Regardless of the method you use to launch a small group (Connection, HOST, apprentice or plain old fashioned recruiting), determining who can lead is a prerequisite. Some churches are uncomfortable allowing non-members to lead a small group. Some are much less restrictive, allowing anyone to pick up the material and invite friends. Still others determine to allow anyone to lead a test-drive group but to require membership to be listed on the website.
One of the assumptions that I have about strategy is that there is no problem-free solution to anything. In fact, I’ve found that the pursuit of problem-free is at the root of most ministry delay. No matter which strategy you choose, it just comes with a set of problems. All we can do is choose the set of problems we’d rather have.
When it comes to determining who can lead a group, there is no problem-free solution. If you require your small group leaders to be members it gives you some control over who leads…but it narrows the field. There is an advantage to allowing non-members to lead (it widens the field, may have more access to other non-members) but it comes with some risk and less control. You can mitigate the risk by requiring certain things in order to be listed on the website (membership, connected with a coach, attend the leader orientation and training).
A key question in determining who can lead is where will the group’s members come from? You may want more control if the members of a group come from a sign-up process or a result of a website list of small groups. On the other hand, if a group’s members are a result of the personal invitation of the leader…the argument can be made for less control.
The key is that every church must make a decision about who can lead and then design the process accordingly.