You know that you need to train your leaders. The problem is half empty training meetings and leaders who are just difficult to reach. How do you train people who will never show up?
Your leaders like most people are inundated with information that further complicates their marginless lives. It’s probably all they can do just to lead a group. I’m not saying this is right. Unfortunately, this is your reality.
I graduated from seminary believing my purpose in life was to conduct meetings. When I started leader training meetings, most would attend. But, over time, the numbers dwindled. In fact, some days I would stand in an empty meeting room shortly after the start time. I would listen to the crickets and question the call of God on my life. Then, one day I had a realization – people hate meetings. But, how do you train your leaders if they don’t want to attend meetings? This led to a new question.
What is Training?
Maybe like me, you equated training with meetings. But, if your people won’t come to meetings, then how do you train them? You have to think outside of meetings.
You can train your leaders through conversations, blog posts, short videos, text messages, coaching, Facebook, and many other methods. You have to push the training out to them. If they won’t come to you, then go to them.
What Do They Want to Learn?
Your leaders don’t all need to know the same things at the same time. While it would be great to think you can equip your leaders by supplying them with answers to all of the questions and issues they will ever face in their groups, the reality is that leaders are only interested in solutions to the problems they are currently facing. The more your training is customized to the leaders’ needs, the more meaningful and memorable your training will be.
How Do You Know What Your Leaders Need to Know?
How Do You Deliver Individualized Training to Each Leader When They Need It?
Let me back up for a minute. There is some general training that you should deliver to all of your leaders live and in-person to get them started. All of your leaders should have an understanding of what it means to lead a group in your church and the basics of group dynamics. This should happen once during your on-boarding process.
Beyond that, give specific answers to specific issues. Use technology to deliver training that your leaders can access at any time. Whether you use Facebook Live or Youtube, push out short videos to your group leaders on relevant topics (answer the questions they are asking). You’ll need to archive these videos in some way so that if your group leaders don’t have an overly talkative person in their group today, then they’ll have access to the training when that person shows up in their group. You can do the same by writing and categorizing blog posts. You can even offer some training meetings – at the church, over Zoom, or even on a conference line. Whatever format you use, record and archive the content for future use.
In my church in California, I bought two cases of Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s book, Making Small Groups Work. It’s an outstanding book, and it’s still in print. I gave a copy to every one of my leaders for future reference. You could do the same thing with my book, Leading Healthy Groups, which is based on questions that my group leaders asked me. You could even use my book as content for your training videos.
Lastly, there is no adequate substitute for a coach. The best training is delivered by the person who is the most proximate to the leader when a problem occurs. The key is the relationship. Proximity trumps knowledge every time. The coach may not have the best answer, but if they can deliver a good answer in a timely way, then the leader is served well.
You may find that training leaders is difficult, but it is necessary. The key to equipping busy leaders is to provide training that is proximate, timely, and relevant. The good news with a variety of formats you can reach all of your leaders. You have to choose to move away from ineffective means of training, and maybe try something new. Don’t get stuck in a power struggle over meeting attendance. Take it to them.
How are you effectively training your leaders? Leave your comments below.
Allen White helps Take the Guesswork Out of Groups. We offer books, online courses, coaching groups, and consulting.
Allen, I too believe in the principle of helping people learn as they go along. The idea I have heard Andy Stanley say, “Adults learn on a need-to-know basis.”
However, there are group leaders that I have trouble getting communication with. I make calls, send emails, or text message them, but I rarely hear back. Then, two months later, I hear about the several problems and struggles that they were having.
If they had returned my call to check-in, they would have gotten the help they needed and their group would have been better. But they don’t talk to me.
Any ideas or suggestions for how fix this? Thanks brother!
I think it really comes down to a coaching relationship with the leader. The relationship is the primary means of training leaders and knowing what’s going on with them. Obviously a church of any size one person cannot have a coaching relationship with every leader so you have to enlist experienced leaders who will help you coach and then you apply your efforts in the relationships between you and your coaches.