Coaching FAQ: How to Jump Start Coaching When You Launch Small Groups

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Yesterday we talked about the trouble many of us have when trying to add coaching retroactively to an existing small group system.  What to Do When Your Leaders Don’t Want Coaches offers a simple three step approach to that issue.

Today I want to talk about the flip side of that predicament: How to jump start coaching when you are just starting groups (or when you’re adding a significant number of groups). Whether you’re using a church-wide campaign or you’re using a small group connection to launch groups (or for that matter, whether you’re using the Activate method or the sermon-based method or the Free Market approach), it really doesn’t matter.  If you’re starting a number of new groups, you’ll want to start them out with a coach who can provide encouragement and just-in-time training that often makes the difference between a good experience with a sustainable group and a bad experience with a group that just doesn’t stick.

Here are a few keys to jump starting coaching:

  • Develop a simple job description that details what you want the coach to do.  Specify a short-term commitment (I frequently use a 10 to 13 week season).  This allows you to gauge their fruitfulness and their fulfillment (one or the other is not enough).  Upon completion of the task you will have the opportunity to ask for further commitment from the best candidates and graciously thank those that just didn’t work out.
  • Develop a calendar that shows everything they are committing to.  Start with any training events and conclude with an exit interview.  Include as much detail as you can.
  • Hold out for hundred-fold players who really are the best candidates.  Get your senior pastor engaged in helping to recruit the ideal candidates.  I look for relational leader types that have good follow-through and a track record of success.  I need them to value community.  It’s important that they are in a group.  If they’re leading a group it’s a plus, but it’s not essential.
  • When you’re recruiting them, don’t do it on the fly.  Look for opportunities to sit down and go over the vision for the launch, the job description and the calendar.  When you ask for a commitment, hold out for full commitment.  Give them time to talk with their spouse and pray about committing.  If you give them a couple days to think it over, call them back when you tell them you will.
  • “People do what you inspect, not what you expect.”  Make sure you are following up on their interaction with the leaders to which they are assigned.  More importantly, make sure that you are investing in the coaches that you recruit.  Remember, whatever you want to happen at the member level will have to happen to the leaders first.  It just follows that whatever you want to happen to the leaders in your system will have to be experienced by your coaches first.

I’m often asked how to get coaching started in established small group ministries.  I answer that here in What To Do When Your Leaders Don’t Want Coaching?

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  1. markriggins on March 29, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I recruited a “hundred-fold” leader to coach this week and followed your suggestions: vision, simple job description, clear expectations, and a 12-week commitment. After talking with his wife, he emailed me yesterday and said, “Let’s roll”. Thanks for your insights Mark!

  2. Anonymous on March 29, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Sweet! Good for you Mark!