Small Group Leadership: Casting Vision
Leading a small group is the next best thing after leading someone to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. It is the adventure of watching the Lord work through you leading others on their spiritual journey to knowing Jesus. There are victories and setbacks. There are amazing testimonies of God’s grace and there are the disappointments of people choosing to become distracted in the American Disneyland.
Leading a small group is definitely about leading a discussion with a group of people, but there are also many other responsibilities of the Small Group Leader. One of those responsibilities is “Casting Vision.” Casting Vision helps people understand many things about themselves, about spiritual growth and about building in the lives of others. Too many times people come only for what they are going to get out of the small group. Thankfully, God can use that motivation to get people to join a small group, but God desires that leaders cast a vision to think outside of themselves. What are some of the purposes of a small group leader “casting vision” to people in the small group?
First, life is not about them (John 5:19, 30). A small group leader must lead in such a way that the people enjoy going, enjoy the discussion and the challenges and enjoy taking steps of responsibility in the group. In the process, the leader must help people see there is a bigger picture of why there are small groups and the intentional discipleship involved.
Secondly, there is an urgency of the future (Phil. 3:12-13). Small groups gather to connect1 relationships, so that people can be equipped in discipleship to Jesus Christ. The process should lead to multiplication to reach other disciples and influence the entire world. If people come week after week without any sense of urgency, they will continue to come and miss out on the most important part of our vision. The most important part of our vision is “multiply together with the gospel to reach the world.”2 Until people get the vision and motivation of multiplication, they will be content with the present, rather than pursuing for the future.
Thirdly, connect the vision to Scripture (Phil. 3:14). Scripture is the one standard that measures all that we do, highlights what we are supposed to do and keeps us on track with making sure God’s will on earth will be as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). Scripture is God-inspired (2 Tim. 3:16). Scripture is one of the spiritual growth ingredients (Rom. 15:13-14). Scripture is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12). Vision is not about a personal agenda. It must be tied to Scripture to ensure it is God’s agenda.
Fourthly, in addition to vision casting, do problem casting (Neh. 2:15-18). Let the people know what the problem is so they can see their part in what God wants to do. Nehemiah went about the city at night and came back to the people to let them know that the problem – the wall – was in ruins and needed to be rebuilt so they would not be a reproach. Today, the reproach is a lack of disciples following Christ, a lack of vitality in Christian relationships, a lack of enthusiasm in witnessing and a lack of leaders developing other key leaders. There are many other problems like strained marriages, rebellious children, young people leaving the church, etc. etc. Take care of the first set of problems (raising up leadership) and the second set will be overcome.
Fifthly, help them understand why they need to act (Neh. 4:12-14). Many people can see the picture and the problem, but not understand “why” they need to act. Too many people think someone else will act. Too many people think there are better equipped people to act. Too many people don’t think their contribution will matter. Small group leaders need to help people see their contribution is essential for the urgency and the problem.
Sixthly, show how the vision affects each person (Matt. 9:36). A small group leader casts vision, so people (sheep) know where the leader (shepherd) is guiding them. People need to know how the vision affects them going forward and how it affects them if it doesn’t go. What are the ramifications if the people don’t grasp the vision? A good illustration could be taken from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George was discouraged about life, until he saw what life was like without him in it.
Seventhly, call them to commitment (Luke 14:26, 27). A disciple of Jesus Christ must make the commitment that nothing in life matters, but pursuing Jesus Christ. He must decide that there are many good things to do in life and only a strong pursuit of Jesus will keep all relationships in balance. He must commit to bearing His cross to keep all the distractions of the world in perspective and press to the ultimate objective of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. A small group leader must be clear in his vision. He must help people see the “baby steps” of spiritual growth. He must be accessible to the people so when they have problems or questions, he is willing to talk. And he must give them measurable steps so they can see the process and progress of spiritual growth in the multiplication strategy.
The small group leader must cast vision for the people to see where they need to go. It’s like a shepherd leading the way to green pastures and still waters. Cast the vision and disciple more closely those who want to follow your lead.
1Connect, Equip and Multiply are the three key words for the Grace Vision statement.
2This is the third sentence of the Grace Vision Statement.