Train the Group, Not Just the Leader

Training new small group leaders is a no-brainer, so we have training events, create online training courses, send leaders home with resources, and provide small group coaches. Yet with all of this training, it’s not uncommon for those of us in church leadership to be frustrated by the fact that there’s a disconnect between what we’ve trained group leaders to accomplish and what the groups are actually doing.

There are a few reasons this happens: First, leader training is like drinking from a fire hose. Leaders get tons of information and don’t really have time to process it before they start meeting with their groups. Second, leaders may take the training to heart, but are afraid to ask their groups to do what they are being asked to do. For example, if groups are being asked to use a particular curriculum for a campaign, some groups won’t like it. They might be in the middle of a 22-week study of Revelation, and this new curriculum will mess up their calendar. Some leaders just don’t have the guts to tell their group that they need to use an alternative curriculum for a few weeks. Thirdly, some leaders simply have their own agendas. They may not like what you are asking them to do, so they just decide not to do it. After all, who in the group is going to know? They weren’t at leader training. They don’t know what leaders were asked to dohis reason, I’m a huge believer in adding a new layer to training: group training. It’s possible to train not only the leader, but also the entire group. Group training should not replace leader training; rather it should be in addition to leader training. The great thing about group training is that it can be subliminal enough that groups don’t realize they are being trained.

Here are a few ways to train entire small groups:

  1. Teach your church’s small group values/expectations through the weekend messages.
  2. Teach your church’s small group values/expectations through the curriculum.
  3. Give away free group DVDs to everyone that shares an expanded vision of small group ministry at your church (people like free stuff).
  4. Share stories that exemplify the values you want your groups to live out.
  5. Put a short 90-second training clip on the front end of each week’s video curriculum. Here’s an example from my Youtube channel:

The point of group training is to create another level of accountability. The more people in a group who know what is expected of the group, the more likely the group will be to live out those expectations.

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Alan Danielson
Alan Danielson is the Lead Pastor of a church that’s probably a lot like yours. New Life Bible Church is a church of a few hundred people, but not long ago he was on the executive staff of Life.Church in Edmond, OK. Now, along with pastoring New Life, Alan is a consultant and has worked with many of America’s largest churches. Despite this, Alan has a passion for the small church. That’s why he lives by the personal conviction that no church is too small for him to work with. Alan founded Triple-Threat Solutions to help leaders of and churches of all sizes grow. Learn more from Alan at http://www.3Threat.net.