Paul Austin, Chi Alpha’s National Pioneering Director, has been coaching pioneers and Chi Alpha leaders since 2012. His expertise in pioneering and broad experience working with leaders on all sizes and types of campuses gives him a unique background when wrestling with implementing growth and change in a ministry.
Chi Alpha defines coaching as partnering with missionaries in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and ministry potential. Chi Alpha coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and ministry and believe every missionary is creative, resourceful, and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:
- Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
- Encourage client self-discovery
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
- Hold the client responsible and accountable
This process helps missionaries who engage in a coaching relationship gain fresh perspectives on personal challenges, develop enhanced thinking and decision-making skills, gain greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence to carry out their responsibilities.
Seven Benefits of Christ-Centered Coaching
- Christ-Centered Coaching Leverages Your Strengths: Skills are acquired. Strengths, on the other hand, are inherent in who you are as a person. Strengths are talents, gifts, abilities, personality preferences, and cognitive preferences.
- Christ-Centered Coaching Provides Clarity and Focus: Clarity in life involves knowing who you are and what you are called to do. For this you have to know what your strengths are and how those strengths can be used in your calling.
- Christ-Centered Coaching Instills Confidence: On the outside some missionaries are the epitome of confidence; on the inside that could not be further from the truth. One benefit of Christ-centered coaching is developing greater confidence in your ability to come up with good ideas and to carry them out.
- Christ-Centered Coaching Catapults Learning: The first thing people do when they realize they need knowledge is to begin a search for that knowledge externally. But you can take another path. Internal resources allow you to look deep inside at experiences and knowledge that may be deeply buried because you haven’t used it in a very long time or because you have had no need to connect it in ways that apply to your current situation.
- Christ-Centered Coaching Fosters Intentional Progress: Having a Christ-centered coach helps people become self-accountable. Continually failing to keep your promises to yourself chips away at your self-trust. A coach can help you develop a habit of keeping your promises to yourself.
- Christ-Centered Coaching Rubs Off on Others: Those who love the Lord with all their strength inspire others to love the Lord will all their strength. Coaching is about other’s strengths. It’s about their clarity and focus, their addressing their fears, and their determining what needs to be learned.
- Christ-Centered Coaching Encourages God-Sized Goals: Coaching provides support for God-sized goals—those opportunities that go beyond what we know how to do or know we can control. Christ-Centered coaches frequently get to enjoy seeing people reach this level, seeing God work in amazing ways.
Creswell, Jane Christ-Centered Coaching: 7 Benefits for Ministry Leaders (St Louis: Chalice Press, 2006)
Coaching has been an awesome tool to use with our student leaders. Since adding coaching to our discipleship plan I have witnessed our students be able to maneuver through some tough road blocks such has family issues, dating relationships, self esteem and even spiritual doubts and come through the other side with clarity and confidence to move forward in their life in a healthy way. Our ministry is stronger because we are raising up critical thinkers and self aware leaders who in return are passing on the coaching model to the students they are mentoring. “Ask Powerful questions!” Has become a catch phrase among our leaders and staff and I believe we are all better for it.
– Kendra Kertson
Coaching training has been incredibly influential in my personal and discipleship relationships so far. The skills I learned have helped me to ask intentional questions in order to help others discover their own answers, which has been amazing to see how empowered people feel when they work through their own challenges. It has encouraged me to be a better listener and therefore a better friend. I have fallen in love with coaching and feel the Lord leading me towards it. I plan to pursue full-time coaching hopefully within Chi Alpha to help other missionaries realize their potential!
– Taylor Wright
Coaching training was great for me because it helped me understand that God can move outside of my own teaching and preaching. Knowing that he’s actually already at work in the hearts of the people around me, is a complete perspective shift. Instead of me having all of the answers, I just have to trust that God is moving and I’m just asking permission to be a part of it. Coaching takes my eyes off of me and my abilities and puts the focus on what God is doing in the life of the coachee.
– Logan Wright
The coaching training I have received has been an incredible blessing to me and my ministry. I find myself better equipped to lead our students to their own revelations about who God is in their life. It’s been incredible to help students come to an understanding of how they can practically walk out a Godly life, through the method of asking powerful questions rather than just making statements and telling them what I think. I found that when they are guided to an answer rather than given one they have had a much greater rate of follow through in applying it to their life.
– Derek Lynn, Campus Missionary Associate at New Mexico State University
This past year God has been showing me my need to hone my discipleship skills as I continue to meet with students whose problems I often feel ill-equipped to handle. A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure and opportunity to take the Intro to Coaching class, and I learned many things and skills to help me as I continue to disciple students and maybe even coach!
I have already switched my discipleship style to focus on listening 80% of the time and speaking to only ask good questions or give short thoughts. I have seen the fruit of the coaching method as students have begun challenging themselves and thinking of their own ways to grow deeper in Christ and actually do it! I’m thankful for this coaching class and can’t wait to learn more!
– Daniela Shoulderblade, CMIT at San Diego State University
For a long time my main tool for student development was the “mentoring hammer.” Effective coaching training has given me a different tool, another option, for helping students mature into the men and women God created them to be. With coaching, I spend less time hammering and more time helping others discover new ways forward with Jesus.
– Jesse Cook, Campus Pastor at Kent State University
Coaching has enabled me to help missionaries I serve become better problem seers and solvers. Coaching helps them to explore their own road blocks, options and potential consequences to the challenges they encounter in ministry, and life, instead of just doing “what someone else told them to do.” In doing so, they own the results and become better equipped to handle future obstacles. The energy to “work the problem” is stronger because it comes from within and not from the outside.
– Steve Brannan, Campus Pastor at The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati
Coaching with Joy wrapped up in one word is “refreshing.” The amount of clarity and the mobilization toward action that I received from each coaching session gave definition to the ideas, thoughts and issues brewing in my head. I found myself taking a concern, idea, or new enterprise and writing it down in my notebook for my next coaching session. No longer was it mine to figure out by myself; I had a coach who could facilitate the thinking process with exceptional questions that would pull out of me the things I knew that I didn’t know I knew. Coaching worked for the practical issues, like running a household, to the deep philosophical conundrums such as finding my voice as a writer. Joy has a deep desire to see the Kingdom of God advanced through you. She is encouraging, life-giving, and the best advocate you have ever known (besides Jesus, of course).
– Coaching Client
Delyn Cole followed Jesus’ call to disciple students and helped her husband Curtis pioneer Chi Alpha at the University of Oregon in 1988 and at the University of Montana–Western in 1991. All along the way Delyn developed a heart for strategically investing in the lives of others. As Chi Alpha’s Assessment and Coaching Specialist, Delyn has a passion to encourage, support, and provide leaders with needed accountability as they strive to reach their full potential in Christ.
Mike Olejarz has served as a missionary with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries since 1982. He has worked in our mission organization as a campus missionary, CMIT director, district and regional director, national leader (on two occasions) and coach. He currently serves as a Field Specialist, based in Charlottesville, VA.
Dick became a disciple of Jesus through the witness of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries in 1973 at Montana State University in Bozeman. Instead of pursuing his degree in electrical engineering, the Lord redirected Dick’s career into campus ministry, where he served as a campus missionary for 30 years.
Joy devotes her life to empowering people to run life’s race unencumbered by needless baggage. She is a voracious learner, loves truth, and loves to laugh. She believes that following Jesus is best done together in authentic community.