I’m frequently asked what can be done to improve the coaching in a small group ministry. Going back at least as far as Carl George’s Prepare Your Church for the Future, it’s been proposed that Jethro had it right and for Moses to try and take care of all of the people himself was crazy (see Exodus 18:13-25). From that key passage the important concept of “span of care” developed and with that understanding you can see why building a coaching structure is seen as crucial. So how can we improve what we have? Several ideas:
- First, you need to have the right people in the role. Can’t be someone who simply likes the title. Has to be someone who is a leader. If you want them to have any chance of influencing your small group leaders there’s no getting around this part of the job description. And don’t be fooled here. Having the wrong person is worse than not having anyone. They’ve also got to want to invest their time in this role. You’re looking for actual commitment. Not words only.
- Second, try people out in the role BEFORE you give them the title! Do this wherever possible. Take someone you think would make a good one and ask them to invest in a new small group leader or two. Easy to pull them in on this idea. Give it a time limit. “Would you help me for the next 8 weeks? Just need you to help these new small group leaders get off to a good start.” Then you model for them what to do. If they do it and if they’re both fruitful and fulfilled doing it…then sit down with them and formally recruit them to the role.
- Third, when you recruit them, use an actual job description. Don’t minimize what you need from them. Don’t downplay how much time you think it will take. Be honest and ask for their commitment.
- Last, add this ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT: If you want your coaches to invest in the small group leaders they’re assigned to you must be giving to them what you want them to give their leaders…and nothing less.
What’s wrong with your coaching structure? Simple, it won’t work unless you’re applying the four keys of building an effective coaching structure.