What To Do When Your Senior Pastor Is Not Rick Warren

Hear How Rich Doubled His Small Groups in One Month (2 min vid)

What to Do when Your Senior Pastor Is not Rick Warren

As a small group point person, you have probably read the articles, read the books, and listened to Steve Gladen pontificate about the importance of the senior pastor casting vision for small groups. You go to sleep dreaming of that day becoming a reality. I know I have. Where my pastor is like Rick Warren and casts the vision for needing more small group H.O.S.T.S., and instantaneously I have 1000 more H.O.S.T.S. to train, equip, and find coaches for.

In the ideal world, it would be great if all of our senior pastors were that way. But chances are if you are reading this blog, you and I have a lot in common. Sure, our senior pastor supports this idea. Sure, he wants people connected and believes people will be better off connected, but whether you are paid or volunteer, that is why you are on staff. That is why I am on staff.

So what do we do? How do we uncover new small group leaders/facilitators/HOSTS/whatever you call them?

First don’t give up. It is all too easy to look around and develop a spirit of cynicism and resignation. Unless it is time to leave, God has placed me, God has placed you, in the position. Keep elbowing your senior pastor, gently (after all we are all different parts of one body). Keep feeding him stories. Or if he likes data, keep giving him data. Share articles with him, maybe not on the role of the senior pastor, but simpler ideas. Ask questions. Keep talking to him. I struggle with this, because it is really difficult to have the same conversation time and time again. But again, God has called me and placed me, and God has called you and placed you.

Second, find ways to meet people. For me that has meant teaching our new member’s class, where I can talk about the importance of small groups. From this C.L.A.S.S., we have typically been able to start a new small group. It’s not a 1000, but it’s one. And that is a win. Or if your church still offers Sunday School or something for adults on Sunday, teach there. Bottom line, you and I need avenues to develop relationships with people, and more than just a lobby conversation on a Sunday morning (which as an introvert, I loathe).

Third, when you train, broaden the topic. So instead of offering a nuts and bolts on how to lead a small group (which are great and needed), I offer a training that potentially appeals to the vast majority of my people. So last summer, the training was on spiritual conversations. This summer, we are bringing out a speaker to talk on loving those most difficult to love. I have no idea who will show up, but chances are if they show up to something like this, they might be willing to facilitate a small group. Again I might not start 30 new groups, but if I start 3? Awesome.

Granted it’s not the exponential growth we all dream of, but I need to remind myself, that often it’s the little steps that matter. And who knows what one day the Lord might do?

To learn more about what Steve Gladen did before Rick Warren was completely on board, listen to his podcast “7 Ways to Lead Effective Small Group Ministry When Your Pastor May Not Be On Board” 


  • Andrew Camp

    Andrew Camp has an MA in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from Talbot Seminary. He is also a professionally trained chef, most recently as the sous chef at Silver Restaurant in Park City, UT until it closed in 2015. Since then, he has served as the Spiritual Growth Pastor at Mountain Life Church in Park City. He and his wife, Claire, live just outside of Park City with their two young daughters, Hazelle and Hannah.

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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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