FAQ: How Can I Get My Leaders to Attend Training?

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I get a lot of questions.  Sometimes they’re very particular to a unique situation.  Most of the time the questions are on a topic that I know will help everyone.  Here’s the one I got yesterday:

How can I get my leaders to attend training?

Ever wondered that?  I think this is one of my most frequent frequently asked questions.

I’ve written several posts on the topic of leader training over the last 5 years.  You’ve probably read one or two.  Here’s what I’m thinking today.  I think there are several things to keep in mind.

5 Key Realities to Keep in Mind:

First, we live in a very fast-paced, over-committed time.  This is true for almost all of us.  I realize there are exceptions globally, but for most of us, we barely have time to lead a group, let alone attend meetings.

Second, we live in a time when almost everything is available on-demand.  Who watches a 60 minute television program in 60 minutes?  Don’t most of us DVR it and watch it in 42 minutes?

Third, we live in a time when attention spans are at an all time low.  Smart phones and tablets are changing the game in terms of capturing attention even when a meeting is planned and held.

Fourth, we live in a time when the quality of worship services and events are being compared with the church online or on TV  (no longer with the church on the other corner).

Fifth, an increasing number of churches attract attendees from across a county or region (and a decreasing number of churches attract from a small area).  Again, I know there are exceptions, but the rule for most of us is that drive times are long, even in more rural areas.


With me?  Can you see how these five realities contribute to the leader training conversation?  And let me quick to remind you, idealism and wishful thinking won’t change them.  They are what they are regardless of what we think will be good for small group leaders.

Here’s what we’re currently doing in the effort to develop our small group leaders:

  1. We have two centralized training events a year.  The fall event is a Saturday morning from 8:30 to noon and includes a plenary vision casting segment featuring our senior pastor and two 75 minute breakouts.  We invite small group leaders and team leaders from all areas of ministry and the breakout topics are designed to help develop leaders regardless of their ministry.  See also, Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway and Envision, Encourage, and Equip Your Leaders with This 25 Year Old Idea.
  2. We’re asking our community leaders (our current word for a coach) to gather their leaders in a huddle at least every 8 weeks.  It’s one of the main items on their job description.  It’s also one of the commitments that we ask our small group leaders to make.  These huddles are usually in homes or restaurants and attempt to be geographically convenient for the leaders.  See also, 8 Commitments for Small Group Leaders and Coaching FAQ: What Is the Role of a Coach?
  3. We are increasingly aware of the need for training content that can be viewed on-demand.  Whether we produce the content in-house (we capture at least an audio recording of our breakouts and a video of our senior pastor’s plenary) or acquire the content from RightNow Media or Ministry Grid, we know we must be able to deliver training online and on-demand.  See also, Seen the Latest from RightNow Media and Ministry Grid Online.
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  1. Justin on January 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Mark, Could you expand on what your 2nd event each year looks like? (in point 1)

  2. markchowell on January 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for jumping in here Justin! Actually, the second centralized gathering we do is a HOST rally (or what Saddleback would call a HOST gathering). You can get pretty detailed info right here: http://www.markhowelllive.com/steve-gladen-on-the-power-of-host-gatherings/

    Hope that helps!

  3. Justin on January 8, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks so much!