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Four Tips for Training Up Good Online Small Group Leaders

Psst. Church leaders.

Let’s rap about Zoom.

You know the whole video conferencing thing that has become even more of a thing in the last few weeks, as COVID-19 has taken over?

I don’t want to talk about the stock price ZOOM-ing incredibly high (even if people are buying the wrong stock).

Sorry, I’ll take my dad jokes elsewhere.

I don’t even want to talk about how Zoom was sharing user data with Facebook, (although, as of this writing, the newest update had fixed the supposed “bug”).

I want to talk about the fact that Zoom is changing the way we do life.

How it’s an evolution of tech that has gone before.

I’m looking at you, Skype.

My 3 kids are all going to be using Zoom starting next week for their distance learning. Every business in the world has been going to Zoom for virtual meetings. It’s an incredibly useful tool.

And churches everywhere have started to use Zoom for their small groups. Living their group life online.

This is an astounding turn of events for a lot of churches that were on the fence about “digital discipleship.”

If you’ve read anything from this site in the past few weeks, particularly from yours truly, you can see that the necessity of online small groups is palpable. Small groups, primarily using Zoom, are changing the way the church-at-large thinks about meeting.

But all of those groups still need leaders. Because I’m just one person. And so are you. And even if you see the necessity to connect people in groups, you can’t lead every group each week.

We as church leaders are called to raise up new leaders, right? (YES, we are!)

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an uptick in the want to virtually volunteer. People that were once able to come to the church building no longer can do so.

So, church leader, it’s time to use that uptick to fill out your ministries and to connect people to Jesus.

Does the medium look different? You bet your sweet Bible it does.

But the skills are essentially the same.

Because online small group leaders are just that: small group leaders.

And with that, here’s a couple of tips to training up good online small group leaders:

Identify the right person. 

Don’t just look for a warm body who can “fill a spot.” If God truly did make us a “body” (spoiler: He did), then there are certain people who are MADE to be group leaders. Find them.

Who are you looking for? Someone who:

  • Is dedicated to praying for a group of people
  • Will be committed to personal and corporate growth
  • Will be able to reach out to their group even after the hour or two of their group time
  • Can train up or mentor another leader
  • Is committed to grow along WITH the group (we all know that group leader who thinks they have all the answers!)
  • Above all, can humbly seek the Lord in all discussions.

Provide a clear expectation for them

And make that expectation match the church’s expectation for groups. An online small group is just like a regular small group. So if your church sees groups as outreach, great.

Discipleship? Awesome.

Multiplication? Even better.

Let your leaders know what you’re wanting from them. It’s a lot easier to play in a sandbox with defined walls than it is a beach where the options are limitless.

Train your leaders to, before anything else, be able to LISTEN.

We all know how to hear, but to LISTEN takes intentionality.

It takes time.

It takes patience and wisdom and humility.

Just because you’re on a webcam doesn’t mean that people can’t pick up on the clues that you’re not paying attention. Train your leaders to make eye contact, even if it’s on a screen, to not follow distractions. Trust me, this is HUGE in group life, and it shows that your leaders actually CARE.

Train them on the specifics of the platform.Notice this is last on the list.

It’s the least important thing in all of this. The heart of the leader, their ability to be in touch with the Holy Spirit while leading a group, and their ability to listen are all SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than knowing how to use the “mute all” button (although, trust me, that’s very important).

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you’re in the rush to get online groups up and running to replace the church-sized hole in many of your people’s hearts, this is a great way to start.

Let me know via my socials how your group life is going. I’d love to connect with you, to help in any way possible, and to resource you however I can.

This is a long season we seem to be in, and it may be getting even longer. Rest assured that we can use this tech to our advantage, and we will see the Kingdom expanding even further than we can even begin to imagine.

Source: Four Tips for Training Up Good Online Small Group Leaders