Note: This article is excerpted from our training tool Organize Your Ministry.
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."—Helen Keller
Without a team, your impact is limited to the number of leaders you can recruit and the number of groups you can support. With a team, there's no ceiling on the ways God can use your small-group ministry.
If you want to have an effective team, the first thing you have to do is establish the team framework and draft the players. You need to define roles, figure out whether you're going to hire staff or utilize volunteers, and then start recruiting.
Of course, reality is often not that linear. Frequently, we have the players—or some of the players—and have to figure out where they fit on the team. So while we'll talk first about the framework and then about finding the players, there's often a back and forth interplay between these stages.
Differentiation of Roles
There are a million ways to break down job responsibilities, and a larger church will have more division within each of these categories. Most churches I've seen, however, divvy up responsibilities in one of three ways (or use a hybrid of these methods).
Small-group ministry teams naturally start with this model. The person running the ministry brings people onto the team who can help with those tasks and responsibilities that he or she isn't good at or doesn't have time for. If someone's a great writer, he writes curriculum. If another person is a good speaker, she teaches at the training events. If someone is great at pastoral care, he's responsible for the leaders. There's a natural shake-out of responsibilities. As the ministry grows, a decision is made (by intention or default) whether to stick with this model or move to another one. Most tasks in small-group ministry fall into three categories:
Content is the informational side of group ministry, primarily consisting of curriculum and training. The person in charge of content needs to be an effective communicator and understand the dynamics of individual small groups.
This is, perhaps, the most critical component of any small-group ministry, no matter how it's organized. As John Maxwell says, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." This person is responsible for investing relationally in leaders. He or she is also in charge of recruiting new leaders—otherwise there won't be any leaders to invest in relationally. It's critical that this person is continually recruiting new leaders.
Assimilation and Logistics
Assimilation is the process of actually getting people into small groups, while logistics are all of the processes, procedures, and systems needed to help the small-group ministry run smoothly. These two responsibilities are pretty easily separated, but a lot of the skillsets overlap, so they're often lumped together. Marketing and organization are the primary skills required for this position.
By Geography or Campus
A second way of structuring a team is geographically. In this model, each team member is responsible for everything within a particular region or neighborhood.
One benefit of organizing the team geographically is that it's simply easier to connect with people who are close to you. Over time, you'll get to know the people who live around you much better simply because you have more opportunities to interact.
Another benefit is that the relational responsibilities are spread around. Even the most social, gregarious, outgoing people have a limit to the number of people they can meaningfully invest in.