The Big Goal of a group coach
The big goal of Mission Groups is to help people connect relationally and grow spiritually. Spiritual growth and transformation happen best in the context of trusted community, so groups exist to create that playing ground where God can transform people.
As Mission continues to grow and reach more people, groups become more important than ever as vehicles for community and growth. At the same time, as new groups and new locations are added, there becomes a greater need to decentralize leadership of Mission's groups ministry to ensure that our groups and leaders can remain healthy by remaining in close relationship with a dedicated coach.
A Group Coach's role is to provide on-the-ground support to leaders. Group Coaches are basically the small group pastors for their leaders. When a leader has a need or good news to share, we want that leader’s Coach to be the first person who comes to mind.
The responsibilities of a group coach
Group Coaches provide ongoing encouragement, leadership, and support to their group leaders.
Group Coaches help leaders create groups that are safe places to connect with each other and connect with God.
Group Coaches recruit small group leaders. This doesn’t mean going to find new leaders, but rather working with current leaders to raise up new leaders. The Director and Coach then walk potential leaders through an on-ramping process and evaluate their readiness to lead together.
Caring for group leaders
Group Coaches provide ongoing encouragement, leadership, and support to leaders.
They are the first stop for questions and sticky situations, and are always pushing leaders toward health and self-care.
Group Coaches help leaders navigate difficult situations with their groups, help them navigate conflict inside of their group in a healthy way, provide logistical guidance and tips, cast and re-cast the vision, and occasionally are called on confront issues or concerns with a leader.
Small groups are on the front lines of providing pastoral care to people who are hurting. Small group leaders and members visit people in the hospital, cook meals after the birth of a child, sit with each other through the loss of a loved one, and support struggling marriages.
There are times, however, when a need goes beyond what a group leader or group members know how to handle: a group member seems suicidal, someone is dealing with a mental illness, a spouse is having an affair, one group member threatened another...
That’s where we come in. You are your leaders’ first line of support. And if you are capable and qualified to advise them your leader on whatever issue they bring to you, go for it! If not, you can bring that to the Groups Director who can help connect you with the right resources. Your Director is your go-to for help and accountability, just as you are the go-to for your group leaders.
As communities of Christ-followers, small groups should be there to support one another not just spiritually or emotionally but financially as well.
However, sometimes a group member will have a financial need that goes beyond what the group either is able to meet or knows how to best meet.
More often, someone with a significant financial need will join a group, and that need will surface before any true community or relationships have been established, leaving the group leader or members unsure how to proceed.
It's always okay to see if Mission is able to help someone financially! Get in touch with the Groups Director with details about the situation, and you can work together to figure out the best way to engage with the situation.
If the financial need is a part of a larger or systemic issue, it's possible that a handoff to the Care Team would be a good next step! A Coach and Director can work with the Care Team to help either a group leader or the group member in need think through the situation and make a plan to move forward.
Leader Health and Self-Care
When you think about your group meeting each week, how do you feel?
Group Coaches help their groups live out each component of our overall groups vision. They ask the right questions that keep group leaders focused on moving their group forward as a unit, and as individuals. Coaches then help leaders create an action plan in any area where growth is needed.
If members of your group have great news to share (i.e. they land a new job) or need support (i.e. they lost a job), how likely are they to reach out to others in the group to share their excitement or for someone to lean on?
- All group members would contact someone else from the group.
- Most group members would contact someone else from the group.
- Some group members would contact someone else from the group.
- Few group members would contact someone else from the group.
- No group members would contact someone else from the group.
How would you characterize your group's relationships?
- Dependent on the group meeting, most communication is about or at the meeting
- Encouraged by the group meeting, but people communicate about life throughout the week
- Encouraged by the group meeting, but people spend time together throughout the week
- The meeting is helpful, but the best connection happens outside the meeting
Is there any type of brewing or unresolved conflict that you see between group members?
I can identify one next step for _________ of my group members that is realistic given their current level of spiritual maturity.
In your group discussions, how would you describe people's level of transparency and openness?
- not ready to engage or share consistently
- willing to engage or share, but at a "self-description" or "conceptual" level
- quick to engage or share, but mostly about past or theoretical situations or issues
- quick to engage or share, often about present challenges or thoughts
We want our primary source of small group leaders to be people recommended to us by our existing leaders. In order for this to be a reality, we must continually cast vision with our leaders with the importance of developing new leaders.
Hopefully, this is how a leader was developed and on-ramped, so it's a part of the experience that they're trying to recreate. We also make sure to talk about this from the beginning, and follow up on it during and after each session.
As a Group Coach, your job is to keep this value front and center with your leaders. Ask them if they’ve identified someone to begin investing in. Ask them how that is going. Ask them if they’ve delegated responsibilities to the people in their groups to spread around ownership and identify people's gifts.
Once someone has been identified as a potential leader, either the Leader or the Assistant Director should connect that person with the Director so a conversation can begin!
A Coach's Toolkit
There are plenty of situations and questions that will come up when coaching leaders. You won't know how to handle every one, and that's okay!
First Stop: Your Director!
No question is off-limits! From details about logistics to big questions about a messy situation, it's always worth asking for help! Don't hesitate to reach out when it comes to navigating a situation, especially for the first time.
Always Available: Essentials Manual
Available at missionventura.com/essentials, there is an entire table of contents with page after page of tips, guides, answers, and ideas. This is a great place to look for ideas about child care, discussion facilitation, hosting well, serving together as a group, group safety and grace, and much more!