Saturday, October 02, 2004

missional discipleship as Growth Coaching and spiritual stepping stones

Ann Wilkinson-Hayes emailed a few weeks ago:
Got to do a lecture next week on missional discipleship. Something about missional church requiring a different way of learning faith. Any thoughts/resources?

Over the past few months I’ve been working on growth coaching. The first hint was a blog post I did on spiritual growth trails. I was struck by how artists trails give a range of locations, and offer choice about when and how to visit. What might it mean to offer choice and help people make choices about their lifestyles and spirituality?

After a number of coffees, brainstormings and processing, I have taken the first step at Opawa to what I am calling growth coaching; a process of intentional spiritual formation by drawing on various existing options.
• Person A might be a new Christian. The growth coach encourages them through something like Alpha, beta, baptism and membership classes.
• Person B might be struggling with their parenting. The growth coach encourages them into finding a parenting mentor, a parenting course and time away to reflect.
• Person C might be facing major life transition. The growth coach encourages the reading and prayerful reflection on two helpful books and participation in spiritual retreats.
• Person D might want to grow in extreme discipleship. The growth coach encourages them to befriend some poor, to read two books about urban discipleship and to map out one mission project.

In each case the growth coach is helping people clarify their growth goals, to choose appropriate stepping stones to step reflectively, prayerfully through the year and to review and celebrate life change at the end of the year.

Growth coaches will be offered training; 3 evenings and a day-long listening skills seminar; including an introduction to process of listening, clarifying, monitoring, assessing, tools to aid in the setting of manageable steps to achieve growth goals, the use of challenge in learning.

February will become growth month in the church and will be used to encourage people to focus on their life growth. As part of that the coach will meet with the grower twice in February to clarify and set goals. Coach and grower would meet 6 monthly and at the end of the year for a facilitated review. This review will involve people close to the grower, allowing accountability and community.

I see 2005 as an experiment, perhaps training 10 growth coaches and seeing 20 people sign up to be “coached.” If effective, there is the possibility for growth coaching to be offered more widely within the church and even missionally, as a service into the wider community.

Posted by steve at 01:24 PM


  1. Have you thought about spiritual growth on the congregational level? I’ve been working on how one leads/coaches/fosterw growth on the group/systems level rather than the individual level. Both are important, but the congreational level tends to get less attention. We think of growth there in terms of number rather than spiritual formation.

    Comment by Linda Grenz — October 2, 2004 @ 2:49 pm

  2. You can blame me for that email. Ann asked me about possible resources, I recommended you as a person that would be worth contacting. Ah, the fortunes of fame 🙂

    Comment by phil — October 4, 2004 @ 7:15 pm

  3. This is along the lines of something that I recently blogged about here:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas, great food for thought!

    Comment by Benjy (groovythpstr) — October 6, 2004 @ 4:56 am

  4. Coooool!

    Comment by Norma — March 14, 2005 @ 5:06 pm

  5. […] out more, I searched Steve’s blog. And low and behold. He has written about this. Here. And here. And […]

    Pingback by a model of missional discipleship – Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of South Australia — January 27, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

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