File this list in the category of "things I know now, but haven't always known." You've got this filing system too, right? With experience, we learn what we really wish we had known back then. See also, 5 Things I Wish I Had Known about Small Group Leaders.
Can I help you skip a step? Or maybe help you rethink an idea or two that is still in the formative stages?
8 things you need to know about small group leaders:
1. The best small group leader candidates may not be in a group yet.
The notion that in order to become a small group leader you must first be a member of a small group (and then an apprentice and then a leader) is an old-fashioned recipe for a stalled small group ministry. Think about it. Unless you've already connected the majority of the adults in your church, odds actually favor finding many of the best leader candidates outside your group rosters. See also, 8 Secrets for Discovering an Unlimited Number of Small Group Leaders.
2. Some of the best leader candidates are unknown by staff members.
As a church grows and attendance slips beyond 200 it becomes more and more difficult for the senior pastor and other staff to actually know everyone. For senior pastors and other staff members are routinely visible, being recognized by people who look familiar but are unknown becomes more and more common. If this has already happened in your church, don't miss the fact that some of the best leader candidates are unknown by staff members. Note: This is why the small group connection strategy is so important. It empowers group members to identify leaders. See also, How to Launch Small Groups Using a Small Group Connection.
3. The best candidates almost never volunteer to be a small group leader.
The truth is that most of the best candidates are actually reluctant leaders. And don't miss the fact that many of the leaders in the best known Bible stories are reluctant (Moses and Gideon immediately come to mind). Again, this is why strategies like the small group connection are so powerful. Being chosen to lead is a powerful affirmation. See also, The Upside of Reluctant Leaders.
4. The most eager volunteers often have bad underlying motivations.
There is something destructive at work that prompts the wrong people to volunteer to lead. Add below-the-waterline motivations (pride, control, desire for authority, etc.) to public appeals to "sign up for our leader training course" often result in the unfortunate pairing of unqualified leaders with those desperately seeking connection.
5. The best small group leaders know they haven't arrived.
Among the most important characteristics of life-changing small group leaders, the humble acknowledgement that they still have a long way to go is a key trait. Disdain for spiritual formation and discipleship is not a trademark of maturity or arrival. Rather, it is an indication of the miles yet to travel. See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.
6. Small group leaders need to be discipled and developed.
"Whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first." If that is true, we need to pay careful attention to the development of a leadership development pathway. If it is true, the role of a coach ought to be crystal clear. See also, Life-Change at the Member-Level and Four Small Group Coaching Insights that Might Be Eye-Opening.
Whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first. If that is true, we need to pay careful attention to the development of a leadership development pathway. If it is true, the role of a coach… Click To Tweet
7. Small group leaders come in all s.h.a.p.e.s and sizes.
The spiritual gift of leadership is not a requirement to lead a small group. The particular spiritual gift or gift mix will often play a role in the way a group functions (for example, a group led by one with a shepherding gift may feel different than a group led by one with the gift of hospitality or mercy).
8. The best small group leaders share the limelight.
The most meaningful small group experiences are rarely one man shows (or one woman shows). To the contrary, the most meaningful small group experiences encourage the participation of every member.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.