In recent weeks, we’ve looked at three critical questions for small group ministry planning:
1. Why are we doing small groups?
2. What will our small groups do?
3. Who will we involve in small groups?
4. Will we keep an open chair?
5. What will our groups not do?
6. Who must we find?
7. Commitment – Do we anticipate low requirement?
8. Content – What will the group do?
9. Term – How often will we meet?
Next on our list is another important decision for leaders:
10. Leadership – Who will make this work?
This final question addresses the key leaders who will drive your small group effort forward. Notice that we’ve already worked through most of the planning issues before assigning this project to a staff member or other key leader. Why? Because now we know what we are trying to do and what kind of leader we will need.
As the saying goes, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” The best plan will only prove to be as good as the leader who implements it. Good organization, people skills, recruiting ability, and problem-solving are all essential traits of your small group director.
Be sure that this person has the ear of the congregation. To get people involved in small groups, whether leading or attending, the director will need to have influence within the congregation. No plan will succeed without that influence. That’s why, in most cases, it is critical that the lead pastor play a major role in promotion and prioritizing small group involvement. His influence will be important, as his influence is likely the largest in the church.
Also, make sure that the connection between small groups and the church’s vision is made clear. Why should people be involved? “Because relationships, discipleship, and opportunities to grow are a major part of what our church does.” That’s the kind of answer your leader will want to have ready.
For small group ministries to get off to a strong start, there must be a feeling that this is something everyone should do. Yes, we may start with just a few groups, but the excitement should be palpable among the involved. Ultimately, word of mouth becomes your best promotion.
Get the right leader and your chances for success will escalate. Find a leader who fully understands your plan, believes in what you are doing, and has the people skills to get others involved. Leaders will need to be recruited, trained, and encouraged. Groups will need effective promotion and ongoing support. To succeed, small group ministry will need to be someone’s main priority and that someone should be among the very best leaders you have.