Skill Training: How to Use a “Test Drive” to Screen for Ideal Coaches

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I'm very particular about the kind of men and women I want on my coaching team. If they don't have the 6 characteristics I'm looking for, I don't want them on the team. And you shouldn't either. We should all have the opinion that anything other than the right kind of men and women will lead to a less than effective coaching structure.

See also, 5 Assumptions that Set Small Group Coaching Up to #Fail.

So, if you know what you're looking for, how do you find them and end up with the right people on the team? I believe it's actually a four step process.

How to Use a "Test-Drive" to Screen for Ideal Coaches

A little philosophy: I use a test-drive to screen for ideal coaches. I know what I'm looking for and I never want to compromise.

When I recruit potential coaches the right way they believe they are making a short-term commitment to use their expertise to help with an important project.

I believe they have the characteristics of an effective small group coach and I want to know if they will actually be fruitful and if they will be fulfilled in doing it.

Don't miss this very important concept.

In order for them to actually be right for the job they need to be both fruitful and fulfilled.

There are plenty of people who will be one or the other.

There are some who would find having the title (or the name tag) very fulfilling. You've met some of them! They are fulfilled but never actually do what they are supposed to do. They are unfruitful.

Then there are others are very fruitful (they do what they are supposed to do), but they are unfulfilled. They would rather devote their energies to children's ministry or student ministry or missions or whatever. They key is they are unfulfilled and only those who are fruitful and fulfilled are the right people.

Nuts and bolts: Once you've recruited them (using the formula in the previous skill-training), just monitor their progress in the 10 to 13 week test drive.

At the end of the test-drive, conduct a kind of personal exit interview with each of them. Based on their performance during the test-drive you'll already know whether they were fruitful. You'll know whether they were helpful or not (often based on whether the groups they were supporting survived or not).

If they were not fruitful, simply thank them for serving. "Thanks for helping make this happen. Can we pull you in if we need help in the future?"

While there is an element of subjectivity, you will almost always know whether they were fruitful. The real point of the exit interview is to determine fulfillment. It isn't difficult. "Bob, how does it feel to know that 3 of the 4 groups you were supporting have decided to continue meeting?" Their answer will tell you everything you need to know.

  • If they were fruitful and express fulfillment (I love it! One of the most rewarding things I've every done.), simply ask if they would consider continuing.
  • If they were fruitful but unfulfilled (I was glad for the opportunity to help, but now that the 10 weeks is over I'll be back to serving in the children's ministry), thank them for serving and ask if you can call on them again for a short-term assignment.

Remember, in order to truly to the kind of men and women you want on your coaching team, they must be both fruitful and fulfilled. Fruitful but not fulfilled is never more than a short term solution. Fulfilled but not fruitful is a recipe for an ineffective coach.

How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure

By the way, this is the kind of training I've included in Building an Effective Coaching Structure - 2019, my most popular mini-course. If you want to build a thriving small group ministry, you already know the importance of coaching. This course explains the nuts and bolts of how I've built an effective coaching structure over and over again in every church I've served. Find out more right here


Image by Kim Seng

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