This Coaches Guide
Appendixes 7 through 9 effectively refer to what we will call our Coaches Guide. It is intended for those who intentionally coach others in the discipleship process. This Coaches Guide is not intended as a linear blueprint to direct your meetings. The Holy Spirit should direct what you do and where you go. This guide is instead intended to be a resource as you seek specific and targeted scriptures, assignments and activities to assist your disciples in spiritual maturation. Your relationship with those you coach will be deeply personal, unique and dynamic. No resource could possibly hope to anticipate the various situations you will face and the needs you will have. You will need to rely on the Holy Spirit as you humbly and prayerfully seek to guide others towards the person and character of Christ.
With that said, you will learn that some approaches, outlines and procedures work better than others. You will undoubtedly desire to use scripture as a basis for all you do. You will want to draw attention to important Christian resources. You will want to give assignments to challenge those you coach towards Christlikeness. We have prepared this guidebook in anticipation of some of your needs. It is laid out to be flexible and fluid. As you interact with people and identify their struggles and hopes, you have a pool of scriptures, resources and activities to help them in their quest. You do not apply these coldly or clinically, but prayerfully trusting that God will use them to bring about genuine life change. Hopefully, you will feel comfortable utilizing the expertise and contributions of those who have gone before you. There is great wisdom in this Coaches Guide and you should take advantage of it.
This is a working document: constantly updated and expanded as God graciously leads us to continue in the humble and monumental task of making disciples. As we learn of helpful new information, we will include it in our next edition. In this way, we develop a pool of valuable tools to assist us in our task.
Thrive 316 Overview
The Thrive 316 process consists of three phases. First, there is a pre-covenant or getting started phase. The purpose of this phase is to identify a willingness to participate in Thrive 316, spiritually assess the potential disciple, set spiritual goals and define the relationship. This part of the process typically takes three to four weeks and will result in a working covenant that directs the relationship until an agreed upon evaluation or end date. The second phase is the covenant or meeting phase. This is when the coach and disciple regularly meet to work on spiritual goals, study scripture, make assignments, encourage, support and pray. The final phase is the conclusion or evaluation phase. The covenant will define an end date which is typically three, six or twelve months from the time of the covenant. At the end of this time, the coach and disciple will meet to assess learning and how effective the relationship has been in reaching the agreed upon goals. The two will celebrate victories and learn from failures. At this time, the coach and disciple may choose to conclude the Thrive 316 relationship or establish a new covenant with revised goals and parameters.
Phase 1 – Getting Started
There are four basic steps to beginning a Thrive 316 relationship.
Agree – to explore a discipleship relationship
Assess – to determine potential areas of growth
Decide – to move forward and set spiritual goals
Covenant – to focus on goals and define relationship
The Thrive 316 process is begun when two people agree to explore the Thrive 316 process. Perhaps one party recruited another to participate, perhaps two people were assigned to work together, or perhaps a church promotion of the Thrive 316 ministry inspired some new people interested in checking it out. Once two people have agreed to explore the process, a time and place to meet is set. Prayer should conclude this initial contact and all Thrive 316 meetings.
Several things need to happen during this first meeting. First, the potential disciple needs to understand the goals and process of Thrive 316. Next, the coach and disciple need to build rapport as well as establish understanding and trust. To facilitate rapport both coach and disciple should share their spiritual history with one another. Finally, the potential disciple should be given an assignment to take the three Thrive 316 assessments to help both parties have a better idea of where he or she is spiritually. These three assessments measure knowledge, attitude, and action respectively. They are not perfect, but will provide great way to begin discussion. These assessments can be found in Appendixes 1 -3.
Start by explaining the four steps to getting started: agree, assess, decide and covenant. Explain how the covenant works and how that will provide direction for the relationship. Explain how the covenant is for a set period and then subject to evaluation. You will also wish to explain the Thrive 316 process by contrasting the diagram of The Spiritual Person with the diagram of The Carnal Person. Explain how Thrive 316 is intended to help people move away from The Carnal Person and towards The Spiritual Person. Ask your potential charge if these diagrams inspire him or her to focus on any particular areas.
