Three Types of Leader Training

Summer is a perfect season to work on the ministry and not just in it. We have a little bit of breathing room before the fall groups semester kicks in, so this is the time to re-examine all aspects of our systems and processes. A good place to start digging in is with your leader training.

You should never ask a volunteer to do a role that you are not going to train them for. That doesn’t mean you have to cover every aspect of leadership in an 8-week course, but you should set them up for success in those critical first weeks of their small group. As you think through your current leader training, here are three areas to make sure you are covering:

1. Training for the head

In this aspect of the training, you want to cover things they need to know about your church’s theological and doctrinal stands, and the basis for biblical leadership. This part of the training can get really deep, really fast, so choose only the aspects that are critical to a new leader in the church. The rest can come through accessible documents online or in a booklet.

2. Training for the heart

When designing training for the heart, talk about what the new leader needs to be when it comes to group dynamics. This is a perfect place for the senior pastor to share the heart behind why the church offers small groups in the first place. Leaders should hear the “why” from the lead vision caster. This is also where you want to teach what it looks like to be a shepherd leader. You are asking these new leaders to shepherd a portion of the congregation, so they need to know what that means.

3. Training for the hands

This hits what the leader needs to do. You will focus on skill training for the first 90 days of the group in this section. Look to cover topics like: how to host an effective group meeting, how to facilitate a conversation, how to deal with a difficult group member, how to encourage your group to serve, how to handle prayer time, etc. The more practical this portion is, the better. Example role exercises can be very effective here if you have time in the training.

After you have filled in your training outline, the next decision will be what needs to be in the initial training before they launch the group, and what should be included in ongoing training. I like to take each one of these categories and list out my top five for each one. What five things do they have to know before the group starts to be successful? Everything else goes into ongoing training that takes place more informally along the way. Too much information initially will overwhelm new leaders.

So what are you going to cover with your leader training this fall?

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About the author

Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Teams at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN., and Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes.