How to Set Up a Peer Coaching Relationship

peer coaching

Peer Coaching is a way disciple-makers offer and receive “friendly accountability.” Jesus told His disciples: “You are My friends….if you do what I command.” Friends of Jesus express their friendship with Him through their loving obedience to Him. This guest post about peer coaching by K. Sutter will help you understand how this can work for those pursuing Disciple Making Movements (DMMs).

More Than Information

“Not only are we friends with Jesus we are friends with one another. As friends, we can help one another—our peers—stay obedient to Jesus,” says Sutter.

“Disciples are called to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. Although teaching is helpful, often it isn’t more information we need—it’s more motivation. Peer coaching keeps us motivated to bear fruit as we show ourselves to be accountable and to provide accountability for others.

By practicing peer coaching, we can create environments of intentional friendly accountability where people are urged to freely ask and answer questions like: What has God been speaking to you? How is your progress on that project you told me about? What are your next steps? Who can help you?

Disciple-makers must model and offer friendly accountability. Peer coaching is a simple way to do this. A peer coach comes alongside to help propel a person forward toward their goals. We can all benefit from both receiving and providing this kind of coaching. Let’s look at a Biblical example of a coach.

Biblical Example of a Coach

First-century AD: the church at Jerusalem received amazing news. Gentiles in Antioch were hearing the Gospel and turning to the Lord in great numbers! Barnabas was chosen to go help the new believers in Antioch. Barnabas’ response to the opportunities in Antioch provides us with a wonderful example of a fruitful worker.

The words “missionary” and “coach” are not found in the New Testament, but in today’s language, we would call Barnabas a good example of both. Using him as our model, we see the role of an effective missionary and leadership coach.

Acts 11:23-24 says: “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”

3 Ways Barnabas Coached

1. Observing

“When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad…”

Barnabas arrived with anticipation, looking for signs of the Holy Spirit’s work among the Gentiles of Antioch. Coaching starts by simply “showing up” with a commitment to help another leader or potential leader make progress.

Good coaches do not arrive with all the answers; we come with the desire to learn. We listen and watch, expecting to find evidence of where God is at work.

Peer Coaching Tip: Listen first. “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)

Listening helps us gather the information we need and stay focused. Allowing your peer to do most of the talking helps them to describe what they see happening in their work and personal lives. Leaders are enabled to bring out their best reflections, insights, and thoughts on their current situation. Together with those we coach, we move down a pathway of discovery to find out what God may have in store next for expanding His work.

Peer Coaching Tip: Ask good questions. Questions help us discover more about who the leader is, as well as what he does.

The more we learn, the more we’ll care and naturally “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” When we have passion and enthusiasm for their vision and goals, it shines through.

Peer Coaching Tip: Show you care. We celebrate victories, whether small or big.

Leaders flourish when they have people who understand and care about the issues they face as they continue to press on toward their goals

2. Encouraging

“…and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts”

Barnabas, originally “Joseph”, received his new name from the Apostles. It means Son of Encouragement.

He came alongside believers and propelled them forward. We see him doing this for Paul in Acts 9:26-27. Paul arrived in Jerusalem to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. It was Barnabas who listened to Paul’s story, believed and trusted him. Putting his own reputation at risk, Barnabas introduced Paul to the Apostles.

Just as he did with Paul, Barnabas urged the Antioch believers to go through the doors God had opened so wide for them. As peer coaches, we do the same by coming alongside our peers and helping propel them forward. We encourage them to follow through with the goals and plans they have chosen.

Peer Coaching Tip: Encourage step-by-step progress.

It’s easy to enthusiastically cheer someone on when things are going well. But in the face of difficulties or setbacks, encouragement is even more important.

Encouragers believe the best. They avoid the temptation to jump to negative conclusions. They never scold. Even when a plan falls apart, there are positive ways to view it: “Failure is successfully finding out what you don’t want to repeat. Put it behind and press on.”

Barnabas was a prophet and teacher (Acts 13:1). He used his ministry gifts to help the believers take action toward growth in their devotion to God and His purposes.

Perhaps the most important thing a coach can do is to help a leader gain confidence in hearing God’s voice, doing what He says, and then teaching others to do the same.

3. Inspiring

“He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”

Barnabas was a man of godly character who inspired commitment through both his words and his actions. Paul, soon to become Barnabas’ ministry partner in Antioch, had the same qualities. Together their lives must have been an example of what Paul later wrote: “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….” (Colossians 1:10)

Good coaches encourage leaders to keep growing in godly character (walking in a manner worthy of the Lord) and growing in ministry effectiveness (bearing fruit in every good work). Keeping these two in balance, leaders advance toward their goals.

Peer Coaching Tip: With faith, keep moving toward God-given goals.

Like athletes entering the race with the hope of winning, leaders passionately desire to reach their goal of launching a Kingdom Movement.

Such a race is not a short-distance sprint. It’s a long-distance marathon, requiring pacing, patience, perseverance and a constant focus upon the goal of reaching the finish line. It also takes a coach, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, on the sidelines shouting: “Keep going! I know you can do it!”

Peer Coaching Tip: Listen. Stay focused. Ask Good Questions.

Take time to pray at any point. Bring Jesus into your conversation. Start each session by reviewing previous action steps. End with setting new action steps (both of you write them down).

Get Started

Find a friend who has some of the qualities you saw in Barnabas. Share and discuss this blog with him/her.

Then meet together and discuss the following.

  • What is the purpose of peer coaching? How can this benefit us?
  • Will you coach each other, or will just one of you receive the coaching? How often will you meet? (recommend every 2 weeks)
  • How long will the sessions be? (recommend about 45 minutes)
  • How will we meet? Phone, Skype, face-to-face?
  • What day and time is your first session?
  • Agree to respect one another’s time and keep your appointments. (Let the other know a day in advance if you cannot keep an appointment)
  • Evaluate after 6 sessions by asking: How has it helped? How could we improve? Would we like to continue for another 6 sessions?

Any questions about Peer Coaching? Let us know in the comments below or ask both myself and your peers on the DMMs Facebook group.

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