Next, you will wish to share spiritual histories. It may take two meetings for each person to adequately share their spiritual histories.
Once, the spiritual histories have been shared, it is then time to move on to the completed assessments. The purpose of the assessments is to identify potential goals for the Thrive 316 relationship. It is important to talk through each assessment and its findings. You or your potential charge may not agree with the assessments and conclude that other goals should be pursued. Also note that goals can be adjusted as new learning takes place.
Possible questions for spiritual histories
- How religious was your upbringing?
- When were you first aware of God?
- When did you first draw near to God?
- When did you become a Christian?
- When did you feel closest to God?
- When did you feel furthest from God?
- What are the high points of your Christian life?
- Where are you currently in your relationship with God?
- Why do you desire to participate in Thrive 316?
- What areas of your spiritual life do you wish to improve?
Possible exploration questions for assessments.
- Do you agree with the results or outcome of the assessment?
- What do you think the assessment says about you?
- Do you question any of the findings of the assessment?
- Would those closest to you agree with the findings? Ask Them.
- What did you learn about yourself?
- Which of these areas do you feel like you need to concentrate on?
- Are there any specific goals you want to set in light of these findings?
Once you have adequately explained how Thrive 316 works, shared spiritual histories and explored assessments, you should have a good idea whether or not Thrive 316 will be of value to your potential disciple. The presence of certain dynamics will be a good indicator if you should move forward. First, does the potential disciple have an appreciation for the Thrive 316 process and a desire to move forward? Second, is there a growing sense of trust and rapport between the coach and potential disciple? It may be possible the two are simply not a good fit for one another. In that case another coach should be sought out. Finally, have goals emerged through the process to give direction to the relationship. After learning about The Spiritual Person and spiritual growth, sharing spiritual histories and discussing the assessments, a variety of specific improvement goals should have emerged for knowledge, attitude, and action. The relationship must have direction to be effective in addressing various spiritual growth needs in the life of the potential disciple. If no goals have been identified, the relationship will lack direction and intentionality and both parties will likely grow weary of the process.
Here are some questions to assist in the formation of Thrive 316 goals?
- Did your spiritual history reveal any lifelong struggles or issues to overcome?
- Did the assessments reveal any weaknesses to be strengthened?
- Do you feel drawn to any particular area of study or Bible knowledge?
- Do you have any thoughts, attitudes, or values you desire to change?
- Do you have any behaviors, habits or compulsions you desire to change?
- Which areas of your Christian walk do you wish to improve?
- Why did you choose your coach and what specifically can he or she offer?
The covenant is the key component that makes the relationship work. It will define and give direction to the relationship. The covenant will cover basic logistical issues such as confidentiality as well as when and where to meet. It will also address spiritual issues as well, such as goals and desired accomplishments. The covenant also provides permission to hold the disciple accountable and have spiritual authority in his or her life. The covenant may be verbal or non-verbal. Some feel that a written covenant carries more weight and will be taken more seriously.
The covenant should involve the following elements.
- Commitment by both parties to take relationship seriously and diligently perform required tasks
- Relationship goals
- Meeting Frequency (usually 1-2 times per month)
- Meeting days and time if known
- Meeting place
- Meeting duration
- Length of agreement (3-6-12 months)
A Game Plan Worksheet is provided in Appendix 4 to assist you in determining which goals are highest priority. The Game Plan Worksheet is also valuable in helping identify and balance priorities from all three dimensions of self: knowledge, attitude, and action.
By now Thrive 316 may impress some as an involved and mechanical process. This is not intended to be the case. Thrive 316 is intended to be a relationship or friendship. The various processes and tools provided in this manual are simply resources to help you along the way. Some people tend to be more structured and others tend to be more casual and relaxed. Feel free to approach Thrive 316 in a way that is most comfortable for you. As you proceed, it is important to remember several things. First, the resources in this manual are always available should you need help or guidance. Second, the more inexperienced you are, the more structure you need. As you gain experience and grow more comfortable, you can work out your own personal style. Finally, while you may or may not use specific tools, the principles presented are indispensable.
