Training Leaders on Purpose

If you want small groups to be successful, you have to train and support the leaders.

One year ago this month, I came on board as the Pastor of Small Groups at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. For years, small groups have been seen as essential at this church. One of our core values is that life change happens best in small groups. Yet, without a staff person giving full-time attention to small groups for several years, the opportunities for long-term success were minimal and the possibility for problems was optimal. Let me share a few stories.

Over the past year, and especially over the last couple months as Fall has approached and arrived, several small groups simply stopped meeting. No particular reason given; just a lack of interest, I guess you could say. Because of a weak system of oversight and support, we did not learn of some groups' demise until months after the fact. Many small groups had issues and problems that the leaders had no idea how to deal with. So the groups disintegrated. In a couple groups, it was the leaders who lost interest and basically terminated the groups. They had been "recruited" at one time to lead a small group, but never really had a passion—or been impassioned—for it. One group dealt with major issues—a divorce among one couple in the group and individuals who turned away from God. The group first drifted apart and then broke apart. I believe the members are still hurting. Another group ended literally in a cursing session between some of the participants.

It's really no secret why these groups failed. It all comes down to one word: training, or, actually, a lack of leadership training.

Many of the leaders had been asked to lead a group, given a curriculum, and sent on their way. The leaders were never really envisioned or equipped for ...

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