Life Ministry Coaching Groups

Life Ministry Coaching is an expression of the ministry of Rev. Ken G. Crawford, pastor at Forest Grove Christian Church since 2002. Since 2003 we have had an intentional ministry formation training program within the church for equipping staff for a lifetime of ministry. After nine years, we are excited to offer this opportunity to clergy and laity, regardless of their connection to this or another congregation.

Coaching can be done individually or in groups. An initial exploratory conversation will determine whether there is potential for a good working relationship between the coach and prospective person being coached [PBC]. Coaching can cover a wide array of areas of life where you may desire to:

  • Clarify and pursue your goals,
  • Improve your relationships,
  • Develop in your career
  • Enhance your communication skills,
  • Explore new opportunities before you,
  • Consider a change of direction in your life,
  • Grow in your spiritual life,
  • Discover and pursue your unique ministry and life purpose
  • Increase peace and well being in your life, 

In the group format, we will offer separate groups for clergy and laity (a religious word for non-clergy). Each group will follow a similar format structured as follows:

  1. Commitment to participation for a 6-9 week Unit – (Fall, Winter, Spring) which includes
  2. Establishment of learning goals for personal or professional growth
  3. Weekly 2 hour group meeting which will include:
    1. Prayer and other spiritual formation exercises
    2. Presentation by the group facilitator
    3. Group discussion of the presented material
    4. Individual sharing of personal growth areas
  4. Weekly readings (averaging 5-20 pages)
  5. Weekly written reflection (2-5 pages)
  6. Participation in an online discussion group
  7. Three one-on-one coaching sessions with the group facilitator

This is serious work, requiring a commitment of time and energy and money. Admission to the program assumes this commitment to self and the group. It is estimated that participants will spend 5 hours per week between group participation and personal prayer, reading and reflection. Tuition for these groups varies per unit and covers the cost of time, materials and facilities in addition to the coach’s fee. Partial scholarships are available based upon need; state your request with your application.

How to apply:
Groups will be formed with consideration to those who are most likely to benefit from the experience and contribute meaningfully to the process. If you would like to participate, please submit a written statement describing your journey that has brought you to this point, what questions or topics you hope to better understand, and how you hope to grow.
With your statement, please provide the following:

  • Your name, mailing address, email and phone
  • Your Church affiliation if any
  • References – two names (with contact information) who can speak to how you might participate in a group experience of this sort. Giving them a copy of this information would be helpful.

This information can be emailed to pastor@fgcctx.org.

Visit www.kengcrawford.com/lifeministrycoach/ for more information and to fill in our contact form.

Why study ourselves and others from a ‘systems’ point of view?

Almost daily we encounter situations that frustrate us – individuals, groups, and even we ourselves, behave in ways that are clearly unproductive – we respond with fear and anxiety where none is needed. People begin to “spin” rather than simply remain still and listen. We talk about reacting rather than responding – the first an automatic response, the second a thoughtful response. We may see others acting out their anxiety and not know why, or how to help. And then we feel our own anxiety rise, leading us to thoughts, words and actions that betray our better selves.

Family Systems Theory gives us a way to understand ourselves and others, to ‘see’ what is happening, and empowers us to choose differently.

What is Bowen Family Systems Theory?

* Borrowed from www.hsystems.org – Center for the Study of Human Systems, Roberta M Gilbert, MD

Bowen family systems theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen begining in the 1950’s, and developed throughout his life, is a new way of thinking about the human phenomenon. In it, the nuclear family, rather than the individual, is seen as the emotional unit. Several concepts grow out of that basic understanding, from the scale of differentiation of self to the importance of the generations to functioning of people in the present.

The tremendous usefulness of the theory in the lives of individuals and families gave rise to a new and more effective psychotherapy. Organizations such as businesses and congregations have used the ideas with great benefit. Leadership training based on Bowen theory is proving to have effectiveness for those in religious, business, educational and other types of organizations.

His major papers are found in his book, “Family Therapy in Clinical Practice,” Jason Aronson, New York, 1978.

Some Quotations from Dr. Bowen’s Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, Aronson, New York, 1978

“If society functioned on a higher level, we would have a higher percentage
of people oriented to responsibility for self and others.. . .” p. 449

“. . . what man thinks about himself , and what he says about himself, is different in many important ways from what he is.” p.158

“As families move from the compartmentalized, less mature world of secrets and foibles which they assume they are keeping under cover, and into the world of permitting their private selves to be more open and a possible example for others to follow, they grow up a little each day.” p. 520

“The goal is to be as much of a ‘self’ as is possible. . .and to permit the others as much latitude as possible toward developing their selfs.” p. 463

“Any time one key member of an organization can be responsibly responsible for self, the problem in the organization will resolve.” p.463

“There is a fine line between accepting the responsibility for the part self plays in a situation and accepting the ‘blame’ for it.” p.464

Bowen theory is constructed with 8 core concepts: Nuclear Family Emotional System; Differentiation of Self; Triangles; Cutoff; Family Projection Process; Multigenerational Transmission Process; Sibling Position; and Emotional Process in Society. Central to our ability to make use of these concepts is our willingness to see, feel, and name the anxiety present in ourselves, others, and the larger system. Once we do, then we begin to gain some power to change, and the 8 concepts become the tools by which we can learn to construct a better self, and a better world.

