- Lack of initiative. Sometimes small-group leaders are not as enterprising or resourceful as we'd like them to be. This lack of initiative may stem from a variety of factors: distraction from the stresses of life, low self-esteem, personality types, extreme shyness, fatigue, and so on. Some leaders are simply lazy or apathetic. Any of these factors must be addressed in order for the leader to improve. Knowing which factor is contributing to a leader's lack of initiative is imperative to effectively minister to him or her.
How to Help Leaders Get Back On Track
There are several steps you need to take when working with a struggling small-group leader. Here are the major landmarks.
- Set up a meeting. This initial meeting needs to be accomplished face-to-face. Find a good time to meet in an environment where you both can be open. The location must allow both you and the leader to feel comfortable sharing thoughts and feelings without worrying who may be within earshot. Psalm 34:14 says, "Seek peace and pursue it."
When the meeting happens, don't skip the small talk. Having a formal (or even chiding) tone will make the meeting awkward. Be yourself and talk to the leader as a friend.
- Remember the vision. 2 Peter 1:13 says, "I think it is right to refresh your memory…." Sometimes we assume that our small-group leaders will remember everything we say. This assumption comes from our passion to eat, drink, breathe, and dream about small-group ministry. The fact is that it is impossible to remember everything we hear, and we, and our leaders, deserve to be reminded.
Leaders need to be reminded of God's vision for your church's small-group ministry. As you do this, include stories of life-change. Personal stories will help them see the importance of the vision. They will come face-to-face with the reality that Christ desires to use them for life-change.
- Cast the vision of a healthy group. This is your opportunity to evaluate the leader's ability to picture a healthy group. Ask them to describe the attributes of a healthy group. If a struggling leader can envision a healthy group, they know where they need to be moving group members. This helps them establish a desired destination. Philippians 3:14 says, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." If a leader does not understand the attributes of a healthy group, then he or she will settle for second best.
Be sure to listen for false expectations during this step. Rookie leaders often think that a healthy group is a perfect group. This sets them up for a huge let down. Healthy groups still have problems from time to time. People will argue, selfish motives will be exposed, and feelings may be hurt. What determines the health of a group is how the group members respond to a problem.
- Identify what is holding them back. This can be the most difficult step because it requires a leader to be vulnerable. So be sure to affirm leaders that your intention is to help them grow. If leaders are to grow, they must be able to recognize any obstacle the group faces. They also must be able to see how it is negatively affecting the health of the group.
This step requires absolute honesty from the group leader. As you listen, be sure to pick up on the condition of the group. This step normally will give you a clear picture of the group's life.