How to Structure Coaching, part 2

By Joel Comiskey, check out, Groups that Thrive and From Twelve to Three

I mentioned in last Friday’s blog about our journey at the Republic Church to find the best coaching structure (please reread Friday’s blog).

After working through our problems and combining the two foundational principles we discovered, we developed the G-12.3 concept. G-12.3 is not a fixed model that needs to be followed in a rigid, non-flexible manner. Rather, it is built upon principles which are adaptable to different situations.

In the G-12.3 structure, a full-time pastor oversees up to  twelve small group leaders, while a lay leader envisions caring for three daughter small group leaders and continues to lead an open small group. The number three is a more realistic and manageable number that gives lay volunteers a feasible goal: multiply the original small group three times and care for each one of those leaders while continuing to lead the original group.

The G-12.3 reduces the load on lay leaders to envision multiplying their small groups three times, rather than twelve. Steven L. Ogne, church planter and coaching consultant, says,

Most of the ideal systems you see described in small group seminars these days say the ratio should be one to five or even one to ten. I’ll tell you what, in my experience in our busy society, coaches are much more effective when they’re coaching one to three group leaders (Empowering Leaders through Coaching, audio tape).

The number three is not a sacred number. Pastors might, in fact, decide to ask lay leaders to care for five small group leaders. Or they might feel led to develop a G-10.5 system (staff pastors care for ten small group leaders while lay leaders care for five multiplication leaders). The G-12.3 structure is principle oriented and built upon  observations of a realistic span of care between lay leaders and multiplication leaders.

At the Republic Church, we chose three because it was  a feasible number of groups for a volunteer leader to oversee. We discovered that lay people could immediately get their hands on it. We also discovered that lay people in training to become small group leaders could grasp the vision of multiplying a small group three times and caring for those three leaders.

The number three simply reduces the coaching goal to reasonable proportions. It is not intended to be a legalistic straight-jacket on a fruitful small group leader. On the contrary, it is intended to give practical hope that it is possible to fulfill the goal of multiplying three times and someday even surpass that.

Can the Group Go Beyond Three?

After explaining the G12.3 model, I often get the question, “Who cares for the fourth leader?” By fourth leader, I mean a leader developed by a mother small group after that small group leader has already formed the network of three. The fourth small group leader should be cared for by one of the three daughter multiplication leaders.  In other words, the fourth daughter leader would continue to stay in the family, but would not be cared for directly by the parent small group leader. This would put the fourth leader in the position of a granddaughter to the parent small group leader. An important desire of a leader who already has multiplied three times is to help his or her network find their own leaders  while leading a healthy open group too.

What if a lay person wants to care for more than three? My response to this question is, “What a blessed problem!” If a lay leader wants to continue to lead his or her own small group and continue multiplying leaders beyond three, encourage him or her to “Go for it!”