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Along the Journey  |  

Spark for the Soul

Ministry is not easy!

Finding new areas of ministry that still speak to the soul can be excruciating after over a decade of ministry.

Finding areas to grow and develop in ministry can be difficult, especially for those of us in smaller denominations.

The spark of ministry can grow faint after a long tenure, especially in these difficult times.

That is where I found myself—struggling to find ways to spark joy in a ministry that both helped people and fulfilled my calling after almost 14 years of the same pastorate.



After serving the same congregation for almost a decade and a half in pastoral ministry as an associate, I found myself needing something different.

For several years I felt God calling me away from where I was serving but nothing felt right.

God was nudging me to move in a new direction, to a broader ministry, but it was not clear to me where or to what.

I was feeling trapped and limited by traditional parish ministry.


Eventually, as God has a tendency to make happen, things fell into place.

After resigning from my associate position–in the midst of a time of prayerful discernment– I saw information about The Coaching Institute at CTS come through my email.

A spark was lit.

A new calling became clear.

I am so glad that I listened.

After much prayer and consultation with those closest to me I applied to the coaching program offered by Columbia and jumped in.


I love the approach that coaching takes.

Coaching helps individuals and churches to not only look forward but to actually move forward.

Churches get stuck often. Big ideas come but never get implemented.

Problems pop up and committees fall apart instead of navigating through.

First steps are taken but the vision fizzles.

Key leadership changes and momentum dies.

Coaching provides the space and skill to help navigate through those tricky spots, for individuals and systems.

It holds space for vision and change.

It helps hold persons and bodies accountable so that forward motion continues and change becomes reality.


The skills that I have developed can be used in such a wide setting; from personal coaching sessions to helping larger groups within an organization.

From helping a young adult choose a major, to helping an action team implement change. I have been able to coach and make a difference.


The Coaching Institute at CTS has revived my soul and my ministry!

To find new skills that complement the gifts and talents that I already use in ministry has been refreshing.

This is the first program that really felt right at this point in my journey.

Through this program, I have grown personally and professionally.


This new lens through which to view life and ministry has sharpened my skill set immensely.

The skills I am learning through The Coaching Institute aren’t just helping me and my own congregation, but I have been able to reach out to other pastors, congregations, and organizations to help them come together, plan, implement and grow their programming too.

My work and ministry through the Coaching Institute at Columbia has allowed my ministry to reach further than I ever imagined. I help coach other local pastors and congregations to strengthen their ministries and make disciples all around our community.

To learn more about The Coaching Institute at CTS, click here.

Rev. Abby Cole Keller, Pastor at New Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Greeneville, Tennessee and Scattered Seeds Worship Community (www.scatteredseedsworship.org).

Along the Journey