5 Assumptions That Set Small Group Coaching Up to #Fail

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"Small group coaching does not work." If I've heard that once, I've heard it a million times. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard it...I'd be a millionaire!

Ever said it yourself?

I've discovered there are five assumptions that set small group coaching up to #fail. Wonder if you have any of these?

5 Assumptions that Set Small Group Coaching Up to #Fail:

1. Expressing a desire to be a coach is enough.

Not! Just like taking volunteers to lead a group you assemble, taking volunteers to be a coach is incredibly risky. Harmful below-the-waterline motivations are very common (I estimate more than half the time!). Power and prestige hunting posers are very common. Much safer and more effective to decide who to recruit and accept no substitutes. See also, How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.

2. Warm and willing is better than nothing.

Not!  Similar to assumption #1, warm and willing candidates won't get the job done. They are happy to say "yes" to coaching but don't have the stature to pull it off. Settling for 30-fold leaders when a 60-fold or 100-fold is required dooms most coaching structures. See also, Recruiting Coaches: When Not to Compromise.

3. It's mostly about accounting.

Not! If the primary responsibilities are about keeping score (members and meetings), you've missed the point. Coaching is about "doing to and for the leader what you want the leader to do to and for the members of their group." Coaching is about caring, not counting. See also, Who Makes the Best Coach? and 5 GroupLife Dots You May Not Be Connecting.

4. Low expectations reinforce commitment.

Not! Minimal or low expectations don't engage 100-fold players. Busy and over-committed high capacity people will only say "yes" to trajectory altering assignments. If the span of care you've created calls for two hours a week, you dare not minimize the commitment. Asking for a big commitment is the only way to get high capacity leaders in the game. Anything less cheapens the deal. See also, 5 Honest Thoughts about Small Group Ministry and Top 10 DNA Markers of Churches with Thriving Small Group Cultures.

5. High capacity players don't need attention and care.

Not! If whatever you want to happen at the member level must happen to the leader first, it follows that whatever you want to happen at the leader level, must happen to the coach first. Capacity does not determine their need for investment and care. Paying attention to their needs and interests. Taking the time to know about their families and jobs and interests pays huge dividends and will often keep them engaged in the mission for years. See also, Life-Change at the Member-Level.

Need more help?

Building an Effective Coaching Structure is one of my most popular courses. If you haven't already looked at it, you might want to check it out! You can find out more about it right here.

Image by Nima Badiey

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  1. Jon Stolpe on November 20, 2013 at 5:02 am

    I absolutely agree. As a past small group coach, I can vouch for each of these. Coaching small groups and leading coaches requires being intentional. It doesn’t just happen.

  2. markchowell on November 20, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Thanks for jumping in here, Jon! Great intentionality is essential. And…it’s usually people who’ve functioned in the role who are able to recognize the challenges. Thanks for sharing!