The following principles should be incorporated to your style and approach
- Spirituality is defined as Christlikeness
- Discipleship is intentionally moving towards Christlikeness
- Moving towards Christlikeness involves knowledge, attitude, and action
- The Bible is our primary source for spiritual growth
- Discipleship is personal, spiritual, relational and dynamic
- Commitment to the discipleship relationship is critical for success
- Covenant (written or verbal – formal or informal) is key for direction and definition
- Evaluation is necessary to progress towards new stages of learning and spirituality
Phase II – Meeting
There are five basic steps to most Thrive 316 meetings.
Greet – by catching up on your relationship
Review – assigned scriptures, readings and Growing Exercises
Synthesize – new learning and insights since last meeting
Challenge – by introducing new scripture, teachings, readings or Growing Exercises
Pray – for specific growth needs and challenges in life of the disciple
Most Thrive 316 meetings tend to follow a fairly natural progression. Unless there is some great event or breakthrough in the life of the person you are coaching, you will begin with pleasantries and some catching up.
A good coach will then steer this initial conversation towards a time of review or debriefing. This is when you reflect on and evaluate what has transpired since your last meeting. This debriefing should always be targeted towards how you left the meeting. What struggles are you currently focusing on? Were there any scriptures to ponder or study? Were there chapters to read? Were there assignments given? This is a time of reflection. What learning has taken place? Be prepared to probe and press. How did it go? What did you learn? How did this activity make you feel? What do you really think about what the author was saying? How much do you struggle with this scripture and the principles it teaches? What events have happened in your life that impact the issues we are discussing? Much of this discussion will likely be theological in nature as you unpack various verses or books. Remember to always bring theology back to heart and application.
Most meetings generally drift into a synthesis phase where people desire to integrate new learning into what is currently going on in their lives. They often wish to tie together themes they are discussing in Thrive 316 with events that are happening around them. They will sometimes wish to explore new connections. This is where the meeting is most easily sidetracked. Current issues due to their personal and emotional nature create a learning readiness that can lead to real breakthroughs. They can also hijack a meeting or relationship to be slaves of the moment and easily descend into futile ramblings or psychoanalysis. A good coach will keep the person’s spiritual profile, progress and history in mind while constantly bringing the conversation back to the important matters at hand: specific spiritual growth targets. How does this event connect with this person’s spiritual profile and goals? Are there any new insights or revelations and how do these insights impact the spiritual progress of the person you are coaching? As you explore these themes, what new challenges emerge? This is where the Coaches Guide can take an important role in a meeting. Go back to the spiritual profile and cross reference various virtues and vices with the Coaches Guide to identify key scriptures. A good coach will prayerfully approach each meeting and select verses he or she feels may be of benefit. It is important to come prepared. Use scripture in your meetings. Try to frame various issues in terms of scripture. Hopefully patterns will emerge that will lead to the next and final phase of your meeting: application and assignments.
Once reflection has taken place, new insights have emerged and new challenges identified, it is now time to apply what you have learned and make new assignments. This is where the Coaches Guide can be a tremendous resource. As you identify focal virtues and vices, use the Coaches Guide to assign scripture for reflection, memorization or study. Assign an activity that may force people to confront weaknesses and facilitate growth. Assign a chapter from a book you feel would be particularly helpful. Please note that each section of the Coaches Guide contains a large amount of material. Generally speaking, scriptures, readings and assignments get more advanced as you progress through them. Target specific resources to address specific needs within the heart of your disciple. As you deal with issues over time, you can gradually work through much of the material, but not necessarily in any particular order.
Furthermore, the Coaches Guide may inspire you or those you work with to suggest or discover new scriptures, resources or assignments that are helpful. Please pass those on, so they can be included in the Coaches Guide for the benefit of those who will come after.
