New to the role or new to the church, there are a few basic things that a new small group pastor needs to know from day one. How will a new small group pastor know them? Some senior pastors will need to clearly communicate them during the interview phase. Some savvy small group pastors will arrive with this knowledge. Sometimes clarity will end up being achieved only after an intense struggle.
However it happens, the answers to these 5 questions are prerequisite to building a thriving small group ministry.
Here are the 5 things a new small group pastor needs to know:
What is your role? 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 your role?" There are four main components:
- You are the behind the scenes instigator who sets in motion an annual strategy to connect people. See also, 5 Keys to Launching New Groups Year Round.
- You are a role model, doing to and for your leaders (or coaches as your ministry grows) what you want them to do to and for the members of their groups. See also, 6 Essential Characteristics of an Effective Coach.
- You are a talent scout always identifying, recruiting and developing high capacity people, managing a reasonable span of care. 5 Habits I'd Look for If I Was Hiring a Small Group Pastor.
- You are Joshua to Moses or Timothy to Paul, looking for ways to help your senior pastor be the small group champion. See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups.
What business are you in? Every church has to settle this for themselves. Stock answers will not do. You may be uncomfortable thinking about small group ministry (or any ministry) in terms of a business, but this Peter Drucker question drives to an essential understanding. See also, If I Was Starting Today and The First Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer.
Who is your customer? The wrong answer is everyone. Again, every church settles this question for themselves, but there should be a definite answer. Sometimes it helps to rephrase the question as "who is my primary customer?" Can you see the difference between the following? My primary customers are (a) unconnected people, (b) group members, (c) group leaders, or (d) coaches. See also, If I Was Starting Today, Part 2.
What will you call success? Will success to 50% of your average adult attendance connected in groups? 80%? 150%? Will success be something beyond connecting adults in groups (for example, "connected in groups that make disciples"). Andy Stanley refers to this concept as clarifying the win in 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. Clarity on this question focuses your attention on what's most important. See also, If I Was Starting Today, Part 3 and The End in Mind for My Ideal Small Group.
Who will you make heroes of? Will you make heroes of pastors? Elders? Small group leaders? People who respond to your pastor's invitation to host a new small group? Who you make heroes of determines so much about the way people respond. Don't miss this very important key to building a thriving small group ministry. See also, Top 5 Keys to Starting New Groups. Lots of New Groups.
Note: Don't know the answers to one or more of these questions? Now is the time to get busy and get answers. Without answers to these 5 questions, you'll be wandering in the wilderness far longer than you should.
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Image by Dennis Brekke