Five Focuses of a Transformational Group Leader Part 3: Coaching

Five Focuses of a Transformational Group Leader Part 3: Coaching

This post is part of our Five Focuses of a Transformational Group Leader series

Imagine a football coach training his team. He teaches mechanics. He teaches fundamentals. He spends time with the team going over all of the essential elements of the game. This coach knows what he is talking about, and he has tons of experience as a coach. Finally, the time for the first game arrives and he gathers the team, gives an incredible speech, and sends the team out on the field. Then he abruptly leaves the stadium.

“Don’t worry,” he says, “I’ll be back after the game to talk about how we can play again next week.”

This coach, while qualified and talented, would not be regarded as a good coach. Sure, he has taught well. He has great intentions, but a coach must be present with the team during the game. He has to help them make adjustments. He has to speak into the gameplay. Anyone can teach fundamentals, but a real coach navigates the game with his team.

Transformational group leaders aren’t just teachers; they are coaches. They go beyond teaching to walking with those they lead through the challenges they face. And yes, I get it, groups are not the same as football teams. They are much more important! Sadly, many small group leaders don’t go beyond the weekly meeting, but the life of a disciple happens between the meetings. It is in the trenches of everyday life that disciples need coaching. Jesus walked with His disciples. He taught them, and He showed them. He used the challenges of life to help the disciples grow closer to God. Transformational group leaders emulate His method of discipling.

Matthew 28:18-20 is where we find the Great Commission. In it, we know we have been told to go and make disciples. To baptize them and to teach them to observe all He has commanded. Teaching someone and teaching someone to observe or obey are two different things.

Here are three keys to coaching your group:

Focus on Application.

Transformational group leaders know that knowledge must be applied to matter in someone’s life. Rather than merely teaching lessons, filling in blanks, or walking through critical truths in Scripture, transformational group leaders lean into the application of the Word. Spend time in your group asking how those you lead can apply what they are learning. Make sure and follow up each week with how everyone (including yourself) applied what was learned the previous week. The reality is we are often filled with more and more information without living out the truths we learn. Make it a common practice every time you meet to walk away with a clear application connected to what was studied.

Transformational group leaders know that knowledge must be applied to matter in someone’s life. Rather than merely teaching lessons, filling in blanks, or walking through critical truths in Scripture, transformational group leaders… Click To Tweet

Be Accountable During the Week.

Often, during our group meetings, people will share their struggles and challenges. Take the opportunity to connect with those you lead during the week related to these issues. Rather than waiting until you reconvene the following week and asking how everything went, text, call, meet for coffee, etc. during the week as much as you can. If someone in your group is concerned about a work-related issue, call them and ask how it went. Pray with them beforehand. Mobilize the group to press into the lives of others in the group. Living life together must transcend the hour, or so we spend in a meeting once a week. I have the cell number of every guy in my group, and my wife has the contact info of every lady in our group. As issues arise, good or bad, we try to connect with those in our group to walk with them when possible. It won’t be easy, but it is so worth it.

Follow up every week in group.

Every time you meet, take the opportunity to talk through life issues people in the group have faced. Whether it is a praise or a challenge, celebrate together and struggle together to help one another grow. Be careful this does not become a sterile update time, but a real discussion together as you navigate the ins and outs.

Every time you meet, take the opportunity to talk through life issues people in the group have faced. Whether it is a praise or a challenge, celebrate together and struggle together to help one another grow. Click To Tweet

While it is far easier for us to compartmentalize our group time and relegate it to an hour or so a week in a meeting environment, it is far more impactful to walk together beyond the meeting. Transformational group leaders shift from being teachers to being coaches. Moving from teaching in rows to discussing in circles is a crucial facet of leading well. We must move beyond sharing the truth, to sharing our lives with those we lead.

Chris Swain currently serves at Long Hollow Baptist Church as the Executive Director of Replicate Ministries. After fours years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Chris served in full-time ministry for 14 years in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Georgia, leading ministries ranging from Students, to Collegiate, to Spiritual Formation. Most recently, Chris served as the Director of Student Ministry Publishing at Lifeway Christian Resources serving the Church in its mission of making disciples. Chris’s heart is to expand the Gospel through disciple-making in the local church.