Burst Coaching

Burst Coaching

      Do you ever have an issue you just wish you could talk through with someone? Maybe you’re not ready to sign up for a big coaching commitment. You just need to pick up the phone and spend a little time working something out. Do you ever have an...
3 Reasons Coaching Fails

3 Reasons Coaching Fails

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You’ve probably got a story about how you’ve tried coaching group leaders and how it failed. I actually have a few of those. But, let me assure you that coaching can and does work. You need coaches. You must multiply yourself in order for your small group ministry to grow. So, let me help you get out of your own way when it comes to coaching just like I had to once upon a time. Here are the three biggest reasons that coaching fails.

1. Lack of Relationship

You’ve probably heard coaches complain that their leaders won’t call them back. As much as you try to reassure your new leaders that when their coach calls it’s not a spam call about their car’s extended warranty, the reality is that small group leaders will only take time to call people who are important to them about matters that are important to them. The leaders aren’t to blame. The challenge is how coaches can become important to your leaders.

Coaching is built on a relationship. If there is no relationship, there is no coaching. Period. Adam Grant says that it takes 50 hours to become a friend and 200 hours to become a close friend. If your coaches are starting at zero relationship with their leaders, then it will take a lot of diligent effort and cups of coffee to build a relationship with their leaders. But, you can get a jump on this.

First, match your coaches up with small group leaders they already know. If they already have a relationship, then you’ve got a great foundation for coaching. If the small group leader came out of another group, then the obvious coach is the leader of the group they came out of. If you are starting a new coaching structure, then ask your coaches which leaders they already know. Let the coaches choose their leaders (or even let the leaders choose their coaches). Either way you do it, start with relationship. The only exception is coaching close relatives. Once I allowed someone to coach his son-in-law. I had to unplug that rather quickly and apologize profusely. Ben, I am still sorry. Other than in-laws, start your coaching based on established relationships.

Next, make sure your small group leaders understand that coaches are important people who will help them get their groups started. Remember why leaders don’t call their coaches back? They only return calls to people who are important to them about matters that are important to them. For new leaders this may mean including your coaches in the new leader briefing and leader training.

When our church started groups, I led the briefings and the training, and then assigned the new leaders to the coaches. This did not work. My coaches complained that this was like cold calling. They were right. It was! To make coaching better (and avoid a revolt by my coaches), I started including coaches in the briefings and training. For the new leader briefing, the coaches were instructed to invite the new leaders they knew to join them at a round table. (See we were putting point #1 into practice). Then I introduced the coaches as “important people who would help them get their groups started.” I gave them reason to call their coaches back. Lastly, after I introduced the coaches, I left the room. The coaches did the rest of the training.

If your coaches are struggling to connect with their leaders, then you need to check the temperature of the relationship. The closer the relationship, then the better the coaching. The more unreturned calls, well, you do the math.

2. The Wrong Approach

If your leaders are not responding to coaching, then they’re probably being coached in the wrong way. Probably the second biggest mistake in coaching is attempting to coach all of your leaders in exactly the same way. Your leaders have very different needs and abilities depending on their experience. Coaching should start with what the leaders need. Don’t go into coaching with a prescribed coaching process that you will inflict on every small group leader. That simply won’t work. After all, ministry is not something we do to people.

Are your leaders starting their very first groups? Then, they will need direction and support to get their group started. This might involve weekly contacts. It will certainly involve a great deal of encouragement. But, if you’re leaders have led for a while, this is the last thing they need. In fact, if you attempt to coach an experienced leader in the way you would coach a new leader, don’t be surprised if that experienced leader disappears, even if the leader and the coach have a good relationship.

Think about your children. If you have a variety of ages of children, you don’t treat them the same way. Infants depend on you for everything. Teenagers and young adults can hopefully do more on their own. In fact, if you attempt to tell a young adult what to do like you would tell a younger child, you’re probably in for a fight. At this stage, you ask more questions and help them reach their own conclusions. You also wouldn’t attempt to teach your toddler to drive the car. In the same way, coaching must be appropriate to the leader’s experience.

When you think about your leaders, who is just starting out? What type of coaching do they need? Then, who’s starting a new group, but has experience leading groups from previous groups or another church? They don’t need to go back to kindergarten. Which leaders have been around for a while? They probably don’t need to be told what to do. But, they do need support in difficult circumstances and accountability to fulfill their group’s purpose.

