I’d another conversation the other day with a church whose small group coaching system wasn’t working. During the last several years I’ve gone to lots of churches who are going down this road, or tried to drop it and are starting over. The difficulties have become so predictable that I couldn’t restrain myself from going into telling mode. “Allow me to guess,” I offered. “The coaches haven’t received any coach training, so they are frustrated and don’t know how to proceed; and the small group leaders don’t wish to be coached because they don’t wish to be spied on.”
“Yeah, that’s more or less it.”
Within my experience, they’re two of the biggest failure points for small group coaching systems. Generally what happens may be the church (or a leader in it) gets stoked up about coaching and dives rapidly into instituting a coaching system. Often existing overseers or successful group leaders are simply renamed “coaches” ;.There is rarely a conventional training program or coaching qualification required of coaches, and I’ve yet to locate a church that screens people in any way for coaching aptitude. Generally, the people chosen can be found, faithful members who’ve successfully led a small group.
Once designated, these coaches are then assigned several leaders of existing small groups to work with. The coach’s first assignment is always to call them up and announce which they now have a coach. As the roll-out of the coaching program has probably been mentioned and promoted in the small group system, usually none of the group leaders have ever caused an instructor or even seen an instructor in action. So once they hear a “coach” has been assigned to them, the questions begin:
Is this individual going to share with me how to perform my small group? I’ve been doing fine without that, thanks!
Why did they assign me to the coach–I barely know her! Better check this out for a time before I share anything important.
Why are they putting these coaches over us at all? Do they believe I’m screwing up? Will my coach report back to the small groups pastor everything I say?
Because they’ve no real-life image of what coaching actually appears like, once they hear “coach” they tend to believe Counselor, or Mentor, or Supervisor, or even back to the senior school football coach who used to berate them at every practice. No wonder they are suspicious of this new coaching system!
If that is essentially what your church does, your system isn’t produce any benefit results than you had been getting before you tried coaching. Coaching has confidence coach great promise for improving small group ministry, but without seriously buying learning the coaching paradigm and the skills which make it work, the exact same people with the exact same skills will produce the exact same results no real matter what you call it. The body needs some C.P.R.: Coach Training, Picturing Coaching and Resources for Coaches.
A good place to start changing things for the higher is Coach Training. Coaching runs on the different skill set than mentoring, counseling or small group leading. For the leaders to coach effectively, they need to learn the processes for helping people grow without telling them how to proceed: things such as how to generate SMART goals, develop options, ask powerful questions, keep responsibility with the first choice, generate committed action steps, and provide healthy, encouraging feedback and accountability. To coach effectively, your leaders need structured training and practice times to construct competency in these skills.