What do small-group leaders really need? Here's a simple acrostic to help you remember: SERVE.
Leaders need prayer support and to know they're being cared for. As a small-group minister, I made sure our leaders had coaches who prayed for them daily and were always available for any kind of support needed—by phone, e-mail, or in person. I trained our coaches to serve their leaders.
Leaders need lots of encouragement to keep going, no matter what. We scheduled luncheons throughout the city several times a year just to encourage leaders in their ministry. But encouragement is a lot more than lunch. I've found that, no matter how many leaders we have in our ministry, I must work very hard at developing and sustaining relationships with them.
Leaders need us to provide good resources. That means curriculum, of course, but it also means a variety of other resources that will help them with other parts of leading like facilitating discussion, asking good icebreaker questions, and handling tricky situations. There are many ways to make resources available to leaders, such as linking to them on your website. Whatever you do, make it easy for leaders to get them.
Leaders need to know they are valued. Validate their ministry by celebrating things big and small. Don't just focus on attendance, either. Recognize how you see group members taking next steps, how leaders are investing in others, and how leaders prepare for meetings. Plus, let them know how you see them growing. Value your leaders not just for what they do but who they are. Get used to saying "thank you" a lot.
Leaders need good training, both before they begin and as they lead. Be sure to provide both in creative and dynamic ways. When hosting training events, provide food and childcare. Make it convenient for leaders. Remember: you're there to serve them.
—Michael Mack is founder of SmallGroups.com, small-group ministry trainer, and author of several books including Small Group Vital Signs; used with permission from the author.