Who Makes the Best Coach?

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In our ongoing look at the top 10 axiomatic beliefs of group life, one area that ought to draw our attention is coaching.  It is logical that a coach would be helpful…even required.  But who makes the best coaches?  It is so common for churches to make that assignment to their elders or deacons.  But do they have what is needed to do this job?  Other churches are stuck in the idea that there is a career path that leads from member to leader and from leader to coach.  Is that likely to produce a good team of coaches?  Or is there more to this?

When you’re new to a sport or activity and you want to develop proper techniques, who makes the best coach?  Isn’t it obvious that it’s someone who has done what you’re trying to learn to do?  After all, when you want your kids to learn to swim…you know you need someone to coach them or teach them who knows how to do it.

Makes sense right?

Then why is there confusion about who makes the best small group coach?  Probably because the role of the coach is inadequately defined.  If you know what you’re looking for, it’s easier to find the right person.  Here’s the job description I’m using right now.  Take a look.  Keep it open.  And follow along right here.

First, notice what the purpose is: “To produce healthy disciples.”  That should tell you a lot.  Note what it doesn’t say.  “Chief score-keeper” or “Accountant.”  Instead, you’re looking for someone who’s capable of building disciples.  That tells you a great deal about the kind of person you’re looking for.  On top of that, two of their top responsibilities are more about a personal connection with Christ than anything they might do for the small group leaders they are coaching.

Second, you’ll see that there is the expectation that they’ll host a huddle every 4 to 8 weeks.  That will require some preparation, a commitment to getting dates on the calendar, and the kind of winsome personality that draws people in and helps them feel comfortable.

Third, there is the expectation of personalized care for each of the leaders in their huddle.  I love the word “care.”  It makes it clear that this is more than score-keeping or accounting.  My contention is that whatever I ultimately want to members of a group to experience…the leader has to be experiencing it first.  That is, if I want the member to feel cared for, somehow I need to make sure the leader feels cared for.  This is a great challenge.  Very tough to do.  But it is the goal of the coaching structure.

Fourth, there is a need to be on the lookout for the next generation of coaches.  As your structure grows, as you increase the number of groups and the number of people in them, you’ll want your coaches (who are the right people) to be looking for potential coaches (who are becoming the right people).

Last, there is the expectation that your coaches will be involved in a huddle with other coaches where their own care needs will be met.  After all, whatever you want your leaders to experience will need to be experienced first by their coaches.

When you think about these 5 parts of the job…can you see your elders or deacons in the role?  Are some more suitable than others?  Is it likely that every small group leader could become a coach at some point?  Or would there be a kind of person who could care for 8 to 10 members that couldn’t care for 5 to 6 leaders?

When you’re looking for coaching candidates keep these requirements in mind.  For more on this topic, see my four part series.

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