Leading a small group ministry is an extraordinary opportunity. Too often, those of us who pilot this ministry think like small group leaders and miss one important fact… We are no longer shepherding a group of twelve, we are now managing a movement. Small Groups max out. Movements grow, and managing a growing movement demands the building of people and teams of people. We must be finding and building small group leaders constantly. If not, we will find ourselves needing coaches and division leaders but have no one prepared to take on those important roles.
We have all been inundated with information outlining what small group leaders need. We have probably concluded that small group leaders need to be consistently encouraged, need ongoing training, need the resources necessary to accomplish what they are expected to achieve, need a meaningful relationship with the individual directly overseeing their work, and that the vision must purposefully and continuously be revisited with small group leaders. If you did not have all of that, now you have it in just a few short sentences. Enjoy! However, if this is all we do to train small group leaders we will have linear leaders and no future higher level leaders.
My experience has shown that small group leaders not only need these things, they also require being part of a team, a team that not only makes decisions, but also works together to make the vision a reality. When small group leaders feel like they are part of this important team, a team that sees the bigger picture and is involved in painting that picture, they will be enthusiastic about staying on board for a lifetime and moving up the ladder of leadership.
Those of us who spearhead small group ministries have some specific responsibilities if we are going to let small group leaders know they are part of the Small Group Ministry team and if we are going to find and nurture future higher level leaders. A few of these would include:
- Share the vision with them. Vision focuses the team.
- Involve them in creating the goals for the ministry. Goals energize the team.
- Involve them in determining a strategy to accomplish the goals. Strategies organize the team.
- Allow them to be involved in the work. Being on task together grows the abilities of the members of the team.
- Evaluate the work with the team. Evaluating together builds future team leaders.
- Celebrate accomplishments as a team. Celebration unifies the team forever.
In order to create multi-dimensional leaders and see who has what it takes to lead well at higher levels of leadership, we must put each small group ministry team member in a setting where we can spot their leadership potential. The "8 Y's of Team" are necessary to strengthen any small group leader and are especially helpful in evaluating at what level of leadership someone can function effectively as the ministry grows. Lead all of your teams to welcome and live out the following and you will be able to more effectively train small group leaders as well as find future high level leaders:
- Interdependency—Being mutually dependent on one another.
- Synergy—All parts of the team working together to accomplish more than individuals on the team could accomplish alone.
- Creativity—Giving team members the freedom to craft new ideas and concepts to accomplish stated goals.
- Equality—Each team member being aware that they are of equal importance to the team leader and in the eyes of the rest of the team.
- Accessibility—Building meaningful team relationships by covenanting to be available for one another emotionally, spiritually, and financially 24/7.
- Personal Responsibility—Every team member realizing they must perform well individually so that the team can accomplish that which they are doing together.
- Accountability—Each team member is accountable to the team for those responsibilities assigned to them.
- Unity—Each team member doing whatever is necessary to keep unity between team members.
As we train our small group leaders, we must give them more than what is mentioned in paragraph two of this article. We must give them opportunities for growth as both leaders and future high level leaders. When a small group leader proves themselves by being able to work well with a team on an assigned task force, you will have not only a stronger small group leader but someone who may take over for you when you are gone. There is no greater complement.