"Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." I know; it's a book title. I've never read it, but over the past few years, I think I've heard almost all of it … because I've heard so many people quote it to me "out loud!" There have been more than a few people who wanted me to realize that men and women each have unique strengths and weaknesses. They have wanted me to "get it" when it comes to the unique qualities each gender brings to life. By the same token, it is important to "get it" when it comes to leveraging the unique qualities each gender brings into opportunities like small group leadership.
So, if you and your spouse are Christ-followers and are leading a couples small group or other type of mixed gender group, you are missing an incredible ministry opportunity if you are not leading with your spouse as a team. I'm not talking just about leading the group discussion time, but leading in all areas of your unique giftedness. (See Rom. 12:6-11)
Typically, husbands and wives have different spiritual gift mixes. Our unique gift differences help us to minister more effectively as a spouse team. For example, some time ago Kim mentioned to me that one of our group members seemed down. I missed it. It turned out to be the anniversary of a death in their family. Kim picked up on that and sent flowers and a card. I do not tend to be as discerning, but in this case, God allowed Kim's gift of discernment to meet a great need in the life of a group member. The spouse team working together can help model for the group the body of Christ working together as a unit. (See 1 Cor. 12:27)
A husband and wife typically have different personality types. We tend to be attracted to someone of opposite personality who completes what we are lacking. As they say, "opposites attract!" and opposites also serve to help complete the ministry we offer to those in our groups. To make the group successful, you will need a balance of the different personality types. We need the natural dominant leaders, the social easy mixers, the detailed and organized individuals, and the sensitive, loyal individuals to make group life work and build community. No one person is strong in all these temperaments. The advantage of leading as a couple is that there is often a complimentary mix of personality types. Additionally, we know our spouses best of all and are best equipped to balance one another's areas of weakness. (See Rom. 12:5)
Another great advantage of a husband and wife small group leader team is the flexibility in ministering to men's and women's needs. There can be a lot of awkwardness in ministering to the needs of group members if the leader is the opposite sex. Leading as a husband and wife team opens the group up to a deeper level of intimacy and community. You can have sharing and prayer time in same-gender subgroups and members will be more inclined to share struggles and be vulnerable with issues in their lives. When people open up, we are then better prepared to meet and pray for their specific needs.
You probably already knew men were from Mars and women were from Venus, but now you know you can use those unique gender qualities as a husband and wife small group leadership team and increase your ministry to all members of your small group!
To help develop your leadership team further, try doing the following exercise with your spouse.
Husband and Wife Small Group Leader Team-Building Exercise
There are many roles small group leaders have before them. That doesn't mean that your apprentice or others in the group will not take on these roles in some form or capacity, but you and your spouse are likely to be on the front line of overseeing many of these roles.
Think about all the things that go into leading your group, some of which include:
- Scheduling group gatherings
- Organizing socials
- Meeting with group members outside of group time
- Coordinating childcare
- Coordinating food/snacks
- Worship leading
- Prayer leading
- Bible discussion leading
- Sending Cards for Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc.
- Email contacts with group members
- Phone contacts with group members
- Updating group contact directory list
- Organizing service projects
- Reviewing curriculum
- Giving feedback to coach/pastor
- Coordinating host home
- Following up on visitors
For each activity, discuss with your spouse how each of your unique gifts, personality-type, and passions equips you for modeling and/or overseeing each of the following areas of ministry in your group. Divide these areas of ministry between the two of you to maximize your Kingdom impact. Don't forget to bring your apprentice leaders into this process to model to them and assist them in taking on part of the ministry themselves.