Dr Bill Price examines how Neurospirituality integrates neuroscience and spirituality, especially in the context of coaching for church leaders, while sharing from his personal story.
While some Christians may be put off by the term ‘neurospirituality’, neuroscience is a scientific discipline that is not inherently for or against any specific religious belief, including Christianity. Neuroscience primarily focuses on studying the brain and the nervous system, exploring their functions, mechanisms, and how they relate to various aspects of human experience, including cognition, emotion, and behaviour.
Neurospirituality aims to understand the neural mechanisms underlying religious experiences, the effects of spiritual practices on the brain and the potential benefits of integrating spirituality and neuroscience for personal growth and well-being. This field combines scientific research, philosophical inquiry, and contemplative practices to deepen our understanding of the nature of spirituality and its relationship to the brain.
In my experience, every local pastor should want to know all about the purpose and power of coaching for church leaders and how the study of neuroscience can help you. So, I encourage you, if you are a church leader to explore neurospirituality.
My spiritual journey started when I made a decision to invite Christ into my life. From the outset I knew my life was not going to be ordinary. I had dreamt there was ‘more’ and church folk would constantly remind me that God has a plan for our lives. Then the clanger that He had His hand on my life! That scared me because I was convinced that He had a sinister plan to send me to China. This was opposite of anything that I wanted to be and do, and I also hated rice!
After military conscription, I followed my father’s footsteps and became an officer in the fire department. My dad was a fire chiefs so I kind of grew up in a fire station. However I didn’t like shift work so I moved to become a lecturer in the Government Mining College. When I saw how I was able to relate to the students, many of which were on drugs, I decided to study counselling psychology. This led to an Honours degree in theology and pastoral psychology and was my pathway to the ministry.
Throughout my career as a pastor, I led multiple congregations and was on track to become a denomination’s moderator. However, after 25 years, I experienced severe burnout, resulting in a major crisis and almost losing everything. Fortunately, a picture of the life plan I had received from coaching for church leaders eight years prior saved the day.
The human brain is the center of the universe of a person. It is this God-given organ that contains the mind the soul and aliveness of being, It connects everything to everything. It is a gift from God.Dr Bill Price
To recover, I had to shut down my ministry and embark on a plan of recovery that included personal counselling and a coaching process that changed my life forever. At the time, I wondered what was left of my life. Hopelessness covered me like a dark night of thick blanketed clouds. I took Post-It notes and covered up the things on my life plan that I was shutting down.
I realised how hard it would be to distance myself from ministry, church and religion. This included closing down four radio programs on national Christian radio, which left a profound silence. Overwhelmed by guilt and experiencing intense pain that pulsated like a blistering boil within my heart and soul, I felt a deep sense of emptiness. However, as I sat down and contemplated the picture from the other side of my office, I began to see what remained.
And then it hit me. I had more to live for than what I thought. Hope came like a new sunshine day floating across the horizon with a smile I think was from God. The symbols began to glow with hope and the future and I realised that the busyness of the ministry had kept me away from fulfilling these dreams. They were suppressed by the implication that I must do other things more important because they were ministry related. If I did not do them then I was letting God and the side down.
The next four to five years were intense as I underwent one of the most gruelling and thorough transformational processes, that included therapy, counselling, coaching and mentoring. This wasn’t an easy process. At times I felt accused, cast aside by my friends and I hated myself. However I remained committed to the process of healing and self restoration. During this time I met the most amazing people that took me through journeys of discovery, one of which was a Jewish Rabbi who was a clinical therapist.
He journeyed with me and introduced me to the Biblical Jesus a Rabbi and Jew. We co-discovered what made Jesus who He was. Looked at His emotional patterns, His value systems, His Jewishness and culture, His prayer habits and rituals, the prayers He prayed and songs He sang and the dances He danced. Perspective came and I was so thankful. I was never taught these realities in my theology degree. The final process was to be coached to discover the new definition of ministry outside the ordinary narrow definitions given by man-made theology.
We looked at how could I be my best version and fulfil my destiny as another vessel made by the Potter. How I could make an impact in a world of work where reality bloomed and where people were as lonely and needy but would never cross the door of a church, with all its ego-driven realities and sameness of liturgy?
So coaching saved my life and gave me back a renewed future that I am thoroughly soaked in without having to be driven by old age myths that to be driven is good! Christ was never driven. It is a Western approach to goal setting that some preachers have designed to sound like it is Biblical and right. Christ was magnetised by His vision in the future. The joy that was set before Him, drew Him forward, with a keen sense of focus and clarity.
