Training missionaries to coach one another

Coaching in SEND is getting more attention these days.  From December 3-5, Dr. David Wood and I facilitated a coaching workshop for 24 participants in Farmington. The head of our mobilization department had initially requested the training in coaching for all the mobilizers in the US Office, since he believes that coaching is one of the key activities for our mobilizers. A number of other members from the US Office and the International Office joined as well, filling our IO training room to capacity.

The training curriculum we used was designed by Dr. Keith Webb, and is based on the Core Coaching Skills Certificate training program that Dr. Webb has been conducting in many countries around the world.  Both Dave Wood (my co-facilitator) and I went through the Core Coaching Skills Certificate program back in 2008.   Since then, both of us have coached extensively, with most of our coachees being missionaries in our own organization.   The two of us are convinced that coaching and coaching skills have broad application within cross-cultural mission work, and is a valuable and credible way of helping our personnel to develop.  (See an article on “Coaching Workers” by Keith Webb on this subject).  Now we had an opportunity not only to talk about our own experience in coaching, but to train others in using these same skills in interacting with their peers in the mission, the students they talk to about missions on campuses, and the mission appointees who are in the process of raising their financial and prayer support.  

During the 3 days of training, we give the participants multiple opportunities to practice coaching or the skills of coaching with the other participants.  By the end of the 3 days, each participant has spent more than 3 hours coaching others or being coached, and another hour or so observing someone else coach.  Although the emphasis during these coaching sessions was on the process of coaching, many of the workshop participants testified to discovering good solutions to real-life problems as they were coached by brand new coaches.

The evaluations of the workshop were very positive and over 80% said they felt more prepared or much more prepared to serve in their ministry role after completing the workshop. Dave Wood will also be assisting me in facilitating the same workshop in the Philippines at the end of January, and I believe we have a full enrollment again.
The 2011 Directors’ Council gave SEND U approval to implement our newest training program, called MOP-up (or Member Orientation Program under pressure). This training initiative will seek to help first-term missionaries review and apply the learning they did at MOP to their first assignment after language study. As a critical component of the program, each MOP-up participant will receive free coaching for a period of 3 months at that crucial and often stressful transition from language school to their first assignment. The final version of the MOP-up proposal is available on the SEND U wiki. Our SEND U Leadership Team will be contacting the language and orientation coordinators of each region early in the new year to identify who will be the first people to go through MOP-up.
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