Small group leaders are one of the most crucial volunteer roles in the local church. These leaders are entrusted with teaching, leading, and ministering to a group of church members. A well thought out small group leader training program is one of your greatest tools to help promote unity and discipleship in your church through small groups.
Criteria for becoming a small group leader
Before going too deep into the nuts and bolts of a training program, it’s important to first consider who is qualified to become a small group leader. While there are certainly different ministry philosophies in play from church to church, I’m going to share my take on small group leader qualifications.
- Here are some criteria that I look for in small group leaders:
- Active member of our church that rarely is absent
- Has been in a small group for at least 6 months
- Aligns with our church’s theology, mission, and vision
- Is open to correction
A Hybrid Training Approach
When it comes to training small group leaders, a hybrid training approach of in-person and online is most effective in my experience. The in-person portion of training should resemble a regular small group with intentional theological training. If your church uses a semester approach to small groups, the off time in the Summer is a great time to have this intentional in-person training.
While the in-person training is modeling what a group should function like, is building community, and is rich in theological content, it’s going to be hard to cover everything you need to cover in such a short time each week. This is where the beauty of online training comes in with the hybrid training approach.
Your online training should focus on the practical aspects on leading a small group like how to prepare a lesson, how to build community, how to ask open ended questions, etc. This focus on practical training is easy to teach in an online setting and frees up your in-person meetings to focus on things that are harder to do online.
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Here’s an example of a practical training video:
Training Isn’t One Time
Training is not a one time event. You will need to routinely revisit training topics and introduce new information. The most effective way to do this is to have regular huddles with your team. For small group leaders, I recommend a monthly huddle. There are two ways to do this, you can either have an off week from groups every month, or have a separate huddle meeting in addition to the weekly group. I recommend having an off week so that your team members are overwhelmed with yet another thing on their calendar.
Providing a community connection point for your leaders is also a great way to provide on the spot coaching throughout the month. You can do this by creating a Facebook group, Slack community, or if you don’t have a ton of leaders a simple group text would also work. Encourage your leaders to share a win or loss from their group each week. This provides a great way for you to encourage them and to coach along the way.
Is This Thing On?
Your small group leader training program isn’t going to be perfect – no matter how hard you try. You’re always going to find ways to improve and potential oversights.
A great way to have the information you need to evaluate effectiveness is to regularly survey your leaders. Ask new leaders questions like, “What could we have done better to prepare you?” or “Was anything confusing in our training?” For existing leaders, ask them questions like, “What methods aren’t working?” Both sets of questions will help you to gain insight into areas that you need to improve in.
Don’t Be Perfect
No matter how you choose to train your small group leaders, you have to start somewhere. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect, focus on getting it launched so that you can get feedback and improve it in the future. You’ll learn more from doing than planning.
As you’re preparing to launch your training, consider using a tool like TrainedUp as the delivery platform. Not only will your training be able to fit around everyone’s schedule, but you also get access to over 600 training videos that we’ve created for you to use right out of the box. You can learn more about TrainedUp here.