All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.1 Samuel 22:2 (NIV)
That verse describes the very large “small group” that David was called to lead. Wow… talk about a challenging small group! Maybe it sounds a little like the small group that you’ve been asked to lead.
Let’s start by getting the cards on the table—what you have been called to do is hard.
If all you want to do is facilitate a group meeting for a couple of hours every week, that’s pretty easy. If all you want to do is gather with a group of friends for a Bible study, that’s not too demanding. But, if you see your role as investing in people and helping Christians actually live like Christians, then that is a significant challenge.
Effectively leading a small group is not for the faint of heart or those looking for a warm fuzzy. What you do as a small group leader matters. It matters now and it matters for eternity.
I remember hearing a pastor say, “The key role in the life of the church is the leader of the group of ten.” I believe he is right.
When I think of the best small group leaders, I think of those who rode for the Pony Express. They carried the mail by a relay of horseback riders. The eastern end of the trail was St. Joseph, Missouri, and the western end was Sacramento, California. The cost was $2.50 per ounce of mail. If everything went well, a letter could cross the 2000 miles in 10 days.
Each rider was expected to ride 75-100 miles a day. In order to travel light and avoid Indian attacks the men always rode without a coat.
A recruiting ad in a San Francisco newspaper said “Wanted: young, skinny, wiry fellows over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk daily. Orphans preferred.”
Sounds like a great job, doesn’t it? It is interesting to note that the Pony Express never lacked for riders.
It is no small thing to try to get Christians to live God-centered lives rather than self-absorbed lives. It is no small task to get Christians to authentically live in community. It is no small thing to try to help people have amazing marriages.
And my God-given task as a leader is to unconditionally accept my group, right where they are, and help them take their next steps on the path of discipleship.
And if I am going to do that effectively, I need all the help I can get.
That’s why at Living on the Edge we have created a new Small Group Leader online course.
In several brief videos, you will receive very practical teaching that will help sharpen your skills as a small group leader. You will also have access to tools and resources that you can use in your group.
The course is broken down into three major sections:
1. Seeing the Big Picture
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do we do small groups?” or “What is the target we are shooting at?” or “What does God expect for a small group?”
The first few videos in this course seek to answer those crucial questions. Along with each video there is a downloadable worksheet to help you take tangible steps to apply what you are learning.
2. Having Great Group Meetings
Facilitating a great small group meeting is a learned skill and one that we all need further growth. The videos in this section will help you navigate the landmines that every facilitator will face. And, you will also learn some of the skills and tactics for leading life-changing small group meetings.
3. Taking Your Group to the Next Level
Great leaders know that small group is more than a meeting. These last few brief videos will help you develop and grow your group beyond the group meeting.
Leading a small group is quite like being a parent. There is no easy formula. You never feel fully prepared. Sometimes you wonder if you are doing it right. The relationship is sometimes messy. Growth comes slow.
But there is nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than helping someone mature and become all that God intended for them to be.
So, my challenge to you, leader, is to step up, lean in, take responsibility, and pray hard.
Create a free livingontheedge.org account or log in to begin the Small Group Leader online course.
Founder, Replenish Ministries
Often called a “Pastor's Pastor,” Lance Witt is the founder of Replenish Ministries and is committed to helping those who serve on the front lines of ministry to stay healthy and "finish well." Lance served 20 years as a senior pastor and six years as an executive/teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He is the author of Replenish, several devotionals, as well as video-based small group curriculum. Lance has an MDiv from Criswell Seminary and a DMin from Denver Seminary. He lives with his wife, Connie, in Texas.More Articles by Lance