Whiteboard Session | Co-Leader Strategy

Tom Shefchunas
April 24th, 2020

Several years ago we made a decision that, at the time seemed ridiculous! We decided that every group in our ministry needed TWO adult small group leaders. The ridiculousness???? We didn’t have enough leaders so that every group could actually be a “small” group and have just one leader. 

But, we decided that, if we are serious about a relationally based ministry, we simply had to do it. So we started…and, to be honest, we never got to the place where we had enough leaders. But, in the meantime, our ministry changed for the better. 

In fact, the decision to embrace a co-leader strategy is one of the top 3 decisions we made over the years. And, though we knew there would be benefits to it (why else would you make a crazy decision like this?) we were surprised at just how many “perks” we discovered. 

Here are 7 of those to help you consider it. In no particular order…

Coverage and Consistency

We no long had to put groups together when a leader didn’t show. This was huge for our groups and the integrity of their time together. We also could keep moving if we lost a leader or two along the way.

The Immature – Too Mature Problem

We often had new excited Christians who wanted to help and, tough I loved their energy, I was always cautious. We also had some, let’s say “seasoned” adults show up and I was a bit concerned they didn’t quite have enough energy. Putting these two types together actually proved to be a winning philosophy.

Better Relational Odds

Students are drawn to who their drown to. That’s just reality. When you give them more relational options you increase they odds that they will connect. The stronger the relationship the stronger the discipleship.


Youth work is hard. It’s better to have someone with you. That simple.


When perspective volunteers heard there was a co-leader the tension was cut in half. People were much more comfortable taking on the challenge…AND…they often like to choose their own co-leader which helped big time in recruiting

Group Splits

Good groups grow. Some grow too much and they are no longer “small” groups. When it comes time to split them up you can send an established relationship in each direction. It’s still hard but it’s better


Having two adults in the room is just wise on several fronts. Plain and simple.  

Tom Shefchunas

Tom Shefchunas (Shef) is the Executive Director at Youth Specialties. Shef also works with Orange in the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculum. Before that Shef was North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. And before that, he spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. His passion is working with, recruiting, and developing volunteers and leaders who will shape the next generation. Through nearly two decades of leadership in ministry Shef has had numerous opportunities to coach and be coached by some amazing individuals.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.