I discovered a joy in the vision that attracted me rather than drove me to burnout!
How I would do things differently, embracing neurospirituality
My minister friends have often asked me what would I do different if had to do ministry over again. My answer would be that I would do it totally differently. I would literally take my brain to church by embracing all the good things I have learned about neurospirituality.
I would relate to people much better, making my ministry vision the composite of those attending and not the other way around. I wouldn’t have elders and deacons, just everybody being equipped and serving. We wouldn’t even need to call it church. I would use the pivotal point of each person’s dream, legacy and life purpose as the place to start. I would have a class that introduces people into the life and times of the Jewish Christ and help them to get to know Him.
I would walk beside people empowering them to fulfil their life purpose in their lifetime and would use the techniques and tools of coaching to preach and influence and would train leaders to coach and mentor others. I would encourage people to serve by taking people up to their summits and then climbing down with them again before guiding the next team to their mountain top.
I would encourage the people to guide and coach others and see what it is like to achieve a dream for a fleeting moment and then watch how they design the next challenge and ‘be’ there for them. It would be journey related. I would encourage self-governance and personal responsibility rather than obedience to a leader. I would earn their respect rather than use position, ministry and gifting to impress people. Submission would be mutuality-based and not lop-sided one-way approach only.
Coaching has taught me to serve in the true sense of the word. It is a place where the other person’s agenda and issues really count more than your own. I have learnt that I can be in genuine awe of another person’s life and how they love to live and live to love. Where it is not about theology and correctness and definition of belief but to stand in awe at a life being lived one day at a time.
It is a place where your competency is applied to the issues at hand where you discover the true difference between the reality and dream world where you become conscious of the true spirituality in action where formulas don’t always work and were theory is tested and found wanting. A place, where questions are more important than answers and where life and shifts happen.
I would redesign the way I influence from a public space and platform and would rather take time to coach the listeners than try and influence them with theory and clichés that have not worked or changed the world to date. I have realised that a brain comes to church along with a particular set of needs, drives, wants and unique set of personal ‘silent cries.’
If I had to do it over again I would become a genuine graduate of life-long learning and register with the Issachar Strategic Leadership Academy. I would attend six days a year to ensure my strategic capacity and leadership competencies would be enhanced beyond anything else. This would provide me with a place where I would be coached in my vision, mission and values and have someone come alongside me to ask, “What is the dream in your heart?”
Coaching has taught me to serve in the true sense of the word. It is a place where the other person’s agenda and issues really count more than your own.Dr Bill Price
I would be coached in visioneering, leading, influencing, doing vital research, understanding the dynamics of human interaction, working with inter-personal relationship and team dynamics. Learning from the latest models of leading and influencing. A place where I would relate with other leaders of leaders and discover the unfolding trends of the future and make real-time discoveries through research in my own community to be both relevant and valid in my world as a leader.
A place where, leadership character is developed rather than theory and theology. A place where my spouse and I could learn about connection and being and where wellness and holistic approach to life and being is relative and my aliveness is more than just attending the next leadership conference where I am expected to downloads words at the speed of 120 words per minute.
Lectures filled with clichés and stories that only frustrate and leave me wanting rather than cantered to focus on the next co-action step to take that will move me toward the true north for my life. Only after one year at the academy would I endeavour to attend leadership conferences because then I would have my life plan and strategy in place and be able to gladly weave into the space, what I need.
I would then be empowered to know the difference between what I need and what is a nice to have dished up from someone else’s perspectives and reality. I would engage with a qualified and experienced theology master who would stretch my thinking. In my case I had the Jewish rabbi-psychologist that shook my being with new insights.
If I had to do it over again I would attend a course, The Intelligent Communicator. This is because I believe I am communicating to the brains of people. The human brain is the center of the universe of a person. It is this God-given organ that contains the mind the soul and aliveness of being, It connects everything to everything. It is a gift from God.
Sadly the Church and theology have negated the reality and say the Spirit is all and in all but they forget that if we did not have a brain it would mean nothing as we can not even have an out-of-body experience without the brain interpreting it. We cannot even be spiritual without the brain. It contains our spirituality and spirit as well.
