Quick! What goes through your mind when I say "small group coaching"?
Were you thinking, "Small group coaching doesn't work"? Or maybe, "I tried that before and it doesn't work here?" Or how about, "It may work for some churches but we just don't have those kind of people here!"
Regardless of what you were thinking, in order for you to understand the need for small group coaching and some important characteristics of my strategy, I need to give you some of the assumptions that shape why I do what I do. See also, Is It Time for a Fresh Look at Your Assumptions?
5 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Coaching Strategy
First, I believe that whatever you want to happen at the member level, must happen to the leader first.
I actually think this is fairly self-evident, don't you? Doesn't it make sense that we can hardly expect the leader of a small group to be able to give away something he or she has never experienced?
I often point out that if I want the members of a group to know what it's like for a leader to pray for them, the leader will have to know what it's like. Or, if I want the members of the group to experience a sense of family, the leader will have to have had that experience first. Doesn't this simple truth explain the role of a coach?
Second, I believe everyone needs to be cared for by someone but nobody can take care of more than (about) 10 people.
Carl George made this point many years ago and pointed to Jethro's instructions to Moses in Exodus 18 as the basis for this foundational principle. Recognizing that Jethro was referring to an appropriate span of care, we can now assume that a small group pastor might be able to care for up to 10 small group leaders. We should also see that, just like Moses, to attempt to personally care for more than 10 is foolish.
Can you see how this principle demonstrates the need for additional layers of leaders of leaders?
Third, I believe everyone has an innate shape (s.h.a.p.e.) and that some have been prewired for greater influence.
One of the lessons of the Parable of the Talents is that we are all given something to invest according to our ability. In other words, there was a reason that one servant was given five talents to invest, another servant was given two talents to invest, and the third was given only one talent to invest. The best candidates for the role of a small group coach are small group leaders who are high capacity leaders.
In Mark 4 Jesus shared a story about a farmer who sowed seed and the seeds returned a harvest of thirty, sixty or a hundred times what was sown. Jesus wasn't talking about spiritual maturity. He wasn't suggesting that a thirty fold seed might one day become a sixty or hundred fold seed. Instead, He was talking about the relative capacity of a seed.
It may be an appealing thought to believe that small group leaders should respond to a coach whether he is a thirty fold leader or a hundred fold leader. But the truth is, human nature is organized differently. When you're recruiting coaches it is important to recruit high capacity men and women.
Fourth, I believe those prewired for greater influence will be fruitful and fulfilled only when they are in the right role.
It should be understood that a high capacity leader of leaders might be very effective but unfulfilled. In other words, they can get the job done even though they really don't enjoy it. They are fruitful but unfulfilled.
At the same time, it should be obvious that there are people with less capacity who are quite fulfilled by attending meetings and being recognized as a coach, but never get anything done. They are fulfilled but aren't fruitful.
One of the secrets to build an effective coaching structure is to strive to recruit high capacity men and women who will be both fruitful and fulfilled in the role.
Finally, I believe the best way to determine if a man or woman will be both fruitful and fulfilled as a small group coach is by inviting them to test-drive the role.
This may not be as obvious, but my growing conviction is that the best beginning for a potential coach is one in which they have only made a short term commitment.
Inviting the right candidates to help two or three new small group leaders get off to a great start is a compelling invitation. Framing the invitation as a 10 week commitment sweetens the deal. Inviting only those who are both fruitful and fulfilled to continue beyond the initial 10 week commitment makes it much more likely that you are building an effective small group coaching structure.
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