Small group pastors fall into one of three categories. Most of us can always use more small group leaders. Many of us are actively looking for more leaders. And some of us are desperately looking for more.
If finding new small group leaders is like looking for a needle in a haystack, you’ll want to take advantage of what I think are the three best ways to find new small group leaders. I’ll share the three methods in a moment, but first I want to point out two important assumptions that make these ideas very potent.
- Get over the idea that the best candidates are people you know. As your church grows it becomes increasingly less likely that your pastor and staff will know everyone. This makes any leader identification strategy that depends on the personal knowledge of staff doomed to fail.
- The most productive strategies will be focused on the edges. There is nothing wrong with insisting that every leader have an apprentice. It is a good strategy. It is a biblical strategy. It just has limited potential in most churches. In most churches the largest number of potential group leaders are not currently in a group. In addition, the least connected people in your congregation are often the most connected in the community.
You can read 8 Secrets for Discovering an Unlimited Number of Leaders for more, but can you see why you need to understand these two when it comes to finding more leaders?
Three Best Methods for Finding New Leaders
With that, here are what I think are the three best methods for finding new small group leaders:
Launch a church-wide campaign with the HOST strategy. The very best way to recruit small group leaders is to do a church-wide campaign on a great topic and leverage your senior pastor’s influence to recruit people to host a group. The topic you choose for your campaign is very important. The topic determines who will say yes to hosting and who will say yes to joining. I’ve written extensively on this topic. It is not hard, but it does require the cooperation of your senior pastor. Trust me. If you select the right campaign, it becomes easy to recruit hosts. And now with Saddleback’s latest game-changing way of inviting people to host a group, it is even easier and more productive. See How to Make the HOST Ask: The 2012 Version, Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again, and 10 Simple Steps to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.
Small Group Connection
Hold a small group connection. Another great way to identify new small group leaders is to hold an event and let the design of the event itself do the heavy lifting. The small group connection process actually helps group members choose leaders at every table. This is not GroupLink. You don’t need preselected leaders to do it.
When I discovered the Small Group Connection event back in 2000, I was very skeptical. VERY skeptical. I became a believer after my very first event. I’ve written a very detailed 5 part article on How to Launch New Small Groups Using a Small Group Connection. I’ve recently written a very detailed explanation of how I lead a small group connection. Between the two, you will learn everything you need to know. The key to this idea is that the event is designed to identify leaders in a way that nothing I’ve ever tried can beat.
Small Group Vacation
Encourage your small groups to take a small group vacation. Can’t see yourself pulling off idea #1 or 2? Leveraging your senior pastor’s influence to challenge your existing groups to consider taking a small group vacation is another great way to identify some fantastic new leaders. The plan is really very simple. Choose a great small group study. Ask your existing small groups to consider not meeting together as a group for the 6 weeks of the study you choose. Instead, ask group members to pair up with another couple or 2 or 3 others and help launch a new group. When the study is over…they can go back to their original group if they’d like. Their commitment is only for the 6 weeks. Time after time I’ve found that once group members experience what it’s like to be used by God to help connect a few more…they often choose not to go back to their original group. See also, Take a Small Group Vacation.
Image by John Pavelka