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Chaplain Highlight: Sharon Vandegrift

November 17, 2017

What is your endorsement setting?

I am endorsed as a Coach. I created and built my own coaching/consulting business: Bridge-the-Gap Life Coaching Services, LLC. The mission of Bridge the Gap is to empower clergy and churches to move forward in ministry.

What prompted you to serve God in this setting?

While I was pastoring a local church I focused my continuing education on Coach Training. I was impressed with the power and possibility that coaching support could offer and discerned it was a ministry worth engaging full-time. 

The UMC focuses on life transformation in Jesus Christ, what story can you share about transformation because of this ministry?  

As a response to the problems I observed small churches navigating, I developed a program called ‘Little and Lively: A Four -Step Coaching Process for Small Church Renewal’. I remember meeting with a group of leaders from one small church that was on the verge of closing. They saw no way forward and expected that I would just feed them a laundry list of things that they should be doing differently, but that they knew they couldn’t accomplish. When we engaged the coaching process, something powerful stirred within the group. They began to reframe those things that they had assumed were their weaknesses, as strengths. They tapped into their authentic identity as a congregation in their particular neighborhood and began to brainstorm about simple but important ministries that they could provide. They got excited about making a difference. Their mindset had been transformed from being the poor, little church with no resources, into being the presence of Jesus Christ in their community!

What brings you joy in this ministry?

Being present for the ‘aha moments’ of coaching gives me great joy.  The underlying theory of coaching is that each client, whether individual or a group, has the ‘solution’ to their own challenges embedded deep within themselves. When this solution emerges, it is usually an experience of sheer delight for the client. Witnessing this special moment is a privilege and blessing. 

While the presenting issue often seems completely mundane, the solution can be all encompassing and experienced as liberating and life changing. I remember a session with a client who was struggling with carving out an on-going, identifiable day-off during the week. He wanted to have a day to call his own, but he had never been able to claim any one day. At first he saw a reason that each day would not work. Regularly scheduled meetings, study sessions, and appointments were scattered throughout every day of the week. But, through the coaching process he was able to unveil the reality that he actually had more control over his schedule than he had previously been willing to acknowledge. Not only was he freed to claim a day off, but he became a more confident leader who was less a victim of his calendar and more pro-active in addressing his priorities.

What challenges you in this ministry?

For me, the greatest challenge of this entrepreneurial ministry is to be continually in touch with the emerging needs of clergy and churches and then to be regularly designing new ways to use my expertise to address those gaps.

The church wants to pray for you, what is your prayer request? 

Please pray that I might be able to discern and connect to the ways in which my ministry can provide resource and support for clergy and churches throughout the connection.

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