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Tony Brooks: Sunday School/Small Groups and the Power of Coaching through LEARNing

Posted: 10/24/17 at 10:55am. Post by Tony Brooks.

Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Mark 8:27-29b NIV

If we as teachers are to move to a learning model instead of a teaching model, it would be helpful to understand the power of coaching. (I am a trained ICF coach.) I am not talking about athletic coaching, but life coaching. Coaching, according to the International Coach Federation, honors the other person as the expert in his/her life and work, and believes that the person is creative and resourceful. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the person wants to achieve
  • Encourage the person in his/her discovery process
  • Elicit solutions and strategies from the person

From a Christian perspective, coaching is the ability to partner with others as you rely on Christ’s teachings and presence, focusing on what the person wants to address in his/her life, encouraging intentional action, and reviewing to reach clear agreements about the actions.

So how do we use coaching skills in Sunday School/Small Groups? Here is an abbreviated acronym used in life coaching:

Listen: As you ask application questions in your curriculum, actively listen to where people are and where they want to be. People often share where the challenges are in their lives. We simply need to develop the skill of listening.

Encourage: Encourage people by providing a safe environment to share where they are. Encourage people to know that God is in their midst and will mold them (Think of Jeremiah 18 and the Potter’s House) to become more like Christ.

Awareness: Allow the classroom to be a place of awareness:

  • Free of self-critical voice
  • Non-judgmental awareness
  • Acceptance of current reality, “the way things are”

Respond: Ask powerful questions for persons to process where they are, where they want to be and to help them get “unstuck.” Jesus was a master of asking powerful questions. Some Powerful Questions to consider as part of application in the lesson:

When a person realizes where they want to be:

  • What have you done thus far?
  • What are you thinking about as the next step?
  • What consequences might there be?
  • What other options are you considering?
  • What resources will you need to accomplish the task?
  • Who can you talk to about this?

Negotiating action: What are you willing to do?

Brooks-TonyTony Brooks is our Sunday School/Discipleship Specialist and Field Strategist for the Southside Region. You may email him at tony.brooks@bgav.org. Follow Tony on Twitter: @TonyBrooks7