Crowd Friendly Leader Qualification

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Want to connect beyond the usual suspects?  A key to grouplife at crowd’s edge is crowd friendly leader qualification.  Sometimes referred to as “lowering the bar in terms of who can lead a group,” it really has to do with setting appropriate guidelines, procedures and expectations; determining answers to three very important questions:

  • who can lead
  • how they’ll be recruited and trained
  • what you’ll expect of them

[quote]Remember, what we’re working on is developing a grouplife system capable of connecting beyond the usual suspects, connecting the widening 60% who are unreachable by the attractional model.  Allegiance to the status quo will not get it done.  That said, let’s look at answers to the three questions.

Who Can Lead?

One of the key aspects to remember here is that in most cases you’re going to construct situations where leaders recruit their own members.  That’s a big factor in determining who can lead.  Can you see it?  If you’re primarily inviting leaders to fill their own group, who will they recruit?  Won’t they largely recruit friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers who are a step or two behind them spiritually speaking?  Does it matter if the leader candidate is a member?  Does it matter if they’re a mature Christ-follower?  Does it really matter if they’re even a believer?  Think about it.  Remember, you’re giving them a study that will somewhat keep them on the rails.

On the other hand, if you’re in the habit of recruiting leaders, taking member sign-ups and then dealing out members to their groups…can you see how you might have reservations?  I wrote about this in Qualifications, Hoops, and Lowering the Bar.

How They’ll Be Recruited and Trained

I’ve written extensively about recruiting leaders (hosts).  How to Recruit Hosts, Messages That Recruit HOSTs, and Take Advantage of Testimony to Recruit HOSTs are just three of many articles on this important subject.  The key here is to thoughtfully consider the way you go about it and the hesitations and fears of the people who will say “yes.”   Who you anticipate recruiting ought to influence the curriculum you select and the way you present your orientations.

What You’ll Expect of Them

Won’t your expectations be influenced by who you anticipate will say “yes?”  Imagine the scenario where you successfully recruit a wave of hosts from the edges of your congregation.  You’ll have asked them to “open their homes for six weeks, serve a few refreshments and tell a few of their friends.”  What are your expectations?  That they’re making a six week commitment.  Will you expect them to keep their group beyond that?  No.  You might hope they do and you might help them keep going if they’d like to, but you’ll be clear on that expectation.

Will you expect them to be a true small group leader right out of the gate?  No.  You’ll expect them to open their home and be a host.  At the same time, you’ll probably connect them with a coach and do what you can to help them grow…but you won’t bait and switch them.  You'[ll have clear expectations.

Will It Be Problem-Free?  No.  It will be messy.  But then, “messy” comes with the territory.  It will be worth it, though, because for some of those that step up to open their homes it will mark their first real sense of God’s smile.  Beyond that, it will be a turning point for friends, neighbors, family members and co-workers who say “yes” to joining the group and end up joining God’s family.

What do you think?  Got a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Jonathan Holcomb on May 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Good stuff Mark. I think you asked some good questions about the qualifications of our small group leaders. What are the vital areas that need to be there? These are all great tensions to wrestle with. I think we have gotten caught in that mindset of only the elite can do it, and not those who want to try it out and see what the journey will bring. Thanks for the post!

  2. Anonymous on May 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks for jumping in here Jonathan! Leader requirements (vital areas) must be established by the individual church. My contention is that many churches recruit leaders with a misguided understanding of what makes a good leader and set the bar too high, exclude some of the very people that have the richest speed dial of external relationships…and then wonder why they’re largely connecting the usual suspects.

    This is a good conversation! Don’t take your foot off the gas!