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3 Reason Why a Coach Approach to Small Groups Is More Effective

Discipleship Coaching

Outside of Sunday mornings and worship services, small groups are often the way we disciple people in the church. Our primary discipleship method is teaching. Small groups often mix teaching and discussion together which is good. A coach approach to small groups will make them even more effective. A coach approach to small groups allows small groups to be more personal, more oriented around the needs of the group and its members. So here are 3 reasons why a coach approach to small groups is more effective.

First, Coaching is more personal than a small group curriculum.

There’s nothing wrong with small group materials. They are helpful and can be a great tool in any discipleship ministry. I pastor a church that subscribes to a streaming service with 10,000 streaming products available. That’s a lot of material. There are half a dozen other services out there that provide their own streaming services and or resources for small groups and discipleship. Content is not our problem. Keeping it personal is.

A coach approach to discipleship allows the person involved to grow in a way that fits their desires and goals. A coach approach is personal. Even if a person uses a small group curriculum to assist the process, the focus is always on the person who is wanting to grow. In the professional coaching world, the coach guides a process and the client sets the agenda. Coaching sessions are oriented around the client’s desires, dreams, and goals.

Personalize the Question, Change A Life

If you’re using a small group curriculum and wanting to use a coach approach to discipling, use personalized questions to help each person pursue their own growth goals. A great question to start with is “What brought you here?” followed by “What would you like to see happen in your own life over the next several weeks?”

Toward the end of the first group meeting go back to the first questions. Great follow-up questions would be:

  1. How can our conversation today help you with the spiritual growth goals that you referred to earlier?
  2. What could you do this week to get some movement on your goals?
  3. What highlight are you taking away from our conversation today?

Second, Your questions can be customized to your small group.

Most curriculums have suggested questions to help guide the conversation. Sometimes the questions are awesome. More often they are not. Curriculums are designed so that anyone anywhere can walk through them. The questions might hit a personal note, but just as often they are general.

A coach approach to discipling might ask the participants what they want to focus on? When using a curriculum one might ask the group, “What would we like to focus on from what we just heard?”

Take ideas, make a list, then ask the group which item or items they would like to talk about.

Follow up questions might be:

  1. What makes these items important to us?
  2. How do these things need to be addressed in our own lives?
  3. What does this conversation do to help us push into our own growth, dreams, goals?
  4. What’s your big takeaway?

Each person coached can decide on their own needs, path forward, and goals.

Keep it Personal

A coach approach to discipleship always keeps in mind the group and the individual. In the coaching world, we often set a coaching agreement at the beginning of a coaching relationship. The coach and the client (which can be a person or a group) agree together on the focus of a conversation or series of conversations. There is a goal in mind. That goal might be greater awareness, personal growth, a successful endeavor, a decision made, or a dream accomplished.

Make an Agreement

A coach approach to discipleship can begin with the same kind of agreement. The questions we started with help set a personal agreement and possible even a group agreement.

“What brought you here?” And, “What would you like to get out of this time together?”

Depending on how much time you have, you can set group goals as well (see what the curriculum says about goals and adopt what works). If you’re on a curriculum then there is a set amount of time to finish. That allows for you to ask, “In the next six weeks (or the length of the curriculum) what would you like to experience in your own walk with God?” That question can be followed up with some brainstorming.

How might this study help with that?

What can make this small group experience most effective for you?

How can we as a group support each other?

Ending thoughts on a coach approach to small groups (discipleship).

Embracing a coach approach to small groups takes time. It’s much easier to use a mapped-out curriculum and to follow it religiously. At the same time, there is a huge advantage to customizing small group experiences by using a coach approach.

Here are some benefits of using a coach approach to small groups:

  1. It is personal.
  2. It allows each person as well as the group to set goals.
  3. It is more measurable. We can ask, “How are we doing with attending to our own goals as well as our group goal?”
  4. It is adaptable to the needs of the person and the group.
  5. It is Biblical. Jesus spent time with people attending to their personal needs, desires, and dreams. Yes, he spent time teaching, but he spent a large amount of time in intentional conversations (Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, his conversations with Peter, etc.).

Would you like to learn more about adding a coach approach to your leadership skills?

Consider attending The Coaching Workshop for Christian Leaders. Coaching skills will increase your effectiveness as a leader regardless of whether you work in the marketplace or in ministry. People who take this workshop see significant advancements in their impact, while seeing their stress and busy-ness go down.

Based on the book, The COACH Model for Christian Leaders, this workshop is made for those who are experienced as well as those who are not-so-experienced in coaching skills.

If you’re interested in know more about coaching or in The Coaching Workshop for Christian Leaders, schedule a no obligation coaching conversation with me.