quite a while ago now, the fine peeps at Canadian Youth Worker, asked me to write a short article on youth ministry coaching, highlighting the youth ministry coaching program for their Canadian Youth Worker Resource Guide (pdf).
i have to say, this journey of coaching youth workers is interesting. after 63 participants over 7 cohorts:
- i’ve not had one person drop out
- i’ve not had one person think the program wasn’t worth every penny
- i’ve seen more life change and transformation (skill, maturity, character, leadership, ideas) than anything else i’ve ever been a part of in youth ministry training, by far
and yet, it’s SO tough to fill new cohorts. i know the price level is a big hurdle for many, though i also know i’ve seen people move heaven and earth and re-arrange their lives to get the growth they want. so i’m struggling a bit to understand why these new cohorts (2 i’ll lead, in san diego and nashville, and 3 i’ll co-lead, in atlanta, NYC, and canada) aren’t getting more traction. part of the struggle, i’m sure, is my extremely limited marketing reach; and part of it, i’m sure, is how difficult it is to explain what YMCP really offers (which is why the current and past participants are so much better at putting words to it than i am).
here’s what current participant tom clutter had to say:
This program is an oasis in the lonely desert that youth ministry often feels like. Somehow I come away from each meeting feeling affirmed, called out, and hopeful all at the same time. Plus, after being in the same room with Marko’s beard for two solid days, deacon boards and staff parish committee’s seem much less scary.
The meetings and months of our cohort have been some of the most intensely challenging and rewarding ones of my life. I did not expect the amount of personal growth that I’ve experienced; this has hurt, in all the right ways. Professionally, I’m also convinced that no conference, training, seminar or class I’ve taken has had as significant an impact on my ministry day-to-day as these hours with Marko and my fellow participants.
well, i’d love to chat with you, via email or skype or phone, if you have any interest or questions about YMCP. i’d also be more than happy to hook you up with a current participant to get the spin-free perspective.
here’s what i wrote for our friends up north:
Off the Bench: The Gift of Getting Coached
One of the trends i’m greatly encouraged by in the world of youth ministry is the rise of coaching. there have been lots of training options for a long time; but most of those have, by their very format, relegated attendees to being passive observers, learners by listening only.
But we all know, from our own lives and from our youth ministry efforts, that the best learning is more experiential and dialogical. that’s the beauty of good coaching: it’s contextual (not assuming a one-size-fits-all approach), it’s rooted in conversation (which ramps up application and learning a hundred-fold), and it’s small (big is great for hype and motivation, but not the best for growth).
i experienced a major “grace of God” gift a few years ago. My boss, the CEO of Youth Specialties’ parent company, decided to pay for coaching for all of her executive team. She paid a huge chunk o’ change for me to participate in a leadership coaching program with a gifted Christian psychologist who specialized in leadership development. the cohort model (a group of people, meeting regularly and traveling a learning journey together) provided both a safe place to hone in on my baggage, and to experience massive personal growth in almost every area of my life—including my ministry context. that was the year i got laid off from my job; but the coaching fee had been pre-paid, so i got to complete the whole thing (talk about a blessing, given what i was going through!).
Out of that profound learning and growth experience, i fashioned the Youth Ministry Coaching Program (YMCP). it’s a whole-life cohort-based coaching program, designed exclusively for youth workers. i’m leading my sixth cohort right now, and am continually blown away by the deep, beautiful growth i’m seeing in all the participants. a Canadian cohort of YMCP, may be starting up this fall. whether you join us in this opportunity, or find something else (there are other options), i could not more strongly encourage you—based on my own experience—to find a coach who will point you towards growth.