Spiritual Responsibility at the Small-Group Leader Level

Somewhere between "hands on" and "hands off" lies the key to a balance in authority.

How can a church be assured that spiritual growth is happening in its small groups? Most churches adopt a structure between two extremes.

Hands on?  In some churches, there is the "hands on" approach. The leaders feel a strong sense of spiritual responsibility for what happens in their groups. They desire to have close contact in the supervision of group leaders, a unified curriculum, a standardized group meeting schedule, and frequent reports from group leaders.

Hands off?  At the other end of the scale is the "hands off" method. In these churches, those responsible for the spiritual oversight of the church prefer to allow group formation to happen more informally, and enforce little structure on the groups.

Our Structure:  The Authority of the Small Group Leader

Our church has adopted an authority structure that falls somewhere between the extremes described above. We allow a large amount of authority at the group leader level.

What the structure looks like.  We have a full-time small groups pastor, along with coaches who each work with 5-8 group leaders. But the group leader is the one who makes real shepherding and discipling happen. We free the leaders to shape their groups based on the individuality of the group itself. The key to success in this structure is to only ask people to lead groups whom we can trust to be good spiritual leaders. That is, we recruit the right person, and then grant them the freedom to listen to and act upon God's leading for their group.

Recruiting and training is key.  In order to be sure the right people are placed into group leadership, we require the following of potential leaders:

  • Participate in our four-week small group leader's basic training

  • Serve as a co-leader with one of our existing leaders for at least one year, and be recommended for leadership by that leader.

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