The One Thing Every Small Group Pastor Must Do…for Small Group Leaders

Recently my friend Rick Howerton posted an article praising Egli and Marable’s research based, Small Groups Big Impact.  Among other principles, Rick referred to a powerful discovery made by Egli and Marable:

“The practice that impacts the health and growth of a small group the most is the prayer life of the leader (p. 23).”

I have that line underlined in my copy of the book, too.  Very powerful statement.  Maybe a no-brainer to you.  Maybe an aha moment.  Either way…a powerful statement.

The Problem

Only one problem.  Do you see it?  Here it is:  How many of your small group leaders actually want to have the kind of prayer life that impacts the members of their small group?

Can you be 100% honest with yourself for a moment?  Here’s the question again: How many of your small group leaders actually want to have the kind of prayer life that impacts the members of their small group?

I don’t know about you, but in my experience very few leaders are preoccupied by the desire to have that kind of prayer life.  Oh, they may have a passing thought now and then (like when their pastor casts that vision).

They’re rarely preoccupied by that thought.  But they need to be if they’re going to have that kind of impact on their members.

The Solution

If you want your small group leaders to be preoccupied by the desire to develop that kind of prayer life, you need to come to a very important conclusion.  Here it is:

Whatever you want to happen in the lives of your members…has to happen first in the lives of your leaders. [click to tweet].

Want group members to experience grouplife where they’re prayed for by their leader?  Somehow the leader has to experience it first.

Want group members to experience grouplife where they’re truly known?  Where they’re way more than a face in the crowd or an acquaintance?  Somehow the leader has to experience it first.

Want group members to experience grouplife where they’re truly cared for, loved, held accountable, encouraged, and forgiven?  Somehow the leader has to experience it first.

How Will This Happen?

The size of your small group ministry will determine how this happens.  Carl George was right when he said, “Everyone needs to be cared for by someone but no one can care for more than (about) ten.”

What does that have to do with helping your leaders become preoccupied with the desire to develop this kind of prayer life?  If you want your members to experience all of the good things that grouplife brings…your leaders must experience the good things first.  How will that happen?  It begins with you investing in your small group leaders.  If you have more than ten leaders, it begins with you investing in your coaches.  If you have more than five coaches…  See also, 7 Practices for Developing and Discipling Your Coaches.

What do you think?  Does your small group ministry operate this way?  Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  • Mike Mack

    I agree with all the above – the problem and the solutions. I’ll add just 2 things.

    (1) I think this is values issue. When leaders are trained, are we training them to be great discussion facilitators or men and women after God’s own heart? Hopefully both, but the more important thing is their hearts. So, yes, we as church leaders must invest into and pray for our leaders. And as we do we must equip them for this same ministry with their group members.

    (2) Carl George was right that everyone needs to be cared for, but I think he got the number wrong. Most small group leaders I know, including myself, find it way too overwhelming to invest (really invest) into 10 people. That’s too many and leads to burnout and ineffectiveness. But most leaders can focus on two or three. This is what Jesus did with Peter, James, and John. This is where sharing leadership with a Core Team of 2-3 really helps. The leader invests into two or three other group members who are also the most potential future leaders. They each in turn invest into 2-3 others in the group. I’ve blogged quite a bit about this and wrote about it in my little book, The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership. I’d be interested in talking more with anyone who’d like to know more about how this works.

  • markchowell

    Thanks Mike! Good insights into the issues!

    mark