File this under things that make you go hmmm. Admittedly, you might be filing it under things that make you think heretic…but I want you to seriously consider this question. I think it’s a valid question. And I think it’s a good one.
Does it really matter if the group leader* is a believer?
What do you think? Where do you stand? You might be absolutely, 100% certain and without a doubt that the group leader must be a believer. But I just want you to have an open mind for a few minutes.
Here’s where I land on this one:
First, for me it definitely primarily depends on two factors:
- Who is in the group and how did they get there? If someone picks up a HOST kit and invites their own friends to join them, I don’t have a problem if they are not yet a believer. After all, I’ve chosen a study that is on a topic I want them to be exposed to, why wouldn’t I want their friends to have to wrestle with the topic? On the other hand, if someone signs up to host a group and needs my help filling their group, I have no trouble requiring them to fill out a questionnaire (that asks about their faith development), attend an orientation, and meet with a coach (where we can discern further). See also, Leader Qualifications: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar?
- Is the group open to new members and how will they find it? If the group is an invitation only group and not advertised on our small group finder, I don’t have a problem. I’m actually glad that the current members (who in most cases are a step or two behind the host spiritually) care enough about their friends to invite them. Also, I’ve worked hard to provide a study that will guide the group (leader and members) toward a decision or next step. On the other hand, if the host tells me that they need help filling their group, I have no trouble requiring them to fill out a questionnaire (that asks about their faith development), attend an orientation, and meet with a coach (where we can discern further).
- Note: In my mind, both of these factors invalidate concerns about the influence a leader has on their members. See also, Small Group Ministry Myth #4: High Leader Entry Requirements Ensure Safety of the Flock.
Second, widening the net to include more potential leaders allows our campaign to reach more unconnected people.
- If I allow anyone who has a few friends to pick up the study and do it with their friends, I’ve just increased the number of people who will be exposed to the study.
- If I choose the right topic and allow anyone to start their own group, there is a high probability that people I will never meet will connect.
- Note: If you’re doing an off-the-shelf study (something that can be purchased online or at a bookstore), you can’t control this anyway! Right?
Third, I can set up my process to make it easy to begin and nearly automatic for new leaders to step into our leadership pathway.
- I can gather contact information when they pick up the host kit.
- A coach can contact them to establish a regular touch.
- I can provide a coaching email every week.
- I can invite them to attend a host rally during the campaign (where they’ll connect with a community of leaders) and invite them to take a next step (Saddleback regularly invites hosts to make a decision for Christ and be baptized). See also, Steve Gladen on the Power of HOST Gatherings.
Where do I stand? I want to make it easy to begin and nearly automatic to continue. Where do you stand? And why?
Where do you stand? Why? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.