7 Core Ideas about Small Group Coaching

Have you established a coaching model in your small group ministry?  Better…what’s the most recent coaching model you’ve implemented?  Even better…what coaching model are you leaning toward implementing next?

It would be funny if it weren’t the truth for many of us.

Still, it might pay to do some basic thinking about small group coaching philosophy before you make your next move (or your first move in the case of a new small group ministry).

Here are 7 core ideas about small group coaching:

  1. Jethro’s wise advice to Moses in Exodus 18:13-27 is often cited as the basis for the idea of span of care (essentially, Jethro pointed out that Moses couldn’t possibly care for everyone.  Instead, he needed to have leaders of 1,000, leaders of 100, leaders of 50 and leaders of 10).  Carl George provided a good shorthand nugget for Jethro’s advice to Moses with this pithy line: “Everyone needs to be cared for by someone and no one can care for more than (about) ten.”  It follows from this simple statement that leaders aren’t the only ones who need care.  Someone will need to provide care for your coaches, as well.
  2. Coaching is primarily about care.  While there may be a need for how-tos in the very beginning of a new leader’s experience, a small group leader rarely needs help with technique after their first 3 or 4 months in the role.  Asking four basic questions from the beginning of the relationship will help establish a caring connection that will endure beyond the leader’s need for technique.
  3. The coaching relationship is often positioned incorrectly as primarily about communication and data integrity (How many members do you have?  How many times did you meet this month? etc.).
  4. Positioned correctly, the coaching relationship can be about discipleship and mentoring (i.e., whatever you want to happen in lives of group members must happen first in the lives of group leaders).
  5. The most receptive coaching recipients are new small group leaders.  It makes sense.  They’re unsure of themselves.  They have questions.  They don’t know all the answers.  New small group leaders are almost always glad to hear that you’re providing an experienced guide for them.
  6. The least receptive coaching recipients are experienced small group leaders.  After all, once they’ve survived the first few months, they’ve usually encountered all of the most common pitfalls (my article How to Implement Coaching for Existing Group Leaders addresses some of the issues surrounding assigning coaches to existing leaders).
  7. It’s much harder to get someone out of a role than into a role.  That said, wise point leaders create a test-drive experience that invites a prospective coach to help out on a short-term basis (i.e., Would you help us take care of a new leader or two when we launch new groups with the fall campaign?).  My article, Recruiting Additional Coaches for Church-Wide Campaigns provides the nuts and bolts that make this concept work.

Ready to take some next steps?  You might want to read my four part series, How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.

Want do you think?  Want to argue? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.