If you're like me, you sometimes wonder why you lead a small group. After all, it's easy to think of reasons why I shouldn't lead my small group. To be fair, many of them are valid:
- Leading a small group isn't seen by anyone other than the people in your small group. That makes it a pretty thankless ministry. There aren't a lot of accolades or celebrations to let you know that you're doing a good job.
- It's not always easy work. Leading your small group may sometimes feel like herding cats, which is an impossible feat. Plus, sometimes you get scratched, and that hurts. If you also host, then your work doubles because you have to clean the house each week.
- It's often constant work. It's not as though you serve two hours and then you're off the rest of the week. Life happens 24/7. Your group members experience illnesses, pressures at work, and crises at home that demand you keep in touch with them. They expect you to be there for them—and you want to be there for them—but the work can feel like it's never-ending.
- It takes time away from family. Your family is your most important small group and your time with them is limited, especially your children. Time is one thing you can't get back. So, tension builds between serving your family and serving your group.
You can probably think of more reasons we should consider resigning from leading our small groups, but I want to challenge you to think about the blessings that come from leading a small group.
- Although not many people may notice, we have the opportunity to develop other people in their growing relationship with Jesus Christ. I've found that I'm able to challenge my group members through the study and pray for them. Additionally, I feed into the life of my apprentice. It's a blessing and humbling to know that I am encouraging others to grow. Being a Christ-follower who is reproducing other Christ-followers is exactly what Jesus calls us to do (Matthew 28:19).
- We grow in our leadership and nurturing abilities. Leading a group helps me grow and keeps me sharp in those two areas. I can't be complacent about leading my small group. If I show a lack of ownership, my group members will see it. As I hone my leadership and shepherding skills, my growth not only has an impact on my small group, it also has an impact on my family and in my workplace because it equips me to be a better leader.
- It keeps us connected with Scripture. The time I spend studying in preparation and praying for my small group keeps me in Scripture. It adds to the time I'm already in God's Word on my own, and gives me a weekly reason to dig deep into a particular passage.
- We provide our group members with an opportunity to experience biblical community. Attending a worship service doesn't guarantee that anyone will be connected into relationships that move them toward biblical community. In fact, many people attend worship services without ever realizing there's more to their relationship with Jesus. They miss the blessing of community. I am still amazed to watch group members begin to take ownership of our small group and say they miss our group when they can't attend.
- It models an important value for our children. When my children were young and attended our small group with my wife and me, they loved to go and looked forward to it every week. Today, my children, who are now grown, are part of their own small groups. My commitment to lead a group taught them that gathering in biblical community is important for spiritual growth. Now that they've experienced small groups for themselves, they've experienced spiritual growth as a result of their involvement.
Never forget the blessing you will be to others and the blessing you'll receive from leading. Be encouraged that you're leading an important ministry, and even though few may see your hard work, the kingdom of God benefits greatly.
—Mark Ingmire is the Small Groups and Adult Education Pastor at Savannah Christian Church in Savannah, Georgia; copyright 2013 by Christianity Today.