Why Coaches? How Coaches Are Making A Difference in the C3 Project
By Rev. Shonda Nicole Gladden, Vibrant Faith C3 Project Coach and Good to the SOUL, CEO

We have officially reached the era where it seems that coaches are everywhere. In the private sector C-Suite coaches are helping executives transform industries, “lean in,” and pivot professionally. There are life coaches who are helping individuals “live their best lives now,” and others who are coaching people to “lead from their strengths.” With the seeming hyper-saturation of coaches in the marketplace, it may seem faddish and for some it may seem like an unnecessary luxury for congregations and clergy to take advantage of coaches. The twenty-four congregations participating in the Vibrant Faith “Creating a Culture of Call (C3) Project may just convince you otherwise.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is located in Duluth, MN and have been working with Vibrant Faith Coach, The Rev. Melissa Cooper for the past few months.  I spent some time with Sue Van Oss, Director of Christian Education at St. Paul’s and her experience with Coach Melissa revealed just how integral it has been to work with a coach.

“We have benefited from Coach Melissa because of her ability to keep us grounded and focused on the end result.”

We dug right in with embedding calling into our existing programs but have sometimes lost sight of the “bigger picture” in the midst of the day to day planning and implementing of the many projects we are doing.  She also has a great ability in our monthly conference calls to ask probing questions that get us thinking.”

Our Vibrant Faith C3 Coaches are trained to ask the right questions, at the right times, to help congregations remember their ultimate goals. Beyond the administrative and financial gifts shared with the C3 churches, the coaching team journeys alongside every congregation to help enflesh their aims. Inasmuch as the congregational teams benefit and are impacted by coaches, there is a way that each congregation endears themselves to the coaches in ways that were beyond our initial imagination.

One of the congregations that Coach Jim Merhaut has been working with is Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Southbury, CT. When I sat down with Jim to learn about his experience with this congregation, he shared that when he thought about the people at Sacred Heart he thought of the Beatles!  

Jim was able to see that “this dynamic team has a chemistry that is hard to duplicate.”

“Fr. Joe, Ami, and Sr. Pat are three very different people, but they have mastered the strengths-based approach to ministry. Each person contributes in a very unique way, and there’s no pretense or posturing. They know who they are and they appreciate the gifts of each other.”  Coaches are able to help teams and churches see their strengths in ways that move those teams and churches beyond what they thought possible before.

As people in the United States are always thinking about “big games” where the coaches on the sidelines are hoping they’ve trained their teams to take home the championship titles, we at Vibrant Faith are excited to see and hear from our congregations and coaches about a different kind of accomplishment—one where great questions, focus and accountability bring great insight and great change for the sake of vibrant faith in Jesus Christ. 



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