4 Hacks to Recruiting New Small Group Leaders

Recruiting new small group leaders can feel like an all-year all-hands-on-deck operation. The ratio of people looking for groups versus people willing to lead seems like it skews to the latter.

Before becoming a pastor, I worked as an admissions counselor at a college. My role focused on recruiting students to apply and attend the college. Some nights, I would go to a college fair where three people would talk with me. Other times, I sat with four students over a cup of coffee who ended coming to the school.

Perhaps, the word recruiting comes across as too sales-y for you. Goals and metrics mattered to me as a pastor and admissions counselor, but the relationships meant the most. In many ways, we need to shift our view of “recruiting” to see it as ongoing relationship building.

As I think about my last eight years on staff as a Small Group Pastor and as an admissions counselor, I want to offer you a few recruiting hacks that you can start using today as a small group point person:

Hack #1 – Walk around the lobby.

Aaron walked up to me after church and introduced himself. A few weeks later he joined a short-term group with me and then led a group. He shared his experience as a small group coach prior to coming to the church I serve. When you walk around the lobby, you have no idea who you will meet. Utilize the Sunday mornings and events to get to know people.

Hack #2 – Start with an open training opportunity with a clear follow up process.

Our small group leadership team made the shift to invite any person to a small group leadership training. Following the training potential leaders would fill out an application and get interviewed by one of our small group coaches.

I think sometimes we try to recruit the perfect leader and then train them as opposed to offering a clear opportunity for training. An open invitation to a training might help those on the fence about leading see the vision for small groups. You might fear recruiting the wrong leaders. That’s why the follow-up application and interview helps as an added safeguard.

Starting with an open leadership training can open the door for new leaders who might not be in your circle. We talk about the training as an exercise in discernment.

Hack #3 – Create short-term group leading opportunities.

One thing that holds leaders back is thinking that they will forever lead a small group. At Browncroft almost twenty years ago, we went through 40 Days of Purpose. That short-term experience two decades ago still has small groups that meet today.

When small group ministries provide a clear group experience, leaders will get on board. We primarily use ROOTED to launch our new groups. You may use Starting Point, Alpha, or something else. These experiences offer structure to new leaders.

Hack #4 – Group transitions create leader opportunities.

Most of us don’t like getting the email of a group leader stepping down. Amid the group transition, a person in the group may feel compelled to lead the group. Be careful of rushing to place the people in the group. Perhaps, a person might step up who you would not expect.

What other hacks would you add? Share them in the comment section below.


Have a question or an insight? Leave it below!

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director



Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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