Coaching and Accountability Questions: What's the Difference?

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What are you supposed to do now and what were you supposed to do then?

When you get together with another person for the purpose of growing each other, is it better to ask coaching questions or accountability questions?

The basic difference is this: coaching questions help you figure out what your supposed to do at this time, accountability questions make sure you did what you were supposed to do last time.

Examples of coaching questions: What is God telling you to work on?  What’s your biggest challenge right now?  What one thing could you work on that would make the biggest difference in your life?

Examples of accountability questions:  Were you sure to leave your work at the office and not let it intrude on family time last week?  How did you sin against God or people last week?  Did you make time for prayer like you wanted to?

I personally lean heavily on the coaching on the front end, and gently use accountability on the back end.  It feels a little more forward thinking than backward, with a healthy dose of follow through.  Besides, people that offer straight accountability kind of feel like bullies kicking you in the shins repeatedly.

In the spirit of being proactive, here are six coaching quesitons Dave and Jon Ferguson use at Community Christian Church in Chicago. 

  1. How are you?
  2. What are you celebrating?
  3. What challenges are you facing?
  4. What do you plan to do about those challenges?
  5. How can I help?
  6. How can I pray for you?

I like the list.  It’s usable, comprehensive, and you can go through them in an informal manner over the course of a normal conversation.

I suppose the list could be shortened.  #1 happens on its own, and #6 should be obvious by the time you get through the first five.

I would like to see another question added, something to the effect of “What’s your goal; and what’s your plans/progress toward that goal?”

What are your thoughts?

Brian Hofmeister Brian is a father, husband, pastor, artist, small group coach/trainer, organic church planter, childhood cancer survivor, and disc golfer. Brian is employed as a Pastor of House Groups and Operations at Brooklife Church and graduated with a Masters in Divinity from Columbia International and a Bachelors from UW-Platteville.

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  • Adlagon

    Brian, I totally agree with you.  I am a certified Life Coach and lifetime member of the Biblical Coaching Alliance (meaning I coach from a Biblical perspective), and the only way that accountability helps a person is in teaching them what not to do in the future.  You can’t unscramble eggs and you can’t change what happened in the past.  But we can learn from our past situations and make better choices going forward.  I do believe there is a place for accountability, but I think it must rest with me asking for someone to hold me accountable when I am struggling with an issue because that is what I genuinely want.  It can never be a means for another Christian to bang us over the head from their perspective of what we need.  The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of dealing with each of us in this area, and I believe He is the one who should tell us that we need to be accountable to another LOVING Christian & will guide us to that particular person.