Leading Solo No More (part 1)

How to develop a core team of leaders from your existing small group

Note: This article is part one of a two-part series. Both sections have been excerpted from Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership, by Michael Mack. Click here to read Part Two.

While much of this book shows you how to start a small group as a team, many of you already have a group and would like to turn it into a team. How do you do that? How do you move from leading solo to team-leading the group?

1. Move Over
Biblical team leadership begins by relinquishing the leadership of the group to God. That means you move over to the second chair, and you lead as an act of stewardship to the real Leader and Shepherd of the group.

But how do you successfully make that move?

First, you must love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. I know this seems very fundamental, but it's so basic that it might be overlooked. Your move to the second chair starts with how much you love God, his Word, his Son, Jesus, and what he loves. If you love yourself more than you love him, you will never move!

When you really love someone, you desire to spend time with that person. David wrote, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and stand before him?" (Psalm 42:1-2, NLT). If you do not draw close to your heavenly Father each day—desiring to spend time in his Word, praying, and listening to him—start today. I spend time with God every day simply because I love him. I don't do it out of compulsion or legalism, but out of love and because of our deep relationship. Your relationship with God is foundational. It is more important than your relationships with your spouse, kids, and small-group members. Those relationships flow out of and grow because of your relationship with God.

Second (and just as vital), you must let Christ direct your life. If you are still on the throne of your life—directing your own decisions, thoughts, actions, and plans—you must move out of that position. For the born-again believer, Christ must be in the driver's seat and call the shots. This begins with faith in Christ and a trusting dependence on him. You cannot turn your group over to him if you have not turned your life over to him first.

In John 15, Jesus illustrates this indispensable first step:

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine [first chair], you are the branches [second chair]. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing" (vv. 4-5, The Message).

Part of the sanctification process (becoming more holy, more Christ-like) involves allowing Christ to be in the first chair (the driver's seat) in more and more areas of your life. You may never totally arrive at living a Christ-directed life every minute of every day, but you should constantly ask yourself the question: Am I moving in that direction? Who is running my life? Who is in control? Am I yielding control to him? The move to second-chair leadership begins with your heart and will—it's not a one-time thing.

Next, help your group members take ownership of this vital value. Begin your meetings by not only recognizing Christ's presence in your midst, but also his power and purpose. Recognize aloud that he is not only a part of the meeting but truly in charge of it—he is the real leader and shepherd of the group, and the only reason you have gathered together.

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