Q What does it mean to be a coach? Let’s take a look at what the valuable role of a small group coach is and what actually happens when they invest in the life of a small group leader.
I would not be writing to you today if someone had not noticed something in me, and then coached or invested in me. Twenty years ago I was a new believer, as “new” as they come! I was “on fire” to love and serve the Lord, and He was so good. Even though I wasn’t sure I had anything to give, He knew He could use me, so He sent me coaches…amazing coaches!
The Bible is full of stories of what can happen when a mentor or coach speaks into someone’s life and invests in others. My personal favorite is the story of Moses and Joshua. It was under the apprenticeship of Moses that Joshua learned to serve, develop faith, fight battles, fail and still move forward to become a great leader to the people of Israel.
The problem with the end of this beautiful story of mentorship is that Joshua didn’t have a “Joshua.” When Joshua died, there was no one to replace him, and Israel entered the worst period of her history…the time of Judges. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Joshua 17:6) This is beyond sad! Friends, this is where coaching enters.
As the leaders of a Christ-following culture, we must “pass it on” by taking our current leaders and build them up to the next level along the leadership pathway of the church.
For those of us who are in primary lead roles at your church, this involves coaching our coaches and leading our leaders (and future ones).
Steve Gladen, author of Planning Small Groups with Purpose, describes ongoing leader support when he says…
“The most crucial piece of group health is the personal touch.” – Steve Gladen
This can (and should) happen first and foremost between small group leaders and their coaches. What our small group leaders need most is to feel supported and encouraged, not managed.
In his book, Gladen uses an easy acrostic for “COACH” to help us with some basic things, things we can be implementing as coaches. Here is what his ideas look like at my campus:
CLASS(ES) – Ongoing Training
Three times a year, my team hosts a small group leadership orientation. All small group leaders, host home leaders and coaches are invited to attend. After an opening 15-20 minute “vision” message from one of our campus pastors, we offer training for new leaders and two breakout sessions for current leaders and coaches as ongoing training. We utilize “high level” coaches to teach these leader classes. These coaches provide amazing insights because they are in the “trenches” of developing leaders and they love having the opportunity to work on their skills and pass along the church culture.
OPEN UP Next Steps in Leadership Development
Do you have a leadership pathway? Do you have a strategy to coach current, fully-devoted small group leaders so that they can grow in their gifts and talents? Becoming the kind of coach who offers (and encourages) “next steps” for your leaders, as you coach and invest in them, is very rewarding for everyone!
AFFIRM a Leader’s Personal and Group Plan
One of the things good coaches do with their small group leaders is find out what they are passionate about. When we come alongside them in their godly passionate pursuits, under the umbrella and safety of your churches’ mission and vision, it is exciting to watch them soar.
CURRICULUM – Collaborate with Leaders to Guide their Group Strategy
This type of collaboration works in conjunction with affirming a leader’s passion and asking them what areas of growth they would like to see in their group and in themselves at the end of the small group session. One of the goals should be to continually look for potential apprentice leaders in the group and to begin investing in them strategically.
HOST a Huddle or Gathering for Leaders where they Share “Best Practices”
These types of “huddles” or gatherings can be as simple as a coach and their leaders getting together for coffee or a meal, or as extensive as bringing all of the leaders together for some type of training. In either format, celebrate the “wins” and share what is happening, as we lead and coach and listen to the needs of our leaders. Inviting “high level” small group leaders to a ministry meeting or huddle allows them to experience leadership at the next level. The SGN huddles for small group point people in your area is another way to grow and be encouraged by others who live small groups on a daily basis. If there is not one near you consider starting one of your one. Finally I would encourage you to bring your future apprentice leaders with you to the “Lobby Gathering” Small Group Conference in March, 2019! They will be so encouraged and you will be passing along all you know; raising up your next “Joshua!”
Hope to see you at The Lobby!