Once assignments have been given, you will want to conclude the meeting by praying together. Ask God to move as you pray for the specific issues identified during your meeting.
The Role of Coach
Understanding our role as coaches is vital to our success in making disciples. Intentionally embracing various roles, while avoiding others, is crucial to helping people progress spiritually. Two roles we wish to limit are that of teacher and counselor. Allow me to clarify. Most coaches face the temptation to allow meetings to drift towards a teaching lesson or a counseling session. Some will want to lecture their disciples by passing on their vast knowledge of Christianity while some will desire to psychoanalyze their disciples to fix all of their problems. While teaching and counseling are roles that coaches do adopt, they do not employ these roles in these ways. If a coach discovers that he or she is doing most of the talking, that is a sign (barring something unusual) that something is probably amiss. The primary role of a coach is to listen, reflect and ask questions: the better the questions, the more effective the coach. The questions we ask will reflect the various roles we assume in the relationship. We ask questions to help our disciples connect the dots in their own hearts and grow in their understanding of Christ. There are absolutely times to seize upon the teachable moment and share as a coach. Yet, we must always do so aware of the roles we play as coaches.
The following list includes some of the primary roles we play as coaches.
- “That is awesome!” “I am so proud of you.” “You are making great progress.” “Wow, that was a powerful session.” “I know that was hard, but you handled it well.” “Maybe next time you will have better success.” “I appreciate you so much.”
- “What I hear you saying is this.” “How do you think others view you when you do that?” Have you considered how your actions impact this person?” “Do you really believe what you’re saying?” “Please clarify your position for me.” “This is what I am hearing or what I see happening, what do you think?”
- “How did you feel about this event?” “Why do you think this way?” “Why is this a problem for you?” “Why did you respond in that fashion?” “What do you think is going on?” “Do you really think that is healthy?”
- Re-Assurer. “I think you are on the right track.” “I totally resonate with what you are saying.” I think just about anyone would have responded that way.” “That is incredibly insightful.” “I think we are really getting somewhere.”
- “What do you think the connection is?” “What do you think you should do next?” “How should you feel about this situation?” “What would you advise someone else in your shoes?” “Have you considered this?” “Let me share what has helped me.”
- “Have you ever heard this scripture?” “How do you think Jesus would desire you respond?” “What do you think this scripture is saying” “How would you apply this scripture to your life?” “This is how I see it.” “Have you considered?” “This is what I think you might be missing… what do you think?”
- Accountability Partner. “How did it go this week?” “What do you think about the scripture you were to reflect on and how it relates to your issue?” “Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment.” “I am not sure you really believe that.” “What would you think if I did or said that to you?” “I disagree.”
- Prayer Partner. “Let’s Pray.” “I will be praying for you this week” “How can I pray for you?”
- “How can I help you with this?” “Call me day or night.” “I’ll be right there.” “Tell me about your family.”
A good spiritual coach will move in and out of these various roles when needed to aid encouragement, insight, reflection, challenge and accountability. A good spiritual coach will keep the meeting, hence the learning, on track and not allow it to descend into lecture or psychoanalysis. A good spiritual coach will always keep in mind the goal of Christlikeness and The Spiritual Person to steer the disciple towards spiritual maturity. A good spiritual coach will remember that discipleship is a wonderful journey of spiritual discovery and breakthrough as people become more like Christ.
How to Prepare for a Meeting
Preparation for your next encounter with your disciple begins during the prior meeting. Prayerfully listen to what your disciple is saying. After the meeting, seek out scriptures, readings and exercises you feel might be helpful. Using the coaches guide begin game planning for your next encounter while this encounter is still fresh in your mind.
Prior to your next meeting, prayerfully recall your conversation, scriptures used and assignments given. Write down issues and questions you may wish to explore. However, remember these are only possibilities in case the meeting bogs down. The Holy Spirit must be free to move the within the encounter.
Use the Coaches Guide to target scriptures, resources or assignments you may wish to suggest or explore during your meeting.
