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As I was walking through the crowd of people at a recent Group Connect event, I heard my name called. It was from a couple who used to be in my small group. They were members who left my group to start their own small groups.
The couple was talking to a man about joining a small group and thought mine would be a great match. After introducing me, one of them told the man about their experience in the group and that they started leading their own groups as a result.
Then he paused with a puzzled look on his face.
At that moment, he realized I never asked him or pushed him to be a small group leader. Even though he believed I was a major influence on his decision, he didn’t know how it happened.
I have had the privilege of seeing many small groups birthed out of my small group. The method I discovered is intentional, depends on God, and removes the pressure from everyone involved.
Fears to Overcome
What fears do people have that discourage them from becoming small group leaders? Here are the top three reasons I hear:
- It takes too much time for me to lead a small group
- I have to be a Bible scholar and know the answer for every question
- I’m not a leader
As a small group point person, you have probably heard these excuses as well. Of course, there are responses that point out why these are not valid reasons. But what if these excuses could be eliminated through small actions before a person considers being a small group leader.
Don’t actions speak louder than words?
These small actions are like atomic habits as described by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. They are small, easy changes that together can produce big results when done consistently.
Would you like to know how you and your small group leaders can do it?
Small Group Leader Recruitment
This doesn’t change any of the other small group leader recruitment methods you currently use. You may already have your small group leaders asking or identifying members to be small group leaders. Have them make these tweaks as they minister to their members to “secretly” break down excuses before they are asked:
Have group leaders frequently mention your vision for small groups to group members. They should share why small group is important to them and how it has changed their lives (and allow members to do the same). If members are excited about the vision, they will seriously consider becoming a leader.
Pray Daily for Next Steps
Ask God daily to reveal the next step for each member. My ultimate goal for each of my members is that they discover and take their next step. I want them to be where God wants them to be. I get excited every time I hear the words “I believe God is calling me to _______.”
Let them know you are praying for them daily. Encourage them to pray for each other. We use a prayer app to manage our prayers and requests. I even have my group members hold me accountable if they don’t get a notice that I prayed for them.
Keep It Simple
If the leader demonstrates simple ways to lead their group, the members will see the time investment can be minimal. This is one of the reasons I use video-enhanced studies most of the time and I use the questions in the study to stimulate conversation. Using simple tools for things like tracking prayer requests, organizing food, and communicating helps as well.
Freely explain to the group why you are doing what you are doing. Let them know it is to show that anyone in the group can do it.
Share God’s Work
Allow a few minutes each time a group gathers for members to share how God is working in their lives and challenges they are experiencing.
This is when I sometimes hear the magic phrase “I believe God is calling…”
Encourage the Uncomfortable
I frequently find appropriate times to tell my group members if they aren’t uncomfortable, they aren’t growing. Over time, they believe it is a good thing to move out in faith and get out of their comfort zone.
Celebrate those times as a group when it happens.
A small group leader needs to be quiet through much of the group discussion. It encourages the “deep thinkers” in the room to participate. It also shows that the leader doesn’t always need to have an answer to every question.
What about the rare occasion when group members don’t have an answer? Give them an opportunity to research it and come back to the next gathering with their response.
Now that the main excuses have been addressed and members are seeking the right area to get uncomfortable, it is time to ask about their next step (if they haven’t already declared it).
At least a couple of times a year, ask your members what they believe their next step is. We send out a survey to every group member towards the end of each semester. The survey has several choices that can be selected. It also has a “fill in the blank” if their next step is not on the list.
Use any method of an ask that works for you. Make sure every member gets an opportunity to declare what God is asking them to do next.
I have been surprised (in a good way) by some of the responses received. People are more prepared to take their next step and even lead a small group when making these small changes.
Will you and your small group leaders be making these small changes? If so, please let me know your result.