The long-suffering adage that "many hands make light work" is indeed clichÉ; it also happens to be accurate. Experience with the establishment of small group leadership in three different ministry settings: task groups (church of), modified cell church (church is) and a larger "discipleship" ministry (church with); teaches that each philosophy requires unique direction in many areas. One thing, however, remains constant—the need to create an effective and shared leadership structure within the small group. In fact, you cannot have one without the other.
While this structure takes many shapes and fulfills many functions, the source of this model comes from Acts 2:42-47 (the favorite Scripture passage of virtually every Small Group Minister). Prayerful review of this passage led to the discovery that not only is the ideal picture of community presented but also a grand way to slice the leadership pie. It is not revolutionary to say that what is not pursued with purpose is often not pursued at all. The same is true of small group leadership. If we truly believe in all the components of community we see in the first church, why not assign a champion for all of them; a person to make sure that each gets the proper attention; a champion with a purpose (use of the word "champion" rather than leader comes at the advice of a seminar leader who's ideas linger longer than his name).
This means the development of a team where responsibilities are divided along the lines of giftedness, passion, and need. Small groups can set a goal where practically every member is also a "champion," bringing not only community-building to the process but also ownership. With Acts 2:42-47 as the outline, job descriptions could look like this:
Group Leader (Acts 2:42): Will be responsible for providing opportunities for group members to grow in Christian maturity by leading them to fulfill the mission they have come together for, and by helping them become growing disciples by seeking opportunities to become involved in applying the Scripture to their daily walk. Will also keep the vision of discipleship and evangelism always before the group.
Apprentice Leader (2:42) will be mentored by the Leader and be "groomed" to take over leadership of the group at the time of multiplication.
Prayer Champion (2:42) Will promote a healthy prayer life both for the group and individual members.
Benevolence Champion (2:44-45) Will insure that the group is committed to providing for the needs of others both in and out of the group. This champion may also lead the group to adopt a community ministry to support and serve.
Host (2:46) Will open his home up to members for regular group meetings.
Fellowship Champion (2:46) Will provide creative opportunities for the group to fellowship at regular meeting times and promotes "spontaneous community."
Missions Champion (2:47) Will keep the ministry of local and global missions before the group.
The list may seem protracted, yet the community is prolonged, because group champions make your group a team!