Bryan Pettet, MA, ACC  is a third-generation ordained minister and missionary with the Assemblies of God. His ministry niche background is in turning around broken churches. He currently works in New Mexico with the state leadership of the Assemblies of God to coach pastors and church leadership toward greater health.
A recent project included working 70 percent of New Mexico Assemblies of God churches through a two-year cohort group-coaching journey, which resulted in numerous testimonies of increased health and growth.
Bryan recently sat down with to talk about the opportunities and challenges of cross-cultural and missionary coaching.
CLC: Would you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Bryan: I’m a leadership coach that discovered coaching by turning around broken leadership situations. I remember being thrilled at the discovery and thinking coaching is SO flexible. I still have that thought several times a week.
Because I’ve seen the dark side of what happens when leaders fail, I’m committed to helping leaders and their families succeed. I love working at the local, state, and national levels with ministry and business leaders.
I’ve been married 18 years to Traci, an award-winning teacher and mother to our two girls. Without Traci’s support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.
CLC: You’re a missionary, an overseer of missionaries, and a third-generation pastor with a Master’s degree in Cross-Cultural Missions. How is missionary coaching different from other coaching niches?
Bryan: Working with missionaries is different from other coaching niches because missionaries respond to a divine calling and then face a fixed budget while living in a cross-cultural environment.
Once missionaries respond to the calling, they have little control over their circumstances, cultural setting, and income. Most missionaries have their salaries set by their sending agency and they have little opportunity to find extra income for services such as coaching.
If you want to coach missionaries, make sure that you are doing it as a ministry to them. Finances are more of an issue for missionaries than with other niches.
CLC: What are the greatest challenges and opportunities in coaching missionaries?
Bryan: One of the greatest challenges in working with missionaries is gaining their trust. If the sending organization assigns you a client, there can be client concerns about confidentiality. I work with all types of ministry leaders but find it easier to gain their trust if I have come to them from outside of their organization.
There are exceptions to this such as when I know the client personally but I’ve found that gaining trust with missionaries is essential to having them truly open up for growth.
If you are looking for coaching challenges that will draw out your best and increase your coaching chops, then start working with cross-cultural clients. Besides, it’s a lot of fun!
CLC:  For coaches interested in offering missionary coaching services to their local church or ministry, how can they introduce coaching to their pastors and other ministry leaders?
Bryan: Connecting with them through the local church or through a trusted relationship is a great approach. And the best way to connect with a missionary to help them is relationally. If you can help one missionary, there is a good chance they will refer you to the next missionary. Missionaries are a close-knit bunch of leaders, and they do trust recommendations received from their peers.
Coaches sometimes contact me for advice on how to coach missionaries through the sending agency. While that’s possible, I’ve not found it to be the easiest approach.
Some agencies, like YWAM, have established coaching relationships for missionaries, but many agencies still think of coaching is primarily for “fixing problems.” Of course, coaching encompasses so much more, and inroads for coaching missionaries are limited until sending agencies recognize that.
CLC: What topics do you address in your class Cross-Cultural & Missionary Coaching that you teach for the Professional Christian Coaching Institute?
Bryan: We use two excellent texts in the class that deal with such important topics as psychological adjustments and how to use the incarnational, Jesus-approach for building personal relationships. Topics include what it’s like to live in a glass fish bowl as a leader, dealing with tensions of self-worth and vulnerability, how to become a 150-percent person, dealing with guilt and conflict, the cross-cultural language grind, cultural reentry problems, and more.
As part of the class, we review case studies and assign each student a cross-cultural leader to coach for six weeks. The latter is unique to any course offered by PCCI. I guarantee it will challenge each student in ways that they don’t expect. I am very pleased that some of the coaching continues well after the course is over.
CLC: What else would you like our readers to know?
Bryan: I’ve worked in and with numerous cultures, and the common core of everything is human nature. It’s not always pretty but it’s always present. If you look past the skin tone, accent and food preferences, you will find that people are struggling with the same things across cultures; communication and people skills are critical in any culture. If you can turn off your own cultural filters while remaining flexible and relational, you can definitely help cross-cultural leaders with coaching. If you’re interested in making a difference, come join us.
It’s a powerful coaching niche.
Visit PCCI’s website to learn more about Bryan’s class, Cross-Cultural & Missionary Coaching.

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