Model What You Want to Happen at the Member Level

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modelI've said many times "Whatever you want to happen in the lives of the members of your groups, has to happen first in the lives of their leaders." I've also pointed out that life-change at the member level begins with you. It would be crazy to expect things would happen to anyone else if they're not happening to you and me. Right?

Whatever you want to happen in the lives of the members of your groups, has to happen first in the lives of their leaders. Share on X

See also, Life Change at the Member Level and Life-Change at the Member Level Begins with You.

So far so good?

Model What You Want to Happen

Here's what I want to point out today.

Even the way you want things to happen at the member level must begin with you.

For example, if you want your coaches to have frequent personal interaction with your small group leaders and you want that interaction to be in person or on the phone (i.e., not an email and not a voicemail)...that's how you need to interact with your coaches. If all you do is send a group email to your coaches you can hardly expect your coaches to interact by phone or in person.

You must model what you want to happen at the member level. If you communicate with your coaches with a group email, they will do the same with their leaders. And...shouldn't you then expect your group leaders to touch base with their members by group email?

Do you want your members to know that their leader is praying for them? If you do, then your leaders must know that their coach is praying for them. How will they know that? It will require a combination of asking "how can I pray for you?" Praying for them in the moment and then following up later on their prayer request.

Do you want that to be happening in your small group ministry? It won't happen if you're not modeling what you want to happen at the member level.

Want group members to experience the sense of family in their group? The leader must have already experienced that from their coach. And you must do your part to model that to your coaches.

You must model what you want to happen at the member level. You. Must. Model. Nothing but your example trickles down to the member level.

You must model what you want to happen at the member level. You. Must. Model. Nothing but your example trickles down to the member level. Share on X

You must model what you want to happen at the member level.

See also, 20 Frequently Asked Questions about Small Group Coaching.

What do you think?  Have a question to add? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Tim on September 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I have a question that I’ve been pondering for a few months now. To give a framework: I’m a SG Pastor currently developing a coaching infrastructure of 27 Coaches who care for approximately 280 SG Leaders (we have almost 200 groups and 1500 in groups). I’ve always been plagued with the idea that you can’t successfully Coach through emails. Instead, you must have live contact on the phone or in person. The problem is, I hate talking on the phone. I think most men do, including the male Coaches on my team. Now, I love 1:1 face to face; I just really don’t like phone calls. Maybe it’s just a personal hang up. I’ve tried to make it work, but not with much success. So over the past several months I’ve relied much more heavily on personal visits (coffee, dinner), emails, texts, and handwritten notes sent through snail mail. But I rely primarily on emails. I try not to send mass emails to the whole group or to give them “directives” through email… sometimes it’s necessary, but I try not to make it the norm. Instead, I use email to very quickly send an encouraging message, ask how they’re doing, tell them something specific I’m praying about for them. And the response has been great. Further, my coaches are copying that behavior with their leaders (hence “modeling”). So here’s my thought: You CAN coach people through email, but you have to use it correctly, for personal contact, not just to tell them what to do, and use mass emails sparingly. So in the end, I think of email as a “tool,” which you can use well or abuse. You just have to be careful how you use it. (On the flip side, you could personally call each Coach every week, but if all you do is use that phone call to bark orders at them, then that won’t be effective either.) So my question: Is that correct? What are your thoughts?? Am I missing something? Should I continue to try to grow in the area of phone contacts? I want to be open to correction.

  2. markchowell on September 18, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Hi Tim…a couple thoughts. First, if you have 27 coaches…your span of care is in desperate need of refinement. If it’s true that everyone needs to be cared for by someone and no one can take care of more than (about) 10, you’re at the stage where you need 3 to 5 community leaders who each care for 4 to 6 coaches. Can you see it? Then, you are caring for 3 to 5 community leaders and can model for them what you want them to do to and for their coaches.

    Second, I need to make sure you really understand that most coaches and most leaders have a good handle on technique very quickly. Within the first 3 to 4 months of a coaches service they probably figure out how to do what they need to do. Within the first 3 to 4 months of the service of a small group leader they learn how to do what they need to do (or in most cases their group dies). Beyond 3 to 4 months what they actually need is care and care is rarely demonstrated very well by email.

    Does this make sense? I’m with you about the difference between a phone call and a cup of coffee. Makes a lot of sense. Still, with the appropriate span of care and the correct emphasis (care over coaching), it is a workable model.


  3. Tim on September 18, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Mark, thanks for the great feedback! I definitely see our Coaching infrastructure is overwhelmed at the moment. I have one pair of “Lead Coaches” who oversee 4 of my Coaches, the rest are under my span of care for now. By next Fall I hope to have 3-5 Lead Coaches who are my sole Span of Care, and they will oversee the other Coaches, who oversee the SG Leaders (with no one having more than about 5 people under them). We’re headed there… we’re just in process right now.
    Also, I do understand that Coaching–especially with leaders who have led for more than a few weeks–is about care, not technique. In fact we’re in the process of trying to retrofit all our old SG Leaders with Coaches this semester (I know you’ve written about that too, and how it’s rarely successful). But so far we have about 80% of our SG Leaders connecting successfully with their Coach… not bad, but we’ll see if that continues as the semester goes on. But I preach (and hopefully model) that Coaching isn’t about Small Groups at all. I tell my Coaches that Coaching is about caring for the leaders. Really, it’s discipleship and pastoral care. Small Groups is really just an inroad for the Coach to start caring for them. I hope we’re on the right track with that mindset.
    All of that being said, I don’t use phone calls much–not because of being spread too thin–but just because I don’t like talking on the phone. Perhaps I should have simplified my question above: If used correctly and in combination with 1:1 meetings, can you effectively use email to Coach people? Or is Coaching literally impossible without utilizing phone calls? Cause if so, it’s definitely an area I need to grow in.

  4. markchowell on October 4, 2014 at 6:44 am

    You’re asking a good question, Tim. I think email is fine for distributing information and tips, but ineffective for the kind of conversation that really does “to and for” coaches what you want them to do “to and for” leaders. Would you want your coaches to coach by email? Hopefully not. Ideally, in person (or by phone) allows for the kind of conversation needed. Don’t like talking on the phone? You might try figuring out the services attended by the coaches you’re trying to care for and meet for a quick cup of coffee before or after. Linking your check-in with another event already on the calendar is an effective way to accomplish what’s needed.