3 Areas of Growth After Learning the Hard Way

I am not writing this as an expert, but I am currently learning some valuable lessons the hard way. In May, as this Small Group Semester came to a close, I began to call a few groups to ask about their summer plans. As I hung up the phone with one group leader, my worst fears were realized and my thoughts for shortcomings were confirmed. The leader on the other end of the phone informed me, we’ve actually been attending [another local church] since January. Our group just ended and we couldn’t find anyone to take over for the future… While you may argue, I know I did, this will happen sometimes, I knew it resonated a lot deeper than changing churches.  I sat there a few minutes after thinking, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! How was a family gone for an entire semester and I didn’t know about this?! This family was super connected, served within the Small Group Team Leader level for a period, and was phenomenal in all aspects of connecting and leading families in our church. Was this happening elsewhere?

After a couple of days of self evaluation, I had to admit to myself that I was missing the mark in two major areas of caring for my Small Group Leaders. First, I ASSUMED – because of certain people’s connectedness or other factors – that some leaders were ok without much communication. The second mistake I made was that I tried to conquer the Small Group hill ALONE! Properly caring for Small Group Leaders is vital to numerical growth and, more importantly, spiritual growth within the Church. These leaders, and others, were not properly cared for and I want to walk through three steps I am taking into the Fall Semester to ensure we are active in caring for our Small Group Leaders.

  1. We want to be clear in our PURPOSE for Small Groups. This mission of our church is to help people take their Next Step in Christ.  I want to make sure that our leaders know this and understand that Small Groups help achieve this purpose.  This clarity in purpose will help our leaders know their group is much more than a weekly potluck, but it’s oozing with opportunity to make an eternal difference in the life of an individual and/ or family! It will take away any doubt of do we really matter here or thought of they’ll never miss us.
  2. We will actively MEASURE the Spiritual Growth within our Small Groups. We’ve not done this strategically before. In the past, we have simply asked for stories, which is great, but we wanted to take it a step further. We want to celebrate every success we had. For instance, two of our softball teams had 18 new people to begin attending church for the first time! We will ask our leaders and members about the steps they took in their faith through a survey (Click here to check out our leader’s survey and member’s survey). I believe people see what we hold as most important to us, by what we measure. We then follow up this process by sharing the stats and stories, so that the leaders know the difference that they are making.
  3. We will EMPOWER leaders in an active, simple system. In the past, I’ve waited on empowering others because I didn’t have enough leaders, they weren’t the correct leaders, or some other lame excuse. If it wasn’t perfect and fully operational then I waited until it was. At another time, we had Team Leaders that oversaw groups, but their involvement, and mine, faded as it didn’t appear in the perfect, thought out way we envisioned them. Bottomline is, having people to simply support and connect with small group leaders is essential. It communicates that the church does care for them, they are essential to what we (the church) do and we want to do everything we can to partner with and encourage them where they are.

I know there will be more to closing the back end of a system, to make sure that ALL small group leaders are cared for, but these three action steps will start me on my way. After reading chapter two of Small Groups with Purpose, I know I can’t afford to wait until I have it all figured out. I encourage you to use these action steps, and find your own, to care for you leaders in a better way.


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  • John Tyler Black

    JT is the Small Groups Pastor at Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, GA. He enjoys connecting families with others and the local church. When he is away from the desk, he enjoys being with his family and all things basketball.

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