We use a very simple model to help encourage, equip, and vision cast to small group leaders at Oakbrook. Over the past 6 years we have tried various methods of coaching and leadership development with limited success. I’m not saying that the models of coaching and leadership development that I have read about in books and heard about at conferences do not work, but for us, these so called ‘advanced’ models just didn’t resonate with our leaders.
We do not have a coaching model. Not saying we won’t in the future, but our attempts at coaching have never worked. I know that books and research will tell you that leaders want to be cared for and that a coaching model is the answer, but what we have found is that leaders feel most loved and cared for when that is supplied by their own group members. Therefore, we have tried to model a culture where the leader is as dependent on his/her group for care as the other group members.
If a leader needs vision or direction to lead their group, then they are free to contact myself or anyone on the group leadership team that they are a part of. It’s the old doctor-patient theory. I don’t want my doctor calling me and checking up on me, but I sure do want my doctor to be accessible when I am sick. That is the design we use, if you need us we are here for you, but we are not going to check up on you regularly and ask for extra time from you that we know you don’t have to give.
Then we also have a model of leadership equipping and vision casting that every small group leader is a part of. Group leaders are placed on a leadership team that meets about 3-4 times/year. Each team is comprised of about 8-12 people. We do our best to take the ‘meeting’ feel out of these events as much as we can by including a ‘table’ experience (meal) every time we meet. The evenings are as much about enjoying a meal with other leaders as it is about anything else but after the meal we will engage in a conversation that allows me to provide vision and leadership training. We’ve been doing this for about 2 years and I can honestly say that we avg. 90% or better attendance!
For me, as our church’s small group director, these nights not only catalyze the ministry but they allow me to get face to face with all of our leaders and really hear what is going on in their individual groups. I leave these evenings energized and able to refocus on areas that leaders clearly identify in our discussions. It’s a win-win setup. It is so much better than some type of all leader group training event because everyone gets to engage and I get to really know where everyone is at. From here, I can also set up 1 on 1’s if the need is there.
This system gives our leaders a lot of freedom, but so far they have used their freedom well and are doing a great job leading their individual groups. Your feedback and comments are always appreciated!