8 Commitments for Small Group Leaders

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Whether you use a low or high bar of small group leadership, I think all of us have hope that our leaders will do more than open their home, facilitate a discussion or convene a meeting. And...I think some of us have begun laying the foundation for a kind of leadership pathway.

See also, Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar and Steve Gladen on Saddleback's Leadership Pathway.

Not long ago I noticed a post on Thom Rainer's blog on the 8 Commitments for Bible Study Leaders. As usual, it was very well thought out and extremely helpful, but it seemed to be primarily focused on the role of a Bible study teacher. Important...but not targeted to the small group leaders many of us are identifying, recruiting and developing.

Here are the commitments I'd like my small group leaders to make:

I will make my daily, living connection with Jesus Christ a priority—being in community with Him is the foundation for all community.

How will a new leader know what this means? It will have to modeled by a coach or mentor. Remember, whatever you want to happen at the member level will have to be experienced by the leader first.

I will lead an exemplary Christian lifestyle—group members watching me will see an obedient servant of Jesus Christ growing in maturity.

How will this happen? The expectation that this will happen outside of ministry leadership modeling servant leadership is pure fantasy.

I will convene my group regularly (2 to 4 times a month).

For members of a group to truly experience what it means to have the sense of family, to grow spiritually, to have impact...being together will be the norm. See also, The End in Mind for My Ideal Small Group.

I will provide personalized care and development for each of my members.

A level of intentionality will pervade the experience. Example: Using the Spiritual Health Assessment and Spiritual Health Planner.  

I will assist in the identification and development of potential Life Group Leaders within my group.

This doesn't just happen...at least very often. It must be modeled. It must be built in to the culture.

I will maintain great communication with the Community Life team.

We are stronger together. We work better as a team. Everyone benefits when small group leaders acknowledge their role in the larger community.

I will gather with the other Life Group Leaders in my coaching huddle for training and encouragement.

We all need to pay attention to the examples of the leaders just ahead of us. We also need to meet the needs of the leaders just behind us. Although it is countercultural, we need each other and we are in this together.

I will attend scheduled gatherings for training and encouragement.

Again, we are all part of a larger community. We weren't made to stand alone. We were made to do this together.


Here's the key: If you want your small group leaders to do more than open their home, facilitate a discussion, or convene a meeting...you need to implement a leadership pathway and a very early step is to introduce a set of commitments.

Feel free to take these commitments and adapt them to fit your context. As I've noted before, I’m sure that Carl George and Brett Eastman played a part in the origin of these 8 commitments. I’ve been using these basic ideas for so long I can’t remember exactly where I stole them.

Two additional resources that will help you develop your own commitments are Steve Gladen's Small Groups with Purpose and Bill Donahue's Leading Life-Changing Small Groups. I highly recommend them.

Image by Steven

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  1. Mike Mack on February 28, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Great list, Mark! Fits in well with my commitment and small groups blog series! I’m wondering, which of these do you find most difficult for leaders to commit to?

  2. markchowell on February 28, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Very good question Mike. Hard to say what is the most difficult. Can definitely say leaders will not commitment to anything that isn’t modeled first. In the same way I’ve found that whatever we want to happen in the lives of group members has to happen in the lives of their leader first…no leader is going to commit to something they’re not seeing in the life of their coach (or small group pastor).

  3. Nicole on September 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    How often and what to do you do at your group leader’s huddle?

  4. markchowell on September 5, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for jumping in here Nicole! Ideally, our coaches are gathering the leaders in their huddles 5 times a year (3 on their own and 2 as part of our twice a year leader gathering). What they do in their huddle is determined by the experience level of their leaders and there specific needs. A very important assumption for us is that whatever we want to happen in the lives of the members of our groups must happen to their leaders first. That said, a big part of what they do in their huddle is simply be together.

  5. Nicole on September 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    How many leaders does each coach have?

  6. markchowell on September 6, 2014 at 5:29 am

    We try to maintain a coach to leader ratio of 1 to 5. There are times when a higher capacity coach will be at 1 to 7 and there are times when a new coach or what we call a “campaign coach” will only have 2 or 3 leaders. You might want to read the article in my sidebar: Top 10 Articles on Small Group Coaching.