When it comes to coaching, one size does not fit all. If you are attempting to coach all of your leaders exactly the same, then you’re making a big mistake. Start with what your leaders need, then coach from there.

3. You Won’t Let It Work

I’m not going to accuse you of this last one, but I will explain how this was my problem. I recruited people with good character and great small group experience to coach my leaders, but I held them back. They were more than capable of coaching and supporting their leaders, but I kept them on a short leash. They had given no evidence of doing a poor job coaching leaders or being untrustworthy in any way. I was just insecure. Under the guise of being responsible for the small groups, I assigned tasks to my coaches but I did not give them the authority to lead. “Hi, my name is Allen, and I’m a recovering control freak.” As the pastor, I felt that I needed to be involved in everything and know everything that was going on. No one really needed my intervention as much as I needed to be needed. I believe that’s called co-dependency. The result was that my leaders were okay but not excelling, my coaches were frustrated, and our groups were stuck with only 30% of our adults connected. My coaching wasn’t working, and
I was the problem.

The best decision I ever made was to gather a team of coaches to lead the small group ministry with me. We led together. We learned together. We troubleshot issues together. The small group leaders had better coaching. The coaches felt empowered and enabled to lead. I had the most fun I’ve ever had in small group ministry. Oh, and our groups went from 30% of our adults connected to 125% connected. I wasn’t managing 30% very well. I never could have kept up with the growth of our small groups except for that team.

Here’s a hard truth: your small group leaders and coaches don’t need you as much as you think they do. They need someone who is available when something really big happens in their groups. They need a friend to coach and encourage them. But, they don’t need another leaders’ meeting. They don’t need another newsletter. They need a coaching relationship. And, you need to let capable people lead with you. Don’t try to do it all by yourself.

Think About This

Some churches have the staff and budget to hire all of the pastors they need to coach their small group leaders. Other churches have a simple church approach and just don’t offer very many ministries. Their staff is devoted to group leaders. Good for them, I guess. But, whether coaches are paid or volunteer, these lessons apply. How are the relationships going between coaches and leaders? What kind of coaching do your leaders need? And, are you empowering others to lead and getting out of their way?

It might seem easier to coach and train small group leaders all by yourself. But, I guarantee you that it’s not better.

Related Resources

Coaching Healthy Groups Course

Coaching Healthy Groups

Coaching Healthy Groups

Most churches just can’t hire enough staff to support all of their group leaders. If you can, then you’re pretty lucky. But, recruiting and training coaches seems like a lot of work. Who do you recruit? How do you develop them? What do coaches do anyway? The default is to do it all yourself. And, this usually translates to lining up your leaders in rows and training them. But, there’s a problem.

Your leaders have different levels of experience, different needs, and different questions. In meetings, you tend to treat everybody the same. This either leaves the experience leaders bored or the new leaders overwhelmed. And, did I mention that people hate meetings? They do!

​This 4 session online course will train small group coaches in their role of supporting small group leaders and their groups.​ Allen White will help you take the guesswork out of coaching. You can attend this training yourself, then share it with your coaches OR bring all of your coaches along for the same price! It’s just $97 per CHURCH!

These sessions are yours to keep! You can access the recording of the sessions at any time to use with your coaches.

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This 4 session live online course will train small group coaches in their role of supporting small group leaders and their groups.

On-Demand Online Training

4 Sessions on Wednesdays, March 30 – April 20, 2022 at 2 pm Central

These One Hour Sessions will cover:

  • The Role of a Coach
  • The Qualifications of a Coach
  • Matching Coaches to the Right Leaders and Groups
  • Giving Leaders What They Need (and When They Need It)
  • Getting Started as a Coach
  • Growing as a Coach

After the Sessions, you will have access to the video recordings — forever to review and use to train your coaches!

Click Here to Register for Only $97 per Church!

 

Episode 11: Dr. Bill Donahue on Coaching Leaders at Every Level

Episode 11: Dr. Bill Donahue on Coaching Leaders at Every Level

https://exponentialgroups.podbean.com/e/dr-bill-donahue-on-coaching-leaders-at-every-level/

This Podcast is available on:

Apple Podcasts – Google Play – Spotify – Amazon Music/Audible – Pandora -Podbean – Tune In – iHeartRadio – PlayerFM – Listen Notes

Show Notes

After working with P&G and PNC Financial Corp., Dr. Bill Donahue pastored in churches in Pennsylvania and Texas. He then joined the Willow Creek Community Church & Association (aka Global Leadership Network) for 18 years as Director of Group Life and Leadership, training leaders in the US and globally.

