I have noticed that while I know what matters, I can easily lose my focus on what matters with all the tasks that seem to need to be done at any given moment. Sometimes we must take steps to focus on the most important and let the lesser important things go. As a small group leader, what practices will do the most to develop the small group? What practices can I focus on that will move my group to a new level of growth, ministry, mission, and leadership?
Eric Geiger is the vice president of the Resources Division of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author or co-author of Identify, Creature of the Word, Simple Church, Transformational Discipleship, Transformational Groups, and his newest book, Designed to Lead. In his blog he recently discussed “Four Essential Leadership Practices for Ministry.” As I read his post I realized that it also applied as four essential leadership practices for small group leaders. Here’s why:
- Shepherd your soul: Your character matters. Character provides the authenticity needed to be a leader. While no one expects perfection, what people want is leaders trying their best to model what they teach. A leader’s life and a leader’s words must be pointing in the same direction. A leader that is seeking to model the life he or she is advocating will never be without someone to lead.
- Offer clear direction: Get clear and help your group get clear about the purpose and direct of your group. Why does your group exist? Is it a Bible study group focused on developing community? Is your group focused on reaching unchurched people? Does your group have a definite discipleship or leadership goal? Do the group members know this and support this? Frequently talking about your purpose and direction and asking group members to describe the group’s purpose and direction helps everyone get clarity.
- Cultivate your culture: Help your group see the common values your church and your small group share. You will likely find these values in your church’s mission statement and core beliefs. Think about what these values will look like if your group were holding tightly to them. Then teach these actions and attitudes in your group meetings. Highlight your church’s values. Commend group leaders when they demonstrate the common values. Create opportunities to strengthen the values. For instance, if your group values mercy and justice in the community, plan ministry opportunities to live out mercy and justice. Maybe such a group would start tutoring children at a substandard performing school.
- Develop others: Your group and your church are in need of leadership. Therefore, we must prioritize seeing the potential in our group members and help them develop it. We have to be talent scouts and trainers in everything we do and say. Ask yourself, “Will this next _______ (lesson, fellowship, service project, mission trip, etc.) help develop next year’s leaders?” Find one or two group members close to stepping into leadership and spend intentional time with them to develop their ability to lead and serve.
Scripture: Psalm 78:70-72 is one of my favorite passages about the leadership God desires in us. Here the psalmist speaks of David’s leadership as God developed it in him. What does “with upright heart” and “with his skillful hand” mean to you? How do these teach us about leadership?
Dig Deeper: Read Eric Geiger’s 4 Essential Leadership Practices in Ministry. While you are in his blog, poke around a bit and see what else you can learn.