Do you know how to have a coaching conversation with your key players? It’s scary to think about the amount the time we spend talking to staff members and key volunteers on any given week. How many of those conversations help your leaders become better leaders?

One of the biggest expenditures of most church budgets is devoted to paying their key players. But most churches do not have a workable system that provides bonuses to their staff based on their improved performance for hitting certain measurable goals.

Have you considered the possibility of improving the effectiveness of your key players through the use of strategic coaching conversations?

Imagine being able to increase the output, energy, and effectiveness of your top ten leaders by 30% next year through the use of coaching conversations. How would this increase the effectiveness and impact of your church?

Consider the findings of notable researcher, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, who, after studying thousands of coaching conversations between managers and their team members, concluded that it was actually possible to increase employee performance without an incentive program.

How? Through the use of coaching conversations.

If you want to up your game in the coaching department, I would recommend you include the following when talking with a leader:

Be Clear That They Are Clear

Ask your team member if they are clear about the following:

  • Their top three ministry functions/responsibilities.
  • The most important expectations you have for them.
  • What needs to be done and when. 
If you are relying on their job description to tell them what to do, you are in trouble! 
Remember, job descriptions are stagnant; many times they are never referred to after the hiring process or, at best, during an annual review. Keep conversations fresh regarding expectations, key functions, and responsibilities. Also, be sure to share your answers to the same questions with the person you are coaching towards greater effectiveness.

Compliment Before Correcting

Everyone needs correcting on occasion but everyone needs sincere compliments on a regular basis. Ministry is difficult. Leadership is unfair. Church work has a built-in spiritual enemy who rebels against all leadership efforts to advance the gospel.

One of my favorite exercises in helping church teams improve is having them share the top three compliments they have received regarding their current ministry assignment. Then I ask them if they regularly get enough affirmation; 90% share that most of the time they feel greatly unappreciated.

Giving a sincere compliment costs you nothing more than a few minutes reflecting on the qualities or actions that you admire. “Thank you” goes a long way.

Connect the Dots

If you want to watch your key leaders excel, often remind them that what they do matters. Give specifics to show exactly how their leadership or their ministry strategically helps advance the mission of the church. We all need to be needed and we want to know that our work week is actually contributing to the mission, and bottom line, of the organization.


Have you ever thought about taking ten minutes in the morning to think through your coaching conversations you plan to have with your key players?

  • What do they really need to hear?
  • Where do they need to grow as a leader?
  • What impresses you most about them?
  • What is the best way to correct them in an encouraging way? 
Key players are key. Therefore, view them as one of the most strategic resources to invest in. Do this thoughtfully and wisely. 
Leaders who develop their coaching conversation skills enjoy the rewards of watching their key ministry players continually excel in effectiveness. This little investment generates a tremendous payoff over time.