Identify, Then Invite: Giving Potential Leaders Opportunity
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Identify, Then Invite: Giving Potential Leaders Opportunity

Part 2 of a 3-part series on Identifying, Inviting, and Investing in New Leaders

Let’s say you’ve identified some potential new small group leaders and gotten excited about moving forward with them on board. Now what?

There is great power in being asked. This is what Jesus did with the disciples—and it’s what you can do with others. Certainly, there’s an art to inviting potential group leaders into more engagement, but don’t overthink the obvious: just extending an invitation makes a profound impact. Chances are good you have a number of potential group leaders waiting to be invited or who would be honored to be invited into more leadership in this season.

Here are several ideas about how to invite potential leaders to join you in leading groups:

First, affirm specific giftings you see in others.
The process of raising up new leaders is often begun simply by edifying others. One leader in our study shared that there wasn’t a particular moment, but rather many small discussions over weeks and months where he affirmed one couple’s gift of hospitality. “Generally, when I edify their gifts, they usually come back and kind of pitch the idea of taking something on. And I’ll ask, ‘What could that look like for you?’ which often includes them telling me about their timing, their fears, and other things they’ve been thinking about.”

Consider inviting someone to lunch or coffee, then sharing what you see in them and your vision for their next step in leadership. There’s something special about being called out and told what someone sees in you—especially when it is positive. Take the time and energy to affirm others’ giftings and strengths to start the process of inviting.

Second, invite potential leaders to try out leadership.
In almost every existing group, there’s someone waiting in the wings, just waiting for an invitation to step forward. Ask those folks to lead a part of your programs and gatherings before the next small group session begins. Ask potential leaders to lead prayer on a Zoom call, facilitate a sermon discussion, or help to coordinate your late summer gatherings. Help them understand that leadership isn’t a title, but an action. Then, allow them room for error and growth as they test their wings. Giving potential leaders bite-size portions of leadership both encourages and equips them for more leadership in the future.

Third, invite potential leaders to help you develop a compelling direction for your next session of small groups.
Involving others in clarifying the direction of your ministry can reap huge rewards, as it creates buy-in and ownership. Ask potential leaders to chime in on what your people and groups need and what you should do next as a ministry. Inviting people to speak into the direction and approach of your groups this fall is a great way for them to engage and step further into leadership.

Fourth, recognize your limitations as a ministry, and invite potential leaders to help you overcome them.
Asking for help is a great leadership trait. Communicating your limitations creates space for potential leaders to step into that gap. As a result, your ministry will be better off, and you’ll feel less pressure to succeed even in your weak spots.

Potential leaders have fresh eyes to see what is working and what is missing. Engage some casual conversation with current members who have leadership potential about what your groups ministry is doing well and what needs change or innovation. Current leaders may not see these things as clearly, but current members who are potential leaders can identify gaps and then may be more willing to step into them. They can immediately contribute and expand the breadth and/or depth of your ministry through your recognition of the ministry’s limitations.

Finally, ensure that you want leadership for your new leaders, and not just from them.
No matter what strategies you use to invite new people into leadership, make sure your heart is in the right place. Recruiting and raising up new leaders isn’t about you or reducing your workload.

Instead, it’s about recognizing and equipping potential leaders to step further into their unique callings, expand their influence, and be used to further God’s kingdom. In short, want leadership for them, not just from them.

Once you have invited individuals to step into more leadership, your next move is to invest in those who respond to your invitation to leadership.

Our next and final article in this 3-article series will expand on the final step of the process: Invest.

Leading Small Groups that Thrive releases on August 11 and is now available for pre-order! Check out for more information on the book and some amazing pre-order bonuses.

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