Conclude your preparation time with prayer.
Using Scripture Verses
All the provided scripture verses are for reference, reflection, memorization and study. Use scripture during every meeting!
Key Scriptures tend to be for reference and memorization. Scripture memorization can play a key role is developing desired virtues in our lives. Do not underestimate the power of God’s Word. These are good verses to use during initial exploration to reference during a meeting or assign for consideration or memorization. These scriptures tend to be short and emphatically state God’s position on a virtue or vice.
Discussion Guides tend to dig deeper and are longer than the prior category. These are verses you can study during a meeting to facilitate new learning and insight. For example, “Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 13, I think it has a lot to say about what we are talking about.” This is where good preparation is beneficial. Try to anticipate which scripture may be helpful. We have also included several potential questions with each scripture to help you with reflection and application. These scriptures are generally strait forward with obvious application. These are good verses to assign between meetings for study and reflection. Ask disciples to pray and mull over these verses and how it relates to them to discuss during the next meeting.
Using Readings and Assignments
Your Coaches Guide also includes reading suggestions for the various areas of focus. These are intended to provide instruction, insight, challenge and application from those within the larger Christian community. Drawing from experts and those who have come before us can be a healthy and rewarding exercise. Coaches should be reading and referencing these books in order to grow themselves in their relationship with Christ. The books suggested are generally classics and have proven themselves over time to be beneficial to those seeking to grow in their relationship with Christ.
As you assign readings, you should follow some general guidelines. Always begin with a chapter from a book that you feel would speak to a specific need. It is not unreasonable to ask someone to read one chapter in a two week time period. You should also read the chapter, if not the book first. When you assign a lone chapter, you should always provide the book and not expect your disciple to purchase the book to read a single chapter. Finally, as such readings prove to be beneficial, you may wish to expand your assignments to include reading entire books together. When assignments are made thoughtfully and prayerfully, they can provide invaluable insight and fodder for discussion.
Using Growing Exercises
Your Coach’s Guide also includes real life exercises for the various areas of focus. Growing Exercises keep the discipleship process from being solely an intellectual experience. It forces the discussion and learning into the real world. These assignments are vital to facilitate self-discovery and integrate learning. Do not neglect making these assignments because you receive push back. Many exercises will be uncomfortable for your disciple to complete because they address areas of struggle. Of course, they will be difficult. They will also provide tremendous insights and stimulate intense discussion. You should always follow up on Growing Exercises. Debriefing is necessary for learning to occur. Growing Exercises also lead to wonderful discussions and Thrive 316 meetings. This is the stuff that facilitates engagement and life change.
Making and Balancing Assignments
A question that naturally arises at this point is how to use the various tools provided in the coaches guide to make assignments outside of your meetings. The key is to make assignments that naturally flow from the discussion and progress during your meetings. Assignments will certainly change from week to week. Some assignments, such as reading a book together, may take several months; while other assignments, such as reflecting on a particular scripture, will take as long as the next meeting. Coaching in many ways is more an art than a science and you must learn to follow the Holy Spirit. With that said, here are a few guidelines you may want to consider when making assignments.
- All assignments should naturally flow from the context of discussion, learning and goals.
- Be conscious of how much you assign. Be careful not to assign too much. Assignments are for discovery and learning, not mastering a body of material. Assignments should be easily and logistically achievable. I would hesitate to assign a scripture, reading and a Learning Exercise all before the next meeting. Yet, assigning either a reading or Learning Exercise to go along with a scripture is very doable.
- Always assign a scripture to for reflection, memorization or study. Some scripture assignments will take more effort than others depending on whether you assign Key Scriptures or Discussion Guides.
- Always look for Growing Exercises that may be helpful for your disciple. Do not give exercises simply to keep someone busy. If you receive no inspiration regarding an assignment to give, then don’t give one.
- Remember that your next meeting may only be as good as the assignments you give during your last meeting. Assignments create targeted areas for discussion and theological reflection.
