What should we be looking for in a small group pastor?
Can you help us find the right small group pastor?
These are just a few of the questions I get asked on a regular basis.
Want to know what I tell them? The first thing I ask them is, “What do you want your small group pastor to do?”
This is an important question because it often reveals a set of bad ideas about what a small group pastor ought to be doing.
Bad ideas about the role of the small group pastor
- Champion small group ministry (that role belongs to the senior pastor)
- Recruit small group leaders (hand-to-hand combat will only get this job done in the smallest churches or in the very beginning of launching a small group ministry)
- Train small group leaders (again, only in the smallest churches or in the very beginning)
- Connect unconnected people (matchmaking is rarely, if ever, a strategic use of your small group pastor’s time).
What should be the role of the small group pastor?
If you’re going to build a thriving small group ministry, your senior pastor must be the small group champion. That begs the question, “What is the role of the small group pastor?”
Or, as I like to ask, "What are the essential qualities of an effective small group pastor?"
Four Essential Qualities of an Effective Small Group Pastor:
1. A behind the scenes instigator who sets in motion an annual strategy to connect people.
There are two key elements to this role. First, the small group pastors with thriving small group ministries almost always operate behind the scenes and are unknown by the congregation. I've often said very few Saddleback or North Point attendees would be able to pick Steve Gladen or Bill Willits out of a lineup. They do their best work behind the scenes.
Second, behind the scenes instigators are thinking year round about opportunities to connect unconnected people and designing strategies around those opportunities.
See also, 5 Keys to Launching New Groups Year Round.
2. A role model, doing to and for (and with) your leaders (or coaches as your ministry grows) what you want them to do to and for (and with) the members of their groups.
Since adults learn on a need to know basis, developing leaders is a customized and just-in-time practice. When this role is played effectively, leaders learn to do what you want them to do to and for (and with) their group members.
Since adults learn on a need to know basis, developing leaders is a customized and just-in-time practice. When this role is played effectively, leaders learn to do what you want them to do to and for (and with) their group members. Click To Tweet
3. A talent scout always identifying, recruiting and developing high capacity people, managing a reasonable span of care.
The key here is that building a thriving small group ministry is a team effort and every congregation has high capacity people who will only be fruitful and fulfilled when they play a high-impact role.
4, A Joshua to Moses or Timothy to Paul, looking for ways to help your senior pastor be the small group champion.
Never underestimate this aspect of the role of the small group pastor. Thriving small group ministries are never built when the senior pastor delegates the role of small group champion.
Need more help? You’ll find these two articles helpful: What Some Small Group Pastors Know…that Others Don’t and 7 Biggest Problems Facing Small Group Pastors