of life,” said Jill Beverlin, program manager of the coaching ministry. “When you work with a coach, a coach works with where you are today and helps you look forward, and helps you craft a plan. What is that goal? What is God inviting you to, and what are the things that you need to do in order to get there?”
ELCA coaching is distinct from other support services in the way the program works. It’s not a counseling or mentorship program. Rather, it’s about enhancing a rostered minister’s pastoral care, providing a way for lay leaders to strengthen their community engagement skills, and more. ELCA coaches are trained to ask guiding and contemplative questions, leaving space for clients to process in a confidential and reliable space. Pastors and deacons play a pivotal role in providing care and comfort to their congregations. When working with a coach, they are equipped to better facilitate open and authentic communication and foster deeper connections with those whom they lead.
“In a simple definition, counseling looks backwards, and coaching is much more forward-focused,” Beverlin said. “It’s powerful for someone to figure out for themselves what God is asking them to do and for them to wrestle with. It’s about autonomy. It’s about empowerment. It’s about gift discovery and it’s about recognizing your identity as a beloved, and called and gifted child of God, and your place in God’s good work of loving and healing the world.”
While rostered ministers can be a large demographic of coaching clients, others can equally benefit from working with a coach. Members and lay leaders, volunteers and nonvocational people can experience personal and spiritual growth, and even find guidance in clarifying purpose and goals for everyday life.
Coaches vary in age, race, sexuality and gender identity. Each can help and empower those looking to benefit from this ministry. Those interested in working with a coach can visit the website to learn more. For those who wish to be certified as an ELCA coach, Beverlin said they can visit this page or email her directly here.