Build a Small-Group Ministry Team

Build a Small-Group Ministry Team

Figure out what you need and recruit the right people.
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Second, they need to have an intuitive sense of what needs to be done. If you have to help them with every little decision or point out every little thing that needs to be done, they're probably not the right person for the job. They have to have a sense of ownership and empowerment to carry out their responsibilities.

You like them.
Frankly, if someone is going to serve on my team, I have to like them. Life is too short for me to pick team members that I don't like. And they have to be compatible with the other people already on the team.

I don't have to be best friends with everyone on every team I lead, but if we really don't get along, or if they mess with the overall team dynamic, productivity will suffer. It doesn't matter how good they are at what they do if the relational dynamics are off.

They know how to get things done.
For every job opening, whether staff or volunteer, I want to find someone whose skills fit the needs of the role. But I'm also looking for someone who knows how to get things done, regardless of what's in their job description.

It's inevitable that something is going to come up that isn't in anyone's portfolio or area of expertise. The lead pastor will make a request. The demographics of the church will change. Models and systems will shift. The best team members will figure out how to get things done in any circumstances.

Don't Settle

As you look for potential team members, I have a word of caution: Don't settle. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as you build your team is settling for someone you know isn't a good fit for the team.

Bad team members result in lower morale and lessened productivity. At first it may seem like just having someone there to do the work is worth it even if they're not the best person for the job, but you and others will end up frustrated eventually.

The ideal candidate isn't always available, though. When that happens, you need to consider four things:

  • The ability of the rest of the team to cover until you find the right person
  • The likelihood of finding the ideal candidate
  • The decreased productivity resulting from not having the position filled
  • The consequences of hiring a less-than-ideal candidate

If your whole team is running at the absolute limit of their capacity, the position that needs to be filled is mission critical, and there's a low likelihood that you'll find an ideal candidate in a reasonable amount of time, you're probably going to have to bring a less-than-ideal candidate on board.

On the other hand, if there are some folks on your team with a little bit of margin or you can slide by without the position being filled for a little while, then your best bet is to wait for the best candidate.

Developing a team is as easy—and difficult—as that. Define the roles for your team members and recruit the players. Just like that, you have a team.

—Will Johnston is an editorial advisor for and the former Small Group Catalyst for National Community Church in Washington, D.C.; copyright 2016 by Christianity Today.


  1. Which model of differentiating roles would work best in your context?
  2. What are the tasks or responsibilities you most need help with? Who might be able to help fill the gap?
  3. What characteristics are you looking for in potential team members?


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