Ministry Coaching, The Way Ahead from Within

Ministry Coaching, The Way Ahead from Within

Professionally trained ministry coaches are being sought out, not by pastors who are incapable or incompetent, but by gifted leaders who see the value in having a creative conversation partner who is unattached to their circumstance -to stir ideas, challenge assumptions, ask great questions, speak uncomfortable truth and push for action with accountability.


Ministry coaching has become a movement in most denominations over that last ten years helping gifted pastors get unstuck and find life-giving pathways forward.


Many of us in ministry once thought we’d find the way toward vital congregational renewal “if I just read the right book”, or “attended the correct seminar”, or “hired the highest-priced consultant”.

What has become copiously clear to most clergy worth their salt, is that the answers each of us are looking for are not “out there”.

Our way ahead must come from “within”. One of the most helpful and expedient pathways to discover that “way ahead from within” is in dialogue with a coach, trusting our “gut”, and knowing that the Holy Spirit shows up in the process.


Columbia Seminary is committed to growing a different kind of leader.

It sees value in equipping a generation of clergy who can effectively utilize the professional skills of coaching as a powerful means for personal and congregational transformation.

These coach-trained clergy are not only available to coach their peers but also have the tools to lead their own congregations with a coach-approach to ministry.


Coach-approach pastors embrace a leadership style that is less “top-down”.

They listen more and advise less in working with laity and staff.

They employ the art of asking strong questions and are prone to delve deeply from a place of curiosity.

The coach-approach pastor focuses prodigious attention on action planning, goal setting, and accountability believing that every disciple of Jesus has a calling to be in ministry and the role of the clergy person is to help disciples live out their calling.


The coaching skills being taught at Columbia are not watered-down “coaching lite”.

They are the robust skills of professional Executive Coaching applied to the context of congregational ministry.

The training is vetted by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and satisfies the educational aspect of becoming an ICF credentialed coach.


You and I both know that the only real agency we have in ministry is a relationship, and coaching is exactly that -a relationship with a professional who is fully committed to your success with the sole purpose of helping you be the best leader you can be.

Coaching is highly personal, deeply intentional and always contextual.

Think of it as conversational archeology of your leadership soul and your congregation’s needs.


This year consider challenging yourself not by reading yet another book on Leadership, but by ramping up your leadership acuity.

Invest in equipping yourself with a set of professional skills that will fundamentally alter your approach to leadership in the local church.

Become a coach.


To learn more about the process of becoming a coach through Columbia, click here.


“What I love about coaching is that it brings about transformation faster and with greater impact than any other form of engagement. When I complete a day of coaching pastors I am usually so fired up I can hardly stand it, and gratefully amazed at how God has been at work through the coaching process.” 

Chris Holmes is a United Methodist Pastor who has been coaching church leaders across many denominations since 2008, with over 2000 hours coaching laity, clergy, denominational leaders and bishops. He co-teaches the annual coach training offered through Columbia Seminary. He is author of many articles on coaching and the Amazon Best-selling book, The Art of Coaching Clergy: A Handbook for Church Leaders, Clergy and Coaches, published in 2018. Chris is married to Margaret, and together they have three grown children. Chris is an accomplished watercolor artist.



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