When it comes to your Community Group, today’s co-leaders are tomorrow’s leaders. If you’ve identified co-leaders with the right character, chemistry, and commitment, you’re well on your way to making sure a new generation will experience the life change together that your Community Group has enjoyed. As you develop your co-leaders to take the next step in their own leadership journey, keep in mind these five key stages:
You lead, they watch, then talk together. After you’ve identified a co-leader couple, ask them to simply observe for a while. Let them watch while you lead the weekly group discussion. Take them along on a hospital visit, or invite them to coffee with another couple in your group. Be sure they attend Community Group leader trainings and have access to group leader resources. Just give them opportunities to see leadership in action. And then, talk with them about what they noticed. Let them give you feedback, ask questions, and even offer constructive criticism.
You lead, they help, then talk together. Begin to share leadership roles with your co-leaders. Start slowly, but be intentional. Ask your co-leaders to provide the meal for one of your weekly gatherings, to come up with a creative ice-breaker for your group, or even help you organize a group service project. During group interactions, ask them to give their insights, or to respond to a specific question or comment from someone else in the group. After opportunities like these, talk with them about what went well, what might have been done differently, and how they feel about their role as co-leaders.
They lead, you help, then talk together. As your co-leaders grow in their abilities and confidence, your role will also begin to shift. Instead of leading your group, you’ll need to begin to hand over the reigns to your co-leaders. When a counseling situation comes up in your group, ask your co-leaders to spearhead the conversations. Let your co-leaders host, provide snacks, and facilitate the discussion during your weekly gatherings. Instead of asking them to help you, start asking them, “How can we help you lead right now?”
They lead, you watch, then talk together. Toward the end of your Community Group season, once you have a plan to multiply your group, it’s time to step back and watch your co-leaders as they shepherd the group. Watch them as they facilitate the group meetings and monitoring its health. Let them encourage group participants to take their next step of growth. Give them permission to make decisions about what your group is studying. Now, when you talk together about the group, it’s no longer your group – it’s their group!
Finally, they lead, they find someone else to watch, then they talk together. As the group plans to multiply, be sure your co-leaders are committed to identifying and developing a new set of co-leaders as their new group begins and the cycle continues.
One more reminder. Something happens inside each of us when someone that we respect says, “I see in you great potential!” Speak that kind of confidence into your co-leaders on a regular basis at every stage of this process. You may be surprised at quickly they grow when they know you believe in them.