I’ve been involved in the Synod of Lincoln Trails (made up of the 8 presbyteries in Illinois and Indiana) since 1987. I love the mission of the Synod, which is to develop, nurture and support leaders in partnership with our presbyteries and congregations, and to coordinate Presbyterian mission strategy within the Synod. Whatever I do within the Synod refreshes and restores me for my everyday life and serving in congregations.
When we called our current Synod Executive, Rev. Sara Dingman, in 2014, she came to us with the vision of developing a coaching culture within the Synod. The dream is now being realized thru a newly
launched Coaching Initiative, starting with investing in 50 leaders to give them basic training and six coaching sessions for each of them. I was blessed to be chosen for a scholarship and have completed the
initial training. While I have been intrigued with coaching, I had not realized how much commitment and study it will take to be certified.
Coaching applied within the church has to do with helping others seek out their potential dreams, by imagining the future with them and asking what dreams need pursuing. The Spirit lurks in those dreams, and helps us imagine the steps it will take to get there. Coaching keeps us focused on following the dream, and not being sidetracked by the immediate.
Unlike therapy, which brings brokenness into focus and asks why we’re broken and seeks healing for it, or mentoring, where questions are brought to the wise one for answering, coaching is about looking to the future and opening up to possibilities
through the asking of questions. The appeal of coaching is its capacity to help us think bigger, dream fully. The question asked is ―What if?
I suspect UPC knows something of the value of coaching at an intuitive level already. Have you noticed how this year we’ve been asking ―"what if?" quite a bit? What if we come together for worship and then scatter to do hands on mission in a variety of places? Faith in Action Sunday takes a new form. What if we take our preschoolers’ feeding of caterpillars, and watching them spin cocoons, which open to allow butterflies to emerge and share that with our neighborhood school and the whole church? We have Monarch Day – with something for everyone! What if we develop widespread participation in the hanging of the greens for Advent? Could doing the labor intensive piece of having the greens ready happen at a different
time? The place was throbbing yesterday as we packed the December snack packs, shelved the Food on the Fourth, sorted for Family Christmas Shop, made Christmas cards, and visited, ate and fellowshipped. What if we have a Christmas Festival that includes everyone participating in worship leadership, followed by fun? I can hardly wait for December 15th. Continue to dream, UPC, and figure out how to make those dreams flourish. Open yourselves to the movement of the Spirit in your midst.
October 31, 2019