Ask The Network – How do you find coaches?

November 23, 2009


THIS MONTH’S QUESTION is from Terri Parker of Largo, Maryland – How do you find coaches? By the way, overwhelmingly, this is one of the most common questions asked of our Network leaders at conferences. If you are having problems recruiting and keeping coaches, you are not alone. Below you will find a few answers from some PDSGN members…

We watch for SGLs who are multiplying their group, growing great community in their group and/or people who are leading the way connecting people to Small Groups.
Current Coaches and Coordinators watch for members/leaders of Small Groups who are making a difference and then reward them for what they are doing by enlisting them to coach other groups to make the same impact.

Eddie Mosley is the Executive Director of GroupLife for LifePoint Church in Smyrna, TN. Eddie also serves as the PDSGN Area Point Leader for our South area which includes the states of Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.


One way I know someone will be a good coach is when they know more about a particular group in our group system than I do.  They often know more about the group b/c they are more connected to the group leader than I am.  This person is informally coaching someone.  All I need to do is thank them and resource them to do what they are already doing. 

My wife is a great example.  She knows more about what is going on with the women’s groups and women’s leaders in our church than I do.  If I asked her to coach these groups she might freak out, so I just encourage her in the conversations she has with my other group leaders.  She is coaching and doesn’t even know it.  Please don’t tell her.    

Vinnie Cappetta is the Pastor of Family Life at Crossroads Community Church in Framingham, MA. He also serves as the PDSGN Area Point Leader for our New England area which includes Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.


A few years ago I blew up my coaching structure.  Totaled it.  Here is why.  I had wonderful volunteers who really wanted to share with leaders.  I had leaders that didn’t want to share with volunteers. 

Two years later…

  • I am beginning with two volunteer coaches to work with 11 existing leaders who have signed on to work with a volunteer.  Connecting Leaders is what I call ‘em.  I work with new leaders for the first year.  Then I move them to a volunteer.  I don’t mind herding cats much (actually that’s a lie, I hate it) but I do not want my CL having to herd cats!  Better me than them.  So, stay turned and I’ll let you know how it works. 
  • As for picking a great CL, networking those existing leaders from the past is my method.  That and a really nice lunch helps tons!

Jon Weiner is the Community Groups Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. He also serves as the PDSGN Area Point Leader for our Midwest area which includes Ontario, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.


That is hands down the number one question I get at Network meetings all the time.  I think I could just talk about that every meeting and fill the room. 

Anyway, I look for people who are very relational, great encouragers and who have a passion for discipleship.  Coaching is more one-on-one than group leading is for us. So a great group leader will not necessarily make a great coach.  But someone with a gift for encouraging who loves people and loves helping them succeed will always be a great coach.  Then, I learned from Steve Gladen, you have to make the ask.  Even if they seem to busy and have no room for it in their lives, do not say no for them.  Always present the opportunity and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

Michael Moore is the Pastor of Small Groups at Grace Community Church in Fulton Maryland. He is also serves as the PDSGN Area Point Leader for our Atlantic Coast area which includes the states of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.


There is one word that describes how we recruit community leaders (coaches). RELATIONSHIPS!

The Community Pastors, as well as our existing Community Leaders, are always looking for an up and coming leader. When we find one, we spend extra time getting to know them and their passion for groups & leadership. When the right candidate for the role is found we then invest in them equipping in the practical side of the role of community leader. When they are ready we send them out under the care and leadership of one of our Regional Community Leaders. There is always the understanding that during the first 90 days they can opt out for any reason.

Also, we have found that asking our group leaders to come help us at our connecting event can be a great fishing pool for these leaders as well. Seeing them working and interacting with people as we start new groups tells us alot about the passion for groups, as well as their people skills.

At the end of the day it is all about relationships, relationships, relationships!! 

Ian Kirk is the Director of Group Ministry at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. He serves as the PDSGN Area Point Leader for the Southwest area which includes the states of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.


NEXT MONTH’S QUESTION IS from all of us at the PDSGN. With Christmas close at hand, often a hectic time for church leadership, we want to know – What do you do to feed your soul? What practices, events, disciplines, do you use to keep you connnected with God and focused on serving Him? We would love to hear from you! Your answers will be included in next month’s As The Network column. Be sure to include your name and location (and title and church if you would like).

Send your answers and other questions to

Ask the Network – How do you encourage male participation in small groups?

October 15, 2009


Last month, Dafnette Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland asked: How do encourage male participation and retention in small groups? Do you plan fellowship outings, etc.? How can we equip male leaders to facilitate community among men?

We have an answer from Craig Mattes, the Director of Small Group Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Illinois.

