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?
Next up is this question
6. Who must we find?
Small groups will only be as effective as those who lead them, and every small group ministry director knows that finding the right leaders will be the key to success. But what does that leader look like?
Start by considering how you’ve answered some of our previous questions, like “What will our small groups do?” Are these groups primarily focused on relationships or content? Your answer tells you something about the kind of leaders you need.
Most of your church people assume that a small group leader must be a teacher. After all, there’s material to cover and someone has to have all the answers, right? But your groups may only require a facilitator—someone to ask questions after the lesson is read or the video is played. Facilitating a group requires a lot less preparation and is usually easier, unless you’re a teacher who insist on dominating the discussion.
If you want discussion groups, don’t put overly talkative people in charge. They’ll have trouble gaining the input of others and soon the group will become more of a teaching environment. But if you want that kind of environment, find good teachers who can get the job done. In my experience, teaching groups are less effective, especially if you were hoping for relationships to form.
Remember that the larger your leader expectations, the more training you will need to provide. Relational and discussion groups may only require one training session where you can discuss facilitation strategies and engaging social skills. But teaching groups need leaders who can manage such expectations. There aren’t as many of those folks and they’ll need extensive training.
You can probably see why answering this question is so critical. Once you know the kind of leaders you need, it’s a lot easier to find them. At the same time, getting the wrong type of leader for the groups you desire creates a host of problems and likely sinks that group.