Leading Long-Term Groups to Change

Leading change in groups that are rooted can be difficult, but it's all about relationships.

"Young man, I was here when you came and I will be here when you are gone!" Those were the actual words a long time church member shared with me in the first church I served as a small group pastor. I was amazed at his "prophetic" word. It was true. I was "gone" shortly after hearing those words (my choice) and he is still there, some 15 years later.

Those words had an impact on my life. I did heal from the wounds that that moment inflicted on me. But I was still committed to being an "equipper" and helping small groups to be used for the kingdom of God. In my own journey as a small group pastor, I encountered a lot of established groups who had become ineffective through the years. They were good people, but had lost that cutting edge of being an "effective" small group. Without knowing it, they became a closed group. They had not multiplied leaders or started any new groups in a long time.

As I attempted to lead them to become an open group again and develop leaders to start new groups, I encountered some of the strongest resistance I have ever experienced from another human being. I heard things I cannot even share here. I learned other common phrases too. Some of these were, "We have never done it that way before" and "Nice try but it ain't gonna work here." Maybe you have heard them too. By God's grace, I did not quit but kept trying. And by that same grace and through repeated failures, God taught me that it was not my great skills in small group training or techniques that would get the job done. He taught me that it was the simple things that would make a difference. That difference allowed me to enjoy a few successes in leading long-term established leaders to make some changes and become more effective as a small ...

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