Summer is a challenging time as a group life point person. Many small groups take breaks or alter how often they meet to accommodate changing family schedules. I used to see this as a threat to group life ministry. However, where the world presents a threat, God often presents an opportunity.
Summer is a great time to do things that feel “out of the ordinary” and special. As group life pastors we should lean into this and not away from it. It’s a great time to do things that are out of the ordinary for our small group leaders and members. Summer is a great time to connect, inspire, and plan ahead.
Cluster coaching is a great way to do that. Cluster coaching refers to a method of meeting with groups of leaders for one-time sessions to connect and exchange information. While a cohort would continue to meet and stay connected, a cluster of leaders would focus on the single meeting; something out of the ordinary!
Send a personal invitation directly from you to your leaders. Ask them to opt in (this is not a venue to force people into). Serve a meal for free and focus on hosting them and making them feel welcome and celebrated.
There are many great reasons to do cluster coaching during the summer. Here are just a few of the potential benefits, and I would recommend structuring your time around these three areas.
Connecting: Of course, we primarily think of connection between the group life pastor and the small group leader. While that is a great goal, an even more fruitful connection can be created between two leaders. Leaders are more prone to share stories with one another, run into each other at church, and lean on each other for guidance and encouragement. Just like the small group networks slogan, “We are better together.”
Sharing Vision: Small group leaders often focus on their own ministry setting. This is ideal, but we all know it can create a challenge when they are less plugged in to the direction the church as a whole is going. Meeting in informal settings like this with leaders is a great opportunity to share the vision and direction of the larger church body. Share upcoming dates, trainings you have planned for the fall, ideas for curriculum, and more. This information is seldom a felt need of small group leaders, but it serves the group to have it.
Hearing Needs: Depending how large your ministry is, it can be easy to become disconnected from the needs of the congregation and of your leaders. While your vision for the ministry is an idea that may or may not come to fruition, the needs of your leaders are current realities. Few things matter more than having healthy leaders. The more we can facilitate honest sharing, the more likely we are to know the health and needs of our groups.
Cluster coaching is just one way to do something special for leaders that moves the ministry forward. Consider the many other ways you can celebrate leaders and have a meaningful connection with them. For all the work they have done in these last ministry seasons, they deserve that and much more!