Small Group Ministry Myth #5: Only New Small Group Leaders Need a Coach

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Note: This is part 5 of a 5 part series.  You can read part 1 right here.


I love the Discovery Channel show MythBusters.  The show has a simple premise: The MythBusters team “proves and disproves urban legends and popular misconceptions using a signature style of explosive experimentation.”  The myths and misconceptions that get tested range from the absurd (can you herd cats?) to the profound (could Luke Skywalker really swing himself and Leia across a chasm with only his belt-rigged grappling hook). Very fun.

But you know…sometimes I run across a small group ministry myth that really needs to be busted.  You know what I’m talking about?

Here’s a look at the fifth small group ministry myth that needs busting (did you miss Myth #1?  You can find it right here):

Myth #4: Only new small group leaders need a “coach”.

Where are you on this one?  Maybe you’ve tried to build an effective coaching structure and you just haven’t figured out how to do it.  Maybe you’ve built a coaching team full of warm and willing people instead of hot and qualified.  Maybe you’ve adopted a coaching philosophy that limits the role of a coach to something that can be accomplished in the first 90 days.  See also, 5 Assumptions That Set Up Small Group Coaching to #FAIL.

Truth: This myth is based on an unfortunate misunderstanding about the purpose of a coach.

  • If you believe the role of a coach is mostly about providing best practices or tips on how to facilitate a better discussion or how to help your members plan to grow (or any of the other main skill-training topics)…then you’re actually correct.  Very few small group leaders need this kind of coaching beyond the first 90 days or so.
  • On the other hand, if you believe that “whatever you want to happen in the life of a member has to happen to the leader first,” you’ve already concluded that your leaders need someone who is doing to and for them whatever you want group members to experience.  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level.

True…many new leaders need help with technique in their first 90 days.  Beyond 90 days, every leader needs to be cared for and mentored by someone who is a few steps ahead.  How will that happen without a coaching structure?  Unless your small group ministry is unlikely to grow beyond 10 groups (the number of leaders YOU can care for), you’ll need to build in a plan to scale care (and discipleship) to mentor the leaders in your ministry…and that means a coaching structure of some kind.

Full Disclosure: One of the major issues with building an effective coaching structure is the practice of retroactively assigning coaches to existing leaders.  The truth is, existing leaders who have made it past the 90 day mark know that they don’t need help with technique.  If they figured out how to make it without a coach, why would they need one now?  Right?  That’s because they aren’t thinking about the role of a coach in the way I am (and hopefully you are).  What’s the fix?  It’s some version of a slow migration to a structure that is about care and mentoring.  See also, How to Implement Coaching for Existing Leaders.

Did you miss Small Group Ministry Myth #1?  You can read about it right here.

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

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