on February 25, 2007
I've read a "bunch" of leadership books during my 30 years as an Associate Pastor-Education in churches ranging from 300 to 3,000 in weekend attendance.
I would rate the workbook,Coaching Life-Changing Small Group Leaders, in the top 10%.
It's an "easy read" with many practical ideas for not only coaching small group leaders, but for coaching people in both church and secular settings.
Try it! You'll like it! (and you leaders will be glad!)
on March 8, 2007
One could choose to 'learn by doing'. Very tiring and stressful. Coaching small group leaders is, not surprisingly, as essential to success as coaching any athletic team. No coach? Enjoy the chaos. There will be blood on the field very soon. It's self-destructive to avoid this resource if a church is hoping to employ small groups. It is as good as the 'Leading Small Groups' book reviewed close by. Forms to use, goals toward which to strive, step-by-step pathways to follow, meeting agendas to fill in... what will you address with your leaders? What are the goals specific to each leader? How does the leader monitor the life of his or her group? What are the personal goals of the leader for 5G development (Growth, Gifts, Good stewardship...)? What are your goals as Coach? Where do you even find a list of possible goals? This is organized, educationally sound, Biblical, realistic. Thank you, Willow.
on February 6, 2008
The essential relationship of small group coaches as those who embrace, develop and nurture church leaders "over time" rings true in "Coaching Life Changing Small Group Leaders". With relationship building as the foremost attribute of coaches and small group leaders, authors Donahue and Bowman accentuate authentic interaction as the first step to intentionally shepherd leaders.
The authors attest that leaders want to be "fed" by their coaches, to be cared for, loved, to establish a mutual trust and open communication . Coaches are advised to listen deeply to their small group leaders, actively engage in their story, ask for clarification, keep the focus on the leaders and fight the temptation to move too quickly to solutions. In fact, Donahue and Bowman also indicate that coaches should not intervene with small group leaders, or sit in on their meetings, until a meaningful relationship is established with each leader. "As trust develops, coaches are enabled to help leaders gain an accurate picture of their gifts and abilities."
In an easy to follow workbook format, the authors take the reader through the various coaching elements; to be visionary, to guide and encourage, to be personal, developmental and supportive, and to effectively bring out the best in the leaders. In essence, coaches have a heart for leaders, with an avid responsibility to equip them in key skills to become effective in meeting the needs of group members. Donahue and Bowman also advocate that the coach and small group leader "dream together" about the effect on group members, the church as a whole and the community.
Specific key equipping skills include modeling and envisioning. Through modeling, coaches and leaders share what God is doing in their lives. They learn together how to live and lead by the Spirit. Healthy spiritual fitness entails prayer, worship, solitude and reading and listening to the Word. Envisioning involves space for the leaders to think or dream about their group. Donahue and Bowman advise coaches to work with their leaders to create a clear and compelling vision that captures their heart and motivates them to action. The authors assess that when the small group vision is clear and compelling, the "best thinking and energy come into play."
The authors also caution that churches can interfere in the relationship, modeling and envisioning stages of coaches and small group leaders when they insist that coaches serve as a "conduit" for the overall church vision. "If that happens, the vision will not capture their (the group's) heart, and there will be little connection to the day-to-day activities of small group leaders." Instead, Bowman and Donahue suggest that coaches assist leaders in keeping their vision alive, to empower and to eventually enthusiastically "own the dream".
Overall, the church vision must have broad enough tenets to allow small groups to function earnestly and effectively within the church and its surrounding community.
Life changes in small group leaders often occur when the interaction with their coaches has become deeper, yet retains a delicate balance of continued shepherding and equipping by the coach on behalf of the leader.
I would recommend this practical handbook for those who lead and guide small group leaders.
on January 25, 2008
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The insights are great and helpful to anyone who may be coaching or thinking about coaching small group leaders. There are specific guidelines and tips that will help coaches be more effective in their ministry.
The one negative that I see to what Donahue and Bowman have written is that there is too much here. The average coach working a full-time job will not be able to fulfill all of the expectations in this book, even at the 1:5 ratio that the authors recommend.
With that said, every small group coach that is looking for help in understanding what their job is and how to do it should read this book. Just don't expect to do everything that the book recommends
on August 31, 2009
I am part of a team of folks leading the small group ministry at our church, consisting of about 40 groups. I have read all of Bill Donahue's small group books, and I appreciate much of what I have learned from his writing over the years. As expected, "Coaching Life-Changing Small Group Leaders" is well-written and offers many tips for those of us who want to make sure that our small group leaders are well-supported and equipped for their vital ministry role.
My critique of the book is that Donahue and Bowman seem to present a model that is utterly impractical and unsustainable. Specifically, the frequency that they expect their coaches to meet and communicate with their leaders is extremely intense. It is so intense that they assume that their coaches will step down from leading groups, which seems counterproductive in a ministry context when we're all clamoring to find capable group leaders. Though I think that what Donahue and Bowman describe sounds great, I just don't see how we can execute it. Maybe it can be achieved from the outset, but I definitely don't see how it can be retrofitted onto an existing small group ministry.
One other critique is the rather repetitive nature of the book. It is probably best utilized as a reference guide, rather than reading it from front to back as I did. If you were to simply hop around from section and section, as needed, by utilizing the very comprehensive table of contents, it would probably be less redundant.
To their credit, the authors do not assume that folks reading this coaching manual will adopt their model in its entirety. In fact, they explicitly give permission to pick and choose the parts that seem helpful, to contextualize their model for any other small group ministry. It is nice that the authors have the humility to understand that their model is not the only way to go.
In conclusion, anyone interested in coaching and supporting small group leaders would benefit from reading this book. It is comprehensive, instructive, and compelling. It paints an inspiring picture of how God works when we equip our group leaders for their crucial role. I'm not sure that many of us can actually do what Donahue and Bowman encourage us to do in this book, but even if we are only able to apply a portion of their recommendations, small groups and their leaders will benefit greatly.
on August 8, 2009
The book truly lives up to it's title. No one knows more about small-groups & small group leadership than bill donahue (Trust me on this one). The practical ideas for leadership are great. The book is filled with scripture, the part where he covers leadership is likened to sheperding is excellent. If you want to take your small groups to another level & reproduce leaders who move with compassion not dictation, then buy this book!
on September 8, 2012
I was actually a student of John Donahue, the author's dad, at George Washington High School in Philadelphia from 1975-1977. The author referenced him in the book as a prime example of coaching. His description of the coach was right on with my experience; he was truly a remarkable guy and respected by all in the class. Although he had a "tough" attitude to those who were slacking, he could tell some one-liners that would put them in their place. While none of the remarks were directed toward me, I can still remember many of his lines after 35 years and they pertain to people even today. One example is if a student came in without his books or completing his homework, he would say to the student, "You'll go far in life--Siberia, China....". :-) Mr. Donahue was a very good role model for all students and I wish more teachers today would have the type of drive, care, and determination that he demonstrated every day.