Expanding Your Small Groups

One of the key issues for growing churches is: how do I find enough leaders for my small group ministry?

This is especially tough if the church has set the bar for being a small group leader high: ‘We are looking for people who have read through the Bible at least once, spend an hour a day in prayer and regularly lead people to Christ.’ (Yes I am exaggerating, but only slightly)

I want to say, that while it’s true that not everyone can lead a small group, and not everyone would want to, we don’t need to be afraid of the leadership word.

There’s a leader in all of us.

My thinking behind this statement comes from the biblical idea that leading is part of everyone’s DNA. In Genesis we read that every human is made in the image of God (Gen.) 1:27. And whilst scholars have no consensus on what exactly may be included within that, the context gives us a clue. In verse 28 God commands Adam and Eve to take care of the planet: ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (NIV)”

John Mark Comer wrote in his book, Garden City:

‘The word rule is radah in Hebrew. It can be translated “reign” or “have dominion.” It is king language. One Hebrew scholar translated it as “to actively partner with God in taking the world somewhere.”

What if God has placed a desire within all of us to lead?

The truth is that Jesus’ teaching was largely addressed to disciples, who became the leaders of the church. If we think Jesus’ teaching applies to us, and who wouldn’t, and if we are serious about following Jesus we have (perhaps unwittingly) signed up to learn how to be leaders!

Many of us are not leaders in the sense of calling people to ‘follow us’ somewhere. But if leadership is influence and we are all called to be a godly influence wherever we are – which for many of us in churches – could being a godly influence mean being a leader in a small group setting?

Some people may not be ready to lead: they have stuff to sort out, an ‘old life’ to disentangle from, and new godly habits to prioritise. But everyone has the prospect of being a faithful and godly influence. And those who have sensed God helping them reach a degree of maturity might well find a small group leadership role a thrilling place to serve God.

If your church is looking for new small group leaders, make sure you have the right criteria. Maybe your problem is not a lack of potential leaders, but with the criteria you are looking for?

For more on a biblical view of leading check out my latest book, The Leadership Road Less Travelled: leading as God intended you to (CWR).

Andy Peck, teaching team, CWR