10 Ways to Build Leadership Lifelines

The relationships that leaders have with others who serve in a similar capacity as they do need to be nurtured in a team format. Healthy interconnectedness among leaders results in a sticky small group ministry. If leaders stick and grow…healthy members will follow. If members stick and grow…the church flourishes. This demonstrates itself through consistent communication, care, and connections designed to equip and encourage leaders (Proverbs 17:17).

These “team leaders” of small group leaders are known as Coaches or Community leaders. A “Coach” is somebody who looks after a team of leaders through ongoing prayer, care, connection and direction so that everyone can grow in health and strength. This manifests itself through personal relationship and regular touchpoints (predictable leadership investment rhythms) that expresses Jesus’ love for those who have stepped out to serve in this Kingdom-advancing way.

One of the greatest challenges coaches face is not so much taking the initiative to contact their small group leaders as much as it has to do with their leaders returning the courtesy, which over time is deflating and disheartening for coaches. One assumption that feeds this is that if there are no problems, then there’s really no need for connection. This just is not true.

So how does each leader – small group leader and coach alike – ‘fill the gap’ of communication that seems to plague so many churches? The following list of practices is written to BOTH coaches and small group leaders to help build the kind of relationships that serve as lifelines to those who are leading the way in building community. My hope is that some of these practices might refresh your own perspective or add a new insight inspiring a habitual behavior to strengthen this all-important relationship.

  1. Take the time to build the relationship and get to know the leader you’re paired with – it’s never too late and it doesn’t matter whether you are the coach or small group leader…REACH OUT! The group(s) in your care will reap the benefits!
  1. Have a personal conversation about how to support each other. This is much better than a coach communicating the plan that all small group leaders must subscribe to in the same way. These questions go both ways:
    • How can I best support you in your role?
    • What’s your preferred method and time to connect?
    • How often do you want to connect?
    • What encourages you? (Think “love languages”.)
    • What do you NOT want to have to do? (For example, submit reports, have long phone conversations, have to keep yet another regularly scheduled meeting, etc.)
    • What’s the best way for us to exchange prayer needs every (other) week?
    • What are some resources that have added value to your life, leadership, and ministry (websites, podcasts, books, etc.)?
    • What brings life to you? What drains it from you?
  1. Agree to revisit how you have things set-up with the understanding you can change things when desired – be flexible. Remember it’s a relationship you’re nurturing rather than a system you’re maintaining.
  1. Connect with your coach/small group leader in a personable way at least 1x/month (meet briefly before/after the service you attend, Zoom, phone, etc.).
  1. Find out what it is that you and others in your leadership teamhold in common – identify it and build off of it in fun ways. (A leadership team could be made up of several small group leaders in the care of the same coach or several coaches in the same care of a small group point person/pastor.)
  1. Calendar your team meetings with others in your leadership team. Try to deliver most of the business digitally or on paper. Take time in your in-person gathering to touch on the most important items that DESERVE discussion and reserve most of your time together for relationship-building, mutual ministry, etc.
  1. If in-person gatherings are challenging due to multiple campuses, distance, or scheduling – use Zoom or Google Meet for more frequent connections and reserve actual get-togethers for inspirational and celebratory purposes.
  1. Explore the idea of setting up a ‘group’ on Facebook or WhatsApp to keep in touch with those who are in the same leadership team as you or at least do that with those who would like to.
  1. Get everyone’s contact information in your leadership team. In addition to more traditional forms of communication, explore how each other uses social media.
  1. Learn birthdays, anniversaries, and what those simple things are that bring a smile to one’s face, e.g. a Starbuck’s coffee, a handwritten note, a dessert of some kind, etc. Then deliver on it! If this hasn’t been done by your point leader…take initiative! Make a difference today! (Proverbs 25:25)

Oftentimes, coaches are put in a position where they’re an extension of church staff who request more time and information from the small group leaders they’re serving. It’s a mistake for this to be their modus operandi because coaches need to concentrate of developing a life-giving relationship. A guiding principle for those who care for leaders is to make more relational deposits than withdrawals with requests.

Healthy relationships among leaders are essential to healthy ministry. One flows from the other. It is healthy when coaches and small group leaders connect in unscripted ways, are real with each other, laugh with each other, break bread together, and WANT to communicate on a regular basis with one another to dream together and hold up each other’s arms in ministry, so when the difficult times come, they know they’re not alone and can call on their leadership lifelines (Ecc 4:9-12).

Have a question or an insight? Leave it below!

Romans 8: Brought to you by our partners at Lifeway

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