See also:     http://kengcrawford.com/family-systems-theory-notes-and-resources/

        http://www.familysystemstheory.com/

        http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html

        http://www.lmpeacecenter.org/LAC.pdf        

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a growth-focused relationship wherein two people, a mentor and a mentee, cooperate to pursue the development goals of the mentee in an area where the mentor has some knowledge and experience.

All mentoring has several essential components:

  • Mentor – individual with knowledge, experience and skill in an area of interest to the mentee.
  • Mentee – individual seeking knowledge, experience and skill in an area known to the mentor.
  • A willingness of both parties to cooperate together.
The process typically includes:Active observation of the mentor by the mentee
  • Conversation between the two, with the mentee asking questions and the mentor offering instruction, observations, and comments.
  • Observation of the mentee’s practice
  • Conversation between the two
  • The process repeats and continues. As the mentee gains increasing confidence and independence in certain areas, they may move to greater depths in the same area or address other areas of knowledge and skill.

Mentoring can apply to almost any area of desired competency, from work to hobbies to relationships to physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

In situations where no mentor is nearby, mentoring can be done over a distance using various communication technologies. One can, as a mentee, also enter a mentoring relationship with an individual through her/his writings or other works. At times people have even undertaken to write a book specifically for the purpose of mentoring those they may never meet. A good example of this is: Alan Dershowitz’s Letters to a Young Lawyer, from the series Art of Mentoring by Basic Books. Obviously he does not have time to mentor all those who might want or warrant his support, so he has put down the things he would say in such a relationship.

Why is mentoring important / valuable?

Mentoring is an opportunity to teach/lead in a relational way, modeling, discussing, observing, and empowering the other to use the gained knowledge and skills. Grounded in real, often shared, practice, mentoring accelerates learning with near instant feedback and opportunity to make adjustments. Mentoring also provides the added benefit of learning from the mistakes of others ‘in the moment’. When working with a mentor, you have the ability to hear real life stories spoken into your own setting and then dialogue about the application of those stories. The mentor is able to say, “Well, in my experience… ” and give voice to history and memory and insight, while allowing the mentee freedom in conversation to choose her own path. The mentor may at times serve as a confidant with whom the mentee explores frustrations and seeks clarity and resolution. Mentoring often continues to deepen learning that begins in more formal didactic learning settings, such as lectures and readings may provide.

Mentoring yourself

While typically not sufficient, self-mentoring is a valuable process bringing together a variety of skills. If you identify an area where you wish to grow and set goals to do so, pursue learning and experience, reflect upon those, and then set goals for future growth, you are self-mentoring. We do this throughout our lives and can develop capacities to do so with increasing effectiveness. The ‘self-help’ industries were built on this reality. However, many have found that self-mentoring does not take them as far as they hope to go.

Preparing yourself for a mentor

If you want to work with a mentor, you owe yourself and your mentor the effort of ensuring that you are truly ready for the experience. Don’t waste another’s time until you are prepared to be mentored. So, consider the following:

Qualities that help make you a good mentee:

  • Be teachable, humble, open, hungry to learn
  • Trust your mentor, yourself, and the process. Be willing to try new things, take risks
  • Be trustworthy. Do what you say. Say what you mean. Repent when you err.
  • Believe that you also have something to offer
  • Be willing to work hard
  • Take responsibility for your own growth – the mentor is not your parent
  • Realize that there are things you can’t fully understand until after you experience and reflect upon them
  • Cut yourself and others some slack – give the benefit of the doubt
  • When in doubt, ask

Finding a Mentor

The next step is finding a mentor – someone who has skill and experience in the desired area(s), plus the ability and willingness to share and be a mentor to others. Be sure that these are all present. This author had some very painful experiences working with people who had skill and experience to share, but lacked any inclination to help others learn. Once you find that person, clearly identify what it is you want and ask if they are willing to be your mentor. It may take a few conversations to flesh out the terms of this arrangement until a shared understanding of expectations exists. Some things to ask include:

  • Have you ever had a mentor from whom you learned? If so, would you please describe for me that relationship and what you learned in it?
  • Have you ever mentored someone? If so, would you please describe for me that relationship and what you learned in it?
  • What are some important things that you think you have to teach another?
  • In what ways do you think you could contribute to my growth?
  • How much time do you have to give to this relationship and in what ways?
  • What would you ask in return? What do you hope to receive from the relationship?

