Leading a Home Group: The Small Group Leader (1) – Leading
What will be true of a small group leader?
God desires that every Christian become a Disciple-maker. God gave every Christian the Great Commission where He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt. 28:19-20) It is through the words of the disciples to all people that Jesus said people will believe and be discipled, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (John 17:20)
Yet there must be “quality control” or some standards by which leaders should be chosen, put into the leadership position and tasked to lead others in a small group. This is the first of several parts describing that leader. There are three truths in this article that must be true of every small group leader. He will be ready to lead, appointed by others and leading like a parent.
First, he will be trained to lead. He will have participated in a small group setting and he understands and can explain the vision and mission of the church. He will have had experience in leading an established small group as an assistant. Through the mentoring/ discipleship of a small group leader, he will become grounded in the basics of leading. He’ll also be willing to continue this mentoring relationship with a small group coach. He will understand how small groups and accountability work. He understands expectations of himself and others. He is winsome in a relational environment, because leadership is not about him, but about helping others learn and grow. And he has proven himself able to oversee and to coordinate the functioning of a group. He lives out Paul’s admonition to Timothy,
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth…22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2Tim. 2:15-26)
Secondly, he will be appointed by others to lead. There have been a couple times in ministry, when a person said, “Please get me some people to teach.” I encouraged them to invite others to a study they were going to lead, but I wasn’t going to subject people to one who had not participated in a small group environment. When the time is right the mentoring Small Group Leader will let leadership know when the assistant leader is ready to be launched. Humility is a key. The potential leader will have been observed and proven available and teachable regarding leadership.
Leaders on the church team look for leaders who have proven themselves faithful in attending a small group, who are faithful in spiritual disciplines and who serve in spiritual growth opportunities. Paul writes, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure. (1Tim. 5:22) Just because people can give academic answers to Bible questions or they are Bible Trivia champions, they are not qualified as leaders.
Leaders don’t appoint leaders who are brains on a stick. Just because people know biblical truth, theology or trivia, they are not necessarily qualified to be small group leaders. We do want a person to aspire to the position of leadership, but he will be humble enough to wait upon the appointment of others.
Thirdly, he will lead like a parent. He knows he is there for the sake of others. He doesn’t use his position of authority for himself, but for responsibility to assist others in their spiritual growth. He gives others the opportunity to serve in group leadership opportunities and he disciples others to take those steps of opportunity to grow and lead. He will be patient with comments others make and consider how to turn inappropriate comments into good use for the Lord’s work. Paul encourages the young church of Thessalonica,
But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thess. 2:7-12)
As the small group leader matures in small group skills, he will identify those who are ready to take opportunities of leadership in the small group and begin the training process with them.
The Small Group Leader is an essential element for connecting, equipping and multiplying in small group growth. He will be ready, because he has been involved in small group ministry. He will be humble enough to wait for the appointment from others on the church team, rather than demanding that he should have the right to lead. And he will be leading like a parent, not a child. The Small Group Leader is there for others and the glory of Jesus Christ, not himself.