The Rev. Dr. Phil E. Newell, Pastor of Portland Open Bible Church, succinctly explains the difference between coaching and consulting. He says that consultants
are hired on the bases (sic) of what they know and are brought along for the purpose of providing solutions but not management. Authority flows out of their past experiences and accomplishments. They are clearly the expert on the job. Coaching, on the other hand, looks to the PBC (person being coached) for solutions, and the expertise the coach brings is in helping the PBC discover new options and uncover possible strategies. (Phil Newell, Re-engaging The Church in Mission Through Coaching, Doctor of Ministry Dissertation. Portland, Or: Western Seminary, 2008, p. 72).
It is possible for a single person to offer consulting in one situation and coaching in the other. But the two roles should not be confused. The consultant renders expert advice based on his expertise; the coach offers expert interaction which allows the coachee to discover his or her own solutions. Dr. Newell’s dissertation is a helpful contribution concerning how coaching can be utilized in the church context. Having worked with him for thirteen years as his children’s pastor at Portland Open Bible, I can affirm his skill in rendering coaching assistance to his staff and other churches who seek his professional assistance.
My goal is to begin learning some of the requisite skills for ministry coaching in the days to come. Having done a fair amount of consulting, I perceive that my greatest challenge will be to set aside my body of knowledge and sharpen my ability to ask probing questions while listening carefully, so that coachees may find solutions for their challenges.