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A Discussion: What is Christian Coaching?

In the last quarter of 2013, a team of Christian coaching leaders embarked on a project to help define the distinctions in Christian coaching. Using the existing ICF definition and competencies as our starting point, the goal was to provide a resource that would aid CCNI and the greater Christian community.

The Team

Sitting on this team for the duration of the project included:

  • Michael J. Marx, MBA, EdD, PCC, current president of CCNI. He holds the Professional Certified Coach credential from the ICF.
  • Tracy Stevens, MCC, past director of credentialing at CCNI and is an ICF Master Certified Coach and a CCNI Christian Master Certified Coach.
  • Diane M. Wiater, PhD, CEO of Wiater Consulting Group, LLC and professor at Regent University and holds a coaching certification through Lifeforming Leadership Coaching.
  • Chad Hall, MCC, principle at Coach Approach Ministries, holds the Master Certified Coach credential from the ICF.
  • Marcie Thomas, ACC, BCC, CCC, CLTMC, past Director of Christian Coaches Network International.

Individuals who participated in the early stages of the discussions:

  • Gary Collins, PhD – author of the landmark book, Christian Coaching
  • Christopher McCluskey, MSW, PCC, CPCC, president of the Professional Christian Coaching Institute
  • Keith Webb, D.Min, PCC, author of The COACH Model for Christian Leaders and president of Creative Results Management



The results of our work together is found in these pages:




The absence of a clear, concise, or definite representation of the Judeo-Christian faith in the emerging discipline of distinctly Christian coaching in a way that honors our faith and yet maintains the boundaries of professional practice was one primary reason to launch this project.

The second impetus was our position in the market. We have supported the ideal of professional Christian coaching since 1998. Now that professional coaching has a widely accepted definition, it was a natural course of action to more closely define Christian coaching within the context of the profession. Further, it was important to identify its distinctions from secular coaching. This was an immediate and necessary work for an association of professional Christian coaches.

Lastly, but probably the most immediate purpose for launching this project was the call to boldly and professionally represent our faith in our culture. Humanism is a philosophy that drives God from the equation. The biblical worldview puts God in the middle of the equation. Our purpose was to define Christian coaching in such a way that the biblical worldview was the centerpiece and foundation for the practical application of Christian coaching.

At the basic level we were hoping to open up the dialog about Christian coaching, what it is, what it is not. At the highest level we were creating a framework for how faith can be expressed in the competencies that provides a full assurance to the Christian coach that they are still staying within the boundaries of professional coaching.

In some regards what we were not going to accomplish was just as important. Our group assembled and we agreed early on that we would not do the following:

  • We would not rewrite the competencies.
  • We were not going to create a model or construct.
  • We would not create a doxology or creed.
  • We would refrain from doctrinal issues as much as possible.
  • We could not create mandates that someone had to meticulously follow in a Christian coaching conversation.

Lastly, we wanted a document that showed that Christian coaching is not a substandard product. The mechanics of coaching are still the same. The standards of skill measurement are still the same. We’ve simply declared that in Christian coaching our beliefs are equally as important as the mechanics of coaching.

The dialog is still open. This is not a complete work. We would like to build upon it internationally and ecumenically. Our hope is that this work becomes rich enough to be adopted by independent Christian coaching training programs and academic coach training programs as a platform for building constructs and models.


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