A Better Way To Train Your Group Leaders

A Better Way To Train Your Group Leaders

Kevin and his team spent a lot of time and money to host a large group leader training at the church. As the event started, he sat in the back and looked across a half-empty room and was disheartened by the light attendance. As the night finished, despite maximizing every minute of the event, there was still so much more he felt he needed to share to equip the leaders well. It was at this point that he looked to his team members and said, “There has got to be a better way.” Can you relate? This scenario is all too real for church leaders today. On one hand, the busyness of life is causing the calendars of your small group leaders to become increasingly less available. On the other hand, your church’s vision requires greater training for your people than what you’re currently giving. Dissatisfied with the effectiveness of their leader training, but unsure on how to improve it, this tension paralyzes most church leaders. But what if there was a way to better train your leaders without everybody giving up all their free Saturdays?

The Problem

The traditional approach of training is to invite all your leaders to an event at your church where you cram as much vision and practical tips into a two-hour segment. Hosting stand-alone training events can be good, but this shouldn’t be your only training strategy as it is becoming less effective. For most churches, training attendance is decreasing because our church families are busier than ever. Most of our people live busy work and family lives and the thought of attending another thing is overwhelming. And to be honest, I don’t blame them. I want to make disciples as much as the next guy, but after long days at work, the weeknights and weekends are cherished times with my family. Instead of questioning our people’s calendar priorities, we ought to consider how we can minimize the amount of time they come to church events so they can be freed up to be with their families and make disciples. If we aren’t careful, we can fill our people’s calendars with so many events to prepare them for ministry, that they no longer have time to do ministry. The second problem with event training is that no matter how long the event is, there is always more equipping that our leaders need for them to thrive. I have never finished an event and said, “Yep, you are now fully prepared for whatever comes your way.” We are fooling ourselves if we think that we can gather leaders a few times a year and give them everything they need to lead. This is the tension Kevin felt as he said, “There has to be a better way.” And there is…but you will need to flip the script on your training strategy.

A Better Way

As you evaluate your leader training strategy, you need to make two dramatic shifts that will completely change the way you do training. First, you need to move your training from one-time to ongoing. Research has shown that weekly training is nearly twice as productive as even the best stand-alone events[1]. Consider how much more bought in your leaders would be if they could hear your vision fifty-two times a year. Think about how better equipped your leaders would be if they could get practical training every week. But as we mentioned above, no one (including me) is attending a training event every Saturday. This is why the second shift is crucial. The second shift you must make is to move from an event-based to a digital-based model. This doesn’t mean you abandon all events, but it does mean that your primary posture changes. You should move from an attitude of “you come to me” to “I come to you.” Start thinking about how you can get the information to group leaders where they currently are instead of asking them to come to the church. There are a lot of ways that you can do these two shifts (video, email, etc.), but the method that we have seen the most effective has been podcasting. We chose this because it’s a resource that most people are already using. Everyone has thirty-minute chunks of time where they can listen to a podcast as they work out, drive to work, or clean the house. When we launched this strategy at my previous church, we saw over 50% of our group leaders engage on a weekly basis and after two years of recording, our leaders had 70+ episodes at their fingertips addressing small group FAQs. The result was group leaders who were more bought into our vision and equipped to make our dream a reality.

An Example

The thought of launching a podcast can be really intimidating, but I promise that it is easier than you think. If this small-town farm boy from Mer Rouge, Louisiana can do it…you can too. I was amazed how quickly and easily I was able to start my first podcast. Simple google searches will get you all the information that you need. As you consider this approach, here is an example to help. At Long Hollow, we just released our Group Leader Podcast last week. I would encourage you to subscribe and follow along. You may decide to emulate this model and create your own podcast or you may share this content with your Group Leaders in your weekly communication. Click the graphic above to go to our podcast and the release schedule below will give you a better idea of the topics we will be covering this spring.
Week 1 Why We Need Both Life Group and D-Group
Week 2 How To Lead A Healthy Life Group
Week 3 How To Lead A Healthy D-Group
Week 4 How To Grow Your Life Group
Week 5 How To Handle Commitment Issues In D-Group
Week 6 How To Facilitate Great Discussion
Week 7 How To Handle Childcare For Life Group
Week 8 How To Have Better H.E.A.R. Journal Discussion
  [1] McNabb, Bob, Spiritual Multiplication in the Real World: Why some disciple-makers reproduce when others fail, 75.