Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Training Small Group Leaders

Are you a good trainer?

Here are a few questions that can help you answer this question. Answer all of these on a scale of 1-10 (10 being you agree totally with the statement, 0 being you disagree totally):
  1. Leading a training event gives me tons of energy?
  2. When I lead a training, I work hard to speak no more than 60% of the time.
  3. Participants interact, ask questions, contribute creative ideas at least 40% of the time.
  4. In training sessions, we come up with collaborative solutions and apply the concepts presented.
  5. After a training session, people express a desire for more.
This is not a scientific test, but if your score is less than 35, your training might very well be a barrier to small group development. I tend to be the kind of person who likes to teach, but through the years, I've learned the skills to create training environments. And I've found that I really like doing it. At the same time, how to lead good training, the kind that large companies pay professional trainers thousands of dollars to lead, is not something that we talk about in the church that much. We tend to emphasize things like pastoral care, preaching and strategic leadership. All of these are important, but small group leaders need training, not sermons. Talking heads can pass on a lot of information, but it does not result in a learning environment that leads to transformation.

So what do you do about it? Here are a few ideas?:
  • Discover your strengths?  I find that most people, including pastors, don't  know the things which they have a propensity to do really well. Strength theory (see Now Discover Your Strengths) states that focusing on our top five strengths produces more results than if we try to elevate our weaknesses to an acceptable level. When we focus on our weaknesses we spend an great deal of energy and get very little in return. If your strengths have nothing to do with training then stop doing it the way you are doing it.
  • Develop a way of training that fits your strengths. If you are really good at pastoral care and mentoring, do your training in small groups of two or three at a coffee shop. If you are big on gathering information, read books, summarize what you are learning and write short blog pieces or record short youtube videos. Then send them out to your leaders. Find ways of training leaders that fit who you are.
  • There is tons of stuff on the web that you can forward on to your people. I started a new series on my blog where I will be posting a Small Group Leader tip once per week, based on something I've found out there on the www. Here is the first one if you have not yet seen it. Another option is to subscribe to the video training developed by
  • For public training, find someone who is good at it and work with them to lead it. This might be a person in your ministry. It might mean bringing in a trainer from the outside. Good trainers can customize and apply the training to your local context. They don't just come in with their pre-developed curriculum that they give to all churches.
  • Attend a small group leader training event.
  • Finally, whatever you do, always secure feedback from your leaders. 
You will need to develop a multi-dimentional training strategy. But that's next week's Small Group Point Leader post.

1 comment:

Jim Egli said...

Helpful post. Thanks, Scott. I haven't looked at the RightNow stuff. Need to check it out.