Designing a Training Strategy

Highly effective group leaders generally don't just walk into your office—they are developed over time.

I have always believed that leading a small group is not rocket science. You can take people with moldable hearts and teachable spirits and shape them into average group leaders. However, who wants to be average? Who hungers for mediocrity?

What we want to be—and to have in our ministry—is highly effective small group leaders who truly "get it." We seek leaders who understand the vision and own it and leaders who are a joy to coach. We want groups that are growing spiritually, and where stories of life change seem to emerge weekly. These leaders are the ones that you would love to clone, yet it is a rare day when these leaders call the church office and volunteer.

Ever get one of these voicemails? "Hi, my name is Susan. I went on a spiritual retreat this weekend to try to discern where God wants me to invest the next five years of my life in serving. Through a series of conversations it became clear to me that God is asking me to consider leading a small group. I led groups for ten years in my previous church, and I wondered if you might have some time to talk. Please call me."

Me neither. Here is the hard, cold reality for most of us: highly effective group leaders are developed over time. They often start as group members who feel God moving them toward leadership. When the occasional "gem" of a leader drops in our laps, we are, at that moment, simply the beneficiaries of someone else's efforts to develop them in the marketplace or another church setting.

It can be challenging to craft an intentional, strategic, proactive plan for developing current and future group leaders. Perhaps that is why many churches simply fire randomly with their training, hoping that some of it will hit the mark.

While some staff members ...

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