LifeSteps are Bible studies and teaching materials for each of the 27 areas emphasized in Thrive 316. Each LifeSteps book contains 4 lessons along with quiet time and other helps. It is highly recommended that the LifeSteps curriculum be completed for each area prior to moving on to more advanced readings and studies. LifeSteps is intended to provide a solid foundation, and moving forward without a basic understanding of Christianity and spirituality may be confusing for some. This is why we recommend starting with LifeSteps studies. Not all the LifeSteps books are completed at this time. The following is a list of the completed LifeSteps works. The others will be following in the months to come.
The Holy Spirit
The Kingdom of God *
The Church *
Eternal Things *
Bible Study *
Completed LifeSteps books are noted with a *
Phase III – Evaluation
When the term of the covenant comes to a close, it is important to have one final meeting to evaluate the success of the Thrive 316 relationship. The primary purpose of this meeting is to assess how the disciple should move forward in light of whatever progress he or she has made during “Thrive 316.” There should always be a next step and a looking forward to new challenges. It may be that both parties are enthusiastic and able to continue the relationship by drafting a new covenant with new goals and objectives. The disciple need not retake the assessments at this time. They have served their purpose and provided insight for direction. The current relationship is now mature enough to identify learning goals without the use of outside assistance. Also, as the Thrive 316 relationship progresses from covenant to covenant the relationship will begin to drift from coach and disciple to peer to peer. Many Thrive 316 relationships thrive among peers and learning goals for both parties are including in the covenant. It may be that for whatever reason both parties are not able to continue. That is natural and normal. Regardless, during this final meeting successes should be celebrated and new learning summarized. There should also be a game plan moving forward. What specifics steps will the disciple now take? Will he or she continue with this Thrive 316 relationship, or do they need to seek out a new coach? What knowledge, attitude, and action areas need to be addressed next? What is the best way to address these areas? There should be a sense of completion and accomplishment as well an excitement regarding new spiritual directions and explorations.
Possible Evaluation Questions
- How do you feel God used the Thrive 316 relationship in your life?
- Do you feel you made genuine progress with your spiritual goals?
- How has Thrive 316 most impacted you?
- What is the most helpful thing you learned in Thrive 316?
- How are you different from when you started Thrive 316?
- What do you appreciate most about your coach?
- Do you have anything else you wish to say to your coach: encouragements, suggestions?
- What is your overall impression of your Thrive 316 relationship?
- Is there anything you would change about your experience or wish you did differently?
- Would you recommend Thrive 316 to others: why or why not?
- Do you feel you can sustain the spiritual momentum you currently have?
- What do you think is your next step spiritually?
Helpful Tips and Suggestions
- Remember this is a dynamic process. There is no one way to do this. Thrive 316 attempts to give you a basic approach with various handles to help you succeed in that approach. Be yourself and operate in a way that enables your disciple to be him or herself as well. If you are structured, then have more structure. If you are laid back, then be a little looser.
- Remember this is a spiritual process involving deep matters of the heart and soul. It takes time and trust.
- Remember to be flexible. You should be responsive to the needs of your disciple. Wear many hats to meet complex needs and goals.
- Remember to be intentional. Always keep in mind the goal of Christlikeness or the spiritual man. Keep in the mind the goals that you set. Always work and push the relationship towards these things.
- Remember that discipleship is more an art than a science. This is not a cold impersonal experience, but a partnership with the Holy Spirit. You will need to be sensitive to where God is leading and go with it.
- Remember to ask great questions. Discipleship is more about leading someone to a place than it is straight up telling them. The best discovery is self-discovery.
- Remember to take notes about thoughts and ideas and insights to prepare for subsequent meetings.
- Remember to pray before, during and after meetings. Pray for insight to know the right scriptures, readings and Growing Exercises to integrate all spiritual goals: knowledge, attitude, and action.
- Remember to be growing yourself. You cannot lead someone else to go where you have not been. You need to model what you are asking.
- Remember to ask for help if you need it.