- Plan to overcome. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." This is where the rubber meets the road. Once the leader has identified obstacles, he or she must find a way to navigate their group toward some victories. Help the leader create practical steps to overcome the obstacles.
Make sure that each step is realistic. For example, perhaps a leader's group contains a high level of conflict between members. Maybe they've had a falling out of some kind. It would be unrealistic for a leader to think the group members would become the best of friends in a matter of days. Relational healing can take time.
Stopping leaders from creating unrealistic steps will prevent them from further ineffectiveness. It will also help them learn to invest more time in preparation. Once leaders have established practical steps, put them on a timeline. Ask them: When will you accomplish this step?
- Give them a choice. It is crucial for leaders to take responsibility for their words and actions. They must commit to take ownership of their group's past, present, and future. A verbal commitment can create powerful momentum to follow through on established plans. By choosing to pursue a solution, the leader will be claiming ownership of the practical steps that must be taken.
Help leaders see the natural consequences of their actions, too. "If you commit to this plan, then you can expect my ongoing support. But if you cannot commit to this plan today, we need to re-evaluate some things." Be clear and speak directly. This step places a small-group leader in a position to make a choice. Step back and let the leader choose.
- Set up a future evaluation. Romans 14:12 says, "Each of us will give an account of himself." This step helps ensure leaders will follow through. They know that on a specific date, they will be held accountable for taking action. It also helps them sense that you care for them. Taking the time to set up a follow-up meeting communicates the fact that you value that particular leader.
—Seth Widner is Family Pastor of The Journey Church in Fernandia Beach, Florida.
- Which of the five common causes does your church need to improve on?
- How can you improve training, understanding, communication, preparation, and initiative in your ministry so you can prevent leaders from struggling?
- How does your ministry seek to get leaders back on track? Are there things you can add from this article?