Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Coaching Strategy

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In last week’s series of articles on small group coaching I shared an idea that I got from Steve Gladen and my friends at Saddleback.  Wanting you to get the info straight from the source…I’m really honored to have Steve’s responses to some questions I emailed him last week.  Here’s how it went:

Mark: Saddleback gets a lot of attention for the large numbers of groups launched as a result of church-wide campaigns (40 Days of Purpose, Life’s Healing Choices, Decade of Destiny, etc.).  But, I don’t think you get as much attention for the way you provide care for as many group leaders as you have.

By the way, how many groups do you have currently?

Steve: We have 4,576 adult groups coming out of our Fall Campaign, but we know that number will drop….

Mark: One of the things I really like is the thinking you guys have done, recognizing that not all groups are the same; that there really are four kinds of groups.  How have you classified them?

Steve: As we looked at our groups, we started to see a pattern. We found the groups could be classified in one of four categories: (1) new groups, (2) seasoned groups, (3) veteran groups, and (4) stubborn groups. Looking at these categories, we realized all of the groups required some form of care, but not all groups required the same type or amount of care.

Mark: Makes sense.  How does that affect the kind of care you provide for new groups?

Steve: We launch a lot of new groups at Saddleback. We give them what we call Priority Care. They are full of questions and unsure of themselves in the beginning, so we stay in close contact with them to give all of the support they need. They love the connection with community leaders and the community leaders love serving them. The goal here is to get them through Leader Training 1 (Steve talks about the Saddleback Leadership Pathway right here) to get the strategic overview, their survival guide and the systems we support them with.

Mark: What happens once they make it through those early days?  Do you do anything different?

Steve: Once they know the ropes, we provide Personal Care.  Seasoned groups are often early adopters and are still open to connecting with their community leader in person.  They are excited and ready for direction and encouragement. Here we teach them “how” to balance the purposes in their small group and develop a plan. They are good enough to be dangerous!

Mark: What about the Phone Care category?

Steve: These are the groups that have been in the game for quite a while and they know what they are doing. They’re not immune to issues.  But when a problem comes up, they’re veterans and know to whom they should go to. These are the groups who want communication to be done primarily through phone or email, they tell us which. They are also typically mid-adopters. They have been meeting together for quite a while and are doing our continued education which we call Leader Training 2 (Steve will be sharing about their leader training strategy in an upcoming article).

(You can read part two right here!  And if you want the whole story, be sure and read about the Saddleback Leadership Pathway.  If you’re not signed up for my updates you can do that 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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