More from Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Small Group Coaching Strategy

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Yesterday, Steve Gladen began talking about how Saddleback provides coaching and care for over 4500 small group leaders.  If you missed part one, you can read it right here.  In today’s continuation he’ll be talking about providing coaching and care for the group I sometimes call…well, I think I’ll let you fill in your own name for this group!

Mark: Okay, so tell us about the stubborn groups in your system. How do you care for them?

Steve: We call this Persistent Care. And oh boy do we have to be persistent! These are the late adopters—groups who have probably been doing small groups for many years. They may have been at the church before you, and they are not hesitant to remind you of that fact. They are often reticent to try new things you suggest. The only thing they want to know is who to go to if they have an issue. Beyond that, they usually just want to be left alone. Here we just leave a prayer monthly on their voice mail…seriously!

Mark: So you’re really providing different levels of care for different groups — kind of personalized care concept. How did you guys arrive at this strategy?

Steve: For so long, small group theory has dictated that we need to give equal care to each group, but we have found that line of thinking is faulty—not every group needs equal care. Some groups are going to thrive with or without a community leader, and some groups are going to drain the life out of any community leader assigned to them. So we ask our community leaders to categorize their groups into one of the four categories above and proceed accordingly. We encourage them to spend 80 percent of their time with groups in the first two categories—priority care and personal care—so they are working with the people who want their assistance. This is proactive care, and we encourage them to stay on top of these leaders, work with them, and keep a close eye on them. The other two categories are more reactive care. We stay connect to them through email or voice mail and when they need us, they know who to call.

Mark: I know a questions lots of folks will have is about your term Community Leader (as opposed to Coach). Can you describe this role? Are they paid or volunteer? How many groups are they caring for?

Steve: Wow, there is a lot to say on this. We started with 4 paid Community Leaders (CL’s), built it to 52 paid CL’s (with still over 100 volunteer CL’s) and then took the whole thing totally volunteer. Most ask, if I could do it over the same, would I? In a heartbeat! Nothing wrong with paying some and having some volunteer, but at some point it isn’t scalable, which is why we went back to all volunteer. Every church is different, just know if you start paying people, it won’t last forever. CL’s would generally oversee 25 groups. Obliviously, if they had all groups in the first two categories, their ratio would be less; but generally 1:25. The job description is simple, lead people relationally down our pathway. Once they can implement, then you can move on.

Update: I asked Steve if he’d provide some information about Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway.  You can read part 1 right here.

About Steve Gladen: I’ve said this a number of times, but I want to be sure and say this again. Steve is a couple of things. First, he’s one of the smartest GroupLife guys on the planet. He’s also one of the most helpful small group experts on the planet. Seriously. While we’re on the subject, I want to suggest again that all of you pre-purchase Steve’s upcoming book. Here is the link: Small Groups with Purpose and here’s more info about the book.

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1 Comment

  1. Mike Mack on January 16, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Good stuff, Mark. Thanks for sharing about coaching. This is very much like what we’ve been doing for a few years. But I really like the categories Steve is using at Saddleback. I think the key is that not all leaders and groups need the same kind of care. Recognizing that is a huge 1st step.