The health of any group is largely determined by the leader: the practices they embody, their EQ, and their competencies. All will deeply affect the group they are leading. So when it comes to training small group leaders, it is important to be clear what the expectation is and repeat it often.

When training small group leaders, there are two methods I often use and fondly refer to as “Show-How” training and “Just-in-Time training.

“Show-How” Training

I asked all of our small group leaders at New Song to nurture an apprentice to reproduce a new small group. The best way to do this is through modeling, or a “Show-How” training process. It centers around a small group leader, coach, or trainer modeling behaviors and skills using the following process:

  • You do it, the apprentice watches
  • You and the apprentice do it together
  • The apprentice does it while you watch
  • The apprentice does it alone
  • The apprentice shows someone else how to do it

Just-in-Time” Training

The most desirable time to train a small group leader is on the job. When coached properly, the small group leader will develop their independence and confidence as they lead. The benefits of this method are many: we often learn best in those timely and important moments. It pushes an apprentice to jump into the deep end when he or she may not feel completely ready–but that’s when we learn most. This kind of learning is situational, apprentice-focused, and outcome-driven.

Conversely, “Just-in-Case” training is a more classical, structured method. It is comparable to what most seminary students experience. There is a clear beginning and end point. A course to follow. And content is delivered, whether it is applicable to the situation at hand or not.

Ultimately, when training small group leaders, these methods all come into play. We have to orient leaders to the philosophy of the small groups, the agendas, and the tools at their disposal. But, still, the best way to empower leaders is through a coaching process.

Here are a few helpful questions to reflect on while planning your training for small group leaders:

  1. What skills do your small group leader require?
  2. What resources do leaders have access to?
  3. Who could small group leaders ask to help them find resources they don’t already have?
  4. How have I used the “Show-How” method in the past?
  5. How have I used the “Just-in-Time” method in the past?
  6. In what ways might I need to adjust my approach?
  7. What specific ways should I ask God to help me?

We’re excited to announce the release of the Christian Coaching Essentials book and cohort. One of the benefits of using this book for your development is a self-led, independent study that helps you further reflect, digest, and apply a Christ-focused process into your coaching. Moreover, you can train other leaders on your team or in your network to embrace a comprehensive coaching process that is firmly anchored in Christ.


Photo by Medienstürmer on Unsplash


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