First question–“How do you encourage male participation and retention in small groups?” 

God has been truly blessing our men’s groups at Trinity.  We started with one group last year with about 4 guys.  Right from the start, we shared the vision of multiplying with the dream of having a men’s group on every day of the week.  This group grew to 18 guys by May and we multiplied the group in June.  Starting this October we will have groups meeting on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Each group meets at 6:35 am on our church’s campus and goes for little over an hour.  Each group follows the same curriculum (which is generally studies which correspond to our sermon series).  The early hour is a great time which does not conflict with family or work.  Because of occasional early meetings or travel, we permit men to attend another of the week’s meetings if they are unable to attend their regular group meeting.  This is offering much flexibility and keeping guys always in the loop and in synch with things. 

Second question–“Do you plan fellowship outings, etc.?” 

We are just at the beginning of planning outings.  We are currently doing a study called “Fit-2-Serve” ( and wrapping up the study by participating together in a local walk/run 5k.  We are also in the midst of planning a men’s breakfast in November (details here –  Otherwise, on a regular basis we do skip our normal weekly meeting on campus and hit the local Starbucks during the first meeting day of the month.  This is a time to enhance fellowship allowing us to get to know each other better with no agenda.   

Third question–“How can we equip male leaders to facilitate community among men?” 

At Trinity, we follow the same 5 purposes as Saddleback and organize our small group meeting agendas as such.  Along with this we assign a different “champion” to lead that particular component.  So we have one person who would lead our prayer time.  One person would lead the Bibly study time.  One person would lead the ice-breaker and so on.  This gives everyone in the group an opportunity to faciliate “something” on a smaller scale.  More and more practice on championing helps equip our men to one day lead a group.  Our studies (which can be found at make it pretty easy for anyone to faciliate a particular meeting component.

Thanks for your great answers, Craig!

Next months question is from Terri Parker of Largo, Maryland – How do you find coaches? Send your answers to this question, or your own question for future newsletters, to

Ask The Network – A Gathering of Men

September 18, 2009


THIS MONTHS QUESTION is from Steve Gladen of Lake Forest – What type of celebratory/vision casting gatherings do you have for your small group leadership?

Our answer for this month comes from Joe Windham, one of our State Point People for Florida. 

Event Details:  Grace Family Church – GamePlan Men’s Small Group Connection Event 

Joe Windham gatheringThis event originated out of a meeting with my pastor back in June.  I was concerned with the low number of men’s small groups we had.  At the time, we had less than twenty.  In comparison, our ladies had over 80 healthy groups.  So, my pastor prayed and felt that God was leading him to do a four week series to men in August.  I asked him if we could sandwich a small group connection event in the middle of the series and he agreed.

I knew for it to be effective we would need at least 50 trained leaders ready for action at the big event.  So, over June and July we prepared, raised up, and equipped 50 new leaders.  

Secondly, we set the goal to invite every man in our church to this connect event.  We made 5000 business card sized invitations and started handing them out.  

We scheduled the event for Wednesday night, August 26, at 6:30pm.  Our objectives for the night were to provide great “man food”, fun in the form of a mechanical bull, worship (we ended up having a 70 man choir that sang How great is our God while tears filled our eyes), a fifteen minute mixer time, and three connection breakouts.

Our Tuesday night breakout was entitled,  “Wildmen. Our Thursday morning breakout was our pastors breakfast, and our last breakout was a general session for anyone who missed the previous day’s events.

Lastly we planned a short, challenging message, and then dismissal.

One hour before the night of the event we had the worst thunderstorm of the week. It just poured and poured.  Discouraged, I retreated to my office and prayed.  After awhile I sensed God leading me to trust him, despite the storms.  

I took a deep breath, left my office, and walked down the hall toward the foyer, hoping to greet a few men. To my amazement, and in awe of God, I could not see from one end of our foyer to the other (and it is long foyer).  It was absolutely full of men.

Our food was ravaged in less than thirty minutes, but thankfully, we had enough.  As men poured into our main sanctuary I was broken over God’s blessing of all our hard labor.  It was truly not in vain.  

Our best estimate is that over 900 men attended and 100’s reported they couldn’t make due to the bad storms.  Since that night in August we have had 48 new men’s small groups start with nearly 400 men attending for 2 weeks straight. God is good.

If you would like to know more about the event, or have any questions, please email me at joewindham@gmail.comJoe Windham

Joe Windham is the Executive Pastor of Small Groups at Grace Family Church, and is one of our State Point Leaders for Florida. His huddles meet in the area of Tampa and Ft. Meyers, Florida.


