Santa Claus – This Is How I Small Group

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This Is How I Small Group is a periodic series getting to know members of the small group. Some will have decades of experience, others will be brand new to small group ministry. Each one has a unique perspective that makes them invaluable to their church and to the small group network.

  1. Name: Santa Claus (but Mr. Claus was my dad’s name, call me Nick)
  2. Current town: Christmas VillageThe North Pole
  3. Current church: North Pole Crosspoint
  4. Current job title: I’m bi-vocational, but my church job is director of community
  5. How long you’ve been in that role: Depends on how you look at it, but somewhere between 1680 years and about 200 years.
  6. One word that describes how you work: Jolly
Santa Small Group

Q. How did you come to be here? Share about your background.

A. I’ve been involved in the church for quite sometime. I was even a part of the Council of Nicea, where we would have included small groups in the Nicene Creed if Arius hadn’t caused a ruckus. It wasn’t until the invention of the guitar that I saw such an argument in church.

Q. What does a typical work day look like for you? 

A. The nice part about my day job is that I really only have to work one day a year, it is a holiday but I can live with that. So that frees up most of the year to focus on just being a small group point person. Typically I try to start the day by catching up on emails. I follow that up by knocking out more broad communications; social media, team missives, etc. We’re a pretty big operation so communication is absolutely essential. Each day I meet with different team leads and coaching groups to check in on things and track progress and problems.

After lunch I take a half an hour nap because I’m over a thousand years old and have two jobs. After my nap, I spend time working with the teaching team to develop our sermon based curriculum. Then depending on the day, I spend an hour or so cleaning out the reindeer stalls. All the senior leadership takes turns doing it. It is a servant leadership thing.

Q. What about groups ministry have you been the most fulfilled by? 

A. Watching elves grow. Not literally of course, they’re still two and a half feet tall. But I mean on a personal and spiritual level, seeing that growth really means a lot. Yes it may take 83 years or longer for some, but time is an essential ingredient in discipleship that just can’t be bypassed.

Q. What tools, apps, subscriptions, etc are most helpful to you? 

A. Writing things down. I’m a lists guy (more on that next). Lately, I’ve also been a big fan of Notion for managing everything. I also use Duolingo a lot. Y’all are always coming up with new languages and I have to be able to read kids’ letters for my other job. And of course the Small Group Network email newsletter. I’m a huge huge fan. (editor’s note: sign up HERE)

Q. What are your best work tips or productivity hacks? 

A. As I mentioned, I’m a pretty big lists guy. I’ve tried a few other things, but there’s just something magical about good ol’ parchment, quill, and ink well. Yes there are those modern “ball point pens” and lined notebook paper, but there’s just something different about using a real quill, dipped in real ink, written on handmade paper, not something that came out of a factory somewhere.

Q. What have been your biggest questions since you began your role and how would you say they’ve been answered? 

A. My two biggest questions have been centered around the following:

  1. How to build a leadership pipeline among a race of magical/fictional creatures
  2. How to move those leaders from simply making toys during group time to Spirit led discussion and community.

My question of building out the elf pipeline has been answered throughout the course of several made for tv holiday specials. But in regards to moving leaders from just toy making to being good conversationalists wasn’t just something that I could sprinkle magic powder over. Trust me, I tried. The best solution was to ask the same ice breaker each and every single week: what’s your favorite Christmas carol?

Q. What is your current biggest struggle?

A. Buckling my pants. A hundred years ago, your standard pop culture santa was in shape. But as you can see, over the past century, with the trend of putting out cookies, etc. Things have blown up, so to speak. But from a groups perspective, I have a little bit of a reverse problem from what the typical church has. Elves are by nature both hard working and volunteer oriented. So when we have our campaign to recruit group leaders, every single elf in the north pole signs up. Literally all of them. There are no elves who don’t volunteer. So we have to sort through and select which ones are going to be the best fit.

Q. Would you describe yourself as more of a processes person, or strategy/ideas person, or something else? 

A. I am definitely a processes person. Some of my processes are over a thousand years old. Of course, we do try to constantly adapt to modern culture, smaller chimney sizes, and of course toy preference. But when it comes to small groups, we’ve stuck to similar house to house processes since the early church.

Q. Are you currently in a small group, and if so, what makes your small group unique?  

A. Yes, I would say it is most unique in that everyone in it is a magical person. I can tell you that group discussions are a hoot! Also the fact that we are all functionally immortal makes meaningful change and growth a big challenge. I’m still struggling with some of the same faults I struggled with 700 years ago. Just ask my wife!

Q. In your time in your role, what are you most proud of? 

A. Learning to delegate and share authority. Originally in my day job, I made all of the toys myself. I did the lists. And I did all of the delivering. Obviously this was a lot. But about 100-150 years ago, I gave up some of the responsibilities to the elves. Was it a little rough at first? Of course, their hands are so tiny! That’s when I started just putting oranges in stockings. But since then we have truly scaled exponentially. The same is true in my groups. If I had to spend all day every day running every single aspect of our groups ministry, we would be capped out at maybe 30 different groups. As is, we have thousands and I can spend more quality time on things.

Q. If you could offer someone starting day one as a small group point person, 1 piece of advice, what would it be? 

A. If your church members are mostly 2 foot tall elves, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T CALL YOUR GROUPS SMALL GROUPS! Just stick to community groups, or life groups, or anything other than small groups.

Q. Who would you most like to see answer these questions (either because you want to know what they have to say or because you think everyone else should hear what they have to say) 

A. The Apostle John, both Mary & Martha, Dallas Willard, Beth Moore

Have a question or an insight? Leave it below!

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