If the answers to these questions, and the conversation around them, aligns with your hopes and goals, then this may be a good mentor for you.

It is suggested that you begin with some short defined time – say three months of meeting weekly. Then at the end of that time you can both evaluate the arrangement and decide to continue as is, make adjustments, or end the arrangement. Having this conversation up front helps reduce stress and tension if things don’t work out.

Mentoring others

Do you have something to offer to another’s growth, a desire to help, and a willingness to spend time demonstrating and dialoguing about your area of interest? If so, then you can be a mentor. A popular axiom states, “One learns best by teaching others.” This certainly applies to mentoring. If you want to grow in a particular area, one of the best things you can do is mentor another. You do not need to be an expert, but just a little farther along. A mentor need not be a master teacher qualified to write curriculum or books and speak on a given topic at conferences. You are a mentor if you have some knowledge, experience, and skill in an area of interest to others, and you invite them to learn from you one-on-one.

Finding someone to mentor

Finding a mentee is much like finding a mentor, only in reverse. You need to be sure you have the qualifications of a mentor, and then you look for someone with the qualities of a good mentee. Decide what you will and won’t do, how much time you have to give, and set clear boundaries for your relationship. You do not have to let someone into every area of your life in order to be a good mentor to that person. In fact, some find that the more complex the relationship becomes, adding elements of such as peer friendship, the more difficult it may become to accomplish the mentoring work.

Next Steps

Once the mentoring relationship has been established and shared understanding exists as to expectations and boundaries, then the mentoring work can continue. In truth, it has already begun, as this preparatory work includes vital learnings about relationships. From here, several next steps help set the groundwork.

  • Agree on the focus of learning.
    • What goals do you both bring?
    • What does the mentee hope to learn and the mentor hope to teach?
  • Agree on some initial ways to work together.
    • Will the mentee ‘shadow’ the mentor at the given tasks to observe?
    • When, Where, and How often will you meet to reflect on these experiences and the other learnings that accompany them?
    • What other resources can be brought into the learning relationship?

Creating a culture of mentoring

Once you realize how rewarding the mentoring process can be, you may wish more people around you were benefitting from a similar experience. Regardless of the setting – business, non-profit, faith community, civic or interest group – you can explore ways to create a mentor-friendly culture. You have already taken the first step by learning about mentoring and having a rewarding experience about which you can speak to others. There are other things which nurture a good environment for mentoring.

  • Share your story – How has mentoring impacted you? How have you grown in areas that are important to others? What pitfalls have you encountered and how were they handled to provide additional growth opportunities?
  • Get buy in from others – others in the organization may need to allow/affirm/support the mentoring process. Mentoring shifts focus, time, and energy away from other priorities. It pays huge dividends when done well, but the rewards may be delayed, so people need to be willing to make the journey, or at least allow others to do so. There are at least three groups of stakeholders whose support should be considered – supervisors, peers, and direct-reports of the mentors and the mentees. People need to understand how to interpret what they see – observing others work, and conversation about the work, may seem like wasted time to some. Give folks sufficient time to become accustomed to these new ways of thinking and working.
  • Develop a system – what kinds of structures and habits will need to be implemented? Are new working/reporting relationships required? How are mentors paired with mentees? What happens if the relationship is not rewarding for one or both? What kind of ongoing training and feedback will keep the mentoring culture healthy?
  • Offer support and training – As part of the system, what initial training will you offer so mentors and mentees begin well? How frequently will they need additional training, and in what formats

What’s the impact of mentoring on the mentor?

When walking together down paths oft trod alone,

new features come into view that never were noticed before.

Mentoring provides –

  • the opportunity to see the journey through another’s eyes,
  • the challenge to reexamine one’s experience over time
  • the privilege of new learning in familiar territory

In teaching others, and sharing our experience, we refine our own understandings of situations and ideas. In an effort to articulate the heretofore unspoken to another, and in receiving shared insights, new clarity emerges. There is a mutuality in mentoring that is distinct from other helping/teaching roles (counseling, coaching, spiritual direction). This facet brings blessings, while presenting some potential anxiety due to the inherent vulnerability. This vulnerability, of course, is an essential prerequisite for true growth.

::VitalSmarts – My Resources::

::VitalSmarts – My Resources::.

Crucial Conversations

Learn the art of dialogue when the stakes are high, emotions are high, and opinions differ. Discover your “style under stress”, i.e. how do you react when you are angry, frustrated, hurt, tired, etc? Crucial Conversations free resources are available by joining the VitalSmarts website. Great free resources, assessments, hilarious videos and community mentoring.