In this course I would learn how our being has been made alive by God’s breath. His Spirit within us is a most holy place. Of course we would look at being influenced by the Spirit of God and how that process is designed to enhance the inner experience for people that are being influenced.
Sadly we have been compartmentalised by Christianity’s narrow definitions that we are not to pay attention to the body in any form as it must therefore be New Age or something. Sadly Christianity, or some parts of it have become so scared of what they don’t know that they immediately mark it as bad or New Age. I would learn as much as I can about influencing the being of people and would honour, respect and be in awe of who they are. They are not a bunch of sheep to be preached at or down to.
Breathing, relaxing, using imagination is part of being of who we are and it is, all good. Our emotions are part of a language that we speak to ourselves with and cannot be made to be bad and good by mere definitions that have never been tried or tested. I would learn how to orchestrate a service into an experiential place where the liturgy is NEVER the same and the order of service never a predictable place where sameness can preside and predictability experienced.
Each interaction and each next step would flow into the next and it would not always have ‘the golden calf’ of praise and worship as the first approach to anything Christian. It would be a part of the process sometimes, and at other times we would give the ego of the musicians a well deserved break.
I would learn about how the brain stores information, how the memory works and how to influence deeper facilitated thinking by asking powerful questions. I would learn how to use the 13 Brain Intelligences to better use and would orchestrate my sermon message and help people weave while I am talking.
I would use the 7 Brain Languages to better enhance my learning experience and use adult learning techniques to respectfully influence people to become their best version of self. I would learn about the sorting styles of the brain so that I can help people store vital information into the being of their lives and how to live from there.
I would train my leaders to become Experiential Coaches to help small groups to make personal connections and weave the learning onto their being and into the way they do life in a joyful and fun-filled way. I would encourage the folks to delight in the Lord and not live a life of “striving and guilt-ridden judgementalism”.
I would encourage folks to live life, to be fully free and fully human, for then and only then, would they be real and purposeful and whole. I would focus on weaving reality into people’s life pictures and help them to get a sense of the big picture. They would be coached to have a real open transparent authentic personalised relationships with God that are not stereotyped or so the same as everyone else in the room. I would respect the individual’s journey as being paramount and coach them in life readiness and living fully human and fully alive because here is the glory of God.
If I had to do it over again I would become a Team Coach and coach the leadership to lead as a team coach themselves. I would coach rather than counsel and when needed refer folks to other specialisations for therapy and counselling when necessary.
I would arrange for Encounter and Calibrate Days where people can invite their friends to a one day coaching intervention where they can align their lives and dreams and for the first time download their life dreams and wish lists and expectations that they have put away for someday, and work on being a person that lives life with intentionality, focus and consciousness.
I would invite the business fiends of people in our community and use the Encounter and Calibrate Days as a missional and friendship-based experience. I would even invite the Government and Local Government leaders to these days as a service and servant approach to their lives. Instead of preaching to them. If preaching is the only route to go then we have indeed limited the scope badly. It has not influenced the world as we know it to date that’s a fact.
If I had to do it over gain I would look for the passion in people and would encourage those that are passionate about relationships to be trained as relationship Coaches. To teach and coach couples not big crowds, but rather eye to eye, one couple at a time, or in small groups, where they cannot hide, yet feel safe and secure.
Coaching saved my life and gave me back a renewed future that I am thoroughly soaked in without having to be driven by old age myths that to be driven is good!Dr Bill Price
The couples would be taught to connect using the Dialogical Method where they honour the relationship space as sacred and beautiful. Where they learn about each other’s past, childhood and how they coded experiences to form who they are now. I would create weekends for couples where they are not brought another theology approach, but given principles to weave into their space. Where they learn true mutual submission.
I would take every sixth weekend off to go away with my wife to relate, connect, have fun with and enjoy the fruits of our relationship. I would go on a therapy process every year or a retreat encounter to enhance the relationship knowing we cannot grow more than where we are challenged.
Sameness would be an enemy in my life and I would not settle until deep meaningful connection was a reality from which I influence others. Never again would my life be plastic and where I would teach others knowing I don’t do those things myself. In fact I would stop the whole ego-driven approach to preaching.
Coaching for church leaders
I would encourage folks to become Spirituality Coaches to coach the journeys of their friends and colleagues, rather than try counselling them. A space and place where there is no judgement, guilt, manipulation to do things our way or according to a theory or theology that is man-made anyway. A place where people can be free to meet God and encounter the “I THOU experience”, that Bubbler, a Hebrew philosopher spoke of and wrote about. To coach a discipline of routine, rituals that Jesus wove into His life and to learn about disciplines of silence, mediation and intimate being of worship.
