I heard someone say that the other day in an off-hand flippant type of way and I think I just stared blankly at the person for a moment. I think I said someone to the effect of “I guess it’s not for you then...” and attempted to steer the conversation somewhere else.
E-Coaching, or Online Coaching, or Virtual Coaching, or Online Education, (or whatever you’d like to call it) is growing. In fact, it’s already pretty big outside of the evangelical/christian segment; it’s just that some high-profile personalities have begun doing it professionally or semi-professionally.
Some people of note (HT: Leadnet – BTW, your numbers are off Leadnet…):
- Carlos Whittaker, Director of Service Programming at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, is offering a four-month coaching network on “Closing The Gap in your creative ministry/business.”
- Tony Morgan, former Chief Strategic Officer at NewSpring Church in South Carolina, is offering a six-month coaching network for church strategists and leaders.
- Kem Meyer, Communications Director at Granger Community Church, is offering an six-month coaching network for Church Communications Strategy.
- Tim Stevens, Executive Pastor at Granger Community Church, is offering an six-month coaching network for executive pastors.
You’ve probably heard of these people, right? Definitely some smart people who are making an attempt to leverage their influence and wisdom.
Of course, expect to pay some green.
Carlos is cheap-guy on the street with a $200 sticker tag per person (although he’s engaging with a lot more than the others at any given time, so it’s a quantity-game here), and I’d imagine his rates will more than likely increase as he finishes his first series. Not sure what Tony’s charging, but Kem is around the $2,200 mark and Tim is hanging around the $3,500 range.
More thoughts after the jump…
So What’s Going On Here?
With the advent of cheaper (read free) and better web conferencing tools (Tokbox, TinyChat, and even newer ones like TeamApart) online education is simply better and more easy than ever before. It really doesn’t take any brains to get started.
But, what it does take is an existing platform of expertise, brand-awareness, and personality. All of the ones mentioned above have that well-oiled and established.
I think it also takes something uniquely valuable as well to provide that targeted value-add that may be worth the coin. I’m not sure everyone (not necessarily including the 4 above) have that to offer their listeners.
Typically I find most people sitting in one of these four camps of thinking when it comes to E-Coaching:
- The Ego Camp: People in this line of thinking believe that the coaches are just full of themselves and want to make a quick buck off of their already-diminishing egotistical platforms, especially if they’ve recently left a full time gig at an established church or organization. Bonus points to the person who left because they had a “falling out” with the senior leadership on staff.
- The Poser Camp: People in this camp simply believe that the person offering the coaching is a poser; they believe that these people are simply bogus; really not worth what they are charging and certainly don’t have anything unique to say worth paying for.
- The OMG-I-CAN-NOT-BELIEVE-THEY-ARE-CHARGING-THAT Camp: These people are either cheapskates or are genuinely miffed by the cost of these coaching networks and do not believe that the cost is even remotely close to the worth of what the return on investment is. Or, they are “Open Source” type people who believe that we, as the Body of Christ, should generally not charge for such services and give this stuff away for free.
- The Supportive Camp: This camp is simply supportive of the E-Coaches and their decision to leverage their influence and time for others; some may have even already participated and even more are considering it. In addition, more than a few have considered doing it themselves and even more who had no idea that this was even possible and are genuinely intrigued.
Again, I typically can bucket people in one of these four camps, but of course there always exists the chance of an exception.
Where I Stand on E-Coaching
I’ll admit it: I’ve seriously considered starting one but for more than a few legitimate reasons I’ve decided against it at this time. For the most part I simply don’t have the time right now.
I think E-Coaching is a great service to the body of believers. I think that a person has the right to charge for it, but only after serious thought about the cost and return on investment that they seek to provide. I think a fair and reasonable price is a good thing.
But, I cannot overstate the value of free. There’s something about this model that seriously attracts me and that aligns with my personal conscience and beliefs that would (and has) caused serious consideration in light of E-Coaching.
In addition I would, for myself, need to find the very distinct and critical balance of product and service; what am I giving them physically to take with them and what I’m providing them on-going (if applicable) basis.
Also I would want, as much as I humanly could, to stay “above reproach” to the most people in terms of price and charge a fair amount where most, (and hopefully all), would look at the sticker tag and not react negatively. Of course, this is the most nebulous and subjective part of it but hey, what can you do.
Finally, I think there’s something to be said about having a “real” job somewhere where you are rooted that provides that robust background and foundation for your coaching. Many may disagree with me but I personally would feel more at ease with an E-Coach who doesn’t do E-Coaching as a full time job but has some firmly built roots to a local business and/or organization where they are being fed themselves, whether that is paid or unpaid. I think this marches along well with establishing and maintaining credibility of their content and presentations.
All-in-all I am supportive of those that decide to do it. I think it’s neat and certainly can benefit many as well as provide a viable source of income for those that need it. I strongly advise anyone who considers it to be judicial in their thinking, strategic in their deployment and cost structure, wise about the element of free, and never find themselves on an island without the support of a much larger organization or team.
So, where do you stand? What do you think about E-Coaching? Let’s hear it.