by Ron Bennett
Success in baseball is simple to explain but much harder to achieve. The number of hits, errors, base runners, or any other of the myriad stats that go into making baseball interesting, do not count in the end. All that really matters is the number of players who touch all four bases in a counter clockwise sequence in a particular inning.
Spiritual coaching/mentoring, like baseball, has 4 bases which need to be touched each time you meet. The bases are the same regardless of the level of maturity or the type of coaching that is taking place. Whether you are following up a brand new believer or coaching a ministry leader with years of experience, touching these four bases is necessary to create an effective discipling relationship. The same four are important in face to face meetings or over the phone. And they are vital in a setting that is formal or informal, structured or unstructured.
The four bases are: Connection, Exploration, Application and Intercession. Each time you meet for coaching or mentoring, you need to spend some time on all four areas. It doesn’t mean you spend equal time on each one, but you should touch each one. Just like a baseball player may spend extra time on first base before running to second and third to score at home.
An easy way to remember these bases is to think of four questions each time you meet. Whether the questions are addressed in a formal or casual way is not important. The important thing is that the heart of each question is addressed each time you meet. Flexibility is important because the time spent on any one question is adjusted to the current needs of the individuals. The goal is not equal time on each base but touching each one consistently.
The four bases are as follows:
First Base is about Connection: “Because we care, what do we need to know?”
Often people feel isolated and are asking the question, “Who knows and who cares?” An effective discipling process creates a safe environment in which people can relate with one another on a deeper level than news, weather, kids, and sports. Initially this question is answered by sharing personal history. Gradually it involves more current events that are affecting lives in a positive or negative way. However, people will not feel free to honestly share real and relevant concerns unless they feel safe: confident of continued acceptance and respect. They must also know confidentiality is strictly adhered to.
Second Base is about Exploration: “Because God’s Word is true, what are we discovering?” Scripture needs to form the core of a coaching relationship. It is our source of perspective and learning (Ps 119:105). We want to help each person become comfortable and skilled in handling Scripture, able to personally search the Word for answers to life (2 Tim 3:16-17).
This base includes teaching and/or mutually sharing what we are learning. It can be done by reading and discussing the Word together, discussing a prepared Bible study, or sharing from personal time with the Lord.
Third Base is about Application: “Because God’s Word is relevant, what is He telling me to do?”
In order to follow Christ on this journey, we need more than knowledge and understanding. We need application. Application takes the truths of the Bible and integrates them into the fabric of life. Maturity comes as we apply God’s truth to our personal, family, and professional life. Spiritual truth must not be isolated to a “spiritual compartment” while most of our thoughts and energy go into the business of everyday living. God’s plan is to integrate his truth into all aspects of our everyday, ordinary lives.
A helpful way to think about application is to use the acronym SPECK. As we reflect on Scripture we should ask ourselves if there is a:
- Sin to avoid?
- Promise to claim?
- Example to follow?
- Command to obey?
- Knowledge (truth) to believe?
Part of the coaching process includes a periodic review of previous applications for the purpose of praying for specific needs and holding one another accountable.
Home Plate is about Intercession: “Because God cares, how can we support each other in prayer?”
Holding each other up in prayer is critical for spiritual encouragement. Sharing needs and victories together in the context of prayer, builds a connection and puts the focus on God’s powerful, transforming work in our lives. Continued prayer during the week is an essential part of effective discipleship.
Can you arrange a time when you meet with another person (or small group) and try using each of the four questions?
You can read more of Ron’s blog posts at http://www.rbennett.net/