The 12 Were Not Chosen from the Core

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You probably know this…but the Twelve were not chosen from the usual suspects.  I know for some that line all by itself might cause you to lump me in with the riffraff.  Sorry about that.  But sometimes the truth hurts.

It’s true, though.  When Jesus selected the twelve apostles, they were not first round material.  They were clearly the b team.  They were the riffraff.  They were the ‘am ha’ares; the people of the land.

I like what John MacArthur points out in Twelve Ordinary Men (there’s a first time for everything…I’ve never cited MacArthur before):

“When Jesus chose the Twelve to be His official representatives …He didn’t choose a single rabbi.  He didn’t choose a scribe.  He didn’t choose a Pharisee.  He didn’t choose a Sadducee.  He didn’t choose a priest…He chose instead men who were not theologically trained–fishermen, a tax collector, and other common men (p. 7).”

Why am I telling you this?

One of the most significant missteps when planning a small group launch (church-wide campaign or otherwise) is to select leaders exclusively from the core…what I often refer to as “the usual suspects.”

Why is that a misstep?

There are several reasons but the first and most important is that in most cases the folks in the square (to refer to the diagram) will tell you that 8, 9, or even all 10 of their best friends…are also inside the square.  To use my friend Allen White’s favorite metaphor, just like a Lego block, there’s a limit to how many people they can connect to…and they’re full!  I explain this much more thoroughly in Clue #1 When Designing Your Small Group System.

Second, new leaders recruited from closer to crowd’s edge are more likely to have friends, family, neighbors and co-workers from the community.  They often have the exact opposite situation than members from the core and will tell you that 8, 9, or even all 10 of their best friends have never been to your church.

Third, once a church reaches a certain size (not average attendance, but total number of adults in the crowd) it is way too easy for some of the most qualified potential leaders to simply disappear into the shadows.  Where’s that number?  Hard to say exactly, but when you see people in the grocery store and know that you’ve seen them at church but don’t know their story…you’re there.

What do you think?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Anonymous on May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Great chalenge Mark. I seem to have difficulty putting that into practical practice. I always try to keep my “Lead-ar” on, but still miss most. Any conclusions? 

  2. Anonymous on May 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks for jumping in here Artie! That is a great observation! Probably true of most of us (myself included), it’s the reason I’ve preferred the kinds of leader identification strategies that Saddleback has made popular to great success. The Small Group Connection empowers the group to choose a “test-drive” kind of leader they be willing to follow from amongst themselves (based on a 45 minute experience together). The HOST strategy used in a church-wide campaign recruits volunteers who for the most part fill their own groups with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

    Great observation and question! I think I may have to flesh out a more complete answer in an upcoming post.


  3. Anonymous on May 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, Mark. It’s tough keeping my eyes on the fringe when looking for leaders. Dang…

    Looking for some best practices on whether or not to provide childcare for small groups times. Something in the archives you could point me to?

  4. Anonymous on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Childcare is a constant issue for groups. and are two places to look for guidance. There are churches that provide financial assistance to their leaders in order to help groups with childcare expenses (North Point). Most churches do not have the budget for that and honestly, it’s been my experience that groups will work it out with just a little guidance.


  5. Kathleen Ward on September 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    You make great points Mark. I enjoy your articles.

  6. markchowell on September 19, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Thank you, Kathleen! Glad what I’m writing is helping!