So your a Small Group Pastor and you have both a value and a necessity to care for all the small group leaders in the church as well as their wives and apprentices. A big job in any size church. How do you go about doing? Well I can’t answer that for you but this is how I try to tackle the responsibility:
Through annual emphasis’s:
Every year I create dates for our small group leaders that help them in a practical way make real some of the values we say we have. What are those values? The whole body speaking into the whole body: basically we block out a few weekends a year where we encourage our group leaders to put their group with one or more groups and have cookouts and mixers. We do this because we want to give the various ages and stages that sometimes form in particular small groups the opportunity to be engaged by other ages and stages. We also put a lot of stock in missional outreaches: these are parties that groups can host to invite co-workers or neighbors to, or they are mercy events that our Mercy Ministries creates for the whole church to come out to, or they are various other outward type outreaches. Lastly, we encourage our leaders to experience the support of other small group leaders through quarterly meetings where we also deepen some of our values in our small groups manuals. The dates are suggestions not demands on our part, though the quarterly meetings are strong expectations. We do this to help our leaders carry out their passions for their small groups and our ministry’s vision.
Through quarterly meetings for all the leaders, apprentices, and wives:
No one is an island to themselves as a small group leader. One of the many ways we try and reinforce this is by hosting quarterly meetings where small group leaders experience being in a small group made up of small group leaders. We have a time of fellowship and prayer, a time of small group consultation where three teams of leader/wives pair up and each share one big issue they are dealing with and receive encouragement and advice from the other leaders, as well as a time of equipping focused teaching. In that last portion we reinforce the core values of small groups in our church with tools that can move people from the idea to actual implementation of it.
Through monthly one-on-one meetings:
Each month I meet with as many small group leaders as possible in order to care for them as leaders, hear in person where the several prayer reports and requests are going in their groups, and discuss how they are doing as small group leaders. Soon I’m adding another component to these meetings, something I’m calling “holy conversations”. Basically I’m going to encourage our small group leaders to read through an article or book chapter before I meet with them so that we can have some relevant material to discuss as they and I develop as small group leaders. The articles and chapters are specifically chosen by me to do three things: reinforce our core values, deepen the theological and pastoral vision of the small group leader, and give them very solid resources or authors from which they can go further into on their own for help and counsel as they try and care for people in their groups.
Through continual support via emails, phones, and blogsite pages:
Communication is a constant challenge as any small group pastor knows. A friend of mine who’s over small groups at Big Creek Church does a fantastic job of staying on top of all the newer technologies developed to improve communication. Because there hasn’t been much in place before me and because I think more traditional means of communication work for our small group leaders I use emails, phone calls, and blogsite filled with resources to help give our small group leaders the resources and communication channels they need to lead well.
Through putting into the hands of leaders the empowerment ministry where they develop leaders within their groups:
Like many small group ministries we have leaders, apprentices that may plant/birth a new group, a hospitality coordinator, and a mercy coordinator. On paper this is one thing, in practice it gets messy. Some groups have all the parts but not the titles and other groups have multiple people doing multiple parts. Beyond merely perfecting this structure in each group we encourage our leaders to realize that beneath it is the philosophy that they as leaders are to seek to develop leaders within their groups and help empower them to lead in the gifts God’s Spirit has given them.
We have a group of very gifted, mature small group leaders that make a world of difference in realizing this approach. But I think the principals and practices can be helpful for any small group ministry. If you’re a small group pastor or leader I’d love to hear your input on this approach. What are the strengths you see in it and what are the weaknesses?