Bill has authored over a dozen resources including the best-selling Leading Life-changing Small Groups and Coaching Life-Changing Leaders.

Related Links

Dangerous Leaders Videos

3 Practices that will Transform Your Leadership Culture

DrBillDonahue.com

Exponential Groups Podcast Listener Survey

Recruit Coaches Before You Recruit New Leaders

Recruit Coaches Before You Recruit New Leaders

The month prior to an alignment series or church-wide campaign is prime time to recruit new leaders and form new groups. If you want these groups to actually start (and keep going), they need a coach. Even if you only have a half dozen new leaders, it’s too much for you to add to your plate, and they won’t get the care they deserve. Here’s how to do it and why:

Coaches are Mission Critical

Your new leaders need the most help immediately after they say “yes” to starting a group. The window between making a commitment and starting a group is mission critical. In fact, you will lose more new leaders in this window than at any other time. Here’s how I know.

Our church in California launched 103 groups for an alignment series one fall. For a church of 800 adults, this was pretty good. After patting ourselves on the back, we surveyed these groups midway through the series to see how many planned to continue in the next series. Out of the 103 leaders, 30 of them said they weren’t going to continue. Of course, I always want them all to continue. I would have been happy if only 20 or fewer had dropped out. But, I wasn’t comfortable with 30 ending their groups. So, I sent another survey just to the 30.

Out of the 30, two of the leaders said their group enjoyed the study and just couldn’t continue at this time. The other 28 groups had never started! This led me to a very valuable principle: “Groups that don’t start tend to not continue.” These leaders had become discouraged. Some got cold feet. Others had invited some people to join their groups but got turned down. Overall, the enemy had done a number on these leaders to discourage and deflate them.

From that point on, every new leader received a coach to walk alongside them from when they said “yes” to starting a group through the end of the study. We had 105 groups for the next group launch. With the support of a coach, these groups started and thrived. Very few dropped out.

Coaches Help You Multiply Yourself

Without coaches, you tend to hold more meetings and send more emails. You’re not coaching your leaders. You’re spamming them.

As John Maxwell says, “Find someone who can do the job 30% as well as you can, then let them do it.” The truth is they can probably do the job 60% as well.

Face it – there is just not enough of you to go around. To make the biggest impact, multiply yourself and help more leaders. Bigger meetings are not the answer. More emails are not the answer. You must multiply yourself in order to truly serve your new group leaders.

Coaches are More Available

If your experienced leaders will make a weekly call to new leaders, they will receive the support they need to start (and continue) their groups. The job description is simple: (1) a weekly phone call, (2) encourage them, (3) answer their questions, and (4) pray for them. It’s up to you to call your “coaches” every week to hear what they are learning from the leaders.

Don’t ask your experienced leaders to give up their groups to coach. You don’t want to lose your best leaders (and most of them aren’t willing to give up their groups). But, don’t ask them to coach 10 new group leaders either. Invite them to coach one or two new leaders.

Remember that expectations should be Clear, Reasonable, and Accountable. If you re-read this section, that’s what has been outlined for new coaches here.

Think About This

Before you start recruiting new leaders, recruit a coach for them. Consider your current leaders. Whose groups would you like ten more just like them? Invite them to coach. Think about mature believers in your church. Would they care enough to make a weekly call?

You don’t need to coach all of your group leaders. If you currently don’t have a coaching structure, coaching every leader is a laudable goal. But, you don’t need to coach 100% of your leaders right off the bat. Your new leaders need the most help. Find a coach for them. Then, work your way toward a coach for every leader. And, remember, every leader doesn’t need the same type of coaching.

Your established leaders are okay for now. After all, they’ve been without a coach for a while. Ask them to use their experience to help your new leaders. Their experience will help new leaders get their groups started.

Related Resources

Book: Becoming Barnabas: A Ministry of Coming Alongside by Robert E. Logan and Tara Miller

Course: Coaching Exponential Groups by Allen White

Post: 3 Secrets of Building an Effective Coaching Structure

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