“Never ask a volunteer to take on a role unless you plan on training them to do that role effectively.” This statement has been a staple of mine since the first day I started consulting churches. Why is this principle so important? There are multiple reasons.
- An ineffective small group leader will kill a group.
- A small group leader who doesn’t feel secure in what they’re doing will bail as soon as possible.
- A small group leader has taken on a vital Kingdom role, making disciples that make disciples.
- A small group leader reflects the pastor that enlisted them for leadership.
Training group leaders isn’t rocket science, although it is systematic and strategic. Below you’ll find some important principles.
- Determine what are the core values of your group ministry and instill those values first.
- Create a list of foundational practices that a first-time group leader needs to understand, and teach those to your new group leaders first (for example: how to invite people into your group, how to prepare for the group meeting, etc.).
- Be available (or have someone available) to answer any questions a group leader may have as they are in the process of leading a group. The optimal time for someone to learn is when they are actually wrestling with a difficult or complex situation.
- Refer group leaders to blogs like this one where they can find information about group leadership.
- Take out a subscription to Lifeway’s Ministry Grid and make sure your leaders are aware of this resource. They’ll find a great number of videos that will aid them as they go about leading a group.
- Never stop training group leaders. There’s always something more that needs to be learned.
Rick Howerton is the Small Groups and Discipleship Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. He has authored many small group studies, is a highly sought-after trainer and speaker, and is the author of Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual as well as A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic. He is also the co-author of Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making and Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups. But Rick’s deepest passion and his goal in life is to see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.”