3. Small Groups Allow Women to Grow in Their Leadership Skills.
Small groups empower women to lead in the local church, providing opportunities for women to minister in meaningful ways. Small-group leaders have the opportunity to stretch their leadership muscles and connect people, learn to really listen to group members, and encourage the people they lead. They get to create life-giving atmospheres within their group where group members feel loved, safe, and encouraged. They get to identify other leaders and call forth their potential. Often, these opportunities aren't available to women in other places within the church, which leads me to my next point.
4. Small Groups Provide Unique Opportunities to Women.
Small-group ministry opens doors for women to lead in ways that other ministries don't. For example, my best friend, Liz, loves to volunteer in the nursery. There is no other place she would rather serve than holding babies so young moms can attend service knowing their babies are safe. However, I'm not wired that way. While I love children, I'd much rather be leading. Liz is a behind-the-scenes person, and I'm an out-front person, and we need both to make up the different parts of the body of Christ.
But small groups provide leadership and ministry opportunities for women wired like me, women who get energized by gathering people together and helping them take the next step in their relationship with Christ. For women wired to lead, this is a welcome opportunity not afforded in many other ministries in the church.
5. Small Groups Provide Opportunities for Women to "Move Up."
The small-group structure affords women opportunities to fulfill their God-given potential in many ways. There are several leadership roles within small-group ministry that women can fill: small-group leaders, coaches, and directors. Often, this becomes a clear leadership ladder that leaders can climb as they demonstrate their leadership ability. The different levels of leadership provide different opportunities and challenges. Each level of leadership pours into the next so that everyone involved is cared for and developed.
Life change happens in and through relationships, and small groups are a perfect format to create the types of life-giving environments where women can grow in their relationship with others and with God. Small groups are a wonderful vehicle for us to lead women to becoming more fully devoted followers of Christ.
—Julia Mateer is Director of Small Groups for the East Bradenton Campus of Bayside Community Church in Florida.