It is difficult to imagine how a leader can effectively communicate to the home group—verbally and by modeling—excitement and direction for evangelism and discipleship without healthy leaders meetings that evaluate the success and direction of the group. Here is a brief guide on how leaders meetings can help a home group "stay the course."
Here are some potential barriers to good leaders meetings:
1. Leaders meetings need someone to chair the meeting. Their role includes collecting possible agenda items (soliciting these a few days ahead of time helps people prepare), deciding which items will be discussed and which won't be, and prioritizing those to be discussed first. Soliciting from the others clearly communicates that their views are important to the meeting but also is an excellent training tool to encourage leaders and sit-in trainees to think about the group (Heb. 10:24). The chairperson also helps move the meeting along to make certain it doesn't get unnecessarily bogged down. Often they determine either that a decision can't be reached and should be discussed again at the next meeting, or they might make a decision if consensus was unable to be reached but a decision needed to be made. Usually, the chairperson is the senior leader of the leadership team.
2. What is the mission of the home group? Evangelism and discipleship? If so, it is logical that discussions on outreach, follow-up, discipleship and leadership training should occupy the majority of time spent in a leaders meeting. How do you do this with so much else going on which need to be managed? If you try to get rid of the painful issues and event planning first, you'll never get to what you know is most important. You must consciously do what is most important first and then leave a little time at the end of the meeting to deal with one or two of the more pressing matters. In our group, we typically do all of the event planning logistics outside of this meeting. Handle the others via telephone or email communications (this is not to say try to resolve the actual problem that way, but the advice/decision process that must go on between the leaders).
3. Spiritual maturity in leaders meeting is foundational if there is to be unity of purpose. Leaders meetings are exciting if leaders and trainees receive input and admonition with a desire to grow and to 'be useful to the Master for every good work' (2 Tim. 2:20-21). In other words, receive correction maturely. "Spiritual maturity" is a relative quality, and God will use input in leaders meetings to mature us. Yet, there needs to be evidence of maturity in this respect before inviting a trainee to sit in the meetings.
4. The frequency of the leaders meeting will help determine how focused you can be on what's most important. This depends in part on the age range of your home group—if you are primarily single or married without children, you can probably meet more frequently than leadership teams that are primarily with married couples and children. At least monthly leaders meetings will keep issues well in hand and forward progress on evangelism, follow-up, and discipleship maintained. Two hours is usually enough time to accomplish most of what is needed. Many groups find it helpful to link this meeting with a night where you are going to be out anyway. For example, if your group starts at 8:00 p.m., start the leaders meeting at 6 at or close to where the group is, order pizza or subs so people don't have to stop to eat first. Spending 15 or 20 minutes eating and fellowshipping first reconnects one another before getting to the agenda.
5. Prior collection of agenda items (see above). This is not a "have to" but it does facilitate getting more accomplished in the shortest time, as well as insuring people are thinking about and giving input into the meeting agenda.
6. Leadership teams need to be in agreement on the mission of the home group. If they aren't, the group will go nowhere, conflicts will be more likely, or total disengagement will occur because of no sense of purpose. How could Philippians 2:2 be a reality without a clear understanding of your group's mission?Â Linking the mission of your group to the mission of the church is logical and certainly biblical.
Keeping a group conscious of and focused on its mission is essential to the home group, and not always easy to maintain. Communicating this to your workers regularly in quarterly workers meetings and groups is equally necessary. This can be done explicitly by discussing the mission, or implicitly by talking about how the group is doing in those arenas (reporting numerical growth over the past year, spiritual commitments made by individuals, etc.). In a discussion format, have the workers talk about the link between your structures and the mission. This revives their sense of purpose and helps maintain their outward focus. It also minimizes legalistic involvement in these structures when they remind themselves how God is using them to do his work.
7. Leaders meetings are agonizing if there isn't consensus on the overall health of the group. Stated another way, instrumental to effective meetings is regularly committing time to evaluating the health of the group. There is no simple way to describe how to do this but the leadership team's discernment on this must be developed.Â
8. Your leaders meetings should train one another and sit-in trainees HOW to lead. Don't just make decisions without talking about how to make them, what factors should be considered (ask for these, don't just lecture), how the issue fits into the priorities of the group, and what biblical principles are at play with the discussion. In other words, you should be helping one another develop wisdom so that all are better able to make solid decisions in the future even when you aren't there, when the next leadership team has been planted with their group. Does this reduce how much you accomplish in this meeting? Yes, absolutely. You can accomplish much more by flopping the issue on the table, argue briefly about each others' opinion, and then the senior leader just decides. The shortfalls of this are obvious, and there are times as mentioned above, that the senior leader needs to make a decision in the absence of consensus so that the issue can be resolved. However, multiplication of groups requires multiplication of leaders who understand the biblical and relational principles that are foundational to directing a home group.
Adapted from "Effective Leaders Meetings," at www.xenos.org.