As leaders of small groups, the life and health of the group is continually on your mind. The challenges you often face seem difficult at times. If only there were a sure-fire formula that guaranteed small group growth and success, you and I would pay dearly for it. However, small groups are as unique as the individuals of which they are composed. And thus, there is no magic formula that guarantees success. These groups will grow for the same reasons all disciples grow: the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God.
However, the church must still make the effort to do what it can to ensure its groups are set up to succeed. As we give God our best, we allow Him to step in and use our efforts to build strong disciples. Here are four ways a group leader can ensure success for small groups:
1. Promote small groups often from the pulpit
Small groups must become more than a program. A church that implements small group ministry must view their groups as essential to the growth and development of every disciple in the congregation. And the truth is, what we value we promote. It is important for congregants to hear the pastor and those in leadership of small groups speak often about small groups. In fact, just as we mention upcoming services and prayer meetings on a weekly basis, if small groups are to thrive in your church, they must be promoted just as often as the other gatherings. This shows the congregation that small groups are valued and prioritized.A church that implements small group ministry must view their groups as essential to the growth and development of every disciple in the congregation. Click To Tweet
Additionally, the church must find other ways to promote the ministry of small groups. If small groups are to become a part of the church culture, they ought to be promoted to new and prospective members in the church’s new member classes. If repetition is the catalyst for memorization, repetition of small group promotion will be the catalyst for the congregation to accept this ministry as a normal part of your church culture.
2. Keep the big picture in mind
It is easy for group leaders to become lost in the management of the group. Perhaps they worry about having all the right teaching materials. Managing the group is a necessary step in the process, but the group leader must fight to keep the big picture in mind. The reason for small groups is the growth, maturity, and spiritual development of the people in that group. The ultimate goal is to develop lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. Relationship-building and taking the time to listen must be a priority. Don’t become so focused on leading that you forget about those you are leading.
3. Spend more time asking rather than telling
One of the traps group leaders often fall into is feeling the pressure to be the one who talks the most. This is not necessarily the best for the group. As the group leader, you do not have to have all the answers. In fact, accelerated learning and growth can take place when you spend more time asking questions than telling everyone the answers.
Prioritize relationship-building and let it be one of the hallmarks of your group.
Allow others to talk and navigate the Scriptures for answers. Leaders must see themselves as a guide who is directing a group of explorers. As the guide, you know the way, but you would like the explorers to discover the truth for themselves. You are there to make sure they stay on the right path—the path that leads to truth.
4. Focus on relationships, not just the material
Leading a small group is more than presenting solid, biblical material. The old adage says, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is true in small group ministry. Learning and spiritual growth will take place because of the influence you build with your small group members. When they see you live what you teach, they will more likely adopt the truth you are teaching.
Prioritize relationship-building and let it be one of the hallmarks of your group. As believers grow closer to one another, they will grow stronger in their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. After all, that is the reason we have small groups.
Jonathan is the adult editor for Word Aflame Curriculum and The Discipleship Project. He also serves as campus pastor at Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology. Jonathan and his family live in St. Charles, Missouri.
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