Coaching: How to gently nudge a group to reach out

Friday night one of our new lifegroup leaders invited my wife and I over for dinner. What a wonderful evening! We enjoyed a fantastic meal together and talked and laughed for hours.

Just before we left, I asked both the husband and wife to tell me if they were enjoying leading their new group (2 months old now), if any future leaders were emerging from the existing membership, and if they had experienced any conflict yet. (BTW, everyone's peachy right now. It's obvious they're still in the honeymoon or forming stage.)

Before we left, Etna and I told them we'd visit their group in three or four weeks' time. I asked the couple if it would be appropriate to ask the group members why they thought God had brought them together and what their plans for outreach to unchurched people might be so we could pray for them and support them as their coach. The leaders thought this would be great because it would be very challenging for this brand new group of people who had yet to think of anyone outside their little spiritual family.

In this instance, our role as the coaching team over this new group is to "stir things up" and challenge them in non-threatening way. Will the members have anything to report to us? Probably not... but that's the point. The idea here is to ask some challenging questions to which I already know the answer ("um, er, uh, we've never really talked about that before") so the leaders can then come back and say, "Randall and Etna asked some really challenging questions last week. They'll visit again in a month or so and I would love it if we had some solid plans in the works. Let's pray about what we should be doing to connect with unchurched people this week and see what God tells us to do."

The role of the coach is quite often to challenge the group to be more than they are today. Doing that in strategic and encouraging ways takes effort, but it's worth it.

If you coach groups, be sure to visit your groups when they meet and ask them what their plans are for outreach to unchurched friends, family members, and coworkers or classmates. If you are a pastor over groups, ask your coaches if they are doing this and taking notes as to what the groups are doing (or not doing).

This kind of gentle prodding makes all the difference and is typically the kind of thing most every group needs to grow.

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