Monica Lee – This Is How I Small Group

This Is How I Small Group is a periodic series about 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: Monica Lee 
  2. Current town: Portage, Michigan  
  3. Current church: Radiant Church (Kalamazoo, MI)
  4. Current job title: Groups & Discipleship Pastor  
  5. How long you’ve been in that role: 5 years
  6. One word that describes how you work: Strategic 

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

A. My background is relatively broad: I grew up on a horse farm and showed horses nationally. I attended Michigan State University to receive my Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a minor in pre-veterinary studies and began my career in the corporate world in veterinary pharmaceuticals. I met both Jesus and my husband as a 24-year-old and they both changed my life forever! We had a son, Gavin, and I continued as a working mom. But, as I was pregnant with my daughter, Taylor, my pharmaceutical company unexpectedly and spontaneously liquidated and closed. God knew the plan, as soon after my water broke incredibly early with my daughter (24 weeks) and after a 3-week long bedrest, she was born exactly three months early. My heart changed and I just couldn’t return to work. I found myself serving my family as a stay-at-home mom. I always figured I would return to the corporate world, but during that time, the Lord called me into vocational ministry—I knew it was pastoral ministry, but I wasn’t able to speak it to anyone but my husband. When both of my children were in full-time elementary school, I accepted my first position at our church: the event coordinator. A year later, I became the Executive Pastor’s Assistant. Three years into that position, I thought I was leaving employment to gain my Christian Ministry certificate from Liberty University, but then was asked to come back as the Project Manager to launch our second campus. After that campus launched and my degree was complete, I was asked to join our staff as the Groups & Discipleship Pastor. 

Q: What does a typical workday look like for you?

A: My day begins around 6AM with a coffee, my Bible, and prayer. After sending my two high schoolers off to school (because they still need mom), I head out to work. I start out my department’s workday with team prayer, connect with our administration team to respond to their questions, and then begin my day. Truly, each day is different, but a typical week includes personal ministry meetings, strategy meetings, leader acquisition, leader equipping, discipling, leading prayer meetings, teaching at our ministry school, and vision/strategic planning. We currently have 2 campuses, a downtown prayer center (and future campus), with additional campus developments planned. Because my role operates centrally, I work closely with our campus pastors and central teams to ensure that those who call Radiant Church home are finding a sense of belonging, engaging, growing, and living out our values and mission.

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

A: The testimonies of Jesus changing people’s lives: salvations, answered prayers, healing, discipleship, a sense of belonging, and life-change. Their group is the narrator and provides the setting—but Jesus is the hero in their story! You can argue with a lot of things in life, but you can never dispute someone’s testimony/experience.

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

A: Logos is a trusted friend! 🙂 We also utilize RightNow Media, Zoom, basecamp, and InDesign. For apps, I love Spotify for my podcasts and music, the basecamp app, waze, and the notes app–I’m a fan of all of them.

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

A: Calendar planning and strategy is a necessity for me–I work in strategic blocks so my headspace remains productive. I’ve also learned to identify and prioritize what I deem as the most important ways to spend my time and equip/invest in others to delegate as much as possible. It’s not always easy making time to develop others, but it’s playing with the long game in mind! Lastly, I have learned to be all-in wherever I’m at: I work really hard, but I’m learning to also rest hard (that’s been a work in progress for me).

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

A: How can I ever get ahead when ministry never stops? 

Response: I’ve learned to invest my time in strategically developing and discipling coaches, leaders, and equippers so more ministry can take place without me.

A: How can I incorporate a discipleship culture into our groups structure?

Response: Place incredible coaches and leaders and invest in a successive discipleship model so those engaged in our Groups culture at every level are being grown and discipled. I’ve also incorporated new discipleship equipping tools to help our leaders disciple better.

A: How can I develop a sense of cohesiveness between the Groups ministry and leadership—thus eliminating a ministry silo, and driving vision/unity?

Response: Redefining and aligning our Groups Ministry with our Radiant values and mission statement has been a very successful shift. Our mission statement is to create radiant disciples of Jesus, and are values are Word Centered, Spirit Empowered, Kingdom Focused, Family Oriented, and Mission Motivated. Because of this, I made our groups discipleship vehicles culture and that each of our values are being lived out in each group.

A: What are ways our groups can help our church attendees take what they’ve learned this weekend to the next level?

Response: Since, by their very nature, groups help bring the weekend into the week—I decided to implement that with our message-based curriculum. This creates an intentionality for participants to take what they’ve learned each weekend, discuss it deeper, and bring it to a place of application with accountability.

Q: What is your current biggest struggle?

A: TIME! My current biggest focus is reengagement.

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

A: Tough question. Because of my background, I really am both—split straight down the middle. So, I try to leave our processes to my incredible admin/coordinator team and focus on strategy and ideas. Our processes are in great hands with them!

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

A: I am. My husband and I lead a group for married couples. We study our message-based curriculum and take our weekend messages to a deeper place of discussion and application. We didn’t plan it this way, but it is a multi-generational group, and every couple represents a different decade. It is refreshing and fun to have different perspectives, zeal, and wisdom!

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

A: The deep and wide growth/discipleship model that has been built.

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

A: Can I give two?

1. Align your ministry with your church’s mission and values.

2. Invest, invest, invest.

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: Allen White, Andrew Mason, and Micah Odor


  • James Browning

    James Browning is the Pastor of Small Group Network Development and a staff member at Saddleback Church. He has over a decade of experience in marketing and digital evangelism.

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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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