Build a Small-Group Ministry Team

Build a Small-Group Ministry Team

Figure out what you need and recruit the right people.
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If you're coming up to a point where you're going to need additional help to continue doing things the way you're doing them, then you should take a hard look at whether it's time for a system change. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Are groups accomplishing what we want them to?
  • Are our leaders being effectively trained and cared for?
  • Will this system continue to scale as we grow for the next 2-3 years?

If your answer to any of these is no, then it might be time to change your system. If your answer to all of them is yes, then you probably need to hire someone.

Also note that a system change could actually end up being more labor-intensive. For instance, if your leaders aren't being cared for because you don't have a good system to do that, then any system you implement as a fix will probably require more staff time, not less.

What type of work needs to be done?

In my experience, it's usually easier to find volunteers to do direct ministry than it is to find volunteers to do behind-the-scenes logistics and support. In other words, it's easier to recruit coaches than it is to find someone who will manage the database.

Most people would rather spend their time investing in people than coordinating details. Keeping track of numbers and processes is the sort of stuff that a lot of people do at work all day long, and they'd rather use their free time to invest relationally.

Plus, relationships tend to be a bit more flexible. If a volunteer coach is a week late in following up with leaders, it probably won't have a huge impact one way or the other. On the other hand, when a volunteer database administrator is late on processing the guests who inquired about groups so that someone can follow up with them, it will likely impact the effectiveness of connecting new people into groups.

Find Your Teammates

Whether you're looking for staff or volunteers, having the right people on the team is critical. A great team will accomplish a great deal. A sub-par team will not only fail, it will likely make everyone miserable in the process. Here are five things to look for in potential teammates.

They want it.
Some of my worst leadership experiences involve times when I've brought people on board who weren't excited about being on the team. People who want to be on the team go the extra mile. They do things without being asked. They're excited and they improve morale—including yours.

People who don't want to be on the team just check the boxes. They do the bare minimum. Not only will they drag you and your team down, they'll drag your leaders down as well.

When you talk with a potential teammate, watch for signs of excitement. Do they light up when you talk about what you want to accomplish and how they can contribute to that mission? Do they start coming up with ideas or asking great questions? If there aren't clear signs, it's okay to ask them how they feel about it. Make it clear that you don't want them to sign up just to fill a need or because they like you. You only want them to do it if they're passionate about what you're doing and ready to make time to do it.

They get it.
There are two critical things they have to understand. First, they have to be fully invested in your vision for groups. That doesn't mean they agree with every decision you make or every little thing you do. But if they're constantly debating the overall direction of the ministry, then you'll end up spending a lot of energy just trying to keep your team on board with the vision—energy you could be using to invest in your leaders.

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