People and their ministry, mission and make up are the focus points for the leadership to empower, encourage and enrich. These aspects need the backdrop of teaching, knowledge download and skills enhancement. They need to be coached to weave these principles and snippets of knowledge into their realities. They need to know how to live their lives, their way based on their principles in a way that pleases God without being coerced into living a pseudo-style of spirituality downloaded by some ego-driven teacher that has set their perspectives of doctrine definitions as the only ones and therefore right and just.
People need to be guided into their realities and encouraged to live a life that is connected to God. It is about God and them. In the end it will be like that anyway. Of course we have to teach and preach but people will make the choices and come to confront their realities and amend their faith accordingly as a matter of being. Like we all have done to date.
Orchestration and facilitation is the new way to develop and empower people and their potential. It is about coming alongside folks and helping them discover for themselves and making decisions for themselves guided by the principles of the Bible. The context will always demand their reality and in that reality is where people live.
Coaching empowers folks to make decisions. Coaching helps people to make decisions about what is important or urgent, far or close, toward or away from. It helps them to develop new routines and to apply lessons learnt from doing and learning rather than ‘trying’. It helps people to transcend and change and grow. It make s the difference because it demands that they take ownership of their lives.
If I had to do it over again I would find out ways of dividing people into the spiritual phases of their lives. I would use these phases as coaching opportunities for self discovery and help them to make decisions about the next steps toward their purpose being manifest and fulfilled. Willow Creek depicts these stages as; before becoming a Christian, a young Christian, then a growing Christian, then a maturing Christian and then a mature Christian.
The one message fits all is not appropriate even if we say that the Spirit interprets for each person where they are. I must say that I have no longing to sit under another evangelistic sermon to give my life to the Lord for another time. I live already connected to God and I am wondering what it is like to make the shift from being a disciple to a friend of God. How does that work? What does that feel like and what are the new rules of relationship? How is prayer different? How is communion and community different or the same?
Coaching brings others realities that training, counselling, therapy, consulting, leading, managing or project management does, and can not bring to the party. It brings its basic ethics and principles. It brings standards and competencies and specialisation. It brings applicability to life transformation and change. It brings an awe for life and God. It brings outcomes based living that is centred in the core of being. It brings structure and sustainability, safe space and stability.
Coaching and mentoring helps clarify between that which is important and that which is not or does not matter at all. It helps people to travel light and with self-responsibility. It engages people to discuss, discover, co-develop and co-action toward solutions in the now. It reveals people to themselves and elicits greatness and expands people potential as it is applied to daily reality living.
Coaching helps navigate one’s curiosity and hones in on what really matters. It champions the person and encourages them toward new territory while revealing the truth and reality to them. It is very respectful of the people’s humanity. Further, it helps to add perspective, validation, energy, solution focused approach, resourcefulness, feedback and challenge.
It has been my pleasure to develop an African model that is fitting for Africa. The American and European models have not got the realities for Africa built into them. Unfortunately they think that Western models will fit the world. They don’t and never will. Coaching has impacted the lives of thousands I have coached in very powerful and productive ways.
I have seen dreams come true, business plans manifest to beyond their wildest dreams, in shorter time-spans. I have seen careers align and become better than what they ever dreamt they could be. People we have trained as coaches have made their mark in the lives of others and have not only developed a business but a lifestyle that has merged with their life dream and purpose. Legacy is being fulfilled.
I am also fully aware that coaching is not the end all to everything. Some folks when they make a discovery it is like being a hammer and then everything seems to be a nail! But I can say, with great assurance, that coaching is a life changer. The resourcefulness and power it has, when used with great finesse and professionalism is simply amazing.
Being thoroughly convinced it will play an amazing, powerful, productive role in the 21st Century, in any organisation. It produces results when people grasp its DNA and will impact the bottom lines in life, relationships, spirituality, wellness, and business realities. Coaching will empower life in context and will create value on investment in the areas of productivity, personal growth, effectiveness, efficiency, profitability, ethics, leading and self management.
Coaching Opportunities with Dr Bill Price
- Professional Business and Life Coach
- Master Executive Coach
- Wholistic Coach (trained in life, relationship, personal development, spirituality and wellness)
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