So you're on your way to launching small groups at your church. But you're still wondering how it's going to work. How am I going to inspire them? How am I going to lead them? Will people really get involved?
Of course your main objective will be to spark a vision within the hearts of your lay leaders, as their roles will be primary in this small group movement. I think there are three leadership principles that will help you do this successfully.
- Lead with your heart. You've heard it time and again. People need to know that you care before they care what you know. They need to see your heart for them. So when it comes to equipping your small group leaders, the best thing you can do is to follow the example of Jesus, who called his disciples to be with him. This means not only doing ministry together but doing life together. Invite them to dinner. Find out about their lives. Then you will be better able to love them, cheer them on, and show gratitude for them.
- Love them with your hands. Those who are involved in leading small groups are going to need a lot of encouragement. A hand shake from you, a high five, or a note of affirmation can work wonders in a weary heart. When you follow up with them and let them know they are doing a good job, you potentially provide fuel to keep them focused and motivated. Another way to keep them going is to remind them of the big picture, how small groups are a means to grow believers and build up the church.
- Listen with your head. When you meet with small group leaders, you should be prepared with thoughtful questions and challenges. Then as you listen to their responses, you can encourage them to launch what they are suggesting, to take ownership of their ideas. People love following a leader, but people follow those who let them lead.
And by the way, I wouldn't worry too much about whether or not your congregation will get involved. Even though everyone is so busy, the desire to belong is greater than their busy feeling. In fact, this need for belonging is the strongest felt need in society. So be encouraged that you're on the right track toward meeting people where they are.