Here are what I believe are the top 5 reasons:
- They aren’t being developed and discipled by a coach. This is probably the most common reason small group leaders quit. If someone (a coach or mentor) isn’t investing in them, it is unreasonable to think that the average leader will continue for long. While there will always be exceptional leaders who are essentially self-motivated, they are by definition the exceptions to the rule. Intentional investment in your leaders will overcome this very common reason for quitting. See also, Skill Training: Equip Your Coaches to Develop and Disciples Leaders.
- No one in their group is sharing the load. Some small group leaders don’t know any better and have never been coached to share the load with the members of their group. Others come naturally by misplaced pride that “since they do everything better than everyone else”…they can’t really let go of anything. Both patterns ultimately lead to burnout; both patterns lead to pent up frustrations that they have to do everything for the group to thrive or survive. In order for the leader and the group to survive, the leader must learn to share the load. See also, Skill Training: Priming the Leadership Pump and Skill Training: Rotating Host Homes.
- They are discouraged by member’s lack of participation. There are two main reasons for lack of member participation. First, not every leader comes equipped with a natural ability to facilitate. Those who don’t must learn the art of facilitating a discussion/conversation. Poorly facilitated groups usually die on their own, long before the leader quits. Attendance dwindles when everyone isn’t engaged in the group meeting. Teaching leaders the how to facilitate a great discussion ought to be part of your leader development plan. Second, smaller groups allow and encourage more participation. As a group grows, it becomes increasingly difficult for less dominating personalities to participate. Learning to sub-group is an essential leader skill. See also, Skill Training: How to Stimulate Better Discussions and Skill Training: Sub-Grouping for Deeper Connection.
- Their group dwindles in size and they can’t (or won’t) fish for new members. Some small group leaders are only interested in “leading” a gathered group. When members move away or otherwise opt out of the group, this kind of leader’s only recourse is to inform the small group pastor that they need some more members. And since feeding additional members to existing groups is almost never a successful strategy for growth, training your leaders to fish for their own new members is not optional. It is an essential skill for small group leaders. See also, Skill Training: Top 10 Ways to Find New Group Members.
- The leader is unable to manage an issue within the group. Many groups come with a difficult personality or two. Carl George coined the term EGR (extra grace required) for the group member that requires extra attention. When the leader is unprepared for the challenge of skillfully leading through issues with problem personalities, sometimes it is just easier to quit than lovingly confront. This is primarily a coaching issue. When new leaders are given a coach from the beginning, challenging personalities can usually be spotted quickly and an appropriate strategy developed. See also, Four Questions Every Coach Should Be Asking.
Image by Pabak Sarkar