SGL: Coaching Small Group Leaders (1)
There was a “thrill of victory and agony of defeat” when I used to watch the Wide World of Sports as a kid. The same could be said of discipleship. There is a thrill to see men pick up the ball in discipleship and carry it in discipling others. There is also the agony of watching promising and potential great leaders turn to distractions of the world. Between these two extremes is where most of the process of discipleship is. Here are some clues on coaching Small Group Leaders or helping men become equipped to lead home groups on their own.
First, give clear instructions on what you want them to do. The old saying is, “If there is a fog in the pulpit, there will be mist in the pew.” Discipling requires clarity so both parties understand. The reality is, full clarity is a process, but the attempt must be made.
Secondly, encourage everything he does well. Having gone through boot camp in the Army, they taught us, it takes 1000 “attaboys” to overcome one “awedarnit” (or what they really called it). Affirmation is extremely important to encourage leaders to keep pressing forward. The enemy is going to be feeding him lie after lie after lie. Like, “You really blew that leadership opportunity.” Or, “You don’t know enough to lead a group of people.” Or, “Why don’t you just stay home, you’re not good enough to lead others.” And a hundred other lies the enemy will bombard upon the one stepping up to the plate.
Thirdly, encourage how he gives affirmation and feedback to others. Just as you are modeling it to him, make sure you highlight it whenever he gives encouragement to others. Affirm what he is doing well, because he’s likely waiting for the shoe to drop and hear criticism. Make sure you grace him out whenever you can.
Fourthly, make sure he is looking at the other people when he’s leading and answering questions. Whether you are the coach, or pastor, or elder, make sure his eye contact is not on you, but on the other people. He is there to encourage others and one great way is to have good eye contact with those that are there, not the authority figure. It seems that most people look at the authority figure when giving answers and the new facilitator needs to learn right away that HE does not talk or give answers looking at the authority figure. He IS the authority figure or leader for the group at that time.
Fifthly, remind him to watch the timing of the session. That is very hard to do, because the ice breaker could go long, or the sharing is great, or he’s trying to deal with a controlling talker. When you bring up something like timing of the session, approach it like you see he is trying to watch the time and get his thoughts on how he is trying to manage the overall timing of the gathering. Help him see that he may have to respond to a longer answer with, “Let’s meet afterwards and talk further,” or “let’s talk about that more after we pray as a group.” That way, you keep more people involved in the conversation than just a few that like to talk.
Sixthly, encourage him to say, “Anything else?” at the end of discussion to allow someone else to make a comment. Some people are hesitant to respond, but a nudge like that can help them come out of their comfort zone and risk giving a response.
Coaches need to be encouraging to Small Group Leaders who are trying to learn how to lead. Sometimes there are small group leaders who want to do their own thing and they need to be confronted. That will be for a separate article.