NEXT MONTH’S QUESTION is from Dafnette Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland: How do you encourage male participation and retention in small groups?  Do you plan fellowship outings, etc.?  How can we equip male leaders to facilitate community among men?

Ask the Network – Curriculum for the 30 Something Crowd

August 11, 2009


THIS MONTH’S QUESTION is from Elaine Morse, our State Point Person for Washington – What is the latest in curriculum? What works well for moving a younger (30 something) crowd toward spiritual growth and action in their communities?

We received a great answer from Jen Hurst of California: One way I’ve been trying to address community action in our church is by writing a blog. It’s a way to address questions that are asked, to update people on service opportunities and announcements, and to model easy serving and engagement with the community. We started using a blog as opposed to emailing or handing out a newsletter so that it is easily accessible and so that we can track how much it is actually read. Those who don’t have email are mailed a newsletter quarterly. 

In my graduate program, I was given the opportunity to survey the leadership of Bel Air Presbyterian Church in regards to outreach. We found that curriculum wasn’t the primary issue; the leaders’ confidence in their own understanding of outreach was. They felt like they didn’t know how to get involved, but the data showed that they knew more than they thought they did.

If your situation is anything like this, it might be enough to focus on making the link between what they’re learning in their Small Groups and what they can do in their own lives—that picking up trash in the neighborhood is service, that even if they do something that the church doesn’t know about, it’s valuable to their community and the Kingdom. You could also try finding out what they are passionate about, and helping them find ways to serve in their passion.

 In my study, I looked not just at whether they were involved in outreach, but also what stage they were in based on David Daugherty’s “Six-Stage Mobilization Strategy”. The stages are: 

Unaware > Aware > Interested > Concerned > Involved > Mobilizers. 

These can be phrased as three questions:

Do they know about it? Most of the 31-40 year old respondents knew about the programs we have in place for serving, but they didn’t know the overall purpose of the outreach department.

Do they care about it? These leaders were passionate about serving. Many of them have a specific ministry, people group or area of the world that they care about, and even feel capable enough to lead mission trips and service projects. However, most of them feel like they don’t know enough about what the church offers them for service opportunities. 

Are they doing it? The young adults follow the same pattern of involvement in different areas as the rest of the congregation. The one area that they came in lower was in financial giving (which is generally to be expected given the lower income that younger people tend to have). 

Jen Hurst is a Regional Point Person for the Los Angeles area and Associate Director of Small Groups at Bel Air Presbyterian Church.

NEXT MONTH’S QUESTION: WHAT TYPE OF CELEBRATORY/VISION CASTING GATHERINGS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP?  Email your answers, or questions for next month, to PDSG Network Coordinator, Cheryl Shireman at

Ask the Network – This month: “What is a huddle?”

July 3, 2009

This month’s Network Exchange question comes from Donald Dillard of South Carolina who just recently attended our Atlanta conference…”What is a huddle?”

Here are the answers from you – our PDSG Network members…

From Jen Hurst, Regional Point Person for Los Angeles area

huddleJust a short time ago, I wasn’t quite sure what a huddle was. I have heard the term for years, and suddenly found myself organizing them. So when I sent out an email to my friends and contacts who lead Small Group ministries in other churches in Los Angeles, I told them that a huddle provides an avenue for Small Group Point People to pray for our churches and cities, encourage one another, and brainstorm how we can further reach our cities and churches.

When I recently held my first huddle, I discovered something else. Our huddle became a way to set aside our own agendas for the benefit of others as we could sense the urgency in one another’s voices. It reminded us of our roots, as well as our aspirations as we remembered the differences between leading a Small Group Ministry of 5 groups and looked ahead to a ministry with 500 groups. And ultimately, it reminded me that Jesus is leading this ministry. Not me. Not the ladies I met with this morning. Not Cheryl Shireman or Steve Gladen.

We’re still figuring out what a huddle looks like for us (Discussing a book? Case studies? Mini-seminars? Or just a good cup of coffee with friends?), but I’m discovering what it is – it is people coming together because of a shared passion for seeing Jesus’ name lifted up in relationship and in real life.
This month we discussed ideas for getting and training new hosts/leaders, and how to encourage groups that have had a long lifespan to be open to the program/vision.

From Reid Smith, Area Point Leader for Florida

A “huddle” is a learning community with a missional focus. It’s a gathering of small group ministry point leaders who come together to learn from one another, pray for one another, network with each other, support one another, and freely exchange ideas and resources with one another – all so that we can help one another advance God’s purposes in and through His Church.

huddle2I’d say there isn’t ONE format for a huddle. It depends – simplicity and freedom in how we communicate what it is and looks like is important I think. What I’ve done, for example, is a 3-hour gathering mid-week (since a lot of pastors either take Mon or Fri as their day-off) or a 2-3 hour gathering Sat morning if you want participants to invite unpaid small group leadership (SGLs / coaches, etc.). Each huddle has a beginning, middle, and end.

The beginning includes fellowship, an introduction of the network & participating churches, and the topic (if applicable) of the huddle. I’ve done a 10-15 presentation in order to provide talking points in the breakout.

The middle consists of the breakout time. This is the largest body of time leaders spend together. I’d advise AT LEAST an hour, but preferably 90-minutes that includes a couple sets of discussion questions. The goal here is to make connections and find commonalities. Think of a huddle as a launching pad for ongoing partnerships among participants.

Finally, the end brings everyone back together to share & synthesize learnings with the large group. I conclude with announcements (e.g. tools they can use like, when the next huddle will be, and what I – as the APL or SPP – will do as action steps like email everyone a contact list of network participants along with a summary of their contributions whether they’re thoughts or tools) and prayer.

From Elaine Morse, State Point Person for Washington state

We have a unique variety of rugged individualist in the NW. Often we find it challenging to understand the ways of the Northwesterner. In recent months a Washington based insurance company has aired television ads with a tag line, “…we’re a lot like you”. The commercials depict “wool-sock-sandal-guy” “efficient-recycler-woman” and “rainy-weekend-blue-tarp-camper-dad” If you are from around here you understand these depictions.

In our huddles we seek to understand and relate to ‘wool-sock-sandal-guy”. We want to be relevant to “efficient-recycler-woman” and we desire to find community with “rainy-weekend-blue-tarp-camper-dad”. As a huddle group we share pieces of information with one another that we’ve picked up along the way.

We also look at some of the technology each of us utilizes to collate information and synthesize it into meaningful action. We share curriculum and re-launch strategies with one another. We share ideas for catalyzing events that we hope will move people into group life.

From Michael Moore, Area Point Leader for Atlantic Coast

One thing we promise to do at every huddle is to have time for everyone to ask their “burning question.” When you come to a meeting, we will do our best to help with that one thing that is the biggest need in your ministry. We also pick one subject to go deeper into at each huddle. It is usually chosen by everyone during the previous meeting or via email. For instance, in May we all discussed how to best train and invest in our Coaches or Community Leaders.

From Jay Daniell, Area Point Leader for North Central and our PDSG Network Database Manager

I feel that each huddle should encourage participants in their ministry as well as their personal faith walk. With this in mind, it would seem appropriate to get to know one another personally (fellowship) through light personal discussion. I usually plan to share a scripture (discipleship) for encouragement and potential discussion. In some huddles a heavy duty Bible study may be appropriate, but often just a Word of encouragement is appreciated. I also like to allow time for prayer (worship) with and for each other’s mission and ministry.

Mission and ministry can usually be covered thoroughly by everyone sharing “The 4 P’s”:

  • Praise – What’s one good thing that has happen in your ministry?
  • Problem – What is one challenge facing your ministry?
  • Plan – What ministry plans do you have?
  • Pray – How can I pray for you?

Just as in small groups, huddle ownership and participation can be increased by sharing roles such as host, snacks, prayer leader or devotion leader.

To stimulate discussion in the first few meetings, before arriving at the huddle, I will ask the host what Small Group challenges their specific ministry is facing. Then I come prepared to discuss that issue with the group. I have learned that all Small Group Point People face similar challenges as they relate to the individual congregation’s culture. It’s likely that others have already; are currently; or will be soon facing the same issue.

From Bruce Southerland, State Point Person for New Hampshire

Huddle outline:
What’s Hot? (What is working great in your ministry?)
What’s Not? (What problems are you facing in your ministry?)
What’s Next? (What have you thought about doing to address your problems?)
What Do You Need From Me? (What can I do to help you?)
What Do You Need From God? (What personal issue are you facing that we can pray about together?)

Thank you to all of you who gave us an answer to the question, “What is a huddle?”

Remember – a huddle will reflect your area and your culture. Put simply, a huddle is a meeting for Small Group Point People. These huddles may be as informal as a few people gathering over coffee or as elaborate as a small group conference. The idea is to get together with other Small Group Point People in your area so that you can build relationships, exchange ideas and resources, and be more intentional in your strategy to build healthy groups.

– – – – – – –

NEXT MONTH’S QUESTION is from Elaine Morse, our State Point Person for Washington – “What is the latest in curriculum? What works well for moving a younger (30 something) crowd toward spiritual growth and action in their communities?”

Send your answers and other questions to Who knows, your answer or question could be featured next month!