Young Clergy Enjoy Impromptu Coaching Session

Date Posted: 8/25/2016

Pastors in Cohort 6 of the Texas Conference Advancing Pastoral Leadership program (APL) enjoyed tapping into the wisdom of seasoned leaders who are training to be Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI) coaches.
APL class member Rev. Collin Taylor, Grace UMC, Houston, was paired with Rev. George Fisk, retired elder of the North Texas Conference for an informal “coaching” session in August at Camp Allen in Navasota. It was quite a coincidence that George was a seminary classmate of Collin’s dad, former District Superintendent Bill Taylor.
“It’s not often that young leaders and seasoned clergy get to ‘hang out’ together,” shares Rev. Mike Tyson, VCI Director for TAC. “This was a serendipitous unplanned opportunity made possible by our both being at Camp Allen at the same time.  Rev. Janice Virtue (APL trainer) and Dr. Steve Stutz (VCI trainer) made the most of that opportunity.” Both groups enjoyed intermingling again during an ice cream social that evening.
“I was very impressed with the young clergy I met,” shares George, “as I reflected back to my seminary days with Collin’s dad. “Having one on one time with them gave several of us that were in coaching training sessions the opportunity for a real life discussion. Collin shared that he was experiencing a “now what” moment at Grace UMC, trying to discern where to focus next. “ Collin has seen the congregation grow from 85 in 2016 to an average of 105 this year.
Collin found the discussion particularly enlightening when George answered questions about the single board model that is growing in popularity in congregations seeking to have less meetings and more hands-on ministry. “George really grabbed my attention when he made the comment that if he’d had access to the principles of Vibrant Church Initiative when he had been a young pastor, it would have changed everything he did in ministry.”
Explains George, serving several churches as a VCI coach over a year, “I think VCI is the neatest thing ever and I know that if I had been aware of concepts such as a discipleship pathway and radical hospitality in my early years, it would have changed our church culture and future in profound ways.”
Coach trainee Dr. Dick White of Quitman UMC says, “I met with Jenny from St. John’s, Richmond, who shared her challenge of beginning a new church program during the week.” Adds Dick, “The exercise was helpful for me as a coach in that I did not try to tell her what to do, but practiced asking questions to lead her deeper in thinking about ways to implement the program. I believe it was a help to her in digging deeper in understanding what she is wanting to do, and ways to implement that so it was a good experience for both of us.”
Rev. Hazel Jackson spent time with an APL pastor that sought insight about how to work with a new senior pastor without being overbearing about ideas and best practices. Notes Hazel, “This coaching session with him was much different than roleplaying with a pastor buddy, and was helpful to both of us as we discussed ways to keep communication lines open to leverage strengths from both the senior and associate pastors.”
Rev. Artie Cadar adds, “In a coaching situation, I can see how it is important to ask if the other person is walking away with useful insight or a next step.” Rev. Peter Cammerano, Chapelwood UMC, Lake Jackson, described his Camp Allen coaching exercise as a “fun and rewarding endeavor. It was good practice on how to be present in the moment for the other person and it always feels good to be part of a breakthrough.”