Some Coaching Tips

  1. Some ground rules before we start.
    1. The clear declarative, definitive and authoritative Word of God is the final word in all inquiries and discussions for disciples of Jesus.
    2. The use of one scripture reference to negate another or to create confusion rather than bring understanding is out of bounds.
    3. Arguing over belief systems saying, "Well, I believe that . . ." is counter productive since one's belief system is validated by the scripture and not by its agreement or disagreement with the beliefs of others.
    4. My editorial comments are clearly marked as "comment" or "observation" or "suggestion" or "conclusion". Be sure your personal comments or applications of the scripture are differentiated from the words and logic of the text.
    5. Disagreements are OK as long as they don't become abusive of the participants or the text or distract from the purpose of the session.
    6. Know your material well enough in advance to be aware when a participant's observations are contributing to the flow of the subject and when they are a diversion or simply the pooling of ignorance. Know when to interrupt and say, "Your observations are well taken and we'll get to that subject in 2-3 weeks."
    7. Be sensitive to the time constraints of participants and honor their commitment to learn when another participant is trying to dominate or starts repeating himself. Keep control of the discussion and finish on time.
    8. This is a cooperative endeavor, not a dictatorial or indoctrination exercise. We're all in process. Be patient with one another.
  2. The learning environment.
    1. Try to select a time when all the participants can get their regular meal and change their clothes so they are relaxed and able to focus.
    2. Meet where the chairs are comfortable, light is adequate and each one has a place to set their Bibles or write notes.
    3. I have found that 2 hour sessions once a week at the same time, day and location are best. I break after one hour for relief and refreshment.
    4. Encourage each one to participate by assigning the reading of the passages unless someone asks not to be asked to read aloud. Usually just hearing the sound of their own voice opens up involvement by shy members.
    5. Open and close with prayer and don't hesitate to stop and pray over a concern raised by a participant. It is always a good reminder that everything done in these sessions is under the direction of the Head over all things to the church and the supervision of the Holy Spirit.
    6. Strong emotional expressions of anger or grief may have such a powerful effect on a member or members that the group may need a time out or even a conclusion to the study for that day. Don't force the material when the group is distracted and unable to regroup.
    7. Lead by supporting each member when he/she is hurting and model a process of dealing with persons first and instruction next. Encourage each member whenever possible by acknowledging a particularly insightful observation or application.
  3. A word about attitude.
    1. The leader/trainer is a coach. Your success at this activity is not measured by your ability to win arguments or persuade others or even to teach a body of material. Rather, you are successful only as the members of the group are able to integrate biblical principles in their daily decision-making and relationships. This game is won or lost in their cars, homes, marriages, workplaces, etc. not in your living room or church basement.
    2. Your motive must be to train mature disciples of Jesus and your passion must be evident in every contact.
    3. Be sure to be in personal contact with each member at least once each week outside of the group meetings to keep current on their growth and personal concerns.
    4. Commit yourself to pray daily for each one and keep that promise.
    5. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know, but I'll find out and get back to you."
  4. Be confident.
    1. Your foundational confidence must be in God and in the authority and accessibility of His Word.
    2. Get at least 2 well-respected commentaries so you can hear the scholarly debates over the meaning of the original text but don't get bogged down. The simple wording of the English of any good modern translation is adequate and reliable. An interlinear or parallel translation is also handy.
    3. Have at least one well trained and knowledgeable person you can call if you are stumped, but be sure you have studied the issues thoroughly before doing so or you may get lost in the explanation. If you have no reliable resource, check out our website: etmnc.org or write us at Eternal Truth Ministries, P.O. Box 1240, Robbinsville, NC 28771. We will try to respond in a timely manner.
    4. Don't ever get intimidated by the size of the job. The success of this operation does not depend on your skills, just your obedience and God's faithfulness. Let's roll.