There are a few things that all of us need to know. Some of them are obvious (i.e., how to identify and recruit small group leaders, how to train leaders, etc.). And some of what we need to know is just not obvious. In fact, I think it’s very possible to function in the role of small group pastor for many years without ever catching the significance
All of us need to know these things:
- My primary customer is not the members or the leaders of existing groups. If I want to connect beyond the usual suspects I have to look for ways to connect people no one else is connecting. The loudest voices in my congregation will almost always be insiders (who are already connected). Unconnected people have no one listening to them. See also, 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People and Three Keys to Connecting Beyond the Core and Committed.
- The window is always closing on certain unconnected people. It may seem like next year will be a better time for starting new groups, but for certain unconnected people, right now is their best opportunity. Next year will be too late. This ought to influence my choice of small group model, who can be a leader, and how to determine which programs or strategies ought to be prioritized. See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People?
- The most effective small group champion is not me. I may be the most passionate about small groups. I may have the most personal experience with small groups. But I am not the most effective small group champion. My senior pastor is. See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups.
- I can’t take care of more than about 10 people. Jethro’s point to Moses was that everyone needs to be cared for by someone but no one can take care of more than (about) 10 people. That’s why there need to be leaders of 10, leaders of 50, leaders of 100, and leaders of 1000 (Exodus 18). If I want to build a thriving small group ministry where life-change happens at the member level, I need to invest in leaders of leaders (and sometimes in leaders of leaders of leaders). And, whatever I want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first. See also, Span of Care and Model What You Want to Happen at the Member Level.
- Some of the highest capacity leaders in my congregation won’t hear “well done” unless I invite them into the right role. Helping high capacity leaders find the right seat on the bus might be one of my most important contributions. When I read between the lines in the Parable of the Talents it is painfully clear that we each have been given an amount to invest and the amount is determined “according to ability.” Isn’t it obvious that when someone is given certain capacity according to their ability there will be an accounting? Could it be that some of the highest capacity people in our congregations are actually serving in a role where they cannot possibly hear “well done?” See also, 5 Assumptions that Set Small Group Coaching Up to #Fail.
- There are unidentified leaders in the crowd that no one on my staff knows. Once my church grows beyond about 250 it will become more and more difficult for my senior pastor and the other staff members to actually know everyone. It will also become more and more likely that some of the very best potential leaders are sitting unidentified and their gifts unused every week. If my strategy for finding and recruiting new leaders relies on tapping the shoulders of those I already know (or those who are already in a small group), I will probably miss out on many of the most capable leaders. See also, 5 Essential Practices of a 21st Century Small Group System.
- The least connected people on the inside are the most connected on the outside. This is a game-changing understanding that only certain small group pastors know. When I am deeply connected with the members of my small group or serving team, I don’t have time to hang out with my neighbors (obviously, there are exceptions). When I’m a face in the crowd in the auditorium and I slip in and out without anyone even knowing my name, I am much more likely to spend time with my neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Want to reach your community? Think about who you’re recruiting to lead groups. See also, Do You Know This Game Changing Connection Secret?
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.