Small Group Leaders: Finding, Recruiting, Developing

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One of the most common questions in small group ministry is how do I find enough leaders? Right on it’s heels are two other very common questions:

  • How do I recruit leaders (once I’ve identified them)?
  • How do I develop leaders (once they’ve been recruited)?

How Do I Find and Recruit Enough Leaders? This is a very common question.  I’ve asked it.  You’ve asked it.  Here are a few of the best ways to find leaders:

  1. The easiest way to find leaders is the Connection strategy.  You’ll find a four part series on how to do it right here.  The key to its effectiveness is that the Connection identifies leaders at the event.  Especially in a growing church or church with a lot of new or unknown attendees, this is a huge advantage.  In my experience, once a church is larger than about 300 adults it reaches a stage where there are attendees that are recognized by sight (maybe even by name), but their ministry experience, work experience, and leadership potential is unknown.  The Connection strategy will help you find the leaders you need.
  2. The HOST strategy is another great way to find potential leaders.  Best used with a church wide campaign (like One Month to Live, Live Like You Were Dying or Life’s Healing Choices), the HOST strategy allows you to recruit potential leaders from beyond the core.  If your whole leader identification strategy has been to tap the usual suspects…you need to shift your focus to the people you don’t know as well.  HOST will help you do that.  Important: Many churches believe they have tried the HOST idea, but unless you’ve made the ask this way you’ve only used an unreasonable facsimile.
  3. Ask your existing groups to consider taking a small group vacation.  Many small group systems or strategies have an apprenticing concept built in (i.e., every leader needs to be developing an apprentice who will one day leave to start their own group).  There are a couple challenges with the apprenticing idea.  First, it instills the notion that it happens over time.  If you need leaders now, strategies that might produce more leaders in 18 months are little consolation.  Second, many groups are full of people that really ought to be leading a group.  Identifying one as an apprentice allows the others who ought to be leading to breathe a sigh of relief as they all point to the apprentice!  The essence of the take a small group vacation idea is that the whole group agrees not to meet as a group during a church wide campaign.  Instead of meeting together they pair up and help launch multiple new groups.  Read more right here.
  4. Well down the list of strategies to find new leaders is the turbo group idea.  This has been around for years and is essentially an invitation for potential leaders to join a group led by an experienced leader with the expectation that at the end of the study they will each launch their own group.  It works best if there is some exclusivity to the invitation.  That is, the turbo group is led by someone it would be appealing to rub shoulders with.  Additionally, this is a limited duration group (8 to 12 weeks) that uses a study chosen as a way of modeling how to lead.  Once the group begins, members of the group take turns leading the group under the supervision of the leader.

In the next article I’ll cover several strategies for developing leaders.  You can read it right here.  If you’re not set up to automatically get the update…you can do that easily right here.

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  1. Scott Mawdesley on February 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Great stuff Mark! I think it takes a number of different strategies, not just one and I think what you have laid out above is a great mix of strategies! S.

  2. Mark Howell on February 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks Scott! Appreciate you jumping in!


  3. Jeff Gibson on February 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Mark, the point about having your turbo groups led by someone appealing to rub shoulders with is so right on. We use our Senior Pastor to do that two quarters out of the year and it attracts high, high capacity people. Strategically, it’s very powerful.

  4. Mark Howell on February 4, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Thanks Jeff. That is the deal isn’t it. Put the wrong person in that role and you can’t get the right people to join the turbo group.