Almost 42 months later, and there didn’t seem to be a significant change. He had spent tireless hours trying to educate, inspire and uplift, but the rag-tag group seemed to miss the oft-repeated points.
From a humanistic perspective, Christ’s earthly ministry didn’t seem to make much difference. Yet despite the apparent failure, we should take note that He did not give up on any of His 12 disciples. Even after they ran in fear for their lives, His suffering eyes spoke hope to the hearts of all but one. And soon thereafter, they turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
Christ’s chosen techniques
We could gain many lessons from Christ’s methodology of training the disciples, as well as from the accounts of His healing ministry. But one in particular stands out when viewed in today’s social context: Christ facilitated change through coaching.
It’s very easy these days to find coaches of one type or another offering their services to help people become successful—whether in health, business, relationships, finances or recovering from addictions. In fact, the Universal Coach Institute in South Carolina currently offers 89 different coaching certificates.
However, the booming coaching industry is not a new trend. We know it was how Jesus touched lives and reflected the very character of an ever-present, ever-supportive God to this world. And if we want success—if we want to reflect the character of Christ to our world—we can adopt this powerful, personal tool in all aspects of our ministries. Experience has shown that it’s not enough to just put on programs, give people information and then leave them on their own to struggle with difficult lifestyle changes, especially in areas of personal health. It’s exciting to know that there’s now a better model available.
Health Partner training
Several churches in the Rocky Mountain Conference have recently formed genuine connections with their community through the work of health coaches. The Twin Peaks Adventist Church in Louisville, Colorado, has trained their members through the Health Partner training program available on the conference website (www.rmcsda.org). Members have learned important coaching skills such as listening to the needs of participants and helping them set realistic goals.
Although much attention is given to organizing well-planned and professional programs, it is the personal supportive element that makes the difference. Participants stated that they had attended similar programs at other facilities and for a higher cost, but none compared to the program at the Twin Peaks Church. This type of success has been repeated elsewhere, including the True Life Community Church in Littleton, Colorado.
How coaching works
So, what would this look like in your church? What would you need to learn? And when could you get started?
Since coaching is the process of coming alongside an individual, coaches help people to 1) clarify their dream or vision; 2) set long-term goals; and 3) simplify those goals into weekly, reachable action plans.
A unique principle of coaching is that the coach does not give advice but rather guides the friend toward his or her own dream, goals and action plans. Most of us try to help people by giving advice, but it is more effective and motivating when we support others in the process of finding their own answers.
This involves three important skills of effective coaching:
Being a good listener. This is about focusing on the other person and not allowing your own experiences to take precedence. You learn to become curious about others and interested in knowing what is important to them.
Knowing how to ask meaningful questions. These are questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. They make people think deeply in order to discover a solution to their problem.
Providing ongoing support. This is absolutely critical, but often where we depart from Christ’s methods. Ongoing support after the end of a program is the key ingredient for long-term success.
As you develop these three Christ-like skills you will continue to add more, including helping a person through animosity, providing motivation, discovering their readiness for change, and the steps involved in the change process.
Some individuals have discovered a rewarding profession as a certified wellness coach, but not everyone needs that level of training. In fact, every church member can be a Health Partner—a volunteer who utilizes specific coaching skills to help a person in need. Some Health Partners also find these coaching skills helpful with their own family’s communication challenges.
Imagine a church abounding with people who have these skills. Imagine the success that would accompany your church’s ministry. Imagine what it will be like to have a growing, healthy and happy church that, through God’s power, is fulfilling Christ’s call to share a true representation of Him with the world.
The Rocky Mountain Conference offers online Health Partner Training at www.rmcsda.org/support.
You can also learn these and more skills at the NAD Health Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in January 2019. Visit www.nadhealth.org for details.
Rick Mautz, Health Ministries director for the Rocky Mountain Conference and Angeline B. David, Health Ministries director for the North American Division, collaborated on this article.