Keeping the vision for small group ministry in the forefront of your coaches’ minds helps them to stay passionate and to see clearly where their role fits in the big picture. If the small group ministry is aligned with the overall church’s vision and mission, then you have the bonus of coaches knowing they are contributing significantly to the mission of the church.
1. Communicate vision
Try and think of ways you can communicate the vision creatively, don’t get stuck in a rut. Alongside the norm of emails and text messages why not try some of these ideas: -create postcards with words and colourful graphics which reiterate the vision, develop videos, write mini dramas for worship services, set up a competition with your small groups around creative ways to communicate the vision or challenge coaches to write a song or poem.
2. Clarify role responsibilities
What do you want your to achieve with your coaching role? The answer to this question must be your starting point! The follow step is then to develop a written role description, I am a keen advocate for written role descriptions because they give clarity regarding expectations and responsibilities. Coaches need to know what they are signing up for! The document should be short and simple, if possible no more than an A4 page. Include key roles you want your coaches to undertake (ie frequency of contact with small group leaders, data collection, structure of support relationships, how often they need to meet with small group ministry leader and the time frame they are willing to take on the role etc.)
3. Channel regular resources their way
It is critical that coaches are adequately resourced, do all you can to set them up for success. What might they need? Maybe it is a set of structured questions which they can use as a template in a conversation with small group leaders. I really like these questions Sam O’ Neale has developed which focus specifically on the life of the group: – What is one thing about the group so far this year that has really encouraged you? Have there been any “challenging group member” situations? What is your group studying right now? Are there other aspects of group leadership that you are finding challenging this year?
Here are some other practical resourcing ideas, 1) allocate each coach a coffee budget so they can buy coffee for leaders when they meet 2) Supply a set of conversation cards to help stimulate the leader/coach discussion 3) Provide a 1-2minute themed video clip around a key emphasis you want group leaders to adopt which can be used in the coaching session.
4. Care about their faith journey
Many times, I have fallen into the trap of focusing too deeply on getting a job done (e.g. finding coaches or setting up a coaching system) that I forget to nurture the relationship. I need to be reminded, that the most important thing to God (and therefore my ministry!) is how people are growing in their faith journey. Make time to connect personally, every conversation does not need to be around the coaching role. Ask about work and family roles, hobbies, movies they have watched, build relationships and be genuinely interested in them as people loved by God. Help them navigate the next steps in their faith journey.
Here are some more great questions which can be a catalyst for a discussion; Is there a key lesson God keeps reminding you of? In what ways have you seen God at work in the last few months? What would you like to see God do in your life over the next 6–12 months? How can I help you attain these goals? How can I pray for you in your work or family role?
5. Create a review/renew time
Building specific times for review and evaluation will keep your coaches healthy. (I suggest this be included on the role description!) Coaches need regular opportunities not only to discuss how they are going in their role but also to decide if they wish to continue in the role after their initial commitment. This review/renew time is also helpful for you as a small group ministry leader, as it gives you opportunity to redirect someone who may not be the right ‘fit’ as a small group coach.
May God bless you with many more creative ideas, so you can continue to develop healthy small group coaches. I would love to hear what might be on your ‘essentials’ list!