Congregations in Transition (CiT) coaching has always, from its beginning, been available as an expenses-only, volunteer coaching ministry. But CiT can now provide assistance even when a church finds the cost of an on-site visit by the coach to be an obstacle to its participation. This means that even small and geographically more isolated churches can now afford the services of a trained CiT coach. In fact, the only cost to a church taking advantage of this new online, distance-coaching version of CiT is the initial registration fee of $150 paid to Lutheran CORE.
This means months of coaching guidance—at virtually no cost—to help your congregational leaders navigate through what can be an extremely challenging time in the life of your church. And, in the case of LCMC churches, your CiT coach can advise you not only in the initial period following your pastor’s departure, but also in your search for your next pastor.
So how can distance, online coaching make a difference for your church? Let me answer that question based on what I have discovered in working with congregations over this last year. I have found that effective coaching of transition teams can take place with conference phone calls, individual phone conversations, and through regular, on-going email communications. And I should not have been surprised. The professional coaching industry—whether church-related or secular—is based, in large part, on the model of online and phone communication, not face-to-face meetings. And unlike forty years ago, long-distance phone calls are free, and on-going written communication can be by email or text, not snail-mail.
The primary key to making this kind of distance coaching effective is that individual phone calls, conference phone calls, and video conference meetings are based on written answers, from church leaders, to questions that have been provided by the coach in advance of each meeting. Then the answers to these questions are emailed back to the coach, and set the agenda for the subsequent meeting.
But how does the coach become personally acquainted with transition team members when there is no on-site visit? Through an individual phone conversation with each team member. (Conversations—you guessed it—based on each team member’s responses to questions he/she has received in advance of that phone call.) Then, after these individual phone conversations, the first meeting of the entire team with the coach is by video conference. (Subsequent team sessions can be by conference phone call.)
Through this kind of ministry your lay leaders can learn—from the coach—about the collective experiences of churches that have successfully addressed the challenges inherent in a period of transition. Additional information about Congregations in Transition can be found on the Lutheran CORE website.
How can you inquire—before formally signing up—as to whether CiT can help your congregation? Simple. Contact me, CiT Director Don Brandt, either by phone or email. I hope to hear from you.
Dr. Don Brandt
Note: Recommendations and references are available from congregations working with CiT. Click here for more information on CiT.