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Should I Join a Ministry Cohort?

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

What's a ministry cohort? There are all kinds of cohorts these days: lead, executive, discipleship, groups, student/youth, kids, worship, operations, and more. The question is, "Should I join one?" What benefits are there? Who is a part of them? How long do they go? What is required of me? When do they meet? Will I fit in with a group of people in a cohort? Let's answer some questions . . .

A ministry cohort is a group of people from different backgrounds serving in similar or the same ministry roles who want to learn more about their ministry area.

What are the Benefits?

Joining a ministry cohort allows you to connect with other ministers in similar trenches of ministry service as you. Sometimes, the most helpful advice is hearing other's personal experiences and how they handled them. Reading a book or blog will never be the same as hearing another's story resonate with your personal ministry experience. Challenges arise in ministry all the time. Information or problem-solving alone is not always sufficient. Being relational and sentient beings, whether we care to admit it or not, we desire encouragement, affirmation, care, prayer, and love from others in similar service to ourselves.

A ministry cohort gives you the best of both worlds.

A ministry cohort gives you the best of both worlds. Typically, you learn from a well-seasoned or experienced individual in the ministry area who can provide sound wisdom most cannot. At the same time, you share and hear similar experiences of those in similar places of ministry. You get expertise and shared experience. Not only do you receive help, but you aid others by sharing your own background experience in ministry and how you handled certain situations. Shared experience helps you contextualize the principles you are learning. You will be able to properly apply the principles you are learning in your ministry context more accurately. It will feel less like driving a Ferrari down a country back road and more like a Dodge Ram. Information applied appropriately to your ministry context is extremely important.

Cohorts are less expensive than one-on-one consulting from a ministry cohort leader. You get expertise, shared experiences, and you save money.

Cohorts cost less than Consulting

What are the Drawbacks?

The primary drawback to a cohort is less one-on-one attention is given to you by the leader of the cohort. Since there is a group of 6 to 10 other people, that time is divided up between the members of the cohort. Is this a reason not to join a cohort? Maybe. It depends on what you want out of the experience. If you want in-depth one-on-one attention with the leader or expert of the ministry cohort, then you might consider the consulting route. A cohort gives you less time, whereas consulting will give you much more time. The consultant can step into your world much deeper, understand your context, and speak into those matters more. Normally, the consultant can be more hands-on with helping than general coaching and advice-giving.

Consulting gives you more time with the ministry leader/expert than a Cohort.

Many have budget restraints and cannot afford the consulting option. A ministry cohort is a great alternative to get time with an expert, hear others' experiences, and return the favor to them.

What Ministry Cohort Should I Join?

Join a ministry cohort organized by a leader or expert in your given ministry field with a track record of success. Find out the individual's ministry background. Where have they served? What ministries have the Lord grown due to their planting seeds and watering? What size ministry did they serve in? Do they understand the dynamics of a church size 200, 400, 800, 1,500, or 3,000? Maybe they coach well for certain size ministries but not others. What is their temperament? Are they caring and discussion-based, or arrogant and domineering in conversation? What is their theology? Does it affect how they do ministry differently than you? There are plenty more questions to ask, but these are a few to get you started.

Rule of thumb: ask good questions before joining a cohort.

Which Should I NOT Join?

Do not join a cohort without a clear leader in charge of the direction and discussion. Avoid cohorts that are indefinite. There should be a clearly outlined plan of topics and descriptions to be covered with an end date. Forever cohorts are fruitless meetings without a predetermined purpose for the cohort participants. It may benefit a few dominant talkers, but the rest will get little out of it. Just because a cohort is inexpensive doesn't mean it's worthwhile to attend. A cohort that costs more means more has probably been invested into it by the leader or ministry expert. Don't let a price tag make you nervous. If you want to improve yourself and your ministry area, embrace it.

Avoid inexpensive cohorts, it will likely lack the quality you are looking for.

I joined a cohort that cost $2,500. It cost me my entire year's budget and half of my next year's budget. Initially, it made me nervous to spend that kind of money. By the end of the cohort, I felt like I hadn't paid enough for it. Yes, it was that good. Invaluable and priceless to me and my ministry. Even my wife saw the value in conversations throughout and after the cohort.

The church deserves the best she can get; invest in yourself, and Christ's bride will be blessed because of it.



Adam Erlichman

Consultant and Author at Build Groups in Dallas, TX. Adam has served as a Discipleship, Groups, Young Adult, and Youth Pastor at several churches. 3-time best-selling Author of the "How We Grow" series and "Why Church Membership Matters" church resource. Now exclusively available for purchase on Amazon. See more about Adam's consulting services on the following topics:


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