For most churches we are just launching a new church year. For the first blog entry of the year I want to focus on the dynamic that my researched revealed as the most important element for a church’s small group system’s health and growth—the effective coaching of your leaders. Coaching is pivotal whether you are overseeing small group leaders, ministry directors, church planters, pastors, or any type of leaders.
How can you be a high impact coach? Here’s my advice based on what I have discovered both through research and my practical experience
- Pray for your leaders. James writes, “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) Jesus declares, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24) Pray for each of your leaders by name. A couple times a year I give each of my leaders a 3×5 index card and tell them to write down the things they want me to pray for their ministry and their personal life. I also use and really like the PrayerPartner iPhone app.
- Get your leaders together. While it’s very effective to meet with leaders one-on-one, it’s also more time consuming. If you get all your leaders together, you can touch everyone at once and they can support and encourage each other. How do you get your busy leaders to make time to meet with you and one another? Two things are pivotal: food and making time at that meeting for them to pray for one another. Your leaders love to eat, and they need prayer and encouragement. Not all of them will come, don’t worry about that, those who most need and want support will.
- Give some leaders more attention than others. Don’t try to give your leaders equal time. I made this mistake when I was first coaching. Experienced leaders don’t need (and maybe don’t want) your attention. New leaders and leaders facing problems need significant attention. Leaders with more new believers in their group will also face more challenges and need more help. It’s like parenting, a newborn or a sick child or a child choosing the right college need more attention than your other children. Use your time wisely by giving more time to your leaders who need more help.
- Meet personal with leaders. My doctoral research showed that meeting personally with leaders does more than anything to increase their effectiveness. How should you do this? Here’s something that I have found effective and fun. Take each leader out for breakfast for their birthday. (Breakfast is cheaper and easier to fit into most people’s schedule. If I am coaching a woman leader, I have my wife meet with them or we meet with them together.) At this birthday meeting, ask your leaders what God is doing in their life, what they have learned in the last year, and what God might be calling them to in the year ahead. For experienced and confident leaders, that meeting and one six months later might be all they need. Other leaders you can meet with more frequently. Okay, right now, put all your leaders birthdays in your smartphone or planner and take them out near that date. You don’t know their birthdays? Okay, email them right now and ask them what their birthdays are.
What questions do you have about being a high impact coach? What tips do you have for